Podcasting can be a great tool to grow your business. Justin Cooke from EmpireFlippers has used podcasting to make money in multiple different ways.
Hey guys, Ryan here from podcastfast.com. Today, I have with me Justin Cook from empireflippers.com he has run podcast for a number of years now, it must be 4 or 5 years or something like that. I’ve actually followed them that entire time and listened to all their episodes.
I’ve got Justin on today because they’ve actually made money or they’ve tried to make money in multiple different ways through their podcast and they don’t do advertising on their podcast, which I’m a massive fan of. Basically, I wanted to get Justin on and go through the different ways that they’ve made money and how they see podcast as a trust-builder and, I guess, a customer-builder.
Ryan: Hey, Justin. Thanks for coming on today.
Justin: Thanks for having me on, Ryan. I appreciate it, buddy.
Ryan: Okay, so, you guys started your podcast, basically, it seems like, for the fun of it. Is that right? You started AdSense Flippers because you were making these sites but you had no intentions to actually make money from the podcast.
Justin: Yeah. So, we and a couple of friends, they’re on The Tropical MBA podcast and we met up with them in the Philippines. They were having a small retreat and we said, “Oh, let’s go meet up with these guys, see what they’re all about.” we went up there and talked to them. Joe and I were kind of just kind of relaying our story and kind of how we got started and everything and these guys are like, “Dude, you need to start a podcast!” and we were like, “You know, we don’t do podcast. I don’t even listen to podcast.”
So he started telling us kind of like about their podcast and what they’d done and we thought, “Oh, that’d be kind of fun. Let’s try it out.” So we started a podcast just to try it out, just to see what we thought. At first, we went back and listened to some podcast so we had an idea on what we liked and didn’t like. And then, we got on the mike and just started talking. And we thought it was fun. It was kind of interesting and we started to get some traction.
We already had a blog that had quite a bit of traffic. So, it was easier for us to get a little bit of traction with the podcast by just kind of using our current blog audience and kind of promoting it and getting them over to the show.
Ryan: For those of you who don’t know, Justin used to run AdSense Flippers. He was creating niche websites and was making money through advertising, like Google AdSense on those. The website and the podcast was all about how do you setup these sites? How do you create that?
Was there any motivation behind it or any intention to make money from the beginning with the website or with the podcast? Or was it really just kind of an outworking of your passion and just wanted to get it on the internet?
Justin: With the blog and the podcast, our real goal was outreach. It was to get traction, like marketing traction, get people paying attention. We know that attention is valuable on the internet. So, whether it’s through a blog or a podcast, we want people that are checking it out; that are following along. We know that’s valuable.
So, it wasn’t started as a revenue generator. That was never really the plan – to make the podcast or have the podcast make us money directly through advertising. It was just to get our message out there. Part of our inspiration along the way was Smart Passive Income’s idea of being everywhere.
So, you want to be where your customers are. If they’re listening to podcast, be on podcast. If they read blogs, be on the blogs. If they’re in forums, be in the forums with them. So you want to give your customers multiple channels with which they can consume your content and they can connect with you. And the podcast was just another way for us to do that.
Ryan: Was the customers that you were going after were people that would buy the websites that you guys were creating? Was that the goal – to reach those people?
Justin: That was part of the goal. Part of the goal was people that were interested in buying websites. And part of the goal was people that were interested in building websites and giving them more information to help them build the sites, and I think that really helped. Our builder audience, the people that are building sites, didn’t really make us any money.
They actually made us no money in the beginning, but they helped spread the word. We were other builders talking to other builders and kind of helping them along. So, they were happy to kind of pay it back, so to speak, and promote our podcast, promote our blog and say, “Wow, these guys exactly about how they built their sites, how they run their business. This is awesome!”
So, they would help promote our podcast and our blog to get it out there, even though they weren’t customers. So they were still a focus of ours because of the fact that they were able to drive potential customers and audience. But really, it was the buyers, I think, that were our customers and they would tune in as well to kind of hear more about our business and how we’re building these sites and selling sites. And that’s still the case today, although, we’ve switched away from the builder crowd, so we’re not building sites, we can’t speak to that directly. We talk more to buyers, we talk more to sellers, we talk more to investors; and those are potential customers of ours.
Ryan: Yeah. And your podcast has definitely pivoted over the last couple of years away from, “here’s how to build AdSense websites” to “here’s how to buy websites” or “here’s how to sell websites” or “what to think about when you’re doing that.”
When you started your podcast, so you started getting some traction, you guys were creating these websites that generated money that you wanted to sell. That was kind of the first thing that I had down for the way that you guys make money – was that you were selling your own products, and in this case, it was your own websites.
Why not go towards advertising and why focus on your own products?
Justin: You mean with the podcast, right?
Ryan: Yeah. Like, with the podcast and, I guess, with the website in general. What I want to get across to people is that advertising isn’t the only way to make money from a podcast. And I think the way you see podcast is very similar to the way I see podcast – Is that it’s a way to get people’s attention and a way to build trust with people and build a relationship. And then, hopefully, down the line, you can then convert a percentage of those people into a product or a service or something like that.
Ryan: Like my website, OnProperty, which has a property podcast and stuff like that. I do no advertising as well. I drive people back to my site and I sell courses and membership site and stuff like that.
I guess, I feel like you just get such a better return on investment in terms of dollars from selling your own products, as opposed to advertising. Was that kind of the same ideology for you or was it more you didn’t want to sacrifice your trust with advertisers?
Justin: We’re regularly looking for ways to kind of say “No” to short-term cash and build long-term value in our business and build trust with our customers. I think if we had advertising, it cheapens our brand a bit.
It’s also going to be sending customers that were looking to build trust with off to other places, right? It’s way better for us to monetise our own audience than it is to send them off to other advertisers. They’d rather buy from us, who they know they can trust.
I can see pretty clearly that we were questioning the value of our podcast, like, what it’s actually worth to us. Joe and I reached out to our email list and said, “Hey, if the next 2 weeks we clear our schedules, we want to talk to you. So schedule a call here and we’d love to talk to you if you’re interested in potentially buying or selling or anything you want, we’ll talk to you.”
We talked to over 100 people in the 2-week period and a good portion of them have listened to our podcast. Of those who had listened, a lot of them had listened to most, if not all, of the episodes that we’ve put out – and that’s a lot. That’s a lot of content. We got on the phone with them and they’d know us, “Hey, Justin. Love what you’re doing with blah, blah, blah..” saying things I kind of forgot about that I’d talked about 4 weeks earlier in a podcast. I’m like, “Wow! That’s pretty crazy!”
So you get these people that really know, like and trust you. That’s a perfect position to be in if we’re brokering websites and selling websites. A lot of the conversations were around what’s the right type of website for my situation? rather than, how do I know that I can trust you guys? and how do I know that I can trust you to buy a $50,000 website from you? It wasn’t that. So we didn’t have that hurdle to cross over. And I think a lot of it was due to the podcast.
We view the podcast as a trust-builder, as a way to reach out and reach a new audience. We don’t view it as a way to monetise, because we have a real business behind it. It’s not like we just got on the mic and said, “Hey, let’s do a podcast. We don’t really have a business but let’s just start talking.” I see people do that, right? They do an interview show and they don’t really have much of a business around it, they don’t have anything supporting it. I think that’s reason people look to add advertising because they’re like, “I don’t have a business around it.
I need it to make money somehow. Maybe I’ll just put some advertising up.” I think that’s a way to do it – a way to monetise your show, but it’s like a really low level way to do it.
So I think it’s better to reach up the value chain and get more dollars for your efforts than just advertising. It’s kind of like a niche site. If you’re building a site out and you put AdSense on it. Yes, you get paid per click but you’re sending people off to other advertisers that are in your space.
So, they’re going to go make money off of that traffic. Why don’t you make money off of that traffic? Why don’t you offer products or services or something that they’re interested in, rather than just having advertisers pay you for the click and then monetising the traffic directly.
Ryan: Yeah. I’m exactly the same. I used to have advertising on my property website, AdSense, you know, make a dollar per click or something like that. It was making a few hundred dollars a month, sometimes up to $1,000 a month, but you’re sending people away. And then as soon as I converted those advertising spots into free giveaways in exchange for their email address, started building that relationship more and launching my own products.
Now, I’m making $6,000-$7,000 off the same sort of traffic I would have been making $1,000 off. I think people get shocked when I say my podcast gets 10,000 downloads a month but I’m making $7,000 a month off it, which you would never get in advertising.
When it comes to trust, I tried to sell a couple of my sites through you guys. One fell through because it was .com.au site, which you need an ABN for; which is Australian Business Number, and I didn’t know that. And another bunch of them just tanked as I listed them with you and I have no idea why.
Something that I talk about whenever I’m talking to people about podcasting is I didn’t look at any other brokers when I thought about selling my websites. I didn’t even look at any other options, like considering selling on Flipper or anything like that. You guys, I think, were charging at $300 listing fee plus 15% and I just came and I just went like, “Yeah. I’m happy to pay that.” I didn’t do any research because I’d listened to all your episodes and I trusted it. I think people are consuming all of your episodes now more.
There’s that kind of Netflix mentality. You know, all the episodes drop at the one time on Netflix and you go on a binge-watch and watch Daredevil in 3 days or something like that. I think people are starting to do that with podcasting as well.
Justin: I do that with podcasting. I went back and, you know, this is non-business related, but I’ve went back and listened to just a gazillion radio lab podcast. I go back, you know, This American Life – they’ve been doing it for years and years and years and I’ve gone back and listened to a ton of their stuff. It’s kind of nice, because as a podcast, you have this body of work that’s out there that people can go and consume.
They can pick and choose the topics that kind of make the most sense to them or they can just listen to it chronologically. They really have the option to consume it the way they want to consume it.
Ryan: Yeah. I’ve been doing that with heaps of podcast lately. If I run out, I’ll go and find another podcast and just – if I like one episode, I’ll download all of them and just go through it.
So you guys started off selling your websites and, eventually, I guess to the point you are now where you are brokering and selling other people’s websites. But there was a bunch of different ideals that you trialed in-between that; which I would love to go through and talk through. Your ideas around that, why did you launch that?
As I was following you, one of the first things that I saw you guys sell apart from websites was the WordPress theme, Intellitheme. Talk me through that idea, how did that come about and what did you think that would mean for your business and why did it not end up going as well as you would have liked?
Justin: We were selling sites and we had an audience through our blog and podcast and said, “Look, this audience, they’re willing to buy other things from us. They have other needs, other wants. You know, things that they want in their business or things that they want to use.” We created Intellitheme because we wanted a theme that was able to automatically optimise the sites that we were creating. And ultimately, pull out more money.
So they were able to, basically, adjust look and feel. It’s split-tested and whichever one is working better, to automatically lean toward that look and feel. We thought, “Hey, that’d be so cool. I wish there was something out there like that.” and we said, “Hey, why don’t we just create it?” So we created Intellitheme for our purposes, because we thought it would be valuable and make us more money. We said, “Look, then, we can sell it and we’ll make even more money.”
So we listed it, we started selling it. We had a launch for it and everything. It went well, I think we did maybe $40,000 to $50,000 in sales in the first week or so. But that wasn’t all our money, we had to pay out affiliates and something. I think we ended up with maybe $15,000-$20,000 or something. We kept it and it cruised along, it never crushed it. Looking back, we’re talking before the show, I’m not sure that it made enough money for the time that we put into it, right? So that’s Intellitheme.
Just come to speak more generally about it, at the time we were that, we have customers with other needs that have other software and looking for their products. Why not offer them a smorgasbord of products and services, right? Why not meet their needs for keyword research, for content, meet all their needs along the way.
The [inaudible 13:45] James Schramko’s Own The Racecourse, right. So you have a chocolate wheel, they can kind of spin it around and choose whatever piece it is that they want. They already know they can trust you so they’d rather buy from you. And I think that works. Including Intellitheme and some other products and services, we started making more money. And we were diversifying our revenue and at a certain period that we realized that that was taking up space, it was taking up time and effort. That wasn’t a great focus of ours.
We had a core business, right, which is brokering websites – helping people buy and sell websites. So offering keyword research services and content and trying to create software products, while it made some money, it was a real distraction from our core business. So, in 2014, we decided to cut out everything. We’d had an outsourcing company, we ended up selling the outsourcing company. We had Interllitheme, I believe we sold Interllitheme. We gave away WP Rank Tracker and Twitart.
We just dropped our product and services. We were making somewhere between $4,000-$8,000 a month selling keyword research packages and content packages and site setup packages. We dropped that completely, which was kind of a scary move. But we dropped it because we knew that if we focused specifically on buying and selling websites and dropped everything else, we thought we were pretty sure that we would have a lot more success there.
We weren’t sure how that was going to turn out in Q2, Q3 of 2014, but looking now in Q3 of 2015, we can see that it definitely played out well for us.
Ryan: Yeah. Well, now, you guys have done over half a million dollars in revenue in this month or the last month or something like that?
Justin: Yeah. A little misleading because right now, we’re doing $400,000 a month in sales but that’s not all revenue to us. We get about 15% of that, about $60,000 a month. $60,000-$70,000 a month of revenue. In sales, yeah, we’ve got people buying almost half a million dollars a month in stuff from us, which is pretty cool.
Ryan: Yeah. I’ve definitely found that with products that I’ve launched – I’ve launched a product and it’s made a bit of money but for the time that I’ve spent on it, it just wasn’t worth it. And then, you find that it’s kind of there, ticking away, making a little bit of money but it’s distracting you from what you could be doing and also distracting visitors that are going there that could be going somewhere else. It sounds like you guys found an opportunity that was obviously going to be bigger than all of your products and services combined so you decided to drop everything and go after that.
I’m kind of at the earlier point to you guys where I’m kind of expanding my portfolio of products. Because I don’t have one big opportunity that I can see to go after.
Justin: Yeah. That’s an interesting thing. The question always comes up, like; do you expand your product offering? Do you expand horizontally or vertically? Like, do you double down on one big thing and dump everything else and really make that your focus? Or do you create a well-rounded list of products and services that you’re offering?
I don’t think there’s a right answer. It’s really going to depend on kind of where you’re at. Where we were at is we’d done that a bit and we’d become diversified, but the only way we were going to make major change in our business at that point once we had these products and services, was incremental changes. We realised we could another little bit of product, we could boost this product a little bit, but it was going to be incremental changes.
We wanted big growth, we wanted to double, triple, quadruple our business in the next 2 or 3 years. We realised we wouldn’t do that with this full suite of products and services. We have to really grow, scale and expand one side of our business, so we went with our core business.
Ryan: Yeah. I think, that need – whether should I create another product or should I focus on the product I have and market that more or grow that – really flexes with your business and how you’re going. Because I have found throughout my podcast journey and through running my website that I’ve started a product or a service and it’s grown to a point but then it’s kind of tapered off. And then there was other opportunities to expand horizontally into and then you find, of those opportunities, you know one of them is a much bigger opportunity. And so, you dump everything and go after that. And then, that reaches its peak so you kind of go horizontal again and then you jump on something else.
Ryan: I got really stuck into, should I go horizontal or should I go just into one product, what should I do? I guess, I’ve come to realise that it’s going to flex and change with my business as I grow, as my audience grows. Sometimes it’s better to have one product, sometimes it’s better to have multiple. It just depends on people’s businesses.
What would you say to people who have a podcast and don’t have a business model behind it at the moment? And the only vision they have is, “Oh, maybe I can make money through advertising.” Do you think that there’s anything those people can do to create a real business around their podcast?
Justin: Yeah. That pains me a little bit, if they’re thinking about the advertising route. Because I just see it as just a bad way to do it. You’re going to be seriously leaving money on the table if you go that route, right?
One of the things we’ve always found is that our audience will tell us what kind of products and services they need. Sometimes, they beat us over the head with it until we realise it’s a good idea. You know what I mean? Someone says, “Hey I’d love it if you allowed other people to sell sites with you.” and this was when were just selling our own sites and we would never broker other deals.
We were like, “No way. We’re not going to do that and risk people not wanting to buy our sites.” And then, other people asked and other people asked. Eventually, we were like, “Huh, maybe I should try that. That would be a good idea. We could make some money.” When we offered it, people were like, “Finally! These guys – ”
Because, you know, the vocal ones are the minority, right? They’re the ones that are kind of telling you about it. And then, when you head in that direction and open it up, then all the quiet ones that just would have said anything, are like, “Yes! Finally, they did this. Now, I can pay them money and do business with them.” and you’re like, “Holy shit! I didn’t know there was this huge group of people behind this that are willing to pay for this.”
So, yeah, I think if you listen to your audience and kind of ask them what they need and kind of have those conversations. If you make it a conversation and not just a one way message board, then, you’re going to get the feedback from them that’s going to help you determine how to build products for them.
I don’t know if you know him, Dan Norris over at WP Curve.
Ryan: Yup. He actually lives on the Gold Coast, where I live. [inaudible 20:23]
Justin: Yeah. Cool, man. So, sharp dude. We loved him. This guy is super, super sharp. But for years, he was creating these products for business that just sucked, honestly. They were just no good. And they just didn’t work, they were no good. But he was amazing at building content and marketing; he was a blogger, he had a podcast going. He’s like funny freaky Friday videos or whatever, just dorking it up on the video.
He was great. He built these platforms, these content platforms even though he had businesses that sucked. And then, finally, he launched one, which is WP Curve, and got a tremendous response. A bunch of his audience became customers. I don’t think he would have been able to test all those different business and ultimately have this just one if you would have had that kind of content marketing strategy. He just recently came out with a book that I’m reading right now about how kind of how he built this content empire, which is pretty interesting.
By having that audience, he was able to test out different products, different businesses, different business ideas and quickly get feedback from them. I think if someone has a podcast and has an audience and you’re looking to build a business out of it, it’s an amazing platform to test out different business ideas. Because you can get feedback right away on what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong and whether there’s actual market connection.
Ryan: Yeah. That’s my strategy as well, is that you go into a market that you’re passionate about, you do your research first so you know people are at least spending money in that market. I believe there’s 2 different types of podcasts. You’ve got ones that are purely entertainment and then aren’t trying to solve a problem. And then you’ve got your edu-tainment or like education-entertainment.
Those ones seem to be poised to be more easy to create products. If you’re just talking about The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones, it’s going to be pretty hard to create your product around that. Because, obviously, there’s copyright laws and stuff like that.
I go into a market like this one on PodcastFast, I got one on public speaking or one on property investing. If you know the market’s there, you know they’re spending money, by going in there and creating content – whether it be a podcast or whatever, you can then get that audience and you then work out how to monetise it down the track from getting feedback from people.
I’m guessing that’s what happened with you guys. You created these products, like you had that WordPress website, you had software as a service product, you had those product ties services because people are saying, “We want this.” and then, other people are saying, “Well, we want to sell our websites.” You got all that feedback from your audience, you didn’t just come up with it yourself.
Justin: Yeah. We started to realise that a large part of our audience was, you know, they were going to the marketplace. While some of them love our podcast, and some of them love our blog, some just don’t care. They just want to be able to buy and sell websites effectively and they want to make sure that they were quality listings. Our podcast, oh, they don’t really care. It’s cool, they’d say to me they listen to a couple of shows but they really just want to do business with us.
So we started realising, too, we need to serve that audience as well. At one point, we were like, “We want everyone to be a fan.” We knew the value of the podcast and the blog, so why not get them on the podcast and stuff? But some people don’t want to listen to podcast, they just want to do business with us, it’s fine, too. It works for us. We appeal to them by making it really, really easy. Our marketplace is front and centre, we link to it all over the place and just not making it a hassle. You don’t need to jump through hoops to do business with us. I think that’s important, too.
Ryan: Would say that now, your podcast has taken more of a backseat to driving your business compared to just the business in and of itself?
Justin: Yes. Actually, yes, I would. If you look at our traffic, you’d see that – First off, our podcast downloads, those haven’t changed much in the years we’ve been doing it. We’re getting somewhere between, in the low end, maybe 10,000-12,000 up to 18,000 downloads a month. Maybe that’s gone up a little bit but it’s been pretty steady, especially the last 18 months or so, it’s been pretty steady.
If you look at our traffic, it used to be that our blog – our blog pages were getting a lot of the traffic, this is maybe 2 years ago. Now, it is by far, our marketplace, where we list and sell sites. It is our listings are getting more traction than our individual blog post pages. So, yeah, I think that–
You know, there comes a time, too, part of getting a successful business is just – and it’s this simple: just keep doing the same thing or keep doing or staying in the same space for years. Stay in the same space 3 years and people are going to get to know you and they’re going to get to trust you and they’re going to start doing business with you.
So everyone wants to start a business and 6 months later, be crushing it. Well, if you just kind of plod along for 2, 3, 4, 5 years, offering similar stuff, you’re going to build up some traction, you’re going to build up and audience. As long as what you’re offering is good, people are going to come back. It sounds kind of weak to say, but I think just being out there for 3-5 years has really helped us. Because people know us and they come back and they’ve heard of us now, if that makes sense.
Ryan: Yeah. That’s exactly the same for me. I started my website, OnProperty, about 4 or 5 years ago now. It used to have a different brand and I would just do blog posts but I would collect email subscribers and stuff like that.
Then I launched my membership site in April of last year. So, a bit over 12 months ago, maybe, almost 18 months now. And I had people sign up. Some people had said, “I’ve been following you for 3 years and this really fits my situation right now.” As soon as someone said that, you know, “I’ve been following you for 3 years.” I just realised the amount of trust you build up over that period of time. And the fact that you’re not going to make money from everyone, from every single download of your podcast.
With advertising, you make money per thousand downloads or a cent per download or whatever it is – it may be. But with the long-term strategy in building your business, you’re not going to make money for every download. But someone is going to listen to your podcast and 3 years later, realise they are not back in that space and they need a service and they remember you and they come back and they do it again.
That’s happened to me with you guys selling my site. I’m sure you’ve got a lot of examples of that.
Justin: Yeah. I used to be really careful, too, because – with Dan Norris, I mentioned before. I just loved the guy, he’s awesome and sharp dude. So he would come out with a product and we just pay for it. It’s like a “Support Dan Norris Movement”, right, we’re like, “Oh, we’ll pay for this.”
Literally, that’s what we did. And we said, you didn’t have a great product at that time. I think it was Analytics For Your Content Marketing or something and it wasn’t a great product but I needed to do what he wanted to do with it. Because I listen to his podcast and read his blog and I was like, “It’s going to be cool later.” So we’ll pay him now for it because we want to support him.
So I think you need to be careful with that, too, Ryan. You’re going to have people that will just pay you anyway. So you have to be able to discern, are these people that are just paying me because they – it’s like a “thank you” for the content you put out? Or are these people that are legitimately interested in the product that I’m offering them?
It’s worth having that conversation, especially with kind of the early adopters. So, someone signs up for your membership portion early on, when you’re just starting, whatever. Talk to them about it, is it just a “Thanks, Ryan. This is Mike. You have a $2 a month for me for all the content you’ve delivered that I love” or is because they’re actually interested in the membership, you know what I mean?
Ryan: Yeah. I think that is a good point, which I will take on board. But then, even the fact that people will pay you money because you’ve been delivering value for so many years is so amazing with podcasting; which I don’t think you really get as much with blogs and stuff like that. You launch something and people just like, “Yeah, I’m going to support Dan Norris.” Feed Dan Norris for a week or something like that.
Justin: Right? It’s kind of crazy. It’s almost like just a donation. I mean, they are looking for – I was looking for a kind of a cool product, too, but it was, “I love Dan. I want to support him, that’s the way to do it.” It’d be cheesy if you have like a “Donation” button.
I know that some of the non-profits do that and stuff, they ask for donations. But for entrepreneurs, you create products and then people are interested in them and they buy them to support you and you can kind of start to judge whether or not it has real traction in the market or if it’s just kind of the fans that are giving you a “Thanks”.
Ryan: Yeah. Again, that comes, I guess, down to testing and trying different things and seeing what finally sticks.
Let’s talk about – you’ve just started another podcast, a second podcast, which is called The Web Equity Show where you’re talking, again, about buying and selling websites. What was your decision, why did you move to a second podcast that’s not branded Empire Flippers? Why didn’t you just do it on Empire Flippers? What was the motivation behind that and what are you hoping to achieve?
Justin: It probably would have been a better move to kind of just stick with the Empire Flippers brand. I mean, better move for our business, right? But I’m a podcaster, I like to do it, it’s fun, right. And so, there’s a guy we had on our show a couple of times, the name’s Ace Chapman. We’ve done quite a bit of business together, we’ve done hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of business together with his clients and with our selling clients. So we had a relationship, we’d done a podcast a couple of times before, had a really good time, he was a great guest.
And I reached out to him about the idea of starting this new podcast. He brings kind of a unique perspective. Really, from the buying perspective. Plus, he’s done a lot of offline deals; been involved in brokering and personally involved in a lot of offline deals, not just online websites and businesses. So he kind of brings that to the table and I thought it’d be a really fun show for people that are interested in this space. So they get a unique perspective that me and my business partner, Joe, can’t really put together on our own.
I did it for that reasons, I thought the audience would get a lot of value out of it. Plus, I just kind of thought it would be fun. It probably would have been better to keep another show under the Empire Flippers brand, better for business, but you know, not all decisions are what’s necessarily best for the business. Sometimes, it’s just what you want to do and I just wanted to do a show. I thought it’d be fun to do, honestly.
Ryan: That’s the same with me. I’ve got a podcast called Instructions Not Included, which is about my business journey and it’s just something that I record on a daily basis and it’ just for fun. It’s just because I love podcasting, I love creating content. The same with like I’m trying to spread out my business. Like OnProperty, I guess, I’m going – building up products there. But then, I also want to grow into a media company and not just be myself.
So I’m moving into different niches as well and kind of going through the whole journey again in terms of finding out – like this one, PodcastFast, like finding out what do podcasters want? What are people willing to pay for? Is there an audience there? Can I attract that audience and find out that stuff all over again?
What do you see as the future for Empire Flippers? I know you’ve got this investor program that you’re moving towards now as another avenue. Is that the future or is web broking still going to be the future for you?
Justin: Yeah. Let me answer that but first I want to get back and say, really quick, with Web Equity Show, we had no intention of necessarily monetising that show. We wanted to get reach and traction, for sure. So we want to build an audience, that was important, we knew that. That was so far from our mind that we haven’t even discussed what we would do with the “leads”. So if someone comes in and they’re like, “Hey, I want to sell my business.” or “Hey, I’m looking to buy an online business” Ace forwarded me a message, it was like, “Hey, we didn’t actually discuss what we’re going to do with these.” and I was like, “Yeah, I don’t really know, man.”
So we’re trying to figure that out now, we get people that want to do business with both or either of us. And we’re like, “How do we divvy that up, exactly?” I don’t know, it’s just interesting to think that we did the podcast without really much business sense going on there.
Ryan: I thought you would have skipped over that because you’ve been podcasting for so long, you’ve been through so many products, you’ve finally worked it out with your web broking. I thought you’d go into your next podcast, you know, being clued into it and knowing what you’re doing.
Justin: No. Well, really, the idea was traction and really kind of building understanding and trust in the industry, overall. And our idea was to kind of promote the business of web brokering and buying and selling and investing in online websites. Promote that – the industry, really. So, on an individual, like, how do we do business together? It didn’t even – it wasn’t even a concern because we were thinking industry, overall. We were thinking bigger picture. And so, we’re like, “Oh shit, we can do some business here, too. We’ll figure that out.”
We still haven’t answered that, by the way. He was like, “What do you want to do with this?” I was like, “I don’t know.” but we’ll figure that out and we’ll split it up or do whatever.
In terms of what we’re going to with Empire Flippers, the web brokering business is going really well. That’s our bread and butter; we don’t have any other bread and butter. Our outsourcing company’s gone, everything’s gone. So, that’s kind of our main money-maker. But I’d say it doesn’t take up most of our time. Right now, it’s the investor program.
So, the idea was that we always view our customers on, like, along a spectrum. On the left side, let’s say, is the people with no money and a ton of time. So this is people that are building sites from scratch and trying to get started with very, very little money and just putting a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it. On the very upper end, let’s say, to the right side, are people with a ton of money and just no time. They’ve got serious careers, they’re C-level executives or whatever and they just don’t have time to be messing around with content or keyword research or anything like that.
So, in terms of our customer base, we’ve kind of targeted the middle up to the right, the people with more money. And we started the investor program, which basically targets the far right. The people with way more money than time and we started to tap into kind of an interesting kind of investor persona.
Which are these people that love the idea of online businesses, don’t have any time to be building these sites out or managing a portfolio, who would love for someone to do it for them and is willing to give up a piece. So they’re willing to put in $100,000, $200,000, $300,000, having someone else manage it and take a piece of the net profit and sit back and collect the returns.
So it’s more of an investor perspective, a passive investor role. So we’d been creating a program where we manage the sites for them, have a portfolio with several investors involved and then manage that. It’s basically property management to compare it to real estate. So we’re forming like a real estate investment trust and we’re running the property management site. So we just recently raised, basically, kind of a closed fund of $800,000 that we’re going to be able to buy these properties and run for these investors.
I don’t know how it will play out, it’s all brand-new and we’ve already raised the money so I’m not pitching it, it’s done, it’s closed. But the plan is now to buy a few sites and start to manage it for these guys and we’re going to talk about it very publicly on our blog and talk about exactly the successes and failures we’re having in doing that.
I think it’ll be a really interesting journey. I think if we can make this work for these investors and they get a good return and it works for us, we’re making money with it, I think it’d absolutely blow up. So the reason we’re putting so much time into this is that the upside is incredible. Next time, maybe we do a $3-million portfolio or $5-million portfolio. Once we get larger than that, and if we can get a track record of success, there is big money that would be involved, $10 million, $50 million, crazy amounts of money.
Now, that seems kind of dreamy, and we have a lot of work to do before we get there. But that’s kind of where we see the future of where we’re taking this thing.
Ryan: Well, I think, it’s absolutely insane. Because I listen to StartUp podcast and stuff and they’re trying to raise $1,000,000 and they’re going out and doing all these pitches and selling equity and all this sort of stuff in their business. And you guys, because 4 or 5 years ago, you started a podcast and started down this journey and that pivoted your business and been able to raise almost a million dollars.
People have that trust in you for you to go ahead and run a business or run a portfolio of web businesses worth $1 million or upwards of a million dollars is just–
Justin: It’s insane!
Ryan: It’s insane! It speaks massive volumes, I guess, to the trust that people have with you.
Justin: Just to go a little further, the crazy thing, we don’t even have contracts. It’s literally, “Hey, let’s do this.” we’re like, “Yup. Let’s do this, we’re going to test it out.” and they said, “No worries.” I said, “Hopefully we will all make a lot of money together.” “Okay, let’s try it out.”
It’s literally a Skype conversation back and forth and working through it. It’s funny you mentioned StartUp podcast. The season 2, you heard the end where you heard the kind of success they had through the StartUp podcast, right?
Justin: They mentioned that, they said, “What kind of effect do we have on this business we’ve been following for months and months and months by putting this out publicly?” and you saw it, it was huge. They got a huge bump from the podcast talking about their business.
It’s interesting to see what a successful podcast did for the business that was being followed and reported on. It helped them crush it, it’s really interesting.
Ryan: Yeah. As you said, Skype conversations, no contracts. I’m talking to you, I’m in Australia, you’re in Bangkok. Even if I sent you money and we had a contract, how could I chase you across the world legally and stuff like that, you know? It’s probably not really possible or feasible for the amount of money these people are investing, even though it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars.
I think we should stop there. I think people should just take in the fact that a podcast builds massive amount of trust with people. That you can build an audience and then you can talk to that audience and work out what do they want from and how can you trust in that. And then, also, I guess, looking at the bigger opportunities in the space and chasing after that.
Do you have any advise for podcasters or would-be podcasters who are interested in creating a business and growing it the way you guys have?
Justin: Yeah. I would say, again, dump or pass on the short term gains of quick monetisation and kick that can down the road as long as you can. And I say to do this in your business, too. Instead of taking cash out of your business, re-invest that cash into your business until you get to the point of scale where it’s awesome.
I know a lot of times when you’re starting off a business, you have to take some cash because it may be your only money-maker. Make that very minimal, re-invest most of that cash into the business. Get that business or that business or that podcast or whatever marketing channel you’re using up to scale. Hold off as long as possible. And then, you can start to reap some of the rewards. And the rewards will be much bigger because you’ve let the business kind of snowball into something great.
Ryan: And what would you say to someone like myself? Like, I’ve created a lifestyle business for myself where I’m earning this revenue. People say re-invest it, don’t take a lot out. I’m not taking a lot out and I’ve kind of got a pool that’s now like a buffer fund for me. But actually, I don’t know what I can do with the money. I’m at a point where I’m like, “Well, I don’t actually have an extra $5,000 to spend on my business and expenses to grow it. Like, I don’t know where I would spend that in order to do it.” What do you think? I’ll ask you for personal advise now, hoping people still find it interesting.
You just hear that all the time, “Don’t take money out, re-invest in your business.” but what if you get to a point where you’re like, “Well, I don’t know where to re-invest it in my business.”?
Justin: Team. Team, Ryan. I mean, you have podcast, right? You’re exploring the virtues of podcasters, which I truly agree with you on. So, why not hire a podcaster? Why not hire a podcast producer that can help you put together stories, put together interviews, do pre-interviews? Mixergy. Andrew Warner, from Mixergy said one of the best things he did for his podcast was he started making money from it. Once he started to make money from it, he was able to take some of that money and re-invest it to make the show better.
He’s one of those artsy guys where he wants a show to be good. And so, he was like, “Shit, how do I make this show good? Oh, I know, I’ll make money. And then, I can put the money back into the show, it’ll be even better.” That’s literally his driving force, “how can I make this show better? Well, I guess I need that money, don’t I? Okay, let me make that money and then I’ll make this show better.”
And I think, if you’re re-investing into team, and you’re re-investing into your shows, I think that’s a great opportunity for you to do that. I don’t know who you have in terms of staff, do you have a virtual assistant or a couple?
Ryan: I’ve got a virtual assistant at the moment and then I’ve got a couple of virtual assistants who work on contract to do the transcriptions for my podcast.
Justin: There are a bunch of podcasters out there that are kind of new and just getting started that would love the opportunity to join someone who understands podcasting and is doing a good job with it. Why not hire them? Why not reach out to them and see there’s someone you can hire to add even more value? I think that’s an opportunity. I think probably cutting some of your expenses, not personal expenses per se, but you’re living in one of the most expensive areas in world, man. Why don’t you get off that – get out of the Gold Coast, man. Go somewhere, travel a little bit. That’s kind of pricey. I think you can kind of go and –
Ryan: Yeah, well, I got 3 kids and I’ve got a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old and a newborn.
Ryan: We were actually exploring, oh, maybe we should go to the Philippines and do an internship or maybe we should go over there, cut our expenses to $200,000 a month or something like that. But, yeah, just because of kids – like, my daughter’s in school now and that sort of thing. That’s kind of – and we just love Australia. We kind of don’t really want to leave.
Justin: I know a guy. If you ever do, I know a guy that runs a membership community actually for expat families. They kind of share resources, talk about where they’re going. I think they’re Home Together or something, I’ll send it to you after the show. Really cool guy, though. I met them, they came down to Davao with their kids.
This is total side-subject, but I’ve always been shocked about, like, I’ve always thought that kids need a stable home, they need to be in a set place and you don’t want to be travelling around with them. And they kind of turn that on its head when I met them. Their kids are really well-adjusted and they were travelling all over the world and doing some really awesome things and their kids seem to be doing really, really well. So I did kind of re-examined that.
I don’t have kids, I’m not married and I was thinking about that and going, “Oh, that seems like you don’t want to do that.” but they’ve been really successful with it and they’re building a community of people that do that as well. So that’s pretty interesting.
Ryan: Yeah. I think that’s definitely something I would want to explore as my kids get older and they can walk and I don’t have to carry them everywhere. But, yeah, definitely, with the way the school system here, being an entrepreneur myself and seeing what they’re getting taught to – you know, job security doesn’t exist anymore. And so, I would like to teach my kids other things.
We’re kind of sidetracked now so I’m just going to – I think we should end it off there. Look, I just really appreciate what you guys have done through AdSense Flippers, Empire Flippers and now, the Web Equity Show. So I really appreciate you taking the time to come on here and to talk about that and share your knowledge with my audience. So, Justin, I really appreciate it. And you guys, if you ever need to buy or sell a website, go and check out empireflippers.com.
Justin: Thanks Ryan. Appreciate it, buddy.