My name is Jon Haver I am a 31 year old, husband, father of 2, engineer and huge geek when it to comes to automating and outsourcing any activity. This post is to share my story about purchasing a website privately and the incredible success I initially thought I had followed by a sizable blow! I will write this post in chronological order and walk you through the stats as I saw them. Aug 20 I Found a Website Copying My Own – Reviewing the search results for my student loan site I notice another site built very similarly to my own.
Many aspects of the site were identical to my own including similar monetization methods and site layout. Aug 21 Contact and Call Out (friendly) Website Owner for Copying – I decide to email the owner of the site and make contact in the hopes of getting more data to help me and also to potentially work together to promote each other’s sites. Aug 21-23 Offer Free Advice – For a few days we were emailing back and forth and I was providing advice on how he could improve the website. Aug 23 Float the Idea of Purchasing Website – Realizing the site was making almost no money but had traffic which I knew could be mone. Aug 24-26 Discuss Potential Deal and Set Up for Google + Hangout – For a few days we discuss a potential deal and review statistics for the site.
Aug 27 Google Hangout to Discuss Site and Potential Sale – On Aug 27 we had a meet up and we discussed general internet marketing stuff along with the potential sale of the site. After reviewing the analytics and comparing my sites earnings per visitor I thought about what a fair price would be and offered it. The site had made a total of $0 up to this point but I knew he had put a lot of effort into it and wanted to see a fair return for that effort. Aug 29 Agreement Made to Purchase the Website for $4k – After a few more emails back and forth and an agreement to help consult on his next project (which has been a lot of fun and successful) an agreement to purchase the website was made. At this point I have made an agreement to purchase a website that has made no money and has 30 days of stable traffic based on the projected (not demonstrated) income.
I thought this step would be more difficult but it was very very easy using the free duplicator plugin. At the end of Aug 31 the website was live on my server and I was able to begin making the planned changes. Because of the mistake we made above and not changing the name we were unable to retrieve the EPP code that was being sent once the domain name transfer started. From finding the site to owning the site was 18 days which could have been probably 4 days shorter had the domain transfer gone smoothly.
Since the owner of the website had followed my guide on how to track affiliate clicks with Google Analytics it was easy to measure the success of the changes that I made.
From the analytics it was clear a few of the pages were getting the majority of the traffic.

The offer on the high traffic page was not as tightly aligned to the problem people were looking to have solved when they visited the page as I would like. Ideally, I want to be able to offer an affiliate or CPA offer that is very tightly aligned with the main problem people have that has brought them to the page in the first place. In order to do this I looked at some of the keywords people were using to find the page, looked at other similar pages around the web, thought about who these people were and the problem they wanted solved and then did some additional keyword research to see what were other popular search terms of the same problem. Traffic stayed steady and had a small decrease which correlated with my main student loan site and Google trends showing a seasonal downturn in search volume at the end of September. The sale price of a website with demonstrated income is in the 15x to 20x monthly income range.
I purchased a website for $4k and after 30 days I have made $831 and have an asset worth around $15,000! I first checked my main student loan case study site (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden) and saw that there was no impact beyond the seasonal downturn. I knew when I purchased the website there had been a few links purchased and that was the only difference in SEO strategy (other than the purchased site not using expired domains). The Bad News – Any update hurts and one that has a very clear direct impact on income is especially painful!
After the update and assuming my efforts to recover the site fail the value of the website is 15x-20x times $261 = $4,000-$5,000 plus the income earned to date ~$1000. So overall I have not lost money but I have clearly gone from a huge potential win to just a solid earning site added to my portfolio with a 1-2 year payback period. Are there other sites currently in my portfolio that if I gave the kind of deep analysis I did with the purchased student loan site I would see a 10x increase in click through rate.
The giant earnings increase I had when I purchased the site due to some simple changes had me me thinking about the story of INTELs CEO in the book Good to Great where Andy Grove’s was paraphrased as saying “what would someone (or ourselves) do if the current CEO(himself at the time) was fired?
I am a 31 year old husband, father of 2, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. Even though you took a sizable decrease in income I think you made a good decision to buy the site.
Looks as if you made the right decision, particularly because you will likely have success with your promotion strategy for this site.
Thanks Sam, glad you are enjoying being on my email list…I definitely have no plans to change for the worse the style of the content. This wasn’t a surprise as I had seen many people build similar sites after I shared the success I had publicly with my site. Once I understood their problem and desired outcome I searched for a CPA offers that answered their problem. Well after a full 30 days of running the site (basically Sep 1 – Sep 30) here are the results.

I try to never react quickly to any update since there is little benefit to moving quickly and it takes awhile for the data to settle out. Penguin is a spam filter which looks at spammy links, purchased links and over optimized anchor text. No, to get the 15x to 20x earnings I would need to be able to display 3-6 months of stable earnings. The answer is a definite yes, in the end I took a risk buying a site with no income for $4k, it looked like it would pay off huge but now looks like it will just be a solid earner.
The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours. I’m impress on how long and detail these posts are, wonder how you get time to do this ?? About the site, still a good investment and you can definitely bring the site back. I was aware of the backlinks but you are definitely right that an in-depth analysis of the backlinks is important to understand the sites exposure to a potential penalty. Also thanks for the tips on how to improve monetization I think that will really help my site. Yes chipping away at this giant niche is lots of fun – one bite of the elephant at a time. Of course this isn’t ideal and I have some longer term plans (nothing immediate) to change that. You’re one of the few people whose email lists I like being on, because your posts are always so in depth and instructive. However, I share everything I can about how I am building an online business that is hitting $10-$20k per month! Plus there are ways to recover – remove the bad links and adding in some new links should help this site recover. I am in this game for the long run so I don’t mind investing in assets with a 1-2year payback period.
It was this insight that had them switch from building memory to mirco-processors and go on to make a giant impact. I am not a GURU but just a regular guy who is grinding out 12+hr days to build a life for my family on terms.
Nowadays is necessary when purchasing a site to do an in-depth back link analysis and more if the site is fairly new.

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