Successful Exit Stories?

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I see quite a few starter posts but few successful exit posts. It would help me keep my eyes on the prize if some of you vets could talk about your successful exits. What was the project? How much was your exit? Was it worth it? Why and how did you exit? What did you learn from the exit? Regrets?
 

Ryuzaki

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Here's a few more threads for anyone interested:
I'll pitch in what I can. I don't have any huge exits under my belt. Anything that could have been huge I've held on to and then went on to see issues with organic traffic, which sucks but that's the gamble.

Part of what led to me going full time was building 30+ niche sites in about 2 months. This was at least ten years ago. I'd buy a domain, pick a theme, create a logo, and smash out 25 posts in about 2 days and move to the next, all while having a full time job. I'd come home and sit on the couch with the lady, let her play whatever TV show she wanted and I'd hammer the keys.

Once I hit 30 sites I had the realization that there was no way I'd be able to get backlinks to these, and this was back when backlinks mattered even more than they do today. I did what any reasonable person would do and turned to mass spam, which was working very well at the time.

I let a ton of these expire and also sold a handful of them for sub-$10k flips. I even ranked #1 for "make money online" at one point with one of these, which funnily enough was a .info domain.

One of them ended up doing fairly well. I sprinkled it with Scrapebox blog comments to a perfect anchor text ratio, but since all the links were nofollow I got zero traction. As soon as I started adding dofollow links, though, it exploded to the point where I went full time with it.

As soon as I quit my job and moved to a new city, the site was penalized and I was back to ground zero. I'd say 5-7 years passed in between and I had built three more sites in the niche that I also ended up getting penalized. But I realized how easy it would be to get them unpenalized, did it, rode it out for long enough to establish earnings, and flipped them together for like $35k.

I was knocking down days like this:


You can read along here, where I journaled the entire process: Enhance & Flip - Four Properties

Here was the resulting check:


Anyways, it's not an amazing story or some life changing amount of money, but I didn't want to hit and run the thread by just dropping links to other people's big flips. I'm far more interested in selling now that I've lost several chances at decent 6 figure flips.
 

stackcash

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I see quite a few starter posts but few successful exit posts. It would help me keep my eyes on the prize if some of you vets could talk about your successful exits. What was the project? How much was your exit? Was it worth it? Why and how did you exit? What did you learn from the exit? Regrets?
As @Ryuzaki mentioned,my partner and I had a pretty sick exit a few years back.

While I am completely thankful and happy with selling the business, there are a few things that I learned that may have swayed my decisions back then.
  • You don't know what you don't know.
  • Knowing how well the business is currently doing now, I think I would have liked to hang onto it. As someone who had very little experience dealing with six+ figures, I was enamored with the possibility of my business selling for that much. I already had a house and investments picked out for when the money hit my account. What I didn't realize was how much MORE money I was leaving on the table. I would guesstimate that the new owners could make their money back, based on what they paid us, in as little as 6 months. At the time, it felt like a big risk NOT to sell the site. Looking back, I get a little queasy thinking about how much more could have been earned if we held out.
  • Network with people that do wildly different things than what you do. You'll be surprised at how what seems like a bad connection on the surface is a great business opportunity.
  • Don't trust guru's or business owners at face value. Take their word and test it before investing significantly.
  • Don't take shortcuts with SEO. Decide if you are a white hat or black hat, and stick with it. Then, stay the course until you reach your goals.
  • Speaking of goals - make them! Do proper niche research. Be realistic. Take your time. For example, I'm currently evaluating new niches for a new site. I'm about 60 hours into the process. I've evaluated 16 niches so far. I've eliminated a bunch of them away, but am still debating over 4-5 before deciding which niche I will attack. The point being......creating goals takes time. Don't skimp on it.
  • Do EVERYTHING yourself before outsourcing. This includes niche research, competitive analysis, keyword research, site design and development, content creation, copy writing, graphic design, link building, traffic generation, email marketing, conversion rate optimization, affiliate payout optimization, and analytics. You'll lose a lot of money outsourcing if you first don't understand the process for each of these tasks. You'll get more out of your vendors if you have a deeper-than-surface-level understanding of what you're paying them to do.
Anyway... I gotta get to work. Hopefully this helps a bit. Let me know if you have any questions.
 
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@stackcash would love to hear your approach to niche research and evaluation. If you have some time I'd like to get a deep dive in what you look at. How you remove niches, things to avoid...
 

stackcash

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@stackcash would love to hear your approach to niche research and evaluation. If you have some time I'd like to get a deep dive in what you look at. How you remove niches, things to avoid...
The answer will depend on my goals.

I'll do research/evaluation differently based on goals. A small sub niche would be approached differently from a large niche for an authority site.
  • Small niche example = German Shorthaired Pointer Dog Training
  • Large niche = Dogs (covers dog training, dog supplies, dog food, breed info, etc).
Currently, I am evaluating niches for a large authority site.

Here's my criteria:
  • There's 5 to 10 BIG (DR60+) sites already killing it with commercial articles in the niche. If they're making bank, so can I...
  • There's 10-20 SMALL (DR 15 OR LESS) sites that have at least two commercial articles ranking on the first page for their target keywords. If a site this small is ranking a page that can make money with so little authority, there's a good chance I can do the same or better with a brand new site...
  • There's enough informational content that can be used to collect ENOUGH links to close the link gap between myself and my biggest competitor. One of the biggest ranking factors today is domain authority. That means a lot of links, and informational content is the easiest type of content to obtain links. I need to know that there's enough info topics to allow link building to be as easy as possible. I don't want to have to fight for every link when I need 2000 to compete.
  • Low regulation risk. I don't want to be in a niche that will get hit by the next "medic" update. Also, I don't want to be in a niche where political / government changes will make my site obsolete.
  • The site will be able to hit my "low goal" / short term earnings goal in 18 months or less. This means, I need to be able to rank a certain number of those commercial pages (that the small sites are ranking for) within 18 months......and need to rank them fast enough to hit my 18 month earnings goal.
  • The niche is stable on Google trends and doesn't have seasonal dips. I want to stay away from anything that's not evergreen. It doesn't need to be growing consistently, but it DOES need to be stable.
  • There's actually money to be made. I don't want a niche that only has 5 products and that's it. It may be easy to rank and earn quickly... but it will never hit my long term goals. I want a niche that has physical products, service products, opportunities for display advertising, opportunities for influencer marketing, and opportunities for lead gen.