If you’re wanting to grow your website portfolio safely, here’s why Investors Club could be the marketplace for you…
“My life would have been completely different if I hadn’t bought that $1,000 website” were Elena’s words, co-owner of Investors Club.
Elena went from working in corporate to buying her first $1,000 website and selling it for 7 figures to now helping beginners buy relatively low risk websites making at least $500 a month in semi-passive income.
In Today’s interview, she shares how she replaced her 9-5 job income, travel, work remotely and spend time with her loved ones, along with the insights she learned from buying and selling websites over the last 10 years.
Matt Raad: Today’s guest and her husband have bought and sold many websites over the years. They’ve owned a portfolio of e-commerce and content sites and done a seven-figure exit. But these days, they’re the new owners of Investors Club.
Investors Club will be interesting to those of you looking for high-growth websites at relatively low risk. What I mean by that is you do not have to spend hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to get into these fantastic websites.
So, we’re lucky today to have Elena chat about her experience in buying and selling content sites over the years. She will show us the bargains and why you might want to look at these sites in a certain sweet spot on Investors Club.
Thank you so much for coming along today, Elena.
Elena Buetler: Thanks for having me.
How Investors Club is a marketplace for moneymaking content sites
Matt: Let’s get straight into it. You and your husband are the new owners. And you’ve done the seven-figure exit of a content site, which we will touch on in a minute.
Can you give us a quick rundown of what Investors Club does?
Elena: Investors Club is a supported marketplace. It’s not a broker, and it’s not just a marketplace. It’s a supported marketplace where people can buy online businesses.
We focus mostly on content websites. We have some e-commerce sites, but most of our listings are content websites.
Matt: Investors Club has been around for a while. What does it specialise in selling? Is it a certain price range? What’s it well-known for?
Elena: Right now, we have businesses ranging anywhere from $10,000 to $2.1 million. But the sweet spot is somewhere around $50,000 to $100,000.
Matt: So, you sell websites in the sweet spot of $50,000 to $100,000.
You guys are quite a boutique marketplace. And so, I take it that the sites listed with you must be making revenue or have some traffic. What are your minimum revenues there?
Elena: For content websites, our minimum is $500 net profit a month. And for e-comm, it’s $1,000 a month.
Matt: Okay, so for our readers – if you’re looking for an actual moneymaking website (as opposed to a starter site), you can jump onto Investors Club. These sites are all guaranteed to be making at least $500 a month or at least have some traffic.
This is great for our community members who are learning the process of how to buy and sell websites.
They cater for beginners and intermediate buyers looking to buy established website businesses
Matt: What sort of buyers do you have on the platform? Are they typically beginners? Or do you have all kinds of buyers?
Elena: We do have a lot of beginners. For example, we have people from real estate and people who used to own a brick-and-mortar business. They’re fed up with dealing with stuff and low margins, etc.
They’ve heard about this wonderful opportunity for semi-passive online businesses and are like, “Really? You don’t have to deal with people, rent, stock, property, and everything?”
And then, we also have people who are just like us. They know the industry and want to buy and sell online businesses. They’ve been doing it for a decade or more and are looking for another great opportunity.
Elena Buetler bought her first website for under $1,000
Matt: When did you guys start out buying websites in this online space?
Elena: I bought my first website in 2011 for $1,000. And I’ve bought quite a few since. At some point, our portfolio was 30-plus websites.
Elena: We had our hands full!
Right now, we have fewer because I realised Investors Club is taking up a lot of time, so we don’t have time to focus on our own portfolio.
Matt: Yes, and congratulations on that.
Elena quit her corporate job to buy and sell websites fulltime
Matt: So, you started out in 2000, and you and Daniel wanted to escape the corporate rat race. Did you start this as a side hustle, or did you quit your corporate jobs straight away?
Elena: No, I was lucky; I got fired! They had asked me to reduce my work by 50%.
At the time, I already had an online website business on the side. This was the first online business we created back in 2006, and it made $2 with AdSense.
Then, in 2008, we had the recession. So, my corporate employer wasn’t making much money and asked me to reduce my work by 50%. I thought, “Fine. I’ll work for 50%, and I’ll just quit soon. Once my website revenue makes close to my corporate payroll, I’ll quit.”
And I did! I didn’t quite make my full corporate pay with the website, but it was pretty close, making it much easier. As soon as I was making as much as I was in corporate, that’s when I quit. I asked my husband if he was willing to support me while I was trying to figure things out.
Matt: All right! And was your first website build a content site?
Elena: Yes, it was a content site.
Matt: And how was it monetised?
Elena: It was monetised 100% through AdSense.
Matt: And is that the site you sold for seven figures?
Elena: That’s right.
And she sold her passive content website for 7-figures!
Matt: Where did you sell your seven-figure website?
Elena: It was through our advertiser. We had AdSense, and there was one particular advertiser. We noticed them, and they noticed us. I’m assuming they were spending a lot of money on ads because they were targeting our site.
This company achieved a lot of good returns from the ads on our website. I know they were targeting our website specifically with higher rates. At some point, they reached out and said, “Do you want to sell to us?”
Matt: Wow, so it was one of the advertisers through AdSense who ended up buying you guys. What year did you sell the site?
Elena: We sold the site in 2015.
She bought her first website on the Flippa platform
Matt: So, just like a lot of our readers, you started out with $1,000 to buy your first website as a beginner. Where did you buy your first website?
Elena: We bought our first website on a market platform called Flippa.
Matt: You bought the site on Flippa, just like a lot of our community will.
This is a great journey shared by Elena, and it’s so cool.
She started out like many of us, buying her first site for under $1,000. And now, she owns a portfolio of around 30 websites.
Why Elena prefers to buy and sell content websites
Matt: What’s been your favourite style of website? Have you owned many e-commerce sites, or have they mainly been content sites?
Elena: My favourite type of site is content websites. I don’t really understand e-commerce as much, but my husband does. So, when we do have e-comm sites, he’ll look after those. I don’t want to deal with them.
Content sites are my preferred type of website.
Elena and her husband bought Investors Club to help them grow their website portfolio
Matt: Is that what drew you to buy Investors Club? Is this another phase of your life now you’ve been successful with portfolios?
Elena: Actually, yes. Our initial idea was to buy Investors Club to find better deals for ourselves.
Matt: Cool, that’s how passionate you are about buying portfolio sites.
Elena: Well, we figured that every time you buy a website, you sell a website. When you have a portfolio of 30 sites, there is obviously a life cycle of those sites. Some of them need to be sold. You need to reshuffle your portfolio.
But you pay a 15% brokerage fee every time you sell a website. And we thought, “Okay, this doesn’t make sense. If we want to do more buying and selling of websites, then it makes sense to have our own brokerage marketplace.”
It’s worked out really well for us. But running Investors Club takes a lot of time, so we have slowed down on our own websites a bit.
Elena shares the 2 types of content sites that are most successful in Investors Club
Matt: Now that you’ve owned Investors Club for a year, seeing some of the website deals out there must be fascinating, especially with your knowledge of building content sites from scratch and how to sell a seven-figure business.
From the deals that come across your table, are there any that stand out to you?
1./ Niche affiliate sites
Elena: There are typical websites we see where someone has built a niche affiliate site from scratch. They’re not necessarily interested in that niche, but they’ve researched and seen, “Wow, this niche makes money. Let me build something.”
They don’t necessarily have any expertise or passion in that niche. But they’ve hired writers who do and have created high-quality affiliate websites. There’s nothing wrong with that. We have plenty of those.
2./ Passion project websites
We also have a lot of passion project sites where you can see the owners truly care about it, and they have personal expertise. And I like those websites a lot. You can see the quality is different because of their knowledge and passion.
Those are the two most common scenarios – for the owners, it was either business or passion for them.
Why passion and lifestyle niches work so well for content websites
Matt: Have any niches stood out for you over the last few years? Are there any particular niches you’ve seen over those years that have worked really well?
We’ve seen a lot of successful sites in travel; let’s call it lifestyle travel. We’ve also seen a lot in lifestyle food, cooking, automotive, and pets.
Matt: Yes, so pets and travel. That’s interesting.
1./ They allow you to combine your passion and business-style into the site
Elena: Automotive, too, because there are higher commissions, and it’s a real passion for many people. My husband, for example, hasn’t missed a single Formula One race. He’s really passionate about it.
He used to race motorcycles and cars, and so he’s passionate about cars. Whenever he owned the website, and we did own a few, they were automotive.
Matt: Actually, Liz and I have owned some really nice automotive websites over the years. They were six-figure sites that we’ve sold for really nice amounts.
We’ve also got a friend, Alborz, who sold his Car Advice site here in Australia for $60 million. It’s worth a lot. And he’s gone and done it again! He’s built another multi-million dollar site that will be worth a lot more than that.
So, the automotive niche is really good. Is that a niche where the good sites are run by people who are passionate about cars? Or do you think it’s more a business-style niche?
Elena: It’s both.
2./ Passion niches help you stay interested in the topic & want to learn more
Elena: I used to say back in the day that it doesn’t matter what kind of niche the site is in because it’s about numbers, revenue, cash flow, and potential.
But after some time (working in this industry for over ten years), I realised I had sites in niches I don’t really care about. For example, I have a vetting site and jewellery site, etc. And every time I get an article for these sites, it’s so difficult for me to finish reading it.
I realised I didn’t want to have this knowledge. I’m learning something fantastic, but it’s knowledge I don’t want to have. It’s not a conversation starter for me to talk about a solitaire ring setting. And I learned so many things I don’t necessarily want to know.
But for travel, you learn things you are already interested in. So many people like travelling, and that’s why I think the travel niche is so popular. You get to learn something you actually care about. You’re passionate about it, and you don’t mind learning about it or reading about it even if you’re not paid for it.
It’s similar to the cooking niche. Why are there so many cooking sites? Because people like cooking and they just want to share their knowledge. They do what they like, and then they start making money.
These are the two niches I feel those are mostly passion projects.
3./ Content is created by real people from their real experiences
Matt: It’s funny, over the years, we never went into the cooking and travel niche personally. And we advised people to be a bit careful in those niches because there’s a lot of free information out there.
And now, suddenly, all of us have realised just how valuable they are because of exactly what you’re saying, Elena. These sites have been built by real people who are passionate about it. They’re not about the business side as such.
So, I guess a great way to get into the marketplace if you want to get into the travel and cooking niche is to buy a site through a marketplace like Investors Club. If someone buys a website from you, they’re already established and making a profit.
These types of sites are good ones to get hold of in this day and age. They are true passion websites.
Should you purchase a website in a niche you don’t care about?
Elena: Yes, and as I said, if I were to start again now, I probably wouldn’t purchase a site in a niche that I don’t care much about. I find it difficult to put my soul into something I don’t care about.
But it was different back when I had my very first website.
It comes down to thinking about the future. If you are going to keep that site (not plan for a quick flip), then it will become more difficult if you don’t care about it.
Funnily enough, the first website I bought was about car windshields. Do you think I’m passionate about car windshields?
Matt: I can’t imagine you are, Elena!
Elena: I’m not, but I know so much about car windshields. I can talk to you about car windshields and the types of cracks. There is a stress crack, a bull crack, and a bullseye. Do I need to know about these?
I wish my first website was about something that I actually cared about. I’d have more knowledge about something else, rather than car windshields.
Matt: That’s good advice, Elena. It’s funny because you sound so much like Liz. She was always just about the numbers and money. Don’t care about the niche; there’s no need. And she’d say that to all our community. On coaching calls, she’d say, “Look, it’s just about the deal. Show me the money. If the deal stacks up, I’m buying it.”
It’s interesting, isn’t it? We’re all slowly starting to change with time. And you’ve just said you were the same.
So, for our readers to understand – Elena now owns a website brokerage firm called Investors Club that specialises in selling these sorts of sites. She knows the power of passion sites.
Why it’s important to pick a niche you’re interested in for your long-term projects
Matt: Elena, what would be your advice if you’re telling someone to get into a website you’re passionate about or a topic you’re interested in?
Elena: When you don’t have the passion to work on something, it makes it more difficult to put in your hours, time, and effort.
In the beginning, when you start the site, it’s a little different because you care about making it happen. “I’m going to take something, and I want to grow it.” That alone drives you. That’s what drove me. And in the beginning, that’s enough. But later in your journey, it’s not enough.
So, if you’re just stepping out, then yes, look at the numbers. I actually agree with Liz. Look at the numbers to test the waters and to see how it works. You’ll probably grow it and then sell it sooner or later. Then, you can work on your passion project.
What to look for when purchasing your next content website
Follow these steps to search for & safely purchase your next semi-passive online business…
Matt: What are some of the best bargains you’ve seen recently? Are there any exciting deals that make you say, “Wow!”
Step 1: Find an edge based on your knowledge & experience
Elena: It excites me when I see something where I can apply my knowledge or some kind of secret sauce. I know I have a unique competitive advantage.
For example, the website we sold for seven figures had downloadable files. And we figured out that you can have all the downloads on the page. You click it, and the file gets downloaded.
But if you actually create another page where you click on the download, it takes you to a different page, which says, “This is your download page, and there’s some information.” That was our biggest money maker.
So, we’d buy any site that had downloads but didn’t have a download page, knowing we could double it overnight.
Matt: Awesome. So that’s what you guys look for.
Elena: Yes, and when we exited, we said, “Well, let’s just buy more of those because we know exactly how to double something overnight.”
Step 2: Identify how you can increase monetisation on the site
Elena: Also, there are some niches where we know the affiliate partners work really well, so we like to buy those websites where I can apply that knowledge. But, of course, that’s going to be different for everyone.
Matt: Yes, similar to your download page idea.
Elena: That’s right. We would find pages on sites with free information in a very specific niche everyone loved, but there was no monetisation on there. And so, all we did was just put monetisation on the page. Plus, we also got better affiliate offers. We became a specialist with this particular affiliate product.
So, it was easy, just rinse and repeat. We looked at buying more sites like that. We suddenly realised all we need to do is hunt through Google Analytics and find where people are going for all this free stuff. And we found they actually converted to a paid affiliate offer when you’ve got a good affiliate offer on the page.
So, that was a winning strategy for us, and it works to this day. Once you find these winning strategies, you can just rinse and repeat; it’s very easy.
Step 3: Purchase a website that can be renovated based on your level of digital skills
Elena: We also have some websites that could really benefit from email marketing. You look at the website and ask, “Oh my God, why are they not doing email?” Or they could do Pinterest or YouTube, etc.
It comes down to your own personal skills. For example, some people are better at hiring writers. For them, it’s easy. And they see we have a website with just ten pages right now, making a few thousand dollars a month. Can you imagine?
Now, if you have little knowledge or are really good at hiring high-quality writers, you can scale this website.
Or maybe somebody else has better skills at SEO. They know how to build links, so they’ll buy a website with no links but a lot of high-quality content.
4./ Use a reputable marketplace of moneymaking websites to find your next website purchase
Matt: Exactly. And what’s great about Investors Club is you’ve got these foundational sites. They’ve already proven they have traffic, have been around for a few years, and are making at least $500 a month. So, you’re not buying a starter website.
Remember, when you buy your first start-up site for $1,000, it’s pretty average. There’s nothing to them, really. And so, anything you do to them, you’re not guaranteed to get a big return.
Whereas, if you’re buying a site in that sweet spot, I’m going to bring it back to what you guys are offering here. These are sites in the $50,000 range compared to brick-and-mortar businesses. And in my opinion, that’s a low risk for a start. It’s not like we’re spending six figures or millions of dollars on these sites.
And there’s a huge upside because they already have the foundations in place. And as you said, Elena, if you’ve got a few skills, presumably you’ve trained with us, then you’ve got some specialised skills.
Investors Club typically has 40 listings at any one time on Investors Club. There will always be something there that you can find to buy.
And, Elena, I’m presuming you work with your buyers. If they said to you, “Look, I’m really strong on SEO. Can you help me find a foundational site?” can you help?
Elena: Yes, we actually encourage all buyers to talk to us because we know our inventory pretty well. We talk to the sellers. We know also what they want, what kind of buyer they’re looking for, and where their site is strong.
If you talk to us and say, “I’m looking for this kind of site,” we can also keep an eye out for you. And if something comes along, we’ll let you know.
Why it’s important to start buying and selling websites NOW
Matt: Elena, do you have any final words of wisdom for anyone reading this? We have people reading this who are starting out on this journey and looking for their first moneymaking website. And we have others who are intermediate, looking for a good website to buy.
Elena: I’d say go for it. Like you said, compared to traditional brick and mortar, it’s not such a significant investment.
If I think back on my journey, the upside is that if I hadn’t started, if I hadn’t bought that $1,000 website, my life would have been completely different. I wouldn’t be able to live the life I want today.
So, if this is what you want to do with your life, you have to realise what you want and why.
For me, I was not willing to do a nine-to-five job. I wanted to travel, work remotely, and spend time with my husband. This is the life I like, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. All of this wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t bought that website for $1,000 back in 2011.
Matt: There you go. It all started with that. And as Elena says, just get out there. Have a go, hit the go button and learn a few things along the way.
So, congratulations, Elena, on your journey and success and for buying the Investors Club. And thank you for sharing your story of what you and your husband, Daniel, do at the Investors Club. It must be a lot of fun for you both.
Ready to learn more about starting your semi-passive website portfolio?
Matt: And, of course, if you are brand new and starting out on this journey of buying and selling websites; before you jump onto Investors’ Club and start buying websites, make sure you do our free masterclass. Here, you will learn the strategy outline of what you need to do.
And like Elena said, just get out there and just have a go. Have some fun with it. Go and check out Investors Club, look at the listings, and just hit go at some point.