Joe Burrill, dubbed the most successful website broker of 2020 by Flippa, started his buying websites for passive income journey with us in 2012.
Joe went from working as a customer service 9-5 government clerk to selling and buying websites for passive income to now passing the $1 million mark in website sales.
Joe had no experience with websites when he started, yet through our online course on buying websites for profit and income, he started finding websites, renovating it, then selling it and taking the money he got from those sales to fund more passive income websites.
Today, you’ll hear Joe’s humble journey from buying his first website for $700, to declining an offer to be a website broker, to now recognised by Flippa as the most successful website broker of 2020.
Matt Raad: Hi again everyone. Today I have a very special guest, Joe Burrill, who is one of our original Champion graduates from the eBusiness Institute. Joe learnt how to buy profitable websites with us many years ago, and I’ve asked Joe to come along and give a special update for our community. So welcome Joe. Thanks so much for making the time to have a chat to us today.
Joe Burrill: It’s my pleasure Matt. It’s always great to talk to you.
How Joe Burrill replaced his 9-5 Government Clerk job to Working from Home Buying and Selling Websites
Matt: It’s been a while. We’ve known each other for a long time. I think you started out with us in 2012, is that right?
Joe: Yes. I started with eBusiness Institute in 2012 and graduated in 2013.
Matt: And what were you doing at the time when you came to study with us? It’s a little bit different from digital marketing, wasn’t it?
Joe: I was working full time for the government as a customer service officer. It was face-to-face customer service with Queensland Transport, issuing licenses etc.
Matt: So, that was a little bit different than what you do today, where you’re now immersed in the world of buying and selling websites for passive income.
Joe started his digital portfolio by purchasing small learner websites and reinvesting his income into bigger deals
I wanted to actually go back quickly over your journey, to then look at your amazing life now. What were your first steps for buying websites for passive income?
Joe: My first steps were that I needed to dip my toe in the water. I bought a small site for about USD $700 and used this as my learning tool. That was where I started.
Over time, I was focusing on the buying and selling websites for passive income strategy that you teach at the E-Business Institute. Slowly the deals got bigger and bigger. I would buy, renovate and then sell these websites. I would then take the money that I got from those sales and fund them back into more passive websites. I did that particular strategy up until 2019 actually.
One of my favourite parts of this strategy was selling the websites. It was always the most exhilarating part of the whole journey because that’s when you get the lump sum of money. It’s when all of that hard work basically gets paid off in full, and I really enjoyed it. And so that’s why I gravitated towards doing that.
Joe’s passion for selling websites lead him to become a website broker
Of course, the next natural step for me was to then become a broker. To begin with, I resisted this, and I was actually offered to be a website broker back in 2017/2018.
Matt: I’ll put my hand up there. I had a bit to do with you getting offered a website broker role. I remember at the time, the CEO of Flippa was asking us, “Who are your star students? Who are the students doing really well selling websites?” And we were always talking about you Joe, and how you were flipping websites for record profits.
And one of the things that impressed us about you (and this is what we said to the Flippa CEO at the time), was that besides being taught by the best [joke], you seriously do know how to sell websites really well. It’s always been your sweet spot, hasn’t it?
I remember when you came to study with us at eBusiness Institute, you were young and really wanted to replace your income through flipping websites and get out of that job that you had back then. That was the only income you had. So, you had to flip these websites and build your money and “bank” up, and you got really good at selling websites.
Joe Burrill’s Secret to Selling Smaller Websites for Big Record Profits…
Now, over the years I’ve had the pleasure of helping to mentor you on lots of website deals. I’ve shown you how to do good due diligence on websites. But what happened was Flippa was asking us who’s really good at selling websites. And it was a no-brainer for us to recommend you because you had so much outstanding success in selling these sites, and that’s continued to today. Even back in the early days, you were getting really high multiples on websites.
Question: What did you do so well that got you such high multiples on these little small website flips?
Key #1 – Give Your Buyers Confidence by Giving Them Accurate Information They Need to Make a Decision
Joe: So, there’s a couple of things. The first thing is to be organized with the information. If you spent any time on Flippa, then you would have seen a lot of listings out there that are just rubbish and don’t have the information you actually need.
You have to ask a hundred questions just to get the information to make a decision as to whether or not you want to buy the website. I do my best to make sure that all the information is covered upfront so that it limits the number of questions website buyers have to ask me and also allows them to buy my sites with more confidence.
Key #2 – It’s Important to be Transparent with Your Buyers
The other key thing is to be honest and transparent with your website buyers. If there is an issue with the site that I’m selling, I would much rather say that upfront and say, “Look, there is a problem here. It’s a challenge”. It’s something that the new owner is going to have to overcome. Here are some potential solutions, but it’ll be up to you to work it out.
And what that does is it basically gives the website buyer confidence to buy that online business, and they know what they’re getting into. It also makes it far less likely for the deal to fall through, which is obviously a good thing. Everyone knows what they’re getting.
By Producing Quality Flippa Listings, Joe’s Broker Business Really Accelerated…
Matt: This is something we really noticed you took to like a duck to water! It’s what we teach and are passionate about at the E-Business Institute because its what we used to do ourselves with our Private Equity deals, with Multi-Million dollar mergers and acquisitions – and we use exactly the same process when it comes to selling websites. One of our strengths was producing high quality Information Memorandum’s – this is one of the main tools we use to sell a business for top price and its particularly useful for selling websites.
Joe’s really good at this. And in particular, he’s really good at presenting that information on Flippa. Way better than most other people do when selling websites. You’ll find he’s very honest and upfront with everything, and if you go and look at his listings, you’ll see they’re always really detailed. They all follow a certain template.
It’s fantastic that you found that all this works so well for you. And as evidence, you became successful very quickly as a website broker, didn’t you?
Joe: Yes, I got a few leads, and I was dabbling in it to begin with. The first year was quite slow. I think I sold maybe one or two sites. But then it actually started steamrolling as I focused more on the smaller ones.
My first really successful sale was for around $7,000, and that was a really good result. My client was super happy, and that showed me what’s possible. This was towards the end of 2019.
Joe now helps other eBusiness students to sell their sites for large multiples…
Matt: Joe has also done some legendary sales for some of the members in our community, including Nathan and Alexa with Curd Nerd and Pete with his website Walkie Talkie Man. We’ve got some very happy clients who have sold their websites through Joe. Was the sale of Curd Nerd one of your best sales Joe?
Joe: It was certainly one of them! It’s probably the one that picked up the most attention as well. Everyone at Flippa was just, “Oh, what is this site?!” It was a really good site as well. So, kudos to Nathan and Alexa for creating a nice quality passive income site. From memory, it was around 80 times the monthly profit which is excellent.
Matt: That was an excellent result. It was a big sale because it was only making around $300 – $400 per month, and they sold it for $16,900.
Joe: That’s right.
Matt: This was a renovated site, and Nathan and Alexa did such a good job. They followed our system and it worked really well. And then you came in and helped them with the sale. The buyer got a really good solid website for the future. There’s still room for growth in it and it’s an awesome niche.
Joe specializes in selling Content-based websites that are making regular income
So I’m presuming that’s the deals you love to help people out with, right? Is that your sweet spot, these content sites?
Joe: Definitely. Content sites are definitely in my sweet spot. I find that businesses that are making between $500 and say $2,000 a month tend to do really well on Flippa under my profile.
I do sometimes dabble into drop shipping and e-commerce side of things as well. I’ve got a few of those that come up occasionally, but that’s not really my core specialty.
Matt: So even to this day, the sorts of passive income websites that you were learning from us at eBusiness Institute are still your bread and butter to sell.
Joe: Yes, and this makes sense because those are the ones that I used to buy and sell myself when it was just me.
Joe Burrill Places a lot of emphasis on doing Due Diligence when Brokering and Selling Websites
Matt: So now that you’re a broker, I’m presuming that when you get a listing, you still go through our due diligence process?
Joe: Yes, I use a version of it. So obviously, I do check everything and make sure that the business I’m listing is legit. I’ve got to make sure that if there’s any issues, I find them. But I’ve actually cut down your due diligence process a little bit because I have so many leads these days. I just can’t do full due diligence on everything.
Matt: That’s not like you Joe! I remember over the years it was quite the opposite. You were even giving Liz and I feedback on our due diligence checklists which was fantastic! So, our whole community can thank Joe for our website due diligence checklists.
Believe it or not, we used to have our website due diligence checklists on an Excel spreadsheet. Joe was one of the first people that said, “Matt and Liz, this is just so detailed. But can you please put it into an editable document?” And I remember at the time, you and I were doing lots of due diligence back then. And I said to Liz, “Joe’s, right on this, it’s time to put this in a new document!” From there, Liz put our Due Diligence checklists into an editable PDF. So big thank you to you, Joe for the feedback. We now have a much easier to use website due diligence checklist document.
As a broker though, when you list someone’s website, for your own knowledge you’ll go through this website purchase due diligence checklist.
The Importance of Communication when Buying and Selling Websites
One of the other things that we get feedback from our community, and I know that you do really well, is you do communicate a lot with all the potential buyers of the websites as well.
Joe: Yes, so prior to starting with all this, I worked in customer service for the government. Being able to talk and being empathetic with the buyer and the seller is really important. And there’s so many brokers out there that are super professional (and unprofessional too), but I do it in a much more genuine casual way. And I think that resonates a lot better with most people, by just being easy to get along with.
Matt: Yes, and a lot of people in our community have said that you’re very empathetic and very honest with everyone. And I think a big benefit of that is that there is a lot of fear out there around buying websites.
At the end of the day, it comes down to confidence in the website being sold. And that’s one of the things that I think you help buyers with a lot. You can show them, “Look this website is going to sell for a lot, but it’s worth it because this is regular cashflow and these are the benefits as a content site etc.”.
You’re going to be around for the next 5 or 10 years, still making the same money, and people trust and like you. This also really shows through your experience in this. You’ve been there and done this for yourself for almost a decade now. When it comes to buying and selling websites for passive income, you know your stuff. You’re really good at this and you’ve found your sweet spot in life. And being a broker is the perfect role for you.
Joe has noticed a recent increase of buyers and valuations for content-based websites
So I see that you’re now selling websites in the $20-25K range. And you mentioned earlier that these deals are getting bigger now. Do you find in that range there’s lots of buyers at the moment there in a marketplace?
Joe: Oh, so many. There’s loads of buyers. And I’m seeing more and more buyers coming on every day.
Matt: Wow! And are you seeing website valuations rise? Are you always getting such high valuations like you did with Nathan and Alexa’s site, or what’s the story there with valuations?
Joe: Website valuations are really tricky because it’s a moving target. But overall, they are increasing. If you remember back in 2013-2014, you could pick up a site for 10-15 times the monthly profit. But today that’s basically impossible. You really can’t get that now unless it’s either not a very good site or certain business such as drop shipping tend to sell for less.
But here, we’re talking about content sites. And for content sites you can expect a standard of between 30-40x multiples. And really good content sites, such as Curd Nerd, can be upwards to 80x monthly profit. Multiples can be higher when the buyer can see potential in the website.
Joe’s Advice for How To Get Started Investing in Websites
Matt: Joe knows our Digital Investor community really well, both in Australia and around the world. What advice would you have for our community knowing that they’re going on the exact same journey that you’ve been on, and knowing how valuations work?
Joe: For beginners, my number one tip would be: don’t invest more than you are prepared to lose. Like I said earlier, my first investment was only USD $700 USD, and that was making around $70 a month.
I just wouldn’t invest more than that because, for me, that site ended up losing money. I didn’t make that money back. I got a little bit of a back because it was making money, but there were some issues with it. And I think it had only five articles on it when I bought it. It was a different world back then.
But if you’ve gotten past that point and you’re ready to look at some bigger investments (or you’ve got more capital to invest with), then there’s so much to choose from. You can afford to be picky. You can look at a website for sale and think, “Ah, this one’s gone too high. I’m not prepared to risk that amount of money”
It’s got to suit your own personal mold and what you’re comfortable with. There is always going to be an element of discomfort when you’re moving outside of your comfort zone. So if you’ve never bought a site for $20K, that’s going to be pretty scary because, for some people, that’s quite a lot of money. You think, “Oh, what happens if I lose it?” So, you’ve got to build up your confidence to get to that point where you feel more comfortable, but a little bit of uncomfortableness is fine.
Matt: One of the key strategies that we teach our students is that while you’re learning all this, you should be building websites as well (similar to Curd Nurd). We teach you to have a content strategy. And obviously that’s a winning strategy, because we’re seeing how these sites are selling.
When is a good time to Sell your smaller Passive Websites?
So I take it, you’d be more than happy to speak to people from our community who’ve built up their learner sites to making that $500-$1,000 a month.
Joe: Oh, absolutely. Even if it’s only $300 a month I’m happy to list those. But that’s pretty much the minimum that I’ll go.
Matt: So people could start a site, build them up, and then sell them through you. Obviously, this takes time. We’re not saying you’re going to build these sites, and make all that money in the next two or three months.
But if you are in that boat, you definitely want to have a chat to Joe. He’s awesome and can go and look at Joe’s track record on Flippa. You’re actually one of the highest-rated brokers on Flippa, aren’t you?
Joe: So, last year, they just rolled out the new brokerage system platform, and they dubbed me the most successful broker of 2020.
Matt: That’s awesome, congratulations! What a journey, we’re so proud of you. Your mum and dad must be very proud too?
Joe: Oh, yes.
Matt: We’ve spoken to your mum and dad about what a change of a life this has been for you. And so all of our readers know – both Joe and I are Aussies. But where do you live these days Joe? Because you live the laptop lifestyle now, don’t you?
Joe: Yes. I live in Sweden, and it is winter right now. I don’t know how well you can see that, but it is very snowy outside.
Matt: Wow! Oh, man. So, we’re in Brisbane here and literally just outside of our door, there’s a lot of bush, and there’s a couple of kangaroos just down there right now. The sun is setting. It is hot. It’s 32 degrees at the moment. I’m not rubbing it in or anything.
Joe: You’re making me jealous. It’s minus 11 here!
Matt: Oh, gee, I don’t know how you operate at that temperature, Joe.
Joe: Me neither. You basically don’t.
Matt: That’s one of the big ways that life changed for you and Nat, isn’t it? You guys can live wherever you want now.
Joe: So, I think we moved here in late 2017. Nat, my partner, is originally from Sweden, and all of her family live here.
Matt: And prior to all that, and before COVID, you guys were travelling a lot. I noticed you would travel a lot and work from your laptop. But now you’re knuckling down and working full-on with your brokerage service, which is going gangbusters. Really well done.
Ready to start buying and selling websites? Here’s how to get hold of Joe Burrill…
So, if people want to get hold of you, Joe, to have a confidential discussion about selling their website – what’s the best way for them to contact you?
Joe: So right now, I’m going through a bit of a rebrand with the brokerage, but we’re still operating under the old website: https://www.jwburri.com/.
If you want to sign up as a buyer, there’s a link down the bottom that just takes you through to the buyer’s page. You can sign up to get first access to the businesses that I’m listing.
If you have a business that you want to sell, then there’s an evaluation form you can just fill in. It’s pretty simple form, but it gives me enough detail to give you an initial evaluation of your business. And we can see whether or not it’s something that we can move forward with.
Matt: One of the other things I’ll give a big shout out for Joe is that in my opinion, he is very skilled at giving really good valuations. He can give you a realistic idea of what your website’s worth.
Why is he so good at it? Because he’s been doing this stuff himself for years. I’ve also personally trained him in this, and he’s often shown me lots of websites. Joe’s brought me lots of deals over the years as well. And we’ve looked at them and work through them together. I can tell you; Joe definitely knows his stuff.
I know there’s a lot of us in our community who are thinking of maybe their smaller websites to move into bigger deals. And if that’s you, then you need to get accurate advice. So you might as well go and speak to Joe. He’s part of our community. As you heard, he’s been around since 2012. He knows his stuff.
He’s really good at giving you that idea of what it’s worth. In the current market, he’s really got his finger on the pulse. But more importantly, if you do decide to sell through him, he will get you a great price for it because he works so well.
And similarly, if you’re a buyer, Joe’s helped a lot of our clients to buy good websites as well. That’s obviously another thing that you do really well. So if you’re thinking of buying websites, you might want to go and have a chat to Joe, particularly if you’re interested in content websites because that’s Joe’s specialty.
Fantastic, Joe. Thanks so much for your time today and we’ll get some more updates off you later on in the year. I think at this point, what do you reckon you’re about to click over $2 million in website sales. Is that right?
Joe: I haven’t done the math, but I’m pretty close to $2 million now. I passed the $1 million mark around three months ago.
Matt: Wow. That’s how quick it’s already gone. That’s where it’s booming at the moment.
Joe: It really is. I think I’ve sold six or seven businesses just in the last two weeks.
Matt: Wow. That’s fantastic. So, you’ll be clicking over $2 million in sales soon. And then let’s watch this space and see what you do over the coming year. Well done, Joe. Thanks so much for your time today.
Joe: Thank you. It’s my pleasure.
The website Flipping Course that got Joe Burrill started…
If you would like to find out more about the website flipping course where Joe learnt to buy and sell websites, or starting your own portfolio of digital assets to sell, join our free website investing masterclass that started it all for Joe here: https://www.ebusinessinstitute.com.au/masterclass