This interview on how to flip websites is absolutely going to inspire you to start flipping websites if you haven’t already…

… because Joe Valley, our guest today and co-founder of Quiet Light Brokerage, is going to share a case study on how a client made $9 million in 5 years, flipping websites.

Imagine being homeless and then living paycheck to paycheck, to buying your first website for $2,000… then flipping it for $7,500 six months later.

Then turning that $7,500 into $20,000, then $220,000, then $9 million – all within the span of 5 years.

That’s what Joe’s client did. And today you’ll hear how he did it by flipping websites.

Joe from Quiet Light brokers has sold over half a Billion dollars worth of websites over the last decade

Matt Raad: Hi again everyone, and welcome to today’s very special interview. I’m really excited to have Joe Valley with us here. Joe is a co-owner and partner with Mark Daoust at Quiet Light Brokers, one of the world’s biggest website brokers.

And I’m really excited to be talking to Joe today about a recent sale that he’s done for $9 million. And you’ll hear in this interview why this is a particularly exciting and inspirational story. So thanks so much, Joe, for coming on and talking to us about your recent sale.

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Joe Valley: Good to be here, Matt. Thanks for having me.

Matt: So obviously, you’ve been doing this now for a while. How long have you been buying and selling websites?

Joe: I’ve been buying and selling websites for a long time. I think the first website I launched was in 1998 for $50. I’ve built, bought, and sold about six websites on my own. And with Quiet Light, I’ve touched about a half a billion, with a B, in online exits over the last 10 years.

Matt: So, as you can see, Joe is a true professional. He knows his stuff. He’s done small deals right up to the big deals.

The size of website sale transactions at Quiet Light are constantly increasing

Matt: And today, Joe’s going to share with us a particular website which recently sold for $9 million. For you at the moment, in terms of the sale sizes that you’re seeing out there, where does that sit in the scope of what you guys are doing at Quiet Light?

Joe: At the time we closed that deal, it was our largest transaction at the time. But life is moving fast, and we’ve closed two more that have been almost two and a half times the size of that now. And the transaction sizes just keep getting bigger and bigger.

I’d say our sweet spot is very broad. Anywhere from $250,000 to $25 million is generally where we play. But this one was just under $9 million, and it’s a heck of a story. He’s a great guy. He’s become a good friend. And he’s an inspiration, bottom line.

Meet Website Flipper Victor…

Victor started out as a High School drop out, living paycheck to paycheck

flipping websites for profit

Matt: Well, that’s something that we want to hear about, too. Because everyone focuses on this amazing outcome that you helped him achieve. I love hearing that he’s become a great friend. And of course, it’s a very inspirational story in what you’ve told me about him.

Do you want to give some background to this story and this individual? I think his background is what’s so impressive with this story.

Joe: Yes, well this guy’s not from the States, and he’s not from Australia. He’s actually from Denmark originally. And even though you’re actually required to stay in school all the way through to year 12, he was actually invited to drop out of school. He’d been kicked out of so many schools that they just said, “All right. Here’s your degree, please be done.” It’s the equivalent to a GED.

So he doesn’t have a college education. But he’s very driven. He was actually homeless in high school. There were some family challenges, and so he was out of the house for a while.

He started a business after high school in the construction space. He then came to the States for an event in Vegas, met a girl and had a baby, and thought, “I got to really straighten my stuff up here.”

Within 7 years, Victor learned how to flip websites and dramatically changed his lifestyle

Joe: Unfortunately the marriage didn’t work out, so he’s a single dad. He was living paycheck to paycheck, to the point where he was travelling, and the flight was delayed overnight (for 18 hours), and he couldn’t afford a hotel. So, he and his son slept in the airport because he couldn’t afford a hotel room.

All of this happened as recently as maybe six or seven years ago. And his life has changed pretty dramatically since then.

Victor quickly learnt how to flip websites – reinvesting his profits from content-based sites to turn $2,000 into $220,000

flipping websites for money

Joe: He had done what a lot of your students are doing – just going on the hunt to buy a business and see if he can buy it, and grow it, and sell it. And the first one he bought for $2,000, and it didn’t take him any more than six months to turn around and sell it for about $7,500. And he was like, “That’s more money I’ve made in the last year. How do I do this again?

And so, he had another opportunity. He took some of that money and bought a slightly larger website. It wasn’t too much bigger, because he only had $7,500. But again, in 6 months time, he ended up selling it for $20,000. And for him, that was a fortune, because he was still living paycheck to paycheck.

Both of those websites were content sites. He just optimized them, and learned how to flip them. And with the money he made from them, he went out and bought a third site. This site he ended up selling for around $220,000.

So, I call him the original Exitpreneur. That’s because he’s figured out that you can make more money by selling than you often do by operating these businesses. So $220,000 for him was life changing, especially because now his son was around 6 or 7 years old.

When looking at how to flip websites – niche selection and posting valuable content was key for Victor’s next project

Joe: By this stage, he’d really learned a lot. He was really learning how to optimize websites. And that’s when Facebook was really coming into its own and advertising was cheap. He threw 5 or 6 different niches up online and started driving traffic to them through Facebook.

One of these niches just took off. It was in the entertainment space (not adult entertainment – for clarification). So, he let the other niches go and just focused on the entertainment space. The audience in this niche were just rabid fans and they needed to consume the content every single day.

This meant he had to post content multiple times, every single day. And he really learned the Facebook ecosphere a lot. He spent a lot of money driving a lot of traffic there, and giving people what they wanted – helping them, helping them, helping them…..

Victor then accelerated his business growth by buying out his biggest competitor

Joe: And he grew to the point where he could buy his biggest competitor. There were two competitors in that particular niche, and he bought his biggest competitor. It was only a couple of hundred thousand dollars. But it was still a big purchase for him at that time.

So then he really owned the niche once he had them both. He started one, bought a bigger one, and he owned the space. And he’s a bright guy, let me put it this way. He’s hungry for learning.

He doesn’t have the education that most people have, but he’s smarter than almost anybody that I know because of his drive and determination.

Engaging in a Website Broker to sell bigger online businesses

Joe: I remember exactly where I was when I got the call. I didn’t sell the original websites for $7,500 or $20,000. Victor did those two on his own. Our company, Quiet Light, sold the third one for $220,000, but it wasn’t me, it was Darren.

My son is a runner, so he was training. And I’m sitting outside the training facility and I get this call. And he says, “Hey, Joe, Victor is ready to sell his next business, and he’s looking for $5 million.” I was like, “Okay. Sounds good. Introduce me.” And so, I get on the call with Victor. He’s a great guy. I mean, I had met him before and really got to know him.

Within 3 weeks Victor’s website was under offer for $5 million

Joe: So, we listed the business for $5 million. Within three weeks, we had three offers and we were under contract for $4.8 million. We were deep in due diligence.

I was driving back home from a funeral down in Georgia. I live in North Carolina, in the States, about four and a half hours away. And I get this phone call. And I’m like, “Oh, this can’t be good. Victor’s calling me on a Saturday.” And clients never call me on a Saturday. So I’m thinking, “This isn’t good.”

  • And I said, “Hey, what’s going on? What can I do for you?”
  • He said, “So I don’t think I can do this.”
  • I respond with, “Okay. I understand. What’s going on?”
  • He says, “Well, I made $300,000 last month.”
  • I said, “Okay, that’s good. Tell me more.”
  • And he said, “This is what happened….”

A good quality Website Broker will be able to evaluate the true valuation of your website so you can get what it’s really worth

Joe: Essentially, enough things picked up in the business where it was just growing incredibly rapidly. And then it took a big leap.

So we did the numbers, and I figured if he waited six months, the business is probably going to be worth about $8 million instead of $5 million.

Victor says, “Joe, I just can’t do it. I’m a single dad, and this is his legacy. I think I need to pull out of this letter of intent.” And the letter of intent that we had with Matt (the buyer), was non-binding and fully contingent on due diligence etc. So Victor could walk away in this situation. And he did just that. It was a real gutsy move.

Matt: Wow, this is interesting. Going from homeless to being prepared to walk away from $4.8 mil. That’s a big move.

Joe: Yes, but it paid off though. And it didn’t take six months. Another three weeks, and Matt, the person we were under LOI with, and two other buyers who had made offers before came to the table and they bid it up to just under $9 million.

So in about three to four weeks, Victor made an extra almost $4 million there. So his hesitation was right. The business was just continuing to grow in a very special niche (the entertainment space), with highly sought after, rabid customers.

It’s important to Manage Emotions when learning how to flip websites

Joe: I have to say though, the most challenging part from that point was the process.

Any time you’ve got a transaction, whether it’s $100,000, $500,000, $1 million, or in this case, just under $9 million, it gets emotional for the seller.

And one of the things about Victor is he’s a good human. I really like to work with good humans, and that’s why he and I are good friends now.

There was a young woman that worked for him. She made a difference in his life and helped him grow that business to the level it was. She was also a single mum, and she was his business operations manager. So, selling the business was going to be a problem, because then she’d need to go find another job. So he promised her that when the business sold, he would buy her a house.

Matt: Wow.

Joe: Well, that’s a big promise. He’s a good guy. About three weeks before closing, it fell completely off the rails. So he blew a gasket. When you’re a month away from this kind of money, emotions run very high. And that’s sometimes the toughest challenge. When you’re preparing a business, under contract, and eventually getting it sold, it’s managing your emotions.

As a broker – the numbers are easy, the package is easy, relationships are easy. The toughest part of what I do is managing people’s emotions and expectations.

Victor’s now setting his sights towards a new Billion dollar online business deal

Joe: And so, we worked through it. We got it back on the rails, closed the business, and now he’s onto new (believe it or not), bigger adventures where he’s in a new space. It’s not the content space anymore. Actually, you know what he did? He bought an e-commerce business from an Australian.

Matt: Wow. Really?

Joe: Yes! It’s a physical products business in the pet space. And he bought it for $700,000. It was doing about $300,000 in discretionary earnings. So just a little over two times multiple. It was a very good deal. And he has taken that business, and bolted on around 9 or 10 other businesses at this point and absolutely blown it up.

When looking at how to flip websites, reverse engineer the numbers to determine how to reach your goal

how to flip websites for profit

Joe: Victor’s goal is to have a unicorn valuation, which is a billion dollar valuation. If you were interviewing him, he’d have a big picture of a unicorn on his back wall. He’s very visual. That’s one of the things that’s kept him motivated and focused, with lots of whiteboards and goal setting. And part of the title of my book, Reverse Engineering Your Pathway to Success is because of Victor. I learned that from him, because that’s what he does.

Remember, Victor doesn’t have a high school education. But he’s still out there saying, “How do I get to a $1 billion exit? That’s my goal. What do I have to be in order to earn that?

His goal was originally for $100 million, and he said, “Yeah, it’s not enough.” Okay. Nine figures is not enough? You’re going to go for 10? All right. Or 11? It’s just crazy stuff.

But, he’s figured out how to reverse engineer that. And he’s working on the recurring revenue model of his business, the diversification of the business, and just growing it to the point where he’s going to eventually have that exit.

…and factor in your own skill levels and mindset needed to grow a business to such a high level…

Joe: But with everything else in life, as you know, Matt, we’re not kids anymore. We realize that you’ve got to be careful about not growing a business to your own level of incompetence. Because then you just screw it up and it’s not as valuable.

So I think he may eventually change his mind. That billion dollar valuation may be not where he wants to be, just because he’s a single dad and he wants to stay focused there more than anything else. Life is worth more than high stress levels, and blood pressure, and things of that nature, when you’re trying to hit a billion dollar valuation.

The quality Relationship that Victor had with Quiet Life can be your journey too if you’re looking at how to flip websites

Matt: Absolutely. That’s an amazing story. One of the things that really stood out for me there is the value of having a really good advisor like you on board, Joe. Isn’t it interesting – everyone looks at what you guys do, where it’s all about the numbers and stuff. But at the end of the day, to actually make that deal work, it came down to the personal reasons and a lot of mindset. And in a way, you helped Victor through that.

But also what really stood out to me was the value of having an advisor on board. It was the difference between $5 million and $9 million in a pretty short space of time. And obviously you guys get on well, so you’re going to help him. He’s worked with Quiet Light for a number of years, hasn’t he? So you guys are going to help him on this journey.

Joe: On his next journey, I’m his friend, and I’ll talk to him and help him all I can. But I’m not qualified to help him with a billion dollar exit.

Matt: Yes. But the reason I bring that up is because I want to say this to our community – Look at what can happen. This can be your journey.

Start your own journey off small and keep rolling it up into your big million dollar deal…

Matt: I know a lot of us in our community here in Australia of Digital Investors, this is the exact journey that you guys are looking for. As you start out, you buy a small site, sell it for $7,500 like he did. Buy your next one, roll it up into $20,000, and then go to the $220,000. And then go to the big, multi-million dollar deal.

But on that journey, don’t be trying to do all this stuff yourself. Especially on the exit side, you need good advisors like Joe on board. These guys are experienced. They know how it works and they can help you through the deals, not just finding you the buyers.

And it just really stands out to me when you’re starting up. Because really, his journey was quite quick, wasn’t it? We’re not talking a decade here or anything, are we?

Joe: No. From start to finish on the $7,500 before he hit $9 million, I think is less than five years.

Matt: Wow. Done in five years.

Joe: It’s pretty incredible.

Becoming an ExitPrenuer – learning how to sell websites for big profits

Matt: Five years. That is absolutely fantastic. And I think one of the other things that really stood out for me is the power of what we were talking about before, and that is your new book. Because one of the comments you made was around Victor’s strategy. He figured out it’s all about buying and flipping websites that makes him the big money.

So it’s interesting to talk to you and hear about this. Our community knows that Liz and I have a buy and hold strategy. And we’re very open about that in general. We love buying quite semi-passive websites. We’re quite busy, and we’ve got kids and family, and we don’t really think about selling too much, even though that’s our background. Isn’t that funny?

But now, speaking with you today and talking about Victor. This is one of his driving themes: just buy it, flip it, roll it up into the next big deal.

Even with a Buy-And-Hold strategy for your websites, you still need to learn how to sell eventually

Joe: Yes. And in his case, it was such a rapid rise that most of the money was going to come on the exit, right? Especially if you’re less than five years old. The buy and hold strategy is not a bad one at all. I like it, especially for content sites.

When you’ve got semi-passive content sites, I think it’s a beautiful thing. If I could just work with content deals all day long, that’s brilliant. It’s great stuff. The margins are wonderful. The workload is generally low. You just have to be steady and consistent at what you do.

And buying and holding for the long run is not a bad idea. But you will exit someday. You can’t hold it forever. So you want to build a business that is going to be in great shape and in great form to pass on to your kids or to an investor at some point. You’re going to get tired. You’re going to want to move on. You’re going to look for your next adventure. That’s the life of an entrepreneur. Right?

The Exitpreneur’s Playbook – learning how to flip websites for top dollar

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Matt: Well, that’s what I wanted to bring up. You used a term when you were describing Victor. And I think this will really open the eyes to give an alternative view to how Liz and I always teach the buy and hold the more semi-passive sites. And you use the term, he’s an exitpreneur. And that’s the title of your new book, isn’t it?

Joe: Yes. It’s called The EXITpreneur’s Playbook. I picked a tough title, folks. Sorry. But it’s all about training, hence the sports analogy.

If you’re going to go out and do a 5km, most of us could get up and do it. It would be okay. We’d survive it. We’d get through it. It’d be tough for a couple of days afterwards, because we’d be really sore, but we’d get through it.

Not like we would if we trained for it, though, right? We’d get a good time. We’d be in great shape. It would be fun and exciting, easy to do. We’d push hard and we wouldn’t have a whole lot of pain afterwards.

Learning the Digital Skills needed to build, buy, renovate and then sell profitable websites

Joe: And so, I’m trying to teach people that will eventually exit their business to train for it. I’m sharing my experience there, a decade worth of experience, touching a half a billion in transactions. I’ve got a couple of epic failures of my own, some pretty decent successes. I share those in the book. I talk about Victor in great detail.

And I think it’s just really important to get as much information and training as you can. That’s why I love working with you, because you’re teaching, you’re helping, you’re educating more than anything else. And that’s all this book is. It’s education.

And it’s in a format that I’ve said I’ve shared in over 5,000 conversations, which is a lot of detail and a lot of time. And I figured it was time to put it in a book, so that people could just grab it and absorb it at their own pace, without feeling like they’re drinking from a fire hose.

Matt: Oh yeah. Well, that’s perfect. And I think if anyone wants to read more about Victor’s story and learn from Joe’s vast experience in this game, make sure you grab yourself a copy of The EXITpreneur’s Playbook, which is out now. It’s just recently launched. So grab yourself a copy of that.

It’s time to set your next online goal – where do you see your online business in the next 5 years?

Matt: But I just want to say a big thank you, Joe, for sharing such an inspirational and getting insight into this deal that I think are particularly important for our community to see that you can start out, in five years, start out dead broke, build yourself up.

But there is mindset. You’ve got to set goals. That’s another big thing that we teach here about having goals and setting an intention. It’s one of our main keywords – Intention. And you can run this right through to a $9 million sale.

And now, as we just heard, Victor’s probably going to go on and do way bigger than that, at least eight figures by the sounds of it. He’s already there. So absolutely fantastic. Thanks so much, Joe, for coming on today.

Joe: Glad to be here. Thanks, Matt.

To learn more, watch this video on how to buy and flip websites for profit.

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Matt Raad
Matt Raad

Matt Raad is a website investor, Angel Investor and leading educator on Digital Asset Investments, and is recognised as the Australian expert in buying, renovating and selling profitable websites and businesses. Find him on Facebook, LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.