See how Annette turned a $5K bargain website into $50,000/year in semi-passive income as a travel blogger…
How would it feel to drive out of your driveway in your brand-new four-wheel drive and caravan on the trip of a lifetime?
Imagine doing a lap around Australia with no deadlines and no end date. You’ve rented out your house, and quit your corporate job. There’s no more nine to five, and you’ve got semi-passive income coming in from your website.
Today’s guest, Annette, has done exactly that. Below you’ll hear exactly how she has done it, what her journey was like, and what challenges she faced along the way.
You’ll hear how she found a bargain website and how she turned that initial $5000 purchase into $50,000 per year in semi-passive income. It was such a good purchase that she won our Best Website Buy at this year’s Digital Investor Summit. So, Annette, welcome to the podcast today.
Annette: Thanks very much, Matt. That was an intro and a half!
Annette & Ken were looking for a way to spend their retirement years after selling their bricks-and-mortar business
Even though she has been part of the Digital Investors community for over 12 years, she only got serious about buying and building websites 3 years ago…
Matt: Well, you’re a bit of a legend in our community, Annette. How long have you known us?
Annette: It would have to be at least 12 years.
Matt: And in that 12-year journey, you may have drifted off track a bit, and life got in the way. So, what happened that brought you back into this space of buying and selling websites?
Annette: A couple of things happened. There was a time when I was feeling a bit lost. I’d sold my brick-and-mortar businesses and was thinking, “What next?” I was completing the WebDev Accelerator course, so I redesigned my partner’s business website.
We were looking into the future and thinking about where we were going to enjoy our life after business (I won’t say the R word 🙂 )
She built her first website in the travel niche when visiting Bali
Annette: After I finished WebDev, I started a blog on Sanur, our favourite little town in Bali. The traffic was going really well and starting to grow, and I thought, “Well, I’m on a winner here.”
We were in Bali in March 2020 and returned to Australia just before the lockdowns started. So, we needed to rethink our plans. We were always going to buy a four-wheel drive and caravan to travel around Australia with no end date in mind.
Matt: Were you really zeroing in on at that point?
Annette: Yes, so it was at that point we reconnected again with Matt and Liz Raad. I had a call with you, Matt, and you invited me back into the Digital Investors program. It’s been fabulous reconnecting with everyone!
Matt: I’m so impressed, Annette, because you have inspired so many people with your action taking. Not only were you building websites from scratch (a strategy that we teach), but during COVID, you also got into buying websites. You’ve blitzed both strategies.
Annette created an Australian travel blog based on her personal caravanning experiences
Matt: So, let’s look at your legendary efforts here. Firstly, you had your Bali site but then pivoted to the Australian travel blog. What was that site, and how well did it go?
Annette: The site was called Lappers Australia, and we were writing about the gear we were researching that we needed for our trip. We spent about eight months looking at what we needed to buy for our four-wheel drive and caravan. There are so many things you need!
Matt: So, it’s a content site based on your own personal experience. You’re reviewing four-wheel drive equipment on there.
Within 12 months her site was making $1,200 a month
Matt: How long did it take before that site took off? Can you remember how many articles you posted back then?
Annette: It was around ten articles.
I started the site in April, and by October, I received an email from an affiliate I was using saying I had made some money. I thought, “Wait, what? Let me see!”
I got so excited because I waited for at least 12 to 18 months before making money. But then, every week, the money just started growing. So that spurred me on to write even more articles.
By next March, I was making about $1,200 a month in the travel niche.
Matt: That is super cool. And we keep telling our community that the travel niche is one of the best niches. The proof is in the pudding here. Especially with four-wheel driving and caravanning, as you know, here in Australia, it just went nuts in 2020.
She used her digital skills to quickly grow her travel site within a trending niche
Matt: So you were in the perfect place at the perfect time. But also, it was because you had developed the skills in buying and building websites, Annette.
Annette: Absolutely. I couldn’t have done it without those skills.
Matt: You wrote real articles about your personal experiences, which worked well.
I remember Liz and I were out four-wheel driving, and I Googled “best max tracks”, and your article came up. That’s when I sent you an email and we did a call. And then you said at one of our events that you’ve even had $2,000 months on that website.
Annette: Yes, I did.
Matt: That must have been pretty exciting!
How Annette bought an 11-year-old content site with 350+ articles for just $5,000!
Matt: So, you and your partner were working towards quitting your jobs and doing some full-time travelling. You’ve got this semi-passive travel website with some articles on it, and you’re making around $1,200 a month.
What happened then? What was your next step?
Annette: The next step came a bit out of the blue. A friend of mine owned a travel blog I knew, and I was very surprised to hear she was selling it. I couldn’t quite believe it because she’d had this site for about 11 years.
Annette identified a unique opportunity to merge this bigger aged site with her existing travel blog
Annette: The site had a lot of fantastic content about her travels around Australia that she’d already done because she’d already had her trip of a lifetime.
But she just had enough of running the site. She was running a Facebook group at the time with about 80,000 people in it. So, she said, “Would you be interested in buying it?”
I looked at the site and thought this was perfect because I could take the content that I’d already written and merge both sites.
There was content on that site that she didn’t have, but I had on mine. And there was content I didn’t have that she’d already written on hers. So I thought, “Fabulous. It’s going to be a great blend of both sites.”
Matt: And you already knew you were making at least $1,200 to $2,000 a month just with your site. Was her site making money at the time? Was that her focus, or was it just a travel blog or something?
Annette: It was just a travel blog. She’s a very good writer, but I don’t think she had the training or developed the skills of doing affiliate marketing that I had learned through eBusiness Institute.
Matt: Thank you, Annette. You learned from the best. 😉
She found a long established travel blog for sale in a Facebook group, with no other bidders!
…and Annette could see the massive opportunity after doing her website due diligence…
Matt: And because she doesn’t know this space of buying and selling websites, how else had she tried to sell that website?
Annette: There was a Facebook group for travel bloggers, and she advertised there. I saw the ad afterwards and noticed a couple of people (my competitors) had looked at it.
Matt: But no one else bought it, though? No one even made an offer on it?
Matt: That is so cool.
Annette: The website hadn’t had an update or a renovation for a very long time, so it was looking a bit tired, and the seller recognised that. She knew that it needed a spruce up.
So, once I bought the site, the first thing I did was to change the theme and update it.
You can visit Annette’s travel blog about caravanning and camping around Australia here: AllAroundOz.com.au
Matt: Great, and we’ll talk about that in a minute. But how old was the site?
Annette: At the time, it was 11 years old.
Matt: And roughly how many articles were on it?
Annette: There were around 350-400 articles on the site.
ED NOTE: 400 legitimate travel articles hand written by a passionate traveller about real experiences of travelling around Australia for over 11 years! This real aged content alone is worth 4x the $5000 website sale price!
Matt: How did that compare to your little start-up site?
Annette: I had 15 articles on that one.
Matt: Yes, so it saves you all this writing. You now have a site with 350+ articles, is 11 years old, and has a Facebook group included?
Annette: Yes, the Facebook group was included.
Matt: With how many people in it?
Annette: There were 80,000 at the time.
Annette’s Private Facebook group for AllAroundOz now has over 147,000 members!
Matt: Can you remember how much traffic was coming to this travel blog then?
Annette: Yes, it was about 3,000 a month.
Matt: So, it was quite small and niche. But it has really good, legit content that will save you writing 350 articles.
And no one else bid on this site?! How much did you pick it up for?
Annette: Just $5,000!
Annette immediately doubled the website’s valuation using these simple renovation strategies
Matt: I remember when we shared your popular Australian Caravanning site publicly within our community, there was a bunch of us who immediately offered you $10,000 for the site. And you said, “No chance!” Essentially, you doubled your money right away.
Matt: So, you said the site needed a spruce up. What was the first reno that you did on it?
Annette: I changed the theme because it was an old magazine theme. So, I made the homepage static and thought about how I wanted the site to be structured so that people could navigate it quite easily.
I did my keyword research and a lot of SEO research, and I wrote it all out on a piece of paper.
She hired a techie to help her with her website renovation
Annette: I attempted to update the theme myself, but I thought I could be doing so many more things with my time. So, I handed it over to a techie, and she did a great job.
Matt: And where’d you get the techie from? Did you hire them from Upwork or something?
Annette: Well, I was already working with a techie from when I was building and buying websites back in the Legends (Champions) program. He was the second techie I ever hired.
So, when I came back online, I went back to him, and I’ve worked with him many times over the years. But he didn’t work with the theme I wanted for this site, so he put me in touch with his girlfriend, which worked well because we had a real trust factor.
Matt: And where is your techie based?
Annette: She’s in the Philippines. And I also have another techie in Africa, who’s fabulous. He’s really good.
She merged content from her existing travel blog to boost traffic on the new site
Matt: Great. And I’ve had some fun calls with you as you were transferring the site, Annette, because you did something very challenging that a lot of beginners shouldn’t do.
I know you’re not a complete beginner, but this was pretty full-on. Can you explain what you did with the Lapper site that was working so well at the time?
Annette: Well, by that stage, there were only 15 to 20 articles, and I thought I couldn’t focus on both. So, my goal was always to blend both sites.
I had a call with you and said I wanted to transfer all the articles from Lappers onto this new site. And that’s what I did every week. I just transferred these articles word-for-word, along with the images, tables, etc. It was a lot of work because I do a lot of comparison charts in my articles so people can compare the products I’m talking about.
It took weeks of work to get that done, but it all paid off, which is good.
Matt: And you were doing this part-time. Was that pretty much the reno? You weren’t putting any new content onto the site at all?
Annette: Not at that stage, because the content I was moving over from Lappers was new content for this site anyway.
Matt: And so, for all intents and purposes, you put 15 new articles onto this website, and you de-indexed the old site.
For those of you who are SEO nerds like me, don’t worry; it’s not duplicate content. It’s done via a redirect and told via Google Search Console, so it’s all good. It’s pretty easy stuff when you know what you’re doing.
Within 2 years Annette’s travel site is now worth six-figures!
Matt: The results you got from this were exciting for our community, Annette. Before the reno and moving the 15 articles, the site was getting about 3,000 a month in traffic. What did the traffic jump to after that?
Annette: It went to about 20,000.
Matt: Initially, you said it tripled to 9,000.
Annette: That’s right, it initially tripled in the very early days.
Matt: And because you’ve done more work since then, it’s gone up even more. That’s pretty amazing. How long did it take to get to that first tripling of traffic?
Annette: It was a matter of months. Whenever I moved a new article over, the search traffic from Lappers immediately transferred over to the new site. So I wasn’t losing traffic. It was just being redirected to the new site.
Matt: Perfect. And did the Facebook group grow as well? When you bought the site, it was at 80,000 travellers, which is already significant. Where is it at now?
Annette: We’re almost at 150,000 members now.
Matt: Wow, so you’ve doubled that. You and Kev must be so happy.
She now posts one new article a week, based on her personal travel experiences…
Matt: Let’s fast forward today because it’s been a journey. There was no new content except for these 15 articles you moved across.
Since then, how often have you been posting a piece of content on that site?
Annette: Every week.
Matt: Okay, so you do one new article a week. And is it just you writing them now because you’re travelling full-time?
Annette: Yes, we’re travelling full-time.
…And has a writer who helps her to achieve this, so she can focus on her travel
Annette: Everyone has this dream about travelling full-time and being a travel blogger, writing all these articles. But it was hard to slip into a usual routine. I’d be thinking, “I should be writing now”, but we’ve got the whole day in the car travelling, and I just can’t write when we’re travelling. So that was a bit of an adjustment.
I do have a writer now, which was hard for me to let go of.
Matt: Okay, I was just going to stir you, Annette, because you’re a perfectionist (like a lot of us!). You love writing, and you are a good writer. So, what was it like to let go?
Annette: It was very hard, but something had to give.
But it works well. My writer writes about the facts, and then I put in my personal experiences. So, if it’s a post about things to do in X, she’ll write all the facts, history, etc. Then, I will add my personal bit over the top.
Matt: And I’m presuming you and Kev are taking lots of photos, so you can include those in the articles, too.
Out of interest, how much do you pay for a writer like that? Is this someone offshore or a fellow traveller? Are they a travel expert? What sort of a writer are they?
Annette: She’s a general writer based in England, and she’s excellent.
Matt: So, she’s in England, and you’re here in Australia travelling around in a caravan. How did you find her?
Annette: I found her on Upwork.
I short-listed two writers from Upwork who were very enthusiastic, and they both offered to do trials. And if I liked their writing, then I’d pay for the article. So that’s what I did.
Matt: Okay, nice one. And how much does that article cost?
Annette: It’s US$40 for 2000 words.
Matt: Awesome, and then you edit the article yourself. So, that’s freed up a lot of time for you and your travels.
Annette quit her part-time job when she realised her travel blog makes her more money
Matt: On average, how much money does your site make monthly?
Annette: On average, it’d be about $4,000 per month.
Matt: Well done.
Annette: I realised I was making more money from my website than my part-time job. And it was the next week I actually resigned.
Matt: That’s cool, I love hearing that. Was that the point when you decided to become an official full-time travel blogger?
Annette: I am a full-time travel blogger, which is awesome. It was a goal of mine for so many years, so it was a sweet moment in time.
Matt: What does this allow you to do? Have you still got a home? How have you worked things there?
Annette: We have a unit in the Gold Coast that we’re Airbnb. We have an Airbnb manager who looks after that.
We also have a house in Harvey Bay, which is now our home base. So, once we finish doing all of this, we’ll head back to Harvey Bay. Then, we might head back to Bali in a few years.
She makes $4,000 a month, which allows her to travel around Australia comfortably
Matt: So, you’re making $4,000 a month off this site. Do you have any other sites in your portfolio?
I know you’re doing this for lifestyle reasons. You’re slightly different from some of our other laptop lifestylers in this program, where you don’t need to make as much money. Is $4,000 a month good when you’re travelling around? Or will you start working on some other sites in your portfolio?
Annette: $4,000 a month is great for us. It stops me from having to work for someone else. There’s nothing better than working for yourself.
…with future plans to grow her Bali site for more online income
Annette: But I do have my sights on my Bali blog, which has not been touched since March 2020. And that’s because the traffic is going up on it.
Matt: So, it’s passively just starting to increase in traffic. I think that’s a sign from the universe that you should be working on it, Annette.
Annette: Well, the Bali site has made a few dollars in the last couple of months. So yes, I need to do that. And that’s where a VA and writer will come in very handy.
Matt: Well, now you can do it. You’ve already got the team in place and are in the flow where you can just start. You’ve heard some of our other members who get to this point. And once you start seeing that, you never know. Maybe you’ll get lucky a second time (you create your own luck) and find another site to buy.
But at the very least, Annette, you’ve got a great foundation there. More importantly, you’ve got the skillset to really grow this.
I do want to say a massive congratulations and thank you so much for sharing your story here and inspiring everyone in our community with your amazing journey. You’re seriously living the dream as a travel blogger travelling around Australia. Well done, Annette.
Annette: Thank you, Matt.