Finch’s Guide To Riding Sleeping Giants
An Affiliate Marketer’s Guide To Site Flipping

Finch’s Guide To Riding Sleeping Giants

“What’s your favourite niche to promote?” I’ve been asked this same question so many times that it’s a wonder I haven’t snapped up the domain FinchSellsDatingSoSTFU.com

“Whatever you’re not working on.” is my new default answer.

It sounds like a spiteful retort but it’s actually quite true. I do spend a vast amount of my time running like a little girl from the heaving masses of affiliate marketing competition.

When you first sign up with an affiliate network, you could be forgiven for assuming that the world revolves around dieting, dating, getting rich at home and MMORPGs. The large majority of my income has been generated in these niches so I’m not going to turn in to a contrarian snob by suggesting that you’re a fool for pursuing them.

What I would say, however, is that the further you run from the herd of affiliates, the easier your life will become for a number of reasons.

I’ve ventured away from the standard arbitrage mindset in recent months. I’ve been developing a business strategy of finding and mounting the sleeping giants in niches that very few affiliates dare to enter. Now what the hell does that mean? It sounds like I’ve been galivanting on some sexual adventure of epicly seedy proportions, which would probably make for a standard blog post from my pen.

By sleeping giants, I’m referring to websites that are run with all the best of intentions, and offering all the right content – but those that are simply resounding failures when it comes to the owner’s ability to monetize his creation. A sleeping giant in marketing terms is a website that COULD make the owner a fortune, if only he knew that he had a business asset on his hands.

These are my absolute favourite kind of websites. I like to invest in them, I like to copy them, and I like to sit at my desk salivating at the prospect of how my filthy affiliate paws would spend the money I’d make from them.

Do you know what happens when you try to launch an “authority” website in a niche like weight loss these days? Without an eye watering monetary investment, you’ll end up with about six hits per day. Four from your own IP and two from the poor bastard who clicked your Digged review by mistake.

There’s money in the niche but you know what? There was money in being the first man on the moon too. In relative ecommerce years, you’re about five decades too late. It’s happened. It’s gone. So get over it and find something else.

Go find yourself a sleeping giant. Some of the qualities I look for in a potential investment are as follows:

1. Is the owner likely to undervalue his website?

Because if the owner is wise enough to see the money in his creation, I might as well just use my investment to build something similar. I’ve spoken to countless forum owners about buying their creations. Many of these people simply don’t understand the potential in having an email list of 10000 active targeted users in a highly profitable niche. Forums can be great “sleeping giants”. Particularly if you search out the messageboards that have been dead for months.

Forum webmasters rarely value their sites in realistic currency. They value it by the egotistical kick they get out of being head admin. If it no longer satisfies their ego, the price drops. Somebody like me can step in and monetize their creation in the matter of hours. Blogs that have been dead for a couple of months are another of my favourite targets. If the owner was only in it for the hobby of blogging, and he’s no longer blogging, he’s likely to let the site go on the cheap.

2. How major are the changes I would need to make to see increased profit?

I recently purchased an “Adsense automated” site in an obscure niche where I had a directly relevant product to promote to the site’s audience. The owner was claiming $150/month profit from Adsense. I’ve been claming close to four times that figure just by promoting a product instead of shitty Adcents. One small change can make a wealth of difference. If somebody is selling their creation, and the only revenue stream they have is from Adsense – Take a good look! You might find yourself another of these mythical sleeping giants I’m raving about.

3. Is the niche going to present me a legitimate business opportunity?

Take a look at this list. Do you feel it inside? Come on, we’ve all felt it. The temptation to invest in some bat shit crazy microniche just because there’s an interest from 45000 local searches on Google. That feeling…is the affiliate’s desire to hoard fucking with you. It’s easy to spend a lifetime investing in new web assets. But if you’ve got no viable business plan for monetizing them, you’re not waking a sleeping giant. You’re just wasting your time. And giving GoDaddy another reason to ping you an expired domain notification twelve months from now.

Affiliate marketing is a mere tip of the iceberg when it comes to making money online. Yes, there are plenty of opportunities in following the tried and tested niches. But there’s also a lot of money to be made in taking the knowledge of referral marketing and applying it to websites where affiliates wouldn’t normally bat a glance of interest.

Once you know how to monetize assets effectively, you simply need to find the right opportunities to invest. With hundreds of forums and blogs falling abandoned every single day, are you telling me there’s not a bargain to be had out there? Put on your best Duncan Banntyne scowl and get to it.

Recommended This Week:

  • If you haven’t read it from front to back already, snap up a copy of the brilliant 4-hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. Inspiring stuff for any affiliate marketer.

  • If you’re looking to explore some very different but potentially very profitable micro-niches, take a look at ShareASale. It’s like a CJ that isn’t run by a bag of dicks.

  • Feel free to add Finch to your Facebook. Yes, this is the right link. My real name is not actually Finch.

An Affiliate Marketer’s Guide To Site Flipping

Time and time again you’ve heard me rattle on about the need to build long term assets to survive. Traffic brokering is a volatile gap-market to be working in, and if you’re not setting some time aside to expand in to other ventures, you’re going to run in to a brick wall at some point.

Site flipping is something I’ve never posted about before, and yet it’s probably one of the most interesting areas for an affiliate marketer to work in. It’s a chance to leapfrog your way to those long term business assets without needing the creativity, time or technical know-how to build them yourself. It’s the art of investing in a good concept. Something any self respecting entrepreneur should be able to appreciate.

And it’s a very simple concept to get your head around. There are many websites for sale on the net. Some of them are untapped goldmines of potential revenue that a lesser webmaster simply hasn’t thought to monetize properly. As affiliates, we’re typically a long way ahead of the average website owner when it comes to finding ways to drive profit from a site.

By scouring various online marketplaces, it’s possible to buy websites that have already been developed with outstanding content. We can then choose to apply an affiliate’s touch. Hopefully to raise the revenue being generated by the site with a view to selling it on at a greater price – “site flipping”, if you will. Of course, you can also choose to bag the redeveloped website for yourself and keep it as one of your long term business assets.

Nothing says “well diversified” like an affiliate with a few dozen automated and high-quality websites earning him a few hundred dollars each every month.

Unfortunately site flipping is one of those areas where if you go in unprepared, you’ll end up getting mislead in a market where there are 1001 tricks that a seller can use to artificially inflate the true value of a website. This post should hopefully warn you against a few tricks of the trade.

Ten Commandments For Successful Site Flipping


1. Become a dirty great cynic. – Whenever I visit a website marketplace, I’ll make sure I’m already feeling cynical. Maybe I’ll play Radiohead in the background and pound myself in to a state of doom and gloom. The reason being because there’s simply so much bullshit that a site seller can attempt to get more money for his creation. If you go looking to buy a website with the attitude that you’ll snap up the first bargain you find, prepare to be burnt. Be super cynical and don’t be afraid to ask for whatever necessary data you need before agreeing to a sale.

2. Don’t trust the seller’s traffic stats on face value. – So you’ve stumbled across an excellent looking website and you’re salivating at the thought of 65,000 unique hits/month in a high profile niche. With a 1% conversion rate, that’s 650 sales, right? Don’t be such a retard. You need to know exactly where that traffic is coming from, the countries of it’s origin and whether the traffic will be sticking around after your purchase.

I’ve seen websites for sale boasting 20,000 unique visitors/month, but what the seller isn’t keen to disclose is the fact that nearly all of them are triggered by a pop-up on his own high traffic site somewhere in Ethiopia. Oh, and that he’ll be removing the pop-up after the sale. Get smart about it. If the seller is currently driving a shitload of low quality traffic through PPV, for example, you can pretty much disregard any value he attributes to the current traffic levels.

Assess the website as it’s own little standalone business. Is it well diversified with organic traffic being driven from a number of different sources? That’s what you should be looking for.

3. Adsense is for amateurs. – If a website is boasting Adsense as it’s main source of income, your little affiliate ears should be standing on end. Adsense, with a few exceptions, usually means that the webmaster is pretty clueless when it comes to monetizing his site. Why would you plaster ads over your website for OTHER affiliates to use your own high quality content for their own gain? Remove the Adsense, replace with your own banners, and you could flip a profit in the space of a lunch break.

4. Look out for licensed software platforms. – I got duped by this trick last year. I purchased a website built on the CubeCart platform, but I failed to check how the long the license would last. Contrary to our agreement, the motherfucker deactivated the license after a month and I ended up having to pay more than I set out for the actual site just to renew the license.

If you’re buying a website built on licensed software, make sure you nail down the terms of the transaction so both parties are clear who owns the license, how long it has left to run, and any other bullshit escape clause a slimy dealer might use to shaft you over. This includes the site domain.

5. Ask what has been spent on the site so far. – Of course, you want to know what percentage of the site’s traffic is being delivered from paid traffic sources. Otherwise you could just build the same damn site for yourself. But it’s also important to find out if the seller has paid for any banner placements, directory submissions, classified listings…anything that you might potentially have to replicate to maintain the current levels of traffic. If it’s not free, and it’s not automated, you need to know about it.

6. Is there any work required to maintain the website? – If the site involves distribution of any kind of physical goods, you need to be considering the implications of what an actual “brick and mortar” business involves. Basically, asking yourself “Am I too much of a lazy motherfucker?” If the website is selling something, make sure that the sales funnel requires absolutely minimal processing at your own end, or ideally none at all.

I only bother investing in websites selling virtual goods. You should be careful not to end up site flipping your way in to a position where you’re responsible for a dozen small businesses that each require your time and care. Automation is key, and it will dramatically increase the number of potential buyers if you choose to sell the project on.

7. What are the hosting requirements? – If you’re purchasing a very bespoke website, it may come with specific server requirements. These can be a Grade A pain in the jacksy. Nothing will frustrate you like having to purchase a brand new server to recreate a specific hosting environment for a site that currently only makes $47/month. Make sure you can handle your new baby, or that it shows enough potential to merit such an investment.

8. What are the reasons for the sale? – This sounds petty. Well, I’m a petty man. I like to know exactly why a website is being sold. My logic being that if there’s a reason for selling, there’s probably a reason for not buying. In cases of turnkey sales, my mind rests a little easier. But if a seller is boasting an automated website providing $500 of profit per month. Why would he sell it for $800? He only has to wait 6 weeks to match that ROI by keeping it. Explore the reasons for selling and compare them to your own reasons for buying. Don’t get stuck looking after somebody else’s wobbly dying donkey.

9. What do I know that the seller doesn’t? – I specifically like to find websites that are developed by passionate fans of their chosen niche. Firstly, it guarantees a level of excellence in the content. I like value that a marketer wouldn’t be able to replicate without outsourcing. But secondly, by targeting these kind of websites, you often have a raft of knowledge for monetizing the project that would dramatically increase the website value. I like to use forums as an example. Most forum owners create and develop their communities because they like to play God. Their ROI comes in the form of members and posts.

If an affiliate marketer can get his dirty hands on hours of work where the content really is king, his task of monetizing it becomes a whole lot easier. Look to buy what you cannot build overnight.

10. Sleep on it. – Hey, listen. It’s better to miss out on a promising looking website than it is to jump the gun, buy it now, and end up waking in the morning with that bitter taste in your mouth. You know, the “why the hell did I just buy a website about the culling of trees in the Amazon rainforest? Oh yeah, just because it mentioned acai in the footer” kinda taste. Yes, site flipping is a competitive business. But there’s plenty more competition for being a retard with a bunch of failed investments in your portfolio. Think before you buy, eh?

Finally, here are some marketplaces to check out for site flipping galore:

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Finch Sells is the anti-typical affiliate marketing blog, designed and written for real affiliates. If you’re interested in reading more and grabbing the odd tip, follow me on Twitter. I don’t sling you shitty ebooks but I do talk about my balls. So you’re morally obliged to, okay?

That’s what I thought.

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