Mushfiq Sarker from The Website Flip

Mushfiq Sarker from The Website Flip

Your Flipping Start

I love your backstory — learning the trade while in college. I wish I’d spent my time that productively! What inspired you to build your first website? Were there any points when you thought, “You know what? Maybe this is kind of crazy and I should drop this project…”

I was very passionate about VoIP technology when it first came out and saw how it could affect the future. Since this was a topic I was fascinated by, I used the information I was studying and following anyway to create a great website.

Because of this, building my first website was a passion project on a topic a lot of people were interested in, but there wasn’t a lot of accessible information online about it.

These factors definitely worked in my favor. I never had the “This is crazy, maybe I should stop” doubts. I didn’t even know you could sell a website, so there was never any way for me to lose confidence!

Since I wasn’t starting out with a monthly income goal or a sales goal, I wasn’t going to get frustrated for not hitting some traffic/revenue number fast enough.  

When the offer came to buy out my site for what seemed like a crazy amount of money for a broke college student (it was $25,000), I realized there was a lot of potential here and I wanted to learn everything I could to replicate my early accidental success and turn it into a repeatable process.

To Share or Not to Share (Tactics)?

You put out a really detailed case study on Empire Flippers. I know many affiliate marketers keep their tactics locked down, worried that other flippers will copy their tactics and outcompete them. Does that concern you? FWIW, we’re like you – we shared our tactics in an Empire Flippers guest post as well.

I’m not concerned at all. My tactic is to buy, grow, and sell content websites, and I document the entire process. You could say I bring forward copycats but I only get into acquisitions that have a strong “business moat”. Copycats can try but they won’t succeed.

I’m a firm believer that there are plenty of opportunities out there. There will always be websites to improve and flip, there will always be niches that have space for new sites.

When you know the skills needed in your space, have a lot of experience, and have a strong work ethic, you can find opportunities and take advantage of them.

To me, the value of proving my expertise and building the reputation for sharing actionable tactics others can use is far more important. 

Buyers’ Due Diligence

Due diligence is a critical part of flipping websites — buying a toxic website means you’ve acquired a liability, not an asset to scale and flip. I know you started to assist buyers with this — what is your top due diligence advice you’re willing to give away for free here today?

I’m happy to share a few. We’ll start with the obvious: never, ever skip the due diligence process. Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a terrible guide and will get you into a lot of trouble. 

When you’re doing website due diligence there are two things I want to see right away:

  • The traffic trends
  • The backlink profile

Is traffic going up? Is it leveled up? Or did it crater during the last Google update? It’s very important because it gives you an idea of the type of work and the amount of work that will be needed to fix the site and scale things.

The backlink profile matters so much. If there are PBN’s, obvious link schemes, and spammy links don’t ignore them! Pass on the deal and move on. These will always catch up to you. If you’re not sure about a link profile, do the research. Check the backlink URLs in detail to see if they are quality or run-of-the-mill.

If anything throws up a red flag, pass on the deal and find a better one. This can be frustrating if you find yourself going through one hundred or two hundred sites without a deal but that happens sometimes. 

Long-term success as a website flipper comes from waiting for the gems and passing on the trash.

Multiples in 2022

Where do you see multiples going in 2022? In November 2021, The Website Flip lists the average multiple at just over 38x. In an early 2021 interview with Matt Diggity, he saw multiples in the 40s and 50s… and predicted they’d climb even higher. Do you see that number climbing, holding steady, or decreasing over time?

Over the long-term, I think multiples will keep climbing. It takes a lot of skill to create a profitable website, or to buy a low-earning site and scale it up to a high-earning site. With more people looking for passive income or work that can be done remotely, it’s opened up demand and I don’t see that going away.

Whether that immediately changes in 2022 or not, I’m not sure, but I expect that number to hold steady before increasing over time.

Low-Hanging Fruit

You’ve just acquired a new site: what’s the low hanging fruit you go after? Links? Content? CRO?

My first steps are to fix all the foundational issues and grab any really obvious easy ones. 

By month one I want:

  • A good theme
  • A speed-friendly website design
  • Excellent hosting
  • Proper analytics & tracking added
  • An on-site content audit
  • All monetization switched over to my accounts

If I need to add or delete plug-ins, optimize the theme, or even redesign the entire site I want that all finished in month one.

If there’s a really obvious money win, like adding display ads if there are none or moving from Google AdSense to Ezoic, I make sure to implement those as quickly as possible.

Now I have a fast site that looks good, provides a great user experience, and is already giving me cash flow. When that foundation work is done I look for good writers and prepare for a content blitz for the next several months based on what we found from the content audit.

Getting those basic tasks and foundational tasks done in week one is so important. That’s the foundation for any content work, SEO work, or CRO that follows. 

Month one is busy but it sets the tone for everything that follows.

New Affiliate Advice

There are so many new players in the space. What’s your advice to those who are new to building websites, whether to hold or flip?

Have patience and learn by doing. Even people more interested in website flipping than building niche websites should still build their first site from scratch. Learn the skills it takes to write, to do SEO, to troubleshoot tech issues. 

Nothing happens fast, especially the first time. When you study some part of SEO or writing good content, follow that up with practice until you have it down. When you do that you’re not only picking up skills to use and teach others, but you’re taking action.

Nothing gets done without action. Don’t expect anything fast and keep doing the work. It does pay off, but only for people willing to stick with it and learn the skills.

Next G Algo Update Prediction

One last “for fun” big picture question before you can go. What’s the next (as of November 2021) Google search engine algorithm update you predict will be unveiled?

This is a tough one. 

Google has been tightening the ropes on conventional affiliate marketing sites that do not add any value. That was evident in the Google Product Reviews update in April 2021. I see this expanding into other aspects where Google can evaluate content quality against content expertise.

I often see content ranking that was written by a non-expert. Now this is not in typical finance or medical niches, where expertise is required, but more traditional niches. 

Bloggers, affiliate markets, website flippers, and the likes will need to adapt to build media companies with the legitimate expert writing staff as opposed to low-quality writers that have zero expertise on a topic. That’s the future.

Just my 2 cents.

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Mushfiq Sarker

Mushfiq is a prolific investor that buys, grows, and sells online businesses, specializing in content websites. He has done 180 website flips to date and several have resulted in 6-figure exits. He runs a free newsletter, The Website Flip, where he discusses growth case studies, guides, and shares sites for sale that anyone can purchase.

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