Exclusive Interview With Online Empire Flipper - Justin Cooke.
Jun 02 2020
5 min read
5 min read
Regular readers to the blog will know I interview successful online entrepreneurs, marketers and bloggers.
I grill them to find out their insider information and get hot tips they can share with you.
Today I'm sharing an interview with Justin Cooke of EmpireFlippers.com a secure market place to buy and sell profitable websites.
Justin has a great story of how a bad moment in his business actually opened up new doors and created a whole new business of it's own.
Let's get down to it....
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So for anyone who doesn't know you, who are you and what are you all about?
Hey, Stuart, thanks for having me on.
We provide a marketplace for website builders, entrepreneurs, and moguls to buy and sell websites and help them grow their online empire.
I'm also an American living in SE Asia and with a team in the Philippines. I love to network and connect with other expat entrepreneurs around the globe.
How did you get started in internet marketing?
We had an outsourcing company in the Philippines and had just lost a major client.
Rather than laying the entire team off, we decided to test building out small websites built with AdSense to see if we could at least cover their expenses until we could get them placed with other clients.
What started off as a side-project turned into a business of its own.
We quickly realized there was a massive market of people looking to build, buy, and sell profitable websites.
We've created a platform or marketplace to support those doing exactly that.
Unlike some of the auction formats that are out there, we individually vet and verify each seller and listing that's submitted to us which keeps the quality of our listings top-notch.
It's no surprise that we've been able to sell 95% or more of the websites that have been listed with us as we have hungry buyers always looking for new sites for sale.
Often friends and family don't really 'get' this whole internet marketing thing or take it seriously, how do yours feel about it and how did they react when you first told them you were going to give it a try?
I'd already started a few different offline entrepreneurial ventures before we got involved in the "internet marketing" industry, so there wasn't that much of a difference and I didn't get much negative feedback.
I think it helps to treat an online business much as you'd treat an offline business.
Expecting the business to take off right away is often sold to us by info "gurus" online, but it's rare for most of the successful businesses I've run across.
I've never been a fan of the "internet marketing" industry overall.
In fact, that's one of the ways we thought we'd be able to make a dent.
While so many others were full of hype and trying to sell their latest get-rich-quick scheme, we thought we could be disruptive by just sharing our successes (and failures) publicly and for free for all to see.
What was your first ever website or niche?
My buddy and I had sold some stuff on eBay back in 2003/2004 in college and had a site created for us.
It was horrible and did absolutely nothing for us (our sales continued to come through eBay's platform) but it was a website all the same. You can check that website out here. (Yikes, that's ugly!)
We've built, grown, or sold thousands of websites and businesses since then. Some have ranged from small micro-niche AdSense sites to full-on branded and established eCommerce sites.
If you had to give one piece of advice to a newcomer in the internet marketing world, what would it be?
I've got a few, but they all sort-of work together:
1. Don't get into the IM space.
Instead, use some of their tactics and strategies to build out assets and cashflows in other industries. (Health, Finance, etc.)
2. Niche down.
Target a subset of the market that you can see yourself OWNING in the next 2-3 years.
If you come at a smaller, highly-targeted niche you're much more likely to get traction and it will be much cheaper to acquire customers.
3. Double down on what's working.
Too many beginners are worried about diversification when they need to be exploiting what's working in their business.
Diversification is a "Five-Figure Problem" - don't worry about diversifying your business until it's big enough to be a concern.
What does it take to be a success in the internet marketing world in your opinion?
Have a highly-targeted niche, a developed and well-described "perfect customer", and a clear/concise message that matches both.
When choosing a niche, follow passion or money?
The obvious answer would be to have both, but that's not always possible and you shouldn't wait until you have some magical connection between the two before you get started.
Ideally, you should focus on solving a problem. The bigger or more difficult the problem you're trying to solve, the more people will be willing to pay you to solve it for them.
Look at the money as a tool that improves your problem-solving chops and process.
Reinvest until you get to the point that you're the BEST at solving that particular problem for the right target audience or customer.
Don't worry so much about having "passion" before you get started.
That's generally an excuse the non-action takers use to justify their inaction...plus, you'll find SOMETHING in your business you're passionate about when you've found some success.
One of the most common questions I receive from my audience is “How do I get started?”. What would you advise them?
Build something. Anything. It's not likely to make you any money (the first, second, maybe even third time around) but it will give you some experience and you'll hopefully learn from your mistakes and build something better with the next go-round.
If you're looking for things to build, hang out in forums or communities where there are people in positions you'd like to be.
Find out what problems or issues they're struggling with and see if you can build software, process, and solutions that help them solve their problems.
Leveraging their success will help you create your own.
Reading case studies and stories from others who are building things can be inspiring and can help give you ideas, but you need to spend much more time doing "the work" rather than reading about other people who are doing the work you should be doing.
If you lost everything and had to start all over again with just a $100 budget, what would you plan of action be?
Assuming I lost all connections, cash, knowledge, audience, and ONLY kept what I know today, I'd probably have to get a job.
Just like an offline business, $100 isn't likely to do much for me.
I'm going to need cash reserves or runway to give me enough time to do the work required to produce enough value that I can get paid for it.
Assuming I had the cash reserves, but only wanted to spend $100 on the online business,
I'd likely get started building highly-targeted niche sites and flip/sell them in 6-9 months.
This would be for cashflow - I wouldn't really be building assets here, just doubling down on what I know how to do to get enough cash rolling in so that I can expand.
What are you working on at the moment, what are your plans for the future and do you have anything new in the pipeline you'd like to share with us?
We're currently putting the finishing touches on a full redesign.
We're revamping our marketplace and our website to better match our goals for the future in becoming the #1 place for buying and selling established, profitable websites and online businesses.
It's been quite the process bringing the designers and developers together on this, but we're really looking forward to taking this live in August.
We're also working on a website valuation tool that will accurately give you the value of your website with a few inputs from you. The tools that are out there currently are particularly bad and we're looking to fix this.
Latest podcast: Slaughtering Your Sacred Cows
I hope you enjoyed this interview with Justin Cooke of EmpireFlippers.com.
If you're looking to buy or sell profitable websites then this is the market place you've been looking for.
As always leave your comments and questions below...