Meet Andrej Ilisin, an inspiring entrepreneur, blogger, and investor helping people create profitable online businesses.
Welcome the second awesome guest in the “How Creators Make a Living” series featuring creators building unconventional careers.
I’m Andrej Ilisin, owner of Investors Club and Alpha Investors, both of which are online website marketplaces for buyers and sellers.
For more than a decade, I’ve been busy building profitable blogs and ‘flipping’ (selling) them to start new blogs.
It is only now that I’ve been reaping the benefits of my past successes that allowed me to seamlessly transition into becoming an entrepreneur.
Of course, I owe all my success to my knowledge of building blogs that sell thousands of dollars after a few years. In fact, I put all my eggs into this website flipping basket that luckily turned out well for a betting man like me.
If I can have your time, let me tell you my story.
Taking a Chance on Blog Flipping
As an avid sports better for tennis and football/soccer, you could say I live my life on the edge out of my own volition.
However, the lack of control that comes with gambling forced me out of it.
Therefore, I went all-in with my chips and took a chance on making money online.
During this time when I was still learning the ropes of building profitable websites, my family burnt through all our savings.
And while I took my dad’s offer for a job at his construction business as financial relief, the economic crash happened and left me jobless.
Nonetheless, lady luck was on my side when I stumbled upon search engine optimization (SEO).
It was the catalyst that made my life and my family’s turn for the better.
I applied the things I learned about SEO on my father’s construction website.
After two months, he was raking in 5-10 calls a day with a 50% conversion rate. Not bad for a guy who just learned SEO out of necessity!
Still, I felt unhappy because I felt tied to working for my father. I wanted to be my own boss and eventually decided to leave his business.
In 2013, my journey as a blog flipper started, and I never looked back.
Granted, I made mistakes along the way, but once I got over the hump, my success surprised even me!
After eight months of building the site from the ground up using the tactics I learned through the years, I was able to turn in a profit from the site which I then sold for $8,400.
Remember when I said that blog flipping is a rinse-and-repeat process? Well, from the money I earned after selling my first profitable site, I reinvested it into another site that I took time building into an authority site.
I flipped that as well for $51,000.
Other things happened in between. But the constant earnings I got from website flipping opened new doors for me.
Look, I’m not here to gloat. I just want you to know that a former gambler who hit rock bottom can make this much money and provide his family with a life he never thought possible at first, then so can you!
All you need to do is bet on yourself!
How You Can Flip Your Way to Success
People like me had to learn the hard way because information back then was scant.
There aren’t many case studies that talk about whether something is effective.
If we wanted to see if a tactic works or not, we put it to the test.
And if it fails, then now we know it doesn’t work!
Nowadays, the risks are lower than due to the wealth of information available about building a profitable website.
And since you read about my success with website flipping, it’s about time you know what I did to get where I am now.
This is the blueprint that I used to create websites from the ground up that turn in a profit. Some people may have a different process, but this is what works for me.
Also, it doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with either method, as they’re just different.
Research Profitable Websites on Sale
The first thing I do is niche research. This step determines how much you’re going to earn in the long run.
For this part, I visit website selling platforms like Flippa and check out the most recent websites that were sold for more than $20,000.
Back then, I filtered the results to show Amazon affiliate sites, which made money as part of the Amazon Associates program.
However, considering the drastic cuts in affiliate commissions, you may want to consider other forms of monetization specific to the site’s niche.
For example, if you find niche sites about pets, see if they are Chewy Affiliates, which is considered the best affiliate network for pet lovers.
Once I have around 10 sites to choose from, I narrow down the list even more by looking at websites that look bad.
When I say “bad,” it means there are factors in the websites that I can do better such as the design, content, and others.
From the final list of sites I have, I’ll use them as templates into creating a better and more profitable version of what they’re currently making.
Imagine the Skyscraper Technique at play here. But instead of content, you’re working with websites as a whole.
When it comes to choosing a niche, always follow the trail of money. If people are buying websites about a particular niche, then you should create something similar to it, if not the same!
Now, if you don’t have the passion for the niche, you can always hire people who will help you get the job done.
It’s all about delegating the tasks to the right people so you can focus on maximizing your resources and playing the long game.
Finding the right keywords to target in your niche site will help drive more organic traffic to your site.
Instead of you reaching out to your target audience with your site, they will find it ranking on the first page for relevant search queries about your niche.
Most of the keywords you will optimize for will come from the website being sold on Flippa. As mentioned, you want to create a bigger and better version of that site so you can sell your website at a higher price when all is said and done.
To do this, you can track which keywords the site is ranking for.
For this purpose, I use Ahrefs not only for researching keywords but also for all my SEO needs.
To help you identify which keywords to target first, check out their search volume and competition. You want to optimize for keywords with lots of monthly searches and low difficulty.
For me, I search for keywords with over hundreds of monthly searches and a keyword difficulty of not more than 30.
Regarding searches, the keywords the site is ranking for depends on the niche - not all niches have the same search volume as the rest. So, you may want to be more lenient with search volume.
In this case, I just focused on finding easy-to-rank keywords by filtering them on Ahrefs.
Depending on the tool you’ll be using to conduct your research, also determine how many organic clicks the keyword receives.
There are keywords loaded with featured snippets that take away some of the clicks.
Next, you can also find keywords that its competitors are ranking for, but it isn’t.
This allows you to find new keywords to capitalize on the site you’re planning to create.
To top off your keyword list, go the traditional route by entering your seed keyword to extract keyword suggestions and ideas.
One thing to search for is questions. They are the perfect keywords to optimize for because they have a clear user intent and usually low competition.
How you present the content on your website matters not just for search engines but also for users.
For starters, people gravitate towards fast-loading websites. According to the study, almost 25% of people leave a web page if it loads more than five seconds.
Loading speed is part of a site’s design because how fast or slow your site loads depends on the elements you’ll be using.
For instance, featuring lots of images or having a design with bloated code without your knowledge can hamper your site speed.
To determine your site’s speed, enter your domain’s URL on Google PageSpeed Insights to see factors that contribute to its loading speed.
From here, you have a list of issues that you must fix to make the site load more efficiently. Unless you have years of coding and design experience, it’s best to leave this task to the experts.
When building your website, it’s always best to go with a self-hosted one. It ultimately won’t matter which CMS you wish to use as long as you’re comfortable using it.
However, I gravitate towards WordPress because they provide the flexibility and customization that is severely lacking in most platforms.
In relation to design, you can choose from a host of responsive themes to make your site load fast and efficient.
The most critical part of developing a self-sustaining website is ways how it will make money.
We already touched upon the cuts in Amazon’s affiliate commissions. And while the e-commerce site remains the best way to make money from your blog, it’s time to look out for other avenues where to generate revenue.
The logical step for you to take is to join other affiliate marketplaces or programs specific to your niche.
When trying to make sales with affiliate marketing, you also need to learn how to optimize your conversion along the way.
Conversion rate optimization is all about testing different variables on your money pages and seeing how they perform over time.
Using the data you monitored from your pages, you can make tweaks in your CTAs to increase conversions to them.
For instance, changing the button colors or their positions on the page could turn your profits from hundreds into thousands overnight!
When it comes to driving traffic to your blog, SEO could very well be the easiest and most convenient way.
Some tactics we covered above (keyword research, site speed) are ranking factors that you need to check off your SEO strategy list.
But out of all ranking factors, nothing comes as big as link building.
It has been long considered as the most crucial ranking factor. The more backlinks you get from authoritative websites, the higher your site will rank on organic search.
For this part, I always stand by guest posting for my sites.
Unlike other forms of link building, guest posting goes both ways.
On one hand, I’m adding value by sending them an insightful piece to their site which they can publish. In the other, I placed a link to my site either on the author's bio or the body.
In the end, both of us win!
To do this, conduct research on the backlinks of your competitors, including the website being sold on Flippa. Again, we’ll be using Ahrefs to do this.
From here, filter the results to only show domains with the best Domain Rating (DR). The higher the DR, the more authoritative the site is.
Now that you have a list of link prospects, the next thing you must do is develop a rapport with link partners.
That means you need to befriend them by sharing their posts on social media, commenting on their articles, and asking them questions, to name a few.
These are small things that go a long way with your prospects. This shows them that you want to build relationships with them.
Once you are genuinely friends with the site owners, only then can you propose to write a guest post on their site. While there’s already a professional and friendly relationship there, the chances of you getting accepted are very high.
Overview for How to Flip a Website
- Target a niche which you believe is going to be sustainably profitable even in the long run.
- Find what are the most important factors to the website's value relative to the chosen niche.
- Choose a website that has the potential to hold very high value as a result of a strong website basis.
- Determine which keywords are best suited to the website.
- Start climbing the search results for the chosen keywords.
- Incorporate creative monetizing strategies into the website such as psychological techniques.
- Build the general profile of the link so it is attractive to an SEO analyst as well as Google’s algorithms.
Final Words: Bet on Yourself
I can share with you tactics and tips all day on how you can build profitable sites to flip for a fortune.
However, what will push you towards website flipping success is your intangibles.
There’s no way to measure determination and dedication in people, but these characteristics and then some will put them over the top.
And this is pretty much true not only in website flipping and gambling but also in life.
You need to remain steadfast with affiliate marketing and believe in yourself.
If I gave up on website flipping during the economic downturn, then I’d probably work for my dad and still try to make ends meet.
And if it took me to bet on myself and what I believed in this whole time, then you can too.