I said that sounded great, and I immediately made the investment to go to the Empire Flippers Retreat in Phuket, Thailand in September, and I wanted to tell you guys all the great things I learned.
By the way, my quick retreat itinerary (without pulling the official one online):
Day 1: arrive and network
Day 2: morning masterminds and 2 speeches (covered below)
Day 3: Luxury Yacht to islands, oceanside dinner, and top nightclub in the world in Phuket
Day 4: Sleep in and head out with your new friends if you kept a flexible itinerary, or go to airport.
Lastly, here's a video to keep this post interesting for you:
At my company, Handshaking.com:
We build lead generation websites for real estate contractors. What that means is that we would build a website like Concrete Edina, and this is a website focused in the city of Edina. It's for customers who want to get concrete quotes. We optimize for keywords like "driveway repair", "foundation problems", "sidewalk addition".
Homeowners and small businesses find one of our websites and call us requesting a quote. We then sell those leads to a real estate contractor for a fee.
That's how we make money. We have exactly 75 of these local lead generation websites today, soon to be 300+ by the end of 2020.
But, I'm kind of new to buying and selling websites.
We've definitely developed many of our own online assets, and we rent out the monthly leads to a concrete contractor that pay us. But, that's the extent of my experience in the online world.
First impressions at the Empire Retreat
Now, when I got to this retreat, I was pumped to learn that even though we're doing five figures a month in sales, that we're very much so on the low end.
Most of the people at the retreat were at the high end five figures per month. These are very smart people who have had a lot of success online, and they come from all over the world. Two of the people that I really connected with were two of the speakers. One of the speakers was Charles Floate who is an SEO ninja guru.
He's still pretty young, and has tons of websites that he's just grown to huge sums of monthly recurring revenue.
Charles Floate's ROI SEO Speech
He gave a speech about ROI SEO, where anything you invest in SEO, you want to find an ROI right away, which was great. I'll share some of those tips with you guys later. Here's his personal website.
The best part was that I've heard probably over one hundred SEO agencies and firms tell prospective customers 'SEO takes time.' Well, true, but that's not a convincing reason to hire the firm if you can't find an ROI on your marketing dollars quickly.
Felipe's Epic Online Asset Flip
The next person was Felipe, who flipped a website for $345,000 in about two years. He picked up this website that was generating sales, and he saw that there was an opportunity for him to implement his skillset to raise sales on this website, which is exactly what he did.
Then he went on to make profit each month, and then sell the entire asset for hundreds of thousands of dollars. He got me thinking about some alternative ways to make big money online without the domain name being the focal point.
Coming from a real estate background, I like to think about the domain name is the land, the website is the house, and the people who pay us for the website are the renters.
The online world I see through a real estate lens since my background is in real estate investing, and it's typical for the real estate mindset to correlate with the SEO side of things v. the Amazon/affiliate side of things.
However, the speech from Felipe was not about a domain. In fact, that's one of the things I learned. Let's go ahead and hop into the four things I learned from this retreat.
Four Big Takeaways
Not all online assets require a domain (What?!)
The first thing I learned from Felipe, and other Amazon people, was that not all online assets have to include a domain. That blew my mind because I think of these as assets. How can you have a business if you don't have a piece of land to live on? You have to have a domain. However, I'm wrong.
Several of the people there were making thousands and thousands of dollars every single month just by having an Amazon Store, and optimizing on Amazon, which is crazy because they're all completely on Amazon's environment. They don't even need a domain because if you need a domain, that's good for maybe getting found on Google, so you have a website where people go to. But with Amazon, these people are making money just by having an Amazon Store, and optimizing, and selling products there.
Add a zero to your annual Sales goal
The second thing I learned from the retreat was that I should think bigger. We just sold our first lead generation website. It's a small one. We had Boulder Window Tint, which is a website based in Boulder, Colorado.
You guessed it. It's a website where people can request quotes for window tinting. We had a customer who paid us for three months, and then decided to buy the website. He paid us $400 the first month, and then $800, and then $800 again.
We were planning to sell the website with Empire Flippers for a 25x multiple. So if it's doing $800 per month, subtract some costs, and multiply the net profit times 25. That's how we came up with the price that we wanted for the website, which was just over $15,000.
Right after we told this customer that we were planning to sell the website, he said, "Oh. Well, how much? Maybe I'm interested in buying it."
My sales manager told me about that and after a phone call with our customer, this was the highlight that made him pay a deposit right away:
"It would be a great idea for you to buy this website. You're going to make even more money off this website than any of us online asset investors because you can actually do the work. You're a window tinting company, so you're not just going to sell the leads and make $800 a month.
"You're going to bid the leads, and they're going to come in and get their windows tinted, and you're going to be making way more than $800 per month."
So he agreed to buy it with 30 days email support, with two phone calls, no hosting. We're not going to be writing blog posts for him, or doing much work unless he changes his mind later.
When we sold that website, we calculated our return on investment.
It was over 650%
This is because our cost was about $2,200, right around there, for the about two-and-a-half years that we owned the website. But even after all that, I learned that I need to think bigger.
Fifteen thousand dollars is not that big at all in terms of the numbers, and amount of web traffic, and projects that people are working on at this retreat.
If you need inspiration to think bigger about your company, you should definitely consider coming to the next Empire Flippers Retreat in 2020.
Gaining more clients not the end goal
The third thing that I learned was that clients are not the end goal. I spoke with one gentleman there who was doing about forty to sixty thousand dollars per month, and he wanted to change.
He didn't like how his business was going since he was trading services for income, not building assets that generate income. He wants to start making some more passive income from maybe a content website that generates revenue from ads each month.
That's more of a passive income source. Where he was running an SEO agency, and they had lots of clients that are demanding, have work, need to make changes. One of the consistent things I learned from everyone at that retreat was that clients are not the end goal, but they're a great tool to get into freelancing, and to get into owning your own online business.
But a business with needy clients is not where you're going to want to stay, and it's not where most people are going to remain happy.
That was another big takeaway, which was great.
I was really excited about that because about two years ago we fired all of our clients, and we went all in on creating our own websites that generate leads that we can rent out instead of building websites for clients who want logo revisions, they want the blog post to be modified, and they want things to be a certain way that might not be the best way to generate leads for their business, where you report to the clients.
Where with us, we don't report to anyone as long as our 'website renters'/clients are happy. That was great to learn that. Even though we're a smaller business at the whole retreat, at least our strategy is at a place where many people with bigger businesses want to get to.
SEO is king because of superior returns
The last thing I learned, now I don't know if everyone at the retreat would agree with this but I'm going to say it. SEO is king. With search engine optimization, that is truly the best way to create passive, recurring revenue with the highest margins. That's it. No need to argue that more.
If you're spending money on ads, your net profit's going to be much smaller, and you're launching a more risky business. With our websites, and many of the other SEO people, we see lots of net profit because we're not spending any money on ads.
Whatever we invest, it's good for the future of the website this month and the next month, and for many more future months until Google changes something, or whatnot.
That was the last thing I learned. Thank you guys for tuning in.
Shoot me a message if you're thinking about coming to the next Empire Flippers Retreat, and if you're going to come, I'll see you there. Oh, here's a selfie from the luxury yacht.