The Payoff: The Check’s in the Mail (pt 12)

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Welcome to part 12 of Project Go White Hat.

In Part 11, I revealed the winning offer for our site. It was $235,000 all upfront with no long payout plan.

This post closes out the series, and I’ll share:

  • Why we sold and didn’t grow the site.
  • The new owner verifies the earnings and traffic.
  • The escrow is released.
*My course on creating a niche site step-by-step is called Five Figure Niche Site. Enrollment might be closed depending on when your reading this, but you can sign up for the waitlist.

Why Sell?

People kept asking me why we sold the site. It’s a valid question. Here are some interesting facts:

  • The site averages 2,500 visitors a day over the last year
  • The site made over $10,000 in September 2016.
  • The site made over $32,000 in December 2016.
  • The adjusted monthly revenue was about $8,300 per month. (That’s taking the commission rate adjustment by Amazon Associates in March 2017, effectively a 35% drop.)
  • We removed 45 Private Blog Network (PBN) backlinks and replaced them with White Hat Guest posts.
  • The monthly expenses are close to $0— just VPS hosting which is very cheap.

So people wonder why not keep the site, keep the generally passive income.

I got this question on a YouTube Live stream:

Why don’t you use your system, Doug, and increase the earnings even more then sell it? Your systems and processes are the most valuable thing…

Interesting question.

I’ll explain the context of the entire project and reveal the early thinking which eventually drove the decision to finish the project.

Initial Planning

The initial goal was to convert the site from Gray Hat to White Hat, meaning change the PBN links to guest post links, so that it would be easier to sell.

The First Target

Our general target was the mid $200s because the site was making about $10k per month for three months. Before it reached $10k per month, it was in the $5k to $7k range. So that’s why the mid $200s would be a great selling price.


Rob and I held a couple planning meetings to discuss the possible work streams and phases of the project. Basically, this was brainstorming and there were some bad ideas. We threw out the bad ones and kept the good ones.

We were left with the core areas:

  1. Get Guest Posts (Owner: Doug)
  2. Remove PBN links (Owner: Rob)
  3. Improve Content (Owner: Doug & Rob)

Content Helped Traffic Explode

Once we got started, the traffic went up dramatically! About 40% in about 30 to 60 days and the revenue followed. It kept increasing to the point that by December, the site made $32,767 which was aided by the retail season.

When the revenue in December went up to $32k, we realized the site could have a much greater value overall.

I remember talking with Rob on Nov 30 or Dec 1 and made predictions for the December earnings. I guessed about $24k, Rob guessed about $23k…so we were WAY off even in December.

We reset our goal to sell the site for the mid $200s to over $500k.

(It was an aggressive goal, a stretch goal, and it was an OUTSTANDING headline. As a marketer, I couldn’t resist proclaiming that we were trying to sell a site for half a million bucks.)

Unfortunately, a lot of things changed from December to March that were out of our control. The biggest was the Amazon commission rate change.

Back to why we sold the site versus putting in more time... Our plan was to sell it from the beginning.

So we adapted as things changed, but the main goal never changed. We talked about trying to recover and increase the earnings, but we didn’t have a strong interest in working on the site more.

New Owner Verifies Traffic and Earnings

This was a short, easy process. The Empire Flippers team transferred the site over to the new owner, and the new owner has about two weeks assess the traffic and earnings.

If the traffic and earnings are what’s expected, i.e. on par with the existing traffic and earnings, then the new owner gives the “okay.”

Then, Empire Flippers release the money from escrow.

Here’s how I found out:

And that was it. We got paid on June 15 officially.

What’s next?

I’m going to take a little break. 🙂 I’ll take a few weeks off from blogging here at Niche Site Project.

I expect that Rob and I will have some thoughts after reflecting more about selling the site. So I there will be a part 13 of this series to finish off this case study.

Also, Rob and I have never met in person, and I expect that we’ll get together before the end of the year. Rob will be in the US again soon and we’ll share some IPAs or maybe Double IPAs.

What do you think about Project Go White Hat? Think we’re crazy? Was this more fun to read than a regular old case study? Let me know in the comments!

About the author: Doug Cunnington is the founder of Niche Site Project. He shows people how to create Affiliate Sites using project management and a proven, repeatable framework. Doug loves creating systems, using templates, and brewing beer (but usually not at the same time).

7 comments… add one
  • Phil


    Great that the two of you haven’t met but have been able to achieve goals of this magnitude.

    The final post in the case study, it comes out soon?

    • Doug Cunnington

      Phil – thanks for reading the case study!

      Unsure when the last part will come out…maybe Rob and I will record a video when we meet.

  • Nate Alger

    Hi Doug,

    Pretty cool you were able to work with someone you know and trust even if it is virtually, Just wondering how did you guys come together with the workload and payout structure?

    • Doug Cunnington

      Nate, thanks for reading.

      We divided it up based on our skills for the most part. I also picked up more work than Rob for the Guest Posting — that’s how I earned my equity in the site.

      The payout structure was what we deemed as “fair” and based on milestones of me delivering guest posts. My equity was also milestone based.

      • Nate

        Cool, thanks for the insight Doug.

  • Taylor

    Hey Doug, awesome stuff! Question though…

    You said you increased traffic by 40% in 30 to 60 days. Is this new content/ new posts you’re talking about? Or did you add content to your existing pages/ posts?


    • Doug Cunnington

      Taylor. Thanks for reading!

      So we added new content. We added content to existing posts. All that!


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