Tim Seidler is a family man who spent years studying Interactive Multimedia and then went on to climb the corporate ladder like many people strive to do. It wasn’t until he moved to an E-commerce retailer that he amassed invaluable skills, knowledge and drive under the company’s visionary founder Jon Hoch.
Throughout his career, Tim started building websites on the side until his earnings started to eclipse his salary. He took the decision to quit his job a year ago and pursue internet marketing full time. Tim and his family have since moved to the Seattle area and have been living what most would call “the dream”. Both Tim and his wife are self-employed and have the freedom and flexibility to work as much or as little as they like.
After completing a mid-six figure sale in April, we got the chance to catch up with Tim in person in Las Vegas (coincidentally!) and then on the blog to tell us about his story.
What Got You Interested in the World of Online Business?
I mostly stumbled into it. My dad has always been the kind of guy to find any way to make a buck and I guess it rubbed off on me.
Since I was already online as a designer it wasn’t a huge step to get into the business side of things, but it definitely wasn’t intentional either.
I had set up a local design business right out of college in 2008 called The Designary and was taking on web and print design projects from anyone who would hire me. I was fortunate to get to cut my teeth on hand coding some html projects as well as developing WordPress sites for clients.
Once I got those client sites up and got access to some analytics I was mesmerized by being able to watch people come to the site and see what they were searching to get there. I started researching keywords, buying domains, and building sites obsessively, with no real hope of making money – UNTIL I started making money.
Once I installed AdSense and saw $.30 to $3.00 a day coming in off my sites (Chicago5k.com and ThePracticalMom.com) with no additional effort needed on my end to maintain those earnings my fate was sealed. I started looking at each dollar as a way to pay for something in my life. Once I reached $6.00/day I knew I could eat out for lunch all the time because it was paid for. Once I reached $15/day I knew I didn’t have to worry about my car payment anymore. Once I reached $100/day I knew I could finally start to get out of debt. Growth is exciting and infectious.
What Would You Say are the Top Skills Required to be a Successful Entrepreneur?
Setting aside your shortcomings and weaknesses and committing, truly committing, to the idea of achieving something that you’re passionate about. There are successful entrepreneurs with incredibly diverse backgrounds and abilities and none of them started out knowing what they know now. They had to work to get where they are and learn along the way. I think I said it best here.
What Inspired You to Start a Website in the Discount Niche?
Hard to pinpoint exactly, but I think it stemmed from my early experimenting with mom blogs or topics related to parenting. Once my son was born I started researching the volumes behind baby formula and diaper brands and somehow saw that as a good place to start.
I believe the first site I built in the niche was a baby formula coupon site which I ended up selling for $5,000 on Flippa a few years back after successfully monetizing it for a while. I think at that point I realized the earnings potential in coupons and decided to build a bigger and better baby coupon site.
After that one took off beyond my wildest dreams I cranked out another 4 or 5 sites in different categories over the course of the next couple years and iterated and improved upon all of them over that time.
How Was the Business Monetized?
I started monetizing the business with Media.net ads. I was scared off early on with the lack of support and near certainty of account termination from AdSense, so I managed to find their polar opposite in Media.net. The payouts were nearly identical to AdSense, but with far more customization and input from my dedicated rep.
Eventually I added AdSense in to supplement and diversify the income.
Those networks made up the majority of the earnings, but also led people away from the site which lowered user retention and raised bounce rates.
From there I added actual printable coupons through MySavingsMedia (now ShopHer Media) and Coupons.com (AKA Brandcaster) affiliate programs.
What Do You Think Led to the Success of Your Business?
Commitment. Just slapping a coupon site on the internet might make you a few dollars, but the success comes months and years later after you’ve put in the time and built on your initial success.
Were There Any Challenges and How Did You Overcome Them?
There are always challenges. Every day is something different. A new site edging you off your number 1 ranking or your server crashing or your site getting hacked. It comes with the territory for any business and the internet is no different. I learned by doing. When something challenging happens you have no choice but to react. Once you get past that challenge then you’re that much smarter and the next challenge will present itself shortly. Never fails.
Had You Ever Sold a Website or Business Before?
I had sold a few websites on Flippa before, also in the discount realm for a few thousand dollars apiece.
In general, I don’t like selling off properties that are generating significant passive income, but in this case it was the right time. I had built out all the sites in the network that I had strived to build and wasn’t putting in the time anymore to maintain and develop them further. Add onto that the benefits of taking the lump sum and starting something fresh and exciting and it was just the right time for me.
What Process Did You Go Through to Find an Online Business Broker?
Given that I started with a popular marketplace that was the first place I turned. I began creating a listing for the sites through the general marketplace, but before I even got a couple sentences into my description I knew it wasn’t the right fit for such a big network of sites and related domain names.
From there I found that marketplace’s brokerage program and contacted them about an appraisal of the site values. They returned with a number that I wasn’t comfortable selling at and I continued my search.
After that I went to Google and found a bunch of “brokers” who ranked for the term, but either didn’t respond to my emails or didn’t have a sales history worthy of my consideration.
Eventually I landed on BizBuySell.com and BizBrokers.com where I planned to list the sites For Sale By Owner. I saw some sites being represented by FE International there and requested a prospectus of a few of their listings mainly so I could model my presentation after theirs.
Why Did You Choose to Work With FE International to Sell Your Business?
Once in touch with FE International, I asked them to explain the benefits of a broker over a For Sale By Owner and was impressed with their answer. I asked for a valuation from Thomas and after he came in significantly above my previous appraisal and was incredibly quick to respond and seemingly the most knowledgeable person in the industry I decided to sell with them. Thomas also outlined this in a recent blog post which is worth a read.
How Did You Find the Selling Process?
The selling process was intense. Not going to lie. To be honest it’s the most work I’ve done in a long time. A lot of the work is done upfront with the FE International team which meant we got a good offer quickly.
It was probably more so for me since I was selling about 15 sites in total with an additional 50ish domains alongside.
There was a lot of auditing and cross-checking and screen capturing and phone calling and document signing involved, but when you’re dealing with that much money there’s no way around it.
The guys at FE International were on point though and I never felt like I didn’t know what to do next or that there wasn’t 100% certainty I would find a buyer and come out with a signed contract.
Where Do You Think a Website Broker Adds the Most Value to the Sales Process?
For me the biggest value was timeliness, price, and connections…so pretty much everything.
They got the deal done within a month of listing for a price that met their appraisal and exceeded what I would have listed the sites myself by 100k. Their pool of qualified buyers and understanding of valuation make going with them a no-brainer even with their commission factored in.
What Advice Would You Give to Someone Wanting to Sell Their Online Business?
Keep records. Document your earnings, annotate your analytics, save your receipts. Buyers want proof and they want you to back up that proof. You having these things ready will not only expedite the process, but it’ll give buyers confidence that you and your site are the real deal.
Finally, What is Next for You?
Since the sale I’ve mostly been planning my re-entry into internet marketing. I’m going to set up another network or two in the kid/education and style/fashion niches. In preparation for that I’ve splurged a little (I think I’ve earned the right) and also leased out an office space so that I can scale my next projects quickly.
I’m also going to document and case study building the new sites from the ground up at my site Get Niche Quick. If I can find the time I’ll incorporate video tutorials, podcasts with guest speakers and blog posts to help others follow in my footsteps.
The next time you see a sale from me it’s going to be 7 figure sale and not mid-six.