Brock McGoff joins us today on the Niche Pursuits to share his experience selling his menswear websites, The Modest Man and The Slender Wrist.
Throughout the talk, he highlights key points that helped him grow to an average of $30k per month and offers valuable pointers for others looking to sell their sites such as:
- Frequently asked buyer questions
- Keys to his site's growth
- Branding tips
- And more…
Plus Brock's story includes growing a site he started and one he bought.
The Modest Man was a menswear site Brock started around 10 years ago, while The Slender Wrist is one he bought in a private sale a couple of years back.
And to ensure the success of his websites, Brock focused on hands-on reviews and buying guides.
He emphasizes the importance of quality content and building genuine relationships in the industry for backlinks. It's these factors that he believes played a significant role in attracting advertisers and generating revenue.
Speaking of revenue, he found that individual product affiliate networks often converted well and offered higher commission rates. He also actively negotiated with brands for better rates and terms by forming strong relationships with them.
But in the end, he decided to sell the sites because he no longer enjoyed the day-to-day operations and wanted to pursue other opportunities.
So, in preparation for selling his sites, Brock took steps to remove himself from the business and diversify revenue streams. Again, he recommends the importance of reaching out to brands and forming relationships instead of relying solely on Amazon or other standard affiliate platforms. As this approach helped him create a more sustainable and attractive business for potential buyers.
He initially tried to sell it privately, jumping on loads of sales calls which led to great insights:
Buyers were particularly interested in the content's quality, the business's stability, the presence of a team, and standard operating procedures.
And Brock shares many of these frequently asked questions.
But he ended up using a broker to facilitate the sale process and found their guidance and support to be worth the fee. The listing process was relatively quick, and he immediately received multiple offers.
He also decided to keep his YouTube channel separate from the sale and managed to facilitate a true win-win site exit.
Overall, it's another great, insightful interview you don't want to miss!
Watch The Interview
Topics Brock McGoff Covers
- How he got into site building
- Why he started a menswear website
- Growing the sites originally as a side hustle
- How he got links
- What is quality content?
- Hands-on reviews
- Topic selection process
- His revenue breakdown
- How he grew his affiliate earnings
- Amazon vs brand partnerships
- Premium ad networks
- The selling process
- Buyer questions
- Benefits of brand building
- Publishing and updating content
- Selling with broker vs private
- Due diligence
- Risk mitigation
- Keeping YouTube channel
- Deciding to sell
- And other valuable insights…
Links & Resources
Jared: All right. Welcome back to the niche pursuits podcast. My name is Jared Bauman. And today we are joined by Brock McGough. Brock, welcome on board.
Brock: Thanks for having me. Yeah. Big fan of the show. And, uh, I've listened to so many episodes with you. So it's a cool to, uh, finally, uh, sort of see you face to face.
Jared: Well, welcome on board. This is the first time. Most of the time, it's the first time meeting. Uh, uh, I usually meet the person we're interviewing. Three minutes before we hit record so nothing we might have done five minutes before we hit record on this one But but yeah, it's nice to meet you. We're talking all about your websites that you recently sold I don't want to bury the lead, but they'll have already heard the intro at this point So they'll know that you ran both the modest man and the slender wrist calm and we'll get into all the details today I just love it when we get to talk to someone who's both been a listener for a while but also Has kind of built something that they ended up packaging and selling because we get the entire story.
Why don't you kind of catch us up to when you started site building, when you started these brands, and then we can dive into all of the fun details about the specific website growth.
Brock: Sure. Yeah. I'm probably like a lot of your listeners and that I started. getting interested in this industry like back in like the four hour work week, Pat Flynn, smart passive income days.
Um, you probably have actually a whole crowd of younger people now who are just getting into this. But, um, I'm sort of a sort of been in it for a while and I don't have a background in marketing or media or anything like that. I kind of Um, stumbled upon Tim Ferriss and got interested in the idea of like lifestyle design and passive income, online business.
Um, after college I was just working in sort of random corporate jobs that weren't a great fit to be honest. Didn't really know what I wanted to do. And um, back then, you know, YouTube wasn't really around yet. I mean it was, but it was like in its infancy. There, there were a few blogs about, you know, making money online.
There are some forums like warrior forum that are like super sketchy. And everybody was like, Oh yeah, yeah. Article spinners and you know, all these weird articles, designs and I kind of, um, I don't know. I was like.
A low startup cost business that you could do from your home and work anywhere and whenever you wanted. So that's kind of how I got into the world of like WordPress and publishing and affiliate marketing. Um, I tried a bunch of smaller, like niche site ideas back in the day when I first got started.
Nothing really got traction, but I did have a period of sort of like cutting my teeth and learning about SEO and link building and, um, on page optimization and stuff like that. Um, I started the modest man. Uh, because I was becoming interested in Menswear, I guess, is a topic. Personally, I was working in like a corporate environment.
I looked very young. I didn't know how to dress. Um, I had fantastic parents, but they didn't teach me that. And, um, I, uh, I remember one time my boss made a comment about, I brought like an old ratty backpack to a meeting and he's like, don't do that again. And so I, uh, I was like, okay, you know, I gotta step it up here.
So I started reading just, you know, blogs and books about menswear and my interest in Like content marketing and online marketing and menswear sort of converged with the modest man. So I started that blog. It was very much like. You know, uh, an old school blog where I was just kind of writing personal updates, sort of taking people on my journey to, to become a, uh, a better dressed guy.
Um, the industry has obviously matured a lot. So that was about 10 years ago. In that time period, I tried a lot of different things. Um, you know, got social media accounts, started a YouTube channel, which I still have. Um, I ended up purchasing another website, The Slender Wrist, along the way. Um, which was my first, like, website acquisition.
Um, Great experience, by the way. I don't think I would start something from scratch right now. I think I would probably buy something if I, if I were to do it again. Um, and yeah, it, it just kind of grew very, very slowly, organically over the years. And, uh, eventually, uh, probably about five years ago, I started doing it full-time.
Built a small team and then fast forward to about six months ago, um, I decided to, Sell both websites as a package, uh, because they were, um, even though they were two different domains on the back end, it was very much like one business, same team, same publishing process. And, um, I was just kind of ready to, you know, turn the page and do something else with my time, take some chips off the table, and so, uh, went through that exit process.
really good experience. And, um, now I'm focusing mostly on, you know, YouTube and video, uh, but still very much passionate about, um, just online publishing, digital media and SEO.
Jared: Congratulations. What a journey. That's like a 10 year, we just got 10 years like wrapped up and you just finished this 10 year part of your life and, um, have a nice exit to show for congrats.
Brock: Thank you. Thank you. Yeah. Definitely a, um, uh, a big, you know, sort of page turn new chapter. Um, and you know, I, I still, I think the industry has changed a lot in the past 10 years, but it's funny cause a lot of the basics like the, you know, you probably learned about when, when you were getting into it, it's still kind of the same, like you're publishing content on the internet, trying to get organic traffic and eyeballs, you know, sure we have tick tock and Twitter and all that now, but.
It's the same basic model, and then you monetize it with affiliate display ads for selling stuff. So I, I think even though a lot has changed, um, in some ways, it's still the exact same business model.
Jared: Well, we're gonna get into that business model, but before we do, this is perfectly timed. This is a brand new shirt that I put on for this podcast.
Now tell me if this meets the men's fashion requirements of the day. Be gentle that my wife bought it for me, so I'm gonna have to tell her and report back.
Brock: I mean, if your wife bought it, then, you know, it's, it's been, it's good. Yeah. It fits well, you know, night, night, nice pattern. Good, good color for your skin.
So I think she's a plus. All
Jared: right. All right. I'm, I'm already winning and we're only 10 minutes in here. Um, so I mean, I, I really, before we get into the meat and potatoes, I love to ask people if I can, where was the site at? Any numbers you can share when you sold it. You say you sold about six months ago, so pretty recent, pretty current.
Um, talk to us about where it was at. So we can kind of start to unwind how much you grew it over the course of those 10 years.
Brock: I'd say when I sold it, if you looked at like the, uh, you know, trailing 12 months, like average monthly profit was between 25 and 30, 000 a month. Um, now this is for the. the website.
So for a long time, my, I kind of looked at my business as like a digital portfolio. So I had these two websites, some social media accounts and youtube and my finances were all commingled, you know, between all those properties. I, when I decided to sell a couple of years ago, I started to um, decouple things on the back end.
So, um, so the website specifically, the two websites that I sold were somewhere in the 25 a month profit. When I sold them, the business as a whole, if you just look at like my, you know, self employed kind of digital media business, I've had 50, 000 a month. I've had, you know, a couple of 70, 000 a month, um, but it's, uh, sort of hovered around that, you know, 000
Okay. Okay. Well, we're going to get an X clearly. You got some other stuff going on and I'm curious how you were able to unwind them because that's a problem. Maybe a lot of people will face when they could sell or consider selling something. And so. We might be able to glean some insights from you on what to do now, rather than waiting for what to do later.
Um, uh, okay. So doing very well, you know, uh, multiple five figures per month, obviously well over six figures a year. Just for context, were you full time at this or was there a point in time when you left that corporate job and got to tell that boss who told you you had a terrible backpack that you were not working for him anymore?
Or were you working full time the whole period of
Brock: this? I quit and tried to do a full time twice before it actually worked. So I, I left my first job when I was only making maybe 500, 000 a month. And I actually went to Ecuador for a few months and I, and I thought, you know, if I could. Decrease my cost of living.
Take a little, uh, four hour workweek style sabbatical. Um, you know, maybe when I come back I could do this full time. It didn't work. The business didn't grow enough. Um, so I got another job. Uh, and it was very much a side hustle, evenings and weekends, for the first five or six years. And then… I did eventually, um, jump ship and do a full time for the last few years before I sold, but even during that time, my like level of effort waxed and waned a lot.
Um, I think when I decided. That I was going to sell eventually, I started trying to remove myself from the business as much as possible, uh, sort of email style. So I hired people, it was never like, I never had like an operator, like I was never totally hands off, but it did get to the point where I was only spending a few hours a week on it.
Uh, and it was mostly on like management and like higher level strategic stuff, content planning. It wasn't as much like. writing actual content, at least for the websites. YouTube is a little more personal and hands on.
Jared: So let's, let's talk about how you built these. I mean, I don't want to try to summarize, uh, ten years of work into, you know, like a ten minute, uh, section of the interview, but what are the things that made, and let's start with the modest, the modest, you know, let's start with the website you started.
What are the things that you think in the end, over the course of ten years, made the site… What was it the content? Was it something special about it? Was it your expertise in the industry? Like, what are the things that you think were the driving factors for its growth and its success?
Brock: I think, I think it was different things at different periods, but uh, sort of like one overarching theme that, that was important to me throughout the whole journey was just Content quality.
And I know that gets like thrown around a lot in, in this industry. And it's kind of, it's almost like an afterthought. Like everybody's like, well, you know, your content has to be good. But in reality, if you look at a lot of the sites, like even a lot of my competition and. You know, your competition, like there's a lot of garbage on the internet, you know, a lot of low quality content.
And to be honest, it can work, you know, you, you can use, um, uh, you know, two central word writers and AI content and like, you can make money online, you know, but I do think that longterm, if you're trying to build a brand and like a real audience, like. Direct traffic and email list people who come back to your website who email you with questions I think that you really do have to have like a certain Level of production quality and you have to care about the content or you have to have writers who care about the content And so that was always From day one, that was always really important to me, and that was, that continued to be important even when I, you know, had writers and, and more of a team.
Um, and I think that helped. You know, I, I can't really quantify it, but I, I think that Google knows how, you know, they know obviously how long people are spending on your site. They know if people bounce, um, hit the back button. And I think that if you can have higher quality content than your competitors over the long term, that will make a difference.
Then it will kind of insulate you from all these algorithm updates. Um, so that was one thing. A strong focus on SEO was another thing. And if you don't have this, like nothing else really matters because we're kind of past the days where you can just. Write whatever you want and just automatically get organic traffic.
Sure. There are some professional bloggers like the Mark Mansons of the world who have a big enough audience that they can write whatever they want. Now. I don't know if that would work right now. If, if Mark Manson started today. Um, so you have to understand. And that's, you know, which content to publish and then how to format it on the page.
So it's going to work. And then the other part of SEO, of course, is getting links. So the thing that I did very early on and that I still think anybody can do is make real relationships in your industry. And that will lead to backlinks and it could be guest posts, it could be podcast interviews, um, but you have to form real relationships, you know, and I know that you can.
You can mass cold email people and try to get links that way. I never did anything like that. I would go to conferences, I would email other bloggers, um, get on the phone with them and. Like just make real friends, you know, some of these people are my good friends to this day and Eventually, I would say hey, you know, can I write for you or can we do an interview or can I get a link?
Or whatever, but it all started from You know a genuine relationship So I think that was really important and that helped me get some links from really big sites or authoritative sites in the niche Very early on And I think those I think if I hadn't done that I don't know if the site ever would have really gotten traction because I didn't ever do Like real link building.
Let me ask
Jared: you first and foremost, you touched on it. You kind of teased it. So now I get to ask about it. I didn't feel bad. Uh, quality content is something that's tossed around a lot. And of course it's very nuanced. And of course there is no right answer, but. To you and to the website that you just sold, The Modest Man, what does quality content look like?
Can you give something tactical, or when you were evaluating something that your writer was producing, that your team published, like, what ticked the box for you as, yeah, that's quality, versus, no, no, no, we need to do X, Y, and Z to make this, to bring this up to quality. What are some examples?
Brock: Yeah, I think, well, I'll give you an example that I think probably most people can relate to, like two, two article formats that everybody is familiar with and that a lot of, um, your listeners publish reviews and buying guides.
So XYZ review or best XYZ. Every time I Google something these days, 90 percent of the time I'm disappointed with the results. I go, I go to the article and I'm like, this person hasn't tried the product. I can tell because there's no pictures of it or this list of the best. Chelsea boots for men. Um, I can tell that the author hasn't tried these and doesn't really know or care about this topic.
So, uh, on my websites, we did a lot of reviews and a lot of buying guides. And we had like pretty hard rules that like every review was hands on. So there was no review that, um, either me or one of the writers didn't try the products, uh, test them out, you know, for, for long enough and take pictures. Um, and then every buying guide, uh, included at least At least the top picks were products that we had hands on experience with and ideally had a review written for.
Um, I think that's really important. And it's really easy to prove to Google that you've done that. Just use original media. You know, include some original thoughts. Some things that you can't find anywhere else online. Um, when I don't see that on a website, I lose faith in that website. I won't go back, you know.
When I go to a website like artings. com or Modern Castle or… How the wire cutter used to be. Um, it's, it's so refreshing cause I'm like, this is good content to me. This is helpful content that has some soul in it. It's not just published for the sake of making money. So,
Jared: and I, I, I want to ask you almost a chicken or the egg question.
Um, you, you put an emphasis on having experience with the product. What do you think is more important to Google? Showing that you have experience with the product, or the way you're able to then talk about the product and connect with the user. Um, they're both good, they're both valuable. But I'm speaking to the person who might be in a niche that they really are up against it trying to get their hands on every product.
You know, maybe they're reviewing generators, or maybe they're, I don't know, I'm just trying to think of something. Like, how can somebody adopt the model you have when it's not maybe as easy to get their hands on Chelsea boots or things like that?
Brock: Yeah, I mean, you're totally right. Yeah, like in certain niches it's going to be.
Much more difficult. Um, and I do think there's, there's still ways to add value without having hands on experience. Uh, but in most cases, you can try the product or you can send the product to a writer. Um, maybe even in exchange for their work. Uh, you can buy the product and return it. You can go to a store and, you know, take some pictures of it and, and get some hands on experience.
So I, I think there are ways to do it. It just takes more effort. I think that that effort is worth it in the long term because I think that readers can, uh, can sniff it out. And if anything, uh, as the kind of general public becomes more Aware of like affiliate marketing and, and ss e o, um, they're gonna get better and better at like sniffing out high quality versus low quality content.
So I think in most cases you, you can find a way to get that hands-on experience. If it's something very difficult like generators, um, then you know you should be an expert or you should hire an expert. And I think if you can't have hands-on experience and you aren't an expert, it's probably not the best niche for you.
Well, there it is.
Jared: I got it out of you. No, fair enough. Those are all good thoughts. Um, let's talk about your content creation process and really how you came up with the concepts. Um, you ran this site for 10 years, and so a lot of times what can happen over the course of a long period of time is like the content, you know, it goes through multiple iterations of what your site focuses on, right?
Like, um, in the beginning you were focusing on this, and you spoke about it. You were like, it was more of a blog style. I think you said that actually about some of your previous sites. Um, but I think you talked about how the Modest Man actually had more of a blog style. Um, synonymous with 10 years ago, where we kind of talked about what we did rather than writing content for users.
How did you figure out what content to write, especially as it progressed, and as you started to have to deal with different content focuses as years went by?
Brock: Yeah, I mean, this kind of dovetails on the last question. Like, like when you're starting out, you know, when I was starting out, I didn't have money to buy, Every pair of boots or anything like that.
So I would literally just write about stuff that I already had So if I needed a new pair of chinos for work And I went to Banana Republic and tried on a few pairs and bought one I would write about that You know, I'd say here's a comparison of Banana Republic's chinos that I tried on and then I do a review for the ones that I bought and so like just that That one purchase or that one shopping experience could lead to like two or three different articles.
Um, we all have a lot of stuff already that we could review. You know, if you pick the right niche. So that's kind of how to do it at first. And then obviously you can start like acquiring samples for the sake of review. Once you have a little bit of traction too. Most brands will send you stuff if you ask, um, you know, to, to review, it helps if you have a little bit of presence, you know, on social media or something.
Um, and then, you know, eventually I got a little more savvy with SEO and started using tools like Ahrefs to actually see what my competitors were doing, see what people were searching for. Back in the day, you could just use Google's keyword planner, you know, and that was kind of the way to figure out what people were searching for.
Um, I don't think… You know, I think some of the stuff I was publishing early on, that was more like bloggy. I think it could get traffic now, like a banana, a public genomes review or whatever, because people are searching for that. But the more personal updates probably wouldn't work now. I think now you really do have to take like, uh, an SEO first approach and make sure that every piece of content you publish has a little bit of keyword research behind it.
Because if there's no organic traffic potential, it might not be worth the effort. Yeah.
Jared: Yeah. Yeah. Totally. Um, I love that approach. You're exactly right. Like there's so many pieces of content that can get created when you just apply. A curiosity to your daily life to it. Um, uh, okay. Let me ask you about the revenue of the site and kind of how it split up, you know.
Uh, I'm taking it this isn't your classic like Amazon affiliate site. How'd the revenue break down by the end in terms of the different channels you were monetizing on? And, and kind of what was succeeding on the, on the site in terms of driving, uh, uh, revenue?
Brock: Yeah, it was like the pie chart is, uh, you know, display advertising, uh, affiliate programs, and then some digital products.
I had an ebook for a while that, you know, I think at its peak was maybe making like 1, 200 a month. Um, and I never really updated it or pushed it because frankly, like there's so much good free advice about menswear and stuff that I think at this point, it'd be a bit of a tough sale. Um, so I really focused on, uh, display ads and affiliate.
And I think that, you know, a lot of people get caught up on like, which one of those is better. I, I say do both. You know, there's no reason not to because even if you have. A very like affiliate centric website. That's a lot of product reviews and buying guides. You can still monetize every single page for you with display ads.
Um, I didn't realize how lucrative display ads were until I joined a premium network, which was ad thrive or raptive. And it was kind of like a light bulb. I was like, wow, this, this traffic is actually worth like a lot of money when you're using, when you're not using like the bottom of the barrel, Google AdSense display ads.
Um, so that, that, that was definitely a turning point before that, before I had enough traffic to. Get accepted to a premium network. It was all affiliate and Amazon was definitely a big one Throughout the entire 10 years, but I also you know used basically every affiliate platform You could think of I you know, I had an account And I kind of like a hierarchy.
So like if I was promoting, you know, this water bottle doing a review I would first see if this brand had their own affiliate program and then if they didn't I would see if they We're on a platform like share a sale where I can get like a direct link. Then I would check Amazon, you know? So it's kind of like this hierarchy because if you have a direct relationship with the brand, you can ask for higher rates and better terms.
Um, that pie chart changed throughout the year. So at one point it was like 80 percent affiliate, you know, and eventually it kind of, when I sold it, it was probably. You know, 60 to 65 percent affiliate and the rest was pretty much display ads. Um, and that was intentional because, um, I, I didn't want either display ads or affiliate to be like the lion's share of revenue.
So I wanted kind of like an even split just to diversify and, and, um, it just felt a little safer. A lot of
Jared: people will talk about how, um, they try other affiliate networks, like a share sale. And they try, like you mentioned, specific affiliate networks like Water Bottle X has an affiliate program. And they don't end up converting as well as Amazon does.
Um, or let's just say they don't make as much money because Amazon probably converts pretty darn high, but they don't pay as well so you can often make more money on an individual affiliate program even if you don't get quite as many sales. But were you finding that, you know, speak to your industry, the fashion industry, did you find that individual product, um, affiliate networks converted fairly well for you?
Brock: Yeah, really well, actually. Now, it depends on the brand. I think, I think there are certain products that people are just very comfortable buying on Amazon, um, and… You know, these days you should be linking to multiple merchants anyway. So if you're using like Lasso for display boxes or even if you're just putting text links, uh, in your articles, you should probably link to Amazon and directly to the brand and Walmart or whatever.
Um, but I found that there were some individual relationships where a brand had their own program through share a sale or reversion that could be, you know, four figures a month just on one brand. Like a very niche brand, you know, one pair of shoes or socks or whatever. Um, and I think it was either because they didn't have their stuff on Amazon or maybe they offered a discount on their site that they didn't on Amazon or something like that.
Also, even if the conversion is higher on Amazon, you know, if you can get say 5 percent on Amazon with a 24 hour cookie, But you could get 10 percent directly from a brand with a 30 day cookie. It, it's still probably worth it going directly with the brand versus Amazon. Did you ever
Jared: negotiate with the brand to get like special discounts or to get higher commission rates?
Um, were you active at, with these brands or was it like, I find the share sale link, pop it in, off to the races, get my share, share sale check at the month and that's kind of the
Brock: extent of it? Very active, yeah. So, um, not necessarily like right away. So like, let's say. Uh, we, uh, you know, assigned an article to a freelance writer that was, you know, the best water bottles.
They come back with ten picks from ten different brands. Um, we just published the article, you know. And then I would have a member of my team… Would go through and email all of the brands and just ask for a better rate. See if we can get samples, you know, just, just kind of like form a relationship with that brand.
Some of these brands, I mean, I, I was good friends with the founders, you know, like by, by the end of it, because we just had such a great symbiotic relationship where we'd send them traffic and they gave us really good rates for that traffic. Other brands, I have no idea who's behind them, you know, we just kind of linked to their website or Amazon or whatever, so it, it varies, but I think whatever niche you're in.
I wouldn't, you know, I wouldn't, um, just default to Amazon or skim links, like reach out to these brands, you know, and, and they're just people. And, you know, you can form a relationship, you can get better rates, better terms.
Jared: That's great. Great advice. Did you do anything in the years leading up or the months leading up when you identified that you might sell the site or that you were thinking about selling the site or that you were going to sell a site?
Like, did you do anything to kind of prime the pump to try to focus anything? And again, I asked just because. There's a lot to learn from someone who's gone through the process of getting a site ready and then selling it and then retrospectively thinking, Ah, I wish I'd done that. Why didn't I do that five years ago?
Why did I wait until the last three months before I sold it? And you might not have those things, but sometimes those things kind of come out and we can all learn from it.
Brock: Yeah, I mean, there's like a million things you have to do when you sell your site and like a lot of it's logistical, you know, and admin stuff like Actually transferring the account or like say you've been using your work email sort of personally for 10 years Like you got to figure out what to do with those emails, you know, and make sure things are archived and and then there's like the the actual like business stuff like how can you increase the value of your business before you sell it and The the trick here is you can't decide to sell it Next month and increase the value.
It doesn't work like that. Like any buyers, they're going to be looking, they're going to want at least six months of data, probably 12 months of data. Um, so if you increase your profits, let's say for one month before selling, that's not going to move the needle. If you can show that you've increased them for the past year, that will move the needle in terms of your, your valuation.
So the more runway you have, the better. Um, it's not to say that like, if you just want to get out, like. You should start the sale process now, but if you can wait a year or six months, um, yeah, there, there's a bunch of stuff you can do and a lot of it is just that low hanging fruit. Like, like we were talking about with emailing affiliates.
Um, that's one thing you could do like right now, just email all of your top affiliates and ask for a better rate, you know, and that could move the needle. Like if you, if you sell your blog in, um, in 12 months, um, other things you can do, you know, yeah. If you're not on a premium network, get on a premium network, you know, maybe increase the ad density just a little bit, um, just to kind of squeeze a little more out of your display ads.
Um, if you're selling sponsorships, sell more of them, you know, leading up to the sale, just so you can kind of pad that, that profit and loss. Um, so really anything you can do to increase revenue, decrease expenses in the 6 to 12 months leading to a sale will get you more money when you exit. Um, I would also say that it's okay to leave some stuff on the table because most buyers are going to wonder, has this been totally squeezed or is there anything that we could do, you know what I mean?
Jared: that a lot. Actually, it's interesting you bring that up. I've heard that you think like, I want to get out, you know, I got to squeeze every ounce of lemon juice out of this lemon. And yeah, that is, that is true. But if, you know, if you don't have anything left for them to grow upon, you got to put yourself in the mindset of the buyer.
They, they don't. Typically you just want to buy an asset that's already maxed out. They want to see a little bit of runway that they can take their asset and grow it a little bit. So, um, that's a really good point. I've heard that before.
Brock: Yeah. When, when you talk to buyers, like when you say you list your site with a broker, and you're going to do a million video calls with potential buyers, every single one of them is going to ask you, What would you do to grow this?
Yeah. And, and you should have some answers. So,
Jared: you've, you, you talked about SEO being a very important strategy for you. You know, as you made the transition from kind of personal blog to website, we'll just I'll name it that for now. You didn't say it that way, but SEO is important. Um, but you've kind of teased other little, uh, other areas you, you've, you've worked on.
We've talked about, I've heard you say YouTube. Uh, I've heard you say email. And so what other things were you doing besides just SEO? Over the course of this business. Um, and then I, I realized we got to get to talking about your purchase of the second website, the slender rest. So this will be my last question for now on, on modest, a modest man.
But yeah, how did you, um, grow other things and, and, and, and where did they end up with in terms of non SEO channels?
Brock: Yeah, I, I pretty much had every social media account, you know, like, um, Instagram and a Facebook page and a Facebook group and Twitter and, um, eventually, uh, you know, started Pinterest and then a YouTube channel.
And I think out of all those, you know, YouTube was probably my biggest other property. But it was also, it's also the hardest thing to sell because it's so personal. And not that you have to run a YouTube channel this way, but the way I did it, you know, I was kind of the only onscreen personality. Um, I was writing most of the scripts and it was just, it wouldn't, it's more valuable to me than it is to somebody else, at least at this point, which is why I didn't include it in the sale.
But the other properties I think, um, did add a lot of value to the business. If not, like in an intangible way, I mean, sure, you can do sponsorships on Instagram and stuff. And so you can drive some revenue with social media. Um, you can get a little bit of referral traffic. But I think in my case, it was more about building like a well rounded, multi platform brand.
Having an audience in more than one place. And um, being more than just like an affiliate website, you know. So I think when I, when it did come time to talk to potential buyers, they appreciated that like. There was an Instagram account with 50, 000 followers and engagement, and there was a Facebook group with conversations happening every day.
There was an email list with like a pretty good open rate. So, I couldn't say that like, the email list led to X percent ROI, because frankly, I didn't make much money off of email. But, um, Um, it, it did kind of just show that this was like a real brand with a real audience. So I, I think those platforms, I think it's worth focusing on more than just your website, but um, I wouldn't try to do everything at once, you know, and, and a lot of it wasn't worth it.
Like, like I tried to sort of crack the Twitter code for a long time and it just never, it never made sense. Yeah. It never made any money. Never got any referral traffic. Same with Pinterest. Like I just couldn't figure it out. Hmm. I would think Pinterest would do so well in this. Yeah, so did I. I, I bought courses, like I, I tried Tailwind, like I, I tried agencies and I just, I never really figured out Pinterest.
Well, you know, they
Jared: say 80 percent of marketing is wasted. The key is trying to figure out which of the 80 percent it
Brock: is. Yeah, I think, I think for, for me it, it always came back to SEO and it was always like, sure, I could go spend a few weeks trying to crack Pinterest. Or I could just publish more content because that's definitely working.
And so I kind of always came back to that.
Jared: You're being modest. Uh, I'm being tongue in cheek on purpose. You're being modest. I mean, your YouTube channel, your Instagram channel is over 50, 000 people. Your YouTube channel is what over 400, 000 subs, um, at this present time. And you managed to keep it. So I definitely want to ask you how the heck you kept a YouTube channel when you sold the.
The website and stuff like that. That's super interesting. But, um, um, let's talk about the slender wrist and when you purchased it, why you purchased it, and maybe take us through some of the, uh, some of the details of
Brock: that deal. Yeah. The slender wrist was actually another YouTube channel. Um, uh, a YouTuber who I had met just, just through doing collaborations and stuff, and he had a channel about watches and, uh, it was also called the slender wrist and he had his website.
He was actually pretty good at SEO. Um, he kind of understood that game and. He got to the point where he stopped updating his website because he was just more into making videos and I sort of floated the idea Probably four years ago. I was like, you know, if you ever want to offload this website I'll buy it from you or I'm interested and he wasn't ready at the time a couple years later He said, okay.
I'd like to focus full time on YouTube. Do you still want to buy the site? And so we did an off market deal. No brokers super fast. Very simple And it was a great transaction. He was happy with it. I was happy with it Uh, it was, it's funny looking back, it was a pretty simple transaction and really there was no reason to be nervous about it.
I was nervous because it was like the most money I'd ever spent on a business transaction. Um, and after I got it, I basically just plugged it into like my system. So I already had this system going for the modest man. What I noticed is that watch related content did really well. It was like really good for affiliate programs, especially, uh, even just Amazon, like people buy a lot of watches on Amazon and.
Given that there's like, there was just so many more algorithm updates and everything. I was, I would lose sleep at night thinking, what if something happened to the modest man? You know? Um, and so I, I wanted to diversify the portfolio by adding a different site. And I thought watches is perfect because it's kind of the same niche, but it's also kind of different.
Like there's a lot of interest in men's watches from people who don't really care about fashion. So, uh, I basically plugged into my system, used a lot of the same writers, the same team, same SEO process. And even the same, like. And, um, it grew really fast. I mean, it was far exceeding my expectations. I think it trafficked 10x in the time that I owned it.
And, um, you know, plugged it into Rap, uh, Raptive or Adthrive. Plugged it into all the same affiliate programs. And it was great. It was a great experience.
Jared: Talk a bit about your team. You know, your writers, uh, your process, your editor. I mean, you don't need to take us on a 20 minute diatribe. Like, you clearly had gotten to the point where you were only really managing the business.
Very E Myth style, by the way. Love that book. Um, a little cheesy, but such a good read. Um, like foundational. Uh, I get asked a lot like, Hey, I'm looking to start my own business. What book should I read? That's like my number one recommendation. But, so you got yourself to a point where you were only kind of managing the business from a couple hours a day or whatever it was.
What was your team like and how did you assemble it?
Brock: The key players were, uh, someone who basically just focused on formatting. So, taking the raw material of an article, you know, the Google doc that came in from a writer, and then turning it into, um, a good experience on the page that's SEO optimized, has the images inserted, and all that stuff, headers.
Um, so I had a full time, by the time I sold it, I had somebody full time just doing formatting across both sites. Then I had a part time, Um, operator. So he was kind of like my right hands, like doing managing the content queue, assigning articles to writers, um, you know, receiving the drafts. Uh, and then, um, sort of seeing it through formatting, and he, he basically managed the formatter.
And they were both very good, like very independent, um, didn't need a whole lot of oversight. The latest hire, uh, before I sold it, uh, was a full time editor. So, that became, it became clear that that was like a big bottleneck. Um, just editing articles for consistency and, and grammar and, and also like taste because the, the website, you know, did have like a certain like kind of taste and brand.
Um, so I needed someone, I needed to take that off my plate. So I ended up hiring a full time editor who also did some writing. So he was kind of like a contributor editor. Um, so those three were my, you know, full time or close to full time people. And then I had probably at any time 10 freelance writers across both sites.
Um, some of them were doing, you know, four or five posts a month on like a retainer. Some of them were just doing ad hoc as needed articles. Um, and that was basically it other than the occasional, you know, specialized contractor like a graphic designer or something like that.
Jared: Did you ever go back and do any content updating in bulk?
I mean, you had a 10 year old site. One could think that would need updating. You bought a site that you didn't create. Maybe some of the content wasn't what you wanted. Like was content updating ever a
Brock: part of what you did? Totally. Yeah. I mean, only in the last two years, I would say like it was something I very much neglected and, and also it wasn't really.
It wasn't really part of like the modern like publisher dialogue, like until a couple of years ago, you know, no, no one talked about updating content now. It's like the thing in Vogue. Yeah, totally. And it makes sense. I mean, you update content immediately starts getting more traffic. So, um, it does work.
Updating old content is actually harder than publishing new content. Totally agree. Oh, it's so hard. Yeah, it's so hard. And I tried to kind of systematize it. And we did. We basically treated old articles like new ones. So So every week I think we'd republish two articles across both sites and it was a pain, you know, cause you have to go back and like, like who wrote this?
Like, like are these products out of stock now? And like, do we need new images? And like just a kind of messy process. But um, but to answer your question, yes, we did it and it did work.
Jared: Yeah. I've never talked. I asked that question a lot. I've never, I've never gotten an answer, which is. A. Oh, yeah. Totally easy.
And B. Oh, yeah. I love updating old content. Never get either of those two answers.
Brock: It's terrible. It's terrible. But yeah, I mean, you know, freshness does matter. And especially for like buying guys and product reviews, like, I mean, as a consumer, like, I want to look at the latest content, not something that's five years old.
Jared: Oh, yeah. I look at published date so often. And, um, Uh, obviously depends more on, on the niche, but even just, it's become so colloquial for me that I just do it even in stuff that probably wouldn't matter, you know, I'm looking up like, what wildlife I'm going to see at this national park, that hasn't changed in 10 years probably very much, but I still am like, well, who's got the freshest
Totally. Yeah, exactly. And it's funny because sometimes you find a really old article that's like a total gem. It's on like a third page of search results on like a blog spot, you know, and you're like, this is exactly what I was looking for.
Jared: That's happening more and more nowadays, but we will leave that for a different conversation.
Um, okay, let's get into the sale. You decide you want to sell it, take some chips off the table. Um, you know, uh, uh, cash out, whatever you want to call it. Uh, you listed with a broker. Uh, how'd you pick broker versus no broker? That's a common question that, that, that as soon as you decide you want to sell a site or you're going to entertain it.
That's probably the first thing you think about.
Brock: Totally. I mean, I actually went through the process without a broker about a year and a half ago, directly with like a very large media company. And I got all the way through due diligence and everything. And. They basically ghosted me like, like in the 11th hour, it turns out they had a bunch of layoffs.
The people I was talking to didn't even work there anymore. So I had gone through this process alone. Um, and it's, it's a lot like it's, it's, it can be an overwhelming process. Um, so when I decided to, you know, I was, I was a bit demoralized after that happened after a few months, I decided to, to sell it again.
And I was like, this time I'm using a broker and I'm gonna, I'm gonna use the best broker, you know, and just kind of pay the fee. I mean, the only downside to a broker is the fee. And if they're good, they're going to get you a better offer that's going to pay for their fee. And they're going to help you throughout the process.
Like a broker is like, um, I don't want to say real estate agent because I feel like, uh, a good broker is, is better than that. Like they don't just care about the sale. They're more like a doula, you know, and, uh, they're going to kind of. They won't replace your lawyer, but they'll kind of give you legal advice.
They won't replace your accountant, but they'll sort of help you out in that department. And, um, in my opinion, I mean, the broker was worth every penny. Um, so once I chose a broker, yeah, you list it. Pretty painless. You know, they kind of create a business summary for you. And the other good thing about a broker is they have a list of buyers.
So they just email your, your summary to all of their potential buyers and you immediately start getting interest in offers, uh, which is something I couldn't have done on my own, you know? So, um, I think if you're selling, if you're selling a business for like, you know, half a million or more, I'd probably use a broker if it's your first time.
Jared: How was the process? You talked about being on a lot of video calls like, um, you know, uh, did you get a lot of offers that you had to wade through? Did you just get the right offer right away? How long did the process go on
Brock: for the actual, from like listing to accepting an offer was only. A couple of weeks, we got a lot of offers right away, which, um, I think part of it was, it was priced correctly and that it wasn't overpriced.
So, uh, we got like a little bit of a bidding war going versus some brokers will price it very high and just kind of let people come down. So different strategies, but I thought this was, was a good strategy. Um, all of the offers were. Most of them are in the same ballpark. The things that really set them apart were like the terms.
So, uh, you might get a slightly higher offer with slightly less attractive terms, like maybe there's, uh, an earn out period or maybe they need to secure a loan, you know, versus an all cash buyer. Um, and I think that's something that gets overlooked a little bit because most people are just thinking about total sale price.
But, you know, the terms matter a lot, and the likelihood to close matters. Um, so I ended up picking, uh, uh, an offer that was a very strong buyer, very likely to close, and very friendly terms, in terms of like, cash on close and stuff like that. So, um, that part was relatively easy. The due diligence is, is kind of like the ringer, you know, there's just a lot of work.
It's a lot of back and forth questions, questions. They really dig into your business. Um, a lot of phone calls, a lot of emails. Uh, luckily I had gone through that process before, so I kind of had everything, you know, already set up. Um, I didn't get any questions that I hadn't already answered in some form or another, and then there's the actual.
You know, legal part, like going through the purchase agreement with your, your legal team and their legal team. And again, just a lot of back and forth, um, financing and actual closing. Then there's the transition, you know, so the transition is also a lot of work. But once the money hits your bank, um, it makes the transition a lot more palatable.
Jared: You were on a lot of calls. If you could, uh, try to like overly summarize some common things that sellers either asked about or maybe highlighted. As to why they like to your site and we're interested in what are some things that maybe sellers are interested that we as site builders aren't as aware of, or we don't put quite as much of an emphasis on.
Brock: Yeah, I was actually really encouraged by some of the feedback I got because we talked about content quality and kind of that focus, and I think it's very easy to lose focus on that and just, you know, publish a lot of content and, um, and not really think about like building a long term brand. Every single buyer I talked to mentioned that they appreciated.
The quality of the content and the fact that it was an actual brand with a social media presence and a direct audience. And, um, it wasn't just kind of like a fly by night, like two year old affiliate website, you know, so that they appreciated. The, I guess the production quality, um, another thing that they, they liked was the age of it and the stability.
So especially modest man had been somewhat flat for a couple of years in terms of like traffic and revenue, which to me that bought, that always bothered me. I couldn't figure out how to like get things going again, but for a lot of buyers, especially who needed an SBA loan, that was actually a really good thing because a stable business is a safe business, you know?
So of course, if your business is growing quickly. That's a good time to sell. You can get a higher multiple, but, um, if it's stable, that's, that's a good thing too. So, um, I think if you're, say, your website's two years old and it's growing like crazy, like hockey sticking, um, that's a little scary, you know, because, um, it could potentially get hit, um, you know, in the future versus My website had seen, had weathered so many algorithm updates and nothing terrible had ever happened.
Um, so that was a good thing. The third thing that pretty much every buyer mentioned was that there was a team in place and there were SOPs and it was relatively hands off. So there was a lot of concern about like, if I buy this business, how will we replace you or like how. How crucial are you to this business?
Will it fall apart after, after the transition? And so the fact that there was a team in place and um, and that they would transition with the sale, that, that was really important.
Jared: Yeah, there you have it. Yeah, it reminds me, we did an interview, I don't even know, probably years back now, with somebody from Empire Flippers, a well known broker, and they really drilled in the idea that most sellers are focused on risk mitigation, whereas a lot of people, maybe in the SEO space, are focused on, you know, opportunity.
Growth these kinds of things and a lot of buyers are really focused on like, hey, what's the least risky buy?
Brock: Totally. Yeah. I mean a lot of these a lot of buyers I was shocked at how many buyers had zero experience in this business Sure, there were some that had a portfolio and they were they were expanding a couple were bigger companies who that this is all they did and But there were some who they were just trying to buy a cash flowing business, you know, that was safe and, um, you know, for them, they, the idea that they could spend, you know, a good chunk of their, their own wealth or maybe take on a big loan and then buy something that got hit and lost a lot of its revenue like overnight.
That's terrifying. You know, so I agree with you. I think risk mitigation is huge.
Jared: So I have a question, a larger question to ask about untying yourself. You talk about the transition. I have to admit, I was poking around getting ready for this interview. You're still on the About page. You mentioned that you still own the YouTube channel.
Like, how did, that seems like, um, maybe not normal or maybe something that was definitely discussed and I'd love to hear how that went and maybe the why behind it.
Brock: Yeah, I think with the, so if you're kind of intertwined with your site, like if your personality or your image is, is, um, is on your site, maybe you've been like a food blogger, you know, and, and you've been the person who's doing all the recipes and the videos and everything that is a potential problem for buyers, like they're going to ask, like, you know, what do we do to kind of like remove you from this?
Or are you cool with staying on board even, you know, or us using your image. Now, in my case, I didn't really want to be involved after the sale, and I also didn't really want my image to live on forever, like with the brand, so it was important to me to pick a buyer who is kind of aligned, um, with like a plan to sort of like phase me out over time, which we're still in that transition period, which is why I'm still on the site in a couple of places, um, but the plan is to phase me out.
So that's one thing. It's just like figuring out what you actually want to do and then finding a buyer who's aligned with that. And then if there's anything you want to keep, you know, I think a lot of people are like, well, what if I want to keep my Instagram? What if I want it? It's like, there are no rules here.
You can do whatever you want. You can, you can chop your business up and sell whatever pieces you want, you know? Um, But you have to be upfront about that. So when you're talking to buyers, you have to say like the YouTube channel isn't for sale, you know, and that's, that's how I approached it. And for some people it was a deal breaker, which was fine.
Um, but for the, you know, the offers I got it, it wasn't a deal breaker. Now I knew I was going to do this like two years ago and I decided to, to, to start thinking about selling. I knew that I was going to keep YouTube. So on the back end, I started separating the businesses. Um, it had its own profit and loss, like it had its own affiliate programs or at least its own tracking I.
D. S. Um, and so I could, I could tell a buyer, even though this looks like the same brand on the surface. On the back end, here's how much revenue comes in from YouTube versus the websites. Here's how much affiliate revenue, um, comes from YouTube links versus websites. Um, and, you know, here's what'll happen if we, if we kind of separate these two properties.
Um, so, I think I was able to sort of put buyers minds at ease. Um, if I hadn't put that work in, you know, for, for a couple years to kind of separate them, I think it would have been a pretty messy transition to try to do that during the sale. Right.
Jared: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Um, as we start to wrap up, I guess I want to take a step back and from a higher level, ask you, what were the causes for you to, uh, decide to sell this site?
I mean, you talked about taking some, some chips off the table, maybe expanding on that. I mean, I'm thinking the alternative approach could have been, you know, to double down, right? To, uh, maybe make an e com play out of it, to negotiate, you know. So there's different, you hit points in your business and certainly with a website where you could double down or.
Cash out and take your chips off the table. And I just want to hear what were some of the driving factors for you as you considered that decision.
Brock: Yeah, it's a great question. I mean, because there are alternatives to selling. I mean, you could try to hire an operator, you would expand the portfolio. And I think a lot of those things, depending on like how much gas you have left in the tank are pretty good alternatives.
Um, I know like for me, like just buying a second site that gave me a little more like juice, you know, to work on the business for, for a couple more years. Um, I think for me, the. The real kind of thing at the end of the day was like, I wasn't enjoying really working on the business. You know, I've been doing it for a long time.
The game had changed a little bit. There was a lot of competition. Um, it, it had, I felt like it was becoming a bit of a quantity over quality approach, uh, to succeed at least in this niche. And I was spending a lot of my time just thinking about traffic and SEO and optimization. How do we publish more and kind of like in the weeds, like business management stuff.
And I didn't really enjoy it. You know, I, I mean, I, I like business, I like make money and, you know, I, but I also like the creative part of this and, um, that had sort of been lost over the years, you know? And, um, yeah, I think that was one of the big reasons I just wasn't enjoying the day to day operations anymore.
Um, I did think about hiring an operator, you know, I think it'd be very hard to be totally. Uh, out of the business. And I think even if you had an operator for me, at least, I'd still be laying awake every night thinking about algorithm updates and, you know, all of that stuff. Um, so for me, I, you know, I needed a total separation, uh, versus some sort of like equity sale or operator or something like that, I think the other thing is just like opportunity costs.
Like I have other ideas, other stuff I want to do. I have kids now, and I was just like, I just need to turn the page.
Jared: Getting old. What can you say? You know, dude, towards retirement, you know, mail it in.
Brock: Yeah, totally. Well, and the funny thing is like, speaking of retirement, like, I mean, I'm not like going to stop working.
I couldn't yet, but, and I don't want to, but like, you know, you need a certain amount of money, uh, to, to kind of be comfortable. And, um, like I, I had been moving that goalposts every year, you know? And so I remember thinking. Back in the day, like if I could just do this full time, that'd be amazing, you know, and I could do a full time.
It's like, oh, if I could make 10, 000 a month, that'd be amazing. And it just kept moving. And I remember when I first started thinking about selling, I was like, you know, if I could sell this for, you know, a couple hundred thousand dollars, like that'd be, that'd be cool to have something worth that much.
It's like, if I could sell this for half a million, like, and every year it changed. And I was talking to my wife about it, just like, you know, you've been talking about this for like potentially selling like for a long time. And it's true. And I think it's very easy to just keep moving the goalposts. You know, and I think sometimes it's harder to stop doing something than it is to start doing something.
And um, for me it was, it was a difficult decision to decide to stop doing this. But in hindsight, it was for sure the right decision.
Jared: Yeah, it's amazing how when something goes from being a side hustle, to being a viable stream of income, to being more than your full time day job income, to being now an asset, right?
Like, there's, it's a totally, each one of those phases are completely different mindsets and changes, and You're exactly right. Like you kind of almost went into asset management at the end there in terms of how you thought about it rather than the, the side hustle that was you reviewing three pairs of pants that you were picking between a banana Republic,
Which is kind of fun. Like, I think about like those early days, like it was cool. Like I, I really liked that steep part of the learning curve versus like the more iterative like growth part. And I've, I've kind of like itching to get back to that in some way. And so I think, um, I think video, you know, is sort of that for me right now.
Jared: I could ask you a lot more questions, but it's that time. Thank you for coming on board. Where can people connect with you or keep up with what you have going on now that they can't reach out to you via the Modest
Brock: Man? Yeah, just, well, I actually have a, my own website now, brockmcgolf. com.
That's just a very simple sort of list of like, my projects and um, and I did make a little, very, very niche, probably very not lucrative, um, Online course about my selling experience. So if anybody is in a similar situation and you want like, just like the total brain dump about the sales process. Um, you can check that out, but it's, it's really not for everybody.
It's, it's only for people who are sitting on, you know, a blog that, that might be worth selling. Um, but yeah, RobinGolf. com and, um, really feel free to email me. Uh, I'll, I read every email and I'll respond to you. Well, thank
Jared: you for coming on. Good to have a fellow listener on the podcast. Great interview.
Appreciate you sharing all the thoughts. Really enjoyed hearing some of the insights from the sellers you talked to. Um, some of the content stuff we talked about, but it was great all around. So thanks for being here. I really
Brock: appreciate it. Yeah. Thank you, Jared.