This is a follow up story for AFH Media LLC. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 3 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
My name is Patrick Hess and I own a company called AFH Media LLC, a small website development and holding company.
Our focus is on website acquisitions and growth strategies. I was originally featured on your site because I developed a website called bargames101.com, which I ultimately sold to another investor.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
After selling the bar games site, I built a couple of new sites and invested in a smaller affiliate site with the goal of scaling and, hopefully, flipping it. After redesigning that site and ramping up the content and SEO strategy, I increased affiliate revenue from a few hundred dollars to 5 figures a month.
As mentioned, try to keep it simple and focus on one or two projects at a time. If you’re building websites as a side income stream (like me), don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results.
After one year, I sold that affiliate site to a large ecommerce group for a very nice exit. This might sound ridiculous, but when factoring in the purchase cost, content, and other miscellaneous costs, my ultimate ROI, including monthly revenue and sale price, was close to 2000%.
Here’s a screenshot showing the results of scaling content and applying SEO strategies - you can see the initial curve after I purchased the site in late summer 2020:
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Although I had some success with building and selling sites, I’ve had my share of failed projects as well. I’ve learned that this usually comes down to starting too many projects at once and being impatient.
If you’re on your own (like me) and/or have limited time and resources to devote to these projects, it’s best to just focus on one or two at first. The idea of owning several sites and building your own online empire or portfolio sounds glamorous, but in reality, this is incredibly hard to achieve without a team and resources.
It’s much better, in my experience, to focus on one or two projects at first. Make something great that stands out among all the over-optimized and shady sites out there. It’s worth the effort.
Also, don’t be too quick to sell. I made the mistake of selling one of my first sites several years ago because I wasn’t sure it was worth the effort and wanted to cash out. I was new to the process and sold for a small amount. I built that site from scratch and wrote all the content. It was a ton of work. Now, in the hands of new owners, that site is a hugely successful affiliate site in the water sports niche. It would have been great to have held on to it a little longer, but I learned a lot from the experience.
Finally, I’ve recently focused more on outsourcing and delegating certain aspects of the business. For example, I’m terrible at building links, so I found a group that excels at white hat link building. I’ve also worked with many writers and now even work with a content manager to assign topics and assist with the overall content workflow.
This allows me to focus on tasks that I enjoy the most (i.e. keyword research, content planning, and design).
I’m still working on this, but can definitely see the upside to delegating more and removing bottlenecks.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
I recently invested in a couple of smaller sites and my plan is to improve the design, content quality, and SEO strategy on these.
I look for sites in high-growth niches with branding potential and immediate monetization channels (i.e. affiliate marketing and display ads). Then I try to scale them with a series of articles and topic clusters.
Working on one or two at a time, I hope to have a handful of successful content sites over the next few years that generate consistent monthly revenue with solid exit potential.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I read a lot of history, fiction, and philosophy. One great book I read recently is The Socrates Express by Eric Weiner.
He covers the central teachings of several famous philosophers, but manages to keep it light and funny. It’s a great book to revisit from time to time.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
As mentioned, try to keep it simple and focus on one or two projects at a time. If you’re building websites as a side income stream (like me), don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. It takes a while, especially if you’re starting from scratch.
In the meantime, focus on quality, make something that stands out from the crowd, and learn all about keyword research, on-page SEO, WordPress, content marketing and site structure.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Yes, I would love to find a VA to help me grow and manage my sites. Ideally, this person will have significant experience with WordPress and content formatting, as well as social media. It could be a great learning opportunity for the right candidate, and it would help me out a ton.
Where can we go to learn more?
You can reach me via my website at afhmedia.com.
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
Get our 5-minute email newsletter packed with business ideas and money-making opportunities, backed by real-life case studies.