Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello, my name is Luke Van Der Veer and I am the founder of Website Rental Coaching.
Website Rental Coaching teaches people how to create a passive income by renting lead generation websites to local businesses.
Our coaching clients are an even split of 9-5’ers and business owners, all of whom share a desire for time freedom. The 9-5’ers are often looking to replace their full-time incomes and quit their jobs. Some of them love what they do; others hate it, but all of them want more control over their schedule.
Many of the 9-5’ers have tried to build businesses on the side before, or they already run successful side hustles, earning money with affiliate marketing, eBay, Amazon, dropshipping, network marketing, or MLM.
The business owners want more control over their schedules too. Most of them own rental properties or invest in real estate, and quite a few of them have also tried one or more side hustles.
As of April 2022, I earn $42,000 per month from website rentals. However, that income increases every month as I continue renting out more websites.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
In 2013, I started a 9-5 job at General Electric in the human resources department. The daily workload left me feeling unfulfilled and completely drained. One Friday, a teammate who was nearing retirement told me about all the things she had missed out on because of work over the years, including time with her daughter.
I was trying to listen, but all I could think about was finding a way to prevent the same thing from happening to me. There was no way I could stand working for 40 years in the hope of retiring someday.
Over the next 3 years, I tried every side hustle imaginable to try to replace my full-time job. The closest I got to being able to quit was when I was selling liquidation inventory on eBay and Amazon.
After a year and a half, I was averaging $35,000 a month in revenue, but it came at the cost of my mental health and my social life. Every waking moment I wasn’t at my job, I was at my warehouse sorting, testing, listing, and shipping products.
I learned the hard way that time was more important to me than money. I may have been able to offload some of the work by hiring employees but selling on eBay and Amazon would never be truly passive. So, I stopped.
Shortly thereafter, I invested $5,000 to learn how to influence Google’s search results with search engine optimization (SEO). After landing my first few clients, I realized that my time was limited and all I had done was create another job for myself. Thankfully, it also occurred to me that websites are digital real estate; if I owned them, I could have a business rent them from me.
So, I fired all of my clients and began building my digital rental properties. I quit my job at the 6-month mark and hit six figures by the one-year mark. That’s when several of my former SEO clients reached out and asked me to teach them how to build digital rental properties too. I had never planned on teaching website rental to anyone, it just kind of happened.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and launching the first product.
At a high level, the website rental strategy is simple.
Find a niche that looks profitable. Build a lead generation website for it. Rank the website at the top of the search results so it produces leads. Then, rent it out to a business for a monthly fee.
At that point, the income is passive because there’s nothing else to do. If you want to increase your passive income, you just rinse and repeat the process.
The unknowns with website rental were all tactical: how to choose niches, how to develop the content for the websites, how to move the website to the top of the search results and ensure it stays there long-term, how to sell to the business owners, and how to automate everything so that the income is passive when you’re done.
There was no one I could ask for help, so I went into this knowing that it was going to require a lot of trial and error.
I also had to accept the fact that I’d probably make a ton of mistakes and spend thousands of dollars trying to figure it all out. But I thought it would be worth it if I could quit my job.
Describe the process of launching the business.
For my first set of websites, I targeted 5 different niches in my hometown. The idea behind niche diversity was that if one didn’t work out, it wouldn’t matter because one of the others would.
The only other criterion I thought of was the popularity of the service, so I ended up with towing, HVAC, limousine rental, pest control, and tree services.
The content was the first issue. I had no clue what to write, so I imagined a persona for each website and tried to write about it. The content turned out weak, but I launched it anyway.
Then, I saw a presentation from Tony Robbins where he talked about modeling success. The idea was that if someone has achieved what you want, do the same thing, and you’ll get the same results.
I looked to the leading companies in each niche for guidance. If their websites were at the top of the search results, I modeled everything they did.
I visited each website and marked down the services they offered and the content topics they wrote about. I paid for the research tool, SEMRush, and downloaded all the keywords each website ranked for.
I used another tool called Majestic to download all the links each website had earned. Then, I manually created an internet presence for each of my websites based on the combined information of all the top competitors.
In the first year, I spent a little over $25,000 on hiring virtual assistants and trying different tools, tactics, and strategies to figure out how to get websites to rank consistently and automate the website rental process. That money was the entirety of my job salary (except rent and food), combined with client payments that were all reinvested. I didn’t go out with friends, I didn’t go on vacation, and I very rarely took a day off. My birthday was one of the only days I didn’t work, and I felt so guilty that I couldn’t enjoy it.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Customer attraction is done entirely with search engine optimization. Our targeted, high-converting websites generate thousands of customers based on their position in the search results. When a website appears for the right commercial keywords, customer interest is inevitable.
Save yourself time, effort, and money. The better you define your goals, the easier it will be for you to find a way to achieve them.
With qualified customer leads in hand, we then reach out to growth-minded business owners offering free referrals with no strings attached. By providing results in advance without asking for anything in return, we’re able to build trust quickly. And because we’ve already proven that we can deliver results, the sales conversation becomes much easier.
Every day, business owners are bombarded by marketing companies via email and phone. The pitch is almost always the same: “You pay us X, we’ll deliver Y.” The problem is that the business owner doesn’t know whether or not you can deliver results. Time after time, we hear business owners describe our approach as refreshingly different.
The sales process is simple:
Find growth-minded businesses.
We identify businesses that already pay for leads. This includes businesses that use Angie’s List, Home Advisor, Thumbtack, Google Ads, Groupon, or any type of lead generation service. If they’re already spending money, it’s easier to convince them to reallocate some of their advertising dollars to try our service.
Narrow down the list.
We check the business owners’ websites first to make sure they can perform all the work the customers have requested. Then we review their online ratings on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and the Better Business Bureau. Specifically, we’re trying to determine whether or not the businesses (1) are professional, (2) provide quality work promptly, and (3) maintain communication with the customers throughout the sales process.
Send qualified leads to the first business.
A trial run is the only true way to see how businesses function. We refer several qualified leads to the business using our email and call tracking software. In addition to automating lead delivery, the software records all interactions between the customers and the business owner for our review.
After a few days, we follow up with the business owner to gauge their experience and see whether or not they’d like to continue working with us. If so, we negotiate a monthly flat fee that the business owner pays to rent the website from us. Payments are charged monthly by credit card through Stripe, and everything is automated.
The average lead generation website flat fee is $1,000 per month. However, the common flat fee range is from $500 per month to $5,000 per month, depending on the target niche, city, lead volume, and lead quality. Across the coaching students, replacing a six-figure salary requires 8 website rentals on average.
Regarding website rental pricing, we aim to deliver a minimum of a 10x return on investment for the business owners. We’re sending hundreds of qualified leads every month by phone and email. Because of that, our client retention is near-perfect.
On the rare occasion that a business owner leaves, they’re replaceable within a couple of days because there are always other businesses that are looking to grow.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Our profit margin is around 80% in the first year, and 92% thereafter.
Common recurring costs include:
- Weebly website builder: $78.39/year per website
- CallRail call tracking: $45/month for 5 local phone numbers and 250 local minutes
- Domain registration: ~$10-30/year per domain
- Subscription to SEO tools - SEMRush, Majestic, & Ahrefs: $59.95/month
- Rank tracking software: ~$10-99/month
- Outsourced link building: ~$25/week per website
In addition, many coaching clients outsource specific parts of the website rental process to save time. The most common one-time costs include:
- Outsourced content writing: ~$150-300/website
- Outsourced citation building: ~$300/website
The niche selection criteria we follow ensure a low competition market, which eliminates the need for ongoing content creation and the related costs.
In 2022, the average investment to build, rank, and rent one lead generation website was $1,088.39, excluding the cost of any subscription-based tools. The average time frame from website launch to rental was 91 days.
Once a website is consistently producing leads and renting out to a business, the income becomes passive because there is nothing left to do. The only ongoing work I perform is spending 1-2 minutes every Monday morning to scan over a call tracking report to ensure call volumes look normal.
One of the most commonly asked questions is about the impact of Google’s frequent algorithm updates. One of two things happens: (1) our website rankings improve or (2) our website rankings don’t change at all. The impact of Google updates is minimal because of the way we build and structure our websites.
Google is free for everyone to use because they monetize its business through advertising. Their goal is to deliver the best possible result based on the words you search. To survive long term, Google needs to provide accurate search results so that people keep using it and advertisers continue spending money on the platform. This is why Google focuses so heavily on quality, trusted content. Knowing how important that is, we take the time to write great content and build trust. It’s the reason we never have issues.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
In the last 6 years, the only situation that negatively impacted website rental was the pandemic. I have 7 website rentals in the restaurant industry across New York City. During the pandemic, NYC shut down all restaurants for months.
This caused call volumes to plummet from 50-60 calls per month per website to zero, making those 7 websites temporarily worthless. When NYC allowed restaurants to reopen, the call volumes returned to normal within a couple of weeks. Aside from the annoyance factor, losing the income from 7 website rentals had no impact on my financial situation because of the diversity of niches across my website rentals.
Having website rentals in various emergency-related and essential service niches is a way of maintaining a stable income long-term.
The first tip I would offer other entrepreneurs is to define what success means to you. If you don’t do that, it’s like being on a boat and sailing around aimlessly.
I currently manage a team of 2 part-time virtual assistants that handle different parts of the website rental process. One VA writes content and builds websites. The other VA handles everything else. I trained both of them by sending them through the corresponding parts of the coaching program. I give them a target niche and a city to go after, and they run with it. We communicate through Slackas needed, but they’re essentially self-sufficient.
Looking back, I wish I had hired someone to teach me website rental instead of trying to figure it out on my own. I spent so much time and money and just kept failing.
It was mentally and emotionally draining to keep testing things and making mistakes, not knowing if I was ever going to succeed. Worse than that, my friends and family didn’t believe I could do it. They kept telling me I should go back and get a job since it was not working.
Luckily, I’m stubborn and didn’t listen to them. If there is something you want to learn how to do, find someone who is great at it, and ask them to teach you. It’s one of the few shortcuts to success.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The most influential advice I’ve ever received was from the American author and business coach, Tony Robbins. He said, “If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved what you want, copy what they do, and you’ll get the same results.” Tony explained that as children, we learn by example. The people we surround ourselves with influence our mindset and behavior. As we get older, society pushes us to be self-sufficient and handle everything on our own. But in business, that doesn’t always make sense because we rarely succeed alone. Knowing that success isn’t about luck or fate, it comes down to a choice. Choose to put yourself in the position that gives you the best chance of success.
Russell Brunson, the CEO of ClickFunnels, frequently speaks about the idea of modeling success and has referenced Tony’s quote many times. Russell also explains that it makes no sense to try to blaze a new trail when there is already a proven path laid out for you. It’s one of the biggest reasons people give up and never achieve their goals. Russell depicted this in his famous Funnel Hacks webinar.
The second piece of advice that Tony Robbins offered was that “people don’t lack resources, they only lack resourcefulness.” This concept applies to business investments perfectly. People will always set aside money for the things that matter to them. They don’t lack resources, they lack priorities. Their goals need to move to the front of the line if they ever want to accomplish them. Someone might say, “I can’t afford it. I don’t have the money.” Instead, they should ask, “How can I afford it?” Shift your mindset and your mind will come up with a solution to the problem.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
The first tip I would offer other entrepreneurs is to define what success means to you. If you don’t do that, it’s like being on a boat and sailing around aimlessly. You have no direction.
I didn’t define success early on, which is why I ended up running different businesses that didn’t make me happy. Take a few minutes to get clear on what exactly you want life to look like in this future state where you have achieved your goals. Once you’ve got that perfect picture in your mind, you can create a plan to get there.
The thing that was most important to me was time. I wanted the freedom to be able to travel when I want, see my family when I want, have complete control over my schedule, and have money coming in without me working.
I wanted to “retire” myself. That requirement greatly narrows down the potential business opportunities that would have been a good fit for me. The income would need to be truly passive, which very few businesses are.
MLM was one of the business models I tried. I was a distributor with Market America. I built a team of 17 people and started making money, but it wasn’t passive.
We had weekly conference calls and training sessions with our team, we constantly met with people and held events to recruit new members and sell products, and we had frequent training seminars in other cities and states. At no point can you sit back and relax as the paychecks roll in. I tried! After building a team of 17 people in the first 5 months of business, I stopped recruiting and focused on helping my team instead because I thought I had done my part and it was their turn now.
They stopped working because I did. I learned the hard way that leading by example is a requirement because if you stop working, so does your team. Therefore, network marketing and MLM will never be passive. Had I known that, I wouldn’t have started that business in the first place.
Selling on Amazon and eBay was another business I tried. My business partner and I received monthly truckloads of inventory, sorted, organized, tested, and manually listed thousands of different products online one by one.
Every time something sold, we had to find it in the warehouse, package it, and ship it out. We worked 7 days a week, during lunch and after our normal job hours, often until midnight.
If we took a day off, we watched our sales drop because eBay and Amazon push your listings lower in the search results when you’re not actively listing new products constantly. We tried to hire employees to help manage the business so we could reclaim our time, but finding good employees was challenging and only about 80% of the business could be automated anyways. Just like with MLM, it wasn’t possible to create an entirely passive income with Amazon and eBay.
Save yourself time, effort, and money. The better you define your goals, the easier it will be for you to find a way to achieve them.
Website rental has given me a passive income, which has allowed me to travel all over the place and spend my time as I choose. I hope you’ll take a moment to figure out exactly what you want so you can reach your goals too.
Where can we go to learn more?
To learn more about the rental business model and how to create a passive income, visit the website.
You can also connect with me on Facebook.
Want to start your own business?
Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
We interview successful business owners and share the stories behind their business. By sharing these stories, we want to help you get started.
Interested in starting your own business? Join Starter Story Premium to get the greatest companion to starting and growing your business:
- Connect + get advice from successful entrepreneurs
- Step by step guides on how to start and grow
- Exclusive and early access to the best case studies on the web
- And much more!
Did you know that brands using Klaviyo average a 95x ROI?
Email, SMS, and more — Klaviyo brings your marketing all together, fueling growth without burning through time and resources.
Deliver more relevant email and text messages — powered by your data. Klaviyo helps you turn one-time buyers into repeat customers with all the power of an enterprise solution and none of the complexity.