If you’ve been here before, then you already know that niche sites are a big part of my online income. And in recent months, I’ve been learning a lot about FE International, which is a brokerage that sells niche sites as well as other online business. If you’re a niche site builder like me, then you need to know about FEI. That’s why I took some time to ask Amar Hussain a few questions about how FEI runs their business and how it can benefit people like you and me who want to sell their sites. Check out the interview below and I’ll share some of my thoughts at the end this post.
1. Your bio mentions that you traveled the world and started an online business before joining the team at FE International. I’m assuming that the business funded the travels – what can you share about this? And in your travels, which place did you find most over-rated and most under-rated?
I’ve owned a travel website for over six years and it did fund my trips for several years across all seven continents. You don’t have to own a travel website to live that particular lifestyle. I know several entrepreneurs who run their own businesses ranging from e-commerce stores to apps but the process of working whilst travelling remains the same.
The most successful entrepreneurs who work on the road are those who still maintain routines, keep a good work life balance and are skilled at outsourcing and managing resources remotely. Traveling the world is one thing but it will come to an end if you let your business activities slide. Some entrepreneurs use a management service which will take a lot off their plate.
My last big trip (22 countries traveling overland from Canada to Antarctica) I found some of the tourist traps really under-whelming such as Chichen Itza in Mexico and the Panama Canal. I’d highly recommend Belize and Uruguay to anyone though. I’d also suggest Medellin, Colombia. More and more entrepreneurs head there every year and it’s a great place to network, grow a business and experience another culture.
2. Do you, or any of the staff at FE International, have current or past experience in creating niche affiliate websites? I’m asking this for two reasons – 1) I’m wondering how the brokers evaluate the sites (is it purely from a financial/business standpoint or from someone who knows these types of sites inside and out), and 2) is there the potential for a conflict of interest in regards to staff using data from the seller’s Amazon Associates account to discover other profitable niches for their own gain?
1) Yes, personally I’ve had experience in various niches such as travel, fashion, lifestyle and dating. Thomas Smale, FE International’s co-founder, has a background in building, buying and selling sites before getting into brokerage and FE International still own and run sites to make sure we are keeping up with the industry and can offer helpful advice to our clients. Valuations are overseen by Thomas who is vastly experienced both in the financial and business elements as well as knowing various types of websites inside out.
2) No, this is strictly prohibited under our employment contracts, confidentiality and avoiding conflict of interest is of paramount importance to an advisory business like ours. With the majority of our team based in Boston and London, employment contracts are highly enforceable. This could be more of a concern if you were dealing with a company who had employees in countries where contracts are harder to enforce.
3. Until recently, I thought FE International only brokers sales for sites/online business at the $100K+ level. Can you give an idea of what FE International looks for when considering selling a site for a website owner like myself?
Firstly, we do a lot of volume in the $10-100k range, as well as sites above that up to the mid-seven figure range. A lot of people don’t realise we sell in the $10-100k range and that’s mainly because sites at that level sell so quickly (they are often on our site for less than 24 hours). Our general criteria when considering a site would be:
- At least 6 months old (ideally 12)
- Documented traffic and revenue history for the same period
- At least $500 in recent monthly earnings
- Majority of site written in English
- Legal in the US
Assuming it ticks all of those boxes, we are happy to continue the conversation. We offer free, no obligation valuations. Just fill in a short form if you wish to sell your website and we will be in touch.
4. How does FE International differ from some of the other brokerages out there and why should someone choose to sell their site through your company?
Naturally I’m biased but here’s some key facts about us:
- We have the largest full-time team in the industry.
- Our process is second to none. We manage the entire process from drafting sales materials through to negotiation, contract drafting and facilitating the transfer.
- We’ve completed over 300 successful transactions which is more than any other broker in the sub-$5m range.
- We’re an Escrow partner and fully accredited members of both the IBBA and BBB.
- We have offices in both the US and in Europe.
To put it simply, we have a talented, experienced international team who have a 93% sale success rate and 85% of deals complete within 60 days. Our stats speak for themselves.
5. For me, part of the appeal of brokers like Empire Flippers is that they handle the transfer process once site sells. Does FE International offer this as well?
Yes, absolutely, although many of our clients prefer to do this themselves. Our technical team are very experienced handling site transfers of all sizes and complexity. We are extremely hands on throughout the brokerage process (which most other brokers are not), and also facilitate due diligence through a secure third party deal room, fully draft sales contracts and facilitate Escrow and the transfer itself.
6. I found a lot of value from this blog post on increasing the worth of your niche site before selling it. What you do think is the single most important thing someone can do to boost that worth? What about the least important?
Ultimately, sustainably increasing revenue (not one off spikes or adding additional costs) will be the most important variable in increasing the value of an online business. The least important really depends on the particular site and the size you are dealing with. For example, a clean link profile matters a lot more on a $200k sale than a $20k sale.
7. What is your advice for people wanting to start out in the world of making money online and building a business?
The most important thing is to make a start. My first website looked truly awful and the first blog post was not much better. The important thing is I took that step and corrected course as I grew.
Procrastinators never get far nor do the ‘ideas people’ who don’t implement anything. You need to think things through carefully but don’t get stuck with analysis paralysis. Starting a website does not need to be difficult or expensive and there are a lot of great sites out there with free resources which can cut your learning curve.
After all that I have learned about FEI, I think that they are a great resource for IMers like me who are looking for the best places to sell niche sites. From what little experience that I’ve had in corresponding with Amar, FEI seems like a very professional organization. If they are a new-to-you brokerage, then I suggest that you check out their blog. Leaving a comment there was actually how I first connected with Amar, so you just might end up building a good business relationship while you’re over there.
Though I’ve used Empire Flippers in the past for selling my sites, I look forward to giving FEI a try early next year. I’ve learned that it is best if you contact FEI a couple of months before you want to sell because they can actually give you some advice on getting the most value from your site when it’s time to list it.
Have you used FEI to sell one of your sites? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience – just drop me a comment below.