Today, we’re joined by returning guest Mushfiq – a prolific site owner, operator, and flipper for an all-encompassing look at site operators!
With his 15+ years of operations experience and someone who hires lots of site operators for his agency, Mushfiq is a wealth of knowledge from both sides of the equation.
The first half of the discussion is all about site operators:
- Who is best qualified to become one
- What the ideal operator avatar looks like
- Some of the reasons someone would become one
Mushfiq explains that a website operator is someone who can take a site from zero to a revenue target, focusing on content management, SEO, revenue generation, and finding opportunities.
And it’s also here that Mushfiq and Jared highlight the important skills needed like: project management, strategy, and working well with a team of content creators, link builders, and virtual assistants.
For the motivations for becoming an operator, there are also lots of interesting insights.
For instance, operators can mitigate risk by gaining valuable experience working with different types of sites – knowledge that can then be applied to their own websites.
And since he runs an agency offering these operator services, Mushfiq also shares his two-tier structure for website operations. PLUS, the max number of projects an operator should manage at one time.
There really are tons of awesome insights here for anyone interested in pursuing this as a service provider.
But eventually, the discussion moves to the owner’s perspective.
Hiring an operator can be advantageous for those who lack the time or expertise to effectively manage their own sites.
And Mushfiq lists out the 3 typical options for these owners who lack the time:
- Let the website sit and eventually die,
- Sell it (although they discuss some challenges for personal brand sites),
- Or outsource it to an agency or virtual assistants.
There are lots of factors to consider – and Mushfiq and Jared do a great job of covering all that’s important.
For instance, the challenges many feel when handing over a website to an operator.
As they discuss, letting go of control and allowing the operator to take over is essential for a successful operator-owner relationship.
But of course, trust is a crucial component for this, and it’s important to find someone with a trustworthy background and a mix of successes and failures.
And Mushfiq highlights successful owners as those willing to walk away and let the operator manage the property, have realistic expectations about quality, and understand the complexities of managing a website.
They also break down the typical financial arrangement of this relationship.
For both owners and operators, diversification is emphasized as a key strategy. Ideally, this arrangement can afford the owner more time to expand into e-commerce, newsletters, and other areas to build a brand and generate additional income streams.
There’s really too much value here to properly summarize, but if you’ve ever considered hiring an operator or supplementing your blogging income, this is a must-listen!
Watch The Interview
Topics Mushfiq Covers
- What makes a good operator
- Revenue vs Traffic
- When to hire an operator
- What exactly does an operator do
- Operation structure
- Ideal avatar of an operator
- Why would someone become an operator?
- Importance of experience with failures
- Who should hire an operator?
- Considering strengths and weaknesses
- Giving up control
- SEO growth vs branding
- Financing structures
- Importance of diversification
- Growing via complementary skills
- And much, much more…
Links & Resources
Jared: All right, welcome back to the Niche Pursuits podcast. My name is Jared Bauman, and today we have a repeat guest, Mushfiq, joining us. Mushfiq, welcome back.
Mushfiq: Thanks, Jared. Thank you for having me. It’s great to be back.
Jared: Yeah, sure. Yeah, of course. I was going through my typical rundown here with you before, uh, we started recording, and you’re like, I got this.
I’ve been here a bunch. I’m like, yeah, good point. Probably don’t need to go through all the house cleaning details. Yeah,
Mushfiq: yeah, for sure.
Jared: I mean, it has been a couple years and, um, you know, you’ve had some very popular episodes in the past. I know that after one of the ones that you did with Spencer, I, I kind of reached out to you and actually hired you to help me out with, uh, with something.
Um, and that’s where we first got to know each other. And then I was able to interview you a year or two later. Why don’t you give people a background though? It’s been a little while since you were on. Tell us a little bit more about what you do, who you are. And then, um, we have a fun, I’m so excited about today’s topic.
Mushfiq: Yes, I’m Mushfiq. Uh, I run the website Flip, which is a newsletter blog about buying, growing, and selling content sites. So I’ve been buying sites since 2008. I think about 220 exits, flips, to date. Um, A lot of them are, you know, six figures. And so that’s how I kind of built my name. Just somebody who understands how to buy something quickly, grow it, and then quickly exit it.
And I teach that. And I, and I showcase that, um, my newsletter has deal flow where I shared. Websites for sale and that’s some way I’ve kind of made a name in the industry, but anyways from day one I’m a niche site operator And but the twist is that I buy to flip Not to always keep long term. So that’s that’s that’s a short story
Jared: Yeah, your interview with Spencer a lot about a lot of your your website flips is really good Especially the parts about like the easy wins.
I know you have some stuff about easy wins, but that’s a good worthwhile. Listen for everyone And probably a good, like, maybe set the stage for today. Um, you know, we’re going to be talking about websites, niche sites, specifically from an operating standpoint. And this, this covers two sides of the coin.
Like, you have a lot of people out there who have websites that are large enough that they might, it might make sense for them to not operate anymore. For a couple of reasons. Maybe a business reason. Maybe because they’re actually not necessarily the best qualified for it. But then you also have a lot of people out there who are working a full time day job and are pretty good at building websites, but don’t have enough hours in the day to build their own projects yet and might make good operators.
So, it’s a conversation we haven’t had yet. And, um, why don’t you set the stage for us a bit and then we’ll kind of dive in. Like, you’re pretty involved in that world of hiring operators and seeing what it takes. Like, what do you think would be a good stage setter for our conversation today?
Mushfiq: I think what is a website operator, right?
Um, and everybody who has built up a niche site is in a way a operator, but that doesn’t mean you are a good operator, right? Um, you know, beginners kind of learn through the process and gain that experience. You know, a proper website operator is somebody who has done this many, many, many, many times. Uh, in my company, you know, we have a rule, you have to have ten websites that you have, uh, grown and held on or flipped, um, to be called a website operator.
It’s just experience, right? And so a website operator is essentially somebody who can take a site from zero. All the way up to a target that could be traffic target. Usually it’s a revenue target. Um, traffic is useless, uh, in my opinion. It’s revenue that matters. Um, and then that’s a successful, um, project.
And that involves everything from content management to on page SEO, off page SEO, revenue generation, finding opportunities, affiliate or display ads, everything, right? Um, and so that’s what a website operator in the basic terms does. Um, and then, you know, we can expand on that or go to the, whatever you want to talk about.
Jared: perfect. I mean, it’s a, it’s a great, it’s a great transition into it because a lot of people will kind of start with, well, what, what are the metrics that matter? You’re saying that revenue matters the most traffic doesn’t maybe go into that a little bit more. Why? I mean, I tend to, as a business websites, the number one thing we think is keywords in traffic, keywords in traffic, keywords in traffic.
Mushfiq: honestly, I have never been on that boat. Um, you know, there’s a lot of information out there and it’s not wrong. Target low competition keywords generate traffic easily. Um, you know, I think I’ve never, you know, I’ve always been in the fact that target keywords that bring you the maximum revenue rather than target a lot of keywords that, you know, just.
Paste on display ads and make, you know, pennies on the dollar. It is pennies on the dollar compared to what potential there is. Right. And I’m seeing this more and more now with our portfolio and people coming to us. They have thousands of articles. Right? Because somebody said, just publish, publish, publish.
But what you get is content debt, right? Um, this is a term that I’ve heard, um, and I’m just repeating it. Essentially, you build up all this content, and that’s great. You’re getting it, uh, published, and you’re getting that initial traffic boost. And then a year down the road… Somebody else is beating you.
Your content is now decaying in the SERPs. Now you have to go back and update all of that, right? That’s the biggest challenge is keeping a website up to date. And people lose interest. They don’t want to do that. Because it takes a lot more effort to update content. Um, then it does to just publish, publish, publish.
So, that’s what I’m seeing now, and that’s what a lot of reasons why sites are getting hit, is that they have all this outdated content, or other content is more fresh in Google’s eyes, and they’re just losing out, right? And then now they have a thousand articles, what are you gonna do with those? Um, and so, and that concept was…
Content so you can get a lot of traffic so that you can paste display ads. I go, I go other ways, right? I have websites that have 500 page views a month making more than a site that has 100, 000 page views. And there’s just a different ways to approach it, right? So, and it’s much easier for me to. Take, keep, um, that side updated because it only has maybe 30 articles, right?
So it’s different ways.
Jared: You, you would probably know best because, and I’m trying to put it from a flipping standpoint, right? Which is you go look at a listing on empire flippers or, you know, F year, uh, flip or any of these, like they don’t really lead with the traffic. They lead with how much it’s making for a month.
It doesn’t really matter how many pages it has, you know, maybe, um, walk us through, um, A deal that you would bring an operator on so that people can get an idea for what that would look like and just from a high level, share some of the details about how an operator earns money and then also, you know, what they might from a high level be responsible for.
Mushfiq: good. Um, so obviously, ideally, I bring an operator on into one of my sites that I own when it’s generating enough revenue. I mean, that’s the ideal case, right? Let’s say it’s making 5000 a month. You know, that’s justified to bring somebody on full time or, you know, they’re just working on that site, not full time per se, but focused on that site.
Um, and so that’s, that’s one justification. But I have other sites, you know, in the portfolio that we manage where I see potential. I know that if execution happens in the way I, this site will earn. Money, um in the future and therefore I can hire very early because I don’t have time right and there’s a lot of Cases like that where there’s potential or it’s a very long term project and just you know Slowly put in hours to grow that site out.
So there’s two cases now one is your self funding The project out of your own cash, uh, because it’s not making money. And that’s not, some people can’t do that, right? Um, most people can’t do that. And then the other is the website’s generating revenue and you’re paying off, you’re paying the operator from that situation, those two edge cases.
And then obviously there’s anything in between those with
Jared: being someone who can operate a website, let’s say they’re qualified, what are the responsibilities for them? I mean, is it really like you have to do everything or do you work with a team? I mean, So
Mushfiq: the way we do it, right? Um, you know, I have an agency that does website operations, right?
So I hire on top tier operators. The top tier in my book is somebody who has Their own portfolio of niche sites. They have potentially exited a site. So they know the A to Z. Uh, most of my operators have sold sites. Um, and they know the whole life cycle of a content site. That includes everything from content production to on page SEO.
To finding revenue opportunities. To turning on display ads. I mean, basic stuff. To doing everything that’s technical on a site. Right? They are assigned. So they’re the… Lead on that site and under them, they have VA, uh, one dedicated virtual assistant, and I call them, um, essentially like a low, uh, like a sub operator, essentially what they do is essentially format posts, publish, do the kind of the repetitive things, which the main operator can guide.
Right. So obviously the operator is getting paid. hourly on a good rate that is competitive. Because again look these people who can operate sites, they can just do it themselves. There is no reason why they need to be doing the job. So, they are always doing the trade off. Should I spend my time building my own sites?
Or should I work for somebody else at an hourly rate? If the hourly rate has to be justified where it makes sense, right? Um, and then the uh, the sub operators are virtual assistants, you know they get They get the typical rates that you pay. Um, so yeah, that’s a two tier structure. That’s all you really need.
Um, I know some people like to have more hierarchy, more spread out. But I like to have one person focused on a site. Because what I’ve seen is even with niche site owners like myself, right? Managing more than five sites. That’s what I’ve said in the past. More than five sites, you get distracted. And this is like…
Kind of full time right five sites and you’ve 10 15 sites you get distracted You always focus on the really good winners. And so similar structure with the operators They manage three to five sites max and that’s where I see is a sweet spot And then you know, and then we just hire more operators
Jared: a lot of the big time sucks in the website are content creation link building are Are these things most operators you see doing themselves or?
Is that something where they might carve out a portion of their budget for it?
Mushfiq: So, maybe we should, I think the second question you asked is how would they get, how are these operators paid, right? Because that’s, let me just touch on that. So they are paid an hourly rate. Um, that’s the structure that I have seen.
Um, incentives, bonuses, you know, those things are, uh, good to have where they hit certain milestones and they get a bonus. Um, so hourly rate and then incentive and bonus structure is fine. I don’t give a percentage of a site’s, um, revenue or anything like that. I say, hey, if you can get this to 5, 000, let’s say it’s earning 5, 000.
If you can get this to 7, 500, um, you get, Um, a thousand dollar bonus or something, whatever, right? That kind of a structure, that’s a motivational, enough motivational factor. Um, so that’s, that’s the monetization part. I’m sorry, the salary part, and then now how are, um, you know, the most time consuming things is content production, of course.
Building outlines, figuring out keywords, outsourcing that. So we don’t have the way we operate. We don’t have an in house writing team. We outsource whoever gets the best content. Um, um, whoever can produce the best content in that niche. And so, yeah, they’re handling that process. Um, that’s actually 60 to 70 percent of the time is spent on updating old content and adding new content.
The rest is just. focusing around internal links to, um, building backlinks. Again, we’re using third parties for that, but building backlinks is actually much easier because if you’re using a third party, um, agency, and you say, I need a few backlinks, these are my metrics on these internal pages with this anchor text, and you know, you can just handle that.
It’s a one time thing. Whereas content production is continuously, continuously getting content. Some weeks we get 10 articles, some weeks we get two. So it’s kind of up and down.
Jared: It sounds a lot like. Being a really good strategist and project manager. Um, you know, it, it, it sounds like I had, I’m not the one who’s writing articles all day.
I’m not the expert in the specific niche that this website is in necessarily, but I’m an expert at growing a website. And so I can work with a content agency or a content team. I can work with a link builder or a link building team. I can work with a VA who works underneath me. And I’ve got to make sure that all this kind of comes together and we hit our, maybe our KPIs.
Is that kind of the avatar of a good operator? Yes,
Mushfiq: 100%, 100%. Now the way I do it is, you know, I’m obviously, let’s say, you know, 15 years in this industry, right? So like, elite operator, right? You and I, we’ve done this for a long time. Um, we don’t necessarily have the time to get into the nitty gritty. Um, and that’s why I hire, I hire the operator.
Where I am the chief strategist, right? I say, alright, this website needs X, Y, Z. As in, these 20 pages need to be CRO’d because they have the highest easy win opportunities. Um, check out this silo category. It looks like a good topic to target. And essentially lay out the very, very high level. And that operator, if they’re good, they can take those 3 or 4 bullet points.
And run with it, right? They’ll figure out what to do. And obviously there’s question and answer time. Um, but essentially that’s, that’s the, um, hierarchical, uh, breakdown. Where I’m giving them high level, they’re executing. And if they need help from the VAs, um, they can use them at free will.
Jared: Is there ever a situation where an operator might identify something and say, Hey, we’ve got a really good opportunity here, can we get some more resources?
Yeah. Um, you know, strategically speaking, like, hey, I, I, I see an opportunity here. Maybe we just won in a big update or maybe, you know, we, we’re just getting this exponential growth rate. Like, how do you, uh, work with an operator
Mushfiq: in that capacity? Yeah, look, that’s, that’s, that’s the ideal situation, right? I mean, that, that means you’re, that means that operator knows what they’re doing.
They’re finding maybe a keywords, like a, Set of keywords that look good and they’re asking for budget now if they justify the budget They’ll get they’re going to get the budget right and my job because we have clients So I don’t I didn’t even mention this like we run in a web operator agency, right?
So we’d have client sites We have my own sites, right if it’s a client site, we’re managing Then my job as a salesperson is to take, translate what the web operator is, the operator is saying like, Hey, we have all these keywords and there’s all this opportunity and translate to that a business value to the client.
Say, I need X thousand dollars for content production and this, this, so we can target this topic or do this task. Um, and most say yes, because if you can translate that to a revenue value in the future, it works out.
Jared: Um, Let’s see. So question I had is, is we kind of talked about the avatar of who this is in terms of they’re good at project management.
They’re good at strategy. I mean, I think that the obvious question which you alluded to is I know how to build my own sites. I have track record. I have this success. Maybe I’ve exited a few. You know, I have to ask. Why would I want to go be an operator rather than go work on my own project? Yeah,
Mushfiq: 100%. You don’t.
There’s no reason to hire an operator if you do it yourself. And that’s the case for most people, right? Um, so what we are seeing with operators is people who, um, got into the… Online business space as just in, uh, one type of investment they’re doing, right? Um, and they’ve maybe they’re using their own money or they raise money.
They bought a few sites. Now that’s not, that’s they have no interest in being operators themselves or doing this full time, right? They’re investors. And so those people definitely need a third party to help them. Um, and then there’s. You know people who are like me who have always built up sites, um grown them and now You know, maybe they have other projects or they want to do another site, right?
And they don’t want this one to die, right? So what do you do in that situation? You can hire Um, VAs to kind of handle that process individually. Um, and that’s a lot of people do, right? They become solo oper from solo operators to, um, quasi operators where they are kind of that operator level, but they have, uh, five or six VAs doing a lot of these subtasks.
But over time, you realize this takes a lot of time. Um, even delegating takes time. Um, you know, once you get all the SOPs in place, maybe it reduces the time, but you know, a lot of VAs are talented, but they don’t have that full holistic knowledge of what to do. They need guidance. So again, that takes time.
So those people can say, okay, I don’t have time for this. This site makes enough money. Let me hire a dedicated team that where I get reports and I give high level guidance that, hey, you know, I want the site to go this direction. I want this and they just execute. Uh, which is, you know, me executing my team, and, and they’re happy with that, right?
And they’re paying us a management fee.
Jared: Who, who wants to operate? Who wants to be an, uh, an operator of a site when they have that experience level? Yeah. To build their own, you know? Yeah, yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s always the question of like, why does a business owner go back and take a day job, you know?
Why does, but, but it’s worth asking. It makes sense why somebody would want to hire an operator. Yeah. Why would somebody want to go be an operator?
Mushfiq: Yeah. Excellent question. And from the high level, it may not make sense, right? If somebody knows what they’re doing, they can do it themselves. Now most of my operators are.
Talented they’ve done this themselves and what they, the ones that I’m working with, I can pay them an hourly rate where it makes sense. So most of these guys are overseas, but very talented people, right? I’m paying them an hourly rate where they might not make that at any day job or anywhere, but they have, let’s say, Five side state, three or four sides they own on their, on their, on their own.
Um, that they’re not working really full time on it anyways. And they probably have VAs. They’re probably operating those as with VAs and then now they have 20 hours a week, right? You know, they can launch another site, but nowadays things are tougher, right? It takes a lot more effort, a lot more time, a lot more money to start a site the proper way.
And so like, okay, maybe I can just earn an hourly wage that I could not earn otherwise. And you know, supplement my income. So yes, it depends on where you’re getting your operator from. It depends on their incentives. It’s not easy. Right. I have a very, very strong network because I built up a newsletter and just a following in the space.
So I’m able to attract people like this who are excellent operators and who want a part time job. Um, it’s not easy for somebody who. It’s not well known in the space to kind of search for an operator because there’s a lot of people who will say I’m an operator, but really they’re, uh, you know, they don’t have that holistic thought process and they’re really just a, a VA, right?
So that’s the, that’s the
Jared: difference. I think you bring up a really good point from a risk mitigation standpoint and also from a, just a challenge of, of growing a website these days. You know, you can kind of wave your flag in the air and say, Hey, I, I, I know how to build websites, but that doesn’t mean that at my current stage of life, I’m up for the, I’m up for the, the all in approach that it might necessitate, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use my skill sets to help, you know, someone else or another brand, especially if, like you said, um, you have, um, you, you already own a site or two on, uh, of your own, you know, from a risk mitigation standpoint, it’s like, okay, I could just keep starting sites and then my risk factor goes up because I’m, You know, they would call it over leverage, perhaps, would be the right term.
But if you’re getting an hourly rate doing something you’re an expert at, and building your own as something you’re an expert at, you’re kind of not as over leveraged. Yeah. Yeah.
Mushfiq: And look, a lot of these people, um, operators, you know, they are gaining experience, right? Um, you, you have tunnel vision when you work on your own sites, but when you work with a team with random types of sites, right?
E-commerce to content sites, whatever, and doing SEO, you learn a lot, um, doing that and it’s diverse. Um, and then you can apply that to your own, um, content sites. So operators have. Get paid to learn and then get can apply that to their own websites to you know 10x
Jared: I will 100 percent agree with that running an agency.
I’m shocked over the years all this stuff I’ve become a quasi expert in just because it’s like all right Well, we’ve got an African Safari company that just signed on and six months later You’re like I know more about the time of days You can go out on an African Safari and you can’t then than I ever thought I would right
Mushfiq: wait, right,
Jared: right So, okay, um, final question on the operator side, and that would speak to the audience that, and I’ll throw my own ring in the hat here, I have my own opinions about this from just a, a conversational standpoint, but I’m curious from an operator standpoint, like, you know, I think a couple years ago maybe, I’m just guessing, like a couple years ago, like, it wasn’t uncommon that if you put your head down and you grew your site right, I’m using quotes here, um, and you didn’t take shortcuts, that your site would typically just kind of go up.
I And there’d be different periods of it going up, but it was rare to get hit by a Google update. Unless you were doing stuff that was, air quotes, wrong. In the last couple years, it’s a lot more common for sites to go up and sites to go down. For people to build websites that go up and go down. And obviously the successful ones, their sites go up more than they go down.
And over time, they go up. So what if I’m someone who, I have experience with this. I have a flip or two in my past. I’m growing a site, but I’ve had some drops over the years. Is that bad, or is that something that you guys don’t mind, that people that, uh, people that want to hire operators don’t mind as much?
Mushfiq: So let me rephrase that. Do you mean the operators that have failed? Or is that… Yeah. No, that’s good. If you haven’t seen updates, you’re not an operator. Uh, you’re not somebody I’m hiring. So, when I hire, I don’t ask about the successes. You know, obviously if I’m talking to you, I know your background. I know who you are.
I You know, we’ve been in touch before I’m not hiring random people I know you’ve had successes and and and honestly of all the operators I’ve hired. I have actually bought sites from these people So I contact people I’ve actually Transacted with before so I know what they’ve done in the past. I asked them mostly where have which sites were hit Why were they hit and did you do anything about it to fix it?
And sometimes, and sometimes the answer there is no, I use bad practices to do that. I learned from that. I’m not going to do that again. I, I discarded that site and moved on to the next one. That’s not a bad answer. Sometimes, you know, When Google was giving a lot, um, you know, you could target keywords like can dogs eat x, y, z and just rank within a month.
Obviously you should take advantage of that and build sites for that and monetize it. It may not work today, and that’s completely okay. That’s the experimental phase with an operator I’m looking for. They’re learning through the process and becoming a better operator.
Jared: Yeah. We’ve all had, well I guess I won’t speak for everyone, but I feel like almost everybody’s listening.
We’ve all had our share of lumps. And successes, especially the last couple of years, as you know, the game has changed and, um, this isn’t a conversation about that, but it’s hard not to talk about it in some capacity these days. Um, okay, okay, let’s move on to the flip side of the coin. And I want to, if I can, if I can be a little more focused about it, I think that it makes sense, the person who doesn’t build websites, hiring an operator, and that’s not our audience here, like everybody listening, builds websites.
Side hustles to some capacity and has a little bit so let’s let’s let’s assume we understand that that’s kind of like buying a piece of property in another state and you hire a property management company and that concept kind of makes sense. Let’s discard that not because it doesn’t. It’s not worthwhile, but just because for our audience like talk to the person who maybe let’s outline actually what who should think about getting an operator and you know what are the different avatars or use cases where somebody might want to think about it.
Somebody is operating their own website right now or collection of websites.
Mushfiq: No, good question. So obviously first, right? You don’t have time you hire somebody that that’s common, right? And it takes an expert to know when they don’t have time, right? Like I know based on my track record that when this site, I know which sites I won’t have time for, which I don’t.
And that’s a skill, right? So if that individual on your audience, I have five sites doing well. I want to start a sixth one. Okay. What do I got to do? They know their capacities a lot. A lot of people don’t they over leverage and then they get screwed. So that’s one right? The other is. What we’re seeing today is sites need to be brands, right?
This is nothing new, but you know, people are saying build a niche brand, right? I’m seeing a lot of that now that, that, that should have been the case five years ago too, right? Anyway, build a brand. So what were some of the people working with now is they want to divvy up the responsibilities. We’re building a brand.
That means doing a lot of PR, doing YouTube, doing social media. We don’t do any of that. Right? So we divvy up the responsibilities where they say, Hey, please manage all the SEO aspects, content production, all of that, you know, website stuff. I want to build a brand. So I’m going to go out and do a lot of this other.
out of the box tactics. So you’re splitting the responsibilities and now they’re freeing up their time where they can go and do YouTube. They can go do Twitter. They can do all this stuff that I won’t do, but they can do because they want to build a brand in this space. So divvying up the responsibilities, which you know is hard to do.
Um, let me see if I can find any other situations. Um, yeah, one, I think that’s it, right? So you, you have to, anybody in the audience, you have to know your weaknesses, right? If your weakness, So your strength is video production you have sites, but your strength is not SEO You’ve kind of figured that out.
You have to be honest with yourself figure that out That’s when it makes sense to outsource those things and focus on others. You don’t have time That’s the one that’s already said so I think those kind of things it makes sense now Look if you’re doing this full time Um, or part time, you have five sites, you’re putting all your effort into it and it’s working.
You don’t need an operator. You don’t need to have this conversation, right? Um, so yeah, it’s not for everybody, 100%.
Jared: I mean, it makes sense. The time argument makes sense. The expertise argument makes sense. Um, how, like, maybe look at your most successful use, maybe it’s yourself, your most successful use cases, but others you’ve seen.
Um, what works the best in an operator owner relationship? Is it, uh, an owner that’s kind of involved and bringing some of their experience to the table, but sometimes that can extend over into micromanagement or, you know, too many cooks in the kitchen, you know, whatever analogy you want to give. Like, I’m just trying to think if I got to the point where I wanted to hire an operator on, like, how strategic should I remain?
Mushfiq: It’s best if you step aside as the owner. Um, look, uh, if Now in that second situation where I said if it’s very clear, right? The operator is very, I’m sorry, the owner is very clear that they want to do all the extra stuff. You know, that doesn’t coincide with what we’re doing, right? 100 percent do it. It just helps me, right?
Helps our case. Um, go ahead. But then there’s, you know, we’ve had a few clients come to us and say Mushfiq, I want to hire you guys. Um, you guys do everything. But let me know what I can do to expedite the process. Right. And they keep saying this, let me know what I can do. I can outsource even more content.
And we say, look, you know, Please don’t Let us we’re the experts. We know what to do. We’ll handle all the seo aspects When an owner gets very involved they You know, they can screw up the process Um, they can delay the process which is even worse, right? So we have some people say I need to review each article that you guys produce, right?
Look, if we’re producing 20, 30, 40 articles a month, it, it takes an extra 48 hours for that person to get back on each article, we’re not hitting our targets. Um, and then they come back and say, why are we hitting our targets? So no, if you’re going to outsource to an operator, you’re handing over that site, you should never log in, realistically.
Jared: That’s, I mean, I can completely understand where you’re coming from, having been a business owner for 20 years, like that’s one of the most difficult things to get to where you understand. And how does someone who’s built a brand or who’s built a website, uh, how, like, how, do you have any recommendations for how to get over that hurdle?
Because that’s a big hurdle. Especially if this is somewhat of a personal brand, which I’ll get into next, by the way, that’s the next question on my, on my list. But, like, how do you get into that mindset? Because that’s a very difficult thing to truly, I mean, uh, let go of, uh, uh, to some
Mushfiq: degree. Yeah, no, 100%.
Look, it’s a personal thing. I, I also think… If you’re not able to give up, um, control, it could be one, you know, semi personal, but also the person you’re talking to that you’re trying to, you want to hire, you don’t trust them, right? So luckily, you know, when I get on a sales call, people know me, know my background, have, there’s a lot of information out there.
So I’m, You know, when people contact me, they know they can trust me because I’ve done this so many times, right? Now if you’re talking to some random person who says they can manage their site, they say they’re an SEO manager Well, it’s hard. It’s hard to build that trust where you’re handing over the keys to each or you know, you know your asset So I think for people who want to hire an operator find somebody trustworthy Understand their background get case studies Get, um, successes and failure case studies.
Look failure is important. Um, if every single thing they share is a success, that’s a problem because your site is going to get hit for an update. It’s either going to be today or it’s going to be next year. It’s going to get hit and you want somebody who knows how to do their best. to recover. Not all sites will recover, but put together a game plan that, Hey, look, this is what happened.
We’ll try our best to fix this. Let’s see what happens. So if you only see successes, that’s a problem. So I think trust building is very important for that, for that owner to understand this person is the right person for the job. And then the other aspect is, okay, are you personally ready to let it go?
If you’re not ready to let it go, or even go into this process. You shouldn’t waste anyone’s time. Right? I mean, look, uh, I have, like, for example, my site, the website, flip. com, right? That’s my baby. I manage that myself. I don’t think I can ever give an operator full keys to that. That’s, it’s just, it is what it is.
That’s my personal brand. Probably a good segway.
Jared: Perfect segway. I was going to tell a story as a segway, um, about how, uh, this was many years ago. Uh, three, four years ago, I hired someone to build HeroLinks for me, for 201 Creative, my agency, but you know, in my name. And, um, it’s not a horror story or anything, but I remember they sent over, you know, one of the links they had built, and I clicked on it, and I read my quote, and, um, it was the exact opposite of how I felt about the situation.
You know, and it was about, like, some business topic or something. And I remember being like, ooh, you know, like, we all know that, like, the SEO side of us knows, probably nobody will really read that, you know, or like, if they do, it won’t have this big, you know, Right, right, right. Negative impact on me. And it wasn’t a bad thing.
It just wasn’t my personal opinion, but it’s a good segue to I’ve got a personal brand. Okay, so let’s say I’ve gotten my food blog to 30, 000 a month and I’m tired of being the person who has to write the recipe, crank the photos out like this idea of getting an operator sounds really good. So I can maybe go on to something else or take a break or just focus on some new thing.
Maybe I want to add video and like you said, but, but it’s my name on it. You know, it’s got my face on every single article. Recipe that comes out and I could think about this for a whole lot of niches. Like, I don’t know. How does somebody like that adding the personal element look to bring on an operator?
Mushfiq: Excellent question. I’ll give you a story. So we’ve had food bloggers, recipe bloggers, mommy bloggers reach out and they have their face. Everywhere, right? And the first thing I tell them is look, I want to be upfront and clear with you right now We taking over means we will never ever hit the quality levels that you have hit On your site.
It’s just not possible. You’re cooking your own food and building. It’s just not gonna happen, right? We are doing this to increase the traffic and get you more money. The quality will never be the same and I’ll be honest most just walk away right there because again, it’s their It’s not like they’ve made up their personal brand.
They built it up. So we have not closed, and we personally don’t want to, close anybody that has their face all over and they’re like a food site or something like that because we just can’t, we just can’t do it, right? Even if we close and manage that site, I know one month later, they’re going to start complaining that, Hey, Mushfiq, um, this article is, You know, from an SEO perspective and, you know, content perspective, well research, but it just doesn’t have my tone.
It just doesn’t have my voice, um, in it and, and, and so that’s, that’s, that’s the issue right there. So, I don’t have a straightforward answer for that, right? I, I, I don’t think it’s possible to just hand over the keys to something like that to an operator. Um, I haven’t had a success case.
Jared: What do you think, could be?
The situation, because there are people and I’ve talked to these people before, um, and, and I, not because I want the project, but like they’re at a point for whatever reason, whether it’s a life circumstance, whether it’s burnout, whether it’s other opportunities where they’re like, honestly, like the quality that they’re going to be able to put into it going forward isn’t enough either.
So how do, I mean, what do you think, how does someone navigate that if they’re at a position where they kind of need to make, they didn’t need to sell it. They need to bring someone on who’s gonna, who’s gonna carry it forward because the days of just letting it parking aside and expecting it to continue growing are done and dusted, you know, like how, how would you, if you’re, if you’re, if you’re stuck and you, you need to consider this as an option, like, what do
Mushfiq: you think some tips are for these kinds of people?
So let me, let me break down the option this person has, right? Let it sit, probably going to die, probably for a year. It’ll be fine. And then it will die. Um, so they need to understand that. Second is sell it, but personal brands, they don’t really sell. Um, they’re really tied. So no, but no buyer is going to want that because you know, the faces on it and it’s their brand.
So your exit probably will be very weak, uh, on a multiple basis. Um, so that’s not always the best. So really our only option there is to, you know, suck it up, let go and outsource it either to VAs or to an operation agency. Really, you only have three choices. So in, in a situation where, you know what, what you kind of painted out is this person doesn’t have any more time right.
To handle it. So, yeah, I mean, look, those are the three options and, and, and I, you know. Some people who come to me, they, they, they, you know, I’ve had one person come to me who has, who has three very, very large sites in the space, in the, in the food space, right? And I don’t think they’ve, they just kind of thought, hey, look, Mushfiq has this whole thing where I don’t have to work, right?
And I can just give it to him and he will do everything. But after speaking to them, I don’t think they realized that, okay. Uh, Mooshpeak is a SEO agency type structure. He is not a branding agency, right? He is not going to mimic the full brand and continue that process. And, and they walked away. Because in reality, they didn’t have any life circumstances.
They just wanted to save time and then maybe launch another site. And so, you have to, as an owner, figure out why you’re doing it. Um, the why cannot, if you’re a personal brand, the why cannot be I’m, I want to leverage my time for something else. And still care for that site, right? You gotta let go of the care.
It’s just the reality of it. You can also get on
Jared: it, right? Like, you can work to unwind yourself slowly from the business through processes, and then maybe down the road a year or two later, you know? I mean, this happened to me. I was, uh, Bauman Photographers. But my name’s on it, and it’s because I was… I was an integral part of the company and it’s odd because I ended up selling it even with my name on it.
But I had unwound myself from the business to where they weren’t buying something that involved me anymore. Um, but that took years. I, I realized I needed to make a change, um, or I wanted to make a change, but I couldn’t sell at that moment because I had to unwind myself over the next couple years from all the processes, the day to day.
Yeah. And I, I had to let go of being involved in everything.
Mushfiq: Yeah, just to add one thing that can be done, a structure that we haven’t tested, but it’s possible to challenge with, you know, you run an agency, I run an agency, it’s bottlenecks, right? Owners being bottlenecks, like it sucks. You know, sit down with an owner and say, don’t be a bottleneck.
Let me produce content. Let me do everything. Publish it right after it’s published. You are welcome to go into those articles, add your own images, add your own flavor, your own, um, quotes, whatever you want to do, you do it after we are done, you can get our approval, but that doesn’t stop us from continuing, right?
That’s the kind of. Like once a week you can send us, Hey, Mushfiq, I want to do these little changes. And it takes me five minutes to go over and say, These all look good. I want to add a video. Do it, right? Do it. Um, but don’t do it blocking our, Um, our production. So that’s something that’s highly possible and doable.
But again, the owner needs to understand that. Yes, for a week, a month, the lower quality article might be published, your followers might see it, and it might, you will get, you will update it later, but, you know, there’s a huge amount of people that are coming to your site looking for fresh content, they’re gonna read the lower quality, there’s nothing you can do about that.
Jared: That’s a great point though, you know, it does give someone an opportunity to say, okay, well, I, I can’t, I don’t wanna do the day to day anymore, but maybe one Saturday a month, I’m gonna, you know, sit down and crank out a bunch of recipes, and do some videos, and go back and add my personal touches, so. And again, we’re focusing on the, on the, it was just an analogy, like the food blog, but this applies to so many, you know, like I can think of like, you know, anything you’re a personal, you know, a personal finance website, a travel website, a DIY website.
I can think of so many niches where this would apply to. So, um, I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you about like the finance side of this and the number side, but especially on the owner side, like, uh, let’s say I’m sold. I’m, I’m interested in thinking about it. How do I work with the finances? Like, let’s say I have my website.
I don’t know. Let’s just pick a nice random or make. Maybe the low end, um, I don’t want to say low end, but it feels, it feels like 10, 000 might be a nice, like, spot to maybe, you could consider it. If my website’s making 10, 000 a month, how do the finances of this kind of work out when you want to look to bring on an operator and, you know, the hourly, you still got to pay for the content, you still got to do the links, like there’s a lot to now compute.
Mushfiq: Yeah, so so how we do it is we don’t take over any of the revenue streams. You collect that as the owner. Um, you know, we don’t take over the domain or anything. We just need WordPress access. So logistically, it’s very simple. Um, and the finance side of it. So you collect the money. You pay us a management consulting fee, right?
It’s a monthly fee. It ranges depending on complexity. Um, and then you and then we make it clear up front that there you need to supply a growth budget. That’s for content. Okay. Mostly and potentially backlinks, um, if needed and that can range from X to Y depending on what we’re seeing, right? And they pay the fee monthly, but the growth budget is essentially revolving and I say, okay, over a three month period, I need X thousand dollars for ABC and I will collect it when the time is right.
So it’s not like we take it up front and just hold on to it and just say, okay, um, you know, um, Joe, we need the money. Next week because of this we’re ready to do this. Can you invoice? Can I send you an invoice? Right? So that’s it And that’s how simple it is Yeah, that’s the finance side of it. I guess
Jared: For a typical owner and I’m sure it ranges but just to give people like a mindset Around it like what percent of their expenditure every month typically is for an operator Yeah, or an agency operator like you versus a growth budget of backlinks
Mushfiq: Yeah So our, our base plan is, uh, $1,500 a month for management fee, and usually that requires a growth budget.
We, we’ve seen three to $5,000 over a three month period. That seems to be the base site. Um, and, and that works
Jared: out well. Three to five K per month, or three to five K? No, total. Total. Sorry. That’s far more approachable than I thought you were gonna say. Yeah,
Mushfiq: no. And then look, it’s. And that’s the base, right?
So if, if, if, and if, if I see an opportunity, like all these keywords, right? And I need, and I see, you know, 50 keywords, that obviously is a bonus. And I’ll have to talk to the client. And if they want to go through it, you know, we, that’s, that’s a separate conversation. Um, but before we even sign on, I just set the expectation to expect three to 5, 000 for a growth budget, um, over a three month period.
And some months might be a thousand, some might, maybe 2000, but less than 5k. Yeah.
Jared: Yeah. What are, what, what is the, um, maybe give us what you think a, an avatar of a successful owner looks like. We talked about the successful operator and what their avatar looks like. They’re good at prop, uh, uh, project management.
They’re, they’re good at strategy. What does this successful owner look like? And, and I can’t imagine it’s just walkaway. I’m sure that’s nice ’cause they stay outta your way, but like, can they bring any more attributes to the table that makes them even more successful in your experience?
Mushfiq: Yeah, good question.
Okay, walk away. That’s one. Two, um. Get out of the way, let us do
Jared: our work.
Mushfiq: Number one, be open to letting somebody manage the, the property, right? Yes. That’s probably number one. Two is decrease your expectations on quality. Be let’s be honest. We don’t I don’t care about your site. It’s a reality I’m in this and any agency can lie about this.
I care less about your asset than you personally would that’s it’s the reality It is what it is. I’m not gonna lie about that Um, I do my best but come on, right? So, um, that’s the first one. So you quality will decrease. So be okay with that. Now you can push back and say improve the quality a little bit here.
Um, we can do little changes like that and that’s 100 percent okay. So that number one is, uh, uh, walking away. Number two is having expectation on quality. Um, number three is I think this is not for beginners, right? If you have one site, all right, if you’re self funded, you have a lot of money from other activities, and you know, you want to enter this niche site space.
We have a few people who are like that self, you know, they’re wealthy on their own, and they want to use, try this as an asset class, but they don’t want to manage their site. They’re doing it like real estate where You know, buy property and then, you know, have somebody else. That’s a, that’s, that’s, that’s a different story.
They understand what we’re doing there. They have no problem. Those are the best clients, right? Let’s be honest. Um, and then there’s the people who are beginners, um, that bought one site and they kind of think my agency as the golden ticket, right? Oh, I gave it to Mushfiq. He’s gonna 10X it. I’m going to be rich, right?
I set expectations with those people and say, this is not, this is not easy. If that was the case. I mean, let’s be honest. I wouldn’t have an agency, right? I’d just do this myself. It’s not that easy, right? It takes a lot of, a lot of effort and a lot of time. So, somebody who has, let’s say, has had a life cycle of going through this process, either building up a site and knows all the intricacies that are involved and appreciates somebody else taking that over.
And understands that, okay, it’s very involved. My life circumstances might have changed. I’m having a baby or something. And I know what is involved. And I know personally it’s hours and hours. So I can have. An agency kind of manage that process until I’m ready to take it over again, right? Somebody who understand and that that process you won’t understand unless you’ve been through this a few times You’ve built a few sites.
You’ve exited a few sites. You’ve failed right when and those are the best clients because they know It’s not a golden ticket. It takes effort. And so I’m hiring somebody to do that. Hopefully that’s a good persona It’s great.
Jared: It’s great. You know, I mean and as we kind of start to wrap up here like The thing I’m hearing on a very high level on both sides of the coin is diversification.
If you’re, like, a good operator is someone who understands how to build a site, but is understanding that diversification in their lives is a good idea at that point, for whatever reason. And then on the ownership side, somebody who wants to bring an operator on is somebody who understands the idea of diversifying where their time, their energy, their money, their resources goes.
And again, that’s from a very high level. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s interesting because I think, you know, as Google makes it harder and harder for niche site owners and just website owners and brand owners in general to, to continuously see gains of traffic year over year, like diversification is a very kind of popular topic, right?
Like people are thinking about this now more than ever, like you, you, you can win growing websites and building websites and like there’s just so many good case studies. Um, it’s a little bit more volatile and it’s a little bit more fickle and you also can win by growing your own, but man, what about using that expertise to diversify where your income stream is?
So, um, I didn’t, I didn’t expect that coming into the interview today. So I feel like I really learned something new from a high level on that.
Mushfiq: Awesome. Yeah. Yeah. Diversification. Right. I mean, Look, there’s a lot of ways to diversify, um, in the space. I’ve been diversifying, right? I, my wife and I bought an e commerce brand, um, and doing SEO on that, right?
It doesn’t always need to be content sites. Content sites, um, is a gateway. Um, is a gateway into the online digital marketing world. It’s the easiest way to get started, in my opinion, but you learn all the skills. That’s needed to be successful in the space, right? Everything and so you can take that and up level up, right?
Level up to e commerce, right? You can let’s say you want to hire an agency. You have an idea, right? Let’s say you you have a domain you have an idea for a brand, right? Outsource it to an agency to do the SEO operation agency Then you go focus on product development to launch your own ecom product, right?
So then on the side somewhere somebody’s working on that seo getting that traffic up getting that authority up and you’re on the side Spending a year building a product and then when they Fuse together boom, right you have automatic traffic and then boom you have a product right? That’s brand building, right?
That’s ways you can leverage An operation agency to build something out. And if you want to do that yourself, that’s double the work, right? So, yeah, um, diversification is key. Newsletters, brand, everything. You know, I have one client where we’re handling the SEO, they’re handling the newsletter, right? Um, there’s a lot of ways to structure this where it makes sense, where you’re still involved as the owner.
As the brand, but you’re not doing the day to day.
Jared: And, with the helpful content update, kind of reinforcing the idea, as you mentioned earlier, that brand is more important. Like, you can’t just produce content, uh, in, in the form of blog posts all day anymore and expect to win long term. Yeah. You might survive this update, but long term, Google wants to see brands.
Yeah. Ranking, and, man, it’s a lot of work to build a brand all by yourself.
Mushfiq: It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of work for sure. Ah,
Jared: well maybe we’ll, we’ll close on that. Hey, how can people learn more about you? And obviously you do o uh, uh, represent operators, um, yeah. For websites. So, uh, maybe share more how people can get.
Mushfiq: Yeah. On social media, you know, I’m active on Twitter at the website flip. Um, the website flip. com is my personal brand, but if you’re looking for operational help, that’s web W E B operators. com. That’s, I launched that like six months ago and you know, we’re growing fast and we manage any sites, reach out, figure it out.
Jared: Number three or four in the books here. I mean, you know, I just, uh, that is You’re in rare, you’re in rarefied air there. Not many people have been on that many times. I appreciate you coming by and this was really enlightening and hopefully it’s been good for people on both sides of the coin. If you’re sitting in a spot where, you know, you fit the avatar of an operator, of someone who can come in and help websites grow, probably pretty enlightening.
And then obviously on the flip side, if you’re someone who is at a point where it could make sense to diversify your time and your energy and your money. By hiring an operator. Hopefully this was enlightening. So, thanks again for stopping by. I appreciate it. Thank
Mushfiq: you so much, Eric. Thank you.
Perfect. Awesome. Did it upload?