When you buy an online business, there are a myriad of things to keep top of mind, so its important to handle the basics before beginning the process to monetize. As your first point of attack, make sure to get a standard operating procedure from the seller and go through each step meticulously. As they say, you must learn to walk before you learn to run, and understanding the way that operations have been working up to this point is critical for maintaining status quo once you take the wheel. While growing revenue is ideal, it’s important to first learn to maintain revenue.

Once you have a good hold on the current web hosting, user communication, tech stack, and the team required to run all aspects of the business, you can begin to build alternative monetization strategies.

Before moving forward with the following strategies, however, I recommend sending a survey to your user base to learn more about them. Simple questions using a Google form like “What do you like about the product?” “What would you like to see added to the product?” and “What don’t you like about the product?” will help you understand the user experience and help you focus your efforts on the opportunities that make the most sense.

Monetize Your Online Business Through Email Marketing

The first way to monetize an existing businesses user base is through email marketing. Email is king, so it’s important to supercharge and nurture your email list constantly. Finding a business to partner with for an email campaign using a service like DojoMojo is a great way to increase the subscribers on your email list. Partnering with a company in a similar niche to gain new subscribers while upselling and continuously marketing new products or features builds a powerful foundation for success.

The most effective way to partner with a company that has a similar user base is through a collaborative giveaway. Given both you and your partner understand what the users are interested in, this is a win-win.

For example; you operate a hair straightener eCommerce business and partner with a lip gloss eCommerce business. Both have customers that are women 18-55 based in Canada and the US. The first step is figuring out what type of giveaway your target customers would be interested in participating. Through a bit of research and a bit of intuition, you might decide on a $1,000 spa treatment and trip getaway in Sedona, Arizona. Once this package has been decided on, you can create an email capture page using services like leeflets or any other email capture service allowing you to easily edit the page. 

Many marketers often recommend 3 to 4 partners on giveaway campaigns like this to maximize the amount of emails collected and distributed but for the first one, I suggest just one partner for the sake of simplicity.

After you have your landing page setup and co-branded with both your own information along with your partner’s branding, its time to agree on your email promotion size. If your hair straightener business has 500k email addresses but the lip gloss company only has 100k you should match equally on the amount of emails being sent at 100k emails for the sake of fair play. Once the emails are sent, directing a total of 200,000 customers from two different brands to enter into the giveaway, you will be able to see just how FAST your email list can grow.

The proper etiquette after the giveaway has been awarded to the winners is that both brands add the entire list to each of their internal email lists and you can then begin marketing your products to that newly structured list.

For this example, out of the 200k emails sent 50k signed up to win the spa treatment giveaway for Sedona, Arizona. Both your hair straightener email list and the lip gloss company’s list just grew by somewhere between 25k – 50k emails depending on who’s customers were more engaged. With that said, its extremely important to ask brands upfront how many giveaways or sweepstakes they’ve done with the list they will be sending your co-branded giveaway. The situation I have found myself in multiple times in the past while doing “sweepstakes” style giveaways is that the partner has a list specifically exhausted from promotional emails. This engagement will be a small fraction of what a fresh, un-promoted email list would yield. Its really important to ask questions about the list engagement numbers such as open rates and click through rates before agreeing to tap into a large percentage of your customers via email. 

Many marketers will use this newly acquired list of emails from the giveaway as a specific segment for promoting additional giveaways internally but when they partner with future brands on more giveaways they use their un-promoted segments. This is something to keep in mind as people who enter into one giveaway are highly likely to enter into multiple.

Monetize Your Online Business Through Affiliate Partnerships

The second way I’d recommend you monetize an existing businesses user base is through affiliate partnerships. Once you’ve grown your email list to a certain size, in addition to your current user base, you’ll be able to leverage it with similar businesses.

For example, if you own an online business in the programming education space you could partner with a product or service that students would benefit from, like hosting, design, or programming tools. Finding a company with a high quality product and a fair commission for converted sales can be a long-term relationship. 

Credit Karma relies heavily on its commission based earnings from credit cards and loan origination from its user base. When you log into Credit Karma as you can see everything is free with tons of amazing content discussing the benefits of their partners products. They have mastered the art of education and commission. 

The fastest way you can monetize the new or established business that you just acquired on Flippa is through reaching out to a business in your same industry, but not a direct competitor. A complementary business.

For example you buy a SaaS business that is selling spreadsheet templates on Flippa and you find another SaaS business that is selling accounting software. Once you agree that a partnership would be mutually beneficial, you can decide on the amount of promotion that you would like to do for each other and structure the commission accordingly. Starting with something basic like a 25% commission on a $100 per month product, many companies will even offer residual payments on each time their referred customers make their monthly payment. In this example, if the spreadsheet template marketplace sent the accounting software 100 new monthly recurring customers for $10 per month they would make $250 upfront from a 25% commission. To sweeten the deal, the accounting software could offer 5% of every month each month as long as those customers retain and don’t churn. Not only is this great for the accounting software business to have consistent referrals from the spreadsheet business, but its beneficial for both financially as well as providing value to their users.   

In Conclusion

These two ways of monetizing an online business are fast, cheap, and can be done with zero development. Beyond those mentioned here, there are many more ways to quickly monetize a new or established business you’ve acquired on Flippa.

Steve McGarry

Steve McGarry

Steve McGarry is an entrepreneur, content creator, and investor based in sunny Tampa, Florida. In 2015, while living in San Francisco, Steve sold his first fintech startup LendLayer to Max Levchin’s (founder of PayPal) consumer finance company Affirm. In the last 5 years, Steve has both built an online community that reaches 1.4 million people every month on social media and a portfolio of over a dozen web properties. Currently, he’s the co-founder of a next-generation fintech startup called GrowYourBase while managing his portfolio of online businesses.

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