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Proven market & website w/ traffic: looking for partner (or small team) to revive and overhaul former lifestyle business (goal: $5~10M exit)

Hello!

I have a cartoon-drawing tutorial site that I bought a few years back with the goal of turning it around and flipping it. I haven't been able to give it any love due to other projects and general life things. But now seems like a good time to pick the project back up. I would like to give it another run, but hopefully (if I can find the right folks) with a team of good peeps on the internet.

In full transparency, the site is pretty crummy - it's built off of a generic WP template, the content is old unorganized and outdated, and you can see that the overall experience is pretty crappy...just being honest ;)

HOWEVER . There are a few things going for it. And if you know what you're looking at, you'll realize it's quite an undervalued asset --

  1. Despite the terrible content, it ranks pretty well on SEO and still generates a fair amount of organic traffic
  2. It's not being monetized right now, but at it's peak, it was still generating a few thousand dollars a month just with some basic ads
  3. The niche itself is the right size -- big enough with a lot of interest to make some real $$. And small enough such that I'm not worried about any mega competitors. And again...with existing organic traffic, should be pretty easy to capitalize on.

There's a ton of low-hanging fruit to go after:1) updating design & navigation, 2) optimizing ad placements, 3) giving it a content refresh, 4) put some minimal SEO efforts behind.
Some medium-hanging stuff: 1) affiliate courses, 2) own courses, 3) new categories (e.g., manga)
And then longer-term stuff: 1) YT channel, 2) own products and services (art / drawing related)

I believe that we (me + potential team) can easily grow the site to $10K/MRR within 12~18 months, then scale that up to $100K+ MRR within another 12~18 months after. I have a roadmap and plan in place, though open to other ideas and suggestions. In addition to the cashflow, I hope to sell the business for $10M+ in a few years.

I'm looking for either a partner, or even a small team, to tackle this thing together, and even build in public if there is interest on that front. Relevant skillsets that would be helpful include developers, designers, marketers, and artists...though I'm open if you can pitch your value. About me: finance, operations, sales & marketing guy who has 12+ years of experience scaling businesses (both my own, as well as for other companies).

If you're looking to be involved with a high-potential lifestyle business that may net a healthy exit in a few years and think your skills are a fit per above, would love to chat and see if there's a fit! I'm not promising the next great unicorn startup with a $1B exit, but a lifestyle business with immediate monetization potential and a clear roadmap for growth. Furthermore, the time commitment should be pretty reasonable - in line with being a lifestyle business, if the right set of people come together, we can build this on the side (10~15 hours/week) along with your normal day job/project/startup.

I've lurked for some time, but this will be the first time I post. Not sure how this will resonate, but please do reach out if you want to chat and learn more!

P.S. the site is: https://how-to-draw-cartoons-online.com/

  1. 1

    OP here. Doing a quick bump on this thread. Going to close out the search and pick a team soon. If there are any other interested parties, would love to hear from you! Particularly looking for good marketing and ops people :) shoot me an email if interested: [email protected]. Closing this out end of week!

  2. 1

    Hey Seoulful,

    I hope I'm not too late for the party :) . I've read all the comments and the idea seems really really interesting. A bit about me: I'm currently working on a digital agency doing everything from marketing to websites, mostly working with small businesses who don't have any online presence and getting them 'online' from social media to websites/shops/ etc, so the whole package. I am also working in photoshop and illustrator for some not so beginner but not-so-professional stuff. I don't have experience in flipping websites but as they say, I'm eager to learn.

    I've checked your website and I'm still boggled with the traffic numbers.
    Looking at some other drawing tutorial websites they aren't that far ahead in terms of design and functionality. I do believe there is a good chance of redesigning the website and monetizing that traffic. I already have some ideas that can be easily implemented.

    Currently, I can set aside 20h/week, more if the project takes off.

    I would love to hear from you to see if we can work something out.

    Best of luck,
    Ognjen.

    1. 2

      No, not at all! We're starting to see the outline of a potential team coming together, and would love to have a marketer on board.
      Traffic is kind of nonsensical right? Especially considering the content.
      Shoot me an email and let's hop on a quick call: [email protected]

  3. 1

    Hey Seoulful,

    I love the niche and have been looking for a new project to jump into - this may be it!

    I currently run an eCom store over in the US/Canada (I'm based in New Zealand) that takes up about 5 hours of my time and is seasonal (10-25k per month in revenue, looking to sell in the next 6 months ). So I am looking to get into another project that needs some TLC. There have been a ton of learnings about developing a solid cash cycle and what not to do haha!

    Content-based sites have been my next point of interest (anything zero weight or audience first for that matter).

    My skillset:

    • Small amount of XP with SEO + keyword research.
    • CRO and Email Automations (30-50% of our revenue)
    • Customer segmentation
    • Building out processes and a small team to manage day-2-day

    Specifically for this, I have built a learning platform for students a few years ago, and we could do something similar here.

    Would love to meet for a brief catch up, to see if there's a fit here. It sounds like I could learn a lot from you and I'm more than happy to be the 'figure it out' guy.

    Thanks,
    Ben

    1. 1

      Hey Ben,

      Great to e-meet you :)

      Thanks so much for the interest. Really keen to hear more about the learning platform, but more than that, I love having "figure it out" guys on my teams.

      Shoot me a note, and let's catch up over a quick call next week!

      [email protected]

  4. 1

    Hey there Seoulful!

    I'd be interested to know more about what you have in mind and to see if we'd be a good fit.

    A bit about me: I'm a full stack engineer currently working full time at a startup. I have a base level of around 15h of free time per week, that can be strechted to 30h if necessary. I would be up mainly for technical stuff (including ads, SEO), but I'm also willing to work wherever there's work to do even if I don't know much about it.

    Some disclaimers (if they are deal-breakers for you it's best to know it upfront):

    1. I only have ~1 year of professionnal experience, although I have been coding for quite a bit longer
    2. I would rate myself medium at design. I can improve the website's UI/UX, but not to the level of a professionnal designer
    3. My skills are mainly technical and I don't know a lot about ads and SEO. Though I will say that I think I'm a fast enough learner to be quickly useful in those areas
    4. To my dismay I'm quite bad at drawing and could probably use most of the "beginner" level lessons on this website ;)

    If you're interested, you can shoot me an email at [removed] :)

    1. 2

      Hi boutross!

      Appreciate the reach out :)

      None of those things are deal breakers in any way.

      Will shoot you an email within the next 24 hours with more details, and let's find some time to quickly catch up and chat!

  5. 1

    Hey Jeff (assuming that's your name, based on the footer),
    I have difficulties understanding the potential.

    Had a look at the website and everything needs to be redone from scratch. Not just that, but everything is very outdated: the footer hasn't been updated in 3 years, the YouTube channel that "need 100 subscribers to begin" has over 400 subscribers but not a single video. And many images don't load.

    I'm personally not a fan of the domain name at all. It's way too long and I'm personally not a fan of hyphenated domain names.

    I'm assuming that the website gets a ton of monthly visits and that's what you see as your assset. Do you mind sharing some numbers?

    1. 1

      Hey acedit! Thanks for engaging.

      No, my name is not "Jeff," though he is the predecessor.

      As you've rightly noted (and as I also explicitly highlighted in the original post), the content is crap. I haven't touched it since buying it off the bargain bin some time ago.

      Even with a garbage website, it gets between 25~40K "users" a month. The last month was an anomaly as the site went down, but it was still averaging about 30K for the 6 months prior to that. And it's 90%+ organic.

      You can refer to healthy competitors, and extrapolate as you see fit on what potential is.

      Flipping through your profile, I take it you have some experience flipping websites? You'll likely know from experience then, that seeing the hidden value behind an asset is a key factor in finding the best deals. I feel quite strongly about this one, though in full transparency, I have been wrong many times before, and I know I'll continue to be going forward.

      Feel free to chime in with other thoughts/questions. Always appreciate the healthy discussion & exchange of ideas.

      1. 1

        I didn't expect the visits to be this high. 25k-40k is admittedly a high number.
        I'm also not sure if there is a lot of merit in partnering up with someone else. Artists have their own website and practice. Even if you manage to bring one on board, their style will differ and the chances of them being able to draw AND write with the already existing style is slim to none.

        And since you already know marketing and growth, it wouldn't make sense to partner with a person like me.

        If I were you I'd either sell the website, or spend a few hours updating the broken links and outdated texts and then adding Google Adsense to the website

        You can then invest whatever you earn in improving the website.

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          Yes, unexpected right? It's surprising how many people on the web are looking up how to draw a football, or a cartoon frog.

          I'm not too concerned about the artist actually. These drawings are super basic, and you can commission anyone with a little bit of training to duplicate and expand. Ultimately I'd like to build out a network of commissioned artists.

          Doing it myself is totally in the cards, and if I don't get any takers (I've posted in a few other places outside of IH), I'll probably take it on solo. That path is pretty in-line with what you mentioned -- update links, expand drawings based on search volumes, hire designer to re-do the look and feel and index the drawings better, put some muscle behind SEO, and click on the ads. I can probably get it to ~$5K/month within 6~12 months, and turn it around for a healthy 6-figure profit.

          But, I do think there's a level beyond that, which includes course development, new categories (e.g. manga - which has 5X the search volumes of "cartoons"), email lists, development of YT channel. I'd even really like to get into commissioned artwork (something like West & Willow or Make Me Yellow in a new niche), as these guys make over 7 figures in revenue. This is how you go from a 6-figure exit to a 7 or 8 figure sale.

          My biggest enemy is time - I run 3 businesses, I just had my first child, and I'm getting older...I don't have the same energy and hunger to push this thing to 100 on my own. And just like everyone else, the pandemic has me re-thinking things around work, teams, etc. I'm keen to see if I can crack the code on building a distributed team or taskforce on the internet, and really win together (not just VAs /work for hire). Would like to take notes on the process and eventually productize or introduce SaaS offerings in this space. (I'm digressing now, but this is one of my bigger meta-goals).

          I want to highlight that this is a project where I'd like to bring general ops/marketing folks in just as much as any tech folks. You could even argue that the technical barriers here are quite low, and worst case, and manage most things through a VA team. To expand on skillsets needed:

          • Devs and designers: pretty self-explanatory. Will need help on the site itself and optimizing going forward.
          • Artists / creative director: I'm not actually looking for an artist to re-do all the drawings, although he/she may want to help on that front. I'm more interested in bringing in someone with a background to oversee the process and align vision. Ideally, this person could also help with building out the network of commissioned artists for all future looking projects.
          • Ops / product managers: There are several key sub-projects under this umbrella, which I'll start listing here: 1) sourcing revamp of core content (i.e., re-doing the copy, expanding database of drawings), 2) new category development - starting with manga (including research of most in-demand, sourcing artists, etc.), 3) Course development (i.e., topics on how to draw, or how to leverage drawing as creative outlet), 4) YouTube channel, 5) cartoon-izing your portrait service. There may be others, but these are higher priority to me.
          • SEO / Marketing: Currently all the traffic is organic, so building on top would be great. But there are a lot of unexplored channels if development goes above and beyond the basic stuff. Some projects on the marketing front: 1) email marketing, 2) SEO optimization, 3) social channels, 4) affiliate programs

          In terms of equity/profit share, I'm not greedy - I prefer to grow the pie and win together rather than try to capture more for me. After recouping initial investments and costs on my end, willing to split things evenly amongst core team, or come up with an appropriate schema/split based on contributions and time.

          This turned out to be longer than originally planned ;) Not all directed toward acedit (though I definitely appreciate your inputs!), but figured I would list out my thought process and details on collaboration framework for other folks who wander through and may be interested.

          Internet nerd stuff aside, hope you all are having a blessed day! Be sure to spread the love and good vibes <3

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            You seem like a very well-spoken (and written) person and I'd love to have a chat with you. Worst case scenario, we brainstorm together for an idea for you, and best-case scenario we partner up to merge power. What do you think about a Zoom call?

            1. 1

              Let's do it! Shoot me a note at [email protected]. I can share more thoughts/details from my end ahead of a call. Look forward to chatting :)

              1. 1

                Thanks, I will send you one soon!

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