Maintaining the profitability of digital assets can be a tremendous challenge without a team and a network in place. Such projects require expertise across multiple disciplines, such as finance, technology, and marketing.
Nevertheless, an ambitious entrepreneur named Forrest Webber has surpassed all expectations by creating a portfolio of 20 websites that now generate around $40,000 in monthly income - and he did it with very little online business knowledge.
Forrest Webber is an entrepreneur who manages websites and runs his own SEO agency called digitail.co, which specializes in optimizing blogs and other web pages. Discover more about Forrest’s journey, the trials he encountered entering this industry, and his ambitions for his businesses below.
Early Attempts of Diving into the World Wide Web
Forrest Webber’s beginnings in the industry started with blogging and his fascination with the potential of monetizing websites back when he was still in college. He quickly realized that he could generate consistent revenue by creating content and building an audience.
The first website he launched was OneMinuteMoney.com. After about a month of attempting to monetize, he realized that his efforts yielded no results and chose to shut them down.
With the ambition of creating a reliable income source to retire by 30 years old, he swiftly shifted his attention to real estate following his quick stint in website building. Little did he know that College Station, Texas - the area he was based in - is considered the country’s most undervalued real estate town.
Forrest refused to give up in the face of difficulty and instead focused on student housing development. He knew this was an optimal route that would enable him to own numerous rental properties rapidly.
To fund his rapid real estate expansion, Forrest teamed up with an investor to raise $3.5 million in private equity capital and grant him partnership interests and ownership of several student housing apartments. He worked diligently with his partner for two and a half years, allowing him to learn how to build a business that can sustain separating the operations from the actual growth endeavors.
Even after working in real estate for some time, Forrest’s enthusiasm for websites persisted. Consequently, he sold off his apartment investments and devoted his capital to the website business.
Turning Open Houses into Open Source
When Forrest re-entered the website space, he started investigating brokers and realized that online assets could also be treated like rental properties. He knows anyone can acquire assets at exceptional deals with two to three PE ratios based on past earnings records. He was quite excited about applying his learnings from the real estate industry to his new endeavors.
Despite this, he also discovered several crucial differences between the two industries. In real estate, almost nobody is honest on pro forma income statements, but in the website business, transparency is required since data is available to the public. His interests were piqued when he discovered that websites could become profitable investments. They drove him to use private equity groups and other resources.
After some time working in the website industry, Forrest noticed many of his processes mirrored those he experienced with real estate. For example, when he learned about link building, he connected it to constructing the infrastructural elements such as roads, sewers, and water pipes to my property. Forming bridges between website concepts and real estate concepts helped him understand more about his industry.
Shifting From Web Acquisition to SERP Domination
At the young age of 20, Forrest was already envisioning his early retirement. This is why he established a self-sustaining enterprise with his partner. After acquiring books.com and igniting his enthusiasm for literature, Forrest understood that there would be an opportunity to create something similar to what he achieved in real estate - yet tailored to bloggers’ needs.
Bearing this in mind, he established an SEO agency about a year ago. His strategy was different from what he had implemented for his real estate business: instead of beginning with management formation, he started by creating an operational team.
His SEO agency operated like “Rent My Team,” wherein he served different clients with various services depending on their needs. The team he built for his SEO agency is also the same group of professionals that eventually helped him form his portfolio of successful websites.
Letting His Websites Bring Home the Bacon
Forrest’s portfolio currently contains 20 websites launched a few weeks ago, publishing 13,298,000 words over 8,000 articles. His average word count hovers around 9,000 to 30,000 per month across all of the blogs in his portfolio. Depending on the website’s focus, the average article link is about 2,112.
Saying that his websites are simply profitable may be an understatement since they average about $30,000 per month in display ad revenue between media, vine, and Zoic. This profit has soared to about $40,000 in the year’s first quarter.
Forrest and his team also generate between $5,000 to $12,000 from Amazon alone. They also capitalize on various affiliate networks but do not devote attention to the commission payout rates or their conversion statistics.
Passing the Torch
Admittedly, Forrest is not a savant in SEO-related operations, which is why he eventually looked for a professional with relevant experience to assist him and guide his growth.
One of the most rewarding accomplishments in his career as a website owner was securing a fantastic director for his business. By entrusting SEO-heavy tasks to this individual, he could move from managing to investing in the company and its future endeavors.
Forrest is more knowledgeable in investing and business operations than the technical aspects of off-page SEO. By being honest with himself and deciding to delegate the tasks he is not confident with to an expert, he charted the path for the future success of his company.
Being a Guiding Force in the Business
Forrest’s leadership style in his company is guided by the quote, “never lift a hammer.”
This quote focuses more on identifying the problem and finding ways to empower a person to solve the said problem rather than resorting to micromanagement, and this is what Forrest employs when supervising his team.
Aside from this, Forrest’s leadership strategy is inspired by a chapter named Who’s Got the Management Monkey from Harvard Business Review’s On Managing Yourself. This chapter details how one can either give up all their time or limit those tasks as a leader and manager.
Subsequently, Forrest takes charge by intervening and assessing issues while delegating operations to ensure that the team can find solutions.
Forrest’s Journey in Nurturing the Business
In September 2017, Forrest took the plunge and purchased a $17,000 Empire Flippers website which promised extraordinary returns - making up to an estimated $575 in monthly income. By this time, he quickly realized that website management was more active and intensive than real estate.
Soon after, Forrest consulted with a friend of his who he felt would be the perfect asset to manage all aspects of his business. This friend was granted some equity in exchange for their efforts and reported that they had earned $6 and 47 cents from last month’s productivity, not enough to justify long-term commitment due to their current full-time job.
Forrest made more investments to counteract this issue, with the subsequent one worth $109,000 - a website rapidly gaining traction. Despite not having any display ads, this website earned $4,400 a month from Amazon affiliate commissions.
After only two weeks, Forrest was able to acquire another website with an estimated worth of $127,000 plus accounts receivable amounting to $9,000 - giving him the ability to generate a monthly revenue surpassing ten thousand dollars. By this time, he had gone from zero to $12,500 in revenue in just two months.
To keep up with the operational requirements of all his acquisitions, Forrest and his partner sourced talents from Fiverr and Upwork to build the company’s internal team. He conducted assessments, quizzes, tests, and interviews to find the right professionals but still continued to work on mastering on-page SEO.
Editing and publishing the articles proved to be a gradual process for Forrest as he familiarized himself with the fundamentals of SEO, primarily since his other manager pursued other opportunities during this time. After a few months, when he decided to scale more content, Forrest began to hire content creators.
The first six months of building up his company were challenging since he had to rapidly outsource content and build links to scale up quickly. Still, Forrest persevered even after experiencing distressing challenges.
The Trials and Tribulations of Growing Websites
After his third acquisition, Forrest considered the best avenues to reach his ambitions; although SEO is fundamental, he preferred websites that yielded a profit immediately.
To speed things up for his company, he initially employed an Austin-based marketing agency whose retainer was half the revenue after he acquired an e-commerce boutique on Instagram. By this time, his daily sales have plummeted from a whopping $1,500 to only about $75 daily. He still owned two duplexes close to the college campus from his real estate stint, but he opted to sell one of them and retrieve an additional $200K to recover his losses.
Forrest eventually found that continuing to work with the agency he hired, which was owned by his close friend, would sink his business. Despite how heartbreaking it was, he decided to fire this agency and hire a new one.
Despite being neglected, Forrest’s other blogs were still blooming when he assessed them after beginning his partnership with a new agency. Astonishingly, their rankings had remained unchanged. He then finally understood that creating content site portfolios was the ideal solution so he could achieve his goals.
Subsequently, rather than investing in e-commerce websites, he dedicated all of his efforts to creating a product that could offer long-term value for customers.
Getting Back on Track
After facing several challenges, Forrest Webber regrouped and started making hard decisions for the future of his business. He parted ways with one of his oldest managers and searched for a new director with a marketing and blogging background. After inquiring with his friends who operate successful publications, he found a professional who managed over two million page views per month and had extraordinary editorial standards.
He immediately hired this candidate as his director, and they worked together for about two years. Together, they managed a team of around 10 virtual assistants and outsourced writing services to independent contractors or agencies, helping them scale their content effectively.
Aside from hiring a new director, Forrest also acquired a website from Mohammed Kaiser, an individual with extensive link-building experience and who has been running an SEO agency for over 10 years, managing a team of 185. Kaiser had significant managerial experience, operational skills, leadership abilities, and a professional attitude, so after Forrest secured the website from him, he was asked if he would be interested in taking up a part-time contract job with him and his involvement in Forrest’s business led to an exponential rise across all KPI indicators.
Obtaining Learnings While Acquiring Websites
When he faced challenges and setbacks, Forrest turned to the learnings he gained from reading several books. Managing Yourself and ETH Revisited are the top two books he would revisit when experiencing problems.
Aside from using his love for reading to overcome challenges, he also employs a practical and insightful process called Start, Stop, Continue, which he learned from a consultant. This allowed him to remain calm and not be overwhelmed by the distress brought about by business problems.
After facing ups and downs in his journey, Forrest’s top learning that he would eventually go on to impart to others is finding others who are great at tasks that aren’t your strength, whether it’s organization or management-related. Finding the right people for selected responsibilities helped him complete his tasks efficiently and hone his management skills.
Poised for Future Success
In the next five years, Forrest plans to nurture one of his new blogs into a passion project involving some of his hobbies in his professional work. He also aspires to construct a few product ladders with valuable content directed toward a market he relates to and is passionate about.
In terms of the more serious side of his business, Forrest focuses on optimizing his agency’s creative potential. With his team by his side, they are making every effort to enhance their work as they continue to serve a growing number of clients. Although operational for only one year, Forrest’s venture has been progressing rapidly and showing great promise.
Regarding the nitty-gritty aspects of their day-to-day work, Forrest also intends to diversify the mediums where they constantly produce content. So in the next few years, their clients and supporters can expect more youtube videos, higher quality pages, and possible WordPress plugins from their company.
Forrest Webber’s journey showcases that transitioning careers does not always need to be a daunting experience. By enlisting the help of professionals, you, too, can make this exciting yet satisfying transformation without hassle.
Despite his lack of expertise, Forrest kept up and eventually carved out a niche for himself in the website industry. He faced many difficult decisions on this journey, but he achieved success thanks to his unwavering dedication.
Whether you currently manage websites and want to scale or are planning to move into the website space, remember Forrest’s insights and approach to growing his business.
This article is a summary of the Niche Pursuits Podcast with Forest Webber. See the full Podcast on Youtube below.