Ep 162: Buying & Scaling A Content Website From $200 to $9,000 per month with James Norquay

It’s easy to buy a content website but scaling it and making it profitable is truly challenging.  

Let’s hear it from James Norquay who was able to buy and scale a content website from $200 to $ 9,000 per month.

James Norquay has a good reputation in buying and scaling numerous sites through his SEO skills. He has also worked on the agency side with well-renowned companies such as Virgin Blue, Citi Bank, and Woolworths. Back in 2018, James’ company Prosperity Media was awarded the ‘Best Agency’ In Australia at the SEMRush Search Engine Marketing Awards. 

In this podcast, we have discussed what motivated him to earn an income online, why he likes buying websites over starting from scratch, and how he bought a website for 4K making $200 per month to getting it to $9K per month (disclaimer: he did spend time and money on this). 

Lastly, James will share how he built the site’s income from new affiliate partners, to changing the website structure, SEO, link building, changing content and even building EAT. 

If you’re someone who wants to create effective SEO strategies for your online business, then missing this podcast is something you wouldn’t want to happen!

Click the ‘play button’ now.

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Episode Highlights

03:16 Did you buy websites before?

04:14 What got you started?

06:53 Motivation

10:52 Buying vs starting

13:48 The first steps

15:49 Content asset

18:00 Simple fix can make you more money

21:41 What did you change about the content?

24:43 Link building

27:37 EAT building

28:27 Partnering up with other influencers

30:34 Where can you find James?

Courses & Training

Courses & Training

Key Takeaways

➥ When it comes to buying online businesses, James emphasizes the importance of identifying value and risks associated with it.

➥ James Norquay explains that one of the main benefits of buying an established website is saving time, especially from an SEO perspective. He shares an example of a site he bought for $4,000 that was making $200 a month. By optimizing the site, adding content, fixing internal links, and negotiating higher affiliate commission rates with direct affiliates, he was able to scale it up to earning around $9,000 to $10,000 a month. 

➥ To increase revenue on his online business, James tried swapping out low-paying affiliate programs for higher-paying offers and built partnerships with affiliates.

About The Guest

James Norquay has not only bought, sold and scaled multiple sites through great SEO, but has worked agency side with Virgin Blue, Citi Bank and Woolworths to name a few. And in 2018 James’ company Prosperity Media was awarded the ‘Best Agency’ In Australia at the SEMRush Search Engine Marketing Awards.

Connect with James Norquay


James, welcome to the podcast.

Thank you for having me, Jaryd, pleasure to be here.

I'm looking forward to speaking to somebody down under, just down the road between you and myself. It is a 10 hour drive. And actually, we're still pretty close to each other compared to how big Australia is, right? Like it's quite big. Most people underestimate how big it is. But I want to dive straight in and ask you about websites, SEO, and all that sort of stuff. But let's get stuck into buying websites for you. websites before, have you?

Yeah, I bought many websites over the years—probably like 10 websites—and probably over a hundred premium domain names. Yeah, pretty much very active in that space affiliate. I also run an agency in Sydney that specializes in SEO and content. We've got about 20 staff. So yeah, we're pretty busy.

Yeah, it's good. So what got you started buying websites? Or, should I say, did you do anything before you decided to make an income online at all? I'm not sure. I'm just going to say that. I'm not sure. I'm just going to say that. I'm not sure. I'm just going to say that. I'm not sure. I'm just going to say that. I'm not sure. I'm just going to say that. I'm not sure. I'm just going to say that. I'm not sure. I'm just going to say that. I'm not sure. I'm just going to say that. I'm not sure. I'm just going to say that.

Well, funnily enough, I actually used to work in construction for my uncle's construction business. So back when I was really young, like, I'm talking like 16, 17, and then when I was around 17, I knew someone that was running a car wallpaper website. So he basically said, I can make a lot of money, um, with SEO traffic and basically generating traffic to his car wallpaper website. So I said, Oh, sweet. and make money with SEO too. And I started a MySpace layout website. That website went on to get something like 20 million visitors. I actually sold that website to a bigger media company. This was many years ago, when MySpace was popular.


And off the back of that, they probably started like 10 other sites in, like, entertainment or targeting the US market. That's how I got into it—just through a random car forum that I was on. And I was just chatting to another member there, and he was telling me how he was making money on the side. And that's how I got into the industry.

Yeah, right. Random. Very random, but also cool.

Yeah, no, but I mean, it's been an interesting journey that we're on. So basically, I got into all that stuff, started building websites there, and then went and got into the agency industry too. And yeah, we started an SEO and content agency 10 years ago, but we still do a lot of our own websites and stuff as well. properties that we run. So yeah.

Nice, and so you've bought some websites as well. You've started a few, but you've bought some as well. Have you, and of what sort?

Yeah, I've bought websites—probably about six established websites that I've bought from different places. I bought one on a forum; I've bought them on Slack groups; I've bought them on marketplaces; it's just all over the place. I prefer to buy websites from more random places because I feel like you can sometimes get a better deal if you get a motivated seller. Some of the bigger marketplaces and institutions make it a little trickier to get a good deal, but you can still get good deals if you know what you're doing.

Yeah, of course, there are great deals to be had. It depends on, like you said, if you know what you're doing, what you're looking at, and can identify value. That's the hardest thing, right? So, and then also identifying any risks that may come along with that. Maybe you decide to, like, since you can start sites and you do it and you're good at it, you're an agency that, you know, has a big team around that helps you with that. What sort of motivation? motivation for buying sites?

I don't know. I guess the motivation is like when you work in an industry like construction, you realize what a hard job it is, and then you go and do a job like digital marketing, buying and selling websites. You're like, Holy hell, this is an easy job. You don't want to go back to being a laborer on a construction site. A good motivator is realizing that this is a great career to have.


Realizing that there's a lot of prosperity in this type of industry as well. You can make good money if you know what you're doing. You can make a lot more money than in a lot of other jobs. I think it is a tricky industry because you kind of have to know what you're doing to do well; if you have no clue, you'll get burned. You have to know the basics. You have to know what's a quality site and what's not. There are so many things you can look into in that space as well.

Yeah, of course. I'm the same as you in terms of motivation. I was a plumber for almost 10 years. And yeah, being on the job site stinks. That was my motivation. I was just like, Stuff this. I'm not sure if you've traveled much, but we Aussies are pretty known for loving to travel. My motivation is like, Hey, I can't just travel as much as I want with this stupid plumbing job and just wreck my body.

Also, like you said, the income is like when you make money and when you own your own business. There's no cap on how much you earn. When I was plumbing, You could only earn like $40 an hour or whatever it was. Now it's 70 bucks. But yes, big motivation to get off the tools, right?

100%. That's the thing, a lot of people that come into this industry have never done a hard job; sometimes they don't realize what hard work is. And you're right; the flexibility of doing online business is that you do have the ability to travel. Because I run an agency with a physical office, it is a bit harder to just leave and go traveling. countries or something like that. So I've seen a lot, but yeah, I mean, there's always more that you can see and more that you can do. Yeah, I guess, yeah, I guess, yeah, definitely that's motivation is being able to generate more money and having the ability to kind of go where you want and do what you want.

And you're right. The thing about working in a trade, as in, say, online marketing or the online industry, is that it can be quite scalable. You can make money when you're asleep, especially if you're an Australian running websites in the American market. It's always great to wake up and say, Oh, wow, I've made this extra money over it when I was asleep. You can't do that in a lot of jobs.

Yeah, it's a good point. Making money while you sleep is an old school marketing sort of word. But it's so true. I'd never really thought about it until you mentioned it for a long time. It's like, Hey, it's these sites that I have; they just make money, whether you do much or not, as long as you buy well.

So I wanted to ask more specifically about buying versus starting, because you can start as many as you want. Well, up to the capacity that your team can handle, but what do you know? What do you like or dislike about buying websites versus starting them from scratch?

I think the main benefit of buying an established website is that you're going to save that time, especially from an SEO point of view. As a good example, I bought a site; I think I only paid 4,000 USD for it about two years ago. So it was only making $200 a month. The guy that I bought it off, I think, was just over it because it's a competitive niche site. He bought it for about $4,000 two years ago. It was like $200 a month. And then, basically, he'd already put like 200 pieces of content on it.

They already had an established link profile. Fundamentally, the structure of the site was pretty sound. It had a really good brand name as well. It just wasn't making money. And he thought, Shit, this niche is too competitive. So we bought that site. We've been able to scale that business and the site up. anywhere from like 9 to 10K a month now in the like, that's just an example of just one site, one content site that we have.

So yeah, being able to fix it up is nice, but it fluctuates; you know, it's a competitive market too. So yeah, it can be that site; it's a super competitive niche. So you can make good money one month, and they can be like sales, and then they can drop down a little bit. and the amount of money that we've made back just from scaling it up, like adding heaps of content onto it, optimizing existing content, fixing internal links, just doing all the SEO stuff, doing all the fundamentals in the last two years.

We've scaled it up to a point where I could sell that site tomorrow on Empire Flippers or wherever else and make good money. But I think it's like a brand that we want to potentially build out more.


The benefit of buying an existing site, you do save that time, like the Google sandbox time or whatever people refer to as the time that it takes when you launch a fresh site, like one that has no index history. When you launch a fresh site, you're going to be looking at six to 12 months to see results. Whereas if you have something that's already established, you can kind of hit the runway quicker, I guess you could say.

Yeah, you've already got some stuff behind you. So congratulations! You're buying a site for four grand and making 200 bucks a month to, you know, nine to 10 grand a month. That's pretty awesome. And I want to say we can't just skip over that because people are going to be like, Hang on a second. Well, like 200 bucks a month to nine grand a month.

You know, what did we do? And you mentioned all the SEO stuff. But could you break it down for us, like, say, what you did in the first year, or, you know, what you did first and then next and next and next? So what was the first thing once you bought that site that you did?

The first thing I did was basically get rid of the Amazon affiliate links because they didn't pay anything, and basically you're getting like 2% on the sales. and then basically went out into the market and just contacted direct affiliates that were paying between 8% and 10% because it's a higher ticket item. Most of them are willing to take about 8% to 10% on the affiliate commissions.

So the easiest way to make money when you buy a new site is to swap out your affiliate programs for a higher paying offer. heavily upon Amazon, but it just doesn't pay much, especially in the Australian and US markets I've found. While it can convert well, I feel like if you're able to pick up the phone and do deals with affiliates directly in Australia or the US, you can make so much more.

Also, we got lucky with scaling out some of the content pages on that site, and we're able to get direct deals and offers with certain other just monetize pages. It was essentially like, I think the biggest success we had with that site was just getting new partners on board and getting higher commission rates.

That's how you can go from $200 to $3,000 in a matter of a couple of months by just dealing with affiliate partners and getting on the phone and just changing it, optimizing it, like adding new pages that are related to their brand, doing reviews, and getting them to send you It's hard work, but it can pay off.

Oh, of course, look at that. Look at what you've done there. So was this solely an affiliate site? Like, was this like 80, 90, or 100% affiliate content, or were there some info articles as well?

I'd probably say it was like 60% information and 40% commercial. Usually we like to go like 80-20, 80% informational content, 20% affiliate content, or even less than that now, which I think people are trying to go for with all these updates and whatnot. You just have to be careful with too much commercial content on a site. But yeah, pretty much there's a good mix of informational content. If anything, we want to add more informational content to the site. We actually built out a few content assets on the site too. I had a cheap tool.

Can you just explain what a content asset actually is for somebody thinking about maybe email marketing? I understand the term, uh, but just for people who were like, What is a content asset?

Yeah, so a content asset is basically something that you can use as a linkable asset, like a statistics page, a tool, or a calculator. So we actually added a couple of statistics pages to the site. We added a calculator, just things like that, just things that you can generate high quality links into.

And then usually what we do when we make statistic pages is we'll run some paid ads to those to get additional links, and we'll build links to them and get ranking, and they're a great mechanism for an affiliate site to build up more like authority content pieces to kind of set yourself apart from the competitors.

Because that's one thing that I always think you need to start getting into, especially if you're in the affiliate content game, is that you need to be building things that your competitors can't do. Because I think the more competitive the vertical that you're in, everyone can just copy everyone else. That's one thing that I've learned over the years.

That's really good. So you got the site, changed over, and worked with some affiliate partners. You know, you understand the hard work being done on the tools. So you went and did that by, you know, getting some better affiliate partners and then creating some content assets. What else helped you grow this business? What did you move on to next? Was there more?

Like? content? Redesign the site as well. We did a full redesign too. So when we bought the site, it looked pretty bad. I'm not going to lie. It looked like someone had spent $5 on a Fiverr logo and just slapped a whole bunch of pages together. So we did a redesign, fixed the structure, and made some URL changes to the structure.

Just little things, so many little things, like just removing year values from URL slugs, fixing technical issues on the site, cleaning up the design to make the design better, but then also basically focusing on some conversion rate optimization stuff, just working on copy, working on our intro copy on conversion articles, stuff like that. I'm just trying to convert for that.

So a bit of conversion rate optimization for affiliate money pay is, I guess you could call it that, if and then you've got a wee site redesign. There's some technical SEO in that. Right. But also, like, were you looking at user experience as well? Was that a big thing? Or was that just more technical?

I'm just trying to make the design look nicer. We've got a design team that we work with, and we spend a bit of money on the design just to make the old site look like it was built in the 90s. We just have to bring it into 2021 or 22 and make it look cleaner. And that definitely helped with conversion too. I think by changing the site and working on conversion, it was like a 30% uplift or something. I can't remember the exact number. But the amount of additional revenue that we got was quite considerable.

Yeah, I bought a site that looked like it was built in 1992 as well. And we changed the site design—just the layout of how people would read the content, the size of the font, even the type of the font. It just makes a massive difference for the user experience and keeps people on the page longer, right?

100%. Like you can make subtle changes to a site and it can add, can add a lot of value. You can make a lot more money, you know, and sometimes the quickest way to make additional revenue from an affiliate site can be like the most basic stuff, like fixing the design, fixing the conversion, copywriting, just fixing small things like the logo, or just making more trust signals on the site. That's the crazy thing about affiliate marketing. Like it can fluctuate.

Yeah, for sure. And that's why it can be easier to have more evergreen content for info articles, or info articles being more evergreen means you don't have to force conversions and update them as much if they're not really heavy affiliate pages, right?

Exactly. Yeah. If you've got a lot of informational content, you don't really need to update it too much. Just make the design on those look nice and update the data. I think that's one thing a lot of people neglect is when they have, like, they'll build info content, but then it's like, from 2015, they never update the pages and stuff like that. I feel like it's quick to just go back and update the data, ensure that it's up to date, and ensure that you have pages that are, Yeah, updated with the current time just to make it better for the users, you know.

For sure. So it sounds like when you bought this and you went through and you did your affiliate stuff, getting better partners, and then you did a lot of sort of redesign, SEO sort of stuff, but you said there were 200 pieces of content or 200 articles. Did you add more? Did you take some away? If so, what did you take away and why? What did you add? How many pieces of content did you add and why?

Yeah, so basically, this site that we acquired was targeting the UK market. So we actually flipped out to target Australia and the US markets. So we did take away some of the UK content, and we kept a lot of the more general informational content. And then we added a lot of content that targeted Australia and the US markets, just because I knew those markets better. I've been doing SEO in Australia and the US for like 16 years now.

So I don't know much about the UK market. But it works. That's another strategy for affiliates in Australia. You can take a site in the US or UK, flip it for the Australian market, and change the targeting. That's something you can do. I don't see a lot of people talking about strategies like that, but I've done it a few times. It can work.

where you're talking about redoing a piece of content for the Australian audience, changing the keyword even to how to buy these in Australia, or, like, what are some of the things that you do to flip that?

Like, say you're looking for a site to buy from, and you see, okay, um, there's a shoe website, and it's targeting the best shoes in the UK. Right. But in the UK market, it's a little bit more competitive in Australia, and then you identify that, okay, I want to target shoes in the Australian market. You change that site targeting in GSC from the UK to Australia.

Usually, you might need to change the URL that you buy, something like arrow.com. You can change the target from Australia to the UK. Then you go in and change the articles. So you update the intent of the article from a UK targeting article to an Australian targeting article. And then you start adding a lot more content to the site that's Australian or US focused content. Get what I'm saying? So that's a strategy you can use. I've done that a few times. It can work, but I've seen a few people doing similar stuff now.

Just for people listening, when you say change the intent or where the traffic is in GSC, you're talking about Google Search Console, right? Just for people listening.



Sorry, sometimes I talk in abbreviations. You get used to that with others.

I understand it, but just for people, like, what are you talking about, mate? Ha ha ha.

Oh, don't worry. Like when you go to an office full of SEO professionals, you start talking in abbreviations, like some of the words, and if you're someone who's not in the SEO or affiliate space, you won't know what they're talking about sometimes. I understand completely.

Yeah, and so for this one, you built out some content assets. They would have gotten your bunch of links. Did you do any other sort of link building? Or anything like that to build the authority of this

Yeah, so I mean, we basically just do outreach to get links. Outreach, I mean, just reach out to, like, we'll do competitive analysis to see where competitors are getting links. We'll look at the Asian and US markets for ideas. So we'll do that. We do a lot of outreach. I have a team in-house that does outreach. We reach out to partners to see if we can get links back from affiliate partners that we work with. out a few content assets.

Yeah,for things mean, just a whole bunch of different stuff, you know, like just all the, we tested a whole bunch of different link acquisition strategies on this site. But yeah, I mean, what worked the best was definitely just outreach for guest posts and outreach to content pieces for links. I mean, we tested a little bit of Harrow and stuff like that, and I think Harrow is definitely getting harder.

I think you have to be a thought leader in your space to get quality links on there. Now you can't just be an average Joe Schmoe with an affiliate site. You've got to have a silver lining to get a link there. Now it's definitely there; I'm hearing people say the success ratio is very low. So yeah.

Yeah, I've got a client. This has been looking at Haro stuff and is not really an influencer in the space, not knowing whether he wants to be, but has found it and has found the same thing as you. It's like, Hey, it's a lot of work too. I must obtain these Haro links.

Well, it's a lot of pitches, like people are sending out hundreds of pitches. And if you've got a 1% conversion rate, you're going to have to send a hundred pitches.


Be a lot of time for people. I think, like, I was talking to someone the other day, that if you want to get results on there now, you've got to be certified in your industry; you've got to be like a CPA trying to get finance stuff. If you're just some random finance affiliate trying to get a finance link, you're dreaming now that it's so hard. And the thing is, a lot of people that sell Harrow links sell them like really trashy sites; you know, there are sites that are linking out to 50 or 60 other sites.

What's the quality of that link? It's devalued. I don't think like that; I don't think it's going to add a lot of value. And that's what our team has been doing internally. And we're seeing some harrowing links that just don't add any value at all. So that's another thing that we do. It's good that we can test a lot of this stuff to see what actually works and what doesn't work on our own affiliate properties and whatnot before we do it for clients and stuff like that. So, yeah.

Yeah. So that's good. That's good. That's really good to hear. Tell us about, you know, affiliate sites. Google obviously does not love people that are just starting or creating affiliate sites, hiding behind a laptop, you know, reviewing the best 10 Nikes to buy without any authority behind them. What are some of the things that you guys have experimented with and seen success with in terms of building some EAT? to your site.

Yeah, I mean, EATs are very important, especially in the affiliate space. I mean, that said, I still see some sites with no EAT factors whatsoever, and they're still going well. But I mean, what you need to do is, I mean, just the basics.

I think your microphone is going really crackly. It's hard to hear.

Can you hear me now?

Uh... might work now. Oh, you've muted it. Yeah, I think you muted your microphone.

Is that better now?


Great. Sorry, I just switched it off, but now I've lost the video. People can still see what I look like, but... You could just put a headshot over the top.

Sorry about that.

That's cool. Sorry, back to the EAT stuff. Yeah, so for the EAT stuff, yeah, I think the EAT is definitely important. I mean, you just need to start with things like having an About Us page and linking to relevant sources, you know, like LinkedIn. If you've got a LinkedIn or stuff like that, I mean, actually having a real person on the page is important. Things like that, you know, and people that don't want to be influencers or don't have accreditation in the space?

Say, for example, that it's a niche that they're in or that they've started, and they want to be an authority in it. What are some of them?

Little things that you do to build authority but still have, you know, real authority on those sites? I mean, for a lot of people, what they're doing is basically partnering up with other influencers as well, so basically they'll reach out to other influencers in the space and be like, Oh, can we partner up to be featured on your site? and that way they use someone else's authority, so someone else might have a decent following, and then yeah, you can just offer them free. That's something that we've tested a little bit of.

And it can work 100%.

Yeah, I think it's a great way to go. We test that out with, you know, coaches and clients of mine that we're helping build their sites, buying something with no EAT. It's not the end of the world. If you're buying something, you know, affiliate sites are a bit harder. But with AdRemiure revenue sites, we've seen that, like, hey, it's, you know, if you're, it's a double win. That's a win for everybody, you know, linking to them, and then you linking to them, and they're linking to you and doing the swap over of links. It's a huge win, really.

Yeah, 100%. I think if you can leverage someone else's authority, you can do it. And I'm seeing more and more affiliates talking about that type of stuff. It's just like anything; I think to do well in the affiliate space, you've got to act like a real business, you know?

Yeah. I think that's what Google wants, at the end of the day. You know, putting an address on your website, putting a phone number, having an about us page with legit people, having a review policy—how do you actually review these products? Because once you're a real business like that, you're setting yourself apart from the competitors that are pinned behind the screen.

Exactly. That's, I think, one thing that you have to do is try to treat yourself more like a real business to do well.

Totally agree.

You know, why try to play against Google when you should? If you play by their rules, you can be rewarded rather than trying to do something dodgy and hide behind these tactics that don't actually work, and you can get penalized.

Just do the right thing, help them make their business better, and they're going to help you sort of outline it.

James, it's been awesome to chat. I basically just asked you questions off the cuff, and I had another agenda for the call, but I think we'll have to get you back for another episode if you open to it. It's talking about some of the things that you've done to your clients. There's some pretty cool case studies that you've got on your site, people can go check out.

Where should I send them to check them out? And I'm thinking about maybe we can get you back on to talk about one of those, but what's the best way to get in contact with you?

Yeah, prosperitymedia.com.au. That's our website. I mean, you can always add me on LinkedIn, James Norquay. But yeah, just check us out on prosperity media. Yeah, we've got a YouTube channel as well for a lot of SEO content. If you wanna learn more about SEO or just hear our team talking about different things, there's a few videos on there that are insightful. Done a few conference talks there too. So yeah, that's a good place to start.

And yeah, I mean, more than happy to come back and answer more questions, but yeah, I'm pretty used to just answering questions off the cuffs, you know, without knowing what's going to be asked of us. I mean, that's a big part of our job. We're always on the spot getting questions asked all day long, so it's part of the job.

Yeah, I totally agree.

Whenever I'm getting interviewed, I've got no idea what I'm going to get hit with, but if you're in the space and you know what you're talking about, it's obviously valuable to everyone. And this has been incredibly valuable.

So thank you so much for coming on.

Everybody everywhere that is listening. Thank you for listening.

If you did like the episode, please make sure you hit subscribe. And also think of two to three people who are thinking about buying the content website and building it up. You know, similar.

Hopefully to what James has done $200 a month to, 9 to 10 grand a month and share this podcast episode with them.

That's it guys. I'll speak to you soon. Bye.

Want to have more financial and time freedom?

We help people buy established profit generating online businesses so the can replace their income and spend more time doing what they love with the people they love.


Jaryd Krause is a serial entrepreneur who helps people buy online businesses so they can spend more time doing what they love with who they love. He’s helped people buy and scale sites all the way up to 8 figures – from eCommerce to content websites. He spends his time surfing and traveling, and his biggest goals are around making a real tangible impact on people’s lives. 

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