In July 2020, Richard Patey sold his newsletter and podcast, Website Investing Publication, for 6 figures — just seven months after launch.
He attributed its quick growth to “leveraging an existing audience,” Patey said, as well as getting “in early on Substack,” the email newsletter publishing platform.
Plus, Patey had been building that audience of people keen to invest in online businesses for nearly a decade by the time he launched the newsletter. Here’s how his prior ventures laid the groundwork for the growth and sale of this content business.
The key skill underlying Patey’s online businesses: SEO
After leaving his job fundraising and grant writing for nonprofits in 2009, Patey planned to launch an online business. He just wasn’t sure what to try first.
Then Apple introduced the panoramic photo feature on the iPhone, and Patey had an idea. The large file sizes meant these photos were difficult to print. After connecting with a local printer, Patey launched a Shopify dropshipping store to print the panoramic photos.
With no marketing budget, he focused on mastering SEO to attract customers to his online shop, “literally Googling ‘what is a title tag’ etc.,” Patey said. “I then used this skill set to rank client sites and built up a small, local SEO agency, which I sold to another agency in 2013.”
Generating organic search traffic would continue to be a valuable skill in Patey’s subsequent ventures, he told Niche Pursuits podcast.
Building an audience while flipping online businesses
With one deal under his belt, Patey explored other online business opportunities.
In 2015, he founded Funnel Engine, a marketing automation review site that also helped entrepreneurs set up their first sales funnels. He sold the business in 2017 to the investment firm Blackstone Valley Group with the help of M&A advisory FE International. A year after the sale, Patey partnered with the buyer to flip Funnel Engine for 6 figures, this time on marketplace Empire Flippers.
With this newfound interest of buying and selling websites, he founded the Flipping Websites Facebook group and FlippingWebsites.co, a podcast where Patey interviews website brokers. As investors began contacting him about potential partnerships, “I realized I was building an audience,” Patey told Niche Pursuits.
In the summer of 2019, Patey received an offer from Andrej Ilisin, CEO and founder of Alpha Investors, to acquire Flipping Websites, including the 2,000-member Facebook group, domain and podcast. Patey worked for Alpha Investors for a few months, but soon realized he was ready for a new solo venture.
Launching Website Investing Publication
After consulting for a few months, in December 2019, Patey mapped out a new plan: to leverage his reputation by launching a paid newsletter with website investing news and advice. The objective was to help “website investors find better deals and make better decisions,” Patey told They Got Acquired.
He charged $49 per month for “Patey Premium,” which he issued through the publishing platform Gumroad, and quickly garnered about 70 paid subscribers. When membership growth stalled, Patey started a free companion newsletter, but it didn’t move the needle much.
Then Patey learned about Substack, which enabled funnels between free and paid newsletters. “I was all in. I had previously built and sold a 6-figure software review site in the funnel space and could see how free newsletter content could directly convert free subscribers into paying subscribers,” Patey wrote on Indie Hackers.
In May 2020, Patey launched the rebranded Website Investing Publication on Substack, building a funnel between the paid and free versions. He also launched a podcast, with the first half of the interview available for free and the second half for paid subscribers.
By this point, Patey had hired a handful of contractors, including two writers, an editor and a podcast host/producer. The business was bringing in about $7,500/month, with about $5,000/month in advertising and affiliate partnerships and the rest in paid subscriptions.
“Every free newsletter/podcast would get at least 1,000 views/listens on Substack,” said Patey. He attracted 30 more paid subscribers, but started thinking about selling the project.
He asked for advice, and wound up with an offer
After receiving an acquisition offer that wasn’t a fit, Patey reached out to another founder, Travis Jamison, for advice. The Smash.vc founder had previously been an advertiser on Website Investing Publication, and had also acquired another newsletter, Founders Grid.
It turned out Jamison was interested in acquiring Website Investing Publication himself. The strategic buyer planned to leverage its audience to build Investing.io, a newsletter and community for entrepreneurial investors. Patey sold Website Investing Publication to Jamison in July 2020 for low-6 figures, and received a minority stake in Investing.io in exchange for helping manage the transition for six months, he said.
By January 2021, Patey sold his equity back to Jamison and left Investing.io. He launched Alts, a Substack newsletter focused on alternative assets, which he sold to Flippa as an acquihire in early 2022. He has since left Flippa and now runs Alts as a contractor. In addition, Patey has launched a new Substack newsletter on content site acquisitions and investing advice, Acquire.
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This company’s revenue was about $7,500/month at sale, higher than the $5,000/month we originally reported. You can learn more about our reporting process here.