How Elena Buetler Sold Her First Website for Seven Figures

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How Elena Sold Her First Website for Seven Figures

When Elena Buetler created her first website as a side hustle in 2006, she had no idea she’d eventually sell the site for seven figures. At the time, Elena, originally from Russia, faced a challenge finding work after moving to Switzerland with her husband, Daniel.

Without speaking the language or having the legal paperwork to get a job, she had limited money-making options, so she decided to start a content website. “Ultimately,” Elena said, “building a website seemed like the perfect solution to overcome the permit, language, and location issues.”

Later, Elena took a full-time job as a marketing manager for a French company and worked on her site sporadically as she had time. During the recession of 2008, her job hours were reduced by 50%, cutting her income in half.

Rather than looking for another job, Elena used the extra time to grow her website faster. And when her side hustle income matched what she earned from her job, she walked away from the job and never looked back.

Elena was much more drawn to working on her own websites than a traditional 9-to-5 job, partly because of the freedom to travel. She has lived in Russia, Switzerland, France, the United States, Bulgaria, and Spain (she and Daniel just moved to Spain a few months ago). To date, Elena has visited 63 different countries with a list of 59 more that she wants to experience.

Thanks to her website, Elena was able to leave the corporate world and enjoy a more flexible lifestyle. When faced with a setback, she tried something on her own, and it paid off. Today, Elena and Daniel run Investors Club, a marketplace for buying and selling content and e-commerce websites. But let’s step back and see how it all came about.

Buy and Sell Online Businesses
Investors Club

Investors Club stands out from other marketplaces and brokers by focusing on websites with a listing price between $25,000 to $200,000 (they also offer some higher-priced sites). Investors Club also charges low fees so sellers keep more of the money.

  • Curated marketplace with verified listings
  • 7% success fee (among the industry's lowest)
  • Free escrow, legal docs, and migration

Growing a Seven-Figure Website

Elena’s website was monetized only with AdSense, and search engine optimization (SEO) was her only traffic strategy. When asked about the keys to success with the site, she said, “I attribute my success to Brian Dean’s skyscraper strategy.”

Elena spent countless hours creating a single page that she used extensively for link building. “It took me three months just to create that one page,” she said. “It then took another six months of daily outreach to get the page to rank.”

After months of email outreach, Elena’s efforts paid off as the new page ranked #1 in the Google search results for a competitive keyword with 400,000 monthly searches.

Downloads were a major component of the website. While some competitors had all their download links on a single page, Elena linked to individual download pages for each file. This approach led to significantly more pageviews and higher advertising revenue.

One advertiser specifically targeted Elena’s site and bought as much ad space as possible. After a while, that advertiser reached out to Elena with an offer to buy the site. In 2015, Elena sold the site, which she’d started nine years earlier, for a seven-figure sum.

Building a Portfolio of Digital Assets

A few years before the exit, Elena and Daniel started building a portfolio of websites, primarily through acquisitions. They purchased their first site in 2011 for $1,000, and eventually, they had as many as 30 sites in their portfolio at a time.

After the success of the first site, they looked for other download sites they could acquire and apply the same concepts. If they found a site with downloads all on a single page, they knew they could create separate pages for each download and significantly increase ad revenue.

In 2022, after several years of managing their portfolio, Elena and Daniel purchased Investors Club. Today, Investors Club takes a lot of their time, so they’ve sold off a number of their sites and haven’t been as active buyers.

Buying vs. Building

With experience building websites from scratch and also buying existing sites, Elena believes the right approach depends on one’s goals, skills, and resources. She also points out the advantage of immediate revenue through an acquisition.

“When I was initially doing outreach for that website,” Elena said, “I managed to average about one link per day. Over six months, that’s 120+ links. To put that into perspective, once the website started earning, I hired an agency, and we were paying around $300 per link. So, those 120 links I initially built on my own would have cost upwards of $30,000.

“Even if I had the funds, which I didn’t at the start, I would never have the balls to spend that much without knowing for sure that the skyscraper strategy would be effective. If you’re in a position where you have the financial means and confidence to acquire a revenue-generating online business, it can be a quicker path.”

Like most people involved in SEO, Elena has seen the impact of significant Google algorithm updates and the explosion of AI content over the past few years. And now, with Investors Club, she works with buyers and sellers who deal with the same struggles and concerns.

“I see the current era of frequent Google updates and the rise of AI-generated content as a double-edged sword,” Elena said. “On one hand, it’s a time ripe with opportunities. On the other hand, the risks are pretty significant. Ultimately, it’s up to us where we end up in this landscape.”

Elena’s story illustrates the power of taking action. When she had limited options for making money, she started her first website. When her income was cut in half, she used the extra time to build a valuable asset. When she needed to get links, she dedicated nine months to the project. The end result is that Elena has been able to live the lifestyle she desires while working on projects she enjoys.

And none of it would have been possible if she hadn’t taken action and put in the work.

Interested in being featured on Flip My Site? We’re always looking for entrepreneurs with great stories. If you’ve bought or sold a website or online business, please contact us about being featured.