How Zach Zorn’s First Website Flip Led to the Birth of a Marketplace

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How Zach's Website Flip Led to the Birth of a Marketplace

While most college students want to graduate and find employment to enter the workforce, Zach Zorn chose a less traditional approach. Since graduating college in 2016, Zach has worked as a yacht broker, website flipper, blogger, Amazon seller, and online business broker, all before turning 30.

Speaking about his starting point, Zach told Flip My Site that in 2015, while still in college, he worked as a drone photographer. “As college graduation was coming up, I decided I didn’t want to go the corporate route and approached the yacht brokerage I was filming for, asking if I could start in an entry-level sales position.”

Zach got that chance as a yacht broker and over the past eight years, he’s brokered more than $40 million in sales and started his own yacht brokerage in 2023.

During that time, Zach has also been working on several online businesses. His primary site is Money Nomad, where he covers topics related to entrepreneurship and making money. The site also hosts a marketplace where Zach helps other entrepreneurs to sell their websites and online businesses.

Zach’s story and career journey are quite interesting and unique. As you’ll see, acquisitions and flips have played key roles in getting him to where he is today.

A 4-Month Flip With Massive ROI

Zach had some experience working on mobile apps and websites through a few jobs during high school and college. His real-world education continued when he launched his first Amazon FBA business in the summer of 2016, shortly after graduating college.

While running his FBA business, Zach was first introduced to affiliate marketing and knew he wanted to give it a shot. Rather than starting a website from scratch, Zach decided to buy an existing site using money he’d saved from his high school and college jobs.

In 2017, Zach purchased a technology review website on Empire Flippers for $49,000. The site published reviews of drones, cameras, 3D printers, and other tech-focused products. Zach found quick success by improving the site’s revenue without increasing traffic.

One of the biggest changes Zach made involved replacing AdSense units with banner ads sold directly to manufacturers. Zach contacted the companies his site was already promoting as an affiliate to see if they’d want to buy a banner ad to increase their exposure on the site. Several of them took him up on this offer.

Zach also collaborated with one advertiser to run sponsored giveaways on his site. The advertiser provided the products that were given away, and visitors could enter their email addresses to have a chance at winning the prizes. Zach charged the advertiser a flat fee for the giveaway promotion, and the advertiser collected all of the email addresses.

This new approach nearly doubled the site’s revenue, and Zach ended up selling the site about four months after buying it. When he decided to sell, Zach returned to Empire Flippers to list the site. He received three offers the first day it was listed and ultimately sold the site for $75,000.

In addition to the $26,000 he made on the flip (before brokerage fees), Zach also made about $13,000 during the few months he owned it. So he purchased the site for $49,000 and made about $39,000 profit with it in less than five months.

The Advantages of Buying an Existing Site

Although Zach has started some of his own sites from scratch, he prefers the strategic advantages of buying an existing website or business. His first reason mostly boils down to mindset. Zach says, “When I’ve put hard-earned money on the line by making an acquisition, I know I’ll do everything in my power to make the website/business succeed. In essence, I’m purposely putting my back to the wall a bit so I’m forced to work on and improve the business.”

Zach’s second reason for preferring to buy instead of build is simply to start making money right away. He says, “I don’t want to wait 3, 6, or 12 months to start seeing money coming in. Plus when you already have a revenue stream, improvements to monetization and UX adjustments can be felt almost immediately.”

The Money Nomad Marketplace

After the sale of his tech review blog, Zach used the proceeds for his next purchase, Money Nomad. It was now early 2018, and Zach says, “I was interested in buying a finance-based website that was more evergreen than say tech reviews, and that gave me a platform to talk about FBA, KDP, affiliate marketing, and general business.”

Money Nomad

This time, Zach purchased the site privately off-market rather than through a broker or marketplace.

While Zach was working on his first few sites, he was also gaining valuable experience as a yacht broker. As a California native and avid saltwater fisherman, Zach spends a lot of time on the water. Working as a yacht broker allows him to combine his passion for sport-fishing and business.

Through his experience buying and selling the tech review blog, Zach got to know some of the key players at Empire Flippers. In 2019, Empire Flippers approached Zach about starting a website marketplace at Money Nomad that would focus on sub-$100,000 listings that are too small for the Empire Flippers marketplace.

Zach’s success buying and selling websites, plus his experience as a yacht broker made him an ideal fit. Empire Flippers purchased a minority interest in Money Nomad and the Money Nomad Marketplace was born in 2020.

When Empire Flippers receives inquiries from site owners who want to sell digital assets that are a little too small for Empire Flippers, they’re passed on to Zach and listed at the Money Nomad Marketplace. Over the past few years, Zach has helped countless online business owners sell their sites for $100,000 or less, a price range ignored by most brokers.

Zach says most of the listings are content sites, Amazon Merch businesses, or KDP businesses.

Now that he’s achieved success as a yacht broker and online business broker, Zach has no plans to slow down. He says, “I look forward to seeing the Money Nomad Marketplace growing so that many more people can be helped. I also plan to expand my yacht brokerage and grow that team to several salespeople and locations. I’m very excited to see what the future holds!”

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.