Shaun Martin likes adventure. He left his native New Zealand to relocate to the US. Once there, he started his own medical equipment company, ran it for 7 years, and then sold it. Then he took the money and moved into the real estate sector.
Today he runs the site Watson Buys, where he attracts people who want to sell their homes. He buys them for less than the market value and then rents them out or flips them. Currently, he’s making 6 figures per year from the opportunities that his website creates.
Keep reading to find out:
- What brought him to the US
- How he got into the real estate market
- His marketing strategies
- How he approaches SEO
- How he builds links
- The keyword strategy he uses
- Why he thinks it’s important to have a VA
- His greatest accomplishment
- The advice he’d give to his younger self
- His biggest mistake
- His advice for other entrepreneurs
Meet Shaun Martin
My name is Shaun. I was born in New Zealand to 2 awesome parents. I became a physical therapist and worked in private practice for 3 years.
While studying for PT, I came to Colorado during a summer holiday (southern hemisphere summer) to learn to ski. I loved it so much I kept coming back. After working for 3 years as a PT, I told my boss again I was headed back to Colorado to ski more.
I stayed for the USA summer and I met a girl. I fell in love and got married. At that point, I had to get a real job again (felt I did, no pressure from her). I ended up in medical sales based on my university degree and PT experience.
I sold medical equipment for a national company for about 18 months. Then I started my own medical equipment company. I ran that successfully for 7 years. I then sold it and at that point became a full-time real estate investor.
My investing career started while working for a national company. My wife and I read a book about financial freedom based on real estate. There are many like it. We decided to start buying rental properties.
I now live in the Colorado Rockies with my wife and 4 cats.
For fun, we ride bikes – a lot. We ski, of course, as we live between 2 amazing resorts. We run. We swim. My wife Jenn is learning Spanish right now. And for fun, we spoil our cats.
Why He Created Watson Buys
I started Watson Buys to find better “deals” in real estate and buy houses for less!
Until that point, if I wanted to buy a house, I would look on the MLS or contact other investors.
During this time, one of my friends mentioned trying to start a website. The website should attract people that want to get rid of a house. He believed people would sell such property at a discounted rate. While I wasn’t completely convinced, I decided to give it a go anyway.
This started back in June 2020. I was learning completely from scratch. It took about 6 months before I got my first lead. By June 2021, I was getting a consistent flow of leads from Watson Buys. I let the site rest for about 1 year and am now relaunching/updating/overhauling it with the knowledge I have subsequently gained.
These leads allowed me to buy a house for less than market value, fix it up, and then either rent it out (buy and hold) or resell (fix and flip).
How Much Money Are You Making?
My revenue is not measured with affiliate marketing and goes beyond just the website. After we get a lead, we have to get it under contract. At this point, we have to then buy the house or wholesale the property.
I’m making 6 figures per year across a broad spectrum of real estate investments and opportunities my site creates.
As I write this, Watsonbuys.com is 2 years and 338 days old. So that’s how long it took more or less to achieve this revenue level.
Shaun’s Top Marketing Strategy
SEO, SEO, SEO. I don’t spend any money on anything. Wait, I lie—I have a very modest advertising budget—$300 a month—through Google ads. Considering some clicks cost over $100.00, you can imagine I don’t get many leads with that spend. It’s more about just paying homage to the almighty Google.
I also place yard signs on any property I have. The sign reads:
We Buy Houses For Cash
Get Your Cash Offer Today!
Placing yard signs on my own properties isn’t something other investors do that I am aware of, though they may do it.
So, SEO is extremely important for my business. My overall strategy is based on what has worked for everyone else.
I do a competitor analysis and look at content. I strive to always have one more entity, one more paragraph, one more trust word, one more image, and one more highly relevant link. Basically, try to make my content better than my competitors. Aren’t we all doing that?
I also do a competitor analysis on backlinks. Always have one more is the rule. I spend a ton of time doing manual outreach and trying to guest post or link insert on real websites.
Not just link farms, which even the high-cost link building companies tend to build links on. This takes up a ton of my time. In fact, there are 4 people involved: myself and my SEO friend, and associate, Alex, are stateside, then we have a couple of VAs digging for prospects 40 hours a week.
It’s time-consuming and costly. The benefits are slow to reap but feel that it will be worth it in the long haul. But I believe it still holds a ton of weight with Google.
Along with the above, I always have a base of citations. Business citations are important in my niche to build trust and authority. Plus, I have a HARO and Qwoted writer. This is also very expensive. But finding someone myself and teaching them was much cheaper than paying a link building company. They charge $300-400 or even as much as $500 a HARO win! Rafi has built me 122 HARO links for just one site in the past 3 months. Imagine the cost at $400 each! It would be $48,800! I still paid out a lot but not that much!
With the latest Google Spam Brain link update, I was surprised by the performance of my sites. Most of them (in my humble opinion) are extremely clean. One site had only HARO links.
In hindsight, I’m actually now dumbing down the quality of links to that site. I think it was an anomaly and Google doesn’t like that. The site I am thinking about ranked number one for several important keywords and now has dropped and stayed at position 4 for each of them.
I use Ahrefs primarily to find low-difficulty traffic potential. However, some of our more successful sites are city landing page sites with minimal blog and minimal traffic. The terms I rank for have pretty low volume.
For example, Watsonbuys.com (which has terrible rankings currently but is jumping 5 to 10 spots a week and used to be number one for all sorts of keywords) is a Denver home buyer.
One of the higher volume keywords we try to rank for is “we buy houses Denver.” According to Ahrefs, this is searched 350 times a month. And we’re trying to rank for this high volume money term.
I have a site where I tried to answer all things related to “How to sell my house” to build authority on that. I actually used a different writer to create roughly 160 articles. It has only been 5 months but I must admit, the KD score was so low I thought they would have ranked by now. I might move some of these to a different site and see if Google likes them better there.
Shaun’s Content Creation Process
I mostly use “buy-sell” text for my content. For each article, I will come up with a persona, an H1, and roughly 6 to 10 H2s. Sometimes I will add notes below each H2. Then I ask our best writers to fill in the blanks.
Shaun’s Favorite Resources and Tools
My favorite resources are Niche Pursuits, Authority Builders, and books about becoming a landlord.
As for tools, my best, most favorite, and most valuable tool is my VA/assistant, who answers all of my phone calls and then tries to triage them. I should also mention that 90% of the calls are spam. She also looks at my inbox for emails and moves junk or rabbit hole emails away, so I’m not distracted. I still get distracted a ton, but she helps a lot!
His Biggest Challenge
Definitely the Google updates. I can have 2 exact websites, very similar content, etc. and the update affects them totally differently. It can be annoying.
Also, I want everything done yesterday and, as you know, SEO takes time. Make a change today and measure the difference in 4 weeks, 3 months, or a year from now!
Being patient and making thoughtful changes versus knee-jerk reactions is definitely a huge challenge, particularly as they pertain to Google and their “wonderful” (note the sarcasm) updates. I love you Google (just in case you’re listening)!
His Main Accomplishment
I started and ran a medical equipment company for 7 years that I then sold successfully. At the time it was just what I did so it didn’t seem special.
Looking back, though, I think it’s pretty cool. The money I earned from revenue and subsequent sales has enabled me to really dive into my real estate career and SEO.
What He Wishes He Knew When He Started
The best time to plant a tree was yesterday. The second best time is today. As this relates to real estate—there is always a deal to be had. Real estate is a great vehicle to achieve financial freedom. It’s not sexy, but if you live in a bigger city, buy a house, and pay it off over 30 years, then you will have a fantastic retirement nest egg.
His Main Mistake
My main mistake is taking on too many projects at once. This culminated in me losing $30,000 on my 3rd flip property. I jumped in too quickly. I also did not vet the people who were giving me advice and helping me.
It’s a shame, but so many people are 100% self-serving. This was the case for my advisors. It’s my fault for trusting them, but there you go.
Another mistake is not networking enough. I need to network more. I do not do anything innovative really. When it comes to real estate, everything has been done before.
SEO is definitely more wild west and in its infancy, but there are so many people that know so much more than me. I would love to be able to regularly communicate with like-minded people (i.e. there is plenty for everyone) that can provide fun and useful information for each other.
His Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
Find meetups and groups that you can go and talk to. Learn as much as possible from other people. Learn from their mistakes.
Also, don’t offer to buy them a coffee for their time. I don’t mean to be a jerk, but a $4 coffee isn’t going to get me excited. Instead, if you ask for advice, take it and use it. Then provide feedback to the person about how you used it: what worked, what didn’t, and what you learned. This is how you can add value to someone who has been in the business longer than you.
Listening to an episode of Niche Pursuits excites me (for all the info), but anxious too, as in they make $1,000,000 a month from affiliate marketing? What am I doing wrong? I can’t even get Google to pick up a page with a keyword difficulty of less than zero!