Humans have been flipping things for profit ever since the Neanderthals started trading nicely shaped rocks for tattered loincloths, then patching up those loincloths and trading them for two nicely shaped rocks.
Websites are the loincloths of the 21st century.
The barrier for entry is low, as anyone can learn how to build a basic website, and selling that website has never been easier thanks to Flippa.
Flippa is the number one marketplace for buying and selling websites. It attracts a huge audience, and it offers great tools to increase your auction’s visibility.
Interestingly, Flippa began as SitePoint’s very own SitePoint Marketplace before spinning off into its own company. Man we’re cool.
If you’re willing to dedicate a little capital, a moderate amount of time and a lot of loincloths, flipping on Flippa can net you some serious coin. The platform has seen more than $140 million in sales since its 2009 launch.
If you want to contribute to that number, heed the following advice.
Target a Niche
Before you invest a single cent into the endeavor, you need to decide what your website is going to be about.
The overwhelming wisdom is to choose a highly-targeted niche.
If you’re already passionate about, or have significant knowledge of, a niche topic, make that your starting point. If you live a Top 40 kind of life and niches just aren’t your thing, do some research and find a niche with potential.
Carrot peeling techniques, nail clipper reviews, mouse pads made from recycled coffee cups – these are all valid niches to pursue, because they are highly targeted.
Cornering a niche means cutting out a huge swath of competition. The mouse pad market might be crowded, but mouse pads made from recycled coffee cups? Open frontier, baby.
But here’s the tricky part. While the niche should be highly targeted, it should also have a following. Your job isn’t to create an audience out of nothing, it’s to build a lighthouse for them to flock toward.
Build vs. Buy
Now that you’ve chosen your niche, it’s time to secure a website. Should you build it, or buy it? Let’s look at what goes into each.
Unless you’re a web developer, building a website is going to cost a few bucks. However, it probably won’t cost as much as buying an existing website.
You can teach yourself of course, but if you need it done fast, you’re going to want to hire a developer.
To find a cost-effective developer, look toward a platform such as Freelanship.
There you will find a database of US-based freelancers looking for work. Once you post the job, qualified freelancers will click “I’m interested” so you can review their portfolio.
Paying top dollar for a developer isn’t necessary when all you need is for it to function smoothly. You’re still going to have to shell out a few hundred dollars, but it is crucial your site has a solid foundation.
It’s also smart to have your website built in WordPress. Buyers are typically more comfortable with WordPress sites and can better justify buying something they know how to use.
Once you have a fully functioning website, you need content. After all, a nail clipper review site needs nail clipper reviews, so you’re going to want a healthy stream of keyword rich reviews with affiliate links.
If you deem it worth your time, you can create some, or all, of the content yourself (there may be a downside to this which we'll cover later). If not, you can try out Elance or oDesk to find writers for hire. Since competition is fierce here, you can probably hire someone for $5/500 words.
Alternatively, you could (and should) invest in higher quality writers, especially if you think that five buck writers are devaluing the writing profession as a whole. But that’s a topic for another time.
When you have a solid chunk of content, refrain from posting it all at once. Instead, post a of couple pieces per day. This improves SEO rankings and builds traffic. Remember, you want fat stats when it comes time to sell.
While buying an existing website may cost more, it does offer significant advantages. For one, it already has an established audience. It’s also already indexed within search engines.
The key to buying a flippable website is to buy it for less than it’s worth.
Neil Patel lays out three qualities you should look for in a website owner who might undersell.
The owner doesn’t update their site very often.
The owner doesn’t seem to be making much money from the website.
The owner doesn’t seem to care about the business.
If you find a website in your niche that exhibits one or more of these qualities, consider making an offer.
But if scavenging the internet for a website that meets your qualifications proves too time consuming, you can always use a website broker. Most brokers are commission-based and have access to a wide database of websites on the market. If you give them your criteria, they can find you what you’re looking for.
Once you’ve purchased the website, use all the tools at your disposal to grow it, increase traffic and earn some money. If this part of the process isn’t in your wheelhouse, check out some of our helpful articles.
Or return to Freelanship and hire an affordable marketing contractor.
Flipping On Flippa
When your website is seeing a healthy amount of traffic, engagement and financial potential, it’s time to auction it on Flippa. Here are some tips for a successful auction.
Create A Robust Description
According to one of Flippa’s own blog posts, many unsuccessful auctions on Flippa have very little information in the description.
Wimpy descriptions reflect poorly on you and your website. A buyer might assume that a sparse description means a sparse website. They may think that if you couldn’t put the effort into writing a description, you probably didn’t put much effort into the website.
Instead, create a comprehensive, well-written and professional-looking description to generate interest and inspire confidence.
This may seems obvious, but the first thing a buyer is going to look for is your website’s stats, so make sure to include the most up-to-date metrics on page views, unique visitors, gross revenue, and net profit.
If you have the ambition, consider turning your stats into slick graphics like this seller did.
Don’t Be Anonymous
Imagine placing thousand dollar bids to a nameless, faceless, social medialess seller. Wouldn’t you prefer to know their name, see their face, read what they ate for breakfast that morning via Facebook?
Buyers will feel more comfortable dealing with a real person, especially when the dollars start stacking. Maintaining transparency is important. It communicates to buyers that you have nothing to hide and can quell fears of shady dealings and scam artists.
Put a face to your name by linking to your social media accounts, Linkedin profile or blog. You have to earn the buyer’s trust before you can earn their money.
Get Into Flippa’s Most Active Category
If your auction is seeing a lot of activity, Flippa might put it in their Most Active category. This costs you nothing (other than time and energy) and puts it in front of thousands of buyers it might normally never see.
Many of the aforementioned tips can help you land more bids, but if you’re seeing less than you’d like, try the following:
Say you launch your auction and receive a bid in the first few hours. As the seller, you have the power to approve or disapprove of the bidder. Once you approve, that bid is logged, and each additional bid by that bidder is processed automatically.
Now, you could approve the bidder right away, or you could wait until you receive more bids. If you hoard multiple bids before approving them, and then approve them all at once, Flippa’s algorithm will conclude that your auction is seeing more activity. This makes you more eligible for the Most Active category
Placate Buyers By Creating a Sustainable Product
How much maintenance does your website require? How much work will the buyer have to put in to keep it profitable?
Bidding might hit a standstill if buyers conclude that the website will be more work than it’s worth. So don’t give them anything to worry about. Before auctioning your site, ensure that it is easily sustainable.
For example, a common issue that threatens sustainability is content creation.
Say you wrote all those nail clipper reviews yourself. Sure, it initially saved you some money, but think about how that affects the buyer. After purchasing the site, he or she will now have to hire their own freelancers to continue producing content. This is time and effort the buyer doesn’t want to expend.
If you had hired freelancers from the beginning, the buyer would already have experienced pool of talent to pick from. The transition of ownership would be smooth and efficient.
Reach Out To Potential Buyers
Don’t rely on buyers to just stumble across your auction. You need to play an active role in recruiting them. If promoting through your social media and personal network isn’t enough, try finding and reaching out to new buyers.
One strategy you can take is locating website owners in your niche. Domain Tools’ Domain Search is an excellent resource for such an occasion. Just type in the keywords relevant to your niche and Domain Search will populate a list with related websites.
If your website is called NailClipperReviews.com and you see that someone owns ReviewsNailClippers.com, navigate to their Whois page and try contacting them. Maybe they’re interested in buying your website to generate more traffic. Maybe they want to buy your website to eliminate the competition.
Flipping websites on Flippa isn’t something you can do overnight, but if you invest the time and energy, you could turn a sizable profit. Remember to build or buy a niche website and grow it until it’s either profitable or has profit potential. When auctioning on Flippa, promote the heck out of it using all available channels and earn the buyers’ trust by remaining transparent.
Josh Kraus is a Chicago-born, Denver-based writer and mediocre autobiographist with an interest in art, entrepreneurship, and emerging industries. When he's not writing, he attends to his t-shirt business, Bird Fur. Find him at joshkra.us and birdfurtees.com.
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