Try as hard as we may to weed out less scrupulous buyers and sellers on Flippa, as with many global online marketplaces, there will always be the odd rogue among us. We’re constantly looking for ways to make Flippa more secure and reduce the incidence of fraud, but until we can legally record finger prints and ask new members to pledge their first born should they step foul of the Flippa laws, buyers and sellers need to remain vigilant.
1. Don’t Give Another Party Access to Your Multi-Domain cPanel Hosting Account
Many traders on Flippa use multiple domain cPanel hosting accounts. In the event that, for example, you ask a seller to move a site to your hosting account, you would need to give them access to a cPanel account (in most cases). If you’re using a multiple domain cPanel account and you’re hosting other sites on the account, then the seller has full access to all the sites on this account.
Two solutions to avoid giving access to multiple sites:
- Transfer the site yourself – ask the seller to send you the files and database and install it yourself, or get a trusted third party to do it for you.
- Use a reseller hosting account. If you’re a regular trader, it may be worth purchasing a reseller hosting account. This will let you setup a cPanel account for each of your domains – then you’re only providing access to a single domain per cPanel account. HostGator has reseller accounts from US$24.95 per month.
2. Change Your Passwords
This is a no-brainer, but I’m sure many traders fail to update passwords once the deal is done. If you’ve given another party access to cPanel, WordPress, FTP, or (insert deity) forbid – domain accounts, make sure you update them after everything’s the transfer.
3. Use Escrow
Escrow is by no means a silver bullet for a fail safe financial transactions, but for trading websites and domains, it is much more secure than PayPal. Find out more about Escrow and our integrated Escrow feature.
4. Buyer/Seller Due Diligence
If you’re about to hand over significant sums of money or, from a seller’s perspective, a significant asset, you really want to know who you’re dealing with. With the help of Google and a little info from the person you’re dealing with, you can perform some reputation research. Try Googling their full name, ask for their social media profiles, checking their Flippa feedback, even ask for their user names on forums and see how they interact with others elsewhere.
I spoke to a buyer recently who was about to fly to another country to meet with the seller for a handover. This may be on the extreme and unprofitable for smaller sites, but when you’re investing significant dollars – it might not be a bad idea. (Please be careful if you do decide to meet in person – we don’t want any ugly Craigslist-esque stories).
5. Using PayPal – Post Files to Buyers
When using PayPal to accept payment, sellers can be at risk of the buyer performing a chargeback. PayPal offers some suggestions for negating this risk, the most important being as follows:
Ship to the buyer’s address listed on the Transaction Details page and retain proof of delivery that can be tracked online.
In other words, archive your website files and database to a CD, DVD or flash drive and post it to the buyer. This way you have proof that the items were sent – and you also have the buyer’s address.
The following is a guest post about finding and recruiting drop shippers submitted by Avid Amiri.
One of the central advantages of an online business for any home based business person is the ability to leverage third party suppliers, to provide order fulfillment or execution via drop ship or direct ship relationships. For me, this is also the philosophical role or function of an ecommerce business, to serve as a nexus point or connecting point between customers and suppliers. In essence, a pure play ecommerce store should be looking to exploit the internet channel as a sales and marketing platform. The goal is to generate retail arbitrage. This is not unlike a traditional brick and mortar arbitrage—e.g. buy a product for a dollar and sell it for two, except that with ecommerce stores the cost of doing business is almost always dramatically less, leading to higher earnings for owners and shareholders.
In order to get started with drop shipping, I typically suggest that etailers have some form of value proposition that can be offered to the vendor or suppliers. The notion that you are going to carry their products and just throw them up on pay per clicks is not very persuasive or compelling. Moreover, competing on the basis of pricing is oftentimes not the best solution either, as it creates a “race to the bottom” scenario with the integrity of the retail pricing of the vendor’s product being degraded. Vendors need to be reassured that you WILL NOT violate the MSRP strategy they have in place. They also need to be reassured that you can provide them with new market share.
My chief recommendation—that has become something of a personal dictum—is that in order to excite interest on the part of a vendor you need to be interesting to them, both in terms of the economics or the peripheral benefits by way of brand exposure and eyeballs.
What this means is that rankings and search engine placements for critical key terms in the vendor’s industry are essential. If you rank in the top 5 for a key terms like “shower rings” then most manufacturers or dealers of shower rings could benefit by having their items up on your site.
The other approach is to appeal to the vendor on the basis of new market share. Using the above example, if one ranks well for “shower rings” then your play to vendors of shower curtains may be the chance of cross selling to customers that may just impulse buy a curtain while they are updating their shower rings. This may resonate with vendors and you may have success locking them in.
If you have NO rankings, what can you do and how can you still consummate new vendor relationships? Working on developing the power of your site and your daily traffic through advertising is crucial for the success of your e-business for myriad reasons. Next, work with what you can by finding smaller, out-of-the-way brands. These may be new companies actively seeking out new channels of distribution themselves.
One great resource here is exhibitor lists for industry trade shows. Two kinds of companies attend these shows: firms that are well established and just interested in making an appearance, and new entrants that are interested in the prospect of setting up new dealers. The reality is that companies in this latter category are not in a position to decline new accounts. They may also have some great products at aggressive prices. Go through these websites for the tradeshows and refer to the trade show list and website when speaking to the vendor, to let them know that is where you found them.
Look for new and unique brands, look for new entrants, look for established brands that don’t already saturate the markets, especially within brick and mortars. Also be prepared to bring on some limited stock to get started with more desirable brands. If you don’t want to stock these items yourself investigate third party fulfillment companies that can do this for you for a fee.
Beware of bulk drop ship companies, as these companies are generally very pervasive online and products are saturated in almost every channel including eBay, Amazon and Shopping.com. In short, be willing to stretch and be creative! It may take thirty calls to vendors before you recruit one, but with each successive new relationship the easier it becomes to recruit new partners.
For more great insights on drop shipping form Avid Amiri, check out the following forum thread on Experienced People.
The following guest post was kindly penned by Allison Reynolds, a veteran niche internet marketer and Flippa customer. She is currently working on creating an online reality TV show about internet marketing called The Reality Challenge.
So you have a website for sale with an email list and you’re wondering whether it’s worth including that list in the sale on Flippa. The answer is – absolutely. Creating a list for your existing website is like having a house and building an extension onto it. The house gains in value and the buyers have more to find attractive about the property. In this article, we’ll teach you how to sell an email list with your website.
What’s This Sell an Email List Thing?
Email lists (mailing lists, or just lists for short) are created by having a field on your site into which people have entered an email address so they can get extra information from you. Things like newsletters, upgrade and product information, free offers, are all reasons why people will submit their email.
There are many email list hosting/management services available that will store those email addresses and give you an interface to email out whatever it is you want to mail. The most reputable ones will force you to create double opt-in lists (where the person requests they go on the list by adding an email, and then confirms by clicking on a link in a follow up email). Double opt-in lists should be considered the cream of the quality crop when you see it mentioned in a Flippa sale; these people have indicated they definitely want to get email from that source.
Selling Points for Lists
Buyers will be looking for several things to rate how valuable the list is so make sure you highlight any and all of the following:
- Have these people bought something in the past from you (easier to sell to again)
- On average how long people stay on the list (longer usually indicates better quality content and offers to keep them there)
- Recent sign up figures (looking for continued growth)
Most list service providers will have reports and graphs that you can add to a Flippa listing to back up your figures.
Of course the logical things that you will also need to add are how many people are on your list, how long you have been building it for, what product/content you are providing to the list and how you make revenue from it.
If you aren’t making revenue from it because “it’s just a newsletter” then add a list of suggestion on how the new owner will be able to make some cash from the list itself.
I would suggest the following as quick ways to add potential earnings to your Flippa listing:
- Advertising space on newsletter
- Affiliate links
- JV with niche product owner
How Do I Transfer a List When I have Sold It?
There are two ways to move lists to the new owner. Firstly they can join your service and you can transfer from your account to theirs. Or you can export your list as a .CSV file or similar and they can import into their own service.
I use AWeber as my list service provider and the process could not be simpler to initiate a transfer to another account.
AWeber perform their transfers using their internal support staff to ensure that no spam lists are being passed around from one account to another, and that the list is not being stolen by a hacker.
You will need to provide help(at)aweber.com the following details
- Your AWeber account details
- The name of the list that needs to move
- The buyer’s login name
- The last 4 digits of their credit card that they use on their account
Once you have provided that info, then AWeber move quickly to do the transfer. Make sure you do all this after you have received the funds from the new owner for the sale or notification the funds are being held in escrow.
Like any sale, communication is the key. Keep the buyer in the loop as you perform the transfer so they can see progress and give you positive feedback.
A Guest Post by Thomas Smale
One of the most lucrative and often overlooked strategies to be a profitable site flipper is website arbitrage. In very simple terms, we are buying an established website for a good price, adding value and then selling for a premium. The concept is simple, but in reality, it can be a lot more complicated than it sounds.
This model is extremely attractive for several reasons, such as it can generate profit in the short term, and you don’t have to put your money ‘on hold’ for months. This potentially allows those on tight budgets to sell several websites every month, as well as the fact that by selling a website quickly, you minimize the risk of the value of the site decreasing (the site losing a bunch of its traffic to a competitor, the market trends changing etc.).
When looking for a site to “quick flip” there are a number of important factors to consider. At all stages in the process you need to be thinking: how can I add value? This is an essential element in the process to ensure you achieve a premium on a marketplace such as Flippa.
Generally speaking, you want to look for sites that are performing under-potential and are being sold under-valued. Try searching webmaster forums for sites to buy or even contacting website owners directly. The key here is time: it is important to act fast and have the site up for sale quickly.
A good way to evaluate a site before buying is using a checklist. Each person will have their own individual way of pre-sale evaluation, but here is a checklist I use as guideline for “quick flips”:
- Does your website due diligence come back positive?
- Can you raise funds for the purchase?
- Can you pay the seller late? (This gives you chance to sell it before you pay – true arbitrage.)
- Are statistics transparent enough for resell?
- Do you have sufficient knowledge to answer questions about the niche/technology used?
- Is the site under market value?
- Will the site retain value after purchase (e.g. avoid personal blogs)?
- Can ownership of all assets be transferred quickly?
- Would the site appeal to your previous list of buyers (if you have one)?
- Are you aware of your break-even point for the site?
- Will your list pay you more than you will have to pay?
- Can you add value in 1 day?
- Can you improve the design in one day?
- Can you improve the content in one day?
- Can you improve monetization in one day?
There are a number of other factors you may also wish to consider. The checklist above is looking at moving fast and requires a basic understanding of due diligence and ability to value a website fairly.
Obviously, a number of the above factors depend on your own skills. When evaluating a site to buy, you need to identify areas where you can add value. There are few people that can do everything, so as such, it is important to understand your strengths and skills in order to select the perfect site.
A number of people tell me they can’t flip sites because they can’t do design work or add plug-ins to a WordPress blog. This is rubbish! I could barely tell you the difference between Photoshop and Paint, and find words such as “vector” confusing! I’m not saying that being a kick-ass designer is going to hold you back – but there is always something for someone.
This all leads back to the “adding value” stage. Once you’ve identified your strengths (or your team’s strengths if you are lucky enough to have one) then you can get to work.
Great designer? Buy an established site with a horrible design – you’ll then add value by making it look better.
Great writer but can’t design? Buy a nice looking site that lacks content. Add content and you’re good to go.
Eye for a bargain? Buy anything and sell it for more with an awesome sales copy!
AdSense pro? Buy sites with poorly optimised ad placements – you can often make huge improvements to CTR (click through rates) with some small tweaks or a new theme.
Can do more than one of the above? Great – you’ll be an awesome established site flipper!
This is by no means an exhaustive list, there are so many different websites out there leaving potential for EVERYONE to be able to buy a site and add value in some way.
Quality sites have, and always will sell well on Flippa, or anywhere for that matter. Arguably, in recent times, those who focus their business model on “turnkey flipping” have begun to see sales drop – this is where the beauty of this strategy comes in. You are selling quality, established sites – buyers get a good deal, you make a nice profit and everyone is happy. And that, as I teach all of my students, is the key to building a sustainable business flipping sites: buy quality, established sites; add value; sell.
Happy customers = returning customers. Returning customers = profit.
Thomas Smale is an experienced site flipper who has been in the business for over two years. Earlier this week, Thomas released a brand new Site Flipping eCourse called Killer Flipping Secrets.
Thomas is offering a 20% introductory discount, and a $20 Flippa.com Voucher to help you get your first auction up, should you decide to order Killer Flipping Secrets and join Thomas’ hyperactive Private Forum (included in the deal).
Find out more at Killer Flipping Secrets and use the discount code “FLIPPA” when ordering to get your package of goodies.
We recently caught up with David Jenyns, serial Internet entrepreneur, SEO guy and infrequent seller on Flippa.com. Dave tells us how he’s been cleaning out his website portfolio – selling his websites on Flippa and some great selling strategies.
How did you come across Flippa.com?
I actually started to hear about Flippa through a few channels – the main one I can recall was Ed Dale (thirtydaychallenge.com).
Tell me about the sites you’ve sold.
Quite a few years ago I purchased a whole bunch of domain names to test out my SEO skills on. These were niche sites that I never had any interest in other than just for testing purposes. I ended up developing a few of these sites into Clickbank products (which are still doing quite well) while the vast majority I’ve done nothing with after the initial testing was complete.
Even though some of the sites ranked quite well and received a lot of traffic, most of them haven’t been maintained since testing was completed – they’ve just been sitting there. As part of my New Year’s resolution I decided to clear them out so I can put more time and energy into my new SEO company called MelbourneSEOServices.com.
One of my most recent successes on Flippa was selling one of the sites that has great potential (currently ranking on page #1 for “woodworking projects”), but again, I have never had the time to develop the concept further. The site was www.woodworkingprojects.org
What inspired you to sell your websites?
To give myself a new focus, I decided to offload all the projects that were sitting dormant. www.woodworkingprojects.org was one of those projects.
Can you tell us about the strategies you used when auctioning your sites?
First and foremost, I always ensure my listing is well-written. I like to tell my prospective buyers the complete story so they can understand why I’m selling the website. I also like to write listings in a way that I would like to read them if I were a potential buyer.
I think one of the key characteristics that makes my auctions stand out from the rest are our walk-through videos. In these videos we walk the potential buyer through everything from the stats behind the website to exactly what’s included when they win the auction.
As for other strategies, I personally always like to start the auction at one dollar with no reserve. My goal here is to get as many people bidding as possible, this is ultimately what will drive up your auction price. We are also currently testing a few strategies on when to add a BIN price. At this stage we don’t have anything conclusive.
What background checks did you do on bidders before accepting their bid?
Typically speaking the last few sites we’ve sold have been valued at under $2000. For this reason we haven’t really done much of a background check. We might look at the user’s profile, ensuring that they’ve done some transactions successfully in the past, but that’s about it.
We’ve found the Flippa.com market place to be a safe one.
What payment process did you use?
We like to make the experience for our clients as easy as possible. Accordingly we offer as many payment methods as we can — PayPal, escrow, direct deposit, credit card and even cheques in some circumstances.
Can you tell me about your experience in transferring the site to the new owner?
To date our transfers have been quite simple. Typically the site is a HTML or PHP-based website and it’s just a matter of zipping it up and e-mailing it over to the auction winner. We suggest that they set up a domain name with their hosting account, unzip the files and only then initiate the transfer.
We also suggest that minimal changes are made to the website within the first month or two from purchase/transfer. Once the website has demonstrated that it is remaining solid and keeping its rankings in the search engines, then and only then, should changes be made.
Overall, how was your experience selling your website on Flippa?
Overall the experience of selling our websites on Flippa.com has been nothing short of excellent. The marketplace has been fantastic in finding buyers for the many websites within our portfolio. Additionally, having contacted customer support a few times, the team behind Flippa.com has also been excellent.
David Jenyns is a serial internet entrepreneur with many successes under his belt. To find out more, and download a recent interview David did with Ed Dale.