Become a Top Seller on Flippa With These Six Weapons of Influence

Be a better seller by creating an oasis for your buyers. 

People buy with their minds first. Before they hit the “Place Bid” button, you must encourage them to know, like and trust you.

This is a tough task, but don’t despair. Some basic human psychology can help you make the sale.

In this article, you’ll learn about Professor Robert Cialdini’s six weapons of influence. His book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” has sold more than 2 million copies worldwide. Fortune Magazine lists it as one of the “75 Smartest Business Books” ever written.

So, what can we learn from Professor Cialdini’s research? Let’s take a look…

Reciprocity

Reciprocity builds trust and creates long-lasting relationships.The principle is simple, yet effective. If you do something for me, I’ll do something for you.

Many cultures reward this kind of behavior. Do you remember the last time you went to a dinner party? I bet you brought something – perhaps it was a bouquet of flowers or a bottle of red wine. The host accepted your gift. This is reciprocity at work.

Be aware of the hidden power behind reciprocity. Sometimes people abuse it. For example, a co-worker might buy you a cup of coffee in the morning. You accept it and thank him for the hot beverage you’re holding in your hand. Later in the afternoon, he asks you to stay overtime to help him finish a project. You say yes, without thinking too much about it.

How to apply reciprocity to your Flippa auction:

Be a good egg. Answer people’s questions and don’t hesitate to go the extra mile. Your job is to help bidders overcome their objections. They will thank you for it. The more you help them, the more likely they are to buy from you.

Commitment and Consistency

Commitment and consistency is one of Cialdini’s most interesting findings. We like our actions to be consistent with our words. Why? Because it makes us look good in front of others, which makes us feel good about ourselves.

Unfortunately, commitment and consistency can trick us into doing things we don’t want to do. Market researchers use this weapon to their full advantage. Next time the phone rings, and someone asks: “I understand you’re busy tonight, but is it okay if I call you back next Tuesday at 19:30?” be careful with what you say. Your desire to honor your commitment might make you sit through a 15-minute survey the following week. Take it from someone who knows.

Commitment and consistency build the cornerstone of trust. Without it, people quickly disregard you as someone who can’t live up to his word. Needless to say, this kills your business and your relationships.

How to apply commitment and consistency to your Flippa auction:

Deliver on your promises. If you say you will upload the traffic statistics, do it. Make sure your description matches your product. Don’t make any false claims about your digital asset. Even better, upload verified stats and other information. Remember that commitment and consistency win you business over the long haul. It might sound basic, but don’t ignore this powerful weapon. Your reputation is at stake here.
Social Proof
Does your website have a lot of Facebook likes and Twitter followers? Or does it have many email subscribers and testimonials?

Congratulations! You’ve got social proof.

The basic principle is this: we are more likely to do something if we see others do it. This explains why social media plays an important role in raising awareness about your Flippa auction. A large following makes your brand more attractive,, and encourages others to follow suit. In short, social proof builds momentum.

Please remember that this principle can work against you as well. If your site only has a few Twitter followers, then this can reflect poorly on your business. To avoid these negative side effects, don’t spread yourself too thin. Focus on one or two social networks and do them well. Build your audience and social media presence one tweet at a time.

Have you noticed that I used social proof in this article? Look at the introduction and you’ll see it in action:

Professor Cialdini’s book has “sold more than 2 million copies worldwide.”
Fortune Magazine lists it as one of the “75 Smartest Business Books” ever written.
High sales figures and popular lists lend social proof and authority to your product and brand. Believe it or not, but we’re more likely to buy a book if it’s been featured in Fortune Magazine, New York Times or The Guardian.

How to apply social proof to your Flippa auction:

Include any data that can boost the social proof of your site, domain or app. Think number of app downloads, page visitors, and social media numbers. This information must be accurate or you will get caught. Internet is a small place and news travel fast. Don’t risk it.

You may also want to lower the starting bid to $1. After all, the more bids you have, the more social proof you’ll get. Of course, you can set a different reserve price, so you don’t have to sell your product at $1. The point is to gather social proof and gauge the market value of your digital asset. How much is it worth?

Authority

Authority is the fourth weapon of influence. The principle is straightforward: for better or worse, we tend to trust and obey authority figures. We believe in their expertise and value their advice.

Authority is essential online. It helps you stand out and makes people come to you. Your ability to solve your customers’ pressing problems make you the go-to expert in the field. When you share your knowledge, you grow your authority and your business. It’s not easy to become an authority online, but it’s well worth the effort. .

Of course, there’s a potential downside to authority. Professor Cialdini refers to the famous Milgram experiments to make us aware of it. The study found that people obeyed orders, even if it meant inflicting pain on others. In other words, authority can be difficult to resist, and it’s a force to be reckoned with.

How to apply authority to your Flippa auction:

Don’t leave your buyer after the sale is over. Make sure he feels like he’s made the right decision. Offer to help him during the transition period. Become the likeable expert and he will leave a positive feedback review, refer you to others, and even buy from you again.

Keep a reference of all the questions you were asked during the auction. This is valuable information. You can use it to understand your customer better, and to improve your chances of selling your future digital asset.

How do you plan to build your authority? For tips and inspiration on what makes a great seller on Flippa, check out the Flippa Super Seller Program.

Liking

Liking is the fifth weapon of influence. The principle is simple and effective: we buy products and services from people we like.

But who do we like to buy from? Generally speaking, we value principles and actions over mere appearance and empty promises. For example, we appreciate friendliness, respect, and honesty. We like people who listen to us, who understand our needs, and who deliver on what they promise.

To be able to like someone, we must first get to know them. This means showing up and not hiding behind a fake name. Never lie or manipulate your buyers. Such deceitful behavior will only damage your reputation. Not to mention, get you suspended. Establish a genuine connection instead and build the relationship from there. Never try to be someone you’re not, and be open with your mistakes. Apologize for your mistakes and rectify them as soon as possible.

How to apply liking to your Flippa auction:

Be the person you’d like to buy from. What does that person look like? If you need help with this, think about the salespeople you admire. What do you like about them? Take time to reflect on this and try to model their behavior.
Make a good first impression. Include an avatar on your Flippa profile and choose a picture where people can see your face. It’s hard to like someone if you don’t know what they look like. You might also want to include links to your social media accounts, such as Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn. This gives your buyers a chance to connect with you and continue the conversation online.

We buy from people that we like. How can we get to know you?

Scarcity

Scarcity is known to generate demand, and it’s the last weapon of influence.

Scarcity is the reason you see signs such as “for a limited time only” and “only five seats left”. Used well, scarcity can encourage people to take action.

Needless to say, don’t use false scarcity because that’s not cool and people are bound to find out. Such a practice will upset people and hurt your reputation and brand.

How to apply scarcity to your Flippa auction:

What makes your website, app or domain stand out? Perhaps it has a unique .COM name or a large archive full of useful content (read: authority). Whatever the case might be, make sure you highlight this benefit in your description.

You’re lucky because auctions already have scarcity built in to the process. But you can still play around with how long your auction is up for sale, and see if it affects the response.

Over to you

Cialdini’s six weapons of influence are powerful because they work. These key principles won’t change anytime soon, so they’re worth your time and attention. When you understand how they work together, you become a more informed buyer, but also a more skilled seller.

It’s difficult to protect yourself against some of these weapons. With great power comes great responsibility. I trust you can handle it. Use them well and you’re more likely to make the sale.

So, what are you waiting for? Put your skills to work and list your auction today! Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks to Prescott for the photo! 

Why You Should Invest in Digital Real Estate

Happy Earth Day, Big Blue Marble!

Photo courtesy: Cheryl

I overheard this interesting conversation at the Flippa HQ the other day.

“I’ve already parked my kid’s domain name. It’s all set.”

“Great. You can give it to him when he’s 21. It’ll be worth more than a car!”

OK, maybe not, but you have to forgive us. We can’t help but to obsess over websites, domains, and apps here at Flippa. It’s just so much fun.

The future is digital. The future is now. And digital real estate is serious business. It gives companies and individuals the chance to build a platform, get heard, and above all, make money online.

Do you have your own piece of land? Here’s why it’s the best investment you can make for 2014.

1. Become Your Own Landlord

My grandmother always used to say that it’s better to own a house than to rent it.

In fact, there’s a lot of “renting” going on online. Just think about Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You provide them with your private details and they give you a “free” space to interact with your friends, followers, and colleagues.

Why not spend more time and energy on your own property?

Bottom line: It’s not a good idea to build your entire business on someone else’s land.

Copyblogger calls this practice digital sharecropping, and it works in a similar fashion to the the feudal system, where the landlords reap the rewards, and the peasants do all the work.

We don’t know which empires will stand strong in the future. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn change their terms and conditions on a regular basis, and as tenants, we don’t know what they have in store for us.

Empires rise and fall, and that is true for the online world as well. Remember what happened to Squidoo and MySpace? These places are still active, but they’re not nearly as powerful as they once used to be.

So, why not buy your own digital land and start creating your online assets right now?

We’ve seen it happen again and again here on Flippa. Smart, motivated people invest in websites, domains, and apps. They see an opportunity to make better use of the land, which the previous owner had missed, or didn’t have the time to do something about.

Jon Yau, the buyer of StockPhoto.com, is a great example of someone who not only sees the value in digital real estate, but is also determined to make his new land work for him and his business goals. Heck, he even convinced his wife it was worth the $250,000 investment.

Digital properties are here to stay. Are you missing out?

2. Choose Your Own Lifestyle

Yes, a full-blown website requires maintenance, but it’s not as much physical labor as looking after a block of land and a house. You decide how far you want to take your website, domain or app. How much you want to work on it.

You choose the what, where, and how. You choose your own lifestyle.

You can access your digital asset from anywhere in the world, as long as you have a decent internet connection. And this is what makes it so much easier and valuable to own digital properties.

Forget spending three hours in a car to get to your summer house – your digital assets travel with you. They don’t care if you’re in sunny Australia or snowy Sweden!

3. Make Money with Your Land

Of course, you can make money from your digital property. After all, that’s the dream. Whether you want to spend more time with your family or quit your day job, your digital properties can help you achieve that.

Obviously, it’s a lot of work, but it is doable. The sad truth is if you don’t own any digital property you’re not even in the game.

Owning your own land is the most efficient way to make money online because you reap the rewards. Whether it be through advertising, selling your own services and products or becoming an affiliate for someone else’s product, precious digital real estate can help you earn more money.

Over to You

A block of land is always a block of land. No matter how virtual it is, the land is still yours to use in any way you choose. The question is what you will use it for. To establish your latest startup? To grow your online portfolio? To give to your children on their 21st?

In the digital age, your websites, domains, and apps are your most valuable business asset. What’s stopping you from investing in digital real estate? And how do you plan to make your land more valuable in 2014? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

P.S. Become your own landlord today by buying your next website, domain, or app right here on Flippa.  

How to Ask Your Wife Permission to Spend $250,000 on a Flippa Auction

jonThis is a guest post by Jon Yau, who purchased Stockphoto.com for $250,000 on Flippa. Here he shares his story and thoughts behind the purchase. 

When you plonk down a quarter of a million dollars for a domain name in an online Flippa auction, three things cross your mind:

Firstly, am I out of my mind? Check.

Secondly – can I trust Flippa to deliver that domain name after I stump up the cash?

After drumming up enough Dutch courage to hit that “Buy it now” button, Flippa’s easy-to-follow process ensured the escrow settled as quickly and painlessly as possible – even over the Christmas/New Year period that my purchase occurred.

Far from being a robotic process, I received a personal email from Dave Slutzkin (the then-manager of Flippa) offering his help should I encounter any difficulties with closing the transaction.

Trust is the most important ingredient in any marketplace. Online or offline. As an original Sitepoint Marketplace member (the predecessor to Flippa) since January 2006 and with a number of transactions of some significance, I can safely say Flippa is the pre-eminent marketplace for websites and domain names on the web.

So….Check.

But most importantly, how was I ever going to get this past the wife?

Now, it’s not my intention to disrespect my wife in any way. She’s a true partner in every sense. She is the love of my life but she’s also highly-qualified, extremely intelligent and, up until deciding to stay at home with the kids, she held a number of senior roles in the funds management industry. This woman is commercially-savvy. You get the idea.

“You wanna…what?” she said, almost choking on her words.

“I want to…um. I mean, I’d like to… Well, honey there’s this really cool domain name for sale. It’s only $250,000” I blurted, like some guilty kid rightfully busted by his teacher.

She shifted in the bed, methodically closing the cover on her iPad and placing it on the bedside table. Taking a deep breath, she sat up. She turned to me and from under her furrowed brow said:

“All right. Convince me.”

Q. What are we going to sell?

A. Stock photos, of course. It might be a little silly to sell anything else. We’re going to sell what our competitors sell.

Q. Why?

A. They seem to be doing rather well doing just that. In late-2012, Shutterstock listed on the NYSE valued at about $450 million on a price/earnings ratio of roughly 35 times. The market was happy to pay a growth premium at that P/E ratio because Shutterstock was a dominant player but also because it expected the stock photography segment was going to grow at a reasonable clip.

Shutterstock has since grown to a market capitalization of $2.5 billion with a P/E ratio of 52 times. Clearly, the market sees more growth (or at least expects Shutterstock to consolidate its position in a profitable niche). Stockphoto.com would then hope to compete for a slice of the same market.

Q. Who do you think is going to buy?

A. I think web designers and website owners will be our main customers.

With more potential consumers gaining access to, as well as choosing to use, the internet, businesses are adapting by upgrading their presence on the web. Along with web hosting and web programming, stock images are a basic building block of the web. It is my assumption that more websites will mean more demand for coders, designers, servers and ultimately, more stock photos.

Q. What’s the idea?

“How can you be sure they will buy? And why would they buy from you and not your bigger, more established competitors?” she challenged.

A. I know the stuff on Shutterstock sells. And I also know that the “Stockphoto.com” domain name is going to bring me web traffic from the get-go.

So if I was able to source the same images currently selling on Shutterstock and all the other stock photo marketplaces, and assuming I price them roughly the same as those other websites, and all other things being equal then I should be able to sell them to the visitors coming to Stockphoto.com.

So there are two things I need to test here:

1. Will they come?
2. And after they come, will they buy?

Q. What about the inventory?

A: There’s also that one, itty bitty matter of sourcing quality inventory with a track record of sales.

Enter Sergey Nivens. Sergey was described to me by a leading industry insider as “stock photography royalty”. You can hear his story (and see some of his work in this video). You’ve probably seen his images used on popular websites, products and advertising without realizing it. He is a down-to-earth guy with an amazing story.

I was lucky to have made Sergey’s acquaintance and we have become firm friends. He was kind enough to provide 57,000 stock images from his amazing portfolio for me to test my MVP (Minimum Viable Product).

It’s not terribly innovative, I must admit. But I was adamant we would have one thing in our favor that our competitors would not have (at least, not when they launched) – and that is a great, converting domain name with natural type-in, as well as search engine traffic.

When someone types “stock photo” into Google and they see my domain name in the top few search listings, my bet is that they would trust my domain name enough to click on it. And when they come to my website and see a relevant, high-quality stock photo at a comparable price then my guess is that THEY WILL BUY.

So instead of hand registering some other domain name and then spending money on building links and SEO for the website, I’m going to spend that money upfront. Get all the marketing wrapped-up and front-end loaded into the business before I launch by getting a generic, exact-match domain name.

The idea is then that, for a given level of quality, I can market stock photos more efficiently than some of my competitors (especially those that have to invest continuously on marketing and SEO to draw visitors).

So obviously my wife gave me her blessing.

Q. What happened next?

A: Well, the Flippa auction settled in January. I put up a sign-up page linked to our MailChimp account, allowing our visitors to subscribe to a mailing list depending on whether they were a stock photo buyer, a photographer or just interested.

Stockphoto.com was finally launched on the 9th of September 2013 with 57,000 images from Sergey Nivens’ portfolio and I’m proud to say that we were cashflow-positive from Month 1 onwards. We were able to attract visitors and convert them to buyers in profitable quantities without any paid advertising or email marketing programs.

Sergey has continued to add to his portfolio each month – Stockphoto.com now market 67,000 of his stock images and recently made our inaugural commission payment to him!
We’re working towards having 100,000 stock photos for sale by year’s end.

Q: Are you going to do anything that differentiates you from your competitors?

A: Not at this stage. I’m just going to focus on building quality inventory and monitoring our sales data.

The crazy journey has only begun…

This is crazy. $250,000 for a domain name? It’s been fun (and a little unnerving) reading the discussions on some of the web marketing forums, but the jury is still out. The website only launched in September and we need more time and analytics data. We’ve been cashflow-positive each month of our existence but I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.

Would I use Flippa again? I would. But I just have to get it past my wife…

How to Transfer a Domain Name

You’ve bought your first domain name and you’re really happy with your purchase. You finally found what you’ve been looking for!

Except there’s only one problem. You want to transfer the domain name to another registrar, and you don’t really know how to go about it. The process can sound overwhelming and cumbersome to some, which is why I’ve put together this article to help you prepare for the process.

In this article, I’ll show you why you might want to transfer your domain name, what you need to know to make the transfer happen, and how long it takes.

Let’s dig in.

What is a domain name transfer and why do I need one?

Simply put, a domain transfer is when you change the management of your domain name from one registrar to another.

There are many reasons why you might want to make this move. Perhaps you find a registrar that offers better service at a cheaper price. Or maybe you find certain political events disturbing, and you want to take a stand.

This is what happened back in 2011, when GoDaddy officially supported the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). They lost 20,000 accounts in one day and 29 December became better known as Dump GoDaddy Day. (Needless to say, GoDaddy’s support for SOPA was short-lived).

Whatever your reason for the transfer, there are a few things you need to know before you can complete it.

What do I need to transfer my domain name?

Don’t make the same mistake I did. Make sure you prepare for the domain name transfer by reading up on the most common guidelines. Before you transfer your domain name, you need to make sure your domain meets the following criteria:

  • The domain name is more than 60 days old.
    If you’ve just purchased your domain name and it hasn’t been active for more than 60 days, then you’ll need to wait. Domains cannot be transferred until they’ve been with your current registrar for at least 60 days.
  • The domain name does not expire within 7 days.
    Likewise, the domain name can’t be transferred if it’s about to expire. The current limit is usually a week, so make sure you renew your domain name before you make the transfer.
  • The domain name is unlocked.
    Most registrars lock your domain by default. This is a security measure to prevent others from hijacking your account. Before your transfer, contact your current registrar and ask them to unlock your domain.
  • Your administration details are correct and up-to-date
    You need to have access to your admin email associated with your account, because this information may be used to obtain your authorization code to complete the transfer.
  • Remove any private registration
    You may also need to lift the private registration for the domain name before the transfer can take place.

How long does it take?

Now that you’ve prepared for your domain name transfer, it’s time to go ahead and contact your new registrar. So, how long does it take to make the actual transfer? This depends on several different factors, including your current and future registrar, but also if you’ve successfully followed the steps above. After you’ve authorized the transfer, the time period varies from a few hours to a few days.

Having problems with your domain transfer?

The domain name transfer is usually a smooth process with few obstacles. There are, however, cases where you might run into some issues. If you’re having problems with your transfer, make sure to turn to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). They answer the most common questions on their FAQ page, and if need be, you can even issue a complaint with them.

More resources

Transferring your domain name is of course only the beginning. Here at Flippa we’ve got more resources to help you make wise decisions about buying and selling your domains. Check out the useful resources below.

If you’re looking for helpful domains tools, check out domain expert Bill Sweetman’s popular article:

Want to sell your domain name? Don’t miss out on these smart domain name sales tips.

Do you want to buy and sell domain names to make a profit? Of course, you do. Well, here’s your chance.

Starting as early as this fall, hundreds of new domain name extensions beyond the .com will be made available to the general public in the single biggest expansion of the Internet namespace to date. Read the full article here:

Over to you

Have you transferred any of your domain names lately? What are your best tips and practices? Please share your experiences in the comments.

Flickr Photo: Jason Samfield 

What Copyblogger’s Chris Garrett Looks for in a Website

Chris Garrett twitter profile

Do you ever wonder what smart website owners look for in a website?

Sure, you know how to search Flippa for valuable business opportunities.

But you’re still curious to see what more experienced web owners keep their eye on when they hunt for their next website purchase. After all, they make their living from the internet.

Say hello to Chris Garrett. Chris is the Chief Digital Officer at Copyblogger Media and the co-author of ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income together with Darren Rowse. Chris has helped both large and small businesses navigate the online jungle for the past two decades.

Chris was kind enough to answer a few questions about how to start your online business, what you need to look for in a website, and how to overcome the procrastination that’s stopping you from moving forward.

Let’s dig in.

About Starting an Online Business

You’ve been addicted to the World Wide Web since 1994. What made you decide to take your business “online”?

I was online before that, using bulletin boards and usenet, but it was the web that got me really into it, and I was pretty much constantly online from that point onwards. I don’t think I ever considered having a fully offline business, it just never occurred to me!

What would you do differently if you would start your online business today?

Part of me is glad I don’t have to start today because there was a lot less competition when I started. I think the biggest lesson from first time around was it is really important to have friends, contacts, mentors … essentially a strong network. Don’t try to do everything solo. It’s not tough and it is not clever.

If you would buy a website today, what aspects would you look out for? What are some of the core elements of a strong website?

Outside of profit potential I would say community engagement and interaction, this can reveal if the metrics are being artificially inflated and if people are passionate.

I’ve seen some sites look great until you look under the hood and find out all the revenue is being spent on advertising. Your audience is your biggest asset, so if you have a strong list, you could throw away everything else and still have a viable project.

What’s your advice to entrepreneurs who are just starting out online?

Network, network, network. And know your stuff.

It’s not about what you know, it’s not even about who you know, it’s about who knows what you know! 🙂

An Entrepreneur’s Productivity

You often describe yourself as the “poster child of analysis paralysis”. How do you get past the “stuck points” in your business?

  1. Break things down into less overwhelming pieces
  2. Focus on the critical path
  3. Get an accountability partner (see how important that network is?)

What’s your best advice for overcoming procrastination?

Ask yourself WHY are you procrastinating? Is it fear? Is it that you are not bought in yet? Are the objectives unclear? Do you just not like the work?

You need to know the reason before you can cure it. Knowing the reason makes the cure more obvious.

Some Questions Just for the Fun of It

Do you have a motto, credo or general slogan that you live by?

You always regret the things you didn’t do and wanted to more than the things you did do and wish you hadn’t.

Who (or what) has been your greatest teacher?

My parents. Closely followed by the internet 😉

If you could meet any entrepreneur, dead or alive, who would it be?
Steve Jobs, but more realistically Richard Branson, Seth Godin, but actually there are tons of them if I really think about it.

The Key Takeaway

When you look at a website, you need to know the audience you serve. Get to know them, speak their language, and solve their problems. When you do that, you will grow both your authority and your bank account.

What do you look for in a website? What stops you from getting a website and starting your new project? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

P.S. Looking for more advice from people in the internet industry? Check out the following interviews:

Photo courtesy of Chris Garrett from Twitter: @ChrisGarrett