Case Study: Amy Anderson – Website Flipper

We recently caught up with Amy Anderson, a regular website seller on Flippa, and asked her a few questions about her website flipping experiences.

How did you come across Flippa.com?
My husband Ian and I had a couple of web business models that we had been working on and in June 2009 we decided it was time to sell them.  We listed the first website for sale on eBay (due to not really knowing any other way to sell it) and it sold for way less than what it was worth.

Before listing our other sites we decided to do a little more research and found an article talking about Flippa (which was actually the SitePoint Marketplace at the time).  After looking into it, it seemed like the perfect place to list a site, and we listed two sites that we had put together, and in one weekend both sites sold and we earned about $1,500 between the two sales.  This opened up our eyes to the possibilities of becoming site flippers.

Tell me about the sites that you’ve sold.
We create and sell a variety of sites.  One of our first sales was DiscountsOnProducts.com

DiscountsOnProducts.com was a coupon site, that compiled online coupons and discounts and automatically categorized them appropriately.  The selling factor was that it was a subscription based site, meaning that people would pay a monthly subscription for access to coupons in every imaginable category, already organized for them in one place.

The reason we decided that it was time to sell, was when we realized that we were really good at coming up with an idea and creating the online business system, but that marketing the idea really wasn’t our strong point.  So when we came across Flippa we realized that there was huge potential for us to profit from doing what we were good at… creating niche websites.

Since then we’ve listed and sold a variety of over 100 niche sites ranging from the “go green” niche, to the wedding, and health niches and a whole lot in between.  It’s really just been about staying on top of what people are interested in.  For example with Apple releasing their new iPad, there will most likely be a lot of new interest in that niche.  It’s just like fashion, trends come and go, as does people’s interest in what kind of online business they what to run.

What inspired you to sell your websites?
Initially it was nothing more than finding a place to unload a couple of sites we were no longer using, but after seeing the success of those first two sales, all of sudden something clicked.  I realized that this had the potential to allow me to quit my job (which I hated), work from home or really anywhere as long as I had my laptop and an internet connection.

Over the course of the summer of 2009 I was still working 30 hours a week at my job and in my spare time I started working on creating niche websites and began selling them on Flippa.  As with anything else, it was trial and error to see what niche markets people wanted in terms of niche, design, revenue streams, etc. By the end of August the money coming in from flipping websites started to become consistent and was on average more than what I was making at my current job.

After one more month of making sure the money was still consistent, I went ahead and quit my job.  From then on I have been living off money that I earn through Flippa.  The freedom that I saw that I could have using Flippa was all the inspiration I needed.

On average what do your websites sell for and how much does this work out to be per hour?
When dealing with start up sites, the price point varies.  I find that it really depends on how much I build the site up with articles, thumbnails, custom logo, revenue streams, etc. that determine the price. I’ve had lower end sites that take me maybe 2 hours to create and sell in the $97-$250 price range. Then there are the sites that I filled with content and added 5 revenue streams that take about 8-10 hours of work that sell closer to $600.  So I guess a good average selling price would be about $300 and maybe take 5-6 hours of work.

Can you tell us about the strategies you used when auctioning your sites?
We still mix up the strategies we use, to keep things fresh.  I think you have to, because you’re not always dealing with the same buyers and different people are attracted to different things.

We often will use a low starting price, sometimes as low as $1 to draw people in. Usually when we do this we make sure to set some kind of reserve to prevent the site from actually selling for $1.  I’d say only about half the time we use the “buy it now” feature, but when we do use it, we make sure to offer some kind of bonus incentives.  One thing we offer is a customized Twitter account that matches the site that we are selling.

Another strategy we use sometimes is to make a site and hold onto it for a couple of months and let some traffic build, and then when we do list the site and it already has some traffic coming to it, it seems to be more valuable to buyers.

What background checks did you do on bidders before accepting their bid?
This is tricky, of course the first thing is to check their trust ranking through Flippa.

In the first couple of months after starting out, we lost $500, due to a bad buyer.  It turned out that this person set up a Flippa account, bid on our site and had hacked into someone’s PayPal account and paid us with stolen money.  In the meantime we had received payment from PayPal and had no idea any of this was going on.  By the time the bank reversed the payment we had already given over all the info for the website and transferred ownership of the domain to the new buyer.  The bottom line was that we were out a website and $500.

So to try to prevent this from happening again, on any high selling websites we have to decided to still transfer everything to the buyer as we normally would, but also make a hard copy of all the website’s files and mail it to the buyer, for the simple reason that by doing this we can obtain a tracking number and if something goes wrong we now have a tracking number to report to PayPal which will hopefully offer us some protection.

What payment process did you use?
We always use PayPal.

Can you tell me about your experience in transferring the site to the new owner?
This can be one of the trickiest parts of the whole process.  To simply answer this question, we do not offer help in moving the site from our server to the new owners.  I know this may sound a little harsh, but we are up front about it and all of our listings clearly state this.  We do give all buyers the option to host with us on our server for a small monthly fee and save themselves from the hassle of moving their site.  The other benefit of doing this is that I feel it gives us additional protection between real buyers and possible scammers.

Overall, how was your experience selling your website on Flippa?
I believe for anyone who is serious about flipping websites, using Flippa is a must!  Unlike other auction sites that sell a variety of goods, Flippa is targeted towards the buying and selling of websites.  It provides a constant stream of new buyers everyday, which to be a successful site flipper is crucial.

Overall, Flippa is great!  After all this is what allowed me to quit my job!

About Amy:
Amy Anderson is a 25 years old living with her husband Ian in Massachusetts.  She is the co-founder of FlippingAwesome.com, a site dedicated to coaching new site flippers.

  • What a great successful story. I checked out your website, and I am impressed! I might sign up for your affiliate program 🙂

    I hope one day I can flip like you!

    • What affiliate program?

      • She has a clickbank product, where you can get paid $8 for signing people up.

    • Thanks for the kind words. Definitely keep checking out our site, we are constantly adding new posts with tips for flippers. We don’t have an affiliate system for our coaching program yet, but we may in the future. If you are consistent with your efforts, I’m sure you will have a great deal of success as a flipper.

  • JD

    Where’s the link to Amy’s auctions on Flippa? Love to see them.

    • Thanks for the interest in our auctions. You will see that we have tried a variety of niche topics, some successful and others not so successful. Remember that it is constant trial and error, and making sure that you don’t get stuck in just one set way of doing things.

      Here is the link http://flippa.com/users/340787

      • JD

        Doesn’t look like they have a decent sell-through rate? Not sure how selling 3 or 4 sites a month is enough to quit a job, even if you get those monthly hosting charges. Why don’t you transfer the sites to new buyers, you might make more money.

        I’d never make money if my buyers had to transfer the site themselves.

  • flipping is good, thank God for Amy, she is a source of inspiration to lots of folks and has told us the best ways she handles clients

    • Thank you for such a nice compliment. I wish you lots of success with all of your “flips.” If I can help you out with anything let me know.

  • Does Amy do any outsourcing? Or she create everything herself? Actually interested to learn how she operate the business (from creation to selling, fulfilment, etc)

    • I actually haven’t outsourced anything in terms of creating the site. But in the future, if I wanted to create a very complex site in terms of programming, outsourcing would definitely be something that I would consider. As for the whole operation, this reply box doesn’t give me enough space to give a thorough enough answer. You should check out our website which has lots of flipping tips, and that may give you a better idea and of course feel free to contact me with questions.

  • Interesting to hear you don’t use BINs on every auction. Are there certain types of sites that you’ll leave without a BIN or is it more of a random thing?

    Great interview and wonderful to hear that you got to quit your job. 🙂

  • Hi Michelle,

    Thanks for the kind words. Good question. In the beginning using a BIN was more random, as we were trying to get a feel for what worked.

    Now I’m more consistent with when I choose to use a BIN. For example, I do like using a BIN on longer auctions in the 5-10 day range. I find that when a buyer is really interested in my site, they usually don’t want to wait a long duration for the auction to end, and as a result the BIN feature seems to be popular.

    Also, if it’s a new niche topic, that I’ve never worked with before, I’m hesitant to use the BIN feature, because I don’t want to possibly “limit” my profits. Therefore, I rather list a niche topic a couple of times and get familiar with the average price point before using a BIN.

    I visited your site and it has some great information. Keep up the good work!

  • Amy your doing a great job. don’t let all the
    Wash,Rinse,Repeat ..Gurus, sucker you in..
    keep strong and create your own path.. 😉

  • It is great that you are doing well and all, but I think the more important question is HOW ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS DOING!?

    What you are doing is PROFITABLE but is it ETHICAL? I am not saying it isn’t I am just wondering how you feel about it? I am firmly against filling the internet with recycled junk. The more of these pop-up wordpress sites that are created and sold the more and more difficult it will become for the *real* small businesses to get leverage online… Just my two cents.

    • Amy

      Hi Chris (sorry for the delay in the response, I don’t get notified when people respond here)

      I appreciate your comment and just want to clarify we always aim to make the customer happy. Anytime a customer has a question, even well after the sale, we are there to help them. As a result of treating them well, we have gained numerous repeat buyers.

  • himagain

    #15 Chris hit it right on the button!
    I’m just starting to look at the “flippin’ bizness”
    and so far cannot get a handle at all on the pricing structures. :-{
    BUT what would be fascinating would be to hear from some happy END buyers! If there are such things 🙂
    THe only thing that does make sense is the logic of comparing your costs for traffic from the “Big G” and buying a Site with traffic.
    (Which leaves the possibilities of all the tricks for generating casual traffic, wide open. I’ve already learned a few I wouldn’t have thought of, just visiting here today!.

    Cheers!
    I’ll be baaaack…

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