Marketing Your Website for Sale

As always, this week in February is a massive one for everything marketing – primarily due to the huge focus on the very high profile ads that ran for Super Bowl XLV.

Does anyone in the business of buying or selling websites really care about whether or not Volkswagen’s Darth Vader was better than E*Trade’s talking baby? Probably not. We’re even going to leave all the GoGranny dot-co discussions aside for now and focus on an entirely different field of marketing—the marketing of your website auction.

Why should you promote your website auction? This is a fair question. You’ve taken the time to create a fabulous listing on the number one marketplace for buying and selling websites, and you’re actively responding to both public and private comments. Why doesn’t it all just happen?

Well, we’re doing our best, but with website auctions as with most things in sales, it’s all about eyeballs. The more viewers, watchers and active bidders you have on board, the better chance you have of reaching an optimal sales price.

Luckily there are a number of marketing activities you can undertake to improve visibility of your website auction—both on and off Flippa.

Promoting Your Website for Sale Using Flippa Tools

There are a range of tools available to you on Flippa to get your website auction in front of more buyers.

Promote Your Listing

Using the “Promote Your Listing” link on your auction page will give you a stack of great (and free!) tools for promote your listing.

The first of these allows you to add a For Sale sign to your website by way of a Status Badge—this provides you with some simple HTML you can add to your site to make the auction detail summary appear.

Beyond this, there are a number of great Social Media tools that you can use to share your listing using your accounts on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Digg and Reddit.

Flippa Upgrades

There are a number of powerful paid upgrades available to you at any point during your website auction.

These include:

  • Promoting your listing to over 4,000 of Flippa’s targeted followers on Twitter.
  • Featuring your listing on the Flippa home page.
  • Making your listing stand out in Flippa search results with a screenshot or by adding formatting such as bolding, borders and highlighting.

Marketing Your Website Auction Off Flippa

There are a number of effective ways to market your listing off Flippa – especially when you operate in a very specific niche and don’t mind your audience being aware of the sale.

Some successful sellers have found that emailing their opt-in email list of users has resulting in some passionate bidding on Flippa. Futhermore, other sellers have approached their competitors to let them know that the website is for sale.

It can also be worth letting bloggers and forums in your niche know about your auction.

The WRONG Way to Promote Your Website Auction

A number of the marketing tools here can be abused in ways that result in spamming.  This includes emailing people you do not know with your listing details. More often than not, the recipients mark them as spam, or complain—one way or the other, it gets back our support staff who suspend the offending listing. This doesn’t help your auction.

Similarly, spamming users on Twitter with your listing is a violation of both Twitter and Flippa terms of service. Again, these users complain to us and offending listings are suspended.

Finally, we’ve seen a number of sellers purchase traffic from pay-to-click services to direct eyeballs to their listings. While we don’t consider this to be spamming, we can confirm that this results in entirely unqualified traffic. This is evidenced by a bounce rate nearing 100% and time on page measured in seconds for this traffic. Trust us, you’re wasting your money.

Have any other methods to market your listing that have worked for you? Let us know below (hopefully it won’t involve needing millions to get a curvy septuagenarian on a Super Bowl ad!)

7 Things to Look Out for When Buying a Website

This is a guest post by the founders of FlippingPlanet.com, Bryan O’Neil and Thomas Smale. Bryan and Thomas are both experienced buyers and sellers of online businesses and have been active in the industry for over two years.

In recent years, the potential return from buying an online business has bought a lot of new people into the industry who are often inexperienced online.

While buying a site may seem to be as easy as logging on to Flippa, finding a website that generates enough revenue and traffic for your liking, placing your bid and hoping it’s the winner, there are actually quite a few other aspects to consider to avoid getting burned.

In this article, we’re going to list the 7 most important things every buyer should consider before investing in their newest online venture.

1. History of the Website

To start off, you need to carefully analyse the history of the website that you’re about to purchase. Similarly to brick-and-mortar businesses – the longer it has been in existence, the more likely it is to stay that way. Often enough, you will find sites that have existed for mere months before getting sold, in which cases it becomes extremely important to make sure that the revenue the website has been generating is indeed sustainable and not just a “one-time thing”.

2. Revenue Streams

There are number of different ways a website can make money. The most common sources of revenue are Pay Per Click ads (Google Adsense), Affiliate Income, Product Sales, and even banner ads that advertisers pay for on monthly basis.

As a buyer, it is your job to evaluate the risk associated with different revenue streams. For instance, a website that is earning the majority of its revenue through Google ads is much more likely to continue doing so than one that depends on only a few direct deals with advertisers.

Another thing to keep in mind is “more is better”. You should always look for sites that have multiple independent revenue streams. This way, even if something happens with one you will still profit and not be left with empty pockets.

3. Revenue Trends

In addition to revenue streams, you also need to pay attention to trends. Has the site’s revenue been in constant decline? Is the site selling something that is seasonal? Did the owner of the site create a huge hype around the product the site is selling and tries to sell the site before the “hype madness” wears off? Has the site’s revenue increased considerably shortly before it was listed for sale and is it possible that it was artificially inflated? These are all things you need to think through before making your decision.

4. Traffic Quality

This is an important factor, especially with sites that generate little or no revenue but (seem to) get high amounts of traffic. The “Traffic = Money” equation tends to be true, but it’s crucial to understand that there’s a difference between traffic and traffic.

For instance, traffic from some countries may be considered as much as 10 times less valuable (in terms of how well it can be monetized) than traffic from other countries. Similarly, getting 10,000 kids per month looking to play video games is quite obviously much more challenging than getting 10,000 home owners looking to insure their house.

On a positive note, most sellers nowadays provide buyers with rather thorough statistics, allowing you to take a close look at the demographics of the traffic the website is getting, and to make your buying decision based on this.

5. Replication Possibilities

It’s no secret that not only buyers and sellers frequent marketplaces such as Flippa. An often overlooked crowd is the ones looking for ideas. To put it more bluntly, these people look at websites that are for sale with the sole purpose of replicating these sites on their own.

Often enough, sellers choose to disclose information that shouldn’t really be made publicly available. Has the seller provided full information about their traffic sources and are the traffic sources limited in terms of how many visitors they can provide? Is the site operating in a small, but “untapped” niche that may easily lose its value as soon as a competitor comes along? These are things worth thinking about before placing your bid.

6. Time and Expertise Needed to Maintain the Website

This is an aspect that most buyers tend to leave out of their equation – only to end up extremely disappointed after their first purchase.

While picking up a website that earns you a cool extra $300 per month may seem like the best deal ever, you need to evaluate and understand how much of your time you have to invest into keeping the site at that level. Is the extra $300 per month still a good deal if you need to spend an hour each day maintaining the site and producing new content? By doing this, you’re effectively “hiring yourself” at a salary of $10 an hour. Hardly something most buyers are looking for.

Many sites require regular maintenance. This is especially true for blogs and “content sites” that need to be fed with fresh content at all times or the traffic figures would start going down rapidly. Based on this, it’s important to decide how much of your time you are willing to invest into keeping the website up and to make sure that the site you’re about to buy matches these expectations.

7. Accuracy of Provided Figures

In the perfect world, all people would be honest and there would be no lying or deceiving. But unfortunately, we don’t live in the perfect world and hence we always need to have our guard up for cheats and scam artists.

Before placing a bid, make sure that you have requested enough proof from the buyer to be absolutely sure that the figures that they have provided are actually truthful. There is also a wide variety of Due Diligence tools provided by Flippa – these tools are there for a reason and as a buyer you should always take a close look at the results that they provide. They are by no means foolproof – but cross referencing different statistics vs. seller’s claims is never going to hurt.

As a general rule, if something looks “dodgy” then more often than not it is best to simply stay away and move on to another opportunity. This is especially true in the online world where people have the ability to stay much more anonymous than in the real life.

Last but most certainly not least, make sure to take a look at the seller’s history on Flippa, as well as their Feedback Score. If the seller has been active for years and has a lot of positive feedback then chances are that they are worth dealing with. If, however, their previous buyers have given negative feedback about them, it’s usually best to stay away.

Conclusion

While all of the above is based on real world scenarios, it’s also important to understand that even though the risks do exist, most sellers are still honest and there is no reason to feel discouraged or to “expect” landing on a bad deal.

I urge you to think about what’s pointed out in this article, utilize it, and by doing this stay on the safe side and place those bids without having to worry about what happens next.

To learn more about Due Diligence and Buying and Selling Websites in general, you can sign up at FlippingPlanet.com – an online community for sellers and buyers alike.

Image: gerlos (No, it isn’t Thomas or Bryan!)

Agree with these tips? Are there any missing? Let us know in the comments below.

Mark Zuckerberg’s FaceMash.com Sells for Over $30,000 on Flippa

The blogosphere went wild in early October this year when Rahul Jain listed Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook predecessor FaceMash.com on the Flippa marketplace.

Last week was a case of history repeating when the likes of Forbes, Mashable, Yahoo News, IT World and the LA Times all ran with the news that the site had successfully sold to the highest bidder on Flippa.

FaceMash.com had 10 bids to reach a final sale price of $30,201 – despite the widely reported risks of it being subject to Facebook’s recent pursuit of similar websites such as Lamebook, Teachbook and Placebook.

While FaceMash.com sold successfully on Flippa, unfortunately the same auction result could not be said for FaceSmash.com (hopefully our readers can spot the difference!) – it was listed for auction on eBay during the same time but failed to secure a sale …

In discussing his experience in selling FaceMash.com on Flippa, Jain said “This was the first time I had ever used Flippa to sell a domain and I was not disappointed. My objective was to get what was sure to be an attention getting domain on a platform that could best showcase it. In Flippa I found just that. By communicating with the bidders before approving their bid, I was able to ensure that only serious bids were accepted.”

Jain will be donating some of the Flippa auction’s proceeds to the Dakshana Foundation, which assists in paying the educational expenses of impoverished children from India. Part of the proceeds will also go to boosting his investment in building VisitNYC.com into a differentiated “go-to website for tourists visiting New York City … with a focus on Hotels, Tours and Broadway Shows”.

The new domain owner of FaceMash.com was not able to provide any details of their plans for the domain.

Website buyers can find a terrific number of domains and established websites for sale at Flippa.com. Those looking for something with an existing publicity profile possibly something of the likes of FaceMash.com may wish to check out the Audioo auction which was recently covered by TechCrunch, Business Insider and the Los Angeles Business Journal.

Image courtesy of Nchacko on Twitter.

Website Auction Didn’t Meet Reserve on Flippa? Now You Can Negotiate

More than 55% of the auctions on Flippa result in a sale, which is not a bad success rate. However, of those which finish unsuccessfully, almost half have bids – they just fall a little short of the seller’s reserve.

Until now, these sellers were left with two options:

  1. Re-list their website and go through the effort of managing another auction
  2. Give up on selling their website

But now there’s a third option. Flippa now gives the seller some time to negotiate with the highest bidder, when the site has failed to sell at auction.

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