Case Study: A Website Auction Bidding War Doubles The Price in 12 Hours
By Ophelie Lechat
We see hundreds of websites listed on Flippa every week, but once in awhile a particular website grabs our attention. When I saw the auction for TheLooksForLess.com, I knew the seller had a gem of a site. Bidding for this site quickly took off, and the price more than doubled in the last 12 hours of the auction. The seller, Jennifer, was thrilled.
Turns out it wasn’t the only big thing happening in her life: Jennifer gave birth to her first child days after the auction, and was getting ready to move into a brand-new house at the same time. I had a chat with her to see what it was like to sell what started as a personal blog for more than $25,000.
Can you tell me a little bit about why and how you built TheLooksForLess.com?
On a Friday afternoon in 2009, I was talking to my fellow web developers at my university day job about a new (at the time) application getting a ton of buzz, WordPress. As a geeky developer, I thought it would be fun to expand my skill set by creating a blog. I was pretty savvy at coding PHP and CSS, and knew just enough about database management and web hosting to get started.
I went home that evening, signed up for a hosting account, installed WordPress, purchased a domain, and connected all of these technologies as I watched the sunrise Saturday and Sunday mornings. I was instantly obsessed and my blog, The Looks For Less, was the perfect way to combine my love for fashion and technology.
On Monday morning, I went back to work and shared with my coworkers my brand new blog complete with a theme, logo, and 5 “celebrity look for less” outfit posts. They were shocked at how quickly I was able to put everything together and it became the topic of many exciting conversations over the next couple of years after what started as a hobby, quickly attracted a following of loyal readers and was picking up endorsements from top brands as well as invitations to New York Fashion Week.
What was your experience in running the site, and why did you decide to sell?
Once I got started, I thought about my blog morning, noon, and night. I watched the sun come up often working on post after post. I kept up this momentum for 3 years, yet found the pace difficult to keep up with when my husband and I decided to expand our family. My priorities had changed.
With a baby on the way, there were so many things that I wanted to share beyond fashion so I decided to start a lifestyle blog. At FabFatale.com, I am able to document my every passion including recipes, DIY projects, beauty product reviews, and all things baby. I had every intention of keeping up with both blogs; however, this quickly became impossible with a full time job, a baby on the way, selling our house, and moving into a rental while building a new home, so I decided to sell The Looks For Less while it still had a lot of momentum.
My favourite thing about your auction is the interest it drew in the last few hours, including an all-out bidding war where the price more than doubled to $25k. What were your expectations for the sale, and how did they match the reality of putting your site up for auction?
I had no idea where to begin when I decided to sell my blog. I also had no idea to price it, so I did a search to see if there were any online website auctions available so the market could determine its value. My biggest fear was that the right market wouldn’t find my auction, and it would sell for way less than its current and potential value.
Flippa was the first site to come up in my search and with its high Alexa ranking, I figured it was a legitimate option for selling my blog, and I literally just went for it. I listed my site and set a random reserve price of $8,000 hoping to afford a sectional sofa for the house we will be building this summer. The Premium Support team was a huge help in helping me strategize my listing and I firmly believe the they are the reason my sale was so successful.
On the last day of the auction, all sorts of chaos ensued. The listing was set to expire at 4:30 pm on a Thursday afternoon. My coworkers and I were gathered around a computer and kept refreshing the listing page as the bids continued to rise. All of a sudden, 60 more minutes was added to the clock. It turns out that if a listing gets a bid in the last hour, another hour is added to the ending time, in order to prevent sniping.
Bid after bid came through and this pattern of “bidding and 60 more minutes added to the clock” continued throughout the night. I was literally 9 months pregnant, moving boxes into a rental house that evening, refreshing the listing on my iPhone, and shrieking with joy every time the price went up… $8,000, $10,000, $15,000, $20,000 and finally $25,500!
If this isn’t indiscreet: what do you plan to do with the money?
Wow, not only can I afford that new couch at my new house, but I’m pretty sure I can afford the room it will sit in. With all we have going on, new baby and new home in progress, this money feels so good sitting in my bank account and will come in so handy. With so many major life changes going on right now, the extra money allows us take a deeper breath as we keep calm and carry on. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect and, although I’d like to say that was my intention, I had no idea that my site auction would be such a huge success.
Thanks to Dave McLearn for letting us use this photo!