How to Buy a Mobile App

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Not sure where to start with buying apps? That worry stops now. 

Buying apps is a simple process, however there’s a common misconception out there that it’s harder than buying a website or domain. Just as well buying an app is easy because iOS apps have been on an upward growth trajectory ever since the concept was first introduced. There have been 1.5 million app submissions to the iOS App Store, and that number just keeps growing. With the recent blockbuster app acquisition of Whatsapp by Facebook for $19 billion dollars, it’s small wonder more people want to get into the app race.

If you feel like you’ve been missing out on the action, don’t worry. It’s never too late to get in the game, and with Flippa’s app auctions you too can buy your own app!

However, before you get all click-happy and start bidding on apps, there are a few things you should know to ensure you make the right investment.

Pick your niche

Apps are not the passive moneymaking machines that some sellers claim them to be. There’s a lot of work involved in building them, marketing them and maintaining them. Of course, since you’re buying it from someone else, it’s already built (hopefully) and some marketing has been done, but there’s still more work for you to do.

Keeping this in mind, it makes more sense for you to acquire an app that aligns with your experiences and interests. You’ll be more likely to put in the work required if you actually like your app. For example, if you like games, or if you have worked with a game dev studio, you’ll be better served by looking at game apps instead of business apps.

Pick your stage

Sellers will either sell their app when it’s in its infancy or when it’s past its peak. It doesn’t make sense, from a rational economics standpoint, for them to sell while the app is still on a growth trajectory. Of course, we aren’t all completely rational, so if you find an app like this, you should give it some serious consideration.

In general, you’ll either find apps that either generate little to no revenue, or that generate a fair amount of revenue but are on a flat or declining curve. The two stages have different risk profiles; so pick the one you’re comfortable with.

For apps that are still at an early stage in the lifecycle and have little to no revenue there’s a higher risk involved. You don’t know whether this app can grow to the point where it makes a good amount of money. The seller might be selling it because he/she doesn’t think it can grow, or because he/she is just tired of working on it.

If you’re comfortable taking on this risk, and you think you can generate money with the app, then it’s a good idea to buy. Apps in the early stage will generally sell for a lot less on account of not generating money, so you can get in with a small investment. This will give you a very good ROI.

Apps that are at the late stage of the lifecycle will sell for more because they generally make more money. The good thing is you know there’s a market for this app, so the risk is lower. However, you’ll probably be buying it while revenues are declining so you’ll need to engineer a turnaround to protect your investment.

This means a lot of marketing work. It’s possible the seller just got tired of continuously pushing the app and so let its revenues fall. With a new marketing campaign in place, you can pull things back. If you’re creative, you can add a few new features and upgrades and increase revenues that way. There might be untapped revenue streams that you can take advantage of.

Do the due diligence

Now it’s time for you to narrow down the choices on the Flippa app auctions page based on the above criteria. This doesn’t mean you can get to bidding straight away. You’ve got to do the due diligence to make sure the app is worth acquiring.

The first thing to do is look at the numbers. Hopefully the seller has added an analytics layer to the app. Dig into this and learn about how many downloads it has, what its rankings are, whether it’s engaging, and how much money it makes. For more information on what to look out for, have a look at our lazy guide.

You also want to actually use the app and see how it works. Download it and sign up for it. Go through the app carefully, play around with it, and note down what you like or don’t like about it. Try to find out if there are any bugs or if the app crashes. The analytics platform will also have some information about this.

In fact, go a bit further and do some user testing if you think the app has potential. Get your friends to use it and document the user flow and engagement. Find out if they like it and ask them if there are any features they’d like to add to it.

Finally, do some research on the seller. Flippa has a seller profile where you can see if there have been any past successful app sales. Make use Flippa’s messaging services and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the seller and the app.

Determine the costs

The last step is to calculate your total ROI and figure out if this is worth it. Your initial investment is not just the auction price; you’re also going to be putting in more money to develop and design the app if needed.

For example, if you’re not a developer and if the app needs some major redesigns or additional features and bug fixes, then you’re going to have some up-front development costs. Add this to the final auction price to get to your initial investment.

Then, there are going to be ongoing costs for maintaining and marketing the app. This will cut into your bottom line, especially if you need to hire people for this. If you can estimate revenue growth and monthly costs, you can come up with a ballpark figure for monthly profits.

With your total initial investment, and your projected profits, you can calculate a realistic ROI. How much time will it take for you to make back your initial investment? If it takes a year and you’re comfortable with that, then go for it. Otherwise, look at another app.


Apps require a lot of care and maintenance, not to mention marketing to stand out from the crowd. They aren’t passive income vehicles. If you want to buy an app or two and get into the app game, get ready to put in some work. Start by heading to the app auctions on Flippa and looking at niches that interest you.

Figure out what stage the app is at and look at the analytics associated with it. Play with it, talk to the seller, and do the general due diligence. Once you’ve found a good app, calculate your ROI and determine if you should bid on it.

Good luck!

Now it’s time to view some of our top app auctions live now on Flippa! 


Sellers can also look at our guide to selling apps by clicking here!

(Thanks to Joe for the photo)

6 Easy Ways to Get More Website Buyers and Bidders on Flippa

Keeping on our theme of raising the awareness of your auction, here’s a must-read post by Sid. Got a killer strategy to get your Flippa auction out there? Let us know in the comments! – Tim

Selling a website is like selling anything else really. You need to market it to attract attention, and then you need to convert those eyeballs into buyers. Yes, there is work involved! Just when you thought you could dust your hands off your website and live off the sale money on a beach in Bali, you find that there’s more work for you to do.

Just because you’re listing your site on Flippa doesn’t mean everyone who visits Flippa will see it. You can’t just set up an auction and sit back waiting for the bids to roll in. You need to actively market it and attract attention to it. If your website is good, people will bid on it, but you first need to show them that you have a site up for sale.

The more views you get, the more bids you’ll get. The conversion rate of views to bids depends on your sales skills, but the volume of views depends on your marketing skills.  Here are some strategies you can use to really show off your auction.

Spread the word – This one is a no-brainer really. You shouldn’t have to be told to spread word of your own auction. That doesn’t just mean making a mention of it on Twitter of Facebook. Think out of the box. Blog about your auction and tell your readers to go and view it. If you have a mailing list, shoot a mail to your subscribers and notify them. Go to relevant forums and online communities and make a mention of the auction. You can even write a guest post on another blog. It’s like marketing any other site really.

Keywords and such – Think of Flippa as a search engine for website auctions, and what do search engines love? That’s right, lots of content with relevant keywords. Don’t randomly stuff your auctions with any keyword that comes to your mind. Try to think of what people would type into the Flippa search bar to find your auction. When setting up your listing, fill out all the fields and be as descriptive as possible. There are way too many auctions out there with one-line descriptions and empty niche fields. On the other hand, the auctions that do really well are the ones that have every single field filled out and a maxed out ‘Description’ field with sub-headers and bullet points. Now that’s legit.

Engage – The comment section is really useful too. Engage prospective buyers by responding to their questions and generating a healthy discussion about your auction. Not only does this build trust, it also gives the impression of a lot of activity and this adds social proof to your site. Any passerby who sees an active comments section will immediately think there’s something interesting going on and will place your auction on his/her watch-list.

Cross-sell – This works if you have multiple auctions on at the same time. Multiple auctions and past successful auctions, means you are probably a trusted seller and not peddling BS websites.  It also means you can mention one auction in another so that viewers of the one are redirected to the other. If you look at some successful auctions, you’ll see sellers saying things like, “We’re selling a part of our portfolio to free up time. Check out our other auctions <here> and <here>.” Smart sellers will spend a lot of effort popularizing one auction and then using that popularity to highlight some of their lesser-known auctions.

Most Active Listing – Lots of bidding activity on an auction pushes it into the Most Active Listings section. This is another example of social proof and will attract other viewers who are curious to see what the fuss is all about. Things like low starting prices, low reserves and short deadlines can influence prospective buyers into bidding right-away instead of waiting for later. Maintaining some activity throughout the lifecycle of your auction will ensure that your site is on top of the list. At the start low starting prices will get bids because your site is cheap. Towards the end, with the auction end approaching, viewers will bid so as not to lose out on the auction. The middle period can get a bit quiet but a low reserve might induce some bids, as prospective bidders might want to get in on the action once the price has passed that reserve.

Featured Listing – There’s always the paid marketing strategy. For a reasonable fee you can feature your listing on Flippa. This means it will be seen at the top of the list and won’t get lost under all the other auctions on Flippa. If you think your auction can sell for thousands, then the fee is insignificant compared to the additional bids it could draw in. If it can only sell for a couple of hundred dollars then the featured listing might now be worth it.

Now remember, this is a lot of hands-on work to get people to see your auction, so don’t slack off. There’s still more after this because you need to convert those viewers into bidders. By using these strategies you’ll have a larger audience to sell your site to and that’s always a good thing. If you’ve ever wondered why your amazing website auction never got the response you thought it should have, it’s because you missed out on some of these tactics. So the next time you decide to sell make sure you’ve covered all these steps. And if you have any other secrets to marketing your auction, do share it with us!

 Thanks to Joits for the photo above! 

How To Sell a Mobile App

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Selling an App is still a new business, after all it was only last year that Apple let developers sell apps. Today, the App marketplace is growing each day and we wanted to give you an explainer of things to think about when selling your app.   – TC

You can get lost in the iTunes App Store. You could literally spend hours, browsing through different apps, looking for the coolest new game to play or a slick productivity tool that you hope will help you be more productive (while you continue to waste time on the App Store).

How does an app developer survive in this environment? How does one compete when there have been over one and a half million apps approved by the US App Store? It seems like a do or die situation. You either make a hit like Flappy Bird, or you vanish into eternal app store oblivion. Out of the 1.5 million apps that have been approved till date, only 1.1 million are still active.

Well, it turns out you don’t need to let it get that far. Instead of just letting your app die after all the hard work you put in, you can sell it. Maybe you’re a developer and you know nothing about marketing apps, or maybe you just lost interest in your app. Whatever your reasons are, you might as well get something out of the app instead of letting it die.

That’s what an app marketplace is for. You may not want your app anymore, but there are others out there willing to pay you. It’s really a very simple process, but before you actually do sell your app there are a few things you need to cover to make sure your sale is a success.


The most important part is getting your information ready. Seriously, put some effort into this. When you’re setting up an auction on Flippa fill out every single field – the description, the niches, the financials and the metrics. The more information you provide up front, the better. Talk about why you built the app, what it does, how it’s monetized, your ideas for how it can grow, and current app statistics.

Yes, this means you need to have analytics installed for your app. If you don’t have analytics installed already, then maybe you shouldn’t be in the app or Internet business. But that’s another topic for a later day. Get it installed right away. There are a number of analytics tools out there including the free Google Analytics, and they can be installed in a few minutes.

Analytics gives potential buyers greater insight into the workings and the potential of your app. Just telling buyers you have so many downloads is not enough. They want to know how many times people use your app per day, how often people use it, how long they spend on it, and so on. This will help them figure out if your app is a good buy for the price you’re asking.


Which brings us to valuation. Of course, you want to sell your app for as much as possible and buyers want to buy it for as little as possible. That’s why Flippa uses an auction system, so that eventually the app gets sold for what the market thinks it’s worth.

You can choose to simply sell your app at the auction without adding a reserve or BIN price. Buyers will look at all the information you’ve provided, make their calculations, and bid based on their valuations.

However, adding a reserve and BIN has its advantages. The reserve will make sure you don’t sell your app for too low. It would be quite unfortunate if someone snagged it for less simply because not many people knew of your auction.

The BIN can speed up an auction and, if you play your cards right, you can even get more than what the app is worth. Let’s say your auction is seeing a lot of activity and bidding. It’s going to be up on the front page of Flippa and attract a ton of potential buyers. If you set up a BIN with a bit of a premium, an interested buyer might just decide to buy it right away instead of risking losing the auction to another bidder.

Setting the right reserve price and BIN can make or break your auction. Too high and buyers get turned off. Too low and you lose out. As the owner of the app, you’re more likely to overvalue the app and set high prices. Too many auctions end up unsold because sellers thought they should get paid for all the hours of work they put in.

Buyers don’t care about that. What matters to them is revenue combined with engagement and popularity. If the app makes money every month, and it gets steady downloads and sees regular use, you can get a good multiple on it.

Pull out an excel sheet and chart the monthly revenue for your app going forward. The valuation of your app would be the present value of all future earnings. If have decreasing monthly downloads, which translates to decreasing revenues, then calculating this is pretty straightforward because revenues will eventually converge to zero.

If you have increasing downloads, then it’s probably not the best time to sell but if you’re set on it, then you can tag on a growth multiple. This is tricky because it’s hard to predict for how much longer downloads will keep growing. A good indicator would be app engagement, which can accelerate or decelerate growth depending on whether it’s high or low. Again, you’ll most likely overestimate future growth while buyers will underestimate it.

Finally, if you have no revenue at all then you’ll definitely have a lower valuation. What you can do is come up with some monetization ideas for future buyers, and then place a dollar value for every download based on those ideas. You could use the total dollar value as your valuation.

Selling your App

Now that you’ve created your auction and set up reserve and BIN prices it’s time to market and sell. While Flippa has a good system for showcasing auctions, it doesn’t hurt to tell your friends, colleagues and clients about it. The more eyeballs you get on your auction, the more bids you can receive.

Just make sure you’re responsive. Potential buyers always have questions about things you may not have addressed in your description. If your auction is popular, you’ll be flooded with comments and messages. Make sure you address each and every one. A seller that ignores concerns and questions is usually seen as dodgy.

You’re ready

So now you know what needs to be done. You’re in a better position to sell your app and hopefully make a pot full of gold. Keep this guide open while you set up your auction and remember to be active and responsive while the auction is running. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section!

Thanks to Jan for the photo!

New on Flippa: Turn Your Domain Into a Billboard For Your Auction

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We’ve been talking about building the awareness of your Flippa auction recently. Staying on this theme, I want to highlight a great little feature we rolled out not too long ago. Say hello to the Auction Parking Page!

The thinking behind this is that when buyers click through to your domain, there’s nothing to see. Instead now, the seller can turn their blank canvas into a billboard for their auction. This is fantastic for sharing on social media, amongst your contacts and on other networks.

The Auction Parking Page places an auction countdown on the page, with the listing description and link straight to the auction page.

Activating the Auction Parking Page is super simple too. From your live auction, just go to the listing settings and then click on Free Promotion Toolbox.

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Awesome Awareness Techniques for Your Flippa Auction

How do you stand out from the crowd on Flippa? Thanks to Sam for the photo of the Doha skyline. 

That buzz you feel when you confirm your listing to Flippa is the knowing that all your hard work paid off. The site is listed, you’re ready to make the deal, you’re anxious to see the results, and you’re prepared to respond to comments.

… but where are the bids?

Selling a website on Flippa is about as easy as it comes which is why it’s become the largest marketplace. The brand is strong and attracts buyers hungry for website investments but there are also obligations on your end you must uphold if you plan to succeed with your Flippa listing.

You should realistically place as much effort into building awareness of your listing as you did with the creation of the website. This may sound like a lot of work but it’ll ultimately pay off since you gain a greater amount of interest (and bids) on your listing.

The following are some of the essential tactics you should use for building awareness – including one guaranteed to generate buzz and cause a rush on bidding clicks.

Start with Your Core

The digital real estate that you own will be the central point of your awareness building campaign. These are the platforms you control. You are free to form your message however which way it’s needed to draw attraction and interest to your new Flippa listing.

From the core – you should:

  • Pre-Sale Buzz – Prior to the listing you should create a post (or series) leading up to the sale. Highlight your intentions and share your analytics to your audience. Explain why you are selling the website and the value it holds for the potential buyer. (Once the listing is live return to this post and include a link to the auction page).

  • Email Blast –an email announcing the sale of one of your website and leverage your understanding of copywriting to cause excitement. Also, use this opportunity to accept feedback and questions which you could use to fuel additional content made to build awareness.

  • Banner Updates – Replace a banner (or two) on your site used to promote other goods in place of the auction listing.

  • Work in a Video – Use your iPhone and a white backdrop to record a short video which provides an overview of the website you are selling. Add this to your website, part of your email blast, and upload it to video sharing websites.

  • Live Updates – Create a widget on your website where you can write live updates (such as bids and new Q&A).

Radiate Your Efforts

Selling a Flippa listing like a pro means you’re ready to step out of your comfort zone. Working with your platforms can get the momentum going but it’s your ability to radiate that energy that will have the greatest impact on building awareness to your listings.

  • Leverage the Flippa Options – Flippa has a fantastic range of promotional options. For free you can add a widget to your website or a landing page to the domain you’re selling, you can also share your auction across social networks with our social sharing hub. The free promotional material can be accessed from the listing settings button on your live auction. Flippa’s paid upgrades are also a fantastic way at increasing the exposure of your listing. With the upgrade packages you can get featured on the home page and other graphic/text changes to help it stand out. You also have the option to be mentioned within their massive email mailing list. This is your mad rush.
  • Hit it Hard on Social Media – Take to your social media accounts and announce you’re selling one of your website projects. Use the threads to respond to feedback, opinions, and criticism. Ask followers to share, like, retweet, or +1 your announcement.

  • Tap Your Pro Network – Open your rolodex of business professionals and setup a chat session sometime before and during the auction. This is a time when you can pitch the website to these forward thinking website owners or at least gain their support in the promotion. Trade or encourage your professional network to share the listing to their community via blog post, email announcement, and social update. Give them a cut of the deal if it helps.

  • Tease the Communities – Do a search and compile a list of forums, discussion groups, and social sharing sites (like Reddit) which discuss the topics of the listed website. Use this time to build awareness and learn from the community which could be used in improving your copy and call-to-actions within the listings and other awareness efforts.

  • Risk it with Paid – It’ll be risky but consider setting a budget of around $50 – $100 which should give you just enough funds to begin an advertising campaign on Facebook, Google Adwords, Bing, and other networks. You could also try paid listings on Reddit within an appropriate sub-Reddit.

Bringing it All Together

Increasing your success with Flippa auctions is a numbers game.

It’s one part website (attractive design, great content, monetization) and one part promotional efforts on your end (tapping your digital real estate, professional network, and ponying up some funds). The greater number of eyeballs you draw to the auction listing the greater chances you’ll have at seeing those bids climb up and up.

You’ve done the hard work of creating and listing the site. Now do the heavy lifting of getting it found.

Ready? Excited? Start an auction on Flippa today!

How to Find the Best Web Host For Your Newly Acquired Web Business

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Thanks to Andrew for the photo of the hopping Kangaroo!

This blog post has been written in partnership with Singlehop

Congratulations! You are the proud owner of a new web business. Now is the time to consider where your website will be located. Will you continue to host the site with its current hosting provider or will you move it to a new provider? Let’s look at both options.

Staying with your current provider has merit. This route offers the fastest migration path and saves you time searching for a new provider. However, you may not receive the service your budding business requires. You could have far less control over what you can do and how you can expand. The decisions made by the website’s previous owner may be different than decisions you would have made. Your priorities might be different now.

By moving to a new provider, you gain control at the cost of a longer migration process and the expenditure of time in planning and researching. However, a few hours of planning today can save you from serious frustration over the long haul. In business, proper planning is key. When you weigh the work versus reward, finding the right home for your website now is your best option.

What to Look for in a New Provider

  • Do you require a large amount of resources (such AS processing power or large network throughput)?
  • Do you get a large number of visitors on a regular basis?
  • Do you need dedicated hardware support?
  • Do you wish to combine website and office workloads (such as CRM, ERP, etc)?
  • Do you have any compliance concerns (such as storing sensitive data, including payment data, AND credit card numbers)?

Putting it together

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are looking for an infrastructure provider. If you answered no to the questions, then you are looking for a shared or VPS web host.

Regardless of type, you need to ensure they can host your newly won site with minimal fuss. It also helps to feel comfortable with the staff of your hosting provider.

Shared and VPS Web Hosts

The term “web hosting” covers most website hosting endeavors. Shared and VPS hosts offer a commoditized hosting platform that can support a variety of website needs. This form of hosting offers an economical and stable platform for your website. Shared offers the lowest price route, however there are no guarantees you will have the computer resources when you need them. VPS plans, on the other hand, include guaranteed pools, so you always have access to a set amount of CPU and memory resources. When it comes to web hosting, options include SiteGround and Arvixe.

Infrastructure Provider

Infrastructure (or IaaS) providers differ from web hosts in that they sell the underpinnings (i.e. infrastructure) of the web host framework. This includes hardware, such as bare metal servers and enterprise cloud offerings like private clouds. Infrastructure providers are more versatile than web hosts in that you can not only host your web site and online applications, but can also host your IT workloads such as ERPs, warehouse data management, collaboration software, and the like. IaaS providers are more versatile: they can either work with your current IT department or act as a fully staffed IT department depending on your needs. If you require an infrastructure provider, it’s best to look at established providers such as SingleHop.

SingleHop offers a couple options you may want to consider:

  • Automated Infrastructure like Dedicated Servers and Public Cloud Servers; or
  • Managed Hosting and Private Cloud Solutions – for really big websites

Regardless of where you decide to move your site, all of us at Flippa wish you success with your new website!