Female entrepreneur Casey Gheen was looking to buy a business that would allow her to work from home and spend more time with her newborn daughter, so she bought EcocentricMom.com for $15,000 on Flippa. In this interview Casey tells us why she bought the environmentally friendly subscription box business, and how she increased the number of recurring subscribers by over 100% in just seven months.
Tell us about your educational and career background and what brought you to Flippa?
I received a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University. I then spent most of my postgraduate career in finance, investment banking, and working for various startups. After the birth of my first daughter, I was left with the desire to work from home and spend more time with her. As a result, I decided I wanted to own a web based business, and this led me to Flippa.
How did you find the right business to buy on Flippa?
Though I have no technical or coding skills, I am well versed in the area of business management. So, I focused my search on businesses that would benefit from fundamental leadership initiatives. On the flip side, I wasn’t looking for passive income. I was instead looking for a new business challenge which would allow me to build upon my understanding of online ventures. After a few months of searching Flippa, I finally found the perfect fit and I acquired EcocentricMom.com
Tell us about EcocentricMom.com
Ecocentric Mom is a 4-year-old subscription box company that curates boxes of natural and toxin free products for delivery to moms in various stages of motherhood. We currently offer a pregnancy box, a mom and new baby box, and a general mom box. Each of these packages is meant to suit women at these particular milestones in their lives. The business had some history, having already changed ownership once in its lifespan when the founder sold it to the Flippa seller.
Preparing a shipment for Ecocentric Mom
Why was Ecocentric Mom a good fit for you?
As a business, I was attracted to Ecocentric Mom because it is relevant to who I am and the things I care about: environment, health, wellness and family. The subscription model it was built on is gaining in popularity. The business had recurring revenues and even a small monthly profit that I knew would serve as a good base for its growth. It also had a positive body of Internet reviews and a well received brand. Perhaps most importantly, the purchase included a solid group of assets including the eCommerce platform as well as a collection of social media accounts and the blog.
What have you done with the site during the seven months since the acquisition?
Since acquiring the business, I have more than doubled the number of recurring subscribers. This was accomplished through a mix of marketing initiatives, overhauls to the product offering and box content, and some website changes that gave the business more social proof. Along the way there were lots of challenges! The main challenges have been low margins and stiff competition. There is a lot of pressure to provide a box that is much more ‘valuable’ than the cost of the box itself. However, by making lots of small changes (front end, back end operations, product procurement and branding) the business is continuing to grow.
What do you plan to do with the business moving forward?
We’re currently preparing to overhaul the product offering and pricing options. We’ve also been testing new acquisition strategies and investing more in those that seem to be working. Changes to the website itself have proved to be important but focusing on the product has been more important to driving growth and revenue than technical improvements, and we plan to keep this product focused mission in place moving forward. In the end, I’d like to continue to build the business in the short and medium term, and sell it in a few years when we have achieved some growth milestones that make it a strong acquisition target.
Any advice for others looking buy websites on Flippa?
I was lucky to find Ecocentric Mom via the Editor’s Choice section (and an email that I had signed up for to be notified about such opportunities). Sometimes it can be time-consuming to weed through all of the listings on Flippa, and Editors’ Choice is a great way to save time by getting instant insight into the top businesses for sale. Another piece of advice is to be ready during the last few hours of the auction, as this in when most activity will occur. Changes to the Buy it Now price can be made by the seller up until the last minute so you have to be ready to jump on those.
Today we interview web entrepreneur Jon Dykstra, who purchased the 8-year-old entertainment blog PopOptiq.com for $10,000 on Flippa. Jon talks about the power of internet marketing, his experience buying a website on Flippa, and his due diligence advice for other web entrepreneurs.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you got involved in this space?
In 2006, a small professional firm at which I worked needed a website, so I took on the task of getting one built. After it was built we needed a way to drive traffic to the site, so I started blogging on topics related to the services we offered. The results were nothing short of spectacular. The new website and blog attracted many new clients, and really opened my eyes into the possibilities of what can be achieved through web development and internet marketing.
Any special skills that you bring to the table?
I consider myself a jack-of-all-trades, and ace of none. I’m a decent writer, but I’ll never win a writing award. The most important skill I have is not a skill, but instead a passion for being a website publisher. While I enjoy the collateral benefits of being a website publisher such as flexible hours, no commute, being my own boss and earning a decent living, none of those are a motivating force. Instead, the motivating force is my desire to build successful websites.
What brought you to Flippa?
For a long time I failed to recognize the benefits of buying a website. I always figured I could just as easily build it from scratch. However, after building a few websites from the ground up, it became apparent that buying an established website can save a lot of the time and effort. With Flippa, the primary benefit is the unmatched selection. Scanning thousands of websites for sale at any one time, many of which are cash flow positive with sustainable traffic, is what makes Flippa so truly unique.
How would you describe your experience on Flippa?
My experience with buying my first website on Flippa was very good. The built-in escrow system eliminates many of the trust issues that arise when completing private deals. The Flippa support team is very helpful, and the seller was also very cooperative providing me access to all the data I requested while I performed due diligence.
Tell us about your recent acquisition of PopOptiq.com, what is the site about?
Popoptiq.com is an 8-year-old quality popculture website that covers film, TV, comics and video games. The site maintains a large community of contributors who write articles about these topics. It was started and built as a passion website. That is to say, everyone involved in the original project was passionate about the purpose of the site, and it really showed, as the content they produced was excellent (and there is a lot of it). All in all, this is a business that has tremendous growth opportunities, which is why I ultimately decided to bid.
What have you done with the site since you acquired it, and how has it performed?
I’ve been working with the seller, who has stayed on as editor-in-chief. I’ve hired more editors and writers, and the focus is to leverage the site’s authority with more popular evergreen content. Specifically, I have researched the existing content to determine which type of content performs the best, and then I reinvested into that type content. The result has been better performing content overall. While we’re very focused on traffic growth, we’re also working on improving our social media reach by attracting more fans/followers as well as posting content that receives higher engagement.
Any advice for other web entrepreneurs looking buy websites on Flippa?
Before starting your search, know what you’re seeking. If you’ve got specific criteria around traffic or financials, or even more subtle criteria around things such as site type, vertical, or site age, then you’re going to find it much easier to qualify and vet potential opportunities. My background is publishing content-rich websites monetized with display ads and/or affiliate offers. That’s what I know, and therefore, that is what I search for when I’m looking to buy.
The biggest tip I can suggest around due diligence is to secure read-only Google Analytics access. A website’s traffic is its lifeblood and Google Analytics is a great tool for evaluating traffic. It is incredibly important that you don’t rush this analysis because it can help you avoid a bad purchase or help confirm a good deal.
Once Google Analytics access has been granted, I always analyze the following:
Traffic by Source/Medium
Search out traffic anomalies, for example a steep decline in Organic Search traffic typically indicative of a search engine penalty. Identify the sustainability of each traffic source, and confirm which (if not all) sources will carry over to the new owner.
Traffic by Device
It’s good to know if any site receives most traffic on mobile or desktop. Neither is better than the other, but it’s good to know because monetization strategy may change.
Traffic by Country
I think this is obvious since traffic from some countries is more valuable than other countries.
Today we’re handing the blog over to Jerry Banfield. Jerry is an entrepreneur and teacher who has coached over 80,000 students on everything from Facebook marketing through to time management and productivity.
Last year Jerry built and sold a profitable site on Flippa for $5,500 with no experience and the best part is, he’s put together a step-by-step Udemy Course to share the details on exactly how he did it. Usually $199 – for a limited time, Jerry has dropped the price down to just $25 for all Flippa users. Simply use coupon code: FLIPPABLOG or THIS LINK.
Over to Jerry:
If you are trying to sell your website on Flippa, knowing what works to make a sale can save you a lot of frustration and money. The first two times I posted websites for sale on Flippa, I made my listings and then tried to promote them in complete ignorance of what other sellers were already doing right. No one bid on any of my listings…
When I went to relist my website again, I realized it was crazy to do the same thing I did before and expect different results. For the next few weeks prior to launching another listing, I researched the Flippa marketplace to see what websites were already selling so that I could discover what they all had in common. I found websites that had sold for at least a thousand dollars almost always showed solid proof of income and had verified Google analytics. I also discovered what price to start the bidding at, how to write a compelling listing to attract watchers, how to directly contact potential buyers, how to convert people watching to bids, why every question was worth answering in great detail, and what I needed to do to make it easy to close the auction successfully.
When I used what I learned to launch a new listing on Flippa, the same website that did not attract even one bid when I listed it before sold for $5,500.
You can skip the painful learning process I went through to learn how to sell on Flippa when you take this course. You can see what your website is really worth when you list it the way I listed mine. This course will continue to be useful for you through any improvements Flippa makes because what I teach is based on principles that you can adapt to what you are doing today. You can count on me to answer any questions you have in the course and to add new lectures based on your feedback! Thank you for reading this and I appreciate the chance to serve you as your instructor in this course.
Today we sit down with Alec Larson, a successful Flippa seller who has perfected a strategy for selling websites with no traffic or revenue. Alec gives us the scoop on what it takes to sell a startup valued primarily on potential, and how you can do the same thing.
Tell us about your background as a web entrepreneur
In the winter of 2010 my partner and I saw a need in the real estate market for aerial photographs. Over the next few months I was able to learn how to engineer, build, test and operate an 8-foot aerial helicopter drone that was able to successfully carry a DSLR camera, taking dozens of aerial pictures for local real estate agents. After the success of the drone project, I realized the need for a centralized source of qualified drone operators. Turning my efforts online, I built Aerial Connect, the first ever online drone-pilot directory.
What brought you to Flippa?
Just as Arial Connect got its legs off the ground, I hit a burnout. I was a single founder working on the site by myself, and I realized that it just wasn’t feasible without a team. Having made an account on Flippa a few months earlier, I was really curious to see how much I could get for Aerial Connect. I’d put a lot of hours into building the platform and designing the site, but it had almost no traffic and no revenue. Nonetheless, I decided to list it on Flippa, and the result exceeded my expectations. It ended with 11 bidders, 69 total bids, and sold for $2,050 after a two-week auction.
Now that you have sold AerialConnect.com, what’s next for you?
After the AerialConnect auction, I was inspired and decided to see if I could replicate what I’d just done with another listing. Since then I’ve had 6 more successful Flippa listings, below are examples of three of these:
Night-Clubs.com: I bought the domain on Flippa for $47! Within one week I built a really great night club directory on it. Within two weeks I sold it for $1,000 – a very big win. After the site sold, I even had one user contact me via PM and offer $2,500 for it.
GetFlightTraining.com: I created this flight school directory and sold it a month later for $500 and interestingly enough I was contacted through that listing by an entrepreneur who wanted to build a veterinarian directory. He said he loved my design work and asked if I could build his idea. I did.
DroneTrades.com: As a used drone marketplace, DroneTrades was special because I established it in April 2015 and did a little marketing. I was able to get 5 users on board and even established a partnership with a reputable drone dealer. Eventually I listed it on Flippa and it sold for $1550.
I’ve had a few people notice my listings and ask me how they can start doing something similar. Having people reach out and inquire about my success on Flippa made me realize that the experience and knowledge I’ve gained could be valuable to others. So I’ve put together an in-depth Flippa training course. The course covers everything from the initial domain setup, to the entire development phase, to the Flippa sale.
How has your business philosophy contributed to your success?
It seems like more and more the idea of building a startup and cashing in big has become a bit of a trend lately, especially with millennials. I read a great quote that I’ve essentially lived by over the last few months:
“In a gold rush don’t dig for gold, sell the shovels”
While I’m not saying creating the next Instagram or Google is impossible, I’ve found that as a one-man operation, selling web development services, themes, plugins, design services, email services, and marketing services has a much higher success rate and can be just as rewarding. I’m thankful that I found Flippa because it has given me the opportunity to “sell the shovels.”
Any advice for web entrepreneurs looking sell websites on Flippa?
From my experience, there are a few main elements that make a successful Flippa listing. The following advice is geared towards selling a website very little traffic or revenue, if any, but I would imagine most of the concepts hold true even if you’re selling an established website.
1. A good idea in a trending industry: If you want to successfully sell a new startup on Flippa, focus on creating a great idea. When I initially came up with the idea of Aerial Connect, I knew that if I didn’t build a drone pilot directory someone else would, it was only a matter of time. Drones are trending, the whole industry is growing at staggering rates and the technology is solving problems and providing tremendous value. I think this concept boils down to three main elements
Have a great idea
Target trending industries
Build products that work and solve real problems
2. The Pitch: Whenever I sell something on Flippa I spend a lot of time lot of time writing the listing description. It’s incredibly important to be transparent. If you’re doing something dodgy or trying to hide something material to the sale, someone will find out, and your reputation will be tarnished. That said, YOU SHOULD be passionate about what you’re selling. My passion for drones helped me go from just a basic developer selling a WordPress site to a guy who had a fundamental understanding of the drone industry and had built a really great startup for drone pilots.
3. No Reserve: Setting your Flippa auction to No Reserve is important for two reasons.
It will sit in the reserve-met section on Flippa. At the time of this writing there are currently only 55 websites listed for sale in the reserve-met section and each one will get significant exposure. Getting onto this list greatly increases the number of views, watchers, and bids your listing will generate.
It allows users to determine the actual value of your site. Having a reserve price or a buy it now price might filter out would be bidders. More bidders = higher activity on your listing. Higher activity on your listing = more views because it will be displayed in Flippa’s most active listings section.
So, that’s Alec’s story, and a glimpse into how he sells websites on Flippa with no traffic or revenue! What do you think? Drop in a comment below to let us know.
As the Websites Product Manager for Flippa, my job is to work on constantly growing the marketplace to better fit what Buyers want. That’s why I’m perfectly placed to give you these exclusive insights how to get the best sales price for your listing:
Google Analytics is king
All serious Buyers demand Google Analytics verification before they will seriously commit to bidding in an auction. You should know we’re now applying priority in search results to listings with verified traffic. This means auctions with verified traffic receive on average, four times the views that unverified listings do. That’s the best free upgrade you can give yourself, right there.Pro Tip! It’s important to note that you need to do this via the Flippa verification tool (it’s worked when your traffic graph shows in green). If you’re having trouble adding it to your auction, we can do it for you by allowing us read-only access to your GA (more info here). If you’re not using Google Analytics, you’re really doing yourself a disservice in terms of getting the best sales price. Do yourself a favour and add it now.
If you haven’t got revenue proof, it essentially doesn’t exist to Buyers
The savvy Buyers (those are the ones prepared to pay top dollar for high performing sites) run through this quick checklist before even taking a second look at a listing:- Does it have Google Analytics
– Does it have revenue proof
– If yes to both above, proceed to next step.This means if you’ve claimed revenue but haven’t uploaded proof of it, you’re missing out on a big slice of the Buyer pie.It is not acceptable to provide just screenshots from Paypal for your listing. The recommended method to verifying revenue is by placing a video walk-through – more info how to do this here. Pro Tip! Google AdSense can be verified on site with Flippa and this gives you a similar boost in views, as verified revenue listings are given priority in search results above those without.
Price to sell
Our research suggests the single biggest factor on whether a listing will sell or not is the start and reserve price being appropriate and realistic.
Here’s our expert lowdown on how to give yourself the best chance of sale:– Start price – always start at $1, or at an entry level price point (under $200). Getting those first bids on the clock is important to reflect activity and confidence in your listing.. The higher the start price is (ie. $80K for a $90K reserve price listing) the less likely you are to sell, as it’s simply too high for people to get involved.– Reserve price: Buyers actively look for properties which are “reserve met” (aka. ‘on the market), as they feel they can actually buy the site, rather than just bidding on something only to find out it was way out of the price range. Therefore, getting your listing in the “reserve met” area is one of the best upgrades your listing can get. We see sites that meet their reserve earlier, sell for much higher multiples than listings who play it safe.If you’re unsure what reserve price to add, contact our websites team and we can help you choose the best fit [email protected]
Read our case study here from Austin – Why I set a no reserve price auction –>– Buy It Now Price: We do not recommend adding a Buy It Now price on your listing until the final phases. Why? Buyers are often shopping on a budget and believe the BIN price to be a realistic pricing given by the Seller. Meanwhile, Sellers are typically making BIN prices two or three times their reserve in the off-chance that someone might be inspired to grab it. Trust us – it almost never happens and by adding the BIN price too early, you’re alienating a huge proportion of Buyers who might otherwise have looked into your listing more. More here on strategically applying a BIN price and increase your final sales price by 10% or more –>
We’ll be in touch if anything is missing Buyers have told us they want Flippa to vet the websites marketplace more. In fact, they told us it was the single biggest thing we could do make them buy more sites. That sounds great! So, in all of our best interests, we’ve kicked that off. Don’t be surprised if we reach out to you to discuss your listing and request more information to be added. Ultimately, we aim to pre-empt Buyer questions so that the hard work is done for them and they can confidently bid on your listing.
Add a promo banner Are you looking for a way to bring even more attention to your website auction on Flippa? Your regular visitors are the perfect buyers, because they already love your site. Now you can let them know your site is for sale by adding Flippa’s new promotion banner to your website. More here about how to apply a promo banner to your auction –>
We hope these tips help you reach the best sale price for your website. Share your own tips and tricks in the comments!
Here at Flippa we’re constantly chatting with you, our customers, and one question that has been coming up recently is, what info should I include on my App listing?
Apps are an emerging market and there’s a lot of potential for buyers if they know what to look for.
While there’s no doubt that the more details you include the better, there’s one thing above all that our buyers want to see and that’s verified performance and revenue data.
There are a number of tools out there which will help you track your Apps performance, to get started here are a few of the more commonly used and a bit about them;
Flurry, free at any scale and widely used internationally
App Annie, free and subscription model with a wide range of analytic options available
Google Analytics for Mobile, free and includes Google Play Integration which will show you what brought users to your Android app
iOS App Analytics, free and requires zero technical integration on iOS apps. New features include daily app crash data
Once you have your performance analytics in place, the information that will be of most interest to buyers include;
Usage and downloads; monthly download data and app ranking
Revenue; including app sales and in-app purchases where applicable
Retention; how often users are coming back to your app
Locality of users; most tools will be able to break out data use by country so buyers can see where your app is most popular
App health if available i.e daily crashes
By including this data it shows buyer’s exactly what kind of opportunity they’re purchasing and saves time for both buyer and seller by including it upfront.
We’ll be working on getting verified app analytics included in the sell process, but to get this information in front of potential buyers right now there are two options we recommend;
Do a video walkthrough for your prospective buyers and either upload as an attachment or show them the details in real time. We’ve got more information on how to do this in our support page here
Include PDFs/screenshots or other documentation from your analytics tool and upload these as attachments to the listing. You can attach screenshots once your listing has launched from within the listing detail page
If you are sitting on an app and thinking of selling you’re in the right place, Flippa has more apps for sale and interested buyers than anywhere else, and even better they’re free to list!
If you are thinking about purchasing an App, ask the seller to take you for a video walkthrough or upload documentation from their analytics tool so you have the numbers to purchase with confidence.
Another tip; whether you are buying or selling we recommend jumping on a quick skype call with any interested parties, it’s important to find someone you’re happy to work with during the course of the sale and after!