Buy and Sell Websites – I Spent $35,700 on Sites – What Did I Learn?

Buy and Sell Websites – I Spent $35,700 on Sites – What Did I Learn?

Authour bio: Stacy Caprio

Stacy is an entrepreneur who has bought and sold several profitable websites, and learned a lot of lessons along the way. Her background is in online marketing and one of her favorite things in the world is helping websites and companies grow.


 

I was trapped.Or at least I felt trapped. Anxious. Smothered.

Sitting in a spacious white cubicle, in a beautiful office complex, inside a building filled with free coffee and tea, sunlight streaming in nearby windows and friendly coworkers stopping by to chat.

I may have looked free to any onlooker, but inside I knew the truth.

There was an invisible chain hooking me to my cubicle, 5 days a week, 8:30am to 5:30pm, and it didn’t matter how much value I provided, or how much work I did, all that mattered was that I sit in my chair during that entire time every day, every week, and every year.

If I did not stay seated that entire time, I would not have any money to live on.

I could not even walk outside, other than on my lunch break, without attracting unwanted attention.

All I could think about was how to break free, but nothing I tried was working.

One of my favorite past-times was, and still is, reading income-report blogs and how other people make money online. One day I was reading a blog post about website investing, and it clicked.

I thought, why not?

I had already tried to start several sites on my own but none were making any money. I wanted to try buying one that was already working and then build on it.

My thought process was, let’s give it a try and see if we can build on an already successful and profitable site and learn to make an income like all my favorite online bloggers are already doing.

I’ll take you through the lessons I’ve learned from buying 4 sites for a total of $35,700, all purchased through Flippa.

My current working view, in large part thanks to Flippa, I’m no longer inside of a fluorescently-lit cubicle, instead able to work outside on my balcony in the heart of Chicago.

 

Lessons Learned From Buying Websites 

 

Good judgment and experience can come from making mistakes yourself, which I have done, and is where my experience comes from.

It can also come from reading about other’s mistakes, and avoiding them, and then reading about other’s successes, and emulating them.

My hope is that you can learn from my failures, but also my successes, in website buying and selling.

 

Avoid my Mistakes: How I Lost Money Buying Sites

 

1. Never trust data unless you verify it

 

I had just bought my first site and I was more excited than I could remember since Christmas morning when I was a little kid.

The seller had listed the site as making $350/ month, and I had paid him only $1,300 for it.

Of course, it was too good to be true.

If a site is really making $350/month, no one in their right mind would ever sell it for only $1,300, so that should have been red flag number one for me right there.

At a minimum, a site making $350 profit a month would be going for 20X $350, around $7,000 or more, depending on what the site owner was looking for.

The mistake I made buying this site was not only ignoring the price red flag, but going into the deal with blind faith and trust without even attempting to verify any analytics or revenue. 

 

Flippa has a great Google Analytics traffic verification feature and a great Google Adsense revenue verification feature, and after that first purchase, I now never even consider a looking at a site unless the seller has enabled both forms of Flippa verification.

Additionally, I now always request access to the site’s Google Analytics as well as proof of income including video screenshares and income screenshots.

I also use something I call the common sense test.

In the common sense test I combine Google Analytics, average RPMs and conversion rates to determine what the income numbers should be if the site owner is telling the truth. Then I compare the common sense estimates to the numbers the site owner provides and see if they are in the same ballpark.

Learn from my blind trust mistake and always verify traffic and revenue before purchasing a site.

Not everyone is an honest fairy God-mother and some people will try to cheat you out of your money.

 

2. Don’t buy out of desperation

 

When I was ready to buy my second website, I was desperate for another income stream.

My life may have looked nice and comfortable from the outside, but I was anxious and desperate to start having more freedom.

This desperation led me to spend a lot of money on my second site.

I had a lot of confidence because I had verified the site’s revenue, the lesson I learned from failed site purchase #1.

My newfound revenue-verification confidence combined with my desperation lead me to spend a lot of money, $10K, on a high-revenue site without really thinking about if the business model was sustainable.

The first few months were amazing and I was even able to more than double the monthly revenue. I was ecstatic, to say the least.

My happiness was short-lived.

The site traffic plummeted when the “fad-site” I had bought turned out to be a short term trend based on an app, something I could easily have spotted if I had been buying out of a calm, measured mindset instead of my overly confident and desperate mindset, possibly the worst mindset to make any decision in life with.

Learn from my lesson and never buy out of desperation. Or worse, desperation combined with over-confidence.

 

Copy My Successes: How I Made Money Buying Sites

 

3. Test Ad Networks & Make Partnerships

 

My third site was my first success. You didn’t think I’d give up after two expensive failures, did you?

I bought it for less than what I’d paid for site #2, because I was still wary that anything could happen.

It was a great deal I found on Flippa with a price of only 20X the monthly profit.

Quickly I was able to test different ad networks and monetization methods until I found ones that were making around double the original.

Then an ad network rep reached out to me and wanted to advertise on the site for a flat monthly fee that was more than double what I had already doubled the site to, so of course I accepted.

For the next few months revenue was 4X what I had bought the site for, since I was still running the better ad network and had an ad partnership that was paying me a flat fee monthly.

This had worked out better than I could have ever imagined, and I made back what I had paid within 10 months, and was making pure profit each month after that.

 

4. Keep going when you find something that works

 

My fourth site I used all the principles I learned from my previous mistakes and successes.

I verified the analytics and revenue before buying.

I was not completely desperate, not overly-confident, and used as much common sense as I could, all keys to making a well-informed and level-headed purchase.

I used the ad networks I knew already worked and leveraged my ad partnerships.

Using these approaches, I was able to buy a second successful site, my fourth website purchase total, from Flippa, and build on its success.

This site I also made back the purchase price within 10 months and have been able to grow revenue substantially since then.

The key on my fourth site was buying an online site that was already successful and that I could build on by producing more content.

I worked with adding to what it already had and was able to grow the revenue that way.

The lesson to learn here is you don’t have to start from scratch if you’re looking to own a profitable business or website. You can buy something that is already working and then build on it.

Even more important, once you find something that is already working, run with it and help it grow. To do this, you can produce more content and help it grow in the direction it is already growing successfully to increase profit and revenue over the long-term.  

Hopefully this website buying and selling article helps you avoid some of the mistakes I’ve personally made as well as helps you emulate some of the successes I’ve also been able to have.

 

I am forever grateful to Flippa for being the catalyst that helped me transition from being the girl at the beginning of this article who felt trapped and chained in her cubicle, to the girl I am now, living in my dream apartment overlooking the bean and Lake Michigan in Chicago, with the freedom to set my own hours and run outside by the lake any time of any day without feeling even a little bit guilty.

Let us know your own website buying and selling mistakes and successes in the comments below.

Translate.com sold on Flippa for $853,000

Translate.com sold on Flippa for $853,000

Translate.com is a translating website with almost 2m visitors per month. The business sold last November on Flippa with a winning bid of $853,000. The auction, which had no reserve created a lot of interest and attention in the buying community.  

We caught up with the buyer Volodymyr to discuss the purchase. In the interview below, he talks about how long he was looking for an online business before purchasing the site, his immediate plans and why Flippa is his preferred platform.

 

Interview with the buyer – Volodymyr Nesterenko

Were you looking for a website with this type of organic traffic for long before you bought this site on Flippa?

No, we were not looking specifically for translation traffic, we were just watching what was for sale. We started doing that about 2 years ago and normally we pay more attention to career and education (SaaS) and pet care goods (Amazon Affiliate model). Previously we had a couple of good deals there. There were also sporadic opportunities in the ESL (English as a Second Language) space too, but no deals, so when Oleksii spotted Translate.com, we decided it was a good place to start.

 

What made you choose to buy Translate.com? Where you aware of the site before it became available for sale?

We hadn’t heard of Translate.com before, but we were ready to buy something in the ESL space. The domain name is absolutely epic, but we’d have never done it if it was only about the domain. The previous owners did a good job, there was a real product with a well automated workflow under the hood. On top of this, tens of thousands of freelance translators from all around the world.

 

What were your immediate plans when you first bought this site? Have you executed these?

The immediate plan was to transfer everything smoothly and not to break anything. For example, we had to take over two mobile applications and numerous integrations, such as an integration with Zendesk which enables our B2B clients to translate support tickets. Translate.com carries out human translation in a really frictionless way and we didn’t want clients to feel any pain because of the ownership change. After the transfer, we audited the programming code, did some critical fixes. We are now renovating the site and apps and also working on a strategy for this line of our business. Realistically, we can increase revenues 10x in 2-3 years.  

 

How did you find your experience with Flippa?

The listing was hot (more than 170 bids) and the overall deal wasn’t easy but everything worked well. We spotted the sale on Flippa, which tells for itself, and we appreciated a simple process too. Listing page, chat with a seller, the auction, escrow service – everything was great and we didn’t need anything on top. Maybe some extra help with the asset purchase agreement, but that’s it. We are watching many platforms where people buy and sell business and Flippa is definitely one of the few on the top of our list

 

Start-up hustle a fairytale: ‘build it from scratch’ not only success story

Start-up hustle a fairytale: ‘build it from scratch’ not only success story

Don’t start a business, buy one. Co Founder of Flippa @Mark Harbottle says ‘Buy your way to growth’. ‘Why aren’t more founders considering acquiring an existing business with traction — not only as a growth strategy but as a go-to-market strategy for their start-up? Why not acquire a business with existing products, customers and cash flow — something they can leverage as a foundation to grow their empire?’


 

According to the Small Business Association (SMB), 30 per cent of businesses fail in the first two years and 50 per cent within five years. US census data suggests only 9 per cent of small businesses, where the owners run them full-time, have more than $1 million in sales annually. So if you manage to “hustle” your way through the first few years of your start-up, chances are your business won’t grow beyond $1m in revenue.

Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are many great founders capable of producing amazing products. Some early-stage start-ups solve real problems and have a huge market opportunity, but the majority struggle to find sustainable distribution channels and consistent growth.

 

This was originally published in The Australian, click here to continue reading.

Sold on Flippa: A SaaS business that builds your Instagram following

Sold on Flippa: A SaaS business that builds your Instagram following

With 800m users worldwide, Instagram is a critical marketing medium for small business. Brands can tell stories, share customer stories and start a dialogue and all this leads to engagement and ideally paying customers. Pushgram, a SaaS business that sold on Flippa helps businesses and users grow their Instagram community and increase engagement with their brand.

 

What is the product?

Pushgram is marketing software that helps small businesses on Instagram by automating activity including comments, likes and follows. It’s designed to boost interactions, engage with users and to connect with their target audience. Rather than manually carrying out such activities and searching for your target audience, Pushgram does it all for you.

Pushgram charges its users a monthly fee and has three different pricing plans based on the number of ‘actions’. This differs to most competitors who charge based on time. ‘Actions’ are the tasks the software undertakes on its user’s behalf. When a users Pushgram account likes a picture, comments, follow or unfollows a user, each of those actions is counted as 1 action.

 

What makes this such a popular product?

The service is reliable, effective and reasonably priced. If users settings are optimized and they’re using likes/comments/follows and unfollows, they can expect to gain as much as 75+ real and targeted followers a day. It mimics a user’s natural behavior.

Pushgram also works from a branding perspective. It can be set up so that it engages with audiences that are interested in your brand. This is particularly important for users and business that rely heavily on Instagram as a sales funnel. It’s also safe to use.

Customers are not breaching any Instagram rules by using Pushgram. Instagram has terms and conditions around selling or purchasing fake followers and likes but not for this type of software. The increased engagement that you gain from Pushgram is organic, from real users with real accounts. It is an easy solution to an otherwise manual and arduous task.

 

Who is the Pushgram customer?

The Pushgram customer is individuals and users who use Instagram for business and want to increase their following and grow their brand.

 

What made this business so appealing to prospective buyers?

The business has been operating for almost three years and has annual profits of $40,000. The business has a low time commitment to run, with the previous owner spending a few hours a week replying to customer emails and engaging the assistance of a developer when necessary. The business is well set-up, has an established customer base and a social presence of over 10k.

How did Flippa assist with the sale?

Flippa carried out a direct marketing campaign for Pushgram which included an interview with the seller which was written up and sent out to our database in a marketing email. From this, a buyer came forward and made an offer. Pushgram’s listing had over 648 views and the owner utilized Flippa’s escrow service which guarantees safe and secure payment.

Sold on Flippa: A SaaS business that integrates Dropbox to servers

Sold on Flippa: A SaaS business that integrates Dropbox to servers

DropDAV is an 8 y/o SaaS business that connects servers to Dropbox for a monthly fee. 

 

What is the product?

The product connects Dropbox to businesses IoT devices that don’t have first-party clients. For those of us who are unfamiliar with the Internet of Things (IoT), it includes a wide range of software and items but in this instance, mainly things like file servers and legacy devices. First-party clients imply that the business does not have an in-built provider to authorize credentials.

 

Essentially, Drop Dav safely connects businesses software or file servers to Dropbox, so that items can be stored safely and securely in the cloud.

 

What makes it such a good product?

DropDAV lets businesses and users connect their Dropbox flows deeper into their tools, allowing them to be more productive. The previous owner has not needed to invest in the product or carry out any upgrades since its inception in 2011. Since then, this simple but highly functional software has continued to work without any customer issues, creating a steady revenue stream for its owner.

 

DropDAV operates in a niche and it hasn’t had a credible competitor since 2012 when their direct competition closed down. This is due to the challenging nature of getting a WebDAV server implementation correct. Thus, DropDAV has been tuned for the most popular WebDAV clients and currently dominates this market. 

 

DropDAV charges their customers $5 per month, making it a reasonable and easy purchase for customers to make.

 

Who is the DropDAV customer?

The DropDAV customer is a business or individual user who wishes to seamlessly connect their file servers to the cloud sharing platform, Dropbox.

 

Why was it so appealing to prospective buyers?

DropDAV has a history of being reliable, fast and secure. It has served almost 100,000 users 5,000,000+ requests, over 256-bit SSL and 10-Gbpsservice with 99.9+% uptime. It also works across multiple apps including many with custom implementations.

 

DropDav prices haven’t changed since it started in 2011, presenting an immediate opportunity to increase revenue by raising its prices. Despite the reasonable price point, it has been generating over $14,500 in annual profits.

 

How did Flippa assist?

Flippa now has over 120,000 registered buyers representing purchase intent of just under $1.2bn. This combined with marketing efforts meant that DropDAV was targeted at Flippa buyers looking to purchase a SaaS business below $50,000. DropDAV’s listing had over 1,260 views and the owner utilized Flippa’s escrow service which guarantees safe and secure payments.

 

Sold on Flippa: Cases Tech

Sold on Flippa: Cases Tech

Platform: Website

Business Model: eCommerce

Business Age: 1 year

Sell Price: $30,000

 

What is Cases Tech?

Cases Tech is an eCommerce business that sells high-quality phone cases and phone accessories. This fully automated, dropship business model sells over 40 different types of covers and phone cases. These include leather cases and phone covers in animal print, glamour, floral and other more simple designs. Cases Tech best selling products include a leather case that fits credit cards, a magnetic phone holder and an ultra slim silicone cover.

The business has enjoyed strong sales, with annual profits of $29k. A well laid out website, high-quality products and excellent customer service have all contributed to this.

We asked the buyer of Cases Tech a couple of questions around why he bought the business and what’s his plans are for Cases Tech. 

 

What was attractive about this business?

I was interested in the business strictly because of the seller. I follow Irene and received notification that she had another listing for sale. I was in the running for one of her previous listings and her communication with prospective buyers in the comments section was excellent. While I didn’t win that auction, I knew that she produced a quality product and was determined to acquire her next project. So when CasesTech hit the market, I performed quick due diligence on the site and contacted her to negotiate a BIN price. The rest was smooth sailing and the site is running great.

 

What are your immediate plans for the business?

My immediate plans are to enjoy the turnkey site as it requires minimal effort. As a working professional, I needed something that was already running smoothly. I plan to scale the business by adding new products and implementing Facebook marketing.

 

How long have you been looking for a relevant business?

I have been looking for a business for about 5 months and will continue to evaluate quality assets in the future.

 

 

To find other great businesses like this one for sale, check out Flippa.com