50 Years Old. Meet ArtCove.com

50 Years Old. Meet ArtCove.com

There are a number of factors that go into valuing a business. These are widely known – financial trending, margins, traffic, proprietary tech – but in an industry that is barely 35 years old AGE is also big factor. In this case of Art Cove the business has been around for 50-years, first trading as a retailer in Queens before moving online in 1999. In 2015 they shot the store and now trade exclusively online, both direct and via core marketplaces.

In this Seller Interview we speak with Josh Simone from ArtCove. He takes us through the history as well as their marketplace expansion.

1. The business is 50-years-old. How has it changed in that time?

We started off in 1971 as a brick and mortar art supplies store. After some time we added craft supplies to our store. The business took off with the newly added craft supplies. As time went by, big box stores moved in so we shifted to eCommerce starting our website artcove.com in 1999. At first, instant success but then things started getting more competitive.

In 2014 we started selling on eBay. And in 2015 we started selling on Amazon. We did $200,000 in our first full year on Amazon, with little to no effort, we listed just a few products. In 2018 we expanded to Walmart, Etsy and started building a new website with Shopify giving us the ability to sell across Facebook and Google also. These projects are fairly new but show great promise. Like all great business you must change with the time and we have done this many times through 50 years of trade.

2. You’ve expanded to all marketplaces including Amazon, eBay and Etsy. How have these channels impacted the business?

It was easy at first. We started selling on eBay then Amazon, moving high volume product quickly. The problem is margin. These are a lot lower on Amazon. Our recent expansion shows real promise, we’ve expanded to Walmart, Etsy and started to build a new website reducing our dependency on Amazon. I think by expanding to several marketplaces we have set the business up for long term success giving us and any potential acquirer opportunities and genuine diversification.

3. With so much history you must have a loyal customer base. Do you have a good repeat buyer base?

We have a very loyal customer base. We provide outstanding customer service which keeps people coming back. We just recently rolled out a customer project board so we can see what our customers are doing with our supplies. This has really helped to build long term relationships and get to know our customers much better. We do business with Sea World, Sesame Place, The Los Angeles Lakers, The Howard Stern Show and many other large businesses. We do a lot of business with schools and non-profit organizations also.

4. What are people buying and has it changed over the years? Are their clear trends?

We have focused on everyday type products that anyone can use. We stay away from fads or short-term trends. One of our biggest products is Craft Mirrors. These are an everyday type item that always sell well year-round. We have also found that a lot of best sellers are not carried by the big box stores so this insulates the business somewhat. We have several product lines that no one carries. At the same time we are always adding new products to our website. The trends are very clear.

We run ads for our best performing products and respond well to customer feedback…making product decisions accordingly.

5. There’s so much history here. Why are you selling?

This is a three-generational business, so we do this for a lot more than the money at this point. It’s about keep the business going and taking care of our customers. We are looking for someone to take over our tradition. There’s so much history and even more opportunity here.

Sold on Flippa – A Handwritten Notes Services Business

Sold on Flippa – A Handwritten Notes Services Business

Thankbot is a business that has reinvented direct mail through their handwritten letter service. It is designed to add a personal touch in a world of Whatsapp, email and Twitter.  

 

What does the website offer?

The website offers a note writing service for its customers. Businesses or individuals submit their notes via an online submission tool and ThankBot’s scribes write the notes. ThankBot then adds a stamp and sends the note within 3-5 business days. The site offers four different price plans depending on the number of notes you wish to send.

 

When there is initial interest the Flippa marketplace goes into overdrive stimulating comments, discussions and ‘watching’

 

Why did the site sell so quickly?

It’s unique and was priced reasonably. With Flippa the sales process often starts as an auction. When there is initial interest the Flippa marketplace goes into overdrive stimulating comments, discussions and ‘watching’. ThankBot had 20 discussions, 704 views, 55 watchers, 5 comments and 6 bidders. The site sold for more than 4x times the reserve. 

 

Who uses ThankBot?

Businesses or individuals wishing to send handwritten thank-you notes via mail can use the service. All notes are 100% handwritten and customers can even use their own stationery – just send it their way. 

 

 

How can you find a similar site?

Click here to filter via services sites that are generating a profit have high levels of engagement within the Flippa community. 

 

Sold on Flippa — An Apple Recommended App for Screenwriters

Sold on Flippa — An Apple Recommended App for Screenwriters

Untitled is an iOS app that was designed by the former lead UIUX designer at Vimeo. The app, which previously reached #6 in the top paid productivity app section in the Apple Store, has over 1,100 active users. It recently sold on Flippa

 

 

What is the app?

Untitled is a screenwriting, and note-taking app, that can turn what you write into a fully formatted screenplay. 

 

 

What makes this such a popular app?

The app works very well for professional screenwriters as it automatically capitalizes scene headings, characters names, etc. The app allows the writer to immerse themselves in the story and characters.. The app also has a separate section for notes, outlines, and screenplay drafts. 

 

It has an autosave function as you type and the font is a customized version of Graphik. Other features include a one-touch reorder to quickly rearrange your scenes and PDF preview 

 

Untitled is a paid app — at $4.99 the app currently has over 106 reviews in the Apple app store. It’s available on both iPhone and iPad.  

 

 

Who uses the Untitled App?

Untitled is used by current and aspiring screenwriters and those are looking for a smarter/faster way to write scripts. 

 

 

What made this business so appealing to prospective buyers?

The app is 3-years-old and generates over $1,610 in revenue per month. To date, the app has had more than 6,300 paid downloads and is consistently featured by Apple. 

 

 

How can you find a similar site?

Click here to sort and filter via established iOS apps with strong community engagement

 

Sold on Flippa: An Ad/Content site with over 209,000 page views per month

Sold on Flippa: An Ad/Content site with over 209,000 page views per month

Content sites backed by advertising continue to prove their popularity amongst Flippa buyers. They are the single most popular site type on Flippa. Low barriers to entry, passive income streams, low cost of operation and access to niche content make them particularly attractive to seasoned acquirers. One particular site, which had annual net profits of $43,000 sold on Flippa in just under two weeks. This website was called Just Give Me The Damn Manual. 

 

What is the website?

This business is a comprehensive online database of automotive owners manuals. All manuals can be accessed and viewed via PDF. The business generates income through Google Ad Sense. 

 

What makes this such a popular website?

The 6-year-old website has thousands of car manuals in PDF versions including popular brands such as Ford, BMW, and Honda. These can be downloaded for free and users do not have to sign-up or register to gain access. This seamless, friction-free experience has resulted in a large amount of organic traffic to the site.

 

Users can also easily upload manuals. This functionality has resulted in thousands of manuals being uploaded to the website. The website is something of a community forum with a blog and Q&A section. Additionally, the site has a strong social following with over 16,000 fans on Facebook.  

Content sites backed by advertising continue to prove their popularity amongst Flippa buyers. They are the single most popular site type on Flippa. 

Who uses Just Give me the Damn Manual?

The site is used by consumers globally looking to download car manuals. All manuals available are in English. 

For the months of March, April and May 2019, the business had an average of 97,000 users per month and 209,000 page views. 

 

 

What made this business so appealing to prospective buyers?

It’s niche user-generated content makes this an evergreen business. There are thousands of car manuals uploaded and new manuals being uploaded daily. The website is very passive to run with the previous owner spending less than four hours per week working on the website. 

 

How can you find a similar site?

Click here to sort and filter by advertising sites and begin to look for a business operating in a niche with strong community engagement. 

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