Why You Should Invest in Digital Real Estate

Happy Earth Day, Big Blue Marble!

Photo courtesy: Cheryl

I overheard this interesting conversation at the Flippa HQ the other day.

“I’ve already parked my kid’s domain name. It’s all set.”

“Great. You can give it to him when he’s 21. It’ll be worth more than a car!”

OK, maybe not, but you have to forgive us. We can’t help but to obsess over websites, domains, and apps here at Flippa. It’s just so much fun.

The future is digital. The future is now. And digital real estate is serious business. It gives companies and individuals the chance to build a platform, get heard, and above all, make money online.

Do you have your own piece of land? Here’s why it’s the best investment you can make for 2014.

1. Become Your Own Landlord

My grandmother always used to say that it’s better to own a house than to rent it.

In fact, there’s a lot of “renting” going on online. Just think about Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You provide them with your private details and they give you a “free” space to interact with your friends, followers, and colleagues.

Why not spend more time and energy on your own property?

Bottom line: It’s not a good idea to build your entire business on someone else’s land.

Copyblogger calls this practice digital sharecropping, and it works in a similar fashion to the the feudal system, where the landlords reap the rewards, and the peasants do all the work.

We don’t know which empires will stand strong in the future. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn change their terms and conditions on a regular basis, and as tenants, we don’t know what they have in store for us.

Empires rise and fall, and that is true for the online world as well. Remember what happened to Squidoo and MySpace? These places are still active, but they’re not nearly as powerful as they once used to be.

So, why not buy your own digital land and start creating your online assets right now?

We’ve seen it happen again and again here on Flippa. Smart, motivated people invest in websites, domains, and apps. They see an opportunity to make better use of the land, which the previous owner had missed, or didn’t have the time to do something about.

Jon Yau, the buyer of StockPhoto.com, is a great example of someone who not only sees the value in digital real estate, but is also determined to make his new land work for him and his business goals. Heck, he even convinced his wife it was worth the $250,000 investment.

Digital properties are here to stay. Are you missing out?

2. Choose Your Own Lifestyle

Yes, a full-blown website requires maintenance, but it’s not as much physical labor as looking after a block of land and a house. You decide how far you want to take your website, domain or app. How much you want to work on it.

You choose the what, where, and how. You choose your own lifestyle.

You can access your digital asset from anywhere in the world, as long as you have a decent internet connection. And this is what makes it so much easier and valuable to own digital properties.

Forget spending three hours in a car to get to your summer house – your digital assets travel with you. They don’t care if you’re in sunny Australia or snowy Sweden!

3. Make Money with Your Land

Of course, you can make money from your digital property. After all, that’s the dream. Whether you want to spend more time with your family or quit your day job, your digital properties can help you achieve that.

Obviously, it’s a lot of work, but it is doable. The sad truth is if you don’t own any digital property you’re not even in the game.

Owning your own land is the most efficient way to make money online because you reap the rewards. Whether it be through advertising, selling your own services and products or becoming an affiliate for someone else’s product, precious digital real estate can help you earn more money.

Over to You

A block of land is always a block of land. No matter how virtual it is, the land is still yours to use in any way you choose. The question is what you will use it for. To establish your latest startup? To grow your online portfolio? To give to your children on their 21st?

In the digital age, your websites, domains, and apps are your most valuable business asset. What’s stopping you from investing in digital real estate? And how do you plan to make your land more valuable in 2014? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

P.S. Become your own landlord today by buying your next website, domain, or app right here on Flippa.  

Revealed: How I Doubled the Value of Websites I Bought on Flippa

This is a guest post from Yaro Starak from entrepreneurs-journey.com.

I’ve made a living from my blog for more than eight years now. Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 1.31.10 pm

Several years ago I decided to take some of the money I was making from my blog and reinvest it into purchasing more sites to create a stable cash-flow source. I wanted to diversify my income and grow it.

For many years I was familiar with the Sitepoint forums, in particular the buy and sell websites forums that would eventually grow to become what Flippa is today.

I began a habit of watching the marketplace at least once a day. I believed that to beat the competition, I would have to spot the good deals on Flippa early. I quickly became familiar with what sites were selling, what information to look out for and how to determine what a site was worth to me.

Since my goal was to create a near-passive income stream, I decided that my investment strategy would focus on acquiring two different types of websites:

  1. Blogs (because I knew how they worked)
  2. Forums (because they run off community generated content so could be very passive)

Step One: Act Quickly on a Good Deal

Over the next few months I missed out on a couple of sites because I was outbid or too slow, but eventually I found what looked like a good deal.

It was a collection of three websites – two forums and a small video sharing site – all about miniature motorcycles. I had no clue what exactly miniature motorcycles were, but the data on the two forums was good:

  • The sites collectively made about $1,000 a month, mostly from AdSense (and almost all of it from the forums)
  • The forums appeared relatively active (I checked how many new threads were started each day for a number of days)
  • The Google Analytics and Google AdSense account information looked legitimate and realistic

My only concern was the buy-it-now price. It was at $12,000, which was a bit over my budget. I did some quick due diligence, asked the seller a few questions, and everything looked pretty good.

I made an offer at the buy-it-now price, since it was reasonable to pay $12,000 for a website that made $1,000 a month, especially since I could see plenty of ways to increase the income. I didn’t want to risk missing this one. The deal was done smoothly and I was in charge of some miniature motorcycle forums.

Step Two: Get Help If You Want Passive Income

I still had a lot of work to do. I had to transfer the sites to my own servers, then I needed to perform the “renovations”, which included some slight design changes to the website layout to include more advertising (the lowest hanging fruit in my mind for increasing the income was optimizing the advertising).

To get this done I needed a tech person, which I already had because they helped look after my blog. I also needed a manager, someone who could oversee the renovations. To perform this role I hired a college friend of mine, who had helped me with a previous blog I owned.

With these two people in place the only job left to me was thinking of ideas about how to improve the sites, which I had plenty of (more on this next step).

Once the sites were transferred over to my servers and everything was running smoothly, I told my website manager to begin some tests to increase the income. To pay for and incentivise my website manager, I told him I would split the AdSense revenue with him 50/50 every month.

Next, I will explain what I did that eventually led to doubling the cash flow from $1,000 to $2,000 a month from my miniature motorcycle forums…

Step 3: Test Ideas to Increase Income

The first change we made was placing the AdSense ad boxes in “hotter” areas in the design of the site. We used an AdSense Heatmap to strategically place the ads in the areas of the site where they were more likely to be clicked.

We also added an extra ad box into the design, since I felt it could handle one more ad without looking too crowded. I instructed my website manager to run some tests running different AdSense ad styles.

We kept things simple at first, changing the color of links and borders. I also asked him to do some research online to find out what AdSense ad designs were working well for other people so we had more things to test. After a month of testing we found a good combination of ad placement and ad design, and managed to grow the AdSense income to almost double across the two forums.

I instructed my website manager to set up direct advertising on the forums. This meant we would sell banners to paying advertisers for a monthly fee.

While AdSense is good, often you can make more money if you charge a monthly fee for a banner, and then sign up several sponsors. You never know until you try whether this will be more profitable, and in this case it was.

We used free ad management software to rotate banners and collect statistics about impressions and clicks. I asked my manager to search online for stores that sell products related to miniature motorcycles. He found several retailers who sold bikes and parts for the bikes, and emailed them all.We weren’t sure how much to charge per banner, so I decided to start on the higher end of my scale, and then lower the prices until we had enough sponsors.

I believe we started pricing at around $250/month for a banner in one of the prime areas of the site, and eventually found $150/month to be the sweet spot to get the most advertisers.

I didn’t want to take more than five paying sponsors at once to make sure they all received adequate exposure. Most of the time we had three active paying advertisers who stayed with us for many months. To make the banners fit into the design, we had to remove some of the AdSense ads.

Given with three or four paying advertisers we could make $500 to $600 a month from just one ad spot, that’s a lot more than we made from AdSense in just that area.

Plus we still received a good amount from AdSense in the other areas of the site. We also did one more monetization test. I suggested we look at Clickbank and see if there were any good affiliate products we could promote to the audience.

My website manager found an ebook on how to repair miniature motorcycles, which was a perfect test. We used one of the affiliate banners and tested it in on the site. For each sale, we earned about $15 commission, so if we could sell ten to twenty copies a month it would make us more than AdSense did. The ebook didn’t sell quite as well as hoped, but I liked how it looked on the site and since it did about as good as AdSense, we kept it running in rotation with AdSense.

Step 4: Maximize And Stablize Income

Although it took several months to find the right combination of monetization methods, ad placements and pricing structure, once we found a good mix we pretty much left it as is. Once we hit $2,000 a month in income I was happy with the result.

I ended up paying my website manager around $400 to $500 a month depending how well we did in AdSense income that month. This left me with about $1500 a month in cash-flow from my miniature motorcycle sites. Thanks to the increased cash-flow, within eight months I had recouped the $12,000 I invested and then had a $1500 a month passive income stream coming in.

As a recap, we used a combination of the following methods to increase the income from the forums:

  • Optimization of AdSense and adding more ad zones
  • Adding direct paying advertisers
  • Testing affiliate product offers

Thanks to the manager and the volunteer moderators on the forums, there wasn’t much work to keep them going. I did have more plans to expand the sites, including adding a blog and an email newsletter, which I will sell advertising and do affiliate promotions in. However none of this happened as I decided to sell the forums to raise some capital to buy a house of my own to live in.

Step 5: Selling Out for $25,000

To sell the sites I wrote out a prospectus document, which included information about the forums, such as:

  •  How the sites received traffic, including Google Analytics data and forum membership statistics
  • How much money each site makes and where the money came from, including reports from Paypal, Google AdSense and Clickbank
  • What role the manager performed and what role the new owner should plan to do
  • How to grow the sites in the future, costs to run the sites and more

I hoped the document would answer most of the questions a potential buyer would have. Although I planned to take the sites and sell them on Flippa, a friend had a contact who was looking to buy some sites, so I ended up doing the deal with him.

I sold the sites for $25,000, more than double what I paid for them and giving me a nice deposit for a house. I was very pleased with this website deal. Although it took quite a bit of testing to grow the income, by working with a website manager it made the job very hands off for me. I hope you take a few ideas from what I did to help you double your return on any websites you buy from Flippa, and turn them into passive income streams.

Competition!

Now I have to tell you about a special competition I am running in conjunction with the guys at Flippa where you can win one of three copies of my new guide package –

How To Buy And Sell Blogs And Websites For Passive Profits

How To Enter The Competition

To enter the competition and win one of three free copies of my new e-guide, all you have to do is leave a comment reply to this article telling me:

Why do you want to get into buying or selling websites?

With the help of the guys at Flippa I will choose the best three entries, who will win a free copy of the guide and the four bonuses that go with it.

8 Tips on How to Sell Your Domain Name

Over the years, a lot of people have asked me for advice on selling a domain name.

What follows is some general advice for the Web entrepreneur that already owns a bunch of domain names and would like to significantly increase the odds of selling those domain names.

Although this advice is based on my two decades’ worth of experience buying and selling thousands of domain names, this advice is not aimed at professional domain name investors (a.k.a. “domainers”) nor am I going to cover pro-active domain name pitching strategies.

If, however, you are what I would refer to as a “Budding Domain Speculator” looking for some practical tips to move some of your domain names, then read on…

The Harsh Truth about Selling Domain Names

Let’s begin with two important things you need to understand and accept (but will likely upset a few readers):

Most of your domain names are probably un-sellable.

Before I dive into how you can boost your domain sales, it’s time for a reality check. The number one impediment to what is referred to as “secondary market” domain name sales is the quality – or lack thereof – of the inventory.

In general, the kind of inventory that sells best in today’s world is one-word, two-word, and sometimes three-word English language .com domain names that directly relate to popular business products or services.

If you are holding non .com inventory (e.g., .net, .org, .biz), or domains that consist of invented words, or are phrases, be prepared for the sad probability that this inventory will not sell in your lifetime.

Of course there are going to be exceptions to this, but they are, by their very nature, exceptions. The cold, hard reality is that secondary market domain names are not very liquid assets. This probably means that most of your inventory is not going to sell. Ever.

It’s still a horrendously inefficient market.

Most end user buyers don’t know where to look for secondary market domain names. They don’t know how to contact the owners, nor do they have any idea of how to actually purchase and transfer a domain name. As a result, they become generally confused and frustrated by the whole process.

Quite frankly, who can blame them? So the more you can do as a domain speculator to soften the edges here, the greater the likelihood you will sell some of your domains.

Tips for Selling Your Domain

Now that I have beaten you up about the quality of your domains and the relatively inefficient state of the secondary market, let’s talk about some best practices that will help you sell your domains.

1. Display a “for sale” message on your domain’s home page

Believe it or not, the number one source of secondary market domain name sales is buyers typing the domain name into their Web browser and navigating to the domain to see if it is available. Better yet, you can use Flippa’s Free Domain Billboard.

To boost your domain name sales, you first need to make sure that your domains resolve to a page that, one way or another, clearly indicates that the domain is for sale and provides a choice of ways for the prospective buyer to contact you or purchase the domain right away, whether that be via email, phone, chat, or whatever.

The goal here is convenience. There’s a bunch of easy ways you can accomplish this.

Your domain name registrar may provide you with a free one-page Website tool, which you can use to create a “this domain is for sale” landing page. Alternatively, you can create a single page (perhaps a hidden page hanging off one of your existing websites) that indicates that your domain names are for sale. You can then forward all of your domain names that are for sale to that one page.

If you are feeling ambitious, you can link each of your domain names to its matching “buy it now” purchase page at one of the marketplaces. Another more sophisticated option would be to “park” your domain with one of the leading domain parking companies, such as DomainSponsor or SmartName and enable their built-in “for sale” message and contact mechanisms.

Whatever you do, make sure that if someone navigates to one of your domain names that they can clearly see your “for sale” message, otherwise you will miss out on a ton of sales opportunities.

2. Sell your domains on Flippa

Although Flippa is best known as the leading platform for buying and selling websites, the domain name marketplace has grown quickly and is now a leading product for selling domains names. 

Flippa attracts a different audience than the typical domain name marketplace, and sometimes a domain name that would not get much attention in the more crowded and traditional domain name marketplaces will find a seller on Flippa.

This happened to me with one of my own domain names, a two-word, technology-oriented .com. I had it listed just about everywhere for a year or two, even had it in auction on GoDaddy a few times, but I could never get this domain name to sell.

Figuring I had nothing to lose, and always game to try new things, I listed it on Flippa. To my pleasant surprise, the domain sold for several thousand dollars and I made a tidy little profit.

From my observation, the domain names that sell best on Flippa are those that appeal to buyers who will want to develop them into full-blown websites.

If you do try to sell a domain name on Flippa, take advantage of the fact you can include a detailed description of the domain name in your listing, which is something that the traditional domain marketplaces don’t offer.

3. Embrace fixed pricing if you really want to move your domains

Regarding fixed pricing, this is always a hotly-debated topic in the domain investor community because some people feel that putting a fixed-price on a domain means that you risk leaving money on the table.

While that may be true, at least you sold the domain name! As I like to remind people:

“He who dies with the most toys (and domains) still dies.”

Most buyers are intimidated by the whole “make offer” thing and just want to be able to browse by price and buy instantly if they see something they like and can afford. Frankly, I’d rather have seller’s remorse than go to my grave still holding an unsold domain name, but the decision to go fixed-price or not is all yours.

One thing to keep in mind: if someone contacts you directly about buying one of your fixed-price domain names, you can always ask them to make an offer and/or you can always quote them a higher amount than your fixed-price. It is very unlikely that they have seen the list price elsewhere. Most buyers are not that sophisticated.

4. Optimize the WHOIS record for sales

Add a “for sale” message to your WHOIS (domain ownership record) information. Once again, the goal here is to make it blatantly clear to Joe Public that your domain name is for sale.

You can include this messaging in one of several ways. You can append the owner’s (a.k.a. registrant’s) name or company name with “This Domain is For Sale”, e.g., instead of listing the company as “Acme Inc.” you would list it as “Acme Inc. – This Domain is For Sale”.

Alternatively, you could use a custom email address for your domain registrations that suggests the domain name is for sale, e.g., [email protected][yourcompanyname].com.

Trust me, you cannot be too obvious about this!

5. Don’t hide behind WHOIS privacy

If you are using a WHOIS privacy service, remove it if possible.

These services are fantastic if you want to cut down on spam and/or hide your identity as the owner of a domain, but they are a serious impediment to sales because most potential buyers don’t know how to contact a domain owner that is using a WHOIS privacy service. It simply confuses them and is a perceived (if not actual) roadblock.

Make it easier for buyers to contact you. Ask your domain registrar to remove the WHOIS privacy service.

6. Have realistic price expectations

We all hear in the popular media about those rare six and seven-figure domain name sales like sex.com, hotels.com and beer.com, but what folks don’t realize is that these deals represent less than 1% of all the transactions.

It would be awesome if you were able to sell one of your domains for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars (and I genuinely hope that you do), but chances are that’s not going to happen.

The typical secondary market .com domain name (which is usually a two-word name) sells for around $2,000, and the majority of the rest of the domains that sell change hands for less than $5,000, so keep that in mind when you price your domains.

You probably aren’t going to retire on the proceeds of your domain name sales, but it might help you pay off your mortgage faster.

For help pricing your domains, check out tools like Flippa’s Domain Name Apprasial Tool 

7. Respond promptly to any purchase inquiries you get

Everyone seems to be in a rush these days to get stuff done, and purchasing domain names is no different. If someone makes the effort to contact you about buying one of your domain names, try to respond to them within 24 hours. If you don’t, they may find another domain name and you will have lost a sale.

There is nothing more frustrating to a buyer than a non-responsive seller. I have seen domain speculators miss out on potential six-figure deals because they took too long to reply to the buyer, or didn’t reply at all.

8. Use “charm pricing” to increase the likelihood of a sale

There’s a reason a lot of products on store shelves have prices that end in “99” or “98”. This is called “charm pricing” and it has to do with retail psychology.

You can and should apply this best practice to your domain name pricing. For example, even though a domain name priced at $1,999 is only $1 less than a domain name priced at $2,000, the $1,999 domain will “feel” like a much better deal to many potential buyers.

Domains, like most products with charm pricing, have been statistically proven to sell much faster. I know this may sound crazy, but it works!

Conclusion

By following the eight domain name sales tips that I have outlined above, you will vastly increase the odds of selling a domain. I wish you much luck and success in doing so, and please let me and the fellow readers know in the comments what strategies are working best for you.

P.S. Want to see what’s selling right now? Check out the Flippa domain sales

Photo by: Cybele Wertz

How I Quit My Job and Launched a Successful Web Business

How I Quit My Job and Launched a Successful Web Business

In May 2011 I decided that I wanted to quit my job. I didn’t know what I would do instead, but I knew that I needed to move on. That December, I did move on, and I haven’t looked back.

Today I work as a professional blogger and have never been happier. Earlier this month, I launched my own content marketing agency, Clear Blogging Solutions.

In this post I want to recount my story. Hopefully you can learn from my experiences – both my successes and my failures.

You’ve Got to Want It

I actually liked my old job.

I led the management and development of an eight figure property portfolio in my father’s business. But I became restless – I was an entrepreneur at heart, and even though I had autonomy in my role, I had an epiphany. I wanted to quit.

On May 23rd of 2011, I launched my first website. I then set myself a goal – to quit my job within one year. I did not rely solely on hope and dreams. I set a concrete, actionable goal.

To succeed at anything, you need goals. Nowhere is this more true than in efforts to quit your “offline” job and start an online business. I didn’t waffle and waver – I committed to my goal and I succeeded because I really, truly wanted it.

If you don’t have the drive to strive for your goal, then you are unlikely to succeed. That’s okay, but it might mean that you aren’t ready to quit your job. You have to really want it.

I did. And December 23rd of 2011 was my last day of employment – I beat my goal by five months.

Don’t Play It Safe, Play It Smart

People just starting out are often told to wait until they are making as much or more with their online business as they are in their current job. Frankly, I think that is bad advice.

I started out trying to gain passive income from niche sites, which did not really work out (more on that later). After a while, I began doing freelance writing work. I secured one client, then another.

I wasn’t making enough money with my writing to support my lifestyle. But I did the math – I was making an equivalent hourly rate of $25 (which was considerably higher than my hourly rate at my job). If I could find writing work to fill the extra hours freed up by quitting my job, I would make enough to stay afloat. I was confident in my ability to find more clients. Simple logic dictated that I could quit my job and still make enough money.

You should not play it safe and wait until you are making as much money online as you currently do. Instead, you need to logically calculate when you can successfully rely on your online business.

Prepare for the Worst Financially

Another key part of playing it smart is making sure that you have something to fall back on in case your financial situation turns bad.

Any sort of safety net works. You could save money. You might be able to get the guarantee of a job in the event that you need to return to stable income. You could even consider moving back in with your parents if things don’t pan out (if such a thing were an option of course ;-)).

Whatever you choose, you need some sort of Plan B. For me, that was financial savings. I put enough money away to cover me for several months.

There is another side to this coin. Yes, you need to prepare for the worst. But you also will need to make sacrifices. To brighten my financial outlook, I critically assessed how much I was spending and cut 30% of my monthly costs.

That’s right – I eliminated almost a third of my expenditures. It is hard – but if giving up that flat screen TV or shiny new car will give you the wiggle room to succeed in quitting your job, it is worth it.

What is the takeaway from all of this? You should be prepared to adopt a more frugal lifestyle and you always need a back up plan in case things go south.

If It Doesn’t Pan Out, Change Your Plan

When I decided that I wanted to quit my job, I didn’t know how to do it. My first plan involved passive income streams – creating niche websites and making money through ad revenue.

I created an authority site for parents in the world of child modeling (random topic, I know — such are the vagaries of creating websites based upon keyword research). I obsessed over SEO and did everything I could to target the right keywords.

After a few months, it worked. Modeling for Kids reached #1 in Google search rankings. But the earnings I had hoped for didn’t pour in. Soon, due to excessive backlinking on the site, Google pushed it down in the rankings.

I was seriously frustrated. So in September 2011, I submitted a bunch of applications to the ProBlogger Job Board. I did it on a whim, but soon heard back from WPMU. After a paid trial there, I secured ongoing work. I then sent out some more applications and got a job with the ManageWP blog (where I still write). Finally, I was making real money.

I learned that passive income streams are not the only way to make money online. From my experience, they are not necessarily even the best way.

I did not begin to succeed until I took a leap and tried something new. Of course, you should work hard to put your business plan into action. But you should never ignore new opportunities.

The path of your online business may twist and turn in new directions but as long as you enjoy the journey and it gets you where you want to go, that’s okay.

Know What You’re Doing Before You Do More of It

Unfortunately, I wasn’t done with my futile foray into niche sites.

In January of 2012, even as I was getting paid for writing, I drew up a plan to create a large number of sites. Without the time to work extensively on the mass niche sites myself, I hired a Virtual Assistant (VA) to write the content for me.

On April 5th, my VA quit without notice – I only found out when I emailed her to ask why nothing was getting done. It was a huge setback for my passive income dreams and gave me a chance for reflection. My ideas about scaling completely changed.

I didn’t really understand how to make money from niche sites, and yet I had tried to make money from multiple niche sites. That was a bad plan.

On top of that, I tried to hire somebody else to do the work of creating content for those niche sites – work that, again, I personally did not know how to do effectively.

Scaling could mean that you are going to do more of something yourself, or that you are going to hire someone else to do more of it. Either way, you should always understand a process before you try to scale it.

Carve Out Time To Think

The next month I took a trip to Bulgaria. It was an amazing decision. With little to worry about, I found that I finally had a relaxed creative zone to relax and reflect within.

Too often, we get caught up in the noise of daily life. But great ideas that drive us forward come most easily in the silence of reflection. Here is a short list of ideas I came up with while on holiday:

  • Two different information products
  • A new strategy for guest posting
  • A new blog
  • The re-branding of Leaving Work Behind
  • Ten ideas for new articles

I was able to make positive changes to my own blog and put new ideas into action. That would have been impossible without some space to think. Constant hustling and endless work will burn you out. Instead, you should be sure to make room for time when you have nothing to worry about – with no worries, you can think.

Own Your Time

Prior to quitting my job, the issue was finding enough time to work on my business. While working many hours in my offline role, it was often hard to slot in enough time to advance my online aspirations. Time management was paramount.

After quitting, I came to realize that time was still important. Now that it was totally in my control, I started striving to be as efficient as possible. Reading and experience led me to four steps that I call the AESA process: act, eliminate, streamline/systematize, and automate. I detailed it in an earlier post.

Time is the single most important asset you have. Don’t waste it.

Preserve Your Integrity

Some advice seems so short but rings so true. Here’s a piece that I learned – be honest.

In the past, I tried a lot of ways to earn money other than niche sites and freelance writing. A lot of them centered around my blog – affiliate hard sells, webinars, etc. I always ended up feeling bad about these ploys and with good reason. They may not necessarily have been unethical, but they got far closer to being so than I was comfortable with.

Don’t build your business on dishonesty, cheap gimmicks and short term profit goals. I have now decided to do the right thing and throw those ideas in the trash can (where they belong).

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize…

Running an online business is hard and the difficulty doesn’t end. It’s not a quick dash – it’s a marathon. But it can be incredibly rewarding if you keep the right mindset. I try to do that every day.

I don’t force myself to work. I know that on some days I will feel demotivated. If I need to read a book or take a nap, I do that. Why? There are days where I work for hours on end late into the night. Those motivated days will more than make up for the days when I’m just not feeling it.

Here’s my point – the ultimate goal of a business should never be money. Money is nothing more than a means to an end. If money gets you from point A to point B, that’s great. But what matters is point B and the journey to get there.

My focus is always on quality of life. For me, the little things matter. I enjoy an occasional afternoon round of golf. I love the freedom to drop by my dad’s office in the middle of the day to say hi. The little things do matter because they stack up and make my life more fulfilling.

Never lose sight of why you do what you do.

…Because the Prize Is Awesome

I don’t intend to let my business stagnate. I launched Clear Blogging Solutions in early August. I have new plans for my blog, Leaving Work Behind.

I hope that you will adopt a similar mindset – never stop dreaming and never be afraid to make your dreams come true.

This post was an overview of my experience quitting my job and starting an online business. I think there are some key lessons you can glean from my story – both the things I did right and the things I did wrong.

  • To succeed, you must truly want it.
  • Don’t be too cautious – be logical, and know when to take the leap.
  • Be smart with your finances.
  • Never be afraid to branch out, even if it changes your plans.
  • Understand a process before you scale it.
  • Find your creative space, be it a location or vacation.
  • Value time management.
  • Be honest with your customers.
  • Quality of life is always the most important consideration

Hopefully my story and advice will give you the practical wisdom to leverage your work ethic to make massive gains. Good luck!

4 Copywriting Tips to Boost Your Next Flippa Listing

4 Copywriting Tips to Boost Your Next Flippa Listing

Are you leaving money on the table because of a poorly written Flippa listing description?

You’re not alone. Writing a compelling listing is something that most Flippa sellers struggle with. Many people find writing difficult enough, so the idea of writing to sell can be overwhelming. In this article, I share four copywriting tips advertisers revisit again and again. The good news is that you can apply these same strategies to improve your own copy and get more money from your listing.

Using these four copywriting tactics will significantly boost your next Flippa auction. So, let’s get started.

Provide Proof

“The real advertising writer who is after results makes the reader want something – and then provides what the reader will consider a good excuse for buying it.” – Clyde Bedell

A young assistant to a District Attorney approaches his boss and says “I think we have just enough for a conviction”. The DA grabs the assistant by the cuffs of his shirt and yells “Don’t you ever dare send me into court with just enough!”

Why was the DA so upset? Because to win a criminal case, you need a preponderance of proof. There needs to be no doubt in the jury’s mind that the person on trial is guilty. You should have the same preponderance of proof when creating the sales copy for your Flippa listing.

The more proof you can supply to back up your claims, the better. Uploading attachments of payments received, verified Google analytics, and income statements will all help. You can even go one step further and create a YouTube proof video and link to it from your listing. This video can show your potential buyers when you log in to your Google analytics or Paypal account, and so they can see the proof for themselves.  

You can also use social proof. If you have a 100% positive feedback and over $50,000 in previous sales then this is something that you should include near the start of your listing.

Create a Winning Auction Title

“Five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” – David Ogilvy

Your auction title is one of the most important elements of your listing. If more people click on your headline then there will be more potential buyers for your site. Conversely if your auction title doesn’t grab the viewer’s attention enough to click on it, then it won’t matter how great your site is. Spending a little more time crafting a compelling headline is time well spent.

Be Specific in Your Auction Title

Using specific figures is a great way to get attention and build trust. Again Flipping Enterprises does this very well. In many of their listings they will include the exact monthly profit or revenue that these sites are bringing in. For example:

$35,618 in Profit Last 6 Months – Established CPA Affiliate Network

$42,343 in Profit in Last 12 Months – Unique Software Product – IM Niche

Note that the auction title includes the exact dollar amount. Listing an exact amount in the headline appears considerably more credible than simply stating that the site is profitable. Thousands of dollars a month profit may seem like a potentially interesting opportunity, but $2,345 a month are the figures of a real business.

Include How Long the Business Has Been Earning the Profit

If you ask serious buyers what they look for in an auction, they invariably say they want a significant earnings history. Sites which have been producing a solid profit for the past six months will fetch a better price than those which have only one month of earnings. If you do have a solid earnings history then you should include this in the headline as this will definitely help to improve the number of people who check out your listing.

Detail the Page Rank

Another specific piece of data to include in the listing title is the page rank. Stating that the site is PR5 or PR6 doesn’t take up a lot of room but it helps to draw interest. This is a quick way to establish that the site is well established and worthy of your attention.

The Power of Transparency

“The most powerful element in advertising is the truth.” – William Bernbach

It’s the copywriter’s job to “Sell a good night’s sleep – not the mattress.” People buy products because they want a specific result, not to own the product itself. We use transparency to show the buyer how they are going to be able to achieve the result they desire.

The vast majority of website buyers are investors. They want to earn the income that you are claiming for that site. The more transparent you can be about how they will achieve this income, the better.

If you are creating content for your site, explain how this is being done. Are you writing the content yourself or do you have a team of writers already in place? If you are using freelancers, how much does this cost?

If the traffic is coming from organic search, which keywords does your site rank for? If you are using social traffic, which sites are generating the most referrals? And if you are using paid traffic, how much does this cost?

By being transparent you are showing your potential buyer how they will be able to get from point A to point B. They can feel comfortable that they will be able to replicate your income or traffic performance after they’ve bought your website.

Overcome Your Buyers’ Objections

“We have become so accustomed to hearing everyone claim that his product is the best in the world, or the cheapest, that we take all such statements with a grain of salt.” – Robert Collier

As potential buyers look through your Flippa listing an internal dialogue is taking place. The buyer will think of reasons why they shouldn’t buy your website. One of the main purposes of your Flippa listing is to overcome any objections that your buyer might have.

Before creating your listing, think of the kinds of objections someone might have to purchasing your site. For example:

  • Running it will take up too much of my time
  • I won’t be able to create new content for this site
  • I don’t have the technical ability to run this site
  • I’m not sure how to generate traffic to this site

Once you have identified these objections you should bring them up in the sales copy for your site and address them. For example, to overcome the objection that they don’t know how to generate traffic in the future, you could include a PDF which explains which traffic sources to use and how to use them. To overcome the objection that it will take up too much time, you could detail how certain aspects of the site are automated.

The most common objection that buyers will have is “If this site is so great, why are they selling it?”  There are many reasons why you might be selling a quality, profitable site. Perhaps you need the money for a down payment on an apartment deposit or to pay for college. Or maybe you don’t have the time it takes to maintain the site anymore. Listing the reason why you are selling will help to disqualify this common objection.

Over to You

Writing a great Flippa listing may seem overwhelming but it doesn’t need to be. The key is to be detailed and transparent, while emphasizing your website’s strengths. In the words of master copywriter Leo Burnett:

Here’s what we’ve got. Here’s what it will do for you. Here’s how to get it.”

Follow that simple framework, and use the four tips from above, and you’re on your way to boost your next Flippa listing.

What have you found to be effective for your Flippa listings? Leave your comments below.