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.
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.
“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.
Over the last few years the industry of buying and selling internet businesses has evolved from webmasters trading hobby sites amongst themselves into an industry filled with businesses, rather than just opportunities.
This shift in the industry has introduced a number of nuisances, and perhaps the most common one is both sellers and buyers underestimating the maintenance burden of the sites being sold and bought.
Based on my experience as a website broker, at least 30% of sellers in the $5,000 – $25,000 price range fail to accurately disclose the number of hours that maintaining the site takes. In addition, a similar percentage of sellers fail to accurately describe the skill sets needed to run the website they’re selling. These numbers are quite scary as they often lead to the website’s maintenance costs skyrocketing at the day of its takeover, effectively eating into the site’s net profit.
Not Necessarily an Intentional Deception
Sure, some sellers deliberately misrepresent the amount of time spent doing maintenance chores or the skill sets needed to run the site, but it’s not always intentional.
In most cases it’s completely unintentional and something that’s probably not occurred to the seller. After all, many websites have been run as a hobby, not a business. Webmasters who run their site as a hobby never even realize how much time they actually spend on their site daily, weekly and monthly.
Most sellers can estimate how much time they spend on bigger tasks, such as content production or product catalogue updates. The majority, however, severely underestimates the hours that they spend on the small tasks, such as replying to e-mails, posting updates on their Facebook page or spreading the word here and there. These “small” tasks often add up to a significant number.
Does the Buyer Have What It Takes?
A slightly different but a related issue is website owners falsely believing that nearly anybody is capable of taking over the work and maintaining the site. Whilst in some cases it is true, in others it’s the complete opposite.
Let’s look at content sites as an example. You may have started a blog about food recipes three years ago, knowing nothing about food or cooking. Based on this fact alone, many sellers would claim that the new owner of the website does not have to be experienced on the subject, either.
The reality, however, is that within those three years you’re likely to have acquired a substantial knowledge on the subject, and even though you had created the website originally with no expertise, your visitors have grown with you and are now expecting certain professionalism. You are able to provide them with this experience, but the buyer of your website may not be.
What Should Sellers Do about It?
As with many things, there is the quick way and the good way.
The quick way is simply looking at your hours spent on maintaining the website realistically. Most website owners, when asked, think for a minute or two and then come up with an approximate that they believe to be close to accurate. Needless to say, this is the wrong way of doing it and almost never yields an accurate result. When planning to sell your website, start writing down your activities related to the site at least a few weeks, but ideally a month before listing the site for sale.
The ideal option, on the other hand, is outsourcing all maintenance aspects of your website prior to the sale in exchange for a fixed weekly or monthly fee. Even though it will increase your expenses, in most cases the value of the website raises instantly, meaning that you will make back the lost money many times over once you’re selling the site.
When you outsource the maintenance of your site, there will be much less room for misinterpretation of claims. Many serial buyers also value their time more than recreational webmasters do. Nowadays, it’s a standard practice to deduct the time spent on maintenance directly from net profits prior to valuating and making an offer on a site.
For outsourcing, you can either use private outsourcers such as Freelancer, Elance, or a professional website maintenance service such as Centurica’s WebsiteCare. Whilst the former is the cheaper option in the short term, the latter will tend to give you a much higher quality output minus the delegation headaches, and you’ll also eliminate the issue of having to transfer several freelance agreements to the buyer of your site once it’s being sold.
I’d advise against making these changes shortly before listing the site. There are very few things that buyers like less than the seller completely changing the operational aspects of the site weeks before listing it for sale. Should you make any fundamental changes, always make sure you allow everything to stabilize before selling the site.
What Should Buyers Do about It?
For buyers it’s important to always double check and verify the seller’s claims when it comes to maintenance hours and skill sets needed.
At our firm, a large part of our due diligence process is getting a complete understanding of the site’s business model as only then can we accurately say whether the seller’s claims are realistic or not. As a buyer, you should do the same. If you have any questions or uncertainties about the site then remember to always ask the seller right away, as once the purchase agreement is signed it’s often too late.
It also helps to speak to a professional, as often there are maintenance tasks that can be easily overlooked but that are in fact extremely time consuming, such as “behind the scenes” marketing, dealing with customer feedback and complaints or communicating with clients to get repeat business.
As an additional verification, you can always get a price quote from a website maintenance company to see what kind of maintenance levels they predict for the site. Even if you’re not sure whether you will outsource the maintenance of the site or do it in-house, all reputable website maintenance services are willing to give you a free price quote, which you can then cross check with your own list of maintenance tasks to see if you’ve missed anything.
Over to you
Let us know in the comments about what experiences you have with the hidden maintenance burden – either as a buyer or a seller.
One of the top questions we receive from sellers when they list their site is whether they should leave their AdSense ads on the site while it’s up for sale. On one hand, selling your site isn’t against the rules. On the other hand, there are a few stories out there of AdSense accounts being banned after a site is listed on Flippa.
So what’s the deal?
Officially, nothing in the AdSense guidelines prohibits website owners from putting their sites up for sale, either privately or in a marketplace. It’s safe to list AdSense websites for sale on Flippa, and we have never heard otherwise from Google.
You can and should review the rules yourself here.
But What Could Be Happening?
Google pays very, very close attention to potential scams. They monitor every click to spot trends and patterns pointing to fraudulent activity. When a site is listed on Flippa, it often receives a swell in new traffic from interested buyers. This can have some positive effects (we’ve noticed that the Alexa rank of a listed site often goes down in the first few days of the auction), which is great for the seller, but it can also look suspiciously like fraudulent traffic. And fraudulent traffic is, of course, cause for a ban.
What Can I Do to Avoid Getting Banned?
Even though it’s not against the rules to sell your site, the best course of action may be to disable AdSense before listing your site for sale. This would be an especially smart move if your site had been receiving very little traffic, since a sudden surge in traffic would look all the more suspicious. Yes, removing ads for the duration of your listing might cost you a bit of money, but it can also buy you peace of mind.
If your site already receives a lot of traffic, it’s probably safe to list it for sale without disabling AdSense. However, you should still take appropriate precautions just in case the worst happens. First of all, if you’re not already keeping detailed records of your AdSense data in a secure location, start doing so now. You won’t be able to access this data if your site gets banned, and it could be invaluable to you if you do receive that dreaded templated email from Google.
If you’ve saved your data, you’ll have all the information you need to put together a persuasive appeal and hopefully get your account reinstated. Carefully examine your data to try to determine the reason why your account was banned. Look for any sudden or unusual changes. Was there an abrupt surge in traffic? If so, where did it come from?
Once you’ve figured out why you think your account was banned, use this form to send an appeal to Google. Simply explain what happened, keeping it factual and as brief as possible. Finish by assuring Google that you have every intention to follow the rules and provide their advertisers with quality leads.
There’s a chance your account will be reinstated, but there seems to be just as much of a chance that it won’t. So don’t get your hopes up too much, and have a backup plan of alternative monetization strategies just in case your AdSense account is lost for good.
The Bottom Line
If you’re really worried about your AdSense account getting banned, go ahead and disable AdSense while your site is listed on Flippa. But if your site already receives a high volume of traffic, and if your livelihood doesn’t depend on your advertising revenue, you may want to keep your AdSense account active.
Turns out it wasn’t the only big thing happening in her life: Jennifer gave birth to her first child days after the auction, and was getting ready to move into a brand-new house at the same time. I had a chat with her to see what it was like to sell what started as a personal blog for more than $25,000.
Can you tell me a little bit about why and how you built TheLooksForLess.com?
On a Friday afternoon in 2009, I was talking to my fellow web developers at my university day job about a new (at the time) application getting a ton of buzz, WordPress. As a geeky developer, I thought it would be fun to expand my skill set by creating a blog. I was pretty savvy at coding PHP and CSS, and knew just enough about database management and web hosting to get started.
I went home that evening, signed up for a hosting account, installed WordPress, purchased a domain, and connected all of these technologies as I watched the sunrise Saturday and Sunday mornings. I was instantly obsessed and my blog, The Looks For Less, was the perfect way to combine my love for fashion and technology.
On Monday morning, I went back to work and shared with my coworkers my brand new blog complete with a theme, logo, and 5 “celebrity look for less” outfit posts. They were shocked at how quickly I was able to put everything together and it became the topic of many exciting conversations over the next couple of years after what started as a hobby, quickly attracted a following of loyal readers and was picking up endorsements from top brands as well as invitations to New York Fashion Week.
What was your experience in running the site, and why did you decide to sell?
Once I got started, I thought about my blog morning, noon, and night. I watched the sun come up often working on post after post. I kept up this momentum for 3 years, yet found the pace difficult to keep up with when my husband and I decided to expand our family. My priorities had changed.
With a baby on the way, there were so many things that I wanted to share beyond fashion so I decided to start a lifestyle blog. At FabFatale.com, I am able to document my every passion including recipes, DIY projects, beauty product reviews, and all things baby. I had every intention of keeping up with both blogs; however, this quickly became impossible with a full time job, a baby on the way, selling our house, and moving into a rental while building a new home, so I decided to sell The Looks For Less while it still had a lot of momentum.
My favourite thing about your auction is the interest it drew in the last few hours, including an all-out bidding war where the price more than doubled to $25k. What were your expectations for the sale, and how did they match the reality of putting your site up for auction?
I had no idea where to begin when I decided to sell my blog. I also had no idea to price it, so I did a search to see if there were any online website auctions available so the market could determine its value. My biggest fear was that the right market wouldn’t find my auction, and it would sell for way less than its current and potential value.
Flippa was the first site to come up in my search and with its high Alexa ranking, I figured it was a legitimate option for selling my blog, and I literally just went for it. I listed my site and set a random reserve price of $8,000 hoping to afford a sectional sofa for the house we will be building this summer. The Premium Support team was a huge help in helping me strategize my listing and I firmly believe the they are the reason my sale was so successful.
On the last day of the auction, all sorts of chaos ensued. The listing was set to expire at 4:30 pm on a Thursday afternoon. My coworkers and I were gathered around a computer and kept refreshing the listing page as the bids continued to rise. All of a sudden, 60 more minutes was added to the clock. It turns out that if a listing gets a bid in the last hour, another hour is added to the ending time, in order to prevent sniping.
Bid after bid came through and this pattern of “bidding and 60 more minutes added to the clock” continued throughout the night. I was literally 9 months pregnant, moving boxes into a rental house that evening, refreshing the listing on my iPhone, and shrieking with joy every time the price went up… $8,000, $10,000, $15,000, $20,000 and finally $25,500!
If this isn’t indiscreet: what do you plan to do with the money?
Wow, not only can I afford that new couch at my new house, but I’m pretty sure I can afford the room it will sit in. With all we have going on, new baby and new home in progress, this money feels so good sitting in my bank account and will come in so handy. With so many major life changes going on right now, the extra money allows us take a deeper breath as we keep calm and carry on. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect and, although I’d like to say that was my intention, I had no idea that my site auction would be such a huge success.