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Everything You Need to Know to Sell a Website on Flippa.com

A little over a month ago, I made the difficult decision to throw in the towel for one of my sites. I had some decent success with it in its first year, generating several thousands of dollars in revenue, but there were several life changes in the past few months that have kept me busy. To continue to grow the site would take time that I didn’t have and it just seemed like an injustice to keep it any longer. Plus, it would probably lose value later if I tried to sell it after months of little to no activity or posts. I couldn’t let that happen, so it was time to pull the plug.

When I decided to list my site on Flippa, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I have sold things on ebay before, so I figured it would be a similar experience. While there were some similarities, there were many more complexities that I want to share with you so you can be one step ahead. It all starts with asking yourself, before you list it on Flippa, whether you have something of value.

What Makes a Site Valuable on Flippa? What are Flippa Buyers Looking For?

One of the most common mistakes that I see on Flippa.com is the number of people selling sites that are not worth anything, or are selling at the wrong time. In order to best assess when and if you should sell on Flippa, you need to consider the following points that Flippa buyers use to calculate how much they are willing to buy. While I haven’t bought something on flippa, I have bought several sites in the past and have now negotiated with several potential buyers, so I know a thing or two about what is wanted.

Buyers are looking for the following things before committing to buying a site:

  • VERIFIED traffic - Yes, you read that correctly. This means verifying your traffic through google analytics. There is an easy way to publish a pdf form of key screens in your analytics, but it also means that you have to have analytics installed on your site. If it isn’t, do that now and come back to the idea of selling your site 3-9 months from now. They will want to see multiple months in a row of traffic that is either consistent or growing.
  • Proof of Income - This is another phrase that gets tossed around on Flippa a lot. Too many buyers are cautious (as they should be) and will only bid on a website if the seller provides print screens of their paypal account, showing that they actually earned the amount that they are claiming.
  • Diverse and Specific Income Streams - What I have come to learn is that every buyer wants to see a site with multiple ways to make money. While smaller sites can still be profitable with one main source of revenue (adsense, targeted affiliates, etc), a valuable site will have success with CPC, affiliates, and maybe even CPM ads. Private ads can do wonders for a small site that struggles with either traffic or other income, but it won’t be valued as highly as CPC ad income or affiliate income. It’s just not a sustainable income stream.
  • Selling History - Similar to any other marketplace, flippa as a feedback system. This provides a little extra security to buyers and sellers. I’ll dive into this more in detail later in the post when I talk about approving bids on Flippa, but the short story is that buyers are looking for another confirmation that you are a legitimate seller and won’t try to scam them. What you need to realize is that selling your site for the most money is all about making potential buyers feel comfortable that they are getting a profitable asset from a person that is not going to scam them.

How to Describe Your Site?

Now that you have a better understanding of what buyers are looking for, if you decide to sell your site on Flippa.com, you need to realize the importance of crafting your listing. I remember looking through the classified sections in the local newspaper as a kid and asking my dad what all the abbreviations meant on the used cars section: AC, PW, PL, etc. While you don’t have this problem on Flippa since you have all the space that you should need to describe the site in detail, there are still specific strategies that you can employ to get more money out of your site.

Before listing my site, I took a look at several successful listing and found out how they described their site so that I could apply the same tactics to my listing. Here are the things you need to take into consideration when listing your site:

  1. Be as Brief as Possible, but don’t leave anything out: This may sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s not. I guarantee it. You want to make sure to list every reason why this site is valuable, but do so in a way that is easy to read and understand. This means including lists when appropriate.
  2. Follow a Natural Order: Another important thing is following a natural order to your listing. What I mean by that is to start out with the things that buyers are primarily interested. In other words, start out with a summary. Then, provide a list of every related account that is included in the sale (Key items to include are: # of posts, facebook page followers, twitter fans, RSS subscribers, etc). Include all of the things that can help quantify how valuable your site is.
  3. Reason for Sale: The one thing that could hurt you about selling a profitable site is that buyers will often ask themselves why it is being sold if it is truly profitable. No one in their right mind would sell something (especially at a discounted price) that is truly profitable. If you are just tired of running a website, feel free to say so, but add more specifics to make it believable. Don’t just say “I’m sick of running this website.” Add in points that may apply like getting a new job, or having a child that now takes up your free time. Just make sure to ask you would believe it if you were a buyer.
  4. Include Site Maintenance: Most buyers on Flippa (but not all) are looking for websites that will generate passive income. They typically aren’t looking for a site that is going to take a lot of work. For this reason, they are wanting a site that they have to do very little work on a consistent basis. Don’t mislead potential buyers, but also make sure to present all the options (like whether you outsource a part of the site maintenance, etc.)
  5. Explain Any Negative Features: Unlike a job interview, selling a website on Flippa means that you have to be thorough. That means that if you have one aspect of your site that has lacked in development, be sure to explain that before it is asked. This will go a long way to ease the minds of potential buyers. For example, if you have a facebook page with only 30 fans, it might be important to explain that you didn’t create the facebook fan page until 2 months before the sale. Or, that you didn’t give that much attention to growing it (like you did other aspects) and it has huge potential for growth.
  6. Still Confused? Let me help! Are you still scratching your head, wondering what you should write in the description? Well, here’s the outline that I used when writing my description:
    • Overview (3-4 Sentences)
    • What’s Included (List)
    • Site Operation
    • Why Site is Being Sold
    • Financial Details (Mainly referencing reported income)
    • Traffic Details (Mainly referencing verified traffic)
    • Additional Revenue Details

How to Negotiate with Potential Bidders

Now that you have listed your site, it’s important to negotiate with potential bidders carefully. Saying the wrong thing or misleading them can be disastrous in the long run, so make sure to be very clear and specific. As you will come to find out, after listing the site, regardless of how thorough you were with the description, you will get private messages and comments asking for more information about your site. The first important bit of advice that I can give you is to understand that everyone who contacts you is not interested in bidding on your site. 

For some reason or another, there are people who take advantage of sellers and want to get key information from sellers because they know that they have the advantage. What I mean is that it is typically in the seller’s best interest to not turn people off. This often means accommodating weird requests. But, what happens is that people can contact you, asking for key information about your site. Whether they are asking for a list of private advertisements on the site OR your top performing keywords, it can be difficult to sort through interested parties and those just trying to get free information. Be conscious of that and if you refuse to give some information before the sale of the site, just explain why you are being cautious. Trust me, I learned this very fast when it became evident that people were just fishing for information and not serious about bidding.

When to Approve Bidders; When to Decline

If you’ve done everything successfully up to this point and have a site that is valuable, you will start to receive bids. I received my first bid the day that I opened the auction. Yet, I was forced to make a difficult decision. Flippa will alert you when you receive a bid and will ask if you would like to accept the bid. They give you some information about the bidder, but it is not much to go on. I ended up rejecting the first bid because they had no positive feedback and were in a strange country (on top of just creating their flippa account days before).

After that first bid, I got what seemed to be more serious bidders, with actual Flippa history. Some that had successfully won sales and others who had bid on a number of sites over long periods of time. When you are approving bidders, make sure to consider the implications because once you accept their first bid, you are obligated to sell to them if the bid reaches the reserve price and they win the auction. Be sure to not limit the number of bidders too much as some healthy competition for your site can increase the price significantly, but don’t get greedy and put yourself in a bad situation.

How to Handle the Transfer

If you reserve price was met and your website was won by a trustworthy bidder, it is now time to complete the transaction. You have the choice/responsibility of handling the site transfer on your own. In other words, this is done in direct correspondence with you and the buyer, not through some interactive tool through Flippa. Many people will use escrow, in order to protect both the buyer and seller. I was planning on using escrow, but the wire transfer got rejected for some weird reason and then the buyer and I worked out an agreeable way to proceed directly through paypal.

If you are going to do it directly through paypal, I recommend doing it in two stages. After the first half of the payment, give access to wordpress, twitter, facebook, and all of the things that wouldn’t be the end of the world should the sale go bad. Then, after second payment, provide the big items like the domain registration and webhosting (or FTP access/account). I think this is a balanced approach that provides the buyer with some valuable access after only half of the payment, but provides ultimate security for the seller as well.

Buying and selling a website, whether it’s through Flippa or not, can be a risky thing. There are certain things to protect yourself, but a lot of it comes down to you. Make sure that you don’t release too much information and also use your best judgement when deciding to whom you are going to sell your site. I hope this helps you with your decision to sell your site on Flippa.

Let me know in the comments section if you have any additional questions.

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One Response to Everything You Need to Know to Sell a Website on Flippa.com

  1. Glad to see a new post here! I doubt I’ll sell my site but always interesting to know how it’d work if I did. I think htis is a great tutorial!

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