What if you could easily search for websites for sale across the major marketplaces with one simple tool?
Well now you can thanks to a relatively new research tool called FlipFilter. Not only can you search the major marketplaces, you can also get statistics, site valuation, and mail alerts. It’s an incredibly amazing tool for website flipping and the best part is it’s free – at least for now.
I had a chance to interview the creator of this exciting new research tool. After you read the interview, head over to FlipFilter.com and take it for spin and see what you think. I’m confident you’ll become a big fan.
FW: Justin, you and I have been following each other’s progress for a while now. It’s been fun getting to know you and to be one of the first users of FlipFilter. I’m glad to finally have the chance to interview you and to introduce my visitors to this awesome application. When did you first begin developing FlipFilter and what sparked the interest in developing such a tool in the first place?
Thanks Travis. I began development back in Feb this year. I’d had a fair amount of experience in selling websites but was mostly unaware that marketplaces such as Flippa and Digital Point existed. I remember the week I discovered Flippa – I think I racked up like 4 hours a day just studying the types of sites being sold and running the numbers in my head. I was like a kid in a candy shop.
I spent a lot of time looking for undervalued sites but found the Flippa interface a little awkward, and the Digital Point format (being a forum) even worse.
Initially, the project started as a way to simplify things for myself, and was just a pretty ugly backend with a few links to the database and a very crude site so I could check everything on the go. A few colleagues began to use the mobile page I’d delivered to stay up on listings they we’re following so I figured that it would be useful to a wider audience. Subconsciously, I was probably looking for a way to get back into IM and get the excitement of a new project, so it kind of grew into a service from there.
FW: I know for a while you were in Beta. Is it officially launched now?
I’ve used the term ‘we’re coming out of beta’ in the past because people understand this as a milestone, but technically I don’t believe we’ll ever be out of beta. We change the app daily and I’m constantly trying to make it more useful to the people who use it so I don’t think there will ever be a ‘final version’. We did a soft launch back in June, which I guess was our out of beta, but this was more front end changes like allowing people to openly register to use the service.
I’m a massive fan of people like Jason Fried (37 Signals) and Eric Reis (Lean Start-up – Lessons Learned) who essentially preach that the conventional way of doing things isn’t necessarily the correct way and there’s always another way that works best for you in that particular situation. I’ve taken a really informal approach to this project, simply because I don’t know all the answers yet and we’re adapting things so quickly there’s no way of telling what the finished product will be in say one year’s time. I only know it will be much better than what it is now and more relevant to the people that use it.
FW: What has the response been so far from users of the tool?
So far so good. The app is almost ‘crowd sourced’ as most of the features are suggestions that we’ve had from users. I’m great at seeing the big picture but often miss smaller things that should be really obvious like implementing a text search feature (credit to Michelle Adams!).
About 55% of people use the app on a fairly regular basis so I spend a fair amount of time trying to find what I can do the make the other 45% use it more. From experience, it’s usually down to usability and not functionality.
FW: What has been the most challenging aspect to developing this application?
There are so many moving parts it’s unbelievable! Each marketplace collects different types of data in different ways, so the challenge is to normalise this in a way that makes sense to humans and not just computers. A big challenge came from indexing Digital Point listings as not only did we have to find a reliable way to extract the data from a forum, but we had to do our best to eliminate all the junk. We still haven’t got this perfect but it’s getting better. Most of the work we do is behind the scenes stuff like developing more sophisticated ways of matching patterns to eliminate the ‘market spam’ and making everything consistent.
I’m also more of development person, and realised that whilst I’m capable at Blogging and SEO, these definitely weren’t the parts I enjoyed doing (and still find myself putting these off to this day!). I’ve got a great new web marketing project that’s been in ongoing development for a while, but now I won’t even think about releasing it until I can find a partner to look after these bits.
FW: What marketplaces does the application pull data from and how current is the data?
Flippa, Digital Point, Website Broker and Webmasters Marketplace. The application updates its data every few minutes so it’s as close to real time as you can get. As soon as a listing hits one of the marketplaces, you’ll find it on FlipFilter and subscribers to our Mail alerts have a list of new sites that fit their criteria within the day.
FW: I think the advantages for buyers using this application are obvious, but what would you say are the main advantages?
– You can search for sites by various criteria not available on the marketplaces themselves – anything from domain age to MRM (monthly revenue multiple). For marketplaces that have hidden gems but lack a reliable search function (such as Digital Point) this is invaluable.
– Although we only started in March this year, we’re beginning to gather a lot of information on website sales and their sellers. For any website that you look at, FlipFilter will give you information on previous sales (in any marketplace), transaction amounts and seller data. As well as helping to prevent fraud and assess the credibility of sellers, this can also help you to assess a site’s value.
– We supply a ‘valuation’ of any site you look at alongside its financial details, and have a free tool for valuing your own site. The valuation is not technically a valuation, but a calculation based on all of our historical data on sales for sites with similar criteria.
FW: That’s awesome. If you had to give some tips to first-time users of this application, what would they be?
I’m a stats junkie like you, so I’d advise everyone to do their research thoroughly before even thinking about spending any cash. Use the statistics section to find out what sells; not just the sites that gross the highest amount but the sites that attract the most bids too as it will always be easier to sell a ‘popular’ site if this is your end game.
When you do find something that peaks your interest, check out the guide price – this is calculated as an average of recent sales for similar sites and is usually (but naturally not always) quite accurate. This may also help you assess whether it’s worthwhile to pay a Buy It Now price or to hold out for the auction. See if the site has been sold or listed previously, and find out which other sites the seller has sold.
I’d also subscribe to a mail alert to ensure you get the first drop on any new that fits your criteria. What you look for will depend on your strategy and what type of sites you buy. Currently the two searches that work best for me are:
Price-> Revenue pcm multiple (BIN) = 1 – 5 (great for a quick list of potentially undervalued sites at the BIN)
Remove all providers except Digital Point (additional filters)
Page Rank greater than 2
Uniques per month greater than 1,000
Primary Domains only (.com, .co.uk etc)
This search provides potential sites for market arbitrage (i.e. buy on Digital Point, sell on Flippa).
FW: How about for sellers, what’s the main advantage for sellers using this tool?
For sellers it’s all in the research. Our statistics section gives sellers data on everything from average sale prices in a particular category, the listings that receive the most bids, through to the average time a listing runs for. There’s a section that reports on the top sellers and shows their sold sites, prices, categories etc. This works as a learning tool for new sellers but also a convenient way of spying on your competition:)
FW: What features do you have planned for FlipFilter in the coming months?
There are a few features in the pipeline I’m quite excited about. The first is an upcoming iPhone / iPad app which has been half developed for a while. It will allow you to check new listings on the go, and see the status of all the sites in your portfolio. Pending permission from the marketplaces, you’ll also be able to check and place bids directly through the app (meaning no more creeping back to the computer at midnight to avoid missing out on a deal 🙂
I also have a few new modules in the pipeline that make better use of the data to help people make a decision. In one of them, using a combination of AdWords data, the amount of revenue a site currently earns per unique visitor and an analysis of a site’s main keywords, we’ll be able to recommend sites that are under monetized, or even sites that could potentially scale using a PPC campaign. For example, if a website earns approx $0.50 per unique US or UK visitor (maybe a CPA or promo codes site) and we find out that you can buy traffic to this site for $0.32 per unique, the rest is just simple mathematics. You would be surprised how many flippers overlook using PPC to scale a successful site.
FW: Right now the tool is free, but will you eventually be charging for it?
The drawback to a data driven project is that the data will make the application; the more data you collect, the higher its value so I’ve definitely got a more long term strategy in mind for this that will only pay off should the industry expand in the way which I think it will – it’s almost like a huge three year gamble! We’ll start charging over the coming months but right now we haven’t decided on a specific monetization model.
Justin, thanks for your time. And I wish you all the success with FlipFilter!
Visit FlipFilter.com and take it for a test drive. Enjoy the ride now while it’s still free!