What The Domaining Diva Has To Say About Website Flipping

Domaining DivaIt’s been a while since I’ve done an interview so I’m glad I finally have one to post! This interview was with one of the “original” website flippers. She was flipping websites before website flipping was cool. She has been flipping sites going back to the Sitepoint days!

Her name is Suzanne Bucciarel and no, that picture is not of her. You’ll learn more about that picture in a minute. I learned about Suzanne from the Warrior Forum. Whenever there is a question about buying and selling websites on the forum, you’ll always see Suzanne with a helpful reply. She has a lot of experience with website flipping.

She continues to flip websites today but her focus now is on selling established websites (i.e. websites that have traffic and revenue) and creating high-quality, niche blog packages that she sells on her website that she started over a year ago, NicheBloggingTreasure.com. Here is the interview I had with her just a few days ago… Continue reading “What The Domaining Diva Has To Say About Website Flipping”

FlipFilter: The Best Research Tool For Website Flippers

FlipFilterWhat 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)

And

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!

Serial Entrepreneur, SEO Expert, and Now Website Flipping Pro

David JenynsIf you haven’t heard of David Jenyns yet, you will sooner or later. As a serial entrepreneur, SEO expert, and now website flipping pro, he’s got a lot going on so if you haven’t crossed his path yet, I’m sure you will. I had the opportunity recently to interview him and his website flipping partner, Ryan Malone. David briefly talks about SEO and then him and Ryan discuss their latest website flipping endeavors.

FW: Dave, I want to thank you for the interview. It’s a real honor to have the opportunity to interview such a highly successful entrepreneur. Let’s first briefly talk about your SEO company, MelbourneSEOServices.com, and SEO in general as I believe it’s imperative that website flippers have a grasp on SEO. When did your company launch and what type of businesses does your company typically work with?

Dave: Thanks for the opportunity. Melbourne SEO Services launched in early 2010 and previously we’ve been working on building our own businesses with a focus on online marketing for the past 10 years. After numerous people asked “How do you do, what you do?” it became obvious there was a need for our services.

Typically we work with small to medium-sized local businesses that have a high client value. Coming from a very competitive niche, the stock market, we’ve been able to achieve almost immediate results for our clients in their less competitive markets.

FW: So would your company work with the average website flipper?

Dave: We’re happy to work with anyone as long as we can get them a positive return on investment. Accordingly, one of the first stages in working with the Melbourne SEO services is the business analysis. In short, we will only work with businesses we know we can help. Our primary objective is to ensure the client gets a positive return on the money they invest with our company.

The SEO MethodFor this reason, hiring our services to do your SEO, for the average website flipper, might not be the best idea. That said, as part of our own staff training, we’ve recorded a whole series of video training products – this is the best place to get started if you want to learn how to do SEO for yourself. You can find out more about them at www.theSEOmethod.com (aff).

FW: SEO is a complex topic but from a high level, what are the most important things to know when it comes to SEO? Is it on-page factors, off-page factors – what is it?

Dave: You’re right SEO is a complex topic – it’s pretty hard to try and cover it in a nutshell. Recently I recorded a one-day workshop where I spoke for seven hours, at double speed, and still don’t think I covered everything there is to know about SEO.

That said, if pressed, I’d say the most important component of SEO are the off-page factors. Get a good keyword rich domain, get your on page factors right, and build as many backlinks as you can from a variety of sources – and that’ll be a good start. The whole art and science of SEO is to replicate what happens in nature. So, sell a good product, and do all you can to get the word out.

FW: You are primarily a SEO guy, but what are your thoughts about social media?

Dave: I know I’ve positioned myself as an SEO guy, but I really see myself as an online web strategist. I love building businesses online. If you look to my stock market trading business, and my SEO business, both of them incorporate excellent SEO strategies and social media campaigns. The fact is, YouTube can’t be beat for quick and easy wins in SEO, while twitter and Facebook are best used for building up your brand and reputation.

FW: Now let’s switch gears and bring your website flipping partner, Ryan Malone, into the conversation to talk about your foray into website flipping. It appears you have sold about 20 websites on Flippa starting in February of this year. Have you sold websites through other places, or has Flippa been your exclusive avenue of selling?

Ryan MaloneRyan: In late 2009, I was talking to Dave about the idea of selling websites, and we both found out very quickly that it was something that the both of us were interested in learning more about. Combined with my customer experience and sales, and David with his serial entrepreneurship and SEO background, it was really destined to be a force to be reckoned with.

Anyway, the both of us sold our first websites on our own, each through separate marketplaces, Digital Point and Flippa, and it was obvious that the results from selling on Flippa were much better. From here, it has really been a no brainer, you simply go where the market is, and Flippa is where the market is right now.

FW: I know you have a bunch of websites to unload. David’s SEO “testing portfolio” consists of 583 domains. Will you be selling all of these?

Ryan: It’s very hard to say. At the moment we have two focuses: focus one is to develop a comprehensive course for budding website flippers and those who want to make a business out of flipping websites, and the other focus is to identify opportunities within that group of 580 odd websites. Some of them have performed really well over their lifetime, so we simply identify which ones are ready to sell and work on the ones that aren’t just baked enough yet.

FW: Once David’s portfolio is sold, will you be involved with website flipping on any level or will you be done?

Ryan: Website flipping is what I do, so I can’t see that ending any time soon. Once development of the course is completed and we have developed the entire backend for this process, my focus will be on identifying qualifying clients and bringing them on board, much in the same capacity as I currently work with David.

Dave: Moving forward we’ll be looking to starting buying and building these websites up… we’re looking to become a modern day Berkshire Hathaway.

FW: That’s an ambitious goal, but given your track record, David, I have no doubt you’ll accomplish it. Speaking of goals, let’s talk about WebsiteFlippingBroker.com. At the time of this interview the site hasn’t launched yet but can you tell me what your plans are with this site?

Ryan: It still is very much under development, however, I can confirm that there is going to be a very comprehensive guide to not just selling websites, but what it is that will sell a website. The domain name itself will most definitely leave room for further development down the track, whether or not this includes a site flipping broker service similar to what I provide to David. This has yet to be drawn up and decided upon. In any sense, this is a very big “watch this space” scenario.

FW: I want to switch focus now and talk about some of the specific strategies you employ with your auctions. In your interview with Flippa, you mentioned that you like to put a BIN on your listings during the last 12 hours of the auction. Please explain this strategy and why you use it then vs using it right when you list your auction?

Ryan: From experience, and I know that this depends entirely on the kind of website that you are selling, the most action that your auction receives will almost always be within the final four hours. It it at this time when people are more committed to buying, and if there is a lot of competition within the auction, then the chances of a BIN price being snatched up is always going to improve tenfold.

Dave: Ryan is spot on. We like to start our auctions low to get people bidding and emotionally involved and then we like to offer a BIN price right at the end, especially if we find bidding has stalled.

FW: You also mentioned in the interview that when you transfer a site to a buyer, you suggest that minimal changes are made to the website within the first month or two from the transfer. Why is this?

Dave: We do this to reduce the chance of any rankings to be affected. The change over period is the most sensitive and we don’t want to do anything to rock the boat.

FW: Looking back at your previous auctions I noticed that for a while you were offering a “site installation service” for $80. However, you didn’t offer that on your most recent auctions. Why the change?

Ryan: We still offer the service. There is a good chance that this may have been mistakenly removed from auctions as we are forever testing new sales templates that me and David put together. The service is generally a very fast turnaround as this is a service that I provide myself personally. As such, it is very personalized, which a we all know is exactly what people like. We have had a lot of buyers who have paid to have me install the site for them. All-in-all, for those who don’t want to waste time getting a website up and running, it’s good value. The other good thing is that it is a great tool for building rapport. I don’t think that there is a single person who has asked me to install a site for them who hasn’t come back to bid again.

Dave: I think this was actually an oversight when we listed our recent auctions. I’ll have to have a word with my Flippa broker about it:)

FW: Sorry, Ryan. Didn’t mean to get you into trouble…lol. How do you guys normally handle Flippa’s success fee? Do you pay the success fees in full or split it?

RYAN: There is always going to be a difference of opinion in this matter. Personally I like to split it 50/50. This isn’t in any way related to the financial aspect at all, more just a way of sharing the load with buyers. I like to make sure that in all auctions that I share equal ground with those who purchase from me.

Dave: I agree with Ryan. I think 50-50 is only fair.

FW: Finally, I know you are big fans of video so it’s no surprise that your walk-through videos are a key component to your listings. How important of a role do you think they play with your listings? I mean, is a guy crazy not to use video in his auctions these days or is he fine leaving them out? After all, aren’t detailed text descriptions and screenshots enough?

Ryan: Video is a great tool that you can use, and coming from a sales background myself, I think that if there is anything at all that you can offer the buyer to help them make a well informed decision to purchase, that is always going to work in two ways. One, if they like the video and the explanation of the site and what they will receive, then they will place a bid. Second, it is a rapport-building method as well. Personally, I have received a lot of feedback about the videos, all very positive, and the results for that are reflective as well in our 100% success rate. Definitely not going to say that someone is crazy for not using video, but I will say that it is extremely highly recommended.

Dave: Video can’t be beat no matter what you are doing online you need to do more video!

Thanks, David and Ryan, for your time. I wish you both all the success with your website flipping endeavors ahead!

Local Flip Formula: How To Bank Loads Of Cash Flipping Websites Locally

I feel like a guru today. I finally get to use one of those over-hyped, “make money” headlines! While the headline may be cheesy, the content in this post is not.

This is an interview I had with Peter Beattie, the author of Local Flip Formula. To learn more about the book itself, read my Local Flip Formula review.

This book blows any other ebook about flipping websites out of the water. And I’m not the only one to think that. Peter sold 100 copies of the book within 2 1/2 hours of Local Flip Formula going live on the Warrior Forum. Within two weeks, a total of 208 copies were sold during the WSO (Warrior Special Offer). Since the WSO, the book continues to sell like crazy. What makes this book so popular?

Peter is an experienced offline marketing consultant. He created a system on how to develop websites you can sell locally to businesses (and to the average Joe off the street) for $300-$600 a pop. And this is just for startup-type sites you typically would sell for $150 on Flippa. If you develop these sites at all, you can make $1,500 or more per flip!

I grilled Peter about his book and after reading this interview, you can decide for yourself if you think it’s worth the $47 investment or not…

FW: Peter, it’s a real pleasure to chat with you today. I’ve been looking forward to this interview for a few weeks now! I’m pumped about getting the word out about your latest creation, Local Flip Formula, as I believe it is the “gold rush” of website flipping today but before we dive into your book, let’s talk about you for a minute.

I read your bio and you have an interesting background. You were an architectural designer by trade and it was the boring “office environment” and mundane job that drove you crazy and eventually drove you to make money online. Tell me briefly about your story.

I talk a little bit about this in my course but what I am about to tell you I have actually never spoke about to anyone who knows me through business or online. This is how I finally left my day job and transformed myself into an overnight work from home entrepreneur….

I and my then girlfriend of 9 years had just bought a house together in March of 2009. 3 months later in June 2009, she woke up one morning and left without warning! I never saw her again! It goes without saying that I was extremely depressed and had no clue how to continue on in life let alone how I was going to pay our new mortgage and bills by myself which we were supposed to split. I took a few days off from work after this and upon my first day back I was greeted with a message from my boss that the company was laying off employees and I had gotten my hours cut back to just 32 per week. There was no way I would be able to afford our new house by myself now with a 20% cut in pay. Talk about a complete life change in just a few days!

So this is when I decided to throw it in my boss’s face and fire him. I decided I was going to start creating websites for local businesses and once I got my first paying customer, I would quit my job. Within short time, I got my first customer which was a local house painter. He paid me $1,500 to design his webite. I never designed a website for anyone else before in my life..but I did it! As soon as I got payment from him I went into the office, wrote my boss a resignation email and left my job without notice. The rest is history.

FW: Wow, that’s an inspiring story. So what do you primarily spend your time doing today?

Right now I am at a 50/50 split with Internet Marketing and Offline Consulting. I continue to design websites for local companies (at full price) and flip websites offline but I am also focusing a lot of my time on creating the best training courses I possibly can to help others make money online & offline. I want to share all of the things I’ve learned with others so that others can do what I have done…work for themselves on their own terms and write their own paychecks.

Local Flip FormulaFW: So let’s talk about your book, Local Flip Formula. You define the formula as the act of flipping websites in the offline world. I’ve been calling this Website Flipping 2.0 – the next generation of website flipping…lol. How did the idea come about?

Local Flip Formula came about when I found myself working insane hours to complete custom website projects for clients. Every job was custom and required A LOT of my time and creativity…which drained me of every bit of energy I had. I had no life and wanted to come up with a way to continue to build websites and make money doing so, but eliminate as much of the hard work as I could. So, I started “flipping” websites locally instead of designing custom sites tailored to each client. I still do custom website design, but I charge a lot more than I used to before I started offline site flipping.

FW: The book consists of two models. The “Consultant Model” and the “Hero Model.” Briefly describe these two models.

The Consultant Model explains how to create websites and flip them to offline/local business owners. There are a few different types of websites that I flip to local business owners, and these are detailed in Local Flip Formula.

The Hero Model explains how to create websites and to flip them to NON business owners. In other words, people living about in our local community. There are also many different website “models” within the Hero Model explained.

FW: When flipping websites to the offline world, realistically how much money (on average) can someone make PER website?

When I flip websites to business owners (The Consultant Model) I get anywhere from $595 – $1500 or more depending on the industry, the type of website and what it has for “bells and whistles” or “add ons.” A basic small business website goes for $595 while a small business website with e-commerce capabilities which allows the business owner to sell their products and services online can go for upwards of $1,500 or more (which is very easy to accomplish with WordPress which I explain in Local Flip Formula).

When I flip websites to people who are not business owners I get anywhere from $300 – $500 or more also depending on the type of website and it’s features. A startup website with no revenue can sell for $300 – $500, while a fairly new website with just a little bit of income history can obvioulsy go for much more.

FW: Assuming someone follows the steps outlined in your book, how long will it take to go from website development to actually getting it sold?

For those who have the basic skills to get a website up fairly easily (I use wordpress), they can take it to market the next day. If they work smart and promote the website it can theoretically be sold the next day. For me, some websites sell within just a few days while some might take a week or two. It really all varies depending on the niche or industry and type of website.

For those who don’t have the techinal skills to create their own websites, the entire process could easily be outsourced. Although some small startup capital will be required for this route, it allows practically anyone to apply the Local Flip Formula methods and profit no matter what their skill level.

FW: You just mentioned you use WordPress for all of your websites and you recommend using it when applying the Local Flip Formula. Why WordPress?

Yes, I use WordPress because it allows me to create a great looking website extremely quickly. WordPress is just so easy to setup, maintain and customize that it wouldn’t make sense for me to not take advantage of it. It also allows all of my clients to quickly and easily edit and maintain their new website with just some basic training. Which saves me some major time on support emails and calls.

FW: Do you recommend free themes or premium themes?

I always use premium WordPress themes from iThemes StudioPress for most of my sites although most free WordPress themes will do just fine. It all really depends on your taste. In Local Flip Formula, I also talk about a way to get access to around 4,500 free html website templates which can easily be used to create just about any website you can think of. These can be a great alternative to going the WordPress route.

FW: How “nice” do these websites have to look? Does the Local Flip Formula require that these sites look “super professional?”

If you decide to use WordPress then you have a wealth of great looking professional themes available at your fingertips. We are not creating masterpieces by any means. Of course the websites should look professional and be easy to navigate, but this can easily be accomplished by plugging in a theme of your choice and adding your own touches. Each WordPress theme should be customized depending on what type of website you are creating. For example, for a basic website I just upload my WordPress theme of choice, add a custom header and add content. You can customize each WordPress theme more if you have the skills, or you can outsource this process on one of the many freelance sites on the web.

FW: How much money will the formula require – on a per site basis – to get started?

Like I said earlier, if you have the skills to do most of the work yourself then you will save some money upfront. Although you will be doing most of the work. If you do most of the work yourself, then you can expect to get started for the cost of a domain name ($7) and a reseller or shared hosting account ($10 – $25 /mo).

If you want to outsource the creation of these sites then you will need to invest some more money upfront. To outsource the entire website setup and installation with wordpress, I spend anywhere from $25-$50. If you want to outsource article writing, content creation or even graphics or logo design, you can expect an additional $50-$75 up front investment per site.

The cheapest way to get started is to just do everything yourself. But of course if that is not an option, you will need some small startup capital.

FW: Does the Local Flip Formula require that you get these websites well-ranked and bringing in traffic first before selling?

Search engine rankings are great and help add to the value and asking price of your website, but rankings are not required.

The bulk of the websites I create are startup websites with no history of revenue. In fact, there is never any need for a history of revenue for websites created with the Consultant Model since they are created for a business or business type in mind. Businesses buy the websites to be the face of their business and don’t expect the website to be earning any revenue.

In the Hero Model, startup websites can easily be flipped with no revenue history or search engine rankings. Of course a revenue history and great search engine rankings add a significant amount of value to the website, but neither is required.

FW: How complex are these websites? Are we talking 5 page “mini sites” or are you talking about creating large, 20+ page authority sites?

With the Consultant Model, the average website is a simple small business website with 5-7 pages.

With the Hero Model model, the website might be a blog with 5 main pages.

So, to summarize: Yes, for the most part these websites are very simple in nature. However, if you want to command a higher price point such as $1,500 or more then the website will need to be more complex and may be significantly larger.

FW: Let’s talk about hosting opportunities. Do you normally host these websites after you sell them – be it the Hero Model or the Consultant Model?

Yes, I host most of my client’s websites on my HostGator reseller account. In fact, this is a major part of my business and the Local Flip Formula course as one of the main goals is to create a residual income stream for years to come which get’s larger with every flip.

I usually give each buyer around 3 months of free hosting when they buy a site from me and then the yearly billing cycle starts. I usually charge yearly rather than monthly so I don’t need to track down late payments each month. For basic sites, I charge $49.95 /yr – $79.95 /yr. For larger sites or ecommerce sites, I charge over $100 /yr. It all depends on the amount of disk space they use up on my reseller account.

FW: How does a guy go about selling these “localized websites?”

In Local Flip Formula I talk about various different promotional methods such as local classifieds, Craigslist, small scale direct mail, cold calling (ahh!!) and more. Each different website model has it’s own promotional method which works best. I also explain this in full detail within the course.

FW: I’ve purchased many “make money with offline marketing” products and most of them say if you want to be successful, you MUST cold call and physically meet businesses in person. Does the Local Flip Formula require the same or can you still make good money skipping these methods?

While cold calling is very effective it is not required. Most people do not like cold calling, including me…but I force myself to do it because it makes me money. With that said, I employ a number of different promotional methods aside from cold calling such as local classifieds, Craigslist, and small scale direct mail. These other promotional methods are a great way to get started with Local Flip Formula if you do not like cold calling.

Thanks, Peter, for you time! I love your book and I HIGHLY recommend the Local Flip Formula to anyone who wants to make good money flipping websites!

Read The Full Local Flip Formula Review

Who Says Startup Websites Are Dead?

In the last interview I did I hinted that the practice of flipping startup websites for a quick and easy buck were over. I said buyers were demanding more these days. They wanted traffic and revenue and in an ideal world, they wanted both! After this interview with Michelle Adams, you’ll discover that I might be wrong. She is an experienced Internet Marketer who contends that flipping startup websites isn’t over – at least as far as she can tell. In fact, she just sold a startup website that had no traffic or revenue for $180.

Michelle talks to me about her Internet Marketing business, her general thoughts about flipping startup websites, and she talks about common challenges people new to website flipping have and how her ebook, VRED (Virtual Real Estate Development), can help them get started. If you are new to flipping websites and don’t have a clue where to get started, I highly recommend her book. It’s over 200 pages long and covers every aspect imaginable in the flipping process. It covers everything from niche selection to design and development to how to transfer websites after they are sold.

And yes the links to her book are affiliate links but I only promote and endorse products as an affiliate that I believe in. That being said, the intent of this interview is not to sell you on her book. The fact that she created an awesome product for newbie flippers is just icing on the cake. As someone who has sold over 50 websites, I primarily wanted to interview Michelle to get her take on the current state of flipping startups and to see if she had any words of advice for those new to website flipping. There’s some good stuff here – enjoy:)

FW: Michelle, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. You have an accomplished business background. In a nutshell, can you tell me about your background and how you got into Internet Marketing?

Thanks for the opportunity, Travis. My business background is in strategic business management, specifically in retail. I got into Internet marketing after I wrote my first ebook back in 2006, I went looking online for help on how to spread the word about it.

FW: When – and how – did you start flipping websites?

I started selling sites on SitePoint in late 2008 with a friend. She’d been asking me to work with her on it for awhile but I was too worried about some of the technical aspects so had avoided it. Starting out with her made things more comfortable as she managed the auction and so forth and I just dealt with building the web property. Having done that one flip, I realized that there wasn’t anything to be scared of so I continued on with it from there.

FW: How many websites have you flipped since then?

I’ve sold almost 50 sites, mostly all done in my spare time and not always sold at auction.

FW: Are you a regular flipper today?

No, I’m not flipping regularly right now. I primarily build and manage my own sites. Flipping is a spare time/spare cash option for me.

FW: There are some (me included) that say the days of throwing together a “pretty” website with no traffic or revenue and expecting a $200-$300 payday are over. It’s just not as easy and lucrative as it used to be. Buyers are demanding more value. They want websites with traffic or revenue or both. Do you agree or disagree?

I’ve seen some sellers recently attracting final bids around the $180 to $270 mark so I wouldn’t say it’s dead. I successfully sold a site in May for $180 that was pretty much a startup, zero traffic and earnings. That being said, I have seen some reasonable sites not sell through that in the past I would have thought would sell easily so yes, I agree it’s not as easy.

If what you say is indeed true, that lower-end buyers are now expecting traffic and earnings for the same dollars, then they will find sellers already meeting those demands. These buyers would be well advised though to study in detail how the lower-end sellers have generated the much desired traffic and earnings. I’ve seen sites that have been held for a few months and sold with traffic and earnings that had come about suddenly in big spikes. I’d be wary of buying a website like that but it’s no surprise they’re popular with buyers. I’m not saying they’re all bad, buyers just really need to do their due diligence and weigh up risks with any site they’re considering investing in.

FW: I’ve noticed those listings too – the ones where the site just launched but somehow they already earn $2,000 per month and generate thousands of unique visitors. A red flag immediately goes up. Buyers definitely need to verify everything before they buy – no matter what the price of the website.

What would you say are the biggest challenges to selling startup websites – and what would you advise people getting into the business do to overcome those challenges?

I think one of the biggest challenges is for people to resist the temptation to take a lot of shortcuts and to only focus on themselves and their short term final bid price. Some buyers have bought from me several times. They’ve recommended me to others and they’ve requested custom orders because I’ve over-delivered and considered things from their perspective not just mine. Think beyond the initial sale as it can bring opportunities outside of marketplaces such as Flippa, which can in turn reduce the cost of sales.

In my ebook, VRED, I talk about this in a variety of ways and it covers in detail how to build solid foundations into a site. Another hurdle can be the site transfer but that’s normally a fear that can be put to rest after doing it only once or twice and I cover transferring a WordPress blog in the ebook too.

FW: I want to ask you some questions about your book so I’m glad you brought it up, but before we dive into that what would you say are the most important steps to “master” when it comes to website flipping? Is it niche selection, content creation, design…what is it?

I believe it’s all of those things. I’m often found to be talking about ticking as many boxes as possible to appeal to a variety of buyers. I’ve had a buyer purchase a site just for the niche selection and design and they dumped the domain. I’d thoroughly researched to find a good search phrase and available exact match domain and it was thrown away. The site appealed to that particular buyer for a different reason to the person who has bought several sites from me based on the research I did into the main keyword phrases/domains.

I’ve had other buyers purchase because they had sites in the same market and were building a network and others buy only for the content, others buy because the site has ticked every box and still others buy for different reasons again! You never know who is shopping for what I guess is what I’m trying to point out here so I suggest mastering many aspects not just one.

VRED: Virtual Real Estate DevelopmentFW: You mentioned your ebook – VRED (Virtual Real Estate Development): Learn How to Build & Sell Niche Blogs. You were kind enough to forward me a review copy. I have to tell you, I was impressed. This is a nuts and bolts ebook on how to build, sell, and transfer websites. It’s just a little over 200 pages and covers virtually all steps of the website flipping process. What inspired the creation of it and what has the response been like?

Thanks Travis. VRED itself is about developing web property in all manner of ways. It focuses specifically on a method of building niche blogs with the intention of selling them at Flippa. It was inspired by many things, one of which was the many requests from people asking me how I built the sites I did, how I customized them and pulled together the overall look and feel. Another was people needing a step-by-step guide that didn’t leave out one single instruction so they could venture into their first few site transfers with more confidence.

The response has been great. I gave out a handful of review copies before I released it and the feedback was similar to yours in that practically every step is there within the 200 odd pages. I know how overwhelming something new can be and to have to search the web to fill in pieces of the puzzle would only stall people so my aim was to cover every step which I think I did. Some people expected the book to also teach how to build a WordPress theme from absolute scratch which I don’t know how to do and some still felt overwhelmed by the technical aspects. Overall though the book has been very well received.

FW: VRED is geared specifically towards building and selling niche WordPress blogs. In the book, you recommend premium themes and specifically the Woo Themes. Why WordPress as a general platform and why Woo Themes?

I’ve just found WordPress works best for niche blogging, updates are quick and easy, plugins are everywhere for just about any function you can imagine so I teach what I use myself. As far as the themes, I spotted SuiteJ’s designs on Flippa actually and he inspired me to take a look at Woo, their themes are quite something and the fact they had a support forum really meant a lot to me as I knew I would need help at the outset to learn how to customize certain elements. As I mention in the ebook, though, the sooner sellers differentiate and put their own unique touch to their offer the better.

FW: As you stated in your book, the purpose of the book was to show someone how to build, sell, and transfer websites by themselves with little to no investment and with no outsourcing. This ebook definitely does that as you go into incredible detail on everything from design and color palettes to creating your own headers to customizing your WordPress themes to monetizing your sites and transferring them after you sell them.

A person following your book could certainly go from A to Z by themselves with very little investment. However, the learning curve could be rather large for some people and let’s face it, some people may have a little extra money to outsource some of the steps. For those people who do have some money to spend, what step (or steps) of the process would you recommend people outsource?

That’s difficult to answer because I think it depends on the skills they already posses. I can design a header graphic in a few minutes but if someone else can’t they need to sit through my 18 minute video tutorial on using GIMP just to begin to learn it, so perhaps if they can afford to outsource they could get a header designed for $10-$20. If they’re terrified of the site transfer then perhaps that is their best choice of what to outsource. So where they lack the most skill would be where I’d suggest they start with outsourcing if they don’t want to master those aspects themselves.

When it comes to outsourcing, though, if someone can “afford” it today they also need to be certain that they can afford not to recover those costs immediately. It’s a fact that not every site will sell and they need to recognize that they may well end up having to start marketing the site to get it to recover its costs and earn its keep so to speak and of course it could be sold down the track with traffic and earnings or kept.

FW: The primary focus on VRED is flipping startup sites. Do you have any plans to follow up VRED with another product on how to hold websites for a while and market them to build traffic and revenue prior to selling?

I mention in the final section of the ebook that selling startup web sites is just the tip of the ice berg and that if people take the time to develop their web property to a stage where it’s well established with traffic and earnings then they could move to trading in the established market. I’d always planned to help people move beyond startups and also to share generally what I know about the many different ways to develop virtual real estate which I will be doing mostly on the VRED blog at http://www.VredVoice.com.

FW: Thanks, Michelle, for the interview. You’ve shared some insightful tips here today. Best of luck to you and all your future endeavors!

Thanks again for the opportunity, Travis, you asked some great questions and I enjoyed sharing my views with you and your readers! 🙂

The Death of Startup Websites

If you’ve been flipping startup websites in the past few months, you’ve probably realized that they just don’t sell like they used to. The days of cranking out startups and getting $200-$300 consistently for each flip are long gone. Buyers are demanding more value. They want traffic or revenue and ideally a combination of both. It hasn’t always been like that, however. Just six months ago you couldn’t crank out startup websites fast enough.

One of the guys who hopped on the startup flipping bandwagon in its prime was Danny Batelic of Melbourne, Australia. He did very well for himself during that time period having cranked out more than 100 websites. He had the whole process down to a science. He could get a site up and listed within just 3 hours! It takes me that long just to come up with a domain name…lol.

Danny was kind enough to agree to an interview the other day. Danny talks about his days selling startup websites and what he’s doing now in the website flipping industry. He provides some terrific insight in this interview so grab your favorite beverage, take some notes, and enjoy:)

FW: Dan, thanks again for the interview. I appreciate it. You were just an Internet newbie a year ago, correct? How did you ever get into it in the first place and where did you learn the practice of website flipping?

Yes, I was a total newbie to Internet marketing when I started and I thought there was some big secret to all of this. I actually fell into internet marketing as a by-product of my search for ways to market a band I was in at the time. I was about to give up on it all when I chanced upon Ed Dale and his 30 Day Challenge program. It was free and I was told I could make my first online dollar in 30 days, and I did!

Towards the end of the course, almost as an afterthought, Ed mentioned that if you no longer wanted the blog you made as part of the challenge you could sell it on this new auction site, Flippa.com. I sold my site on Flippa the next day and here I am over 100 sites later talking to you.

FW: Do you have a “regular” job or are you flipping websites full-time now?

I do have a regular and an irregular job. I’m still a musician and I also work days for a company here in Melbourne. As tempting as it has been to pack it all in and sell websites full time, it’s a pressure that I really don’t want at this point in time. You see, the minute you place yourself under the pressure of “this has to work, or I’m screwed” things change and usually for the worse. I really recommend people keep their day jobs for as long as possible. Keep working right up to the point where the job gets in the way of your online business. That’s the time you should start thinking about quitting the job.

Selling websites is still in its infancy and even the 8 months I’ve been involved in it, things have changed dramatically. If you treat it as a part time business, grow it slowly and take away the pressure of having to feed yourself with it, you’ll just make better decisions and in turn see better results.

FW: Wow. That’s some really good advice. Tell me about your very first flip.

My very first flipp was the drumming website I made as part of the 30DC learning process. It was a drumming blog built with WordPress Direct, a must for setting up new sites. I had populated it with good original content and it was in the number one spot for a couple of keywords. When I heard about this place called Flippa, I thought I’d see what would could happen. It was exciting and I’m sure like most people, the thought that you could actually sell a website that you made out of nothing was very exciting. I placed my listing one morning and when I returned from lunch that day it had sold. I think it was $150 and it sold within the hour.

FW: I’ll bet that was exciting. I remember the thrill of my first sale. It is a rush. So tell me, Danny, what’s the biggest mistake you’ve made selling websites?

The biggest mistake I have made selling sites was when I once listed a site with a misspelled domain! That was embarrassing. You know what, I sold it to someone who really wanted the content for his own blog, so it worked out ok in the end.

FW: Things always seem to work out in the end, don’t they? Aside from that “mistake” what are the most important lessons you’ve learned flipping websites?

The most important lesson I’ve learned was to be transparent with everything. Have proof of every claim you make about your site or don’t make it. If you claim to have x amount of unique visitors or income generated, show the proof. Back up every claim with documented proof or it didn’t happen. Another great lesson, and this saved me hours when I figured it out, is to be very clear in your sales letter as to what you will and won’t do as part of the sale. Let buyers know exactly what is included and conversely, not part of the sale. I found the more I answered any potential questions in my sales letter, the less time I spent answering questions posted during the auction.

FW: Up until this point you have primarily sold startup sites but now you’re switching gears and buying aged domains. Tell me a little more about this.

I’ve really moved away from startups. Earlier this year the whole market flattened out and startup site prices dropped to next to nothing. When I started, I couldn’t make enough startup sites. They would sell as fast as I could make them, both on Flippa and from people buying direct from me via my email list. That now famous $297 price was the sweet spot and it was a regular production line. It really was an arbitrage opportunity and I made the most of it, knowing it would end at anytime, and it did. The market has evolved. Buyers can now buy sites with traffic and even an income for the same price.

FW: I understand that you bought an aged domain and sold it for $3,000. That’s insane! If you can’t reveal the domain, can you reveal the niche and what sorts of things you did to make that kind of money on it?

Earlier this year I met Kenny Goodman at a seminar and he opened my eyes to buying aged and dynamite domains and the next phase of selling websites revealed itself to me. I could now buy an aged domain and apply everything I have learned making new sites and all of a sudden I have sites with traffic, lots of back links and really good PR and the returns are fantastic when it comes to sell. There are a few things I had to learn, such as 301 redirects and preserving the sites previous link quality and PR, but it works. I’m a drummer, so if I can do it, anyone can!

The very first aged domain I bought was in the Maternity Pregnancy niche. Normally a really hard market to play in, but the site was ranking high for a few keywords, so it was relatively easy to preserve it’s status. I purchased the domain for $80 and ended up selling the site to someone on my mailing list for $3,000. All I did was put a WordPress blog on the domain, recreate as much of the previous content as I could, to keep as many links as possible. It’s important here to not just go and copy the old content, as you don’t have the rights to it, only to the domain. Similar content is o.k. Then some strategic 301 redirection, some good content, a little SEO was all that was required.

I wish I could show it to your readers, but the new buyer would rather I didn’t. I’m planning to document the whole process on a future project via my blog, to show the exact process I use.

FW: I can’t wait until you release that as I’d like to learn more about buying aged domains myself. Do you ever buy websites yourself and then fix them up to flip?

I’ve never gone down that road. I thought that once the new site market died, that would be the next step, but then aged domains caught my attention.

FW: Do you manage any websites of your own or do you strictly flip websites?

My own blog takes up fair amount of my time and the sites that I’m building on aged domains require a fair amount of work to get up and running. I sometimes miss the days of buying a new domain, throwing a blog on it, going to bed and waking up to a sale.

FW: I’ll bet! However, I suspect the payouts on these “aged domain websites” will be much greater once you’re ready to sell them. So what WordPress themes do you use for your sites – and why WordPress (vs. HTML sites)?

I always start with WordPress Direct. It sets up a properly optimized SEO theme in under 2 minutes. It still is the best way I know to set up a WordPress blog. I love WordPress, because it’s easy to setup and transfer and the admin section is a breeze to navigate. It’s also a simply system to teach new owners how to run the site.

FW: Do you do all the work yourself on these websites or do you outsource anything?

Just before the startup market dropped, I started outsourcing anything that was repetitive and I could record a ScreenFlow of. Installing sites, backing them up, transferring them, etc. Anything that was nuts and bolts kind of stuff that you could measure I outsourced.

Now that I don’t make as many sites, I use outsourcing for link building, content and other projects. It really does free up your time.

FW: Given that you’ve sold so many sites on Flippa, what length of time is best for running auctions?

5 to 7 days does work best as you need to understand that people do have different surfing habits. Some folks will look for sites on their work PCs, others from home on various weeknights, and then there are people who will only access the net on weekends. You need to try and cover everyone. I always aim to cover the weekend in any selling cycle. Flippa has that 4 hour extension policy with bids in the last hour, which I like by the way, so you can’t pick an end time but as long as you get the weekend into the cycle it’s fine.

Having a BIN really works too. If you study Flippa, you’ll notice a pattern where buyers will fight it out for the first 30-40% of the bid price, then someone will appear out of nowhere and just hit the BIN button.

FW: I know that all too well. I just lost a website in that exact scenario. I was bidding on a site and someone came in overnight and exercised the BIN. Before we go, what would you advise people just getting into flipping websites today?

Work out early on what you are doing this for and have clear goals. Learn some basic SEO and build sites with traffic and some revenue. It’s not that hard, but it does take a little time to grow sites to a point where you’re fetching good returns. People don’t want to buy just a website anymore, they want a business.

You can follow Danny on his blog at: www.TradingWebsitesBlog.com

How To Make Money With Google AdSense Sites ($150,000+ Per Year)!

make money with google adsenseIf you want to know how to make money with Google AdSense websites then you’re going to love this interview. I had the privilege to interview Cary Bergeron, a quiet and highly successful “AdSense guru.” Cary makes over $150,000 per year with just one AdSense website alone, and has flipped a couple AdSense sites for $80,000 and $30,000 in the past year on Flippa.com.

In this interview, Cary shares some great insight on how to make money with Google AdSense. If you want a step-by-step, detailed guide on how to replicate his success, I encourage you pick up a copy of his book, The AdSense Report. You can learn more about it by reading my Adsense Report review. Let’s dive in and see what Cary has to say…

FW: Cary, I know you’re an extremely busy guy these days so thanks for taking the time to do this interview. I guess the first question I have is have you always specialized in AdSense sites?

I haven’t always specialized in AdSense but over the last several years it has become a more important part of my business. I wanted to build a lasting revenue stream that requires very little upkeep and solid returns. I feel that AdSense can provide a better long term income than most other systems out there.

I got into AdSense as soon as I knew it would work. I think it was about January 2006 when I saw the AdSense light flicker. I make a good amount of money from AdSense but it is not all I do. I also do other Internet marketing as well including eBooks, opt-in lists, membership sites and work with some CPA networks.

FW: Why AdSense websites primarily, versus say affiliate websites or other ways to make money online?

AdSense sites have the staying power if you build them right. It’s not very hard to make money with AdSense but you must keep at it.

I have sites that run affiliate offers on them but when you do affiliate marketing you are at the mercy of someone else’s product and I don’t like that. I make money with affiliate marketing but I don’t concentrate on it like I do with AdSense.

FW: As primarily an affiliate marketer myself, I totally understand what you’re saying about relying on someone else’s product. It’s always a concern of mine and has been a problem a few times in the past, but I digress. When I got into this business in 2005, AdSense was all that anyone talked about. Then a couple years after that it seemed to die down and a lot of people were whining they weren’t making money with AdSense anymore. To this day I read in various forums that it sucks and that you can’t make money with AdSense anymore. You are proof-positive this isn’t true but my question to you is this, are you the exception to the rule or is the “AdSense gold rush” just as strong today as it was back in 2005? And what do you say to those that say you can’t make money with AdSense?

The “Gold Rush” is in full force and going strong. If people want to get out of using AdSense because they think there isn’t any money to be made that is fine. The less competition the better as far as that goes. But I can tell you I’ve been making money with AdSense since 2006 and just about every month I have made more than the previous month. The only time see a dip in AdSense revenue is when I sell a site for say $80,000 like this one on Flippa or this one for $30,000, which only lasted for about an hour and someone bought it.

To those who say you can’t make money with AdSense, I think the majority of them probably tried it for a month or two and didn’t see $10,000 come in so they gave up. The thing is that you need to put in some time and effort to make money online and it won’t happen overnight. If you want to make money and you are passionate about what you are doing you will be successful with anything.

FW: That’s great advice: be passionate about what you’re doing and don’t give up! It takes time to be successful. And congrats on grossing $110,000 selling just two AdSense sites on Flippa! Do you have any plans to get into flipping AdSense sites on a regular basis – as in building AdSense websites solely with the intent of selling them once they start making money?

I sold this site on Flippa that I built exclusively for flipping. The site wasn’t making any money really.

FW: What advice can you give someone who might be looking to buy AdSense sites on Flippa?

Yes, buy a site like the one I sold above. It was a unique design and original content. Don’t buy any site that is a cookie cutter type site because you won’t make any money on them.

AdSense ReportFW: You recently launched an ebook called the AdSense Report. I imagine it has been a huge success given that you have proven that your system works with your successful AdSense sites you’ve sold on Flippa.

Yes, I released the guide back in March and will be releasing version 2 soon. The funny thing is that I had no intention to write a guide but people kept asking me to. After a month or two of giving it some thought the AdSense Report was released.

FW: As a guy who knows nothing about AdSense, I had to buy it myself after I saw how successful your AdSense sites were. If I can be honest with you, I was shocked at how short it was. I was expecting your typical 100+ page ebook as so many of these “how to make money” ebooks are but your report is rather short. This is a report with absolutely no fluff. It gets right down to the point in terms of what you need to do to build successful AdSense sites. For my readers, tell me what sorts of things they’ll learn about in this report and who this report is geared towards – and what makes it different from other “make money with AdSense” products out there?

Things in the AdSense Report include the “10 Things You Must Do To Make Money With AdSense”, as well as how to layout your ads to get a 20%+ CTR and a step-by-step worksheet. The report is no fluff so you will need to know certain things like FTP, web hosting and the like. I didn’t get into this stuff much because I didn’t want to waste peoples time. Time is valuable and I didn’t think it was needed. With that being said in my next version I might include some of these things for the less experienced AdSense person.

My report is different because I can backup what I am preaching. Take a look at some of the other guides out there and see if they are actually making money or just regurgitating other people’s success stories.

FW: Speaking of success, in the report you mention that you make $150,000 per year with AdSense. How many sites does it take to make money online with AdSense alone?

Well I’m actually making more than that now but I have one site that makes this amount yearly.

FW: Holy cow! Let me just pick myself off the floor right now and get back on my seat…lol. That’s crazy! Let’s try this on for size…let’s say I set a modest goal of making $5,000/month with just AdSense sites – or in your case just one AdSense site. How long would it take to meet that goal?

This completely depends on the niche and how fast someone can get their site ranked for their target terms. It’s almost impossible to give specifics but if you chose the right niche and did the right SEO you could get there within a year for sure. The sad part is that most people will give up before this time.

FW: I’m starting to sense a theme here – patience and hard work are the keys to success. So what are the most important things to know when trying to make money with AdSense? Is it picking niches, selecting the right keywords, what is it?

Niches like divorce and law. Next would be traffic and lastly it would be ad placement. Almost in that exact order.

FW: Realistically, how long does it take to get one AdSense site up and running and generating SOME revenue?

If you follow the step-by-step process in my AdSense Report you can be making money within 3 months. After that if you choose the right niche and follow the plan you can be making very good money within 6-12 months.

FW: One of the things you recommend in your report is to build HTML websites versus blogs. Has you stance on this changed?

I have been testing blogs more and more with some very good results. In version 2 of my AdSense Report, which is coming out soon, I will explain this in more detail. I do feel that there is one very specific route you can go with WordPress blogs to make just as much money as you can with HTML sites.

FW: Walk me through the process of how you determine what niches you’ll build AdSense sites around. For example, do you go as far as using the Google AdWords tool to check the estimated bids on various keywords or is your process much simpler than that?

I do use the Google AdWords keyword tool to see exact and broad traffic, but basically I follow the money. There is more money in say the “mortgage refinance” niche than there is in the “bird house” niche. I don’t choose niches that don’t relate or equal money.

FW: Are your sites AdSense only or do you monetize with other methods such as affiliate income?

I use other monetization methods as well. My AdSense sites run mostly just AdSense but with that being said it is never good to put all your eggs in one basket. If you only run AdSense I would suggest having an alternative ready to go.

FW: I could go on forever with this interview but I better wrap this up. Aside from buying your AdSense Report, where can people learn more from you?

I write weekly posts on my blog about AdSense, SEO, my everyday life and the freedoms I have from making money online. If you visit my blog, CaryBergeron.com, you can also sign up for my newsletter which includes AdSense tips, SEO advice and tools I find very useful.

Read The AdSense Report Review

The $16,000 Mistake: Lessons Learned From a Successful Website Flipper

The other day I did an interview with Michael, the seller of EbookReaderGuide.com. I titled the interview, “The $14,000 Flip,” because that was the amount of money Michael grossed on the deal. As I learned more about the sale, I felt compelled to interview Missy, the original owner of the site.

I wanted to interview her because much of the website’s success was because of her initial SEO and marketing efforts. And after looking at her Flippa profile, chicagocubsfan, she was obviously a reputable and successful website flipper so I figured she could provide some useful information to other inspiring flippers.

I also wanted to interview her to find out why she sold EbookReaderGuide.com so cheap. Michael was able to buy it from her for only $1,850 just four months prior to selling the site himself for a cool $16,000! In this interview she explains how that happened but more importantly, she provides some great insights and what it takes to build and sell websites successfully. Enjoy:)

FW: Missy, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. I know you’re busy these days so I appreciate your time. How long have you been flipping websites?

I come from the Bryan Clark school of flipping, which is where a group of us, got our start including SuiteJ and others. Good interview with him by the way. He’s a nut, but a good guy.

We all joined his Blog Flipping Blueprint membership class and learned the ins and outs of the trade. This was back in 2008. I’m a slow learner. lol.

The thing is Clark sold the site and class shortly thereafter. This is before I knew that a site flipper sells EVERYTHING. Which reminds me of the comedic article I need to write entitled, “How Do You Know You’re With A Site Flipper? Because He’s About to Sell Whatever Site You’re On,” lol.

After Clark sold it all off, we (the students) were without a teacher. Well, I was. I still had a lot to learn and had many questions but nowhere to go. After that I just learned on my own by still keeping in contact with other up and coming site flippers.

My biggest flip at the time was a Twilight Movie site I created, which surpassed my expectations with quick steady revenue from the get go. I sold it for $800. From there on I was hooked on website flipping and through trial and error I have learned how to flip websites.

FW: I know you didn’t actual start your Internet Marketing career as a flipper so tell me how you got started with all this online craziness?

In March 2007, I became a vegetarian and decided to chronicle my journey online so I created my very first site, a blog on Blogger. In April 2007 I was hired by green mattress online retailer, Keetsa, to write newsy-type articles. I’m still with them to this day. They are very nice people to work with.

Over time, I just learned about everything to do with blogs. In July 2007, I ventured into WordPress and created Groovy Vegetarian, which since has become the #1 vegetarian blog in Google. As of this writing, it still holds that top spot. Yay!

My biggest achievement, revenue wise, has been a blog I created in October 2009, yes – the now infamous EbookReaderGuide.com. That site just blew through the roof in revenue. Each day it was payday from Amazon. I had not seen anything like it with any other site or blog I had created.

It was created as a flip. I always intended on selling it. I planned to sell it right before Christmas, as I knew the revenue would be high – plus Kindle was the big boy in town then and was getting lots of good press – not too mention at the time I was cash strapped. I needed to sell it.

I created a major goof, however. I sold it for too low a price.

FW: Yes, that site was definitely a success in more ways than one. Now the obvious (and painful question), why did you sell it for such a low price?

Essentially what happened is that I didn’t want to oversell so I undersold it. I thought most of the revenue I was making was on the high side because of Christmas. I figured after the holidays it would die down some so I priced the site at $200 a month revenue as that was what I had made so far with the site when I initially listed it for sale on Flippa November 20th, 2009.

When the auction ended several weeks later, the buyer flaked out on me and wanted to only pay via PayPal, which I would not accept. If you look at the comment area of my INITIAL listing from November, you will notice the revenue updates I provided – by that time it was more than $200.

On December I relisted the site, but I chose to list it with the previous listed monthly revenue of $200.

BIG MISTAKE!

Michael and I had been in communication from the first sale. He wanted to buy the site, but the other bidder won. When I relisted the 2nd time which was now December 14th, Michael sent me a message right away and stated he was still interested so I sold it to him that day. If you notice, there was only one bidder.

After all was said and done in the month of November 2009 I had made over $500 in revenue, and for the month of December 2009 I made over $900 in revenue from the Amazon affiliate program.

Not only did the revenue NOT die down some after Christmas, it increased – to the tune of $900 again in January 2010 and $1,400 in February 2010.

So yes – I’m kicking myself in the arse for letting that site go for $1,850! A big loss for me! But we live and learn.

FW: Ouch. I know the feeling. I undersold one of my sites one time as well. I still kick myself in the arse on that one too. But you’re right – you live and learn and you move on. Well I don’t want to beat a dead horse here so let’s talk about the things you do to make these sites so successful. What do you do to promote your websites?

I’ve learned that internet marketing is basically this:

Find a highly searched for term…
That you can compete with in the serps…
That pays well…
That (has some degree of) longevity…
That people buy

That’s it. That is what affiliate marketing is to me.

I tend to gravitate towards organic search engine traffic as my preferred method of online marketing. It’s what I know and apparently have a knack for so I stick with it.

FW: That about sums it up in a nutshell. That’s basically what I’ve been doing as well over the years. It’s a simple formula but it works! How about site monetization? What do you typically do there?

It depends on the niche but I quite like Amazon because it’s well known, has a HUGE inventory, and I love their affiliate options such as the immensely helpful, “Site Stripe“. I love that tool. They do a good job with their affiliate program – as in they make it easy for us to promote them. (IMHO)

FW: That’s interesting because so many people complain that Amazon doesn’t pay out that well (myself being one of those complainers) but Amazon can definitely be lucrative – and is definitely a quick and easy way to monetize a site (even if the revenue isn’t that great at times). Speaking of money, I have to twist your arm about these “money pages” that you referred to in your recent comments on my blog. You said you wouldn’t tell me what these were but can you throw me a bone?

I’ll never tell. lol. Basically “money pages” is just a wacky term I have coined to affiliate pages on my sites. That’s it. Maybe I will build extra backlinks to them or promote them in other ways. But they’re laced with affiliate links. Pretty simple stuff, really!

FW: Now I can sleep tonight…lol. Thanks for finally solving the mystery for me. Let’s talk about niches. How do you determine what niches you’re going to build websites around?

Lately, I’ve been focusing on hot product niches – consumer oriented items that sell well and are sort of expensive (which translates into nice affiliate commissions). There are loads of niches out there. I’m focusing on things I have an interest in and or find entertaining as I want to have fun as much as make money.

If it isn’t fun, I will most definitely lose interest and lose interest fast so I am really looking into things I personally enjoy.

FW: You and I think alike. I know some simply chase the money but I can’t do that. If I don’t have at least “some” interest in the niche, I’ll never get motivated to give it 100%. I know your expertise is primarily in building websites to flip, but do you ever buy websites to fix up to flip?

That’s a really great question. I did buy a site from another flipper last year – it was a PLR site. I still have it but I haven’t done a thing with it. It’s just been on the back burner, but I did buy it to resell it. It has a neat design to it as the seller is known for her spiffy high quality designs so it’s on my to do list.

FW: I’m all too familiar with the infamous “To Do” list. You should see all the lists on my desk right now…lol. My final question for you is this – what advice would you give buyers of websites? What sorts of things should they look out for?

Know what you’re buying. Is it an affiliate site? An AdSense site? An Ebook site? And do you know how to promote or grow it? Look at the niche and do your research on the niche. What serp position does the site rank for? How’s competition? What about monetization – how does the site make money? If via Amazon, do you have an Amazon account?

Look at everything within the scope of online marketing as it relates to the site in question, and get to know the site. Ask questions, do your due diligence. Have a plan of action. Then go for it! Online marketing is hard work, but it can also be great fun. Learn the process, take action, and enjoy the ride!

FW: Great words of advice! Thanks Missy so much for your time. I wish you all the website flipping success. Speaking of success, I see your most recent auction is doing very well:) Congrats…

Be sure to check out Missy’s blog at g34Media.com and if you’re a buyer and want to be on her V.I.P. list, sign up here. It’s free and will give you the inside track to the sites she has for sale.

EbookReaderGuide.com: The $14,000 Flip

flip websitesEbookReaderGuide.com recently sold on Flippa for $16,000. At the time of the sale the website was getting around 6,500 unique monthly visitors and was generating close to $1,400 in net monthly profits. You can view the auction listing here.

While those stats are certainly impressive, what makes this such an interesting flip is that the seller grossed approximately $14,000 in just four months time. The seller had purchased the site back in December 2009 for just $1,850! At the time it was listed in December, it was only getting around 1,500 unique visitors and was generating about $200 in net monthly profits.

This was one of the more impressive website flips I’ve seen in a while on Flippa so I had to interview the seller to find out how he did this. Specifically, I wanted to know how he increased the traffic and revenues so significantly in a short period of time and what he thought about this sale overall. Following is my interview with Michael – the man behind the $14,000 flip:)

FW: Michael, for starters congratulations on such a successful flip. I’m very impressed – and a little jealous too…lol. Before I dig into some specific questions about it, tell me about your background – do you regularly flip websites?

Michael: By trade, I’m a business analyst and I got interested in websites by hearing stories about how much my brother-in-law and his friends made on website ownership. This was a few years ago and I just recently (late last year) got around to exploring the opportunity.

I don’t consider myself a website flipper since this is my first sale. The first site that I purchased was a tattoo site and I had no idea of the niche, competition, and internet marketing, etc. I read a few ebooks on the topic of SEO and joined a few related forums to get a better understanding of the search engine world. 6 months is a long time in the internet world and I feel that I’ve only scratched the surface.

FW: Wow – $14,000 on your first sale. That’s awesome! Since you mentioned it, can I ask you about the tattoo site?

Michael: I bought tattoosdesigns.net, a site that provides free tattoo designs, back in October of last year through Flippa and I probably paid too much. The traffic is a bit lower than when I bought it, but with the same techniques, I’m able to increase the revenue.

FW: Well that provides a perfect segue. What are your techniques as they obviously paid off for the EbookReaderGuide.com site?

Michael: Besides the normal techniques (article submission, related blogs, directory submission, and exchange links), I haven’t done anything special. The original owner had already done some great SEO work on ereaders niche and I just extended that to include the iPad.

FW: It’s interesting you mention the SEO work the original owner did. Missy (the original owner of the site) actually left a comment on my blog about the sale. You can read it here. Do you agree with what she had to say?

Michael: I read her comments and she is mostly right. What she doesn’t know is that the article that she’s thinking of is not the one bringing in all the revenue! In fairness to the current owner, this is something that I can’t disclose. However without getting too specific, what I can say is that the key is about writing good money articles and then pointing good relevant links to them through article submissions, blog commenting, directory submissions, and social networks.

FW: What did you like about this site that compelled you to buy it – besides the SEO foundation that Missy had in place?

Michael: A few things: a trusted seller with great history of selling sites, a hot ereader niche (Amazon Kindle), and a young site with revenue just starting to roll in.

FW: Did you buy it with the intent on flipping it in the short-term like you did?

Michael: I had no intention of flipping the site but the reason that I sold it was my concern for the niche (e.g. iPad’s unknown impact) and that ereaders are popping up at retails stores recently. The competition and additional distribution channels can be a good or bad thing for ereaders, but that’s not the risk I was willing to take.

FW: That makes total sense. The iPad will certainly put a dent in the ebook reader market and in terms of distribution channels, you can buy the Barnes and Noble Nook now at Best Buy. I suspect it will be just a matter of time when you can buy the Kindle at Best Buy, Walmart, or some other major retail chain. You probably were very smart to sell when you did. So are you working on any other websites right now that you care to share?

Michael: The only other site that I’m working on right now is an iPad news and accessories site that I got recently. Other than that I’m constantly looking for hot niche sites where I can continue to use my techniques to do another flip or keep for the long-term.

FW: Aren’t we all…lol. Well, Michael, thanks for your time and thanks for sharing your first website flipping experience. You did very well for a first time flipper. I think anyone would be thrilled with a $14,000 flip! Kudos to you and best of luck on all your current and future websites.

How To Sell Startup Websites Easily: My Interview with Ian and Amy

FlippingAwesome.comI’m constantly on the lookout for blogs dedicated to website flipping. A while back I ran across a blog called FlippingAwesome.com. The two people behind it were Ian and Amy. I was impressed with their blog so I started following their websites for sale on Flippa. I quickly realized this husband and wife duo were real pros at building and selling startup websites.

I’ve read in some forums that you can’t make money selling startup websites. These guys were obvious examples of the contrary. They’ve been so successful selling startup websites that Amy was able to quit her 9-5 job last year! I had to interview them to find out more. This is a record of that interview. Enjoy 🙂

FW: I know Ian has been making a living online since 2002 but you guys didn’t start flipping until the summer of 2009. What was Ian’s “specialty” during those 7 years prior to flipping websites full time?

IAN: I created and maintained websites for small to medium sized business in the local area and I hated it. Dealing with deadlines, ridiculous red tape and having to continuously be in motion between 9-5, it was terrible way to earn money. When I made $997 in one day from my first flip, I was hooked.

FW: I hear you. The 9-5 is definitely a drag. $997 on your first flip? That’s awesome. Congrats! Amy, I understand you quit your day job in the summer of 2009 to pursue site flipping for a living. Were you involved with Ian’s Internet business prior to that? And what is your background?

AMY: My background was banking. In college I majored in Business Management and as I was working on my degree, I started working at a small credit union in worked my way into the Accounting department. It wasn’t long before I was miserable. Because the credit union was small, the accounting department basically oversaw everything. I was overworked, had a tremendous amount of responsibility, and of course was under paid. I remember going to the bathroom and looking outside the window and just feeling like I was missing out on life.

IAN: While at the credit union, Amy would sometimes call me crying because she was so miserable. Those were hard phone calls. She would come home and be mentally exhausted and need to take a nap to recover – it was tough to see her go through that. After a few of those crying calls, I knew she needed a change. She was burning out fast. I started to teach her how to install WordPress, add articles, etc.

FW: That’s awful. I’m glad to hear you were able to break out of that “prison!” As a team now of full-time flippers, tell me what it’s like working together and who handles what in the partnership.

IAN: We have a lot of fun together everyday! Our desks are right next to each other, so we sing songs, laugh and joke around all the time – it’s really awesome. Sometimes we hit up coffee shops and do some work there. When it comes to flipping sites, we both know how to do the entire process, so sometimes we have 2 sites going and we are both working on a site, sometimes we double team a big site to get it done faster. Sometimes I start one and she finishes it off. While we don’t have set responsibilities, we both know what needs to happen and in what order so we can bounce from one site to another.

AMY: Like Ian said, in terms of creating a site we don’t have “set” responsibilities. However he is better/faster at creating graphics than I am so he tends to handle that more. Because of my work experience, I tend to handle a lot of the business related tasks, such as tracking our income and expenses, etc. After all, flipping websites is a business!

FW: Exactly. And thanks for pointing that out. This is a business and if someone wants to succeed at flipping websites they need to have that frame of mind. Do you guys outsource any of your tasks?

IAN: No, we don’t outsource anything yet, however we do have plans to do some outsourcing soon. Behind the scenes we are currently creating a system to outsource the entire process of flipping, everything from creation to listing… if it works it’s going to really change what we do.

FW: That sounds interesting and I can see how streamlining the process like that would dramatically change your business. Given your current processes and systems, how many sites do you flip per month?

IAN: If I had to guess we flip about 10 NEW sites a month, but we are constantly selling OLD sites to people that stumble upon our site/auctions as well as doing custom work on the side. This past month we haven’t been flipping as many sites because of our coaching program, but you can expect the number of flips to increase when the first course is over.

FW: I know you guys just recently launched your coaching program. Tell me more about it.

IAN: Our coaching program walks you through each and every step of website flipping with videos, diagrams and descriptions. From brainstorming niche topics, buying a domain name, finding eBooks to sell, adding AdSense/ClickBank/eBook, changing theme graphics and a ton more. What really separates our course is that is NOT just an eBook, this is an online classroom. We release a topic or two each day and you complete it. You can ask us questions about any topic and we personally respond with an answer/explaination.

The coaching program is limited to 10 people to ensure a one-on-one environment with our students. The cost is $197 and it takes approx. 3-4 weeks to complete.

FW: Sounds like a terrific opportunity for those new to website flipping. Walk me through the process of determining what websites you’re going to build for a given week (or month – or whatever schedule you adhere to)? Do you even have a set schedule?

IAN: Wow, great question. We actually don’t have a system/schedule in place. We basically hear about a hot topic, see what topics are selling well on Flippa, read Google news, etc.. and make a niche site about it. Nothing too complex about that process!

AMY: I try to always have a list of hot topics ready to go. As I go about day to day life, if I come across something that sparks an idea for a site, I try to document it, and if I have time I try to find some available domain names for it. By having a list of ideas on hand, it really helps me move along from one site to the next. Before I started doing this, I would find that I would spend a lot of time trying to think up the next idea.

FW: You both point out an interesting point – don’t over think or over complicate the process. I think too many people get bogged down in the details and they never get anything done. You guys are proof positive that keeping things simple works! Do you have a set “model” of how you develop your websites? For example, maybe you make sure every website has at least 10 articles and an ebook offer – something along those lines.

IAN: Actually Yes. Typically our flips have the following:
15 Articles each with a thumbnail
3-5 Revenue streams

FW: Where do you get the articles from? Do you write them yourself or are you using PLR articles or articles from places like Ezine Articles?

IAN: Typically the articles come from Ezine Articles. I think we maybe sold 5 sites with 100% unique content, but that is definitively the exception not the rule. We find that writing content yourself takes too long and outsourcing the writing can be expensive (for quality articles).

FW: Do you do anything in the way of promoting your websites before listing them for sale?

AMY: Every time that we list a new site, we put a link to it on each of our Facebook pages. We also try to make sure that they have had some SEO plugins installed, as well as submit the site to Search Engines.

FW: How long does it take you from the time you start on a website to getting it listed for sale?

IAN: This varies widely, but if we are both working on a site, no distractions, really motivated and everything goes smoothly, we go from acquiring a domain name to listing a completed site on Flippa.com within 2 hours. Sometimes things go bad, nothing works, the Internet connection sucks and thumbnails are hard to find – those days it takes 2-8 hours.

FW: Wow. You guys are fast. I’m terribly slow at building websites so that’s why I don’t sell startup sites myself. I envy your speed;) I’ve seen many of your websites for sale on Flippa (they are very nice by the way). Each one is so different from the other. Between the two of you, which one does all the graphics and website layouts?

IAN: It’s split between us. Sometimes I can make things like banners/icons faster than Amy, but she is mostly capable of doing it herself. If she ever gets stuck we are only 2 feet away from each other, so I slide my chair over to her desk and help out.

FW: Right. You sit right next to each other…lol. I also noticed after looking through your websites that you use WordPress exclusively. Why WordPress vs. any other platform?

IAN: In my opinion, WordPress is extremely simple to use, supported by thousands of developers worldwide, it has tons of free plugins and best of all – it’s FREE. Before WordPress I used to create sites in HTML via Microsoft FrontPage, it was slow and tedious.

AMY: WordPress gives you the ability to make a quality site fast. I have used Frontpage here and there so I have seen firsthand how complex it can be. If it weren’t for WordPress I don’t think that I would have been able to learn this whole process so quickly. Another plus to using WordPress is that it makes maintaining a website so easy. Because of the simplicity of using the admin panel in it we are able to sell sites to a bigger market. If we were selling html based Frontpage sites, first-time site buyers who are just starting out would not be able to maintain the site and as a result and we would be decreasing our potential customers.

FW: Great points. That exactly why I have used WordPress exclusively myself for the past few years. Before I was introduced to WordPress I tried FrontPage and I wanted to pull my hair out. Do you guys use premium themes or free themes?

IAN: We have used themes from places such as WooThemes. However, recently we’ve been developing a lot of our own WordPress themes and we will be launching a theme club just for website flippers very soon.

FW: You’ll have to keep me posted on that. Aside from using WordPress as your platform, what tools (free or paid) do you use for your website flipping business?

IAN: For graphic design we use PhotoImpact. I started using it many years ago and never had a need to move on to PhotoShop. Someday I’d like to learn PhotoShop, but for right now I am extremely fast at PhotoImpact. We use FileZilla for FTPing files. We also use the following FireFox plugins: MeasureIt (onscreen ruler), FireBug (helps tweak CSS and PHP files), and ColorZilla (for eye dropping colors).

FW: Great list of tools and best of all, they are all free – except PhotoImpact, which is only $30. Getting back to your websites for sale, most of your sites are startup sites. Will this continue to be your primary type of flip for the remainder of 2010?

IAN: It will always be the majority of what we flip, but we are looking into creating 2 sites to keep for 2 months to promote and build traffic and then flip them – then buy 2 more to hold for a few months, then flip. You can get a lot more money with sites that have traffic/revenue, but having to wait months is a drag – we like money and we like it now!

FW: I hear you! The obvious advantage to selling startup websites is that you can get paid now, as you’ve pointed out. What are the challenges to selling them?

AMY: When creating a site that has no traffic or revenue, you need to compensate for that. You really need to create an outstanding site, and in the sales description “paint a picture” of all the possibilities that this site can offer a buyer.

FW: Paint a picture of the possibilities is an excellent tip. When I was in real estate we had to do that with buyers because for many people it’s hard to “see” what the potential is. Final question guys, it seems most of your websites sell somewhere between $97 – $250. Is this price range the sweet spot for startup sites?

IAN: Yes, that is about right for a “no revenue/no traffic” site. We ran an experiment a while ago and found that half the buyers of $100 sites host with us. Since then we have been trying to sell to that type of buyer because what we are really after is the monthly hosting payments – those are the best!

That’s an excellent strategy and a great way to make residual money on each flip. You guys are good:) I want to thank you both for your time and for your candid answers. I wish you both all the success for the rest of 2010!

You can follow Ian and Amy on their websites: FlippingAwesome.com and LiveAnywhereWorkAnytime.com