Selling $20K per month of websites on Flippa - a simple(ish) formula

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I recently did some research for a blog post, which dissects the business model of eight website traders who list on places like Flippa frequently and ALWAYS sell, earning upwards of $20,000 each month, every month.

These we're all sellers who
  • Had an overall average clearance rate (percentage of sites sold to the total listed) above 80%
  • Sold at least 15 sites per month
  • Attracted a minimum average of 3 bids per auction
  • Sold sites that generally had no traffic but there were some exceptions

All of these sellers essentially sell starter sites - brand new sites mostly with no traffic and no revenue. At first, I thought what I would expect most seasoned buyers and sellers to think - " ‘turnkey sites? Not for me!" but after dissecting what I found, I realised there were some important lessons, even if you sell higher tier sites, as these sellers have managed to fine tune and scale the process of making a consistent, repeatable income on Flippa.

This post is a summary of the most important things each of these sellers did and what they had in common. I hope it makes either useful information or at least interesting reading for anyone with a passion on this topic.

The Domains
Most of the domains used were .com or .net but surprisingly, .info appears to sell just as well. Final prices were however, lower for .info domains ending an average of 32% less than their .com counterparts.

Nearly all the domains listed were keyword domains, usually with a modifier like ‘best’ or ‘my’ or two keywords joined with a hyphen.

The Sites
There were quite clear ‘types’ of sites sold and what’s probably most important here is the difference in average prices them.
  • Content sites - These mostly include product review and comparison sites, and typically these type of sites fetched the lowest final prices.
  • Mini Applications and Online Shops. These are typically not a full blown application and usually based on a free script or API (for example url shortening, or an online store that listed a just few products which linked directly to Amazon). These achieved the median price.
  • Directory and Portal type sites,- They included game and movie review, and local web directories. Again, these typically achieved the median price.
  • Products and Services. These attracted the highest average number of bids and the highest final price. They tend to vary between Clickbank mini-sites and SEO product reseller sites that resold anything from guaranteed traffics to Facebook Fans.

Very few of the sites listed were niche content blogs / autoblogs and few seemed to have Adsense as their choice of monetisation. Also, a high proportion of the sites listed dealt in the niche of helping others make money online. These sites also fetched higher prices on average.

The Listings
With little exception, nearly all the sellers followed this pattern
  • Listing duration of just 1 day
  • No reserve and a $1 starting price
  • An average buy it now price across all sellers of $242

Listing Copy
Common features amongst all listings included

Trust - Each buyer aims to establish the reader’s trust both in the listing and through their high feedback scores (average is 12 with one buyer having -13, although this was an anomaly).

Solving the buyer’s biggest fear - For internet business newcomers, I’d expect the two greatest fears / concerns would be not attracting enough visitors and technical knowledge. The most common thread amongst all of these sellers was that their listing offered some form of both link building (or traffic or guaranteed rankings) and technical support if buyers needed it.

Social Validation - Here, social validation is shown most effectively through testimonials as used by a few of the sellers, but mostly shown through claims of their other sites selling quickly, or selling at the BIN price.

Scarcity - As a more experienced buyer / seller, this is probably the part that will trigger alarms, but unfortunately creating scarcity is one of the most common tactics used by all of the sellers I looked at.

Bonuses
Almost every listing here ‘value-added’, offering a range of bonuses for the winning bidder. These included
  • Free hosting (for anything between 1 year and life)
  • Ebooks and Videos on everything related to SEO and building traffic
  • Free marketing and business consultation
  • Keyword research and PLR content
  • A whole other website on a niche of your choosing (?!)
#$20k #buying websites #flippa #formula #month #selling #selling websites #simpleish #websites #websites for sale
  • Profile picture of the author Oxbloom
    I feel like I'm missing something.

    Right now, the numbers don't quite seem to jibe.

    I'm seeing 15 sites X $242, which is something like $3500. Minus domain. Minus hosting.

    And then, in terms of time-value, we've got...Minus time lost to linkbuilding post-sale. Minus time lost to consulting post-sale. Minus time lost to technical support post-sale. Minus time lost to keyword research post-sale.

    Now, I know you said "at least" 15 sites, but the numbers we're working with are almost an order of magnitude shy of cracking $20K a month free and clear.

    Am I misunderstanding the premise, or is there a digit missing in your writeup somewhere?

    I'm not trying to pooh-pooh your research, just trying to understand.
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    • Profile picture of the author Flipfilter
      Hi Oxibloom,

      That's no problem - I'd rather people question things if it doesn't look quite right.

      I'm trying not to isolate specific sellers, but take this as an example

      SmartBusiness Website Sale Statistics | Provided by Flipfilter

      The seller has sold $18K in the last 30 days, but this incorporates the holiday period where sales were slower than usual. Looking at their sales over a 9 month period, the monthly average is a little higher at just below $20K but I used $20K as it sounded better than $19,032!

      My point isn't about the exact dollar amount these sellers are making and I think it could be as relevant with $5K, $10K or $30K, but it's more the fact they've found a way to create a repeatable process around selling new sites.
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      • Profile picture of the author wanna-succeed
        Originally Posted by Flipfilter View Post

        My point isn't about the exact dollar amount these sellers are making and I think it could be as relevant with $5K, $10K or $30K, but it's more the fact they've found a way to create a repeatable process around selling new sites.
        I'm just wondering something here, which seems a bit odd to me.
        You said most of these sites have no traffic & no revenue yet, however they yield a great promise for success.
        If these guys are so talented at making these sites, why not try see some of them through birth?:confused:
        I mean, would it hurt them to make 30 sites for themselves, build them up, add some monetizing techniques on them and generate some passive income? If it doesn't work out, they can always go back to selling them on rapid fire.
        It is pretty cool how these guys do this.
        I would like to see what people have to say 6 months after the sites were bought, whether the sites actually delivered on their promise. Of course a lot has to do with whoever is developing said sites, however for the price you described they were being sold, I doubt amateurs were acuiring them.
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        • Profile picture of the author Barry Unruh
          Originally Posted by wanna-succeed View Post

          If these guys are so talented at making these sites, why not try see some of them through birth?
          Most likely because what they enjoy doing is building sites. They have found a type of work they enjoy and are making good money at it.

          They may hate the idea of producing continuing content, creating backlinks, and testing.

          If you were making $20,000/month with a process you enjoyed, would you change?

          Barry
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        • Profile picture of the author vndnbrgj
          Originally Posted by wanna-succeed View Post

          I'm just wondering something here, which seems a bit odd to me.
          You said most of these sites have no traffic & no revenue yet, however they yield a great promise for success.
          If these guys are so talented at making these sites, why not try see some of them through birth?:confused:
          I mean, would it hurt them to make 30 sites for themselves, build them up, add some monetizing techniques on them and generate some passive income? If it doesn't work out, they can always go back to selling them on rapid fire.
          It is pretty cool how these guys do this.
          I would like to see what people have to say 6 months after the sites were bought, whether the sites actually delivered on their promise. Of course a lot has to do with whoever is developing said sites, however for the price you described they were being sold, I doubt amateurs were acuiring them.
          How do you know that they are not building sites for themselves already?

          As far as sites delivering on their promise, that is all dependent upon the buyer of the site. If the buyer were to continue to build on the site, and market them, monetize them, etc. they could do well. If they don't, the website will not do well.

          Think about how many people buy WSO's everyday. Do you think all of these people see great success. I highly doubt it. But, is it the fault of the person that created the WSO? Or the person that bought it and failed to implement it to its fullest?
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        • Profile picture of the author remodeler
          Originally Posted by wanna-succeed View Post

          If these guys are so talented at making these sites, why not try see some of them through birth?
          There are a lot of people who just create the sites and content as their business model. Sure, they could outsource link building, but they don't need to. I congratulate them for finding a method that obviously works very well for them... and then sticking to it and not letting themselves get distracted.
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        • Profile picture of the author Flipfilter
          Originally Posted by wanna-succeed View Post

          Of course a lot has to do with whoever is developing said sites, however for the price you described they were being sold, I doubt amateurs were acuiring them.
          I understand where you're coming from re not seeing them through, but I think as a few people have already answered, some people just like the creation part and not the promotion. Personally, I love building web apps, and quite enjoy writing now but that's were it ends! I'm competent at SEO but wouldn't do it if I didn't have to, and that includes outsourcing it.

          If I was being cynical, I'd say that maybe they don't have confidence in the longevity of the site or it's ability to produce as much income as they are making with their current strategy ... but let's assume they have good intentions!

          I also don't know for sure, but I would say it is mostly amateurs who are acquiring these sites. Everyone has a different idea of dipping their toes in the water and for someone starting up who is maybe working for someone else or has high overheads and a lot to risk (Internet marketing is a whole lot easier BEFORE you have kids ) then yes $350 is a lot of money, but for someone who possibly makes money offline and is looking for a way to do so online, then $350 is probably not that much.
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      • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
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        Originally Posted by Flipfilter View Post

        SmartBusiness Website Sale Statistics | Provided by Flipfilter

        The seller has sold $18K in the last 30 days, but this incorporates the holiday period where sales were slower than usual. Looking at their sales over a 9 month period, the monthly average is a little higher at just below $20K but I used $20K as it sounded better than $19,032!

        My point isn't about the exact dollar amount these sellers are making and I think it could be as relevant with $5K, $10K or $30K, but it's more the fact they've found a way to create a repeatable process around selling new sites.
        Sure is a repeatable process for Smart Business. He sells the same ZERO profit websites over and over and over again. The same traffic selling website, the same gaming website, the same movie website, etc.

        Flippa was bombarded with these worthless traffic selling websites about a year ago ... poor suckers bought them like crazy then bombarded forums trying to sell those worthless traffic packages. Couldn't sell them and then Flippa was re-bombarded with those same poor suckers trying to unload the traffic websites they bought. It never ends.

        These type of sellers prey upon the newbie buyers who don't have a clue that they're buying into a site that is mass produced on different domains and resold over and over again to the tune of a couple hundred bucks minimum.

        Smart Business current listings
        6 Traffic selling websites - identical except for minor template changes
        3 Games websites - identical except minor template changes
        3 Health and Beauty portals - identical except minor template changes
        3 Movie websites - identical except minor template changes
        3 PPC/SE sites - identical except minor template changes

        And this is just the first page of his listings. Each page is the same. More of the Traffic, Games, Health/Beauty, Movie, PPC/SE, Dating, etc. sites .... all identical except for minor template changes.
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  • Profile picture of the author thatguy
    @flipfilter - great article.

    do you know if any of the seller you wrote about had their own list. Like would that have made a big difference?
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    • Profile picture of the author Thomas Smale
      Originally Posted by thatguy View Post

      @flipfilter - great article.

      do you know if any of the seller you wrote about had their own list. Like would that have made a big difference?
      Exactly my question. See the comments in the blog post, I already asked and Justin answered
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      • Profile picture of the author thatguy
        Originally Posted by Thomas Smale View Post

        Exactly my question. See the comments in the blog post, I already asked and Justin answered

        whoops! i actually didnt read the comments, although it does look like i was just repeating your comment to sound smart - but i promise I wasnt thomas!!!!!
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  • Profile picture of the author baseball_card
    This is a great method of generating income for those that are able to have enough time to do that in addition to maintaining their own sites. $20,000 per month is a great income, and sites usually will sell if they offer good value to the buyer.
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  • Profile picture of the author Colin Palfrey
    I was actually confused by the history of the seller. To me it looked like he had sold the same domain multiple times. If you look at past sales you will see the domain names repeat over and over. Not just similar websites but the exact same URL multiple times.

    I'm not used to Flippa so maybe I am wrong (probably), but that is what it looked like to me.
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    • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
      Banned
      Originally Posted by Colin Palfrey View Post

      I was actually confused by the history of the seller. To me it looked like he had sold the same domain multiple times. If you look at past sales you will see the domain names repeat over and over. Not just similar websites but the exact same URL multiple times.

      I'm not used to Flippa so maybe I am wrong (probably), but that is what it looked like to me.
      The same domain over and over again means it didn't sell and he relisted it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Colin Palfrey
    That makes sense. Actually I see slight differences in the URLs now I look again. Very slight differences, which probably ties in with the tiny differences in design you mentioned.

    It looks like he has mastered the art of polishing a turd and selling it, though.
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    • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
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      Originally Posted by Colin Palfrey View Post

      That makes sense. Actually I see slight differences in the URLs now I look again. Very slight differences, which probably ties in with the tiny differences in design you mentioned.

      It looks like he has mastered the art of polishing a turd and selling it, though.
      Exactly ... and reselling it and reselling it and reselling it. I got bored going through all his pages of listings. They are all the same.
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      • Profile picture of the author J Bold
        Originally Posted by sbucciarel View Post

        Exactly ... and reselling it and reselling it and reselling it. I got bored going through all his pages of listings. They are all the same.
        Looks like he found his cow and is milking it bone dry.
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  • Profile picture of the author GeorgR.
    I'm seeing 15 sites X $242, which is something like $3500. Minus domain. Minus hosting.
    ditto. Where is the $20k/month from "brand new" sites WITHOUT TRAFFIC, PR or REVENUE?

    In reality if i were to list a brand new site without PR and no revenue i can be glad to get $50 for it. (SUB the fees and the work it took to make the sites...)
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  • Profile picture of the author Rhiannon Beckham
    Thank you Suzanne- It's a nice feeling when the bull**** gets cleared..
    I keep wasting my energy reading all these stories trying to make sense of it.
    I do very well (atleast in my books) with what I got goin online but I haven't made it past the 'easy button' (profitable niche sites, moderate SEO tactics) and keep getting lost in the wonderment of all these other supposed miracle ways to make more money..
    They sound so damn convincing! It's a good thing I'm as much of a skeptic as I am.. Or else I'd be in trouble!
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    **I don't always make it back to check on threads, so if you'd like me to elaborate feel free to PM me, I try to make sure to check my inbox regularly and am happy to help..

    I wouldn't have pulled a $9k week w/Teespring etc without the help of others, so it's time to pay it forward.
    I can make a little room in my life for that. ;)

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    • Profile picture of the author Flipfilter
      Originally Posted by maryjaneb View Post

      I keep wasting my energy reading all these stories trying to make sense of it.
      Forgive me if I've mislead anyone, but as I've said in the full article this isn't meant to be a how to guide or another 'make money online like me' post.

      I wrote this because I simply have an interest in how people make money online, irrelevant of my own personal thoughts or opinions on the method itself, and think (hope) there other people with similar interests that enjoy reading about it too.

      And regardless of what they're selling, they are undoubtedly good at selling in the medium they've chosen because they stick to a formula that works for them.

      Even if you do use this as a how to, or like intended, just as lessons learnt about what makes buyers tick and seller sell it's simply for 'edutainment' for anyone that has an interest in how these sellers are doing what they do. If it upsets or offends anyone, that's not my intention, but then it's probably not for you.
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      • Profile picture of the author Rhiannon Beckham
        That skepticism I mentioned? I wasn't kidding

        Everything sounds like a sales pitch to me after awhile, and if you didn't intend the post in that sense, apologies are necessary as I do appreciate people sharing their methods to give motivation, and drive to others who might not have been aware of that possibility. And I suppose I shouldn't be judging those who choose a path I wouldn't take..
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        **I don't always make it back to check on threads, so if you'd like me to elaborate feel free to PM me, I try to make sure to check my inbox regularly and am happy to help..

        I wouldn't have pulled a $9k week w/Teespring etc without the help of others, so it's time to pay it forward.
        I can make a little room in my life for that. ;)

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        • Profile picture of the author Flipfilter
          Originally Posted by maryjaneb View Post

          That skepticism I mentioned? I wasn't kidding

          Everything sounds like a sales pitch to me after awhile, and if you didn't intend the post in that sense, apologies are necessary as I do appreciate people sharing their methods to give motivation, and drive to others who might not have been aware of that possibility. And I suppose I shouldn't be judging those who choose a path I wouldn't take..
          Hey it's no worries.

          In fairness, I do think the same thing whenever I see another "here's how I made $50000000 in fourteen minutes on Fiverr with a blindfold and my PC switched off" type posts so I cant blame you!!

          All the best

          J

          p.s. just noticed you're in the Cayman Islands! Hope to do the cross island relay there this Sunday!
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  • Profile picture of the author trishworks4u
    as i've said in other threads, I've been reading up on this a lot. One thing I read is that it's better to have a $0 earner listed (ie - brand new), than something that you've built and tried to monetize for a month or two.

    Meaning that, in the eyes and mind of the buyer, the "Potential" is there for whatever you say it is. Versus - having to show what you've actually done w/ the turkey.
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  • Profile picture of the author suxes2005
    it all depends on your bargaining power
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  • Profile picture of the author terryd
    It's quite ironic, I open up my email and see a fee offer to join a newsletter with commentary from yourself and now I see this thread.

    It actually inspires me seeing how those sites sell for so much with no traffic or revenue, I'm sure I could flip a site or two especially seeing how I need a couple of new golf clubs and I've got to buy them without the mrs finding out!!
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