March 26, 2012
A while back I came across an auction on Flippa that really grabbed my attention. The auction was for a travel site that was earning around $12K per month over the past year and their most recent month’s earnings was almost $28K. Ultimately, the site ended up selling for $160,000 and had a TON of interest. While we weren’t planning to purchase the site, I wanted to see what we could learn from this site and auction and see if we could find a way to replicate some of the success. Here’s the link to the auction and here’s the link to the website that sold.
I first mentioned this auction in the Dynamite Circle and there was quite a bit of interest and I thought there might be some value in posting it here as well. I just wanted to mention a few of the key points I found particularly interesting and was hoping some of you might provide even more insight in the comments below.
Wow, they’ve got a pretty sweet offer here. If you’ve spent any time in Asia you’re probably familiar with Agoda.com. Agoda is THE place to go to get the best deals on hotels in places like Singapore, Thailand, China, etc. I use them regularly and have a membership account with them that has earned me several nights of free accommodation over the last couple of years. What I didn’t know is that they have an affiliate program that pays anywhere from 35-60% of Agoda’s profit. While Agoda is definitely a cost leader when it comes to finding hotel discounts, it’s because they ferociously negotiate deals with the hotels and not because they’re cutting the hell out of their margins, so you have a reasonable amount left over to get paid.
Even more interesting – Agoda doesn’t require you to use an affiliate link! Instead of using some funny-looking affiliate link on your site you can link to any page on their site directly. You have to get your site approved first, but once approved, any traffic you send to Agoda can and will convert and it includes a 12 month cookie…so any purchases within 12 months would be included under your account. (Unless they wipe their cookies, of course) We think it’s a great approach to affiliate marketing and we’re surprised more affiliate companies aren’t doing this.
If you take a look at the site, you’ll see that they provide a ton of content for searchers, but every link on every page I could find was either a payday link to Agoda or a link to additional content sources of theirs. (Facebook, other articles, etc.) While we don’t apply this strategy to AdSenseFlippers.com, we definitely apply this to our niche sites. (Aside from a few contextual outbound links to authority sites for good on-page SEO) The idea is that you don’t want anything clickable that doesn’t either get you paid or get the reader to continue to review content under your control.
At the end of every article they have a few images and taglines to grab your attention. They use anything from stunning women to amazing travel destinations and beaches. Along with each image is a tagline in text below with an attention-grabbing headline. Click on either the image or the tagline and you’ll be sent over to Agoda and grab yourself a cookie that will get the site owner paid if you purchase. I’m guessing this is already done, but a really smart idea here would be to split-test various images and taglines to see exactly which images bring about the highest amount of clicks when matched with the taglines.
Since we’re not talking about AdSense here, the goal should be to get as much traffic as possible that’s related to your monetization method. In this case, we see that the site owner has decided to target festivals, holidays, etc. He doesn’t care how many advertisers are in that particular space for the keywords, but knows that if he gets traffic from people that are looking for more information about a particular holiday in a country, there’s a fair likelihood that they’re going to be traveling there in the near future. This is a great way to snatch traffic that might be easier to rank for but is still tightly focused and monetizable. What I don’t understand, though, is why much of the content targets holidays in a particular year. It would seem to me more useful to target particularly holidays without a particular year attached so that the content remains good/relevant year after year. I’d imagine some of the content on this site would have diminishing returns over time.
If you didn’t know, Singapore is HAPPENING right now. We were in Singapore in November of last year and you can’t turn around without bumping into another expat in town on business. If I remember right, there are more expats living in Singapore than there are Singaporeans! The downside is that it’s expensive…REALLY expensive. We ended up staying in a hotel for $160/night and I’d say it was barely passable and well below the standards I’m used to in other SE Asian countries! To get a “nice” hotel in Singapore you’re looking at $300-$400 per night. Joe and I went out briefly on his first night in town. We ordered 2 beers and some hummus…the price? $40.00…ouch! With prices like that, it’s no surprise the site owner decided to target Singapore. A one-week stay at a “nice” hotel would ring up a $2,000+ charge!
That being said, the owner of the site found some success in Singapore and decided to expand…he didn’t let the domain name hold him back. He started targeting other festivals and holidays around SE Asia and found success there as well. While you probably couldn’t expand a domain like blueskiboots DOT net to include Persian rugs, you might be able to include wool socks, ski poles, etc. Don’t be afraid to expand when you have a winner! Take a look at this guy…he started the site off as a review of Linkvana and had so much success he expanded it to review other offers anyway, hehe.
There’s plenty to cover here and I’m really interested in your thoughts. I know that some of you are insanely good at researching niches and we’d love to hear what you have to add. Anything else we can learn from this site and sale? Let us know in the comments below!
Interestingly enough, we’ve noticed the link to the auction on Flippa now redirects to Flippa’s homepage and the actual site hasn’t been updated since August 3rd. Was this purchase a lemon? If you find out anything, do let us know!