Inside Flippa – A Peek Behind The Curtain
A few months ago we wrote a post titled, “The Problem With Flippa” that generated quite a bit of buzz from both supporters and critics alike. We were balanced in our critique, pointing out both what we thought Flippa was doing right and some improvements that, from our perspective, would make Flippa a better place for both buyers and sellers.
In the weeks that followed, Ophelie from Flippa left some interesting comments on the post. We ended up connecting and asked her if she’d be willing to answer a few questions we had about Flippa’s business and she agreed. Aside from appreciating the fact that she gave (some) straight answers, we found Ophelie’s approach to everything outstanding. She’s a true professional…Flippa’s lucky to have her!
Now…on to the interview:
Flippa is by far the leader when it comes to a marketplace for buying/selling websites online. You’ve made some positive changes recently and my question is how do you balance innovation without upsetting your current users with an update they might not like? (Think Facebook and the horrible response to the “Timeline” change)
We have made a few changes recently that have been unpopular with some segments of our user base, but overwhelmingly popular with others. Take, for example, our new requirements that users verify their account with a credit card before they can comment on a listing or place a bid over $200. While we have had a negative reaction from some (rather vocal) users, the majority of our users see this change as positive.
The whole team is very aware that any change to Flippa affects thousands of people, so we don’t take them lightly. Overall, our focus is on building the marketplace as a safe place to buy quality sites, and that’s the direction our changes align with. Anyone else who is focused on providing quality for money on a safe marketplace should see the changes as positive.
Performing proper due diligence is important for sellers and critical for buyers to understand when getting involved in the buying and selling of websites.
What are the best resources you would suggest to someone looking to break into this business?
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our own blog and How-To guides — these are the best resources to learn the how-tos of Flippa itself, and we frequently host guest posts from knowledgeable website buyers and sellers.
As for external resources, there’s a lot of good information over at Experienced People on how to buy a site and conduct due diligence. WarriorForum.com is a great beginner’s resource, though a lot of the offers for sale are mostly made up of information that’s freely available elsewhere.
More important than relying on any one resource is actually understanding what you’re buying. Do your own research on web authority, backlinks, revenue generation and traffic sources. This can come from forums like SitePoint.com, official sources like the Google Webmaster Central Blog and the AffiliateTip blog.
Can you share with us which auction upgrades are the most useful? The least useful? Also, can you explain why the “Tweet” option is set at $80 and how that’s valued higher than a featured listing? (Opinions are great here, but actual data would be excellent!)
Premium Listings have been selling at a greater rate than regular listings since their introduction last December, partly because they get, on average, 10x the listing views of other listings. We also offer dedicated support on these, including help with writing the sales copy and managing buyer questions.
This is worth it to many high-end sellers, especially new sellers; at between $250 and $500 (depending on the type of listing), it’s typically not worth it for sites that will likely sell for less than $2000.
The Featured Listing option, at $50, is a good idea in the last day or two of a listing, since it adds visibility on the front page of our site.
As to the infamous Tweet option: pricing it at $80 limits the number of people who use it, simple as that. The quality of leads coming from Twitter is greater than from other sources, and that’s partly because our Twitter feed *isn’t* constantly bombarded by tweets advertising low-quality sites.
One thing that will interest AdSense users: the median sales price for Verified AdSense sites is 6 times higher than for non-verified AdSense sites. That’s not even an upgrade — that’s something you can do for free, in about 20 seconds, right from your listing.
Your content is often focused on providing value to both buyers and sellers, but your revenue model is based on collecting fees from the sellers (listing fees, success fees, upgrades, etc.) Keeping buyers is critical to your success, obviously, but how will this remain balanced with your revenue model?
Well, it’s hard to collect success fees from sellers if there are no buyers around :)
Our goal is always to offer good value for the money. There are new no-fee marketplaces popping up every day, but they tend to quickly fill up with low-end listings, and seldom have much buyer traffic.
As you may have noticed, a lot of the resources we publish on our blog are focused on buyers, and a lot of our customer support time goes to helping buyers find the kind of sites they’re looking for. When sellers are paying their listing fees, this is, in part, what they’re paying for: a large group of informed, interested buyers with money to spend, and the infrastructure to facilitate a transaction.
What accomplishments are you most proud of at Flippa? In what areas do you see a need for improvement?
We have a really great group of core users, which is an honour. I know I can always ask these users for honest feedback on the Flippa experience and get great ideas on what to work on next. Some users take the time to point out possible scams on the marketplace, even when they wouldn’t be directly affected. That’s more than an auction marketplace — that’s a community.
That community has grown exponentially since we launched in 2009, and one of our biggest challenges has been to keep up our customer support to match demand. We now offer a maximum 24-hour response time during the week, but we’re aware that there is still work to be done on this.
Any projects or features you’re working on that you can share? (Come on…give us a sneak peek!)
We’ve been talking to a number of frequent buyers on the best ways to monitor their websites, and have a really exciting product coming out in the next month or two that has to do with that. It’s something AdSense users will find particularly interesting!
We really appreciate Ophelie taking the time to answer our questions. Check out more about our tips for selling on Flippa here.
Now…over to you! What do you think about Flippa as a website marketplace? Care to share your experiences? Let us know in the comments below!