Flippa is the #1 marketplace for websites, and they offer anything from domains to apps to established websites. You can literally buy anything from a $200 website to a 1.2 million dollar one. But what can you get with only a couple hundred dollars, and are these starter sites worth it? Here are 7 things you should consider before you buy a starter site on Flippa:
1. It’s no substitute for an established site
If you’re comparing buying a starter site with an established one, you’re on the wrong track . Established websites include steady traffic, revenue and should be seen as buying an existing business.
A starter site on the other hand, is more like a template. You buy the site so you don’t have to build one from scratch, or hire an expensive web developer to build one for you. You save yourself lots of time since you don’t need to pick a domain name, register hosting, find a template and learn how to build the entire site from scratch. It’s a simple ready-made solution.
Starter sites typically sell for less than $750 on Flippa and include no existing revenue or traffic, with a few exceptions here and there.
2. Seller reputation
Although Flippa itself is an established marketplace, it is exactly that; a marketplace. This means that anyone can create an account and start selling websites through the platform. Flippa doesn’t require any extensive identity verification so anyone can register and start selling sites within 2 minutes.
That’s why you must be careful. To check a seller’s reputation, simply look at their sales history and feedback. This will give you a general idea of the seller’s responsiveness, but doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality of the site.
Most established sellers will do their best to keep you (the buyer) satisfied and top rated sellers care about their account’s feedback and reputation. I suggest you withhold your feedback until you’re 100% up and running with your new site.
3. Beware of false claims
Oh, you’re selling a starter site that made $2500 since last Wednesday for only $400? I guess it’s my lucky day! Or perhaps not. Be very wary of revenue claims on starter sites. In fact, Flippa doesn’t even allow revenue claims on starter site listings.
Also make sure you understand the difference between revenue and profit. If they spend $100 on Facebook ads to make $50, and say “this site makes $50 a day”, that’s no good. Always do your due diligence when dealing with revenue claims and ask for a Skype session to review any financial claims. But remember; most revenue claims on starter sites are completely fabricated.
4. Is the site unique?
Flippa allows sellers to declare whether or not their website’s content and layout are unique. Since most sellers sell the same site many times over, a large number of starter sites on Flippa are not unique.
Is this a bad thing? That depends. If you want to do SEO for the site, you probably want to rewrite the copy anyway to optimize it for your SEO keywords, so duplicate content isn’t that big of a deal.
You might want to contact the seller before you bid if you’re unsure about uniqueness. Also keep in mind that, by default, the status is always set to “not unique” and a seller may have forgotten to change this after the listing went live.
5. What are you going to do with your new site?
This would be the first question a good sales person would ask you. With Flippa, there’s no sales person so you need to ask this to yourself instead. Are you good at SEO? You might want to rewrite the website text to fit your optimal keywords. Want to run Facebook ads? Perhaps you’ll need to create one or more landing pages to drive traffic to.
Knowing what you’re going to do with a site before you buy it is a crucial step and is often overlooked by starters. If you just buy a site and let it sit there, nothing will happen.
6. What’s included?
Make sure you understand what the deliverables are before you buy. Good sellers include installation, instructions and ongoing support if you have any questions. But there are also plenty of stories about sellers disappearing, charging extra for support or charging an extra $35 installation fee. Make sure you communicate this with the seller before you buy
7. PayPal vs. Escrow
Most people who buy and sell low-end websites prefer to use PayPal because it’s instant. Flippa Escrow and Escrow.com require additional ID verification and take longer (sometimes up to 4 weeks). Also keep in mind that Flippa Escrow doesn’t work for certain countries like Indonesia, India and Pakistan.
What about buyer protection? PayPal offers a certain level of protection when you buy a digital asset on Flippa. Disputes (cases) are often decided in favour of the buyer, which means you’ll likely get your money back if you’re dealing with a fraudster. Another way to cover yourself is by paying with your credit card (through PayPal), so you can always do a chargeback, which pretty much guarantees you get the funds back.
Escrow.com and Flippa Escrow offer more protection, since they will withhold the fundsuntil both buyer and seller confirm the site and domain have been delivered.
Update December 2018: It looks like Flippa auctions now always have to offer Flippa Escrow by default. Escrow.com is also no longer supported by Flippa
Buying a starter site on Flippa can be a great way to get started online. It allows you to buy a ready-made product that will save you some time over building one from scratch. If you are careful who you buy from and know what you’re looking for, Flippa Is a great place to get started.
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