Buying a Flippa Website: Lessons Learned
Yes, despite not seeing income statements and despite declining traffic over the last year, I have no regrets over buying a website on the Flippa marketplace.
Although no regrets, I still learned many valuable lessons and can improve for the next one.
Read below for my thoughts about hard lessons and good lessons learned from my experience.
See what thacash.com looked like after my first two weeks of owning it in the video at the bottom of this article.
The Hard Lessons Learned
Some things are best learned through experience. Studying and sandboxing can help, but nothing can replace experience.
What can you do if you lack an outlet for gaining that experience?
Make it yourself.
I created the outlet I need by buying an existing website on Flippa.
Here are some of the hard lessons I learned.
See income statements
That is right, I did not see actual income statements before buying. But I should have.
I was not so concerned about immediate revenue for the purchase price and assumed the worst of $0.
I was not buying it for the existing revenue stream, so I was okay buying the site between a certain price range even if it had $0 today.
That does not mean I did not try. And in my efforts to try, I became confident it was not earning anything. So I did not press hard when I got resistance on certain issues, including seeing income statements.
Still, I could have done better in my pressing for details. But I did not want to scare the seller off. I got the impression that pressing on certain details would not be good for the transaction or for me ultimately getting the site.
Because the Flippa listing was confusing to me about the current revenue, I asked the seller during our meeting about it. He was trying to be helpful but his answers were not clear.
The lack of clarity and slightly reaching, over-promising language in the listing describing the revenue signaled to me it was probably making $0.
Had I pressed the seller to see income statements, it might have given me more leverage in the negotiation and also made my expectations more certain. But it also might have scared him off.
With the hope that the site was making a few hundred dollars per month through the Cash App review or selling billboard-style ads, I kept an open mind.
Based on my experience in the first two weeks though, I suspect the site has not generated anything significant in past few months.
The better technique is to get more clarity than I did. I should have practiced the good technique. Lesson learned.
Get a tour of the affiliate site dashboard
Do it before you complete the transaction.
Before buying the site, I could see what it looked like just by visiting it online. I also could see objective statistics about the site using free online tools. Plus, the seller provided some details in the listing.
Despite that, it would have been really helpful to see behind the scenes before buying it. Not so much because it was going to influence my decision on this transaction.
However, in others it might have. And it is the better technique generally speaking to see the inside of a house before buying it, not just the yard and exterior.
Therefore, I should have practiced the good technique and asked for a tour of the admin dashboard for editing and maintaining the site.
Plus, it seems more likely that I would only gain leverage during this process than lose it. I also would have had a better opportunity to learn about the seller, how he negotiates, and also learn more about the site itself.
Transfer only when complete
I did this one correctly, but it was not as easy as it should have been.
After transferring the domain but not yet the content, the seller asked to proceed in the next step of the transaction. I refused because he had not delivered the content.
After he delivered the content site, he insisted again that we move on. However, he still had not delivered additional work that he had promised.
I explained my position that the time was not ripe, but I could tell it was important to him. Plus, I had what I wanted anyway. So we agreed to move it to the inspection period.
He also seemed to not realize that I had an inspection period. According to him, I watched him transfer me the domain and affiliate site, so that was good.
But according to the escrow procedure, I am entitled to look through the assets to make sure it all looks okay in the content site before releasing the money.
For instance, he could have held back some of the articles or not configured everything correctly, like the cache, despite me knowing that he had transferred some content.
Regardless, not only did I move the transaction immediately to the inspection period, but I released the money from escrow too.
After releasing the money, I did have an issue with the cache. Long story short, I could not see live online my changes to the content.
So all the affiliate links were his regardless of whether I changed them in the backend. I would not have been able to monetize the site that way.
This is something that should have been resolved during the inspection period before I released the cash.
Clear the cache before releasing the cash.
The cache stores copies of the website in your browser so that it loads faster.
It was not intentional by the seller. Total accident.
But he was in the better position to figure it out. I had already released the money and with it my leverage. Though I fixed the issue, it was a waste of my time, and I did not want to wait for him to fix it.
Bottom line, he followed through by eventually delivering the remaining content. But it was not without me earning it through being extra generosity, offering my blind trust to a stranger, and having to follow up with him to make sure he followed through.
Get more assistance in transfer
I got the bare bones amount of assistance to get the assets transferred, and the transfer of knowledge on how to work it was virtually zero.
I was okay with that because I have a lot of WordPress experience and also built a successful career around being put in those positions.
So I preferred how it went down.
But you should probably get more assistance in the transfer of knowledge and skills to maintain the actual site.
Affiliate sites are not for me.
I knew this in the past from trying to build them from scratch, but stubbornly thought I could find a way by jumping into one that was already running.
I was not willing to spend enough money to buy one that was making significant revenue. I do not feel ready to spend that kind of money or take that kind of risk.
Now, I am paying the price because I bought an existing site that requires the kind of rehabbing that I do not enjoy doing:
Product reviews are not my style of writing, and this one would take a lot of it to get it going again, and
WordPress is not my preferred way to build websites.
I will find a way but a different one that feels more comfortable for me.
The Good Lessons
Despite the hard lessons learned, the good vastly outweighs the bad. I have no regrets about buying the site or how I handled the transaction.
Here are some of the good things.
The domain is a wonderful jumping off point for this money club.
The previous owner did a nice job creating a good domain and page authority for the site. That will help supercharge our ability to drive traffic to the site.
Plus, the domain name is short and easy to remember, has a high-value word cash in it, and is on topic with a money club.
Finally, the name thacash has already has been fun for marketing and creating a brand.
The money club will be a great platform for some of the projects I built previously.
Until now, they just sat on my computer. Some of those things I built will be easy to work into thacash.com.
Patience and persistence is worth it.
By buying this site, I took a risk I had been wanting to take for years.
I have been studying buying and maintaining affiliate sites for a while now, but until recently I did not feel comfortable buying one.
I also have spent countless hours building my own projects from scratch and thinking about how to make something other people want to use.
Until now, those have all just been learning experiences. Although I learned a lot, this experience so far buying the domain has made my past efforts feel like they are so much more valuable than just learning experiences.
Through patience and persistence, I can feel my efforts finally transforming into a real thing.
Pressure is good.
Buying the website on the Flippa marketplace created a pressure to succeed that did not exist before in my affiliate efforts.
Having (1) spent a significant amount of money, and (2) a website with some visitors already, it created a pressure to perform that did not exist for me when trying from scratch.
Pressure for me is a good thing. I like it and usually perform better with it.
Without that pressure, I am not sure I would have made as many productive strides as I did these past two weeks.
Having a club instead of an affiliate website will be better for my networking and social life.
In just the first two weeks of owning the site, my networking activity has skyrocketed.
I have meetings with friends and colleagues about how we can collaborate. It has been super fun so far.
The First Two Weeks
Check out the video I made about some of the changes I made to the WordPress site.
While still not totally sure what I was going to do with the domain and website, in the first two weeks post-purchase, I experimented with carrying it forward in a similar way the seller did.
Here are some of the things I did:
revised some text
added more images
added a video
created a YouTube channel
wrote a guest post with links back to the thacash.com
added more text and other content to the homepage
updated the colors and layout of the WordPress site
created affiliate account and updated the affiliate links
and some more stuff, too
Here is a link to the video showing you the site after making my changes.
Thanks for reading! Reach out and say hi to me.