This is a guest post by Richard Kershaw from the web hosting reviews site WhoIsHostingThis.com. Richard is also an experienced website seller, who has been on Flippa since it was but a small part of the SitePoint message boards.
Selling your website? Writing a killer Flippa listing is only half the battle.
The other secret of a successful auction is bringing your own bidders to the party. More bidders means better sale prices for sellers, so it’s in your best interests to hustle.
The good news is that a little effort goes a long way. One serious bidder is all it takes to have a positive impact on your auction price.
I’m going to explain exactly how I’ve promoted my Flippa auctions in the past, and how you can too.
So I suggest you take my ideas, and rank them in order of how likely you think each is to generate a credible bidder. Focus your limited time and resources on the methods that are most likely to bring in a buyer, rather than trying to do everything.
In short: what’s important is not reaching the *most* people, but reaching the *right* people.
#1. Tell Your Users
In my opinion, your own user base should almost always be your first stop. They know your site, they know the niche – and that means they may be prepared to pay a premium that other site buyers won’t.
Here’s some of the techniques I’ve used to reach my users in the past:
- Flippa’s very own “site for sale” bar
- Run of site banners/stripe ads
- Newsletters/social media
Remember that not all your users will see each approach, so it’s worth going for multiple angles. A bidder in one of my auctions made a $20k bid only on the third time I’d plugged the auction in the site’s newsletter.
#2. Follow the money
Speak to existing/previous advertisers, as well as companies you’ve sent traffic to as an affiliate.
Remember that their margins will likely be higher than yours, so – like your user base – they may be prepared to pay a higher price than regular Flippa users.
Bigger margins means more aggressive bidding, and that should mean a better sale price.
Ask your affiliate manager or ad contact to introduce you to the decision maker in the business – don’t count on your email to them getting passed up the chain.
Don’t assume that only big companies will be interested; in the domaining world, many big domain sales have been to small to medium size businesses looking to punch above their weight.
Finally, think about how best to reach decision makers. Oftentimes, it’s not email – print letters and the telephone are your friend.
#3. Know your enemy
Alongside your own users and advertisers, your direct competitors should be top of your contact list.
Like your other targets, they are potential buyers who may be happy to pay a premium for your site – especially if they are bigger in the business and have negotiated better commercials with advertisers or affiliate partners.
If you aren’t already on speaking terms, be sure to do your home work. It’s no good firing off an email to info@… and crossing your fingers – find out who owns the site.
I use tools like WhoRush.com, LinkedIn, historical WHOIS records etc. Advertiser info packs are often a goldmine – they are the one page every webmaster updates, even if everything else on the site is years out of date.
(Check our my old blog post on how to track down AWOL webmasters)
Once you know who the decision maker is, contact them with a brief email with a link to the auction.
Bear in mind you are likely to get tricky questions from competitors. Some may use the exercise as a fishing expedition rather than out of serious interest in buying, so think first about what information you are comfortable sharing.
#4. Telling Stories
Selling a thin affiliate site? Nobody cares.
But with a little thought, it’s possible to turn many website sales into a newsworthy event – even if it’s only within your field. For example, are you selling…
- The authority site in your niche?
- A category killer domain?
- Would a BIN sale be Flippa’s biggest sale of the year?
- Has the site been featured on TV or in reference books?
Now you’re talking. Why should journalists care? Work it out and pitch the news sites in your niche.
The recent sale of PinReach.com was a textbook example. The seller in question has accepted a job at Google, so was selling his pet project on Flippa.
What’s your story? What would you tell friends? What would get your auction mentioned on TechCrunch?
#5. Think Linkbait
Selling your favourite penis pills review site? It’s going to be tough to get TechCrunch to cover that momentous event.
But that’s not to say you can’t go the extra mile to make your listing amusing and link worthy. Take a look on that auction at the questions about whether the pills really work.
What could you add to your listing to get non-Flippa users talking about it and sharing it?
Consider piggybacking on bigger trends. My other business picks up hundreds of links for our zombie experiences from sites like CNN and the Huffington Post – this tells you everything you need to know about how powerful piggybacking trends can be.
How can you do the same thing?
#6. Pay To Play
Not every Flippa auction is going to be newsworthy or linkable. So consider spending money to help push your auction. Start with…
- Flippa upgrades [take a look at which ones work well for other auctions]
- Targeted newsletter ads
- Sponsored posts (NOFOLLOW ‘em to keep Google happy)
- Sponsored tweets/giveaways
- Sponsored threads on forums/communities
- Facebook fan pages
Once again, focus on hitting your best prospects rather than the most people.
What’s the biggest site in your niche, and how can they help you reach bidders?
#7. Be Everywhere
It pays dividends to get as much exposure for your auction at the same time.
So rather than spreading out these ideas over a four week auction, aim to pull off a burst of exposure around the same brief period.
You’ve got more chance of wooing a potential bidder if they see your site EVERYWHERE.
Remember: you don’t need to find a winning bidder – you just need to find serious bidders. And a little extra effort can make a huge difference to your eventual sale price.
Good luck – and let me know how you get along in the comments.