Here is a write up of a site I bought from Flippa earlier this year, it covers why I bought the site, the sites monthly performance and how I went on to sell it for $11,155 USD after 5 months from buying the site.
I spend a lot of time filtering through Flippa listings, I actually put together an epic post on Flippa buying tips which has some great pointers to help you not getting burnt when buying from Flippa (You can check out the post here if you are interested, it’s quite a long read!).
After the usual filtering out of the mass amounts of crap listings on Flippa, I came across a fairly decent site that was not perfect but it did seem to tick most of the boxes;
Nearly 1 year old (WordPress Site).
Had an earning history of around $60-$70 USD per month from Amazon Associates US.
The site was focused around a fairly expensive niche (Amazon items referred was generally $75+ per item which works out pretty decent if you have a 7% commission rate).
Had around 60 posts, all fairly well written and long posts.
Was ranking for multiple keywords (so not just relying on 1-2 keywords/URL’s for all the organic traffic).
It was a niche area that I could easily add a lot more relevant posts about (I did a bit of keyword research before bidding and found A LOT of low ranking competition keywords).
Had mainly nofollow blog comment links and hardly any follow backlinks so seems to be fairly natural and quite safe against a Google penalty.
How Much Did I Pay For The Site?
I managed to pick the site up for $1650 USD which is around 24 months revenue based on its current earnings so around the average kind of price you would expect to pay these days but was it a wise investment?
Aside from the above points, the main reason I bought the site is because I could see something clearly wrong with it that to me was effecting earnings and making the site look really spammy and that was the other advertisement models the owner was using to try and further monetize the site.
Other than Amazon Associates (which was the primary income), it had infolinks, Clickbank, adsense.. you name it and it was on the site everywhere. It looked awful and to be honest I think this put some people off bidding on the site. (The seller did not declare any earnings for these either).
It was just a bit of an overkill and the amount of pop-ups and affiliate links on the site was just way too much so my plan was to strip them all out and keep it as focused as I can on Amazon associates, I felt the owner was missing out on a lot of commissions by either;
People leaving the site due to way too many affiliate links (It had an Infolinks plugin and integrated with the content so everything was nearly a link, looked awful).
People was clicking on the infolinks (which where everywhere on the site) and people was leaving the site for small infolinks commissions instead of potentially getting an Amazon referral sale of 7% (taking into account most of the items are $75+).
I knew I could easily fix the issues and simply remove infolinks, clickbank etc by just removing the plugins and code if necessary so the site was purely focused around the Amazon products that was very relevant the site niche and by far the best earner.
Transferring The Site Over To Me
The transfer process all went smoothly, we used Flippa Escrow for the payment (I asked the Seller to Add this payment option onto the listing before buying as it was not initially their) so it was all done securely and I only released the payment once the domain was pushed and the site was fully transferred to my hosting.
The seller was kind enough to take care of the hosting transfer for me so within 24 hours the site was all set up under my domain and hosting account.
The only challenge I did face was changing over all the Amazon affiliate ID’s from his to mine, remember I mentioned it had over 60 posts? that’s a lot of links to update and it was using some visual editor plugin on some pages which made it all very time consuming.
I asked the seller if he had an easy way of updating the affiliate ID’s and he said it needs to all be done manually however if I want one of his team will do it all for $15 USD?
I took him up on the deal and felt sorry for whoever had to do the job but for the sake of $15 USD I felt it was worth it and saves me hours of time messing around with it myself. The links were all updated to my affiliate ID within 24 hours.
What I Did With The Site
1. General Clean Up
Once all the ownership was changed over to me I starting cleaning up the site as it was really needed, the site just had so much going on that was not only making the site look awful but it was also affecting the sites performance (loading / visitor bounces and potentially earnings).
It had a crazy amount of plugins that it didn’t need so these got removed straight away, I found yet another affiliate link from another company that the seller had set up which somehow I missed, It was advertising some taxi company in America which is completely not relevant to the niche so I removed this.
I got rid of all the spammy looking infolinks, adsense links and any other affiliate he had crammed onto the site so it was left purely with just Amazon image and text links. It made a noticeable difference straight away, the site look much cleaner, readable and definitely more likely to convert with the Amazon links.
One big problem that I found with the site that I was honestly not completely aware was an issue (at the time) was the site was showing product prices in some of the Amazon links (such as comparison tables) which is a big no no and this can actually get your account banned so I urgently changed all the links to remove the prices so I wouldn’t run into any problems.
With the comparison tables where it was showing a range for example: $79 – $180 USD I just amended this to: $$ – $$$ which seems to be what other people have done as a solution whom also run into the issues without knowing it was against Amazon terms.
If you do have prices shown your Amazon links then make sure you remove them asap!
2. Reviewed Top Performing Pages And Adding/Fixed Affiliate Links
I spent quite a bit of time on Google Analytics to dig a bit deeper into the site traffic, I got the seller to make me an admin on the Analytics account so it saved me the time of adding it fresh and not having the previous traffic history.
If you do buy a site, it’s always a good idea to just ask the seller to make you an admin on the Google Analytics so you keep all the historic site data. I have never dealt with anyone who is not willing to do this.
In Google Analytics I looked at what posts on the site was getting the highest % of traffic from Google and individually went through them to see if I could make any improvements or add any additional links to increase the conversion rate/revenue more.
Most of the posts did have quite a few links already, there was also comparison charts (similar to table press) but quite a few of these links were broken and not linking to anything so I updated them to link out to Amazon.
The site had a decent amount of product images on the site and hardly any of them was linking out to Amazon, the image links from Amazon actually convert quite well so money was being left on the table here – I add Amazon links to some of the images near the top of the page.
There was also basically no actual text links, the majority of them was buttons so I added in a few amazon text links onto the popular pages as text links generally convert well – nothing crazy but just around 3 or so near the top of the page and mainly linked the actual product name or added in “check the current price” or “read more reviews”.
Lastly I added Amazon Native ads onto the top traffic pages, these generally bring in some extra reasonable revenue and I like Amazon native ads as you can add a custom Amazon product banner with 4 products that you chose manually. (I always chose the best sellers/best rated items).
It’s always good to create a separate Amazon tracking ID specifically for Native Ads so you can track the performance.
2. Added More Content
I added a total of 15 new articles to the site, I used LongTailPro (keyword tool) to find new low ranking competition keywords to target for the articles. Most of the articles was published immediately, I did schedule a handful to be posted over the next coming months so the site looks active and up to date.
Each article was focused around a long tail keyword with a monthly search volume of 100-1000 that was deemed fairly easy to rank for (using LongTails Keyword Difficulty rating). The articles added ranged from 600-2500 words long , they was all fairly decent quality, well written and most have links out to Amazon (and internally/externally to other pages) to try and capture more revenue.
I usually try to include 2-3 affiliate links on each post depending on the size, usually an image link, button and text link with the exception of information posts (unless there is a good reason for it).
I tried to focus on relevant buying keywords for the articles, so keywords related to my niche that include the words “reviews”, “best”, “where to buy” etc as these generally give the best Amazon conversion as you are essentially catching someone on their way of buying who wants more details and assurance they are buying the best product, then it’s just a case of redirecting them to Amazon through one of the site affiliate links, then Amazon do their thing.
3. Internal Linking
Not a great deal of internal linking was done on the site so I spent a decent bit of time adding some internal links towards my new posts and also some existing to hopefully pass on some authority and increase the site rankings.
This was quite time consuming due to the amount of posts and also trying to find relevant words that I could actually link, after a good few hours I managed to add a decent amount of links from probably 40% of the site.
For some where I couldn’t find any relevant words to add (older posts), I just added a “related posts” part onto the bottom of the post and manually added 3-4 other posts with a mixture of anchor links.
I did a quick draft on notepad of the related posts with 3-4 links, I did quite a few variations of different links and anchors so it wasn’t the same links or anchors being used for every page otherwise it would have looked a bit spammy.
This isn’t something that I do now as it is better for internal linking to be more natural but I thought it would help the site a bit and hopefully get other posts ranking.
Then The Waiting Game
I was pretty confident that with all the above changes I made that the site would start doing much better but I wasn’t sure how much better, that was the big question but time would tell.
I could have kept adding more content but to be honest I wasn’t really interested in doing so, the site already had loads of content and I’m not a fan of writing articles for the sake of it and outsourcing them costs money, I just wanted to start seeing a bit of return on investment and most importantly seeing if the changes I made have actually done anything.
Same goes with links, I could have done some link building such as 2.0’s or outreach for guest posts but I just wanted to keep the site natural, it was already doing well pretty much naturally so I didn’t see any reason to change it, at least not now.
Results Starting To Show
Quite quickly the site started to show some decent results, I cannot take all the credit as some of the existing SERP’s moved up a bit naturally which gave a traffic boost (can call that good timing) but the changes I made definitely helped a lot in terms of clicks, conversions, earnings, bounce and traffic.
1st Months Traffic
The traffic was starting to make a slow but decent climb.
1st Months Earnings
For April there was a total of $143.93 USD from Amazon which is double what the previous seller was earning from the site, this is also only based on 33 items being shipped out of 41 so there is still more revenue but that will roll into next month. This is also not based on a full month as I acquired the site nearly mid part of the month (12th to be exact) so I was very impressed with this and the changes made definitely played a big part here.
Note: To protect my affiliate account security, I have decided not to add revenue screenshots.
2nd Months Traffic
Traffic is still climbing nicely, it’s close to doubling which is awesome and really unexpected. I kept the first partial month data on the above too so the progress against last month can be easily compared.
2nd Months Earnings
A total of $326.01 USD for the 2nd month from Amazonwhich is fantastic! like last month there are still items that have not even been shipped (7 items) so they will roll onto next months earnings and hopefully set us off to a good start next month.
I am wondering if this is actually going to maintain or if it was just a bit of a peak month, It’s really hard to tell how consistent the earnings are going to be but providing the traffic maintains then I am hoping the earnings will too.
I did also go back to the Google Analytics to see if any other posts was getting more traffic, I found a few (which I added/updated the affiliate links on). Some of the new posts I did started to make some traction but nothing in top SERP’s as of yet.
3rd Months Traffic
Traffic still growing but not as aggressively as it was.
3rd Months Earnings
Total earnings for the month was: $423.39 USD from Amazon. This was quite a big month, taking into account I bought this site just 3 months ago and it was earning just $60-$70 USD, really pleased with the site growth and increase in earnings.
4th Months Traffic
Traffic increased a bit more from last month and starting to steady out at this range.
4th Months Earnings
Another big month, the site traffic continues to climb as are the earnings. 4th month total comes in at $594.65 USD from Amazon earnings, really big month and the site has gone way beyond the expectations I had for it. If I remember right this was a promotional month within Amazon so that explains the slight increase of earnings.
I don’t have a screenshot anymore for month 5 unfortunately as I forgot to take a screenshot of it when I owned the site and had access to the Google Analytics account (schoolboy error) but the traffic was pretty much steady and similar to the previous month.
The earnings for the 5th month came to $437.33 USD which was not as high as last month (Amazon promotion) but still a really decent amount.
Time To Sell And Make Some Money? Or Not?
At this point I started thinking about selling the site, I didn’t actually buy it on the basis of selling it on this quickly but I was getting curious what the site would be worth and frankly speaking I needed funds for other sites I was working on (and thinking of buying others), that aside I had nearly made all my money back from what I paid for the site by now.
The whole situation was a bit like holding a stock that was performing really well but how long is it going to last? If I sell the site now then will i regret it? or If i hold onto it then and traffic/earnings drop then will i regret not selling it? It’s a difficult situation when thinking of it like that so I thought about it for a couple of days.
A few days on and I was still thinking about selling it, well at least finding out what it’s worth so I decided to get a valuation from one of the known site brokers: Empire Flippers, when I was reading up on brokers there are really two main players: Empire Flippers and FE International, I decided to run with Empire Flippers as I read some decent reviews on them but in fairness I heard they are both pretty good options.
I decided to get a valuation from a broker instead of trying my luck on Flippers as brokers generally get a much higher price than what you would get on Flippa and they handle basically everything (even transferring the site/files to the buyer) so it’s less crap for me to deal with which is an added bonus.
You have to go through quite a long vetting process from Empire Flippers, once you have submitted all the information for the site (and traffic / earning proof) they go through their own vetting processes to make sure everything adds up (including adding them to your Google Analytics and also your Amazon Affiliate account). They do not accept any and every site, it must pass their own vetting process before they consider it.
I didn’t have any issues with any of this as all the figures was 100% correct, I think it’s actually a good thing as they do their homework so whoever buys the site gets a decent vetted site for their money (which obviously mine was, haha).
Empire Flippers charge a listing fee of: $297 USD which is refundable if they do not accept your site.
I knew I would get a decent valuation from Empire Flipper so paying the listing fee was not the end of the world. It does actually reduce if you sell with them again, the $297 is just the first time seller listing fee.
The vetting process took a few days and sure enough I got a confirmation mail that they was happy to take on my site and gave me a valuation but to be honest I was not 100% happy with it, I felt the site was worth a bit more so I replied back saying it was lower than I expected and are they willing to revise it? It was something like $9k or $10k initially and after some discussions I got it revised to $11,155 USD which I was happy to run with so I gave him the go ahead to list the site the following day.
Site Sold? Really?
I got a confirmation email in the morning to confirm that my site was listed on Empire Flippers with the link to the site listing, the same afternoon I got another email saying my site had been sold for: $11,155 USD, I was pretty surprised by this.. I got the higher price I wanted and they managed to sell the site in a day, that’s quite impressive!
Once I got the sold confirmation email and confirmed I was good to go ahead they start the transfer process so you push the domain name across to the new owner (and send Empire Flippers the confirmation to prove it) and Empire Flippers handle the hosting transfer from yours to the buyers and update the site Amazon affiliate codes from yours to the buyers so they can verify the revenue.
This process goes on for a few days and Empire Flippers basically hold the money and act as a middle man until the seller confirms he is happy with everything and verifies the earnings/traffic. Once that’s been done then Empire Flippers do a wire transfer to you for the balance of the site, after their broker fee of course.
Most brokers charge a % fee from total sale (even Flippa charge a listing fee + final fee which I think is 10%).
Empire Flippers charge a first time listing fee of $297 USD and 15% fee from total sale, It seems a lot but these guys will always generally get you a better price than you would from Flippa or in most cases privately, aside from that they take care of all the hassle.
For my site, the buyer took around 4 days to verify everything and he confirmed he was happy to release funds to me (happy days!), I provided the bank details to them and received the funds the following week, it was a smooth process in general and I’d definitely use Empire Flippers again.
After The Site Purchase, Costs and Earnings What Did I Make In Total?
So the site sold for : $11,155 USD which worked out to: $9481.75 USD after their broker fee of 15%.
PLUS adding the 5 months site revenue (below) which totals to: $1919.87 USD
MINUS the initial site purchase cost of $1650 USD from Flippa
$11,401.62 USD – $1650 USD = $9751.62 USD
MINUS Empire Flipper Listing Fee of $297 USD
MINUS Affiliate update cost of $15 USD
TOTAL made from the site after all costs and site purchase = $9439.62 USD
Not bad for a $1650 buy and a few days work. I was happy with the outcome and of course sometimes I kinda regret selling the site so quickly but everything considered, I did really well from it and the cash injection allowed me to start some new niche sites and even buying a few more sites too (hopefully I can replicate this again).