I’ll Never Understand the Time Wasters on Flippa

I have a love hate relationship with Flippa. It's by far the best website trading marketplace on the web and I have been active there over the years with over $200k in sales there. There are just so many little things that frustrate and annoy me about the place.

One of those is time wasters. Flippa regularly boasts about the large sales that go through there however they fail to mention that most users there aren't big players. What I've never been able to understand is the large number of members that browse Flippa every day sending emails and making bids on websites they cannot afford.

Filtering Out the Time Wasters

The sale of my last blog WPMods.com in May attracted dozens of time wasters. I had set the reserve at $80k initially but then dropped it to $60k (it sold for $80k). You would think that such a high reserve, and a seller making it clear that the website wouldn't be sold, would stop people who couldn't afford it bidding. It didn't. In fact, it seemed to attract them.

The site was making around $2,600 a month at the time. Despite this, the first dozen or so bids were really low. Bidders were making bids of $50 and someone would then come in and out bid them with a bid of $60. Seriously…what is the point? No buyer is going to sell a website that makes $2,500 a month for a few hundred dollars. At the very least they are looking for a years income, possibly two. It took a week or more until a proper bid came in.

What was even more annoying was the questions. They'd start off by asking pointless questions such as when does the domain expire. Firstly, this can be checked in seconds via any whois checker. Secondly, no one who is serious about buying a website with a reserve of $80k cares about whether a $10 domain is due for renewal. After advising me that they didn't have the budget, they continued to ask more questions.

This was not an isolated incident. It happens with every day. The problem is, it isn't always clear who the time wasters are. Flippa shows the total value of trades for each member. Generally speaking, if someone has thousands of dollars of sales attached to them, they're more likely to put in a serious bid. It's not always the case though. There were a few people who bid for WPMods that has no sales on Flippa whatsoever but after I talked to them on Skype, they proved to me they did have the budget (e.g. one was a large WordPress theme store owner who just hadn't used Flippa).

Likewise, I've had people with really large budgets ask questions that only beginners would ask. Guys who are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and they're really worried about how they are doing to transfer a WordPress website.

Lightning Does Strike Twice

I'm currently selling a website of mine called MartialArtsVideos.com. I'm selling MartialArtsVideo.com with the sale too (i.e. without the s). In total, both domains cost me close to $10k. They're really high domain names and I'd like to develop the site more; however I've no time to work on the site as I'm working on writing so much (both here and for books I am releasing). I have no plans to sell the site if I don't get a good price though so there's a chance I may do something with it yet :)

I initially set the auction as a private sale through Flippa and set a date of 6 months. I was in no rush to sell and was merely curious as to whether anyone would make a bid. Soon after lising the site Flippa emailed me directly and asked why I had chosen a private sale. They advised that auctions get ranked much much better in their listings and private sales get few sales. So I decided to list my site for sale as an auction to end 3 weeks later (14 January 2013).

One thing I've noticed with all my sales is that at near the start of the auction, very few serious bidders bid. The people who bid near the start are rarely there fighting it out at the end. The bids so far mirror what happened in May with WPMods.com with all bidders making really really low bids.

Martial Arts Videos Auction

On the plus side, any bids are good, as Flippa listings show how many bids each auction has. More bids means more people are looking to buy so it attracts more people to the listing. There will of course be no serious bids until the last week of the auction and it isn't clear whether I'll get a good price.

One reason why I was reluctant to list this website on Flippa is because so many bidders contact you and say that the site is only worth 10-12 months income. Which is bull. The site has made about $2,500 in 7 months however the real value is in the domain name and the fact the website has build up a following of over 45,000 fans on Facebook. The problem is, so many people artificially inflate their Facebook fan count nowadays that it makes genuine fan pages with a high number of followers meaningless.

Nothing Flippa Can Do

Whilst time wasters really frustrate me on Flippa, I realise that it's not really their fault. I can't think of any controls or changes to their system that would stop people wasting sellers times. It's just part and parcel of selling websites on the web. There's always going to be people who are just curious about how a website works and have no interest in actually buying. Unfortunately for sellers, it's not always clear who is wasting your time and who isn't, so you need to treat everyone the same and try and answer questions professional and politely.

I'm interested in hearing from readers who have had to deal with time wasters on Flippa. Feel free to vent your anger in the comment area :)

Thanks for reading,

I am an experienced blogger who has been working on the internet since 2000. On this blog, I talk about WordPress, internet marketing, YouTube, technology and travelling.
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