Last March, I built a directory website for drone pilots, Aerial Connect. The site had only 9 users, very little traffic and no revenue. I listed it for auction on Flippa and sold it for $2,050. My video course The Ultimate Flippa Guide covers the entire process on how I built a directory like Aerial Connect. For the next 3 days only, use the coupon code “flippa39” at checkout for 20% off.
In the winter of 2010 my partner and I saw a need in the real estate market for aerial photographs. We needed to find a way to fly a high end DSLR camera 50-100 feet up in the air. Over the next few months I learned everything I could about remote control UAV drones. I was able to learn how to engineer, build, test and operate an 8 foot aerial helicopter rig that was able to successfully carry our DSLR camera. Shortly after, we went on to take dozens of aerial pictures for real estate agents.
In August of 2014 I saw how many aerial photography/drone companies were popping up. Drones were becoming more affordable and accessible that ever before and I knew eventually there will have to be a directory for the growing demand and that I should try and build one. I knew that more real estate agents were interested in aerial photography since drones started making it affordable. I also knew that there were a lot of new drone pilots and aerial photographers that were looking for more leads and aerial jobs. Thats were my light bulb moment happened, I was going to find a way to connect real estate agents with drone pilots with a directory. Having no prior web development knowledge besides messing around with Wix, I had no clue how I was going to build the idea. A few weeks and some research hours later, I came to the conclusion that building the site with wordpress would be the best route.
I found a great looking/functioning directory theme and started learning wordpress by trial and error. After a frustrating 4 weeks of testing, integrating plugins and with very little technological knowledge I built Aerial Connect by myself and took the site live in October of 2014. My next step was to reach out to some drone pilots and get them on board.
In a gold rush, don’t dig for gold, sell the shovels.
The Flippa Sale
For some reason, maybe it was because I was a single founder and working on the site by myself, I hit a little bit of a burnout. It seemed like there was so much for me to do to grow the site and I had an iOS app project my three friends wanted to work on. I’d made an account with flippa a few months before I initially built the site and I was really curious to see how much I could get for a site like the one I’d built. I knew it looked clean and I’d put a lot of hours into it but it had almost no traffic and no revenue. I decided to list it on flippa just to see what could happen. The result was intriguing, the site had 11 bidders, 69 total bids and sold for $2,050 after a two week auction.
It took a good three days to write the initial listing description, here it is. I decided to take the listing live on a wednesday night at 10pm EST.
Since then I’ve realized that starting and ending the listing late in the evening is ideal, the reasoning behind this is: a) most of my new bids come late at night and b) Most people are home, off work and browsing.
The first 24 hours were discouraging because I received only a few watchers and zero bids, so I purchased the featured listing upgrade, where flippa features your listing on the homepage. I got a few more views and watchers from this but still no bids. I figured it was a dud until exactly a week later I got my first bid request. I was relieved, and a few days after that I had more bidders and the listing was up to $455. The price went up to $800 in the last few days and in the last 8 hours the price went to $2,050 when the listing ended. Another interesting thing that happened was the conversation I had with the second highest bidder. He loved the idea but his budget was $2,000, he asked if I would consider a payment plan for him if the listing went above 2,000, I told him I couldn’t but it was still an interesting request. After the site had sold I had to solve my next hurdle, the transfer of the site and domain to the new owner. I had literally no experience migrating a wordpress site to a new host so I had practiced with a dummy wordpress site a week before the auction had ended so I’d be ready. What a stressful experience it was learning how to do that! It took me about a 5 days to figure out how to manually download the site files via filezilla and download the wordpress database and re upload it to a new server. Luckily the buyer knew of a cool plugin that made this process very easy and I still use a plugin similar to that one, you can find the plugin here. We initiated the payment through flippa’s escrow service, which went flawlessly, flippa took their 10% success fee and all three parties were happy.
I’ve listed a few main take-aways that I believe had the biggest effect on the sale being successful. If you’re wondering what the 80/20 principle would be with selling a site on flippa, here’s what I believe was the 20% that made up 80% of the auction’s success:
- A good idea: It’s was a good idea in a trending industry and other people thought it was a great idea. If you want to successfully sell a new startup on flippa, focus on creating a great idea. When I initially came up with the idea I said that if I didn’t build a drone pilot directory someone else would, it’s only a matter of time. Drones are trending, the whole industry is growing at staggering rates and the technology is solving problems and providing tremendous value. I think it was a combination of three main elements: great sounding idea, trending industry (drones) and a great product, (it looked stunning).
- The Pitch: I spent a lot of time writing the copy for the listing description. I focused on being transparent which took my listing from being just a basic developer selling a wordpress site to a guy who had a passion for drones and built a really great startup for drone pilots.
- No Reserve: Setting your Flippa auction to No Reserve is important for two reasons. a). It will sit in the reserve-met section on flippa. A lot of users find it more appealing to bid on listings where the reserve is met. There is a section in flippa for auctions that are “reserve-met”, there are currently only 55 websites listed for sale in the reserve-met section so this will have an impact on how many views and watchers you’ll get, (you’ll get more). b) It allows users to determine the actual value of your site. Having a reserve price or a buy it now price might filter out would be bidders. More bidders = higher activity on your listing. Higher activity on your listing = more views because it will be displayed in flippas most active listings section.
Have You Checked Out My Two Video Tutorials Yet?
A 7 hour long on screen video course going over my exact process step by step. It covers the domain buying process, building a directory website using wordpress, creating a Flippa listing, migrating a site and transferring ownership to a new owner. You’ll also get two bonus segments as well.
For those who already know WordPress and want to skip the build and design segment of the course, the segments where I setup my Flippa listings as well as how to transfer ownership of the domain and website to the new owner are sold separately here in this tutorial.