Is Website flipping a good idea?
September 24, 2008 6:55 AM   Subscribe

Is website flipping really a viable business model? A recent article in The Times UK sparked my interest.

I'd be quite interested in building a Web site in my spare time on a topic I enjoy writing about - but is it really so easy to profit from this? I've done a bit of googling on the subject and basically it all looks a bit scammy.

The only first-hand experience I have is that the blog that I've been writing on a different topic has gotten 70,000 page views over the past two years but earned me only $1.97 of revenue in total using google adwords. It's on blogspot though, and the topic isn't one that lends itself to buying and selling.
posted by hazyjane to Work & Money (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The article talks about buying website names and selling them for a profit. The name for this is cybersquatting. You can rebrand this practice as much as you want but it's a disreputable thing to do at best, and the chance of you making a profit doing it are slim to non-existent.

I think what you want to do is make money from a written blog. Although it's possible to do this, it's unlikely that you will. Metafilter's Mathowie wrote about making money from blogging some years ago, and I think the advice stands. Gawker Media also do a good job from making money from blogging. It's worthwhile looking around at how they did it.

Finally, if you're going to blog, do it because you want to. Blogging is the 21st Century equivalent of being a poet. It's highly unlikely you'll ever make money from it.
posted by seanyboy at 7:29 AM on September 24, 2008

To flip domains, you need lots of traffic real quick, blogging won't cut it. If you live in say Sweden, you might try buying domain names, setting up piracy sites there, and selling the domain names when they site gets popular. I can't imagine anything U.S. legal working except maybe free porn.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:38 AM on September 24, 2008

One slightly more time-consuming - but much less shady - method for making money with a web site would be to establish it as a proper business, run it for a bit and then try to sell the whole business. For example here is the page on E-Commerce businesses for sale from a British business selling company called Turner and Butler.

At the top of the pile of these businesses, value wise, are operations that are demonstrably making reasonable sums of money. However at the cheaper end are some businesses that are little more than the skeleton of an idea. Exactly how many of these businesses are being sold I have no idea - but you might note that they are at least being advertised for quite large sums of cash.
posted by rongorongo at 8:52 AM on September 24, 2008

Buying generic domains and reselling them isn't cybersquatting. It's domain name investing. And yes, it's hard to make a living off that, though a few people do. Most of them turn their domains into businesses, make money off Google AdWords, or have their ship come in when they luck out and one of their hundreds of names sells for a good profit.

Buying a domain that is someone else's name (for ex., a celebrity or politician) or business/brand name and then trying to resell it to them--that's cybersquatting.
posted by faunafrailty at 9:26 AM on September 24, 2008

1. faunafrilly, what is your definition of cybersquatting?

2. I think the OP is talking about actually building a web site, complete with interesting and/or useful content, and then selling that. That's definitely not cybersquatting.
posted by amtho at 9:53 AM on September 24, 2008

I rescind 1. above - sorry I didn't read the whole post.
posted by amtho at 9:54 AM on September 24, 2008

Keep in mind how articles get written.

An article does not get written once a well-established pattern in the real world develops to a point where lots of people would like to hear about it.

An article gets written as soon as some desperate flack at a news organization can piece together several anecdotes and call it "the new thing."

Just because some cheap flack strung together a few anecdotes doesn't make it a substantial or viable phenomenon. In fact most things get reported even before they qualify as flashes in the pan.
posted by scarabic at 9:25 PM on September 24, 2008

« Older Decrease spam reaching Gmail inbox   |   Help us with a name for our business Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.