Skrill / MoneyBookers Goes Bust – Get Your Money Out if You Still Can!

Posted in Finances, Scams on January 28th, 2014 by Michael – 3 Comments

Skrill, formerly known as MoneyBookers, is going bust according to latest reports.

Over the past several months they’ve started randomly freezing, suspending and closing accounts, as well as applying random credit card charges. Multiple cases were reported. Their support is almost non existent, getting a reply is very rare.

Recently I also had my account suspended, along with a balance of about $1K, which I’ve been using for many years. They haven’t responded to the tickets and didn’t provide any explanation to the cause of that suspension. Calling them also gets you nowhere as you are put on hold, and transferred around a few times and then eventually disconnected.

Typically accounts are suspended at first and you receive a message like this:

We would like to inform you that your account is temporarily suspended for payments following a routine security audit.  read more »

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All About Flippa Auction Reserve

Posted in Auctions, Buying Sites, Flippa, How to Sell on June 11th, 2013 by Michael – 5 Comments

Should you disclose your flippa auction reserve as a buyer?
Should you ask the seller about her reserve price?
Why are sellers acting offended when asked and reply they prefer to keep it private?
Why do potential buyers ask for reserve anyway even if you specifically stated it won’t be disclosed?

If you’ve ever wondered about all these questions and similar ones this post will try to answer them, from my personal perspective as both buyer and seller on many auctions.

What is Flippa Reserve?

Reserve is the minimum price a seller is ready to sell the site for. Once the reserve is met the highest bid will win the auction and the seller will be required to complete the sale. If the bidding didn’t reach the reserve there neither the seller nor the highest bidder have to proceed with the deal.

The seller must set the reserve price to start the auction and it has to be equal or higher than minimum bid. Flippa terms prohibit the seller from making the reserve public. The reserve also can not be changed after it’s been met, however the seller may change it at any time during the auction before that. If the reserve wasn’t yet met the seller may choose to lower or increase it during the auction, however the reserve can’t be changed to be low than the highest offer. All flippa auction listings will show if the reserve was met or not.

Seller’s Perspective on the Reserve Price


A seller would usually want to keep the reserve private to make sure he gets more bids and higher offers. So it’s not in his interest to disclose the reserve. Additionally as you can see from the above flippa terms it’s simply not allowed to make the reserve public (however personally I’ve never seen or heard of anyone getting in trouble with flippa for disclosing their reserve price on an auction).

Yet all the buyers want to know the reserve before bidding and more than half of the potential bidders are likely to ask for it – either through a private message or on the listing comments. So it is a question you should be prepared to answer as a seller. Most sellers choose to either disclose the reserve or reply that it should stay private. Another alternative is to provide some indication to the buyers of the reserve range. It’s an acceptable practice in most other auction sites. For example Sedo.com – the biggest domains auction site – automatically shows the reserve range for all auctions. This way the prospective buyer can know that for example the reserve for riah.com is in the 5,000 – 9,999 USD range and the reserve for bore.com is in the 10,000 – 24,999 USD range. An alternative acceptable way to provide the buyer an idea of the reserve is to name a more general range like mid $x,xxx, which mean the reserve could be $5k, or it can be $7k, or even $2500. The seller can also reply that the reserve is very close to the current bidding, or quite far from it.

Flippa recommend setting the reserve to the lowest price you’re ready to accept to sell the site and that is usually very true as once the reserve is met other buyers will be more interested in bidding, which may cause more bids and a higher selling price than otherwise. The only case when I wouldn’t recommend setting a lower reserve is if you believe there is only a small number of buyers who would make higher bids, so it’s unlikely to cause any sort of bidding frenzy. With very high value sites, or specific niche sites, sites that require a certain set of skills and experience to manage, and expertise in that niche, you are frequently likely to only get one highly interested buyer (or none, when you’d have to relist). In that case having a higher reserve will ensure you’re getting a good price. But be careful this is a double edged sword – more often having a higher reserve will lead to it not getting met. Keep in mind that usually relisted auctions end at a lower prices, similar to how houses that were on the market for a longer period of time lose value in the eyes of the buyers.

Buyer’s Perspective on the Reserve Price

A buyer would always want to know the reserve price before bidding for several reasons, for example:
- If the reserve is too high compared to what the buyer was willing to pay he could save time on researching the site, doing due diligence and deciding on his actual maximum bid. No buyer would want to spend hours researching a site and stats, proofs and contemplating a $3500 or $4000 bid just to find out late that the seller wasn’t willing to consider anything below $10K for it. This is usually the main reason buyers ask for reserve so it’s fair provide a range so buyers can decide if they should participate in the auction.
- If the reserve is low (and the bin is not available) the buyer can try to make a BIN offer to the seller and try to buy the site right away. This would save him both time on following the auction and bidding and more importantly, can give him an opportunity to get a good deal if he believes the auction will likely end up higher if let run till the end.
- Also knowing the reserve the buyer will not be likely to place bids until near the end of the auction or until the reserve was reached.

Many buyers usually ask directly on the comments or through pms about the reserve price and get offended and discouraged after being told that the reserve is and will stay private. It’s the seller’s prerogative not to disclose the reserve and moreover, as we’ve learned earlier, sellers are not allowed to disclose it under flippa rules, so it shouldn’t cause such a reaction.

Then how can you, as a buyer, find out the reserve to save time bidding in an auction you have absolutely no chance of winning? What I usually do is ask the seller if the reserve is far from the current bidding or the bin. Another acceptable way is to ask for the reserve range. It’s not acceptable to simply ask what’s the reserve – don’t do it! The seller may choose not to disclose it and this is still useful since it’ll usually let you know the reserve is relatively high and far from current bidding. If the reserve is close they’ll always let you know.

You can also try to guess the reserve price and then ask the seller if the range is correct – average reserve price on flippa is around 10 months revenue. If there is a bin the reserve is usually 25-50% lower than the bin. This can obviously vary greatly based on how established the site is and how detailed is the description and stats, as well as seller, niche, site etc.

It’s always worthy to get an idea of the reserve price before entering an auction to save time and avoid auctions where sellers have unrealistic expectations.

No Reserve Auctions

Many experienced sellers (myself included) prefer to do no reserve auctions. These involve a higher risk since you’re legally bound to sell the regardless of the ending price and it may end up selling much lower than you expected. However they also include many benefits:

- having no reserve will get many bids from many different buyers and will cause a lot more people to get involved in the bidding
- receiving many bids your auction can get into the most active auctions list which will ensure higher visibility and a lot more potential buyers seeing it.
- having more bids and a popular auction will also bring a “social proof” to other buyers to bid a higher amount than they usually would have
- buyers are a lot more likely to get into a bidding war and pay more for the site than they would have otherwise.

As examples here are two of my previous no reserve auctions freewaremission.com and thebestwalkingshoes.org and this is a current auction that ends tomorrow (as of the time this post was published): No Reserve – $325/mo Adsense Content Site – Automatic Organic Traffic. Here is also an example of how it can fail kingdoms.info (yes, I lost money on this and the bueyr got a great deal, but I learned a good lesson on what not to do..).

Based on my experience no reserve auctions are preferred when a number of favorable conditions are present for the site and certain measures are taken to ensure its success:

- the site should be a passive income site, preferably with mostly adsense income, that requires minimum maintenance and no technical knowledge to manage in order to attract the highest number of potential buyers.
- the site should have proper description and details revenue and traffic stats. Confirmed GA and adsense are also preferred.
- the seller should have an established flippa profile with some previous activity so buyers are more confident to bid. Many buyers choose to only bid in auctions set up by reputed sellers – and rightfully so due to the large amount of fraud and scams on flippa.
- the target price for the site should not be too high to enable people with lower budgets to bid and participate. Preferably under $5-10K since only a small percentage of flippa buyers are usually ready to go above $10k.
- if you expect at least $1-2K you should use a premium listing. It costs $250 but will be well worth it in the increase publicity.
- it’s essential to try to get as many bids as possible in order to get more views from a high position on the most active list.
- make sure your auction description is well structured to be easily readable. Note: most buyers don’t read the entire description at first, they just look over it quickly to pick some main facts and decide if it’s interesting. You should point out some main details in your description to draw the buyers’ attention. E.g.: recent revenue figures, maintenance requirements, traffic sources.
- add proper revenue screenshots and display other traffic details, including sources as far back in time as you can. Also confirm google analytics and adsense stats through flippa.
- promptly reply to all questions and comments on the listing.
- be only in the last few hours of the auction to answer questions and add/change bin.
- you have to accept the fact that this might fail miserably and you would have to sell your site very cheap if the auction fails to attract enough action. As backing out is not an option be prepared for the worst case scenario.
- this last part is tricky. As data goes between one third to one half of all auctions on flippa end up with non paying buyers, so you should try to sell the site to someone more reputable and more interested to make sure he follows through with the deal. This can be complicated with a no reserve auction so you can message buyers to discuss this and to gauge their interest and reliability. And also set an appropriate bin so the person you’d like to sell it to can buy it.

And one last piece of advice: be cool and use some common courtesy! It’s rather distressing to see buyers who think they are entitled to post whatever they want and so they make comments on listings accusing sellers of fraud and scam or impossible stats with no basis, proof, or even proper analysis – frequently in order to deter other buyers from bidding and get a better deal for themselves or their friend. It’s a despicable practice. Unfortunately flippa support are usually too slow to reply or intervene, even though they don’t allow this.

tldr; don’t ask the reserve, ask for the range. Only do no reserve auctions in certain cases. Be polite. Watch my listings

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How Make a Proper Adsense Screenshot

Posted in How to Sell, Selling Sites on June 24th, 2012 by Michael – 3 Comments

What are Adsense Screenshots?

Adsense screenshots are simply screenshots of the adsense revenue from a site. Usually done using the PrintScreen button on the keyboard. They are presented to site buyers by the sellers as proof of revenue.

Screenshots are an integral part of any site sale and knowing how to produce proper adsense screenshots when selling your sites is essential for a successful and profitable sale, as it increases buyer confidence in the site and provides buyers more details.

Non Proper Screenshots

Almost every time I buy a site I’m forced to ask the seller to provide a proper adsense screenshot. Most first time sellers seem to think that just showing some random numbers is good enough. Many make screenshots of their entire account, including other sites which are not included in the sale. Some produce screenshots so small that look like they were made on a Nokia 3110, so no numbers can be visible. Others yet cut out everything and only leave several revenue numbers with no dates, urls or other details. read more »

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Selling Some of My Sites $100/month in Passive Revenue.

Posted in Auctions, Flippa, Selling Sites on May 17th, 2012 by Michael – 4 Comments

I’m reducing my site portfolio and raising money for new ventures, so this is a good chance for someone to pick up a few great, well established sites with stable, passive revenue. These sites require no updates or maintenance and get most of their traffic through search engines. I’ve acquired most of them during the past few years building my passive income portfolio and now auctioning many of them on flippa, follow my flippa profile to watch my listings.

Here is what’s currently for sale:

1. $95 per month – Established Passive Income Site, 2 yearsold, no maintenance.

  • ending in less than 6 hours!
  • Average revenue from 2012 - $95/month
  • Last 12 months revenue: $1008
  • auction on flippa, bid here

2.  $125 per month in adsense on AutoPilot, PR4, 4 years old passive income site 

  • hasn’t been updated in 2 years
  • 1879 Subscribers
  • $1 start, no reserve, bid here:

if you’re interested please make a bid on flippa only, let me know if you have any questions also

Michael

 

 

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Save Money and Save the Internet!

Posted in GoDaddy, Name.com, News on December 30th, 2011 by Michael – 1 Comment

Best deal you’ll find this year! In light of the recent SOPA controversy many registrars are now offering discounts for domain transfers. Ok, to be fair there is no controversy – SOPA is bad, very bad, for the whole Internet, except GoDaddy, who helped write it and are now paying the price as customers are leaving.  SOPA threatens the freedom of the Internet and if passed will allow copyright holders to have sites taken down by a quick order of a judge, without any representation or court.  More bad news is that it’s likely to pass due to wide spread support in the Congress.

There is some good news however. Many registrars are trying to capitalize on the wave of hate towards GoDaddy that this has sprung and provide large discounts for domain transfers:

Name.com $6.65 –  code ‘NODADDY’

NameCheap $6.99 + $0.18 –  code ‘SOPASucks’

DynaDot $6.99 – code ‘TEAMDYNADOT’

Note that these are mostly for .com transfers and expire on Dec 31, so hurry up!

Name.com also have more information on SOPA and their position on it

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My SEO Workshop Details

Posted in SEO on December 27th, 2011 by Michael – Be the first to comment

Here are further details as promised for attendants of my SEO workshop today at Gvahim, TelAviv.

These are the links to online tools mentioned in the presentation.

Keyword research tools: G keyword toolG insightsWordTrackerG analytics

Advanced keyword research: SemRush.comKeywordSpy.comMarketSamurai.com

Backlink Checker tools: BacklinkWatch.com, OpenSiteExplorer.org

More Link Tools: Majesticseo.comAhrefs.com, Alexa

Bonus Site tools* (weren’t included in the workshop): Push2check.com, SpyOnWeb.com

SEO Browser extensions for chrome: SEO Site ToolsSEOQuake

Sitting kills linkbait example

Social Media and Reputation Management tools: Klout.comTrackur.comGoogle.com/alertsSocialMention.com

 

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A New Site Selling Scam Scheme Uncovered

Posted in Buying Sites, Scams on December 16th, 2011 by Michael – 3 Comments

Lately I’ve noticed several interesting site sales on DP and all had the same in common:

- sellers were very eager to sell their sites quick and asked for quick offers
- sellers provided only partial and outdated stats data
- all looked like very good deals

Many of the deals were quite enticing and the stats and data seemed realistic enough, so I dug deeper and as expected they were all scams, but following a very interesting pattern.

The scammers tried to “sell” sites that were previously listed for sale on flippa, so they used the screenshots and data posted by the actual owners on flippa at the time of the auction. Some of these were still active, some ended unsold. After an auction ends on flippa the screenshots are no longer visible. It’s also fairly easy to make similar, “updated”, fake screenshots having the original.

This is not a “grey” type of scam where site owners would slightly exaggerate their stats, round it up, or even show fake screenshots. The scammers didn’t own any sites and those who fell victim and sent them the cash through paypal quickly to buy it never got anything in return.

How can you spot a scam like that?

1. First and foremost a quick google search for the site will show if there was a flippa auction or if it was for sale anywhere else before so that the scammer could gather the data from there.
2. Request the scammer to prove ownership by inserting some unique text in the site  code – this is the easiest way to prove he actually owns the site.
3. Further background checks on the seller, his forum/email/messenger ids will frequently reveal any previous misdoings.

Stay safe, don’t rush and do proper due diligence before any purchase!

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9 Tips for Freelance Writers

Posted in Opinions, Outsourcing on September 23rd, 2011 by Michael – Be the first to comment

I’ve worked with at least a few hundred freelance writers over the past few years, so I wanted to share some tips from the webmaster point of view on how to get more business and more clients for freelancers.  These are based solely on my own experiences.

  • Always use Proper English.
    A fairly simple thing to do that many beginning writers don’t pay much attention to. If a writer I’m planning to hire uses stuff like “u, ur, coz, im”  it doesn’t matter how good his reviews are, or who recommended him, there is just no way he’s getting the job. Even if it was through an  IM conversation. I wouldn’t want any of that in my articles and I definitely expect a writer to be professional enough to use perfect English in his messages.
  • Adhere to Timelines
    It’s widely known that freelancer projects are rarely completed on time, so if you want to differentiate yourself from the other writers be reliable! if you say you’ll deliver within a week, but complete the work in 3 weeks instead we won’t be working again. Plan ahead, if you know it’ll take you 3 weeks to complete say so upfront. Delivering on time or before is a great way to make sure you’ll get more projects.
  • Quality, not Quantity
    It’s a very competitive market! Probably hundreds of thousands of English writers around from all over the world. But while others are lowering their prices to get more clients do the opposite – raise yours and improve the quality. Market yourself to the higher end clients who pay more per article and deliver higher quality content for it.
  • Know Your Niches
    Don’t write about everything under the sun, pick certain niches, areas to focus on. Study them, publish articles in popular publications on them and be an expert. Nothing gives you more credibility in the eyes of the client than having your  articles published in large publications. Doesn’t have to the NY Times though, a wikipedia page, or a big article in any established site is no less credible to convince a client.
  • Give the Clients What They Want
    More professional writers always ask for more info on what the client expects. Does the review need to be positive, balanced, recommending? Should the style be more personal or general and heavy on facts? Should be there be sub headings?
  • Always Spell check
    Always go through the article after it’s complete to fix any grammar mistakes and strive to have perfect grammar in all your writing. Don’t deliver half done work.
  • Research
    Make sure you know what you’re writing about, do your research, cross reference several sources, get your information from a credible source. Don’t take up heavy articles on complicated niches you don’t know much about unless you plan to spend the time to research it.
  • Get Published!
    Most writers, even the more experienced and professional ones never seem to know where their articles are. A potential client will always want to see your work and it looks much better and more credible if it’s published on a popular site on the topic, than if you just copy paste the article. Anyone can set up ezinearticles profile and add a few articles – get your articles published on more credible sources, like Associated Content, Helium, eHow, Wikipedia etc.
  • Have a Portfolio to Show
    Set up a simple portfolio site. Google your previous articles, or get the links from the clients to add to your portfolio. Most clients wouldn’t mind and will even appreciate a link to their page from your portfolio site. And this would be a great testimony to your professionalism for all future clients, seeing your articles live on popular sites in the niche.

Got more tips? Post them below in the comments.

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Going to the Affiliate Conference in Barcelona

Posted in Networking on September 2nd, 2011 by Michael – 2 Comments

I’m going to Barcelona next week to  attend the affiliate conference and enjoy the sunny city. If any of my blog readers plan to visit feel free to come over and say hi, or contact me to meet up for beers.

Looking forward to meeting some old friends and making new ones, and checking up on the latest developments in the affiliate scene. I’m not really  into the gambling niche, which is the main theme of the conference, but focusing more on forex lately. Especially with our latest acquisition of one of the top affiliate sites in the area. So looking forward to talking to affiliate managers for the main forex broker companies and other forex webmasters.

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Domain Newsletters Are Only Good For Those Who Run Them

Posted in email, Opinions on May 30th, 2011 by Michael – 12 Comments

I subscribe to all major domain newsletters, have been receiving them for a few years now. I even have a special folder in my email account for that and set up filters to skip inbox and send them all there, so I can store them and review later. And lately I’ve been doing just that – reviewing all the recent messages, hoping to find some bargains, or at least some decent domains at somewhat fair prices. With no luck at all, no surprise there however.

Domain newsletters aren’t for domainers! In fact I doubt domainers even buy domains through newsletters at all. For high quality, generic domains prices are usually through the roof, higher than on dnforum and higher than on auctions. For average, or mid quality domains prices are also usually in the end user levels, much higher than what any domain reseller would consider paying. Only affordable domains are.. well, the kind of domains I wouldn’t take for free.

Sure you can find some bargains or decent deals if you spend a lot of time looking through the emails, and in fact I even bought a couple domains, but the vast majority of domains in newsletters are priced for end users, which is really strange – end users don’t subscribe to domain newsletters! They usually email you when they want your domain, or look it up on sedo and make you an offer.

Newsletters must have terrible selling rates, much lower than auctions and other venues, its not uncommon to receive the same names in the email over and over again, with ever falling prices. In fact I’ve submitted some of my domains to newsletters on many occasions – those were good domains and I priced them fairly, but nothing ever sold. Newsletter owners would tell you they have extremely high selling rates to get you to subscribe and send them good names to sell. Obviously there is no way to check that, but one thing is certain – newsletters are extremely profitable for those who run them: not much is needed there, just send a newsletter with a bunch of domains and prices you’re given by domain owners every few days – and if a domain sells you get 10%. 10% is the norm in the industry for brokering: investigating, searching for all potential buyers, end users, finding an actual buyer, negotiating a price, closing the deal; newsletter owners get the same % for just sending one email.. Some domain newsletter owners only list their own names, while others only broker domains submitted to them. But everyone would usually accept good domains to broker to their subscribers and why wouldn’t they? It’s easy money if it sells.

Still feel like subscribing to some newsletters? Here are the most popular ones:

  • TobyClements.com – formerly Rick Latona’s newsletter which was hugely popular and sold tons of domains weekly. Recently changed it’s format and relaunched under a different name by Toby Clements. Some of the highest quality domains, one the recent emails featured Cars.net! 18 emails received in the last 30 days, so that’s about 4 emails per week.
  • DomainsNewsletter.com – managed by Kevin from bigticketdomains.com. It’s a mix of different domains, even some sites. Most are well overpriced, however there are also some decent names at somewhat fair prices. received 26 emails in the last 2 months – average of 3 emails per week. Also on that matter – there was a big discussion about Kevin Leto on dnforum, with some complaints from people who did business with him. Not quite sure what it’s all about or how it got resolved, but it seems serious if it spanned over 16 pages. I usually avoid long heated threads as they lack substance.
  • DomainsForMedia.com and DnCartoons.com – managed by Eric Rice, opposite to other newsletters it frequently features domains asking for offers. Recently it’s not very often and promoting the domain madness auctions. Features many high quality domains and some at decent prices. Only 1 email this month so far, but 4 emails in April and 10 emails in February this year.
  • Domainate.com by Sharon Hayes and Steve Jones. Offering many domains at $127, $99 and sometimes even $60. Not the top quality names as in the other newsletters, but many good keyword combinations. I purchased a couple great domains from here before, but even though I buy a lot of keyword domains on the forums, I wasn’t able to find anything else suitable here lately. I have a feeling the quality has gone down, or perhaps it’s only because of the change in adword search numbers a few month ago when google moved to the new keyword tool. You can see some of their domains here. It’s very convenient that they include the cpc and search count values, as well as age, I wish all domain sellers did this! 4 emails in the last 30 days. Emails aren’t on a regular patterns, but usually every week or two.
  • HuntingMoon.com by Evan Horowitz is another domain newsletter, but it’s somewhat inactive lately. In fact the last one was 2.5 months ago and there were only two emails in 2010, but in 2009 the newsletters was very active with several emails per week and featuring many top quality names.
  • DifferentInvestments.com by Justin Godfrey, known in dnforum as Rockefeller. The newsletter used to be active and had many good names for sale in 2009 and 2010 and but I haven’t received any emails from Justin for over half a year now.
  • Dnjournal Newsletter is a newsletter by the respected DNJournal publication by Ron Jackson. There are no domains for sale here, just updates on the recent articles, editorials and sales. Highly recommended as it features top quality interviews and domaining news.

Other newsletters which I haven’t yet subscribed to, but they seem rather popular as well:  MediaOptions.comLuxuryNames.comDomainAgency.com, MorganLinton.com

If you want more information on domain newsletters there are also some other posts (possibly outdated) on domain newsletters at Elliot’s, Nametalent and DomainNameNews.

That’s about it. I’m sure there are others, if you have one with over 500 subscribers let me know I’ll list it too.

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