A few months ago, I was browsing Flippa.com when I came across a perfect find. A small content website with decent organic traffic. A few years old. Good opportunity for monetization. Low amount of bidders. I entered the auction.
Five days later, I was still the top bidder. Then came the final few hours. Someone outbid me. I managed to place one more offer. The next email from Flippa came as a great surprise: I had won the auction!
And then…. nothing.
The seller disappeared from the face of the Earth.
Luckily, I didn’t lose any money – the funds never went into escrow. But still, apparently, I’m not the first person who has been disappointed with Flippa.com.
Which is why I went on a little investigation and compiled this list. Hopefully, it will help you find decent alternative options to buy and sell websites, online stores on even apps, like with Flippa.com.
Founded in 2010, FE International is probably the most established broker for online businesses. They have offices on three continents and even run their own conferences. The listings at FE typically start in the 5-figure range and can go up to asking prices of several million dollars.
If that sounds interesting, check out their pros and cons:
Pros of FE International
- Years of experience and a proven vetting process. Sellers must undergo serious vetting of their revenue figures and bank statements.
- Fast turnaround times: they state a 94.1% sale completion rate within 60 days.
- Vetted buyers program: as one of their qualified buyers you will see new offers before the general public.
Cons of FE International
- Only higher ticket items: if you are looking for smaller projects in the 4- or lower 5-figure range, this won’t be the place to find them.
- Fee for buyers: when you successfully purchase a business you will be charged a transaction fee of 2.5% (up to a maximum of $1000).
Link: FE International
Exchange Marketplace (by Shopify)
This is Shopify’s attempt to capitalize on 1) their popularity, and 2) the increase in online store flipping. Launched in summer 2017, it is a fairly new service but there is already a decent amount of choice on it.
I really like that Shopify is taking care of vetting all the data – it means I would buy with confidence. As a seller, I also appreciate that the communication is anonymized.
Pros of Exchange Marketplace
- Good range of stores: you get everything from starter businesses to established dropshipping empires.
- Reliable sales data: it’s calculated by Shopify themselves, so you know it’s legit. A huge advantage to all the other marketplaces! But keep in mind that the same isn’t necessarily true for the store’s expenses, which are much harder to verify.
- Secure payments and migration: Shopify manages both for you, so you can buy and sell with confidence
Cons of Exchange Marketplace
- Only for Shopify stores: you won’t find a cool blog or non-Shopify online store. If for whatever reason, your favorite ecommerce platform is not Shopify, you’ll have to migrate the store.
- Seller fees not visible: you will only find out what it costs once you put up your store for sale.
Link: Exchange by Shopify
Empire Flippers only deals with established websites – this is how they became an established website themselves. Winners of the Inc. 5000 Awards for the fastest growing companies in America three years in a row, they are one of the most trusted companies for buying or selling websites.
To date, Empire Flippers has processed more than $50 M worth of online businesses in a variety of verticals, from affiliate marketing websites to online stores. But is it the best platform for you?
Pros of Empire Flippers
- Trustworthy: all data about the websites is thoroughly vetted by the internal team, from traffic analytics to revenue.
- Turnkey solution: they take care of all the steps for transferring the website to a new owner.
- Safe and secure: as far as I know, there’s never been problems with scammers on the platform.
Cons of Empire Flippers
- 5% deposit: to get the 12-month data. It’s refundable and acts as a proof of trust, but it can be an obstacle.
- Top-tier websites only: if you deal in cheap and cheerful websites, look elsewhere – Empire Flippers doesn’t really do anything South of $30K.
- Expensive to list: $297 for first-time sellers, with no guarantee your website will sell.
Link: Empire Flippers
You can buy and sell pretty much everything on Ebay – so it’s no surprise that websites have their own category (Business and Industrial > Internet Businesses and Websites). It’s a huge marketplace, but it’s a bit of a Wild West out there. You certainly can’t guarantee high quality, and it might be hard to get a good idea of the seller’s reputation, even with the review system.
Still, the auction format and wide selection of options could make Ebay a fun way to acquire or sell a website. Let’s see why:
Pros of Ebay
- Large marketplace: Around 10K websites for sale at the time of writing, and around 170M users worldwide.
- Auction format: A good way to grab a bargain or see the price of your website rise in a bidding war.
Cons of Ebay
- Poor data vetting: Anything goes on Ebay, so be careful what you put money down for.
- Can’t trust user reviews: There’s a whole market for fake Ebay seller reviews, so these stars don’t really mean much in the end.
Sedo is pretty much the biggest marketplace – but not for websites. What they deal in is actually just as important, because they’re all about domain names. Whether you want to buy, sell or park domains, this is the place to be.
They are a highly trusted platform, with 15 years of experience and more than 2M customers worldwide. They sell around 3000 websites every day, so as you can imagine there’s something for everyone and every wallet size.
Pros of Sedo
- Huge marketplace: Around 2M domain names for sale.
- Variety of payment options: Sedo lets you pay and get paid via Paypal, credit card or bank transfer.
- Free parking: Sedo hosts your domain for you while you try to sell it. GoDaddy, for instance, makes you pay for that privilege.
- Brokerage service: you could get Sedo to smooth the deal for you if, say, you don’t speak the same language as the seller or you’re in a big rush.
Cons of Sedo
- For domains only: if you have a business idea, the burden of the work is still on you. Having the right domain is a good start, but not the end game.
- 10% commission on sales: this is quite a fat cut they keep for themselves.
I’ve moved house recently, and the Facebook Marketplace was a great way to get rid of some stuff. Turns out you can find everything on Zuckerberg’s platform, and websites are no exception.
You do have to trawl through tons of shady groups where the only posts are about making money from home, but it’s possible to find some genuine offers. At least I hope they are genuine….
Pros of Facebook Groups
- No fees: I’m not even sure Facebook knows that websites are being sold on there, so there’s definitely no charge.
- Wide range of offers: there are all kinds of sites available, in every price range.
- Direct communication: if you want to get to know the seller or buyer, their Facebook profile could be a proof of trust. But then again, this could be a con….
Cons of Facebook
- Use at your own risk! Not sure how you can know a seller is legit on there. You really need to perform your due diligence to ensure you’re not in talks with a scammer.
- No centralized database: you’ll need to trawl through dozens of groups and ignore the obviously fake offers.
Launched by Freelancer.com, this is the work outsourcing company’s attempt at capitalizing on second-hand domains and websites. It’s not as popular as Flippa, but it’s probably the closest alternative, inasmuch as there is a wide range of prices and assets.
One interesting thing to note: the Australian company behind Freelancer also bought Warrior Forum, which means they have a strong list of resources for creating a website, buying one, getting SEO and marketing results, and hiring staff to work on it.
Digital Point Forum
As the name suggests, you can buy and sell anything digital here, including domains, websites, articles, and even ebooks and second-hand licenses (I’m not sure how legal these are, so operate at your own risk).
Last time I checked, there were around 1200 websites for sale, ranging from adult videos to dog training tutorials. My only concern is that it would be much harder to verify the claims of traffic and revenue because you are dealing with anonymous forum users – but maybe it works for you.
I’ve seen Website Broker mentioned a few times as a good alternative to Flippa, but I don’t know. It was started in 1997 by two Californian lawyers, and frankly it looks like the website has barely been updated since.
The last blog post is from 2012, and there was hardly a dozen sites on offer when I checked. Still, you could find a potential gem, or use their valuation service for a second opinion.
Link: Website Broker
Another site that could use a serious redesign, Bido focuses on domain name auctions. However, you also find some interesting packages like domain + logo + content. The prices are on the low end of the spectrum, starting at around $15, so good place to grab a bargain.
They also have a pretty interesting/bizarre system, where you vote on domains that should go into auction. If they do and sell, voters get a small portion of the fee. As far as I’m concerned, it’s pretty much a recipe for vote manipulation disaster, but who knows, maybe it works quite well.
I’m not sure you are allowed to buy and sell social media accounts, but you can acquire them with Flippa, so maybe this is of interest to you. As you guessed it, Viral Account lets you buy the login details for social media accounts from Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and more.
They are very opaque in their operation: you must contact them to access the listings. If you have – or want to purchase – social media influence, this could be a good place to do it.
Link: Viral Accounts
Sites Like Flippa – Which one should I choose?
As you can see there is no shortage of options. Domain auctions and online stores now have their own platforms – and Shopify’s Exchange could pave the way forward for a more niche, segmented marketplaces. It’s possible we will see more providers follow suit to cash in on the huge second-hand asset market.
Now, remember that buying online is incredibly risky, especially when there is no escrow system in place. This is where Flippa or Empire Flippers are fantastic. Yes, I was disappointed when my Flippa sale didn’t go through, but at least I wasn’t scammed. There’s no guarantee you won’t be with less reputable platforms.