Case Study: Follow me as I flip my first site...
  • Okay everyone,

    after having purchased my first site some days ago I decided to post what's going on with it and how I flip it (hopefully).

    [align=center]http://haloreachboards.com/images/hrbscreener01.jpg[/align]

    What's the domain?

    I have purchased the domain and content of www.haloreachboards.com and switched it over to my hosting account on September 12, 2010.

    Included in that deal was the domain reachboards.com as well as the right to the custom design of the site (which btw is pretty neat).

    Overall I would see for the threee components (domains, content, design) it was a good deal for 100 bucks.

    What is this site all about?

    Well, it's a forum running on the MyBB software (like this forum here) and it's about the final part of a very popular gaming series on the Xbox 360 called Halo. Halo: Reach - as I have learned - is the last part but is a prequel to the already published three parts. It's a first person shooter with mulitplayer options, an editing tool (called Forge) and the possibility to create user generated content and share it with others.

    Installation and setup

    The seller who runs another gaming forum pushed the domains to my Namecheap account pretty quick. He also mailed me all files from the forum as well as a SQL-database. As I have some experience in webdesign and site setup, the install was quickly done.

    Within my multiple domain hosting (also with Namecheap) I create a subfolder and pointed both acquired domains to that subfolder.

    Then I uploaded all files (except the SQL-file) to the subfolder so I had the structure ready.

    Finally I imported the SQL-database through PHPMyAdmin which came as a cPanel tool with my hosting.

    There were two things that troubled me:
    [list=1]
    [*]The DNS server update (which converts the domain name to correct IP address) took some time and I didn't get that in the beginning.[/*:m]
    [*]Making my user an admin / super-admin[/*:m][/list:o]
    First problem was solved over time after some hours.

    The second problem took me some minutes in Google research but finally I figured out how to do it. I entered the database through PHPMyAdmin and changed the the usergroup for my new user to Super Admin.

    I also used my local server (XAMPP including PHP and MySQL support) and before doing that in a live environment I installed the whole thing locally to test some things out.

    If you want to know more details how to do that, send me a PM.

    What was the current status?

    At the time I overtook the forum it had around 600 posts in approx. 120 posts with 30 users. That were the figures that interested me most when seeing this sale on DP due to the fact that the site was only 4 weeks old at that time. That was also something I could find out through simply visiting the site and having a look at the publicly available stats (that's why I love forums so much :D )

    I also asked the seller on DP if he could provide me with some stats regarding visitors and he immediately sent me some screenshots so I assumed that they were not fake (and they weren't). I then thought about trying to negotiate a better price although I must say that I felt that USD 100 was a reasonable price. At that time the bids were already at USD 65 so I decided to hit the BIN button and get the second domain.

    Another thing I was considering was the fact that the game this forum focusses on was released on September 14, 2010 and I definitely wanted to have the site on my server before that date.

    Improvements by me

    I did my improvements in two waves. The first improvements were installing some plugins:

    [list]
    [*]Google Analytics for MyBB: to have GA at hand asap[/*:m]
    [*]Google SEO: Optimizing the SEO of my forum, especially make good URLs (rewriting them into readable URLs)[/*:m]
    [*]Upload of new avatars because the forum only had the boring standard ones[/*:m]
    [*]Board Messages: To post a message on top of the board featuring one post I really want the people to see[/*:m][/list:u]
    The I introduced myself to the board telling some personal details about me.

    I also tried to involve myself in as many posts as possible. This was to increase my visibility in the forum. I personally do think crucial at that point was the fact that the users so far had no personal relationship to the forum seller so it was easy for me to step into his shoes ;)

    I also sent out a massmail linking to my introductory thread and one where I asked the users to participate actively in the development of the forum.

    The second wave then was conducted during the last days. What I did was to

    [list]
    [*]nominate some members who have been pretty active as moderators[/*:m]
    [*]added subforums non-related to the game itself but with more general topics[/*:m]
    [*]set up an internal points system which allows users to get points for activities (posting, voting, replying etc.)[/*:m]
    [*]set up decent advertising (after first post and in the footer - adsense and CPA offers)[/*:m]
    [*]and finally - the biggest thing so far - introducing contest with real world prizes.[/*:m][/list:u]
    Okay, I will dive into the last point a little deeper:

    Reading mrstealths ideas here on the forum on how to develp secworm.net I decided that especially the idea of contests / competitions was exactly my cup of tea :cool: I set up three different competitions and two of them have already been posted:

    [list=1]
    [*]Contest 1: Who can post 5 meaningful posts every day for 5 weeks - prize: a buy.com USD 50.00 gift card[/*:m]
    [*]Contest 2: Who can set up a thread which gets the most replies within 5 weeks - prize: a buy.com USD 25.00 gift card[/*:m]
    [*]Contest 3: Who can refer the most new (active - meaning they have to publish at least 3 posts) for 5 weeks - prize: a buy.com USD 25.00 gift card[/*:m][/list:o]
    I will advertise these contests in other forums using my signature. I'm just around gathering gaming forums as I think this targeted approach would be a great benefit.

    Other traffic improvements

    I also set up a matching Twitter account where all new threads in my forum are posted to (http://twitter.com/haloreachboard)

    Second thing I did was to set up a Facebook account and interlink the pages of my forum with a Facebook application. Somehow it looks like FB has some problems with their developer API so I didn't follow this one any further right now.

    Traffic so far

    Okay guys, here is some screenshot of my traffic so far

    [align=center]http://haloreachboards.com/images/gascreener01.jpg[/align]

    I had ~250 uniques in the past seven days but as the screenshot above shows I think that we are "riding a rising trend" ;) The best result so far was 49 visitors on 09/14/2010, yesterday (09/21/2010) we had 45 visitors.

    From the forum itself I see that Google visits my sites 3 to 5 times per day which indicates that it pretty much indexes new content.

    I assume that reaching 100 uniques should be doable in a short amount of time especially with some of the techniques described below (under next steps).

    Next steps

    Go to Fiverr.com and let create / do
    [list]
    [*]custom Twitter background[/*:m]
    [*]post FB fan page to users[/*:m]
    [*]post URL of forum to Twitter users[/*:m][/list:u]

    I also will start to promote my site on other gaming sites. I will have a look what gaming sites are around

    Next thing I will do is to bookmark my site with the most recent bookmarking and social media sites (digg, delicious etc.)

    Questions

    Okay, so far I have described what I have done so far. First of all I really want to know if you think of my approach and steps so far...?

    And here are my questions that came up during the past 1 1/2 weeks and during writing this post...

    [list]
    [*]Can I sell links?[/*:m]
    [*]What can I do to further improve traffic?[/*:m]
    [*]How to get better rankings in Google?[/*:m]
    [*]Can I enter my competitions in some winning directories so they send additional traffic?[/*:m][/list:u]

    Famous last words :D

    If you want to of course you can join the forum. If you to PM me there, search for the user "Phil"

    Damn, that was a long post :P I am very much looking forward to your responses...

    inservo
    Post edited by Unknown User at 2010-12-13 20:46:58
  • hmmm... cool, 29 views and one thank you.

    But no one answered or replied? Is my forum perfect *lol*? Nothing I could do better? :P

    Maybe someone can answer my questions or at least some / one of them...

    Thanks :)

    inservo
  • Hey Inservo,

    First of all - great job!

    Looks like your plan is indeed so good that no-one feels they have anything to add :) You're clearly on top of things and given that you do stick to the plan I don't see the slightest chance of this one failing.

    As for your questions:

    a) Sure you can sell links. It might be a bit difficult as the forum doesn't get much traffic but worth having a go at it!
    b) Regarding traffic I suggest you to go through the Website Giveaway Submissions - there's tons of fantastic advice in there!
    c) You can always look into doing some scrapebox/senuke blasting - there's a few members over here who I know can help you out with this.
    d) Regarding directories I'm unfortunately not sure. Perhaps someone else can shed some light into this as I'm sure many would be interested in it.

    Good luck with the flip and keep us updated!

    Cheers,
    Bryan
  • Hey Bryan,

    thanks for the kind words. I have done some things already. I signed up for ForumPromotion.net and it really looks as they have some great services to offer. I think I will go for some banner placement on other high traffic forums as the board did get the initial users (before I purchased the forum) from another one.

    I also started three competitions (equalling USD 100.00 in real world buy.com gift cards) and I am promoting these one heavily throughout the next days.

    I also got a request from one of my board users (may be someone from this forum) asking if I want to sell it. Due to the fact what I purchased the forum for, what I invested in time and effort, I told him that he can have the whole thing for 800 bucks including domains, Twitter and FB account, etc. etc.

    He said, he will think about it and may get back. If not, I will list them in Flippa some day. One thing that troubles me is that I get addicted to the forum as we really have a nice community and the members so far have been great in responding. But hey, this whole project is about flipping and not building websites *gg*

    Looking forward to anyone here for further comments ;)

    i.
  • You're doing great, some of the few that actually does the work! Keep it up, I am hoping this one comes to a good end for ya!
    Regards,
    Mark
  • It's looking good! As you know I too have just taken over a gamers forum! Sadly I deleted your signature image! But I did leave the link in on your profile.... It is surprisingly addictive the whole forum thing! I have problems getting mybb to twitter publishing succesfully.

    I am hovering around the 45 daily hits too. My current process is developing a new theme and I am also going to add in a blog. I am looking at Amazon for advertising revenue as well as perhaps Adsense, but I have only had two clicks on my ads so far bringing in a grand total of 5p!

    I suspect that if I flip this at all it will be as a long term flip, I think there is a long way I can go with this. I paid $40 for mine and I think the domain name is probably worth quite a bit more so in theory I am in profit! I am just in the process of merging in another gamersforum which I hope will improve the membership base.

    Anyway I look forward to seeing how you get on! When you sell it you can come and join me on gamersforum! ;)

    Keep up the great work!
  • [quote="justin"]
    It's looking good! As you know I too have just taken over a gamers forum! Sadly I deleted your signature image! But I did leave the link in on your profile.... It is surprisingly addictive the whole forum thing! I have problems getting mybb to twitter publishing succesfully.


    hey justin,

    thanks for the kind words. Yep, pretty addictive I must admit ;) I also like my forum and the people around there and it feels like a nice combination of hobby / fun and business. hm, I wonder if it's good for your business if you get emotional with your "products" :D

    Regarding Twitter you may consider MyBBPublisher plugin. I didn't activate the Facebook thing for mine but Twitter works fine if you just take care of one small thing:

    Make sure that the title and the link to your thread never exceed the 140 characters allowed for a tweet otherwise the publishing functionality of MyBB will crash (took me 2 hours to find out)...

    As mentioned above I have one offer and I am wondering if the guy will get back to me. I will now again take some money into my hands and go over to forumpromotion.net and purchase some of their services. I also will start to add users in other forums, post meaningful content and have a link to my competitions / forum in the signature / profile page.

    Looking forward how this whole thing will proceed.

    You're doing great, some of the few that actually does the work! Keep it up, I am hoping this one comes to a good end for ya!
    Regards,
    Mark



    Thanks for your kind words :) My personal opinion on this is made up by three pillars

    [list]
    [*]take action[/*:m]
    [*]concentrate on one or two things (max) the same time[/*:m]
    [*]don't be afraid to proceed if one thing isn't working[/*:m][/list:u]
    thanks guys for your support :)

    i.
  • Yeah it seems like you have a really good plan here. I play Halo Reach all the time so I'll check it out and try to get involved too.

    To start getting organic traffic from the search engines, just try to rank for some keywords like "halo reach forum" or "halo reach boards". You will want to make sure they get decent search traffic first, but I would guess they do because the game is extremely popular. Not sure if you have any good tools for SEO, but I have Scrapebox and SE Nuke so if you need any help, just let me know and we can work something out.

    Another idea to get more members would be to run a Facebook PPC campaign. Just set it to target people who have halo and halo reach in their interests. Maybe run one ad just to the forum itself and run others that link to your contests pages. This will probably bring you a ton of new visitors.

    As far as selling it already, it's obviously your site so it's your call, but I would hold onto it for a little while. I think that you could get WAY more than the $800 you were asking if you spend a little more time on it. You seem like you have a really sound plan that's going to work for you and if you can become the top Halo Reach forum on the internet, I'd bet you can make a few thousand flipping it down the road. Not to mention, you just bought it and started getting involved in the community and you said you're having fun so you may as well keep it.

    Do you have an RSS feed setup for the entire forum that notifies of new posts? Not only will that help bring links to your site, but it gives users another method of following along.

    You could also give some sort of incentive to people to share it on their Facebook or send it to their Twitter followers. I noticed a lot of people do that with launches these days where they give a reward just for the person tweeting or sharing it on Facebook.

    Those are all my ideas. Hope it helps.

    Good luck.
  • Hey J (wow, that rhymes :P )

    those are a lot of valuable tips and I think I will use most of them (don't have SE Nuke but some other tools, so maybe I try to do that)

    One of the main objectives in terms of backlinking is to join related forums and post meaningful content. I think this is much more valuable than only setting up profile page.

    Also, the FB approach is pretty neat. I think I will try to get some coupons from ebay and use them for advertising my forum / competitions on FB.

    Thanks again for posting these tips.
  • No problem, glad it helped.

    Let me know if you try any of them out and how it goes.
  • How's it going, buddy? It's been a while. I hope it went well. ;)[hr]
    Oh another thing regarding directory submission.

    It's good; helps with PR. I did several directory submissions for my sites. One of them hit PR2. (though I'm not entirely sure it's solely because of the directory submissions)

    The rest are PR1 at least.
  • nope, it did not. I must say, after losing the first fun with this topic I must say, the product is a lot of fluff which is not based on real experiences. Yeah, the guys here tell you how much success they had with their so called business blueprint but nobody is willing to show... also you cannot read any other success stories here, right? I think it's just another bullshit report on my shelf.

    Yeah, yeah I know... don't want to reveal their business secrets et cetera blah blah... they won't reveal because they don't have success or can you read another real success story here? this whole product is bs and not worth its money
  • Hi,

    I can understand your frustration at not selling your site, but you must realise it is a learning curve and you'll never have a 100% success rate. I still have the ocassional site that doesn't sell for what I was expecting, and I've been doing this a while. Everything in the ebook was based on our own personal experience.

    The success stories section is here: http://flippingnetwork.com/forum/forumd ... php?fid=46

    As for our own success, flipping is one of our revenue streams and here's just a few of my recent auctions from one Flippa account:

    https://flippa.com/auctions/106046/Earn ... he-1-Start

    https://flippa.com/auctions/100156/Esta ... ly-1-start

    https://flippa.com/auctions/108161/6-5k ... ERVE-PRICE

    These don't include any sites that Chris or David have sold, nor does it include our personal sites, Bryan's account, or our private deals (which account for 80%+ of our revenue).

    The reason people won't tell you EXACTLY what they do is because it completely devalues the business model if people copy it word for word. We purposely discussed various ideas in KFS so people can decide what works for them, rather than copying us exactly. If we did that, no-one would have any success and it wouldn't benefit anyone.

    Thanks,
    Thomas
  • [quote="Thomas"]
    Hi,

    I can understand your frustration at not selling your site, but you must realise it is a learning curve and you'll never have a 100% success rate. I still have the ocassional site that doesn't sell for what I was expecting, and I've been doing this a while. Everything in the ebook was based on our own personal experience.

    The success stories section is here: http://flippingnetwork.com/forum/forumd ... php?fid=46

    As for our own success, flipping is one of our revenue streams and here's just a few of my recent auctions from one Flippa account:

    https://flippa.com/auctions/106046/Earn ... he-1-Start

    https://flippa.com/auctions/100156/Esta ... ly-1-start

    https://flippa.com/auctions/108161/6-5k ... ERVE-PRICE

    These don't include any sites that Chris or David have sold, nor does it include our personal sites, Bryan's account, or our private deals (which account for 80%+ of our revenue).

    The reason people won't tell you EXACTLY what they do is because it completely devalues the business model if people copy it word for word. We purposely discussed various ideas in KFS so people can decide what works for them, rather than copying us exactly. If we did that, no-one would have any success and it wouldn't benefit anyone.

    Thanks,
    Thomas


    Exactly.

    There's good reason why we don't lay out our exact blueprint for how we flip sites. Because there are people who will literally copy it word for word and then it just creates unnecessary competition for us. If you had a goose that laid golden eggs, would you want someone to come and steal it? While the metaphor might be cheesy as hell, it relates perfectly to the reason why myself and others don't give away every secret we know about flipping sites (or any online business secrets for that matter).

    I can honestly say (and you can refuse to believe me inservo and you probably will) that after getting this course, I've done really well with finding deals and flipping sites. I know you saw mine and Brent's thread about the 3 sites we bought for a total of around $120 and then flipped them for close to 1k. We only did a few hours of work on them too and we also made money from Adsense passively until we flipped them.

    Ever since then, I've been finding awesome deals left and right. At the end of January, I'm aiming to hit over 20k flipping sites on Flippa. If things continue going how they have been, I should have no problem hitting that mark. I bought up a few sites that were making a small amount of revenue, and with only a couple hours work, increased the revenue by a lot thanks to what I learned in the course and through this forum. All of the sites I recently bought are now passively making me 4 figures per month. I've almost recouped my entire investment in only about 1 month.

    Not at all saying this to brag, but just letting you know it can be done if you apply what's in the course and add your own twist to the methods. Don't go saying the course sucks and it's a waste of money because your first attempt failed. Try again with a new site and see what happens.

    Also, if you don't mind me asking inservo, what happened to the Halo forum you had? Did you put in all the work that you said you were going to? If you tried selling on Flippa, did it get any action at all? If you tell us what you did we could help you better.
  • [quote="Thomas"]
    Hi,

    I can understand your frustration at not selling your site, but you must realise it is a learning curve and you'll never have a 100% success rate. I still have the ocassional site that doesn't sell for what I was expecting, and I've been doing this a while. Everything in the ebook was based on our own personal experience.

    The success stories section is here: http://flippingnetwork.com/forum/forumd ... php?fid=46

    As for our own success, flipping is one of our revenue streams and here's just a few of my recent auctions from one Flippa account:

    https://flippa.com/auctions/106046/Earn ... he-1-Start

    https://flippa.com/auctions/100156/Esta ... ly-1-start

    https://flippa.com/auctions/108161/6-5k ... ERVE-PRICE

    These don't include any sites that Chris or David have sold, nor does it include our personal sites, Bryan's account, or our private deals (which account for 80%+ of our revenue).

    The reason people won't tell you EXACTLY what they do is because it completely devalues the business model if people copy it word for word. We purposely discussed various ideas in KFS so people can decide what works for them, rather than copying us exactly. If we did that, no-one would have any success and it wouldn't benefit anyone.

    Thanks,
    Thomas


    Totally agree with Thomas here.
  • I really like how you described your process of buying and setting up your new domain. It gives us neophytes a glimpse of what we
    need to do, and be aware of. I know I will be asking you for your opinion when I find something to buy.