Personally, I hated studying history in school.
Even at 13, unless I could see the practical use in something I’d switch off and never switch back on. As I‘ve grown older, I’ve realised history’s biggest place in today’s society is highlighting
a) where we went wrong
b) what we did right and
c) what we should never ever ever ever do again
The model behind buying and selling websites has changed drastically over the last few months, and I’m sure those on the front lines of the change (anyone selling starter sites) have questioned where the recent change in website sale rates will end up. The following excerpt is taken from Wikipedia.
“typically marked by a general buoyant feeling of a “free for all” in income mobility, in which any single individual might become abundantly wealthy almost instantly. …. in common pursuit of a new and apparently highly lucrative market, often precipitated by an advance in technology”
The excerpt is from Wikipedia’s article on the gold rush, and just as the Gold rush has parallels to the Internet Boom, there are also strong links to the growth and (arguably) maturity of the Website Flipping market. The advances in technology were probably a combined effort from software such as WordPress and all its plugins, the growth in cheap global outsourcing and the rise in Internet services such as the Warrior Forum, Digital Point and Flippa. Stories of wealth and the nature of Internet Marketing (get money from doing, get rich from teaching!) sent thousands of people on the look out for a new source of income other than just blogging.
I have no way of guaranteeing where things will go with Website Flipping and like everyone else can only make educated guesses. However, just as the rise of selling websites is similar to the rise of the gold rush, these are the main points which I’ve taken away that I believe will repeat itself, just in a more modern way.
People made profit from failure
Not the happiest note to start on, but the savviest gold pioneers made huge profits by buying all the small failing mining operation’s assets and moving them to more prosperous areas globally.
There’s an opportunity in purchasing many of the ‘functionally good’ unsold sites at a fraction of the original price (start with Digital Point). One site earning $30 per month may be below your radar, but ten low maintenance sites doing the same can be the foundation of a healthy portfolio.
Services to supply the changing demographic prospered
Personally I didn’t think the boom would ever end. I did however feel that there was an opportunity in feeding the demand for the new growing market of buying and selling websites and so created FlipFilter. I’m still to find out if that gamble will pay off (although so far the support and feedback has been positive), but many other opportunities exist for entrepreneurs to provide services for the new community, just as Gold Rush towns became full with restaurants, schools, medical services and banks.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but gaps currently exist for
- Knowledge. Whilst you could argue this has been overfilled, courses, books and training will always have their role in a market that evolves daily and people need to stay ahead of the game. This also includes Blogs with fresh, original HUMAN content (So far try Flipwebsites.com, Flipping Awesome or The Trading Websites blog)
- Financial services. Paypal grew off the rise of EBay and online micro transactions. At present, our best solution is Escrow.com – a company with very few fans and a less than perfect system. An opportunity exists for a marriage of financial services (Escrow and Payment Processing) combined with an official (or referee in the UK) to mediate the due diligence before transfer.
- Software services. I took a gamble building FlipFilter but I believe as the market grows, people will have a need for software to make the buying and selling process across various platforms more efficient. Opportunities exist for bidding management software, site comparison services and statistical analysis.
- Marketplaces. This is a whole other post (or series of posts) in itself. There’s a huuuuge opportunity for anyone who can successfully start a new marketplace but it’s an even huuuuuger task to pull it off. (Link to my previous post – Our Industry needs a hero…). This is more a job of strategy than the technical requirement as toppling a giant takes work.
People put their new skills to work
During the gold rush EVERYBODY went looking for gold. In the 1800s it was everyone from doctors, to soldiers, to teenagers. Today, it’s everyone from doctors, to stay at home parents, to teenagers. When the gold rush ended, they had to find a living and whilst some went back to their old profession, many used their new found manual skills to earn a fortune in mining other precious metals (silver, copper and iron).
Arguably, website flipping has taught more everyday people about the fundamentals of internet marketing than any other movement or trend. Whilst the old model of simply building sites to flip maybe be changing, then fundamental practice of build something with niche interest, attract visitors and monetize is far from dead. Using the skills most of us have honed in flipping sites, we can make a good living simply ‘eating’ of several well optimised web properties.
People diversify into new areas
In a similar vein to the point above, people also used some of their skills to diversify into new areas, mostly farming.
Whilst the gold rush can be linked specifically to selling starter sites, an opportunity will always exist for selling established original sites such as Web Applications and Ecommerce stores. There will be a pain threshold (remember the first time you tried to do something custom in WordPress!?) such as learning basic PHP, or familiarising yourself with uploading product feeds to Google product search, but long term the knowledge will be a foundation for a prosperous new business model and worth the sweat and tears in the early days.
Whether or not the site flipping phenomena will pan out (pan out…get it? ) like the gold rush is unknown, but what we can learn from people’s reaction to a changing economy will always be valuable. I think if we take the skills we have, and the creativity and innovation of people in the community (web flippers tend to be ahead of the curve in the wider niche of Internet marketing) we will always do well as whole.
My only question is, what will the next big thing in IM be?