The proof of the Flippa pudding…

A guest posting by Dave

Those of you who know me online will likely know that from time to time I do a little bit of proofreading work as an extra revenue stream. Now that I’ve got that shameless plug out of the way, I’ll get on with the story.

Earlier today Kay sent me an email about a website auction she’d just discovered on the Flippa marketplace. Kay is not a big fan of Flippa by any means, but she follows developments on there as they’re relevant to her role as Site Admin on the forum. Today she happened to notice that someone was offering a “Top Proofreading & Editing Content Business Website” for auction, or for sale at a BIN price of $147. On looking more closely, she was convinced I would want to read about it myself.

So I went and had a look, and could see immediately why Kay had thought I would find it worth reading about. It was interesting for so many reasons.

First of all, the thumbnail of the website set alarm bells jangling. “Why need you a Proofreader?” Hmm. Physician, heal thyself. Not a great start, and I hadn’t even read any of the listing.

The domain itself was apparently registered a week ago. Not for the first time, apparently – it was being offered for sale back in January 2011. But the site was also brand new, established at the same time as the re-registered domain. With no PageRank or Alexa Rank, no backlinks registered, and no claims for revenue, how does this site justify its description as a “top” website?

Guess what? There’s not even any claims made for uniqueness, either in the content or the design. Best look at the website description to see if there’s any unique selling point in there. Or any means of monetising the site. Or anything to justify that $147 price tag.


What is proofreading, they helpfully ask? Apparently, proofreading is

the Biggest Trend in content creation Right Now!

Now there’s a Karl Pilkington claim if ever I read one. Proofreading’s got plenty to do with content, but precious little to do with content creation. Creation requires original thought: not a quality that comes high up the list of prerequisites for a proofreader.

They go on to assure the prospective buyer that

This Business is Designed to Cater the Growing Need for These Videos at a More Affordable Price, so Almost Anyone Can Afford Them.

Hang on a sec. I thought this was about proofreading. Now apparently I’ve got to become a budget Spielberg. What’s this business about?

Never mind, though, because

Getting Only 10 Clients a Month Will Give You Financial Independence Once and For All!
[differentproofreadingdomain].com is the biggest and hottest services you can offer right now.

Fantastic proofreading, eh? They can’t even pick up the obvious hangovers from the last few sites they’ve tried to flog on Flippa.

They do undertake to provide you with a list of reliable outsourced suppliers for the services you’re supposed to be supplying through this supposed “business in a box”. But the financial details seem a bit ropey. They quote prices for jobs of 500, 1,000 or 2,000 words – charging $29, $59 or $119 respectively, which means that the customer’s getting a better deal for a 500-word job than for a 2,000-word job. More to the point, though, is that the supplier apparently gets paid $5 for any of those jobs. How does that work? Sounds almost as if the business relies on Fiverr gigs, doesn’t it?

And apparently it’s a “Professional, Custom Design”, even though they’ve explicitly denied any claim to uniqueness of design.

Oh well, let’s have a look at this website…

Hmm again. Apart from the horrible garish orange that dominates the home page above the fold, the “Why need you a Proofreader?” page makes this preposterous claim:

With over 10 years of proofreading and editing experience, We [sic] can spot mistakes that many proofreaders would miss.

Love the irony, guys. Delicious.

As for the design, the perpetually shifting top segment of the index page means that everything below jumps up and down at 7-second intervals. And they still haven’t made up their minds whether they’re offering proofreading services or testimonial videos.

Perhaps best of all is the translator facility they offer at the bottom of the page, which takes the website and renders it in 40 different machine-translated language versions. If the German and Irish versions are anything to go by, I doubt whether proofreaders working in any of these 40 languages are going to feel threatened by this site.

Mind you, if it comes to it, I doubt whether any proofreader would want to be associated with it in any way either, let alone buy it. I certainly wouldn’t.


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