The New York Times fired up a story about online entrepreneurs mimicking real estate speculators: they’re buying under-performing Web sites, fixing them up, and then flipping them for a profit:

Dave Hermansen did not own a bird or a cage when he bought bird-cage.com, an online store, for $1,800 three years ago. He simply saw a Web site that was “very, very poorly done,” and begged the owners to sell it to him. He then redesigned the site, added advertising and drove up traffic. Last December, he sold it for $173,000.

Color me impressed. I simply hadn’t considered flipping in the online arena. And yes, I’ve got enough projects going that I don’t need another, but it could be a solid idea for copywriters with a little time on their hands – and something to prove.

Take over an underperforming site, increase traffic by an order of magnitude, sell it for a profit, and you just built a powerful, self-generated case study (assuming you don’t start flipping sites fulltime).

In many ways, a fixer-upper Web site could be the ideal project for the modern, “value-added” copywriter – who’d better know more about their job than simply where to put the little period thingees.

As always, Undergrounders, the floor is yours. Is online flipping a great idea, or speculative (and time-wasting) nightmare?

Keep writing, Tom Chandler.