Websites are the real-estate of the online world. While many people choose to invest their money into property, if you’re looking for an online alternative then buying and selling websites is the answer.
In fact, according to Hostinger, a website can be worth between 20-50 times its monthly net profit*, making them a great option to buy and sell online to make money.
Like with any investment, buying and selling websites comes with its own set of risks and you’ll need an existing lump sum to invest in the first place.
The process also requires some knowledge and skill – you’ll need to be able to identify a website with potential from one that’s a sinking ship.
The good news is, that’s where we come in. Our team of web experts have put together this article to talk you through how to make money buying and selling websites to help make your investments grow.
Like any new project, before you get started there are certain things you need to determine – including how much time and money you can realistically invest.
Buying a website comes with a degree of risk, since there’s never a 100% guarantee that you’ll sell it for a profit. You need to be serious about how much money you can afford to invest and risk losing.
It doesn’t matter how good a website seems when you make a purchase, never spend more money than you’re willing to lose.
You also need to decide how much time you have to put into the project. If you’re looking for an investment that requires no time commitment or effort from you then buying and selling websites for profit may not be the right answer.
If, however, you’re willing to set aside some time to make the project a success then buying and selling websites could make you an attractive profit.
Some websites will require next to no work to be ready for sale, whereas, just like houses, others require a little TLC before they can go back on the market and make you a profit.
The process of buying and selling websites is also known as website flipping and the profit margins can be huge when done correctly.
In terms of how much money you’ll need for the initial investment, it all depends on the quality of the website you’re looking to purchase. It goes without saying that the better the website, the more expensive it will be.
Generally speaking, websites can start at anywhere from $50-$100 and rise through the thousands. A high-authority website that’s grown an extensive backlink profile and built a considerable monthly readership can sell for upwards of $100,000. We know… big bucks.
To get more ideas on how you can grow online and boost the value of your website, make sure you check out our article full of handy tips.
When hunting for a website to buy, one of the first and most important factors to consider is the niche of the website.
Choosing a website based around a currently trending topic or fad may seem like a good idea at the time, but what about in six months when you’re ready to sell the website? Everybody will have moved on and your investment is likely to have lost value.
The key thing, therefore, is to choose a niche that’s evergreen. An evergreen niche is a topic that will always be popular and won’t be impacted by trends. It will remain popular in the long term.
If you’re stuck for what niche to go for then some examples of evergreen niches include:
- Health and fitness
- Money and finance
- Wellbeing and beauty
- Food and recipes
- Pets and animals
Once you’ve decided that buying and selling websites for profit is the right investment for you, you need to actually find one to buy.
It’s not quite as simple as taking your chosen domain to the counter or adding a website you’ve randomly found to an online shopping cart.
Instead, there are multiple ways you can find and buy a website including:
Website marketplaces are exactly what they sound like – online marketplaces full of websites for you to browse and buy.
Some of the top website marketplaces you can check out include:
Just like a property broker, a website broker’s job is to connect those looking to buy a website with those who have one to sell. Using a website broker can make the whole process of buying and selling websites easier, especially if you’re a novice.
Direct From the Owner
If you’ve found a website that you like the look of and are interested in buying, you can also go directly to the owner. A quick Google search will provide you with the site owner and their contact information should be easy to find on their website.
Although they may not be initially interested in selling, you may have an offer they simply can’t refuse.
Don’t forget you need to determine if a website is worth buying. Be sure to undertake due diligence such as reviewing website traffic and referrals, no matter where you buy your website from.
We know we keep making the comparison, but buying a website really is a lot like buying a house.
Before you make a purchase you need to accurately value the website in order to ensure you aren’t paying over the odds.
Things to consider when valuing a website include:
- How much revenue the website currently generates via things such as ad space, affiliate links, and guest blogging
- Is the revenue consistent or is it seasonal? Does it spike at certain times of the year only to take a hit later on?
- Is the revenue passive, such as ad space, or does it require more upkeep such as the management of guest blogging spots?
- How much maintenance is needed for the website? Make sure to consider not just the appearance and user experience of the website but also the back end and backlink profile
- Can the website be improved and is this something you can do? This can include everything from content and design to widening revenue streams and improving the user experience
- Is the website too niche? Is it going to be hard to find an engaged, long-term audience for the content?
- What is the growth potential for the website? Can you already see new content ideas and monetization methods?
There are various different ways you can value a website including via multiples of revenue (comparing the market value of the website to its revenue), multiples of EBIDTA (a ratio to calculate ROI) , and discounted cash flow analysis (assessing future cash flow potential).
Unfortunately, not everything online is as it seems and there are some websites that will cause you more of a headache than they’re worth. Before you invest your time and money it’s crucial that you undertake your due diligence.
Speak to the seller to get more understanding of the website and make sure you look carefully at income and traffic reports. We’ve listed the four key things to consider before making an offer:
- Find out why the seller is selling the website – check that it hasn’t recently received a Google penalty or experienced a steady decrease in visitor numbers
- Find your own proof of revenue and traffic through tools such as Google Analytics – don’t just rely on the seller’s own reports
- If you’re using a marketplace or broker check the trustworthiness of the seller through things such as profile feedback and ratings
- Always check the backlink profile – make sure the links haven’t been built using link farms or other “black-hat” SEO tactics
Once it’s finally time to make an offer on a website, you’ll want to combine everything you’ve learned in this article with the selling price set for your chosen site.
It’s important to make a strong first offer – you don’t want to go in too low and offend the seller. If they think you’re just after a cheap deal they may be unwilling to sell to you further down the line.
If the seller has set a price, it’s always a good idea to make an initial offer that hits around 70%-80% of this. As we mentioned, you don’t want to go in too low and cause offense but similarly, you want to give yourself some wiggle room for bartering a price.
If there’s no price set or you’re approaching the owner of a website directly then use the tips we’ve laid out to estimate a value for the website. You should go in slightly under this valuation for your initial offer.
Make sure your offer is crystal clear. Lay out your payment terms, the price you’re willing to pay, and any contingencies or stipulations.
Remember, you need to be ready to negotiate. Don’t be afraid to barter back and forth or to make your own counteroffers and requests. Always keep things civil and professional, even if the seller doesn’t!
Improving the website you’ve purchased is essential if you want to make a profit. After all, if you don’t make any changes to it, how can you expect the website to sell for more than the price you paid?
You want to boost the monthly profit potential of your website as much as possible, as well as taking steps to improve the user experience and optimize performance.
The following tips are all digital marketing tactics that you can apply to your website to improve its performance before you sell it on:
- Improve the quality and amount of content on the website
- Optimize the website for SEO – if your website ranks for key terms it’ll be worth more to a prospective buyer
- Build a quality backlink profile made up of relevant and high-value links
- Boost the monthly income of your website through ad space and affiliate link programs
- Set up social media accounts for the website and use these to share content and direct traffic
- Use email marketing to nurture relationships with your audience through a subscriber list
Now you’ve bought your website and spent time improving it, it’s time to start thinking about selling it. What steps do you need to take to sell a website? We’ve listed them all below for you.
Prepare the Website
If you were selling your house you’d move all of your belongings and ensure it was clean for the next owner right? Well selling a website is much the same.
Before you even put it on the market make sure you’ve done some website spring cleaning and completed any maintenance that needs doing, tidied up your code so that your website is running at optimal performance, and documented any key stats, log-ins, or details that you think the new owner will need.
The first step is to establish how much your website is now worth following the improvements you’ve already implemented.
The process of valuing your website for sale is similar to the one you undertook when buying it. To make sure you’re arriving at the most accurate and realistic price, think about:
- Traffic numbers and any increase you’ve established since you bought the website
- How much monthly revenue the website brings in and how consistent this is
- How well your website ranks and performs for target keywords
- The quality of the backlink profile you’ve built
- The number of revenue streams the website has and how reliable these are
- How much maintenance the website requires to run at its current performance level
- The size of your social media following and email subscriber list
Just like when making an offer to purchase a website, you don’t want your end figure to be too low or too high. Don’t short-change yourself – at the same time, you don’t want to set an asking price that’s too high and will never be met.
Finding a Buyer
Your website is ready to sell. You’ve improved it, valued it, and now you want to sell it. Well, there’s no point sitting around and hoping a website buyer is going to read your mind. It’s time to actively find yourself a buyer.
You have two options when it comes to finding a buyer for your website, using a website marketplace or a website broker.
On a website marketplace, you’ll list your website and buyers will come to you with their offer while website brokers will connect you with their wide network of buyers who may be interested in your website.
Remember you’ll have to pay a fee to any broker you use so take this into account when making your choice.
Negotiating a Sale
Negotiating your sale is arguably one of the most important parts of the whole process. Once you’ve found your buyer and agreed on a price that you’re both happy with, you’ll be ready to complete the sale.
If you opt to use a website broker they’ll handle the legal aspects of the negotiations for you but if not, we recommend consulting a lawyer to ensure the process is all above board and legally binding.
Make use of an escrow service if you aren’t selling through a marketplace to ensure that you don’t fall victim to scammers. This is also a great way of instilling trust in your buyer that you’re legitimate.
Transferring the Website
If you use a broker they’ll handle this step for you. If you’re going it alone, then you need to ensure that all technical aspects of the website are handed over to the new owner.
You’ll need to contact your domain provider, website builder, and hosting server to transfer everything over correctly. Don’t forget to transfer any related assets that the new owner will need to upkeep the website too.
Buying and selling websites isn’t a quick way to make money, but it can be a great way of making a profit on your initial investment all without having to leave the house.
It requires time and skill to spot the right websites and improve them if you want to make a profit.
This article has talked you through how to make money buying and selling websites, from start to finish – but to recap, key things to remember are:
- Make sure you have enough time and money to invest before you get started
- Choose a website with an evergreen niche, don’t get tempted by passing fads
- Use website marketplaces or brokers if you’re just starting out
- Undertake due diligence and your own valuation before you make an offer
- Take the time to improve the website before you sell it on
- Value your website by taking into account how much revenue it generates and the improvements you have installed
- Transfer everything such as your domain and web hosting provider to the new owner to complete the sale
If you’ve decided to start buying and selling websites for profit then we’d love to hear how it goes – make sure you come back and tell us in the comments section!
We’ve also got loads of resources to help you grow online including this article about how to promote your website that we think you’ll find useful. And handy guides to website basics, like why the cost of a domain name can vary so much.
It’s not a quick money-making scheme and you’ll need to be willing to put the effort in to improve your website.
There are also no guarantees, so you shouldn’t invest any money that you aren’t willing to potentially lose.