How to Sell a Website

THE HUSTLE

I built an “investment property calculator” website in a weekend after researching promising keywords and sold it for $149 a few months later after collecting proof that the site generated revenue with Adsense.

Here’s a shot of the site prior to selling:

flippa2

THE BOTTOM LINE

Though it took a bit of time and luck to code, this is probably one of my better hustles, and could probably be scaled and replicated without too much effort.

NUMBERS

  • Costs: $20, for listing the website, $13 for the domain name, and $0 free hosting because I run my own server
  • Profit: ~$116 after 6 bids. ($149 – $33 in costs = $116.
  • Time: 10 hours to code, format, and list the site. This will vary depending the site you build.

PROOF

flippa1

PROS

  • Scalable and easy to replicate with some practice
  • Learn to code with basic javascript!
  • Use Foundation for rapid front-end development
  • Fun (if you like coding)

CONS

  • can be time-consuming depending on the code
  • auctions can be variable if you’re not selling with a BIN price (buy-it-now) 

STEP-BY-STEP TUTORIAL

STEP 1: Research your potential site

I decided to use the Google Keyword Planner to find an idea for what type of site to develop. You will need a Google account for this step!

Take your time on this step too… there’s nothing worse than doing a lot of hard coding work for a site that’s worthless or that has no chance of getting a high google rank/traffic.

Our goal is to find a keywords that advertisers are willing to high $$ per click but that has low competition, whereby our website may climb to the first page of Google. After all, first page web results on Google get over 90% of the traffic for those terms (at a minimum… last time I checked!)

Note: The Keyword Planner is for people wanting to post ads. That said, if a search has low competition, a buyer may be more likely to place ads for that term. Also, this gives us a good idea of how realistic our goal may be to become the most relevant result for a specific search term. More on the tool can be found here.

Once in the Keyword Planner, I searched for “web hosting Chicago” and got the following results:

flippa3

After scrolling down a bit further, I noticed “small business website hosting” seems like a specific search. Indeed, it has only 59,000,000 pages indexed on Google, which is actually small compared to “website hosting” which has over 130,000,000 at the time I write this article.

flippa4

Once you locate a desirable search term as I did, you want to actually google it yourself and check out all the front-page results.

If you think you can generate more compelling or relevant content and build legitimate back-links (i.e. other relevant sites linking to you), then you’ve found a winner!

When I built my site, I believed I could create a slim app that would be more relevant for the search term “invest property calculator” than the competition… and I wasn’t entirely wrong! It made it to page 5 and it should continue to climb :).

flippa6

STEP 2 (OPtional, but recommended): Set up an adsense account

Demonstrating that your website makes money with Adsense is one of the best ways to court potential buyers.

Wouldn’t you want to buy a site that you know produces regular monthly income?

In fact, flippa actually allows you to authorize their app to get your adsense information. This gives buyers way more confidence, which will help you get the site sold for the right price.

Though there are other ways to prove income, I went with Adsense when building investpropertycalculator.

Click here to register for an adsense account.

Step 3: Build the site!

So, this is where my guide falls a little short… I could teach you everything I did to build my site, but what you need to learn really depends on the type of site you decide to build!

If you really want to focus on content, I recommend using wordpress… There are thousands (if not millions?) of plugins and themes available, which make it very easy to customize and develop an SEO-friendly site.

My recommendations in general are:

  • Host your site with Bluehost for ~$3.49 per month. Blue host has been in the game forever and makes it really easy to get a site up in minutes.
  • Take time writing generally useful articles that target the keywords you want to become relevant for
  • USE Social Media! Create a twitter/fb account etc. and post funny/relevant information to help promote your page
  • Build meaningful backlinks (this means, find websites that rank high for your term and- if possible- post an insightful comment that links to your website… but only do this if your website actually does add something new/useful or else you are at risk of engaging in “black-hat” SEO, which Google and/or the posting site’s webmaster may ban you for).
  • Consider using Foundation or Twitter Bootstrap to quickly develop the front-end of your site if you code from scratch.

Please note that it may take some time in this step. Unless you’ve targeted a new, niche area, it simply will take some time to build useful content.

A few useful plugins if you choose WordPress:

  • Shareaholic – This popular and “familiar” share bar is really nice and seems to really help in generating shares (and thus more views, which will make your site more valuable).share-enjoy
  • Disqus – Disqus is probably the most trusted commenting system out there. Let it work it’s magic on your site!
  • Squirrly SEO – I never paid for Squirrly, but I do think that using the free version of the plugin really helped me “think” about SEO in the right ways. I definitely recommend it if you’re just starting out!
Step 4- Post your site to Flippa!

So, flippa is really growing and changing, so I hope everything I write will stay relevant for awhile!

Major selling points to consider are:

  • People love sites that are “self-updating,” “automatic,” and/or “turnkey” that don’t require updating on their part.
  • People love sites that have been generating passive income
  • People want to know WHY YOU’RE SELLING
  • People love metrics/data and, well, proof, especially how many unique visitors and what page rank you have, search results, etc.

First, when you create your listing, you want to make great tagline that includes the most relevant metrics/selling points. For me, these were that a) I was generating revenue b) I had over 400 weekly users and c) it was on the Chrome App store!

Automated, Unique web app on Chrome Store with >400 users + AdSense Revenue

Second, consider listing at .99 WITH NO BIN if you’re feeling good about the site. This signals that you are confident in the website and will generate far more interest with prospective buyers. (I listed investpropertycalculator with a $140 BIN and that may have actually helped out as it kept the bids coming in).

Third, VERIFY revenue with AdSense! When you get to the appropriate step in creating the listing, you have this option. DO THIS and make sure that it is properly saved in the listing. You will also need to list the expenses. I’ve seen many people list these as $0 per month if they host their own server. If you are paying $3.49 a month though, you should probably list this.

Fourth, make a great description.

Screenshot from 2015-03-08 16:11:27

Fifth, consider making comments about your post every so often to keep “watchers” interested.

Last, some people swear by paying for Flippa listing upgrades. Though I think these may be useful, I didn’t want to spend the extra money. That said, if you have a successful, premium domain or app, it’s probably worth considering!

Step 5- Sell your site!

Once the site is sold, you will need to transfer the domain and all associated files. You’re going to want to make sure you know how to “export SQL” for the site as well as how to transfer the domain name (Godaddy and Bluehost make this last process pretty easy).

Also, consider listing specifically how you plan to transfer the site when you list.

My solution was uploading all files to a Google Drive folder and then sharing this folder with the buyer. This was useful since I didn’t have to worry about “max file size” constraints!

Questions?

I’m available and happy to answer any questions you may have for this particular article since it’s a bit more open-ended than normal. Please post in the comments and I will make updates and/or additions!

Leave a Reply