As a beginner or have been at it for years, sales are the one “how-to” that is essential and very subjective, and you can’t avoid it because it’s the cornerstone of your revenue. Therefore if you are wondering how to sell a website or online business, why not understand the process fully to get the most out of it.
Selling a website can be challenging especially if you have never done it before, where some might find it easier to sell than others. Notably, although you think you have a fantastic website that may attract many ideal buyers, you are not the one calling the shots; the market is. This is an awesome post to help you understand better.
Should You Sell Your Website?
If your website is making money, it’s up to you to decide if you should keep it or try cash out then sell it. Once you sell your website, it is no longer generating revenue for you and therefore selling a website is generally swapping a revenue-generating asset for a lump sum amount.
However, holding on to your website is not always ideal since you don’t know if your website will generate less or more money in the future. Therefore, both decisions carry a significant risk.
How Much is a Website Worth?
The answer is simple. Your website’s worth is as much as a buyer is willing to give. Although this can be challenging to determine, a website’s worth is less of an exact value but more of a range. You might think that a website’s worth is based on its potential, which is not accurate in the real world.
Most website brokers hardly evaluate a website’s worth based on its potential but rather on its traffic and revenue. Depending on the website type, a rule of thumb is to calculate 24-36x the monthly revenue. So, for instance, if your website earns you $1000 a month, the best range for its worth would be between $24,000 and $36,000.
The big range in valuation depends on the type of website you are selling. Whether SaaS (software-as-a-service) or those with recurring membership-based models, most subscription-based websites fetch high valuations thanks to their recurring payments. On the other hand, the content-based and affiliate websites which majorly depend on organic traffic from social media or search engines will go for lower valuations.
Other factors affect a website’s valuation, including sources of traffic, age of the website, traffic trend and revenue trend.
What are the Steps to Selling your Website?
If you are curious about how to sell a website for the best price, follow the steps below:
1. Know Your Audience
The biggest mistake of some online businesses is using the same tactics for different audiences. Different sales tactics are necessary to sell websites of different types. The first step is to know your audience, and this will help you understand how they will respond to the website auction.
Once you understand the details of your target market, you can improve, modify and revamp your website to suit the goals and interests of your potential buyers. Of course, if a website attracts a large audience, you will likely sell it quickly, but that alone is not enough.
To know your audience, search engines help as it has become commonplace to identify what interests people and what people are mostly searching for. Before making a website sale, ensure it’s something an audience will enjoy scrolling through.
Suppose you realize your website attracts multiple types of audiences. In that case, narrow down your choices by dividing the identified groups based on geographic, behavioral, demographic, socio-economic and psychographic (lifestyles, values, interests and beliefs) factors.
2. Research Successfully Sold Websites
According to web professionals, the best way to acquire new skills quickly is to look at people who have achieved similar successes in a short time. This philosophy applies to any online business model or to sell your own websites, and it yields great results.
Instead of relying on only analytics to present your website for sale, it is more beneficial to check other websites that have achieved high sales in the past. Check for information such as the website information they had to disclose and the sales tactics and pitches they used to frame their auction. By using the sales information from successful website auctions, you can greatly improve the results of selling your own website.
3. Create a Lead Funnel
A lead or marketing funnel is a step-by-step process that raises the awareness of potential customers of your website and convinces the interested parties to purchase. Every lead funnel has four main stages: awareness, interest, decision, and action. This marketing process gives you a comprehensive understanding of how to sell a website.
A lead funnel creates in selling a website helps in brainstorming every step, thus selling your website efficiently and quickly. In addition, the last stage of the lead funnel process allows you to engage with your customers, which you can achieve by creating loyalty rewards or newsletters. This ensures you don’t end your relationship with the buyer once the website is sold.
4. Research Marketplaces for Buying and Selling Websites
There is plenty of everything in today’s world of commerce and marketing, and something is coming up every few seconds from blogs, engines, software, marketing books, and marketplaces. Instead of relying on your gut to help you decide which website marketplace is booming, do your research.
Check which marketplace is currently the most successful, what they are doing differently, how the auction sites keep their audience informed and which sales and business model they use for selling or buying websites. Then, make a checklist of things website marketplaces consider dos and don’t while buying and selling websites and apply the tactics to your website.
5. Optimize Profits Before you Make a Listing Fee
SEO is an important tool in knowing your target audience and the backbone of any good website, where without it, a website is nothing. One of the first questions most interested buyers ask is if a website is SEO optimized, and if not, most buyers keep moving forward to the next big thing. Generally, when learning how to sell a website, you have to learn how to optimize your website.
SEO is important for various reasons, and the optimization helps:
- Search engines to understand the why of a website better
- Rank each page of your website high up in Google
- Bring your target audience to your audience with keywords ultimately leading to high click rates
- Turn your visitor clicks into cash flow for you
In addition, Google penalizes unoptimized sites, and without optimizing your website before a sale, you risk lowering the SERPS(search engine results pages).
There are several ways you can optimize websites, and generally, you should increase your website’s:
- Visibility– This will make your website pop up faster when a user searches for it.
- Conversion– This entails making your audience do what you want, such as subscribing to your business newsletter
- Usability– This makes your website and pages load quicker and increase their optimization
In addition, you can optimize your website by using methods and tools such as:
- Use a better web hosting provider such as VPS web hosting to speed your website’s loading speed
- Content Delivery Network (CDN)
- Perform data optimization through your website’s CMS (Central Management System)
6. Approach the Potential Buyers In the Right Way
Approaching prospective buyers involves narrowing your target market, which helps sell websites. In addition, if you have some experience in client management, it will help you figure out how to deal with your clients.
Since there may be many buyers, the first step is identifying the right kind of buyers and then approaching them in the right way. For example, sellers make a major mistake in auctioning their websites in marketplaces meant for the general audience. Instead, a niche website should be sold in marketplaces that purchase the same niche websites for a decent profit.
7. Present the Right Statistics to Potential Parties
Statistics are everywhere, and most buyers believe them since numbers don’t lie, so any serious buyer will want to see the statistics. However, to sell a website quickly, you will need to back up the claims of traffic, revenue or profit to convince any potential buyer. Some stats include how much traffic your site has made, how much profit (monthly profit, net profit) and generally a profit and loss statement.
Most websites use tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush to gather and present their statistics, but Google Analytics makes the task easier. No matter how you present your website’s stats to a potential buyer, ensure its:
- Reliable and authentic
- Specific as much as possible
- You support any claims you have made about your site’s strengths and weaknesses.
- It is not stuffy and doesn’t have swooping or general statements
- Paints a clear picture of your website statistics, the why, how, and what and mentions if you have any existing agency contracts.
What are the Ways to Sell a Website?
1. Hire a Broker
A website broker is the most secure way to sell your website as brokers will even give a free consultation that will give you a rough idea. Many sites claim to be website brokers, and the difference between the sites is the size and seriousness of the website. The common ones include:
a). FE International
This is one of the most reputable website brokers where some sellers have sold multiple websites, including a 6-figure website. In addition, they handle the marketing of your site’s sales legal documentation and facilitate interaction with all potential buyers.
FE International commission varies, but it is about 15% for the big websites, but you don’t have to pay anything upfront to make a listing on the marketplace. It is the best option for the big authority websites worth over $100000.
b). Empire Flippers
Empire Flippers are quite similar to FE International because the company helps a seller manage many things, meaning it will be a hands-off process for a seller. However, some sellers say the process is not as smooth as FE International.
Empire Flippers charges an upfront listing fee of $297 for first-time sellers and $97 for repeat sellers. In addition, expect to pay about 15-20% commission if your website makes the sale. This is the best option for any seller with a website valued over $10,000 but under $100,000.
Flippa, unlike other sites, is a marketplace more of an auction than the straight-up sale sell sites. You can try selling your website for any amount, but you have no guarantee it will sell. The company doesn’t advise on anything like the two above, and since it’s a free marketplace for all, there is a bigger risk of getting scammed.
The websites listed on Flippa are not vetted, and any due diligence falls on the interested party. Therefore, it is only advised when a website is valued below $10,000.
2. Find a Buyer and Negotiate the Price
This is a risky method, but it works. If you know someone interested in buying, you don’t need to find a broker, but it’s important to have a lawyer review your legal agreements before moving forward. This is n ideal way to avoid paying a few thousand dollars to a broker, but the broker fee sometimes is worth it if the broker can sell your site at a higher price.
In addition, when selling on your own, ensure you use Escrow services to protect your money online unless you are dealing with a repeat buyer who doesn’t mind wiring the final payment straight. An escrow service is important to consider, especially if the two parties lack prior history.
How Long Does Selling a Website Take?
Most website brokers and marketplaces feature an active listing period of 30-180 days, but it doesn’t mean that the time will get you the price you want for your online business. You should invest some time in taking your website to its peak and lay a foundation for the new owner to avoid struggling to find a willing buyer.
The money, effort and time you invest upfront, the easier your sale will be since a well-managed online business model with an automated content creation process, and fulfillment is easier to sell than an improvised one.
What Are Some Steps to Maximize your Pre-Sale Value?
1. Diversify your Traffic Sources
If your business model entirely depends on paid traffic and ads via Google Adsense, you should diversify your traffic sources before considering selling. Of course, organic traffic generates more profit, but experienced brokers and buyers place a lot of stability in a website’s long-term stability or management ease.
Ecommerce stores driven by micro-influencer promotions have big differences from sites that consistently attract tens of thousands of organic search traffic every month. If you are hacking organic traffic, ensure you take advantage of all types of online marketing, including email marketing and social media, to build a platform for returning customers.
2. Use a Third-Party Service
Some e-commerce businesses need more involvement than others, and if you are currently fulfilling your orders, you should change this before selling your business. Minimize your involvement in the website as much as you can before selling it.
Using third party services is a way to distance yourself, and other ways include:
- Automating CMS backups and updates
- Training a virtual assistant to handle the tasks
- Outsourcing new content creation to reliable designers and writers
- Lining up freelance developers to handle hotfixes or updates for software updates
3. Organize all your Financial Reports
Nobody will invest in a new site or a business that lacks financial and assets evidence where brokers and marketplaces need months of verified traffic and financial reports. So ensure you install Google Analytics or an alternative to your website.
The recommended financial reports include:
- Proof of Sales
- Profit & Loss Explained
- Ad Spend
The recommended traffic reports include:
- Google Analytics- at least three months of reporting
- Google Search Console Reports
- Ads Reports- Whether Google Ads, Facebook Ads or any other ad networks
4. Customize Your Sales Page
Check through recently sold websites on broker sites that made the profit you want to achieve. Consider factors such as reliable documentation, labor intensity and traffic sources.
If you can provide all reports, content and details that your ideal buyer is looking for, you are one step ahead of the game. In addition, buyers will feel more comfortable bidding on your website with an upper limit than they would if they have unanswered doubts.
Jacky Chou is an electrical engineer turned marketer. He is the founder of Indexsy, Far & Away, Laurel & Wolf, a couple FBA businesses , and about 40 affiliate sites. He is a proud native of Vancouver, BC, who has been featured on Entrepreneur.com, Forbes, Oberlo and GoDaddy.