In this era of remote working, the lure of making money online is a strong one. Almost everyone considers the idea of starting a blog or building a website. But setting up a website is hard. You need to spend months building traffic before you ever see any profit. What if we told you there’s a way around that? And it’s so easy you could not just do it, but start making money today!
The sheer volume of content on the internet makes it impossible for a new site to make a splash. That’s why the best way you can make money online is by buying and selling websites. It’s the easiest thing in the world. And unlike other popular schemes, not a lot of people know about it yet. So if you get into the business of flipping websites now, you’ll be ahead of the wave, which means massive profits for you. There are many reasons why owning websites is a great way to become your own boss. All you need is some basic know-how to get you started.
If you’re new to the game and don’t know what you’re getting into, this guide will break down the simplest way to get started buying a website.
Step 1: What type of website should you buy?
The first step is deciding what type of website you want to buy. Don’t confuse this with what to look for in a website as that’s a whole other topic. The technical and strategic decisions come later. This initial step is simply about picking a niche.
Evergreen vs. trend-based niches
There are two types of websites, evergreen topics, and trend-based. If these terms are new to you, don’t worry, they’re relatively straightforward. A trend-based niche is any business that relies on the popularity or recent hype of a subject. So, a handknit woolen clothing store can only sell products during one season. On the other hand, an evergreen niche, such as weight loss, sells products year-round. When you’re buying a website, pick an evergreen niche, so you make the most profits.
The main reason you’re buying a website is for its audience. So, when you’re considering a specific site, you need to be very clear on who the target market is. Within this, there are two things a beginner buyer should take into account:
- is the site successfully reaching its target audience
- are you comfortable with this demographic
Since this is your first site, you need to keep things simple. Once you buy a website, there are steps you can take to maximize profits. However, that won’t work if you don’t understand the needs of the audience. So, as a beginner, you should pick the demographic you know the most. That can mean college students, stay-at-home moms, working women, younger men; it’s up to you.
Step 2: How much should you spend on your purchase?
Buying a website is an investment. Best case scenario your returns are many times the money you put in. Worst case scenario, you breakeven or make less than the amount you spent. As a smart buyer, you need to be aware of this risk. Before you start looking for websites, set a budget for yourself, and stick to it.
Say your initial benchmark is $5000. Only look at sites for less than that value. Make an offer for less than your maximum when you begin bargaining. If you overinvest and bump it up to $5500 or $6000 during a purchase, you’ll regret it later. Because now it’s more stress on you to get a higher return on your investment. As a novice buyer, the more stress you take, the greater your chances of making a mistake.
There is a detailed process on how to determine the value of a website that you must look at before you finalize a purchase. However, during the initial stage looking at the Google Insights or SEMrush score is enough to make a basic estimate. These tools can give you an approximate value for how much web traffic a specific site is getting. Sites with a score between 1000 and 2000 are cheaper but still give you an audience to work with.
Step 3: Where to buy a website?
Once you decide to start looking for a site to buy, you can take the easy route or the difficult route.
The easy route
If you want to save yourself the time and hassle of finding a website on your own, you can contact a broker. Our company collects information on a variety of sites available for purchase. Since all the data is in one place, you just need to browse through our listings till you find something you like. We also make sure all of the companies on our website are legit and looking to sell, so you don’t have to worry about scammers.
You can choose to let us shoulder the load, but you don’t have to. You do have other options.
The difficult route
If you don’t want to buy through a broker, you’ll have to do all the heavy lifting yourself. This takes more time and effort on your part but is entirely doable. First, you find a website that has an audience. Look for owners who started a site as a hobby, gained some traction, but stopped updating. Next, you negotiate with them. Keep in mind that these website owners may not want to sell their sites at first. So, you’ll have to be convincing. But, if you can talk them into making a deal, you can negotiate for a lower price. Keep in mind that you run the risk of being scammed.
Step 4: What will you get for your money?
It makes intuitive sense that if you want an up and running website, you’ll have to spend money on it. But what exactly are you buying? The audience? The traffic? Or something else entirely? Before you get started, you need to know exactly what you’re getting for your money.
1) Domain and Hosting
When you’re buying a website, your basic purchase is the domain and hosting. The domain is your website’s name while hosting is the server where the site is stored. Think of it as virtual real estate. You don’t own the website until the domain is in your name. If a person claims they own a website, but the domain isn’t in their name, they’re trying to scam you. Make sure you check the website’s domain history and verify who owns the site before you buy it. If you’re buying through a broker, find out if they run these checks before listing sites.
2) Useful traffic
When you’re buying an up and running website, you’re paying for useful traffic, not overall traction. There is a big difference, and you need to know what it is before you get started. Your entire strategy depends on you making money the minute you buy the site. That means you’re assuming the business is monetized. Just because a website gets online traffic doesn’t mean it is making any money.
While traction is important, it is of little value on its own. If viewers are looking at your page and moving on, you aren’t making any money. So, how do you make sure a website has useful traffic? For one, don’t assume anything. Ask the website owner for proof of traffic, through Google Analytics or a similar app, and proof of earning, through AdSense, sales reports, or other accounts. You need to know that a business has an audience and that they’re willing to buy products before you invest.
3) Business model
You buy a website instead of starting your own because you want to start on step ten and not climb your way up from step one. Look into what the previous owner’s business model is. Do they sell goods or services? How many people buy their products in a month? Do they sell multiple items? Find out everything about how they run their online business. Make sure they have consistent revenue over four to six months and various streams of income.
Also, a good tip is to ask them where they think their site could improve. Since the owner knows the market, chances are they have some ideas on how you can grow the business.
4) Operating procedures
You also need to find out what the operating procedures for the business are. What systems are in place to keep things moving? Depending on what type of site you’re buying, they’ll have a system in place for production, delivery, review, payment, and quality control. If the website employs freelancers like designers or writers, they’re a part of this process. So are other agencies they use, such as a payment gateway.
You also need to take into account the tasks the current website owner manages themselves. And if they have skills you don’t, you will have to outsource those tasks as well. Prepare a complete list of the skills needed to run the business and the costs involved.
5) Email lists and social media presence
Ideally, the business should have basic marketing strategies in place. Confirm what assets are a part of the sale. Do you get access to a working email list and active social media accounts? Are there other copyrights or patents in place?
The mailing list is the key to making money from a website. It’s how you contact your customers with information on new products and services. Without it, your website is cut off at the knees. And a quality email list takes years to build, making it an integral part of the sale. Buying an online business without an email list is like cutting a tree off at the trunk. Without its roots, eventually, it will shrivel up and die.
The same is the case with social media accounts. Even if a website isn’t active on its Instagram and Facebook pages, a little effort can turn them into huge income streams. If the seller isn’t volunteering this information, you need to ask them directly. This will give you the added benefit of showing the site owner that you know what you’re talking about. Once you establish yourself as a knowledgeable buyer, you reduce the chances of a seller trying to scam you by overpricing. Also, find out if the site has any history of legal issues.
Step 5: How much work will it take to run this website?
Before you buy a website, consider the workload. Some sites are low maintenance, while others require constant attention. The more processes involved in the daily running of the business, the more effort it’ll take. You may not have the time to dedicate to the task. And if you fail to maintain the success of the site, by the time you can sell it, it’ll have lost value. Not only will you not make a return on your investment, you’ll probably lose money. Find out how much of the process you can outsource or automate. Also, consider that if you hire more freelancers than the current owner, you’ll make less profits.
While this may seem like a lot of information to keep track of, there’s no need to get overwhelmed. It’s really just a step by step process. Don’t skip any levels, and you’ll be good to go. At the end of the day, your goal is simply to find out everything you can about the website you plan to invest in. This guide just highlights a few factors and key areas for you to look into.
Overall, if you’re getting started on buying a website you should:
- pick an evergreen niche
- choose a relatable audience
- set a budget and stick to it
- contact the website owner or a broker
- know what you’re buying
- make sure the site has a successful business model with multiple income streams
- find out if a quality email list and active social media pages are a part of the deal
- know what the basic operating processes and costs of running the site are
- understand the workload