As a web designer or developer, taking the first step to start a business and sell your websites can be overwhelming.
Don’t worry, this guide will provide a breakdown of the process ‒ from planning your web development strategy to selling and transferring sites.
Keep in mind that there’s no such thing as instant money. It takes time and dedication to create attractive websites you can sell and to build a customer base. However, once you get the business rolling, be ready for a snowball effect.
Read on to learn how to sell websites.
1. Decide on a strategy that works for you and your budget
There are three ways with which you can plan your business for making money off websites. Your choice will depend on your goals, interests, expertise, and budget.
If you don’t have money to spend yet, it’s easier to start as an independent web designer. You can offer a one time service to create and design websites for clients.
If you choose to take this path, the client usually purchases their own domain and hosting, allowing you to focus on the site’s functionality and appearance.
Another way to sell websites is to flip them. The process includes purchasing a site sold beneath the market value, upgrading the functionality and design, then timing it right to sell the website at a higher price.
For instance, you can turn a $15 simple travel website into a full-fledged travel agency starter site and sell it for $350 on a marketplace. Of course, if you want to buy and sell websites, you’ll need to allocate a budget for buying the websites first.
To earn even more, you might want to go beyond building a website but also work on managing and monetizing it before putting it up for sale. This includes implementing SEO practices and driving traffic to the site as well.
As an example, let’s say you’ve created a fashion blog as a side project. You post regular updates and manage to gain a following. Not only that, but the site is also making money by being affiliated with companies that sell fashion accessories.
Once you’re ready to move on to a different project, you can offer the already established website to someone interested. Since the site has established credibility, it’s easier to sell it at a higher asking price.
2. Focus on a target audience and a niche that is profitable
It’s easier to sell a website if you know there’s an interested market. Before you start building a site or looking for websites to flip, make sure you pick a target audience and a niche first.
Let’s take a look at small business owners. In 2019, there were 30.7 million small businesses in the US alone, making it a great audience to sell websites to.
For example, while eCommerce remains popular you can expect more businesses to expand their reach via the internet ‒ giving you the opportunity to sell your website development skills.
If you’re into designing blogs, the industry also has great potential for you. We can expect the number of bloggers to rise up to 31.7 million by the end of 2021, creating even more potential customers.
Once you’ve decided on an audience, it’s time to choose a niche. You can go for one that aligns with your interest, like photography, travel, music, and so on.
However, it could be more profitable to select amongst the most popular niches in the current market to make easier sales.
3. Build or buy your website
Depending on your strategy, you will need to either create or buy a website.
Creating a website
The platform also supports domain registration and provides free hosting.
If you have HTML and CSS skills, building a website from scratch will give you more freedom.
The method you use will depend on your client’s preferences and needs. Therefore, you’ll need to communicate your tool of choice with them before agreeing to take the project.
Buying websites to flip
Should you opt to flip websites, make sure you compile a list of criteria for selecting sites to purchase first. Look for sites that:
- Have the potential to grow
- Target a specific audience
- Can be monetized through ads and affiliate programs
- Free from search engine penalties
- Sport a brandable domain name
- Can be upgraded
- Within your budget
When it comes to upgrading the websites you bought, it’s important to add unique values to help increase either its traffic or income if you want to monetize it.
4. Make your website attractive to buyers
Your website must be not only functional but also attractive to potential buyers.
Since nearly 52% of website traffic comes from mobile devices, it’s best to sell a mobile-friendly and responsive website capable of adapting to different screen sizes.
Equipping the website with a minimalist layout makes it appeal to current trends. Not only that, but having a simple web design can also improve both the site navigation and user experience.
Plus, you can use the extra space for large-scale images and videos to give a powerful first impression.
Additionally, calls-to-action should be clear and easy to find. You can use contrasting colors with the site’s background to make them stand out.
The amount of organic traffic and money your website generates will also help attract buyers. That said, you should implement the best SEO practices on keyword-based content, images, title tags, and backlinks.
For monetization purposes, you can display ads, sign up for affiliate programs, and get sponsored content. Connect the website to Google Analytics to monitor its performance.
Other factors that may influence buyers’ decisions include the website’s age and email list size.
5. Find legitimate buyers on a trusted platform
Before you start selling a website, it’s best to wait two to three months after its launch. This way, you can take note of the site’s performance and decide on an ideal price for it.
Once you have a fixed price in mind, you can put the website up for sale on various platforms.
Flippa, for example, is an auction site where people can bid on your project. The price of websites sold in this platform range from below $1,000 to over $250,000.
If you have a high-quality, monetized site that generates over $1,000 per month, it’s advisable to list it on Empire Flippers. This platform will communicate with potential buyers, make the deal, and transfer the website for you.
For sites that have grown into a small business, you might want to go with a trusted broker. Services such as FE International, Digital Exits, and Quiet Light Brokerage have experience selling sites worth millions.
6. Get the most money from your website sale
You may feel confident with your website’s value, but there are ways to make an even better deal.
One of the ways to do so is to identify the long-term value of your website. Reports on traffic and income can help predict its future performances, which you can use to increase the price. You may also include statistics from social media accounts you use to promote the website.
Another strong card you can play is by delivering detailed documentation on how your website runs. It allows the new owner to start right away hassle-free, giving them some peace of mind.
You should also provide details on freelancers or people who contributed to your website in case the buyer wants to continue working with them.
Make sure to double-check the site’s SEO, ensuring that you didn’t practice any black hat SEO tactics. The website should be fully compliant with search engines’ terms of service and contain no copyright and trademark infringement.
7. Transfer the website and its assets
Depending on where you’re selling websites, the platform may assist you in the transfer process.
Follow this short guide to transfer your site manually to a new owner:
- Change the login credentials of your hosting account, contact details, and billing information to match the buyer.
- Make a domain transfer through your registrar if needed.
- Give the new owner access to third-party services that the site uses, such as Google Analytics.
- Send other related assets like media files, icons, and content by email or upload them to the server using FTP.
Bonus tips for buying and selling websites successfully
All in all, selling websites is a promising business. Though it can take quite some time before you can make the first deal, keep in mind that your dedication, time, and effort will eventually pay off.
Here are some bonus tips you might find useful during the process:
- Move to a better hosting service after buying a site to flip
- Build high-quality backlinks
- Choose an evergreen niche
- Build a small community around your website using social media before selling it
- Search for websites that achieve high sales and learn from them