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Sell Websites and Turn a Profit: A Beginner’s Guide

As a web designer or developer, taking the first step to start a business and sell your websites can feel overwhelming. 

Don’t worry. That’s why we’ve put together his guide that will give you a breakdown of the process ‒ from planning your web development strategy to selling the websites.

Throughout the process, keep in mind that there’s no such thing as instant money.

It takes time and dedication to create attractive websites and build a customer base. However, once you get the business rolling, get ready to experience the snowball effect.

1. Decide on a business development strategy

There are 3 ways with which you can plan your business. Which one you choose will depend on your goals, interests, expertise, and budget.

First, if you don’t have money to spend yet, it’s easier to start as an independent web designer. You can offer your services to create and design websites for clients. 

In this case, the client usually purchases their own domain and hosting, allowing you to focus on the site’s functionality and appearance.

The second way to sell websites is to flip them. The process includes purchasing sites sold under the market value, upgrading their functionality and design, and reselling them 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, you’ll need to allocate a budget for buying the websites first.

Finally, to earn even more profit, 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. 

For 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 that might be interested. Since the site has solid credibility, it’s easier to sell it at a higher markup price.   

2. Focus on a target audience and a niche that is profitable

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, this industry also has great potential. 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 one of the most popular niches in the current market to make sales easier.

3. Build or buy your website

Depending on your strategy, you will need to either create or buy a website.

Creating a website

There are many website builders you can use to create a full-fledged website, hassle-free.

Zyro, for example, offers templates you can customize using its drag-and-drop feature. 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. You can use a code editor such as Sublime Text or Atom to create the HTML files, then upload them to the web server once you purchase a hosting plan.

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

There are various marketplaces that sell websites for this purpose. Some notable ones include Flippa, Freemarket, and Empire Flippers.

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 attractive to potential buyers too.

Since nearly 52% of website traffic comes from mobile devices, it’s best to sell on 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 design 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 people 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 $1,000 to $250,000 and more.

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 get 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 performance, which you can use to boost 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 gives the new owner the 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 and never dabble in 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.

But if you’re on your own, follow this short guide to transfer your site manually to a new owner:

  1. Change the login credentials of your hosting account, contact details, and billing information to match the buyer.
  2. Make a domain transfer through your registrar if needed.
  3. Give the new owner access to third-party services that the site uses, such as Google Analytics.  
  4. 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 lucrative 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

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Martina is an expert in writing about website building and eCommerce, but her real passion is helping others grow their small business online. From solid branding to punchy marketing strategies, you can count on her for the best growth tricks. In her spare time, Martina loves nothing more than a good scoop of ice-cream and a sweaty match of tennis.

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