When you think about making money online you’re probably thinking about monetization methods like affiliate marketing, selling ads, AdSense, selling digital products, and running membership websites. While all of those methods are viable options, if you have a profitable website another option for making money is to sell that website.
The topic of selling blogs and websites can bring about a lot of different opinions. Some people say you would be crazy to ever sell a profitable website that is bringing in money each month, and others create sites specifically with the goal of selling them.
Who is right? Is selling a profitable site a good or bad idea?
The truth is that everyone’s situation is unique. What may be right for someone else may not be right for you.
Personally, over the past 5 years I have sold more than 10 different websites. Those sales have ranged from $1,000 for a small blog that didn’t have much income to $500,000 for a well-established and very profitable site.
In this article we will take a detailed look at the process of selling a website or blog, and I will try to keep it as balanced and unbiased as possible. Obviously, as someone who has sold multiple websites I don’t fall into the camp of people who think selling a profitable site is a stupid move (see my reasons in Part 1 below).
However, I do think that there are a lot of significant reasons why you would not want to sell a profitable site, or why you would at least want to wait until the timing is right.
- Part 1: Pros of Selling a Website
- 1. Cashing Out
- 2. The Ability to Free Up Your Time
- 3. Avoiding Future Risk
- 4. Closure
- 5. Loss of Interest
- 6. Maxed Potential
- Part 2: Cons of Selling a Website
- 1. Emotional Connection to the Site
- 2. Lost Income
- 3. Prices are too Low
- 4. No Guarantee of Future Success
- 5. Loss of Control Over Your Site
- 6. Loss of Influence
- 7. Taxes
- 8. Finding the Right Buyer/Offer is Not Easy
- 9. Non-Compete Agreements
- Part 3: Determining the Value of Your Website
- Tips for Determining the Value of Your Site
- Part 4: Ways to Sell a Website
- Part 5: Tips for Finding Potential Buyers
- 1. Email People in Your Network
- 2. Don’t Try to Find Someone Directly, Ask for Referrals
- 3. Contact Companies That Own Multiple Websites in the Industry
- 4. Contact Advertisers/Sponsors
- 5. Contact Companies That Target Your Audience with Their Product or Service
- Part 6: Tips for Negotiating the Sale
- 1. Know What the Site is Worth to You
- 2. Be Realistic About its Value to Buyers
- 3. Leave Some Room for Negotiations with Your Asking Price
- 4. Consider Multiple Payments if Needed
- 5. Understand That it Can Take Time
- 6. Consider More Than Just the Price
- Part 7: Completing the Sale
- 1. Always Use a Contract
- 2. Hire an Attorney to Review the Contract
- 3. Use Escrow.com for Safety
- 4. State Your Commitment for On-Going Help in the Contract
- Part 8: Tips for Making the Process Smooth
- 1. Know Why You Are Selling
- 2. Have Your Traffic and Financial Numbers Ready
- 3. Have the Site on its Own Hosting Account
- Wrapping it up
As some context for this article, the information here assumes that you have a website or blog that is currently making some money. In order to be able find a buyer who is interested in paying a premium for a website you will need to have proven that it can make money. In the world of selling websites, potential doesn’t count for very much.
Except for in extremely rare cases buyers will want to see revenue and profit, and those numbers will be the most significant factor in determining what they are willing to pay.
This doesn’t mean that you need to have a site that is making ridiculous amounts of money in order to be able to sell. Even sites that are making $100 per month have value and potential buyers will be interested if they feel the price is right.
Part 1: Pros of Selling a Website
1. Cashing Out
The most obvious reason to consider selling a website or blog is the money that you can get from the sale. Rather than slowly making money over a period of time with the site you can potentially make one lump sum, and then have no more responsibility with the site.
In some cases people sell websites because they need a large amount of money and selling is the best way to get it quickly. Even if you don’t need the money, selling can present a way to “cash out” on the time and effort that you have put into the site. You’ve been making money each month by maintaining the site, but selling puts you in a position to really get the most out of the time and effort that you have put into it.
If you feel that the value of your site (your revenue and profit) isn’t likely to increase over time, you may want to consider selling it while the value is at its peak. Part of being successful with selling websites is knowing when to sell.
You don’t want to sell too early before you’ve been able to maximize the value of the site, but you also don’t want to wait too long and miss the opportunity to sell while the site is at its peak.
2. The Ability to Free Up Your Time
One of the biggest motivating factors for me when I’m considering selling a site is the time that it will free up. Most profitable websites require some time each week, and in some cases it can be a large time investment. If you sell the site and eliminate the need to spend time on the site going forward you can use that time in other ways. You can then focus on projects that you have been wanting to work on, or you can simply work fewer hours.
When you are maintaining your own websites and blogs for a living, your time is money. While your site may be profitable, that doesn’t meant that is the best use of your time. Sure, it makes money for you each month.
But could you make more money if you were able to free up that time and use it for something else? Perhaps you have other sites that have become a better use of your time. Selling off your other profitable, but less valuable, websites may allow you to focus more of your time on your most valuable sites.
3. Avoiding Future Risk
The main reason that I hear or read for why you should not sell a website is the loss of ongoing revenue. Say your site is making you $1,000 in profit each month. You might be able to sell it for $20,000. This is a nice chunk of money, but you could make more than that just by maintaining the site over the next two years. This is true, and something that needs to be considered, but it’s not always the whole truth.
First, there is some value in freeing up the time that you won’t need to dedicate to the site after you sell it. With that time you might be able to produce more than $1,000 per month. Second, there is no guarantee of future revenue or profit.
Over the past several years Google has made many algorithm changes, and thousands of profitable websites have been severely impacted by those changes. If your site relies on Google for a decent percentage of traffic there is no guarantee that your traffic level will stay the same.
Even aside from Google’s algorithm changes there are plenty of other ways for a site’s income to drop. Maybe the topic of your site loses popularity over time and your audience simply becomes smaller or less enthusiastic.
Selling your site today helps you to avoid the risk of your income dropping. Buyers are taking the risk, and this is part of why prices for established websites and blogs are not higher.
Selling a website can provide a sense of closure for the project. While selling a site that you have an emotional connection to is not easy, there will be times when it feels right to get some closure on a project that you started, and move on to something else. Want to know for sure that the site you devoted 2 years of your life to was a success? Sell it for a good price and you’ll know exactly how much money you made for your effort.
5. Loss of Interest
If you have maintained a website for a few years it’s very possible that your interest in the site or the subject has just faded over time. We all have interests that change, and continuing to maintain a site that no longer interests you can become quite a chore. If this describes your situation, you may want to consider selling the site so you can use your time working on other sites that will be more enjoyable for you.
6. Maxed Potential
There may be times when you feel like you have done everything you are able to do with a site. If you work on your own you may reach a point where you feel like you will need to hire other people or bring on a partner in order to take the site to the next level.
If this is something that you don’t want to do you might prefer to sell the site to someone or a company that is in a better position to help the site to continue its growth.
Part 2: Cons of Selling a Website
There are also plenty of reasons why you might not want to sell your website or blog. For someone who advocates selling websites and blogs, you may be surprised to see that
I have listed even more cons to selling than pros. In order to make the sale a good decision for you, you’ll need to find the right timing and the right buyer/offer. If you try to force the sale when the timing isn’t right you could be making a move that you’ll regret.
Here are some reasons why you might not want to sell.
1. Emotional Connection to the Site
If you’ve spent a few years building your website and your audience, chances are you have a strong emotional connection to it. Selling the site to someone else and simply moving on may not be something that you want to do. The more of yourself that you pour into your site the harder it can be to let it go.
2. Lost Income
While selling a profitable site is a way to make a nice lump sum, you’ll be doing that by sacrificing your ability to make ongoing revenue from the site. If the site is an important part of your monthly income you will need to be able to quickly replace that income or adjust your living expenses to account for lower income.
When I am considering selling a site I need to feel confident that I will be able to replace the lost income, or at least the amount that I will need to be able to support my family, rather than simply living off the money that I made from selling the site. If I wind up using all the money from the sale simply to get through the next year or so, selling the website probably wasn’t worth it.
3. Prices are too Low
Website buyers are looking for great deals. People who buy sites frequently know that in order for the transaction to work out well for them they cannot overpay for the site. Especially if you are selling your site at a marketplace like Flippa, there will be plenty of bargain hunters that will only be interested if you are willing to almost give your site away.
As a seller it can be frustrating to see that other people’s value of your site is not as high as what you feel it is worth. If this is the case, your best move is to hold on to the site and keep moving forward with it, unless you are in a position where you absolutely have to sell.
One key to keep in mind is that you only need to find one buyer who values your site. You could have 100 people at Flippa tell you that your site is not worth what you are asking, but if you find just one person who is willing to pay your asking price, that’s all that matters. We’ll cover some tips for finding buyers later in this guide.
4. No Guarantee of Future Success
If you have built one profitable site you are probably confident that you can do it again. Confidence in your ability is a great thing and I do hope that you are confident, but keep in mind that there is no guarantee that your next site will be as successful as the one you are selling.
Before you sell a site that is making a lot of money for you, really consider your plans for the future and be sure that you feel it is the right move for you. In the world of internet marketing things change very quickly.
After selling my most profitable site, one that had been my primary source of income for several years, I had to re-learn a lot of things in order to reach success with my new websites. Many of the strategies that I used to grow a blog several years ago are no longer as effective today.
Building a new site from scratch and making it profitable is a lot more challenging than maintaining a profitable site, so be sure that you are up to the challenge of starting over.
5. Loss of Control Over Your Site
This point kind of goes along with the first point about having an emotional attachment to your site. When you sell you will be giving up all control over the site and someone else will be making every decision. You may or may not agree with the direction they choose for the site.
I typically do not get emotionally attached to my websites. I don’t have a hard time selling a site and handing it over to someone else, as long as I am happy with the price.
But what I struggle with is a few months later when I notice some change that I wouldn’t have made or some new direction that I don’t agree with. If you are considering selling a website you need to be prepared to completely give up control of the site, and understand that you may not like what the site becomes in the future.
6. Loss of Influence
Depending on the site that you are selling and the audience that you have built over time, you may also be giving up a great deal of influence in the industry or niche. In some cases you may be able to carry some of that over through your own personal branding, but by selling a popular website you will be giving up a platform that can be used to reach and influence your audience.
Influence can be a very valuable thing. For example, if you have one popular blog you could use it as a springboard to launch other sites, products, or services that target a similar audience. If you sell your site you will no longer be able to use it in this way.
Getting paid in a lump some is great, except for when it comes to taxes. Before selling a website or blog I recommend that you consult an accountant to get an idea of how it will impact your tax position. This becomes increasingly important as the price gets higher. If the income from the sale results in a huge tax bill you may prefer to simply keep the site.
I also recommend talking to your accountant about how the income will be treated and taxed (as regular income or capital gains). The rate for capital gains is generally lower than the tax rate on income, so if the sale qualifies to be treated as capital gains it can save you some money in taxes.
8. Finding the Right Buyer/Offer is Not Easy
The biggest lesson I learned from my first website sale is that finding a buyer, at the right price, is not easy. I had planned to sell the site for a few months and was working to increase the income before looking for a buyer. I had a decent network of people to contact about the sale, and I did get multiple offers through the connections in my network, but none that were even close to my asking price. I did wind up selling the site a few weeks later, but it was for a price that was lower than I really wanted. I moved forward with the sale because I wanted to free up my time for a new project, and that turned out to be a good move in the long run.
Don’t assume that you will be able to quickly or easily find a buyer that is willing to pay a good price for your site. With my largest sale I was planning to wait several months to find the right buyer. It wound up taking only two months because I had a good connection from someone in my network, but that’s still longer than most people would assume that it would take. Finding a buyer can take time and effort, which may or may not be something that you are willing to do.
9. Non-Compete Agreements
As part of the sales agreement the buyer may require you to sign an agreement not to compete.
The details will vary, but a typical agreement may restrict you from working on another website in the same industry for a year to a few years. This can prevent you from starting your own website that will target a similar audience, and it can also prevent you from working as a freelancer or an employee for another company/website in the same industry.
Before you agree to a sale be sure that you are aware of any non compete agreements required by the buyer, and be sure that they do not conflict with your plans for the future or prevent you from being able to earn an income going forward.
You can also negotiate the terms and details of the non-compete agreement. You could try to get the length of time shortened, or you could ask for certain provisions to be included that would allow you to do whatever it is that you are planning after the sale.
In my opinion it is best to be upfront and clear with the buyer about your plans for after the sale, and if they have no problems with those plans you can get those details laid out specifically in the contract so you won’t be in jeopardy of violating a non-compete agreement.
Part 3: Determining the Value of Your Website
Probably the most difficult and confusing aspect of selling a website is determining it’s value. Before we get into the tips for determining your site’s value, there are a few important things to keep in mind:
– The value of a website is whatever someone is willing to pay for it.
There are some calculations that you can use to help determine the value of a website, but in reality all that matters is what a buyer is willing to pay. Just because a calculation says a site should be worth $X doesn’t mean that a buyer will place the same value on the site. This can work both positively and negatively, meaning that you may be able to sell the site for more or for less than a certain calculation tells you the site is worth.
– The same site’s value can vary greatly from one buyer to another.
Since there is no exact method for determining a site’s value or worth each buyer will use his or her own method to decide what they are willing to pay. Different buyers will value site very differently.
You may have one potential buyer who is willing to pay $10,000 and another who is willing to pay $50,000. This, of course, makes it a little bit difficult as a seller because you’ll have to decide if you should accept the offer or keep looking for that one person who might be willing to pay more.
– You are likely to place a higher value on your own site than a buyer is willing to pay.
As the owner and seller of the site, it’s almost guaranteed that you will feel the site is worth more than the value a potential buyer wants to pay for it. I don’t say this to be negative or to tell you that you are overestimating the value of your site. I say it out of personal experience from knowing that I place more value on my own sites than buyers are typically willing to pay, and also from friends and contacts that I have seen go through the process of selling a site. Be prepared for this.
– Potential buyers may not be able or willing to pay the amount that they see as the true value of the site.
Just because a potential buyer’s offer is lower than your estimated value of the site doesn’t mean that the buyer feels your site isn’t worth more. There are lot of factors that are involved in a buyer’s offer, and some of them have very little, or even nothing, to do with your or your site.
The buyer’s personal or business situation may limit what they are able or willing to pay. They may also not feel comfortable spending more than a certain amount on any website, just because of the risk involved.
So if you get a lowball offer, try not to get discouraged or feel insulted. There may be plenty of other factors involved that simply limit the potential buyer’s ability or willingness to pay more.
Tips for Determining the Value of Your Site
Now, here are some things you can do to help as you try to determine what you site may be worth.
1. Get a Valuation from a Broker
If you haven’t ever considered buying or selling a website you may be surprised to find that there are brokers who specialize in matching buyers and sellers of websites and online businesses. If you work with a broker his or her job will involve helping you find a buyer and leading you through the sale (often this includes details like the contract and transferring ownership to the buyer).
Many brokers offer a free valuation or consultation in order to get in contact with people who are interested in selling their website. Whether you chose to work with a broker or not, getting a professional’s opinion of the value of your site can be extremely helpful.
The broker deals with website sales all the time, so they will have a pretty good idea of the value that you should look to get if you are going to sell.
I highly recommend getting at least one valuation or appraisal from a broker. Here are some brokers that offer these services: Digital Exits, QuietLight, and Latona’s. We’ll cover more details about working with brokers in Part 4, but for now just know that you can benefit from their expertise for knowing how to value your site.
2. The Typical Range is 10x – 30x Monthly Profits
The most common method used to determine a website’s value is to take the average monthly profit and multiply it by a set amount. Each buyer will have his or her own opinion about what they are willing to pay.
For example, one buyer may be willing to pay 12 times the average monthly profit, figuring that they can recover the cost of the website in one year. Another buyer may be willing to pay 18 or even 24 times the monthly profit for a site. In general, the value is usually somewhere 10 – 30 times the average monthly profit. I know that is a big range, but each buyer is different and the details of your site will also influence this amount.
Sites that earn smaller amounts of money (for example, below $1,000 per month) will usually attract a multiple at the lower end of this range. If your site is making $10,000 per month in profit you should be looking to be in the middle to the upper half of this range at 20 – 30 times the average monthly profit.
Other factors that will influence the value of the site include the age or earning history, diversity of income sources, specific income sources, diversity of traffic sources, and the brand reputation within the niche. A site that has been around for 3 years with a track record of steady growth in profits will be less risky to a buyer than a site that is 6 months old and has been making money only for a few months.
Likewise, a site with a few different sources of revenue and diverse traffic sources will be lower risk than a site with one source of revenue and all of its traffic from Google searches. Specific monetization strategies can also be a factor. A site that sells its own established product may be seen as less risky than a site that makes all its income from Clickbank affiliate sales.
All of these factors will be considered by potential buyers when they are determining how much they are willing to pay for your site.
The typical range for valuing a site isn’t a strict guideline that will always be followed, but be aware that unless your site is a one in a million exception (like YouTube selling for 1.6 billion before YouTube really had any profit), buyers are very unlikely to go much beyond this typical range. Highly profitable sites may be able to bring higher multiples, but the vast majority of website sales will not fall into this category.
3. Potential Doesn’t Count for Much
Since the average monthly profit of a website is the most significant factor for buyers to determine what they are willing to pay, potential doesn’t count for very much. Typically when a seller is explaining why they value their site at a certain amount to word “potential” will eventually come up. While potential does count for how we value our own sites, it doesn’t play a large role in the amount that most buyers are willing to pay.
Your site may very well have huge potential, but if you want to maximize the amount that you get when you sell the site you will need to reach at least some of that potential before selling. My advice is to not be in a rush when it comes to selling a site.
Don’t take a short-term approach where you plan to sell the site shortly after starting it, or even shortly after becoming profitable. Take enough time to build it into something special and reach its potential before looking to sell.
Part 4: Ways to Sell a Website
There are 3 basic ways to sell your website. No method is right or wrong, it just depends on your specific situation.
1. Sell it On Your Own
The first option is to handle the sale yourself. This means that you will be looking for buyers, answering questions and providing information to potential buyers, negotiating the terms, and managing the sale and transfer of assets. The downside of this approach is that you may or may not have a network that allows you to find a buyer at the right
price. Also, if you don’t have experience it can be an intimidating process, and you may also make a mistake with the contract or the terms of the sale if you don’t have some guidance.
The upside to selling a site on your own is that you’ll get to keep all of the money for yourself. You won’t have to pay a broker, a listing fee, or a success fee. Depending on the details, this can mean a big difference in the amount that you receive for the site.
2. List it On a Marketplace
There are websites that exist specifically for the purpose of helping to match buyers and sellers. You’ll pay a fee to get list your site, but in return you’ll receive exposure to hundreds or thousands of potential buyers. If you want to get a site sold quickly, a marketplace is a great option because your listing can quickly get loads of exposure.
As a seller the downside is that marketplaces often don’t bring the highest selling price because most of the buyers are waiting for a site at a great price. This isn’t always the case, but marketplaces are notorious for bargain hunters and in some cases they are better for buyers than for sellers.
While there are a lot of different marketplaces to choose from, there are only two that I would consider using: Flippa and Empire Flippers. Flippa is a very well established marketplace with a huge amount of buyers and sellers. There are lots of new sites being added each day and thousands of buyers looking for sites at Flippa. Empire Flippers is somewhat of a hybrid between a marketplace and a broker. You can list your site with them to reach their audience, but you also get a little more personal service like you would get with a broker.
There are, of course, some costs involved with using a marketplace. At Flippa you will pay a $19 listing fee to get your site listed at their marketplace (there are also several upgrades that you can buy to get more exposure). If your auction results in a winning bid you will also pay a 10% success fee.
The success fee used to be capped at a certain amount, which kept it from being exorbitantly high on sites that sell for 5 figures and above, but apparently the success fee is no longer capped, it is a straight 10% on established websites. In exchange for the fees you get exposure to Flippa’s huge user base.
They don’t provide you with any personal assistance selling your site, it’s really just a listing and some help with the exposure. Another thing to keep in mind is that not all auctions that are “won” at Flippa will result in an actual sale. Buyers back out from time-to-time, and sometimes there isn’t much you can do about it. A few years ago I had a site listed for sale at Flippa and shortly after the auction completed the buyer with the winning bid told me that he could no longer buy the site. I had already been charged the success fee from Flippa because in their eyes the winning bid is the success, not the actual sale.
Empire Flippers charges a $297 listing fee (only $97 if you have listed a site with them in the past) and they recommend allowing about 90 days for it to sell. They claim to have a success rate of over 95%. Empire Flippers suggests that most sites in their marketplace sell for about 20 times monthly profit (the average of the past 3 months).
In addition to getting your site listed and getting the exposure to their audience of buyers, they also provide some personal service and bridge the gap between you and potential buyers. Buyers have to pay a deposit to Empire Flippers before they can get info on your site, weeding out those who aren’t serious. They also help with transferring your site to the buyer.
3. Hire a Broker
The third approach is to hire a broker. The advantage of using a broker is that he or she will have solid connections to potential buyers and they will handle much of the difficult work for you.
The broker will help you to determine how much you should ask for the site, they will communicate with potential buyers, and they will assist you all the way through the process. In many cases the broker will also have the contract and any forms that need to be used, so you won’t have to worry about that.
The downside to using a broker is the cost. Typically the broker will charge a percentage of the sale price, if the sale is completed. Digital Exits charges 10%. I’m not able to find fees listed on the websites of Quiet Light, Latona’s, or FE International.
Although there is a fee involved you may still be able to wind up with more money in your pocket thanks to the help of a broker. If the broker can help you to find the right buyer the services will be well worth the percentage that they will charge. Having a broker will also help with all of the nitty gritty details of the sales process, including the contract.
For websites with very high earnings a similar option may be to enlist the services of an investment banker. They would play a similar role to a broker, helping you to find buyers.
For full disclosure I have sold sites through Flippa and I have also sold sites on my own. I have never used a broker, although I did consult with Jock Purtle of Digital Exits regarding a site that I sold some years ago. I didn’t use Jock’s services because I had already identified a potential buyer (who did eventually buy the site) through my network. If that sale had fallen through my next move would have been to work with Jock to try to sell the site.
Personally, I would only use Flippa in two situations:
- If I was looking for a selling price of $5,000 or below, and
- If I had tried to sell the site on my own but hadn’t been able to find a buyer for several months.
The new fee structure at Flippa with the 10% success fee and no cap means that I wouldn’t even consider listing a site on Flippa if I was hoping to get $10,000 or more, unless I was desperate to sell it quickly. I wouldn’t have a problem paying the fees if Flippa tended to generate higher prices, but from my experience the sales prices tend to be on the lower side, so the fees really aren’t worth it in my opinion.
My first approach with any site that I want to sell is to contact people in my network and see if I can find a buyer that way. If that doesn’t lead to any interest the next move is either to list it somewhere or to find new people to contact. If I were looking to sell a site for anywhere from $5,000 – $30,000 I would consider listing it with Empire Flippers as they seem to have a very good success rate in that range.
If I were looking for a price of over $30,000 and in need of some help selling it I would probably turn to a broker. The lower end of that price range might be too low for some brokers who focus on higher priced sites, but some brokers will deal with sites at that level.
Part 5: Tips for Finding Potential Buyers
If you decide to sell the site on your own, or at least to give it a shot on your own before
turning to a broker or a marketplace, here are some tips that can help you to find a buyer.
1. Email People in Your Network
If you have been building a profitable website for a few years you are probably well connected to a lot of people in the industry. This could include other blog and website owners, blog editors, social influencers, service providers, people who sell products to your audience, and others.
Make a list of everyone that you know who works in the industry (if you have an address book in your email client scan through everyone). You want to reach out especially to people that you think are well connected to others in the industry.
You don’t need to provide a lot of details in your email. At a minimum you can say that you are considering selling your site, and ask them to get in touch with you if they know of anyone who might be interested in the site. It’s not a bad idea to also give a description of your target audience, as this can help them to think of other people who may be interested in reaching this audience.
In some cases you may want to provide some additional details, like how much money the site makes per month and how much you are asking for it. I would only include those details for people that you know have experience with buying or selling sites or have connections to people that buy and sell sites. The average person isn’t going to need to know those details at first.
2. Don’t Try to Find Someone Directly, Ask for Referrals
My approach is to ask my contacts to let me know if they think of someone who might be interested in the site. I don’t email people and ask them if they would be interested in buying the site themselves unless I know that they have a history of buying sites.
If someone is interested in buying the site they will let you know even if you are only asking for them for a potential referral.
3. Contact Companies That Own Multiple Websites in the Industry
One of the most likely buyers is someone, or a company, that already owns other websites or businesses in the industry. In many cases companies will buy a site that helps them to somehow reach a new section of their target market, or to provide a product or service that is complementary to what they already offer.
If you know of any companies that own multiple websites within your industry it would be worth your time to reach out to them, even if it is a cold call or email.
4. Contact Advertisers/Sponsors
If you have sold any type of advertising on your site it may be a good idea to also contact people and companies who have paid you to advertise on the site. These people are clearly interested in reaching your audience, so they may be interested in taking ownership of the site in order to have even better access to your audience.
If you’ve dealt with advertisers personally in the past this can be an even better opportunity since you will already have some relationship with them.
5. Contact Companies That Target Your Audience with Their Product or Service
Along the same lines as the previous point, you could also reach out to companies who have not previously advertised on your site but would benefit from having access to your site’s audience.
Think about your target audience and your typical readers. What types of products and services interest them? Companies who are offering these products and services could potentially benefit from owning your site and gaining exposure to your audience.
Part 6: Tips for Negotiating the Sale
While determining the value of your website is difficult, so is negotiating with potential buyers. In most cases the price you are being offered at first will be lower than your asking price, so you will need to be able to meet somewhere in the middle or convince the buyer to come up to your asking price. Here are a few tips for negotiating.
1. Know What the Site is Worth to You
Before you get into negotiating you really need to know what the site is worth to you, and what is the minimum price that you are willing to accept for it. If you have an minimum price in mind it will help you to avoid going too low in the negotiations. If the buyer isn’t willing to pay a price at or above the minimum that you are willing to accept, be prepared to walk away from the sale.
Buyers are likely to take the average monthly profit and multiply it by a specific number in order to determine what your site is worth to them. But the process of valuing your own website can be much different.
I tend to consider things like the risk of holding on to the site versus the risk of selling it at a price that may be a little too low. Also, I think about what would happen to the site if I were to hold on to it and outsource everything involved in running the site.
How much would it cost me if I were to be totally uninvolved with the site, and how much profit would it make in that situation? Would I rather go that route or sell a little below my asking price? Each situation is unique and you need to know what option is best for you.
2. Be Realistic About its Value to Buyers
While it is important to know what a site is worth to you, it’s also equally important to have a realistic idea of how potential buyers will value your site. You need to be realistic about what you expect buyers will be willing to pay, and this can help you to know if you should accept an offer or hold out for more money.
If you have talked to five different potential buyers and every one of them values the site much lower than you do, chances are you will have a difficult time finding a buyer at your asking price. The same thing can be said about a broker. If you’ve talked to a broker and you’re looking to get twice what they suggest as an asking price, it could take some time and effort to find a buyer at a price that you are willing to accept.
3. Leave Some Room for Negotiations with Your Asking Price
Most offers will come in below your asking price, similar to selling a house, so I would recommend accounting for this in your asking price. If the minimum price that you are willing to accept is $20,000 you might want to consider asking for $25,000 so you have some room for negotiation. Don’t go overboard and ask for a price that you know you will never get, because asking prices that are really inflated could discourage potential buyers from making an offer or even considering it.
4. Consider Multiple Payments if Needed
The typical situation when selling a website is to get paid 100% of the sale price up front. This works well in may cases, but there may be some situations where the buyer will not be willing or able to pay the full amount up front. One of my sales involved the majority of the payment upfront with a small percentage of it by a specific date in the future. It wasn’t my preferred arrangement, but it may have been the difference between making the sale and not making the sale, so I agreed to it.
If you’re close to an agreement with a buyer but you can’t quite agree on a price, consider offering a scenario where they will pay a smaller percentage of the price a few months or even a year down the road. That way they can use some of the profits from the site to cover the future payments.
I would also recommend that you only take this approach when you know and trust the buyer, and also be sure that the contract is very clear about the details of any future payments.
Make sure that the contract states that any future payment is not contingent upon the performance of the site and that they are committed to making the future payment (have an attorney review the wording). It’s also a good idea to get a personal guarantee if possible, which will hold someone personally responsible if the buyer is a corporation.
5. Understand That it Can Take Time
As I have mentioned a few times in this guide, selling a website can take time. Don’t expect the negotiations to happen instantly. If the buyer is a company, as opposed to an individual, it can take even longer as there may be more steps or multiple people that need to approve the deal.
I’d recommend planning for a sale to take at least 3 months, and maybe longer. If you need something to happen faster a marketplace like Flippa is an option, but I’d prefer to plan ahead to avoid any time crunch.
6. Consider More Than Just the Price
The most important part of any offer that you receive will be the price, but there is actually a lot more to it. You may also want to consider factors like the buyer, their experience, and their plans for the future of your site. It’s not out of line for you to ask potential buyers about their plans for your site.
You may also want to consider the details of the transaction. For example, how will they be paying you? Will it go through escrow.com (safer, but fees are involved)? Will they pay by PayPal? Wire transfer? Will they pay before you transfer the site? All of these details are things to consider as they will impact the process.
You may be willing to take a little bit less than ideal price if you are working with a buyer that you trust and someone who will make the transaction smooth and painless.
Part 7: Completing the Sale
Now that you have found a buyer and negotiated the price, here are some details to keep
in mind for completing the sale.
1. Always Use a Contract
Any time you are selling a website you should use a legally-binding contract. If you are working with a broker they will most likely be able to provide you with a contract.
Many marketplaces will provide contract templates that you can use, like this one from Flippa. You can also use a template if you are selling the site on your own.
2. Hire an Attorney to Review the Contract
Simply using a contract is probably not good enough if you are selling a higher priced site. I would recommend hiring an attorney to review the contract for any sale that is more than $25,000 or so. You can hire a local attorney, or if you want to save some money you can hire someone through a site like Upwork.
I hired an attorney on Upwork for $100 to review a contact and make suggestions for changes. He made a lot of suggestions and explained what they meant and why they were important. It was money very well spent.
3. Use Escrow.com for Safety
To protect the safety of both the buyer and seller you can use an escrow service like escrow.com. They will collect the money from the buyer and once you have transferred the assets (the domain name, website files, and anything else agreed in the sale) they will release the money to you.
You won’t transfer anything until you have confirmation that the money is in the esrow account. Their fees currently range from 0.89% to 3.25% depending on the size of the transaction, and the fees are split between the buyer and seller.
4. State Your Commitment for On-Going Help in the Contract
In almost every website sale the buyer will need support or assistance from the seller after the sale. This can include questions related to how to manage the technical aspects of the site, and other details from your experience with the site and the audience.
I recommend including the details of your commitment in the contract, which will help to prevent you from being in a situation where the buyer expects something unreasonable from you.
For example, the contract could state that you agree to provide up to 5 hours of assistance per week for 4 weeks after the sale, and that you will be available for that assistance Monday – Friday between the hours of 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM Eastern time.
That way you are available to help in an amount that is reasonable but you won’t be caught in a situation where the buyer expects you to help too much or at hours that do not work for you.
Part 8: Tips for Making the Process Smooth
We’ve covered a lot of details already, but in this section I want to touch on a few things
that can makes the sales process a little easier and help you to avoid some hassles.
1. Know Why You Are Selling
One of the first things that every potential buyer will ask you is why you want to sell the site. If you have a site that is making a nice profit each month there has to be a reason why you want to get rid of it. My advice is to be prepared for this question and have a response ready.
My typical response (and it also happens to be the truth in the cases when I have sold sites) is that I’m ready to move on to a new project and I need to free up time in my schedule, which means getting rid of the website.
If your reason is that you want to cash out and take the money and run, I would probably try to come up with a different response.
If you’re just not interested in the topic of the site anymore, there is nothing wrong with telling a potential buyer that you would rather work on something else.
2. Have Your Traffic and Financial Numbers Ready
Every buyer will want to see details of your site’s earnings and traffic, and so it is best to have this data prepared before you begin contacting potential buyers. I would recommend keeping the information very general at first until you have some commitment, or at least expressed interest, from a buyer.
You may want to list your revenue, expenses, and profit for each month over the past year without breaking it down to show what specific revenue sources are generating certain amounts.
You can also provide general numbers like website visitors and pageviews per month without getting into the details of which pages your site get the most traffic and which sources send traffic to your site. Those types of details can be used by your competitors so it is important to be careful about who sees them. At Empire Flippers, for example, a site’s information is only provided to buyers who are willing to make a deposit.
When I spoke to Jock from Digital Exits he said he requires a non-disclosure agreement to be signed before any buyer sees detailed data. Still, having data prepared ahead of time will make it easier when you are talking to potential buyers, and if someone is interested in moving quickly you will be able to do it.
3. Have the Site on its Own Hosting Account
This one is not completely necessary, but I do recommend it from my own experience. Most buyers will want to you to transfer the website to their hosting at the time of sale. If your site is powered by WordPress or another CMS that uses a database the process of moving the site can be a little more involved than simply uploading static HTML and CSS files to the new host.
Fortunately for WordPress users there are a number of plugins that can help you to move a site, but there is always the potential for issues to arise. If you are planning to sell a website I would recommend that you get it on its own hosting account before you look to sell it.
If you have no other sites or files using the server you can simply transfer ownership of the hosting account to the buyer rather than moving the site. It’s a lot easier to have the buyer login to the hosting account and change the payment details to their own than it is to transfer a site. From my experience buyers also like this because they don’t have to worry about any issues arising during a transfer.
Wrapping it up
I’ve covered a lot of ground in this guide so you have as much information going into a sale as possible.
I hope you found this useful, and if you did, be sure to share it.