Understanding what gets value when you sell a website can mean making big money and even a full-time income
What if someone came around an offered $315 million for your website? Would you sell? What about $6 million?
Arianna Huffington cashed out with about $22 million when she sold her website in 2011. A friend of mine, Larry Ludwig of InvestorJunkie, just recently sold the website he created in 2009 to XLMedia for $6 million.
How do you sell a website for that seven-figure payday and is it even possible anymore?
The truth is that the vast majority of websites sell for much less, almost comically less. I sold one site in 2016 for $5,000 and sold one of my oldest sites this year for $9,000 and some backlinks.
That doesn’t mean you can’t make big money if you choose to sell your site. In fact, I know online entrepreneurs that make a business of developing and selling websites.
Check out last week’s article on How to Buy a Website for the general process. For this article, let’s look at making the decision to sell a website and how to get the most money for yours.
I’ll also show you how to create a business of flipping websites for profit.
When Should You Sell a Website?
The truth is, you just don’t get much when you sell a website. We looked at data last week that pointed to an average price of between 20x to 40x your monthly profit.
That’s not much considering the time and effort it takes to develop and grow a website. It can be months before you make any money and years before a site can be considered a full-time income.
But the sales price isn’t the only reason to sell a website. In fact, it might not even be the most important.
There are three reasons I would consider selling a website:
- The site doesn’t fit with your business. If you own a group of personal finance websites, having a cooking blog might be more work than its worth because of mismatch.
- You don’t enjoy writing or talking about the niche. This was why I sold two of my blogs, a dating website and a crowdfunding blog. The best thing about blogging is you can make money talking about what you love. When that goes away, it’s just a job.
- The Money! Ok, even the blogs that I love managing, I wouldn’t turn down a million-dollar offer.
Whether you’re a full-time blogger or just growing your site on the weekend, it’s a business asset. That asset has value and you need to regularly question if that value isn’t better spent on another part of the business.
How to Get the Best Price Selling a Website
There’s going to be some overlap here with last week’s guide on buying a site, but I thought I’d approach it from the seller’s perspective.
Getting the best price when you sell a website is a matter of understanding where the value is to buyers. The quoted price might be based on a multiple of your revenue or profit but there are a lot of other factors that can influence it up or down.
That range of 20- to 40-times average monthly profit is determined by some of these other factors.
- Revenue and Profits are the most obvious factors because they’re the most tangible. Increase this by adding new affiliates, creating printables you can sell on the blog or by lowering expenses it costs to run the site.
- Revenue sources aren’t all created equal. A blog that makes more money from affiliate marketing is worth more than one dependent on sponsored posts because the affiliate sales take less ongoing work. Try increasing revenue from the most passive sources like affiliates, ad networks, printables and courses versus sponsored posts and membership dues.
- Traffic isn’t worth much if you can’t convert it but maybe a buyer thinks they can make more money.
- Traffic sources aren’t all equal in the eyes’ of buyers either. Traffic from search is much more stable and recurring versus that from social media. Try increasing traffic from Google and referral traffic from other sites through guest posting before selling your blog.
- Link profile and Domain Authority (DA) are two concepts in search engine optimization (SEO). Link profile is the number and quality of outside links to your website that help it rank on Google. DA is a score that measures your website’s strength in search ranking and includes a range of things like links and domain age.
Getting the best price for a website means thinking strategically around these factors. You can’t just wake up one day and decide to sell your blog.
Instead, make a six-month plan for boosting income and traffic so you can get the most money possible.
- Monetize your blog with more affiliates, printables and an ebook. You’ll also want to max out the ad revenue and sponsored opportunities but focus on the relatively passive income sources.
- Spend some time building links to high-performing posts through guest posting or other link-building campaigns. This will improve your link profile and drive more traffic from Google…and will also increase income as you monetize the posts.
- Spend smartly on the blog. A buyer is going to look at the expenses in running the site and will probably offer a multiple on profits rather than income. Consider cutting services that aren’t leading to a good return on investment.
Negotiating to Sell a Website
Negotiating the price when you sell a website comes down to the same factors we talked about last week. The advantage here is that you already have access to all the information about traffic and income.
As with any negotiation, getting the best deal comes down to three ideas:
- Negotiate from a position of strength. Don’t feel like you HAVE TO sell your website or let someone pressure you. When talking about the site, focus on the unique strengths. Besides the tangibles above, negotiate on visitor engagement and conversion.
- Have other things you can bargain with including covering transfer or escrow costs, social media accounts, links or other services to your remaining websites.
- Go into the negotiation knowing exactly how much the site is worth and why, the lowest price you’ll accept and the starting price you’re going to ask.
How to Make Money Selling Websites
I’m a buy-and-hold website guy, just like my investing strategy, but there’s a lot of money to be made in selling websites. While you generally don’t make much money selling a website that you’ve held for years, there is money in website flipping.
The trick here is to have a defined process for developing a website and a timeline for the sale. Don’t flip-flop between growing the site as a long-term business and flipping it. They are two entirely different strategies.
- Focus on the niches that are most monetizable like personal finance, dating & relationships, and health. There are lots of affiliates and other income opportunities in these three niche so always buyers for sites.
- Look for legitimate websites with easy potential to increase traffic and monetize. Regularly scan Flippa and blogger lists for quality websites that just haven’t been managed very well.
- Create a well-defined strategy and timeline for your flip including content, SEO and monetization. Since it takes a few months for SEO to result in higher traffic, I would recommend a timeline of between six- to 18-months for a flip.
- Update old posts with fresh content, internal links and monetize with affiliates or other products. Republish old posts for a quick boost in traffic.
- Find the easy keyword targets in your niche that will increase traffic fast.
- Build links to the posts already getting some Google traffic to improve search rankings. Write guest posts and reach out to other bloggers for social sharing.
- Reformat old content into printables or ebooks you can sell.
This is the process I used after buying a dating site in 2015 for $500 from another blogger. The blog was only reaching about 1,500 visitors a month but had some great backlinks and content. Over just a few months, I was able to triple search traffic and start monetizing with printables. That extra boost was all I needed to get about 10-times what I paid in a sale.
You might never get a million-dollar payday selling a website but you can easily get into the tens of thousands for your piece of digital real estate. All you have to do is understand the factors that influence price of a site and make a plan ahead of time. Building the income and traffic to a website over a short period will help you negotiate a better price and give you more to reinvest in other parts of your business.