How to Buy and Sell Websites: Common Mistakes That Will Cost You

Let’s start with buying a website. So you decided that this online thing is for you. You are ready to go, ready to start making some money or just have an outlet for yourself and your thoughts. Isn’t that what life is all about?

However, before you do anything consider if you want to buy a website or start one. There are many advantages to buying a complete website, but there also drawbacks.

The number one is the cost. While you can buy a complete website for as little as $30, the prices range to a few thousand two even a few hundred thousand, anything under $500 will most likely have no traffic, authority, age, or even original content.

For a basic but decent website you need to dish out at least $1000. Even then the quality might not be the best but at least it will be something. Which brings me to the biggest mistake people make when buying websites.

What is the number one mistake people make when buying sites?

It’s the cost versus quality debate. Click on sites like flippa you see a range of niche specific websites that have a couple of pages built out for under $100. While some of the sites look quite well, there is one major problem that many people don’t know about.

A website like this will not make you money unless you do major work on it. The only way I see the site making you money is selling it to somebody else.

The problem is that it's more of a template than a real website. Most of the time, if not always, the content on it is not unique. What does that mean? It's been copied from somewhere else.

Duplicate content will not only hold your website from getting indexed into search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. It might even harm you in the future with a penalty. You see, search engines do not want the same articles posted over and over again. This doesn't add any value. Hence they ignore it or even penalize websites for it.

Which doesn’t mean that $100 website is useless. It can be a good starting point for someone new to web design and structure. However, a site like this will need a major overhaul to start generating income, leads or even visitors.

Since it’s almost like starting a new website, why not do it properly the first time? Is one of my favorites guides on how to create a brand-new website and either profit or sell them is Digital Worth Academy by Sarah Young and Andrew Hansen. Check it out if you want to learn more.

How about expensive websites, are they worth it?

Websites over $1000 will often have traffic and sometimes even a monthly profit. There are some exceptions to that like website with a great domain name but for that, you can read my guide to domain flipping, and I’ll stay away from them in this post.

Find a website with traffic or even a complete online business can be a great investment if you know what you’re doing. The main goal is to evaluate how the site is getting traffic and if it’s sustainable.

For example, an older website, let’s say four years or so, that’s a getting about the same number of visitors and making the same amount of income per month from sources other than paid traffic could be considered a good investment.

However, a new website, less than a year or so, that is just jumping up and down with traffic and commissions can be very unpredictable. While this sounds like common sense, they're people that consider when a new website is spiking up it means the site is going to the moon.

With that said you always have to put yourself in the seller's mindset as well. If your site is truly going to the moon in the few next months from now what are the reasons for selling it now?

The only one I can think of is need for a quick cash. Otherwise, the reasons the seller is selling are probably because the website is not sustainable. Now I don't mean that's the reason for anyone selling sites, just people that have website raising quickly.

How about sites with paid traffic?

I personally prefer to buy websites that are ranking in Google and have a history of making money month in and month out. Which doesn’t mean a website that’s getting there visitors from paid traffic is necessary bad.

From my experience, most of the paid traffic websites that might be worth anything are either businesses, e-commerce stores, or brands. Basically, websites that either sell something or offer services. I would stay away from content-driven paid traffic sites.

After all, if the only traffic they get is paid traffic that means once the paid traffic stops your income will stop as well.

How about Flipping websites for cash?

While flipping a website is not as popular as flipping domains and requires more work, if done correctly can be very profitable. I’m talking about buying a complete website and either revamping or fixing its problems and selling it for more.

The problem with this strategy is that you should know what you are doing before attempting this. For example to buy a website for $1000 and hoping to flip it for $2000 you will need to calculate the costs. It means both your costs and flipping fees before undertaking such an experiment.

In my opinion flipping websites for long periods of time is only sustainable if you actually work on those websites and make them better instead of just hoping to sell it for more.

How about selling a website?

Selling sites seems to be a lot more straightforward and easy than buying one. In fact, one of the simplest calculators for your website value is its monthly income times 30-40.

Which means if your website is a net income of around $1000 you could probably sell it for $30,000-$40,000. Now, of course, their other factors that will play a role in the value of your website but that’s not a bad start.

For my experience websites with organic traffic, like from search engines or even social, with little to no maintenance will fetch a much higher price than a something that is like a full-time job and needs paid traffic.

It really comes down to if the website/business is profitable long-term and sustainable. After all, a person buying your website wants to make sure that it will be profitable a month, half a year or even 5 years from now.

That’s why you have to make sure your website is not only up to date with traffic, monetization, and content, but also have the records to prove it. If you can do that and your site is not a wobbly mess I don’t see why toy shouldn't get 40 times net profit.

So that is something to consider when creating your website or managing it. The truth is if you have a website that you want to sell I will consider using a service like Empire flippers to do the heavy work for you.

They will evaluate your site, as well as vet you and your potential customer for a smooth transaction. They do charge a heavy fee for it, but generally, it will be covered in the price you sell at, compared to a price by selling it yourself or on competitive websites.

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