What is “website flipping”? How can you start a website flipping business? Is it worth your time?
We will answer these and many other questions here.
Flipping is a term derived from the real estate business where you buy a property that is run down and available cheaply, then proceed to restore or spruce it up and sell it for a profit.
You can also do the same with websites.
You can buy a website from one of the many marketplaces for the buying and selling of websites like Empire Flippers or Flippa.
Please be warned that this is not some “get rich quick” gimmick. This is a business.
That means, like in any other normal business, there is an inherent risk and wrong decisions can mean that you can also lose money.
There are of course many success stories of people who have made a neat profit in a short time using this method.
Unlike in real estate, the entry barrier to flipping websites is quite low and can be done from the comfort of your home.
How to get Started With a Website Flipping Business.
So how do you get started? There are three steps to the process of website flipping.
- Adding Value
The process starts with identifying and purchasing a website.
You can buy a website from one of the many online marketplaces for buying and selling websites like Empire Flippers
You should look for websites that have a decent amount of traffic and revenue.
You will then have to work on the website to improve content and SEO to increase its ranking and earning potential.
All of this would automatically mean an increase in the domain authority, number of visitors, and the website should now be making more money than when you purchased it.
You now have the option to either sell the website for a profit (which is what you set out to do at the outset) or keep the site for its income and cash flow.
You can also start a blog or website from scratch and then sell. In this case you will have to build everything from the ground up.
This can be easily done with the right knowledge and effort.
The image below shows a website that is just 6 months old sold on Flippa for $ 655.
That is not a lot of money but it illustrates the possibilities.
Success Story – ViralNova.Com
If the above does not inspire you then this news story from Business Insider will surely do.
Scott DeLong decided to start a website called ViralNova.com, a one-man startup run by DeLong along with two freelance writers.
They scaled it up to 100 million monthly visitors in a period of 8 months. It was acquired by Zealot Networks for $100 million.
Scott Delong built a website from scratch and sold it for a huge profit.
If you buy a readymade website instead, it will mean that you will have to invest a little more money but the effort involved will be much less as most of groundwork will already have been done.
Most of the time the website will already have a lot of content. All you have to do is apply SEO techniques to increase domain authority, rankings and traffic.
How much money will you need to start a website flipping business?
If you are planning to build a website or blog from scratch then you could be on your way with an investment of less than $50.
All you will need is a web hosting plan and a domain.
On the other hand, if you buy a readymade website, then the investment required will vary.
With as little as $100 you could buy a website generating a small income between $5 to $50 per month.
The cost of a website that is generating more income and with a large customer base is usually a few thousand dollars.
Step #1: Buying a Website
Where can I buy a website?
In the old days there used to be informal groups whose members would buy and sell websites among themselves.
Today you have large online marketplaces that help you do the same securely and easily.
Websites listed in such marketplaces are vetted for the correct information pertaining to their customer base and earnings and this helps to prevent fraud.
Even transactions are guaranteed and you can be sure that you will get what you paid for through a secure and hassle free process.
Which are some of the most popular and best marketplaces to buy and sell websites?
There are many. Here we list some of the most popular online marketplaces for buying and selling websites..
Let us talk a little bit about each of them.
They are by far the best & most professional of the lot. They are also more expensive than the others
All websites listed here are thoroughly vetted. All declared information and details are thoroughly checked by them before they are listed.
While the general listings are viewable to all after you have signed up with a free account, you need to be a verified buyer to be able to view the URL & for indepth information about the website that you want to purchase.
Empire Flippers will ask you for proof of funds via a bank statement or other means before you can become a verified buyer and get to view detailed statistics and information about the websites that you are interested in purchasing.
The amount will depend upon the price band in which you wish to buy.
If you wish to sell your website, there is a stringent qualification process and Empire flippers keep a commission on the sale depending upon the final sale amount.
This is an online marketplace by Shopify for ecommerce websites.
Like Empire Flippers, all the listings are vetted. All the statistics related to the websites are provided by Shopify (not by the seller) and so are genuine and can be trusted.
The only drawback is that you will only find Shopify stores and ecommerce sites listed here.
Flippa is a very popular online marketplace with a huge number of listings of websites of all types for sale.
However, the websites listed for sale on Flippa are not vetted and so as a buyer you will have to do your own due diligence before buying to ensure that you do not end up with a lemon.
How do I decide which website to buy?
There are a few important things to keep in mind before you decide which website to buy.
Some of the important things to consider are,
- The Niche
- Existing Traffic
The niche of the website under consideration is important.
While it is good to go for a website that aligns with your own interests, that is not the only criteria that matters.
A website dedicated to a high demand evergreen niche is favorable compared to a niche that may be a temporary fad.
Some high demand evergreen niches are
- Personal finance
The website under consideration should have a decent volume of traffic depending upon its age.
These statistics are available with online marketplaces like Flippa or Empire Flippers or you can check it yourself with a tool like Semrush.
It is relatively easy to increase revenue by tapping into a new revenue source using already existing traffic than it is to drive traffic to a website from scratch.
Due Diligence Before Purchasing.
Buying a website is an investment and just like you would before purchasing any valuable asset, you should ensure due diligence and check every aspect of the website that you are planning to buy.
So what are the main points to keep in mind?
All figures and statistics claimed by the seller such as revenue, earnings, and traffic must be verified independently. Never take the sellers word for it.
Let us list the main points that you must consider before putting your money down to purchase a website.
Use tools like Whois.com to verify the real owner of the website. It is important to verify that the person you are buying the website from is also the proper legal owner of the domain.
Don’t rely on the sellers word regarding the number of visitors or traffic to a website.
Use a tool like Semrush to dig deep.
You must check and analyze historical traffic data to the website over the past years.
Has the rise been gradual or has there been a sudden spike in traffic just before the website was put on sale? This could indicate paid traffic which is useless when monetizing the website.
Semrush can also tell you the source of the website traffic. If a large percentage of the traffic is direct along with a high bounce rate, this could be an indication that the website owner has purchased traffic. However, if a large percentage of traffic is organic then this is a good thing.
You can also verify the numbers by requesting the seller to grant you read-only access to their Google Analytics account.
It is very important to check the past history of a website that you are planning to purchase and there are various tools that help you to to do this.
Use a tool like the WayBack Machine to check what the website looked like in the past.
Tools like SemRush Sensor can help you find out if the website has incurred any penalties from Google in the past.
Tools like Semrush can help you check the number and quality of the backlinks along with traffic data of the website.
Do the backlinks to the website originate from reputed domains with good domain authority or are the referring domains spammy?
If a large majority of the backlinks to the website are from spammy domains then it is better to give this website a miss.
Check thoroughly the technical aspects of the website.
Are all the CTA buttons and other functions on the website functioning properly?
Which CMS is the website based on? Is this something that you are comfortable with and can manage on your own or will you need to hire experts to do it for you?
If you are a WordPress expert and the website has been created using Jhoomla, would you be comfortable spending extra to hire experts to help run the website after you have purchased it?
Check with the seller for all the details regarding the costs involved in keeping the website up and running.
Does the website use proprietary paid software to run any processes?
Are these payments one-time or are they recurring?
What is the frequency of these payments?
Check the Content
Is all the content on the site original?
Use tools like CopyScape to check for plagiarism.
Check if the website has any existing employees or contracts with third parties.
Will these be binding upon you after you have purchased the website?
What happens to existing employees? Are you willing to keep them?
More importantly, will you be under any legal obligation to keep them or will you be free to let them go?
Consider the monetary consequences and factor them into your plan.
While all of this may sound daunting, it need not be so.
If you deal with a reputed and trustworthy online marketplace like Empire Flippers or Exchange, their dedicated team will go through this entire process for you on your behalf.
Step #2 – Adding Value
What should you do once you have purchased a website with great scope for improvement and growth potential?
Identify the areas of the website that can be improved.
One way to achieve this is by carrying out an SEO audit. This can help identify technical issues and on and off-page deficiencies in SEO that can be improved.
Check the UI and see if it can be improved for a better user experience.
Check for topics related to the niche that have not yet been covered in the existing content. Add more and better content based upon these topics.
Check competitor websites in your niche for topics that they are ranking for and add content based on these on your own website.
Create backlinks. This is an extensive topic that requires a whole separate post to deal with in its entirety. In simple words, you need to get high ranking websites with high domain authority to link back to your website.
This is necessary to improve your own domain authority and ranking in search engine result pages (SERP’s).
With higher rankings, website traffic will improve and along with it the revenue.
Continue to look for opportunities to improve revenue.
Can you sign up for more affiliate marketing opportunities? Make more efficient use of email marketing using the subscriber list that came with the website.
Obviously if the website does not offer opportunities for any of these and is already perfect in every way, then it is probably not a great opportunity to flip and should not be considered at all.
Step #3: Selling
This is the final step in the process and is what you have been working on since the beginning i.e. selling the website for a profit.
How do you know what your website is worth?
Various online website value calculators can help you work out a ballpark figure of the estimated worth of your website.
Some of the online website value calculators are listed below.
One common method to estimate the value of your website is to multiply the monthly revenue generated by your website by a multiple of 24 or 36.
If your website generates a monthly revenue of $500/ month, then you could sell it for anything between $12,000 to $18,000.
Empire Flippers use the below formula to arrive at the listing price.
(Average net profit for last 6 to 12 months)*20 to 60
There are of course many factors which determine the final sale price.
The source of website revenue, number of customers, and the amount of traffic also matter.
Websites that have a lot of organic traffic (i.e. traffic generated through search engines) tend to be valued more than those that rely on ads.
Where to Sell your Website?
The best places to sell your website are the same online marketplaces from where you purchased the website from.
These online marketplaces ensure that you get the best deal in a safe and secure manner.
Websites like Empire Flippers offer pre-qualified buyers so you know that you are dealing with genuine buyers and not time wasters.
Some of the online marketplaces require that the buyer park funds in an escrow account so you are assured of getting your money as soon as the sale process is completed.
They will also walk you through the entire post sale process and help you out with the process of transferring the domain and hosting to the new owner.
For their services, Empire flippers take between 2 to 15% commission on the sale price after successful completion of a sale.
As I mentioned at the beginning, website flipping is a legitimate business and not some get rich quick scheme.
There is a lot of money to be made if you are willing to invest in yourself and in acquiring the knowledge required to successfully carry out the various steps involved in running a successful website flipping business.
Like any other business, a website flipping business may not be easy and it is possible that you may make some bad decisions and lose money during the learning process so it is necessary to start small to restrict your losses before you are more comfortable and confident.
If you are able to see small failures as stepping stones and as an investment in yourself, then it is only a matter of time before you are successful.