You’re going to have days like this. It comes with the territory as an internet entrepreneur. On days like this, none of your efforts on the internet will seem to be working. Your blog, for example, will seem to be just another lonely, unacknowledged voice. Your niche site, too, will seem ignored and neglected by the side of the “information superhighway”.
Let’s not forget about your family and friends either. If they catch wind of these developments, your day will get even more “fun”. Not to disparage on family and friends, but they usually don’t get it. A lack of understanding can cause them to unintentionally say things about your venture that hurt rather than help. Assuming they’re even on your side, and not telling you to give up your “foolish” dreams of online success.
Ever had a day like this? If not, you will. As we’ve said, it’s the norm for those of us trying to make money online.
So yes, you’re going to have days like this. “Days from hell”. Days that burn you up with frustration, while giving your dreams frostbite. But you don’t have to roll over and let these kind of days beat you down. You can remain mentally strong. Just focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Or whatever other metaphor you want to use for the reward that comes from having a successful online business.
If you have niche sites, as we do, the pot of gold metaphor works best. That’s because the pot of gold is equivalent to the payment you receive from selling your niche site. Both pot and payment sit at the end of a long pathway. A pathway that may be colorful like a rainbow or colorful like the curse words you yell in frustration. But once you arrive at the end, whether by following a Leprechaun or finding a buyer, riches await.
The challenge is to keep your end goal in mind. Never lose sight of it, even as you experience those “days from hell”.
To help you keep your eyes on the prize, we’ve put together a guide to “flipping” (selling) websites. We’d intended to present this guide in a purely informational sense. Initially, it seemed like something that only people planning to sell a site – now or in the not-so-distant future – would want. But having had our own share of bad days, we realized this guide can also work in an inspirational context. That’s inspirational, as in helping to inspire those of you who are struggling to gain traction. As you have “days like this”, we hope our guide will remind you of what’s ultimately possible. If you can remember that, you may find it easier to hold on. And if you can hold on? Well then you might just make it after all.
Let’s begin by defining what “flipping” means. No, we’re not talking about gymnastics. Though you do need to be flexible. And your website should be in “good shape”.
When we say “flipping”, we’re referring to the buying and selling of websites. Just as physical real estate (i.e. land, houses, apartments) can be bought and sold, so too can websites. Websites are, after all, the web’s equivalent of real estate. So it makes sense that both types of real estate – physical and online – can be exchanged in transactions.
Flipping is more than just dry transactions, however. That’s part of it, as is the final pot of gold we mentioned. Yet flipping also involves strategy.
Flipping Your Own Website
If you’re starting without much money, your best strategy for flipping may be to work with your present resources. In real estate, this could mean using the house you’re already living in, rather than buying one. Online, the equivalent would be making or modifying your own website – as opposed to buying a site.
For this first strategy, you’d then work to make your property into one that could be sold. Home “flippers” could do that through changes like renovating the kitchen, adding a sunroom, or getting marble floors. Each of these changes would make the property more attractive to potential buyers.
For those of us online, we could make a website more appealing to buyers through comparable “renovations”. Our options here might include using more effective keywords, moving the site to WordPress (for easier use), and cleaning up bad backlinks.
In addition, we could also focus on upgrading the transactions side of our website. This is a distinct difference between “flipping” physical properties and online properties. A physical property – excluding business establishments – usually lacks an internal way of making money for its owner. The owner of physical property earns money (hopefully!) when the property is sold.
With a website, though, there can already be a profit center in place. A niche website may already be earning money from Amazon affiliate links. There could also be AdSense revenue or info products created and sold by the site’s owners. Whatever the income vehicle, website “flippers” could work to improve the results. Such efforts would be comparable to the way that companies are “scaled” so they can be sold. In both instances, the focus is on increasing revenues to increase market value in a sale.
Buying to Flip
Flipping your own site is a viable strategy. No question. Yet it isn’t the only way to flip. If you’ve got some cash, there’s a second way you could flip websites. You might choose to buy other people’s sites and then improve them. This second strategy could save you from having to build a site from scratch. That could mean, in theory, fewer “days like this”. But don’t get your hopes up yet. Some websites will cost you far more than just their market price.
The site you acquire could, for example, be unprofitable. It might be missing a profit center, as is often the case with blogs. Here, the property might be attractive because it appeared to have massive potential. The blog might have a large audience who hangs on the blogger’s every word. Yet the blogger has nothing in place to make money. No AdSense ads. No Amazon affiliate links. No info products. Nothing.
For those of us with entrepreneurial minds, this un-monetized blog sounds like a great opportunity. Just buy the blog and throw up a few ads, links, or products. Instant payday.
Maybe…but often it’s not that simple. Some sites are incapable of making money. Or at least that’s how it may seem to you, after you’ve spent a few hundred dollars and a few hundred hours of your time on the site. All that time and money without a dollar to show for it.
If you don’t want to invest in the wrong websites, you need the right information. Having the right information is what separates the successful “flippers” from those who burn out and have to flip burgers.
The right information includes, for example, a clear explanation on why a website is not profitable. Is the owner just lazy in monetizing their site? Or are there deeper problems with the site that have prevented it from making money?
Conversely, if the site is profitable, you’ll want to do research in the opposite direction. Find out why the site is being sold. Why doesn’t the owner want to continue earning money from their site? And why are they selling it now, as opposed to sometime in the future?
All of these questions and many more need to be answered before you buy a website. Depending on the site, you may have an uphill battle trying to find answers. The owner may be unresponsive or the information you seek may not be readily available. Because of these issues, either scenario will likely require time consuming research.
Fortunately, there is a way to shortcut some of the research process. We can model the shortcuts taken by people who are considering other “big ticket” purchases. Car buyers, for example, will shortcut their research by purchasing a vehicle history report. Home buyers follow suit by using home inspectors. Seeing these examples, the common thread is that each uses a third party that has access to desired information.
For us, the website buyer, our equivalent “third party” is a professional website broker. Using a broker saves us from having to look here, there, and everywhere for all of the facts about a website. The broker will already have done much of this heavy lifting for us. Pop over to a broker site like EmpireFlippers.com and you’ll see what we mean. On the Empire Flippers site, you can see the age, net profit, and monetization strategies of sites for sale. Empire Flippers has already found and verified this information for you.
Again, you’ll still want to do your own due diligence. But at least you won’t be starting from scratch. You also won’t have to pry sensitive information out of a website’s seller. If you do use a broker to help with research and an eventual purchase, your choices include Empire Flippers, FE International, and Flippa. We recommend either of the first two, as they do all the manual verification and valuations themselves, whereas Flippa is more like eBay..an open marketplace.
These brokers can also help you with the other end of the flip – the part where you sell your website. Just as homeowners often turn to a realtor when selling their home, you might turn to one of the brokers when selling your site. The broker does take a cut from the sale of your website. But if you want to spend less time working on the sale, a broker is a good bet.
Still, brokers are not your only option. You could follow the example of some homeowners and make your website “for sale by owner”. Selling your site like this removes any middle-man from the process. That means you keep ALL of the money from the sale. And you should. Because you’ll have done ALL of the work involved in selling your website.
Sound appealing? The “for sale by owner” approach can work great if you’re a veteran of website flipping. If you’re just getting into the game, you can still sell your site independently. You’re just going to face a steeper learning curve.
An example of an independently flipped website is TrollingMotors.com. In November of 2013, the site’s owner Andrew Youderian decided to sell it. Unlike other sellers, Youderian decided to forgo using traditional website brokers. In place of brokers, he opted to do the sale himself and promote it on his well-read blog, EcommerceFuel.
Despite never having sold a website, Youderian was able to independently sell TrollingMotors.com. His success illustrates that for some people, independently selling a website can make more sense than using a broker. If you want to follow Youderian’s example, consider your ability to promote the sale and your willingness to handle everything in the sale yourself.
So here we are. A few thousand words and we’re now at the end of our guide to flipping websites. What comes next? That’s up to you. You can buy a website to flip or focus on flipping a site you’ve personally built. Whatever you do, don’t keep it to yourself. We’re all in this together, so leave a comment below on your ideas/plans for flipping. Or, if you want some good catharsis, tell us all about your entrepreneurial “days from hell” and how you get through them.