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Want to Sell Your Website? Follow These Steps
Posted on February 16th 2013
Whether your website is a labor of love you've poured your heart into for the last ten years or only one of many cookie cutter niche websites you've built to flip, you'll want to make sure you do everything you can to get the best price when selling your website to a buyer. Here are some steps you should follow to make your sale as profitable as possible:
1. See Your Website Through Your Perfect Buyer's Eyes
A little bit of research on who your ultimate buyer will be and the marketplace in which you will find that buyer will help you better plan how and where to concentrate most of your marketing efforts when trying to get the best price for your website.
You should decide upfront to see the whole experience through your buyer's eyes. Look at your website and put on the eyes of different kinds of buyers, asking different questions each time.
What's the ROI here? What are the earnings, expenses, overhead here? Does this fit my online investment portfolio? Does this site fit into my niche? Does it have the traffic-earnings-simplicity mix I'm looking for? Does it require a lot of labor-intensive upkeep or is it lean like I like it?
Does the sale include all the rights to all the software involved or must I buy separate rights to the 10 plugins I must use to make it run? Can my current corporate workforce easily fit this into their workflow? Can I outsource all the work? Is this site perfect for retired couples? Can I quickly optimize or monetize this site so it generates more profits faster?
Try on various "buyer eyes" and take notes on what you see. This will help you get a better picture of exactly who your "perfect buyer" is and give you clues as to where you'll find them.
Various types of buyers buy websites, but you'll more likely get the price you want if you research first and focus on attracting the kinds of buyers most likely to buy YOUR kind of website.
2. Get To Know Website-Selling Marketplaces
Your buyer will come from one of two general categories of buyers. They'll either be an investor or a business operator. "Investor buyers" generally frequent online marketplaces, while "business operator buyers" may be more easily found through targeted research and direct marketing.
You'll easily find large numbers of "investors" in the online marketplaces, increasing your odds of actually selling your website within a given period of time; however, you may find it more profitable in the long run to choose more time-intensive direct marketing methods specifically targeted toward buyer prospects in your industry or profession.
The best marketplace to sell your website where you'll find the most website "investor buyers" is through the auction platform called Flippa.com. The best way to research Flippa or any similar platform is to visit the site, study their live and ended auctions, and set up your own "mock auction" to see how the listing process works up to the point at which you must commit to paying for the experience.
Always research the entire sales process of each marketplace BEFORE listing with them. It's better to discover delays, glitches, or problems in advance, so you can avoid them before your planned auction listing launch.
"Business operator" buyers, however, are better found through research and direct marketing efforts. Their online hangouts would include forums for their industry, trade or profession. You'll also find them making comments on blog posts written by prominent industry thought leaders, on industry association blogs and forums, and being written about in their local chambers of commerce blogs. Simple Google searches can help you find many leads through these type of group websites, blogs, forums, and bulletin boards.
Classified ads in industry, trade, and professional journals, whether online or print, also may be effective venues in which to reach targeted "business-operator" buyers for your type website. Research and find publications, both online and off, that have follower or audience demographics similar to your website.
Direct mail campaigns, using targeted mailing lists created by professional list companies, worked well in past years to help sellers and buyers in the same industries or professions connect. Don't overlook this method as outdated, as it still works. The only factor that should deter you here is whether or not the mailing costs are something that fit into your budget or not.
You may also want to consider a website broker to sell your website. They are expensive but you could potentially make more money with a broker.
3. Research and Report Your Website Stats
Yes, you'll need to research relevant data and statistics regarding your website, but the good news is you can use all that info for both financial and marketing materials.
At a minimum, you'll need to provide your website's various online rankings, website traffic statistics, and earnings information. Stats on your site from Google Analytics and Alexa.com are basic requirements.
Beyond that, buyers may want info on visitor demographics, monetization, and an endless variety of data they're used to seeing from other sellers, like reports from SEOrush.com, Compete.com or from seo-stats tracking sites or software like TrafficTravis.com
Make sure you figure out the right valuation for your website. This is important for the fact that you may need to get a certified valuer to do the work for you.
4. Optimize Your Auction Listing
Optimizing your website's listing simply means making it as accurate, understandable, believable, attractive, and marketable to buyers as possible.
Write your description with an eye toward accuracy and marketability. Include accurate data as far as Google Page Rank, Alexa rank, monthly earnings, and traffic are concerned. Sprinkle important keywords into the mix so you can easily re-purpose your description into multiple marketing messages you can use to promote your auction through blog articles, Youtube videos, direct marketing materials, and emails.
Some experts recommend you set a low reserve and high minimum bid for your listing. Others recommend setting no reserve and a low minimum bid. You'll need to do your own research to determine what sells best and at the highest prices for your type website before deciding this crucial element in your listing strategy. Despite what some experts preach, there is no one right way to do this. You must figure out what will work best for your site's particular strengths and weaknesses.
And, as is the case with most auction sites, your best bet is to choose a seven-day listing for your auction. That gives you plenty of time to research currently active and qualified buyers who are bidding on or commenting on other websites during the time of your auction.
A seven-day listing also creates a scarcity element as the time winds down closer to your auction's end that will help you close your deal without letting too much time drag on. Having a shorter time period will lessen the number of potential bidders. Extend this time to more than seven days and you will lose bidders with shorter attention spans.
5. Manage Your Launch and Live Auction
You can make planning, launching, and managing your live auction as simple or as complex and multi-dimensional as you would like. For simplicity's sake, you may choose to simply fill out the listing form and wait patiently to the end to see if a bidder makes a winning bid.
Or, you can plan a big launch, treating it like many big name marketers do with pre-launch promotional emails and press releases announcing the listing's "launch" date, filling the whole week with planned online events directing attention to your listing, getting extra publicity for your website, and providing incentives for others to get involved in promoting and helping you find a buyer and making the sale.
At a bare minimum, however, make sure you research who your target qualified buyers are before you launch any listing. You'll find them by visiting other listings on the auction site. Notice who is bidding or commenting and which buyers bought websites in auctions that have already ended. Make a list of such buyers, bidders, and commenters. You can invite them to visit your listing when it goes live and can communicate with them before your auction closes.
Make sure you abide by any site owner's terms of service when doing so, however, because rules constantly change. Just be polite, helpful, and don't spam when interacting with potential bidders and buyers and you'll help them make your auction a more profitable and enjoyable experience for all.
7. Follow Up With Your Buyer and Close Out The Deal
Once your auction is over and you have a buyer, you still need to follow through to close out the deal completely. Your best approach is to research and write a follow-up plan before you ever list your website for sale.
If only partial or reserve payments were made to you once the auction was final, you'll need to follow up with your buyer and make sure all money issues are dealt with swiftly and with a very short deadline. Don't allow this to drag out, not even for a day longer than your deadline, or you'll risk having to start over with a new auction.
You'll also want to make sure that all legal processes and documents are completed correctly, reviewing these with the aid of an attorney, if possible.
And finally, you'll need to either manage, perform or oversee all the work that must be done for your website's migration and the transfer of all domains and website-related assets to your buyer. Make sure whoever performs the technical work involved in transferring your website to it's new owner does so as quickly, accurately, and as cost-effectively as possible. Plan this transfer and migration process ahead of time, perhaps even making it part of your terms of sale in your listing, to help prevent post-sale surprises that can cut into your profits.