Do you want to sell your website or online business? If so, it is critical to understand the procedure and be prepared for each stage. Selling a website isn’t as difficult as many people believe, but certain factors are required to ensure the greatest potential outcome.
In this post, we’ll look at how to sell a website, what processes are needed, and how to make the process go smoothly from start to finish. By the end of this post, you should have a better understanding of what it takes to successfully sell your website.
This post is based on my experience selling websites and running online businesses. Over the last decade, I’ve had six different six-figure exits worth more than $2.25 million. I have sold through brokers, markets, and on my own. The information in this article is my personal opinions based on those experiences.
Preparing to Sell Your Website
If you want to maximize the worth of your website or online business and achieve the greatest price possible, you should plan ahead of time. If you decide to sell your firm quickly, you may miss out on money.
However, planning ahead is not always possible, and circumstances may impact your decision to pursue a rapid sale. However, planning is preferable whenever possible. For established websites (those that have been in operation for at least a year and produce at least a few thousand dollars per month), preparing 6-12 months in advance is recommended.
This may seem like a long time, but there are valid reasons. The average monthly profits for the previous three, six, or twelve months have a significant impact on the value of a website. For established sites, the average monthly net profit over the previous 6 or 12 months is often used to calculate the value. Planning ahead of time allows you to maximize the site’s profitability, which increases its value.
Planning also increases your chances of generating increasing trends (in terms of income, profit, and traffic) prior to the sale, which will entice potential purchasers. You can also take a few particular actions to prepare for the sale to ensure that you receive top price.
If you want to sell websites, here are some specific things to consider.
1. Minimize Your Involvement
One of the first questions any possible buyer will ask is, “How much time do you spend working on the website?” It’s critical to understand that buyers are investors.
Most buyers will engage employees or freelancers to run their businesses. They frequently don’t want to undertake all of the work themselves. Your mentioned expenses for running the site may be cheap, but the buyer will most certainly incur additional fees when hiring someone to replace you.
Potential purchasers will assess how much time you spend working on the business and how much they will have to pay someone else to do the same work. If you work 40 hours per week for your business, the buyer will have to pay more to replace you than if you just work 10 hours per week.
As you prepare to sell your website or online business, try to cut your working hours. Evaluate everything you do for the site and analyze the value it contributes.
Most website owners, including myself, devote time to activities that earn little cash and provide little value. If you plan to sell, you should eliminate or reduce these tasks.
Of course, you want the business to continue to grow and thrive, so don’t cut back so drastically that it suffers. But the idea is to spend less time on useless things. In the past, I’ve been able to reduce my engagement by up to 50% by focusing just on critical duties.
You can also choose to outsource required tasks that someone else could complete. For example, you may engage a low-cost virtual assistant to handle everyday chores that do not require your expertise.
2. Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses
There are two approaches for a website owner to boost net profits. You can either boost revenue or reduce expenses. Both help the bottom line.
Examine your records from the last few months and assess each item, focusing on recurrent monthly or yearly expenses. Identify expenses that can be lowered or eliminated without affecting your website’s earnings.
Perhaps there are tools (SEO tools, plugins, subscriptions, etc.) that you can reduce or discontinue without causing any significant harm. Reducing recurrent monthly expenses can increase your site’s value and monthly profit.
You should also consider how much you spend on freelancers, contractors, and staff. Of course, you don’t want to cut back so drastically that your firm suffers, but you may be spending more than necessary. Reducing these expenses has the potential to considerably boost your monthly net profit and business value.
3. Create Standard Operating Procedures
Creating standard operating procedures (SOPs) is one of the most beneficial things you can do if you intend to sell your website or online business.This may appear complicated, but it does not have to be. Standard operating procedures are essentially the steps required to execute a task.
You may reduce the amount of time and experience required to run your organization effectively by defining SOPs that define how to do each action connected to its operation. This will reassure potential purchasers that they will not have problems running the website or online business after the sale. It also provides them and their staff with an easy-to-follow process.
For example, if you run a content-based website, you can develop SOPs for tasks such as researching and writing blog posts, developing images for posts, determining relevant keywords to target, formatting posts, revising posts, and so on.
SOPs might be time-consuming to create, but they are worthwhile if they boost the value of your website. Even if you don’t sell right away, having SOPs in place will benefit you and your staff by making the firm function more efficiently.
4. Maximize Revenue
Of course, boosting revenue should be a goal if you intend to sell the company. Increasing revenue will increase the worth of your business, and selling while it is growing is far easier than selling during a downturn.
Here are some specific things you can concentrate on.
- Make the Most of Your Top Content. Evaluate the most popular pages on your website and search for ways to boost the money they generate. Could you improve existing CTAs or create new ones? Could you market relevant affiliate items or develop your own products based on the topics? Could you enhance or edit the content to make it even better?
- Locate Low-Hanging Fruit. Look for simple strategies to boost earnings without raising website visitors. This could include adding product comparison tables, increasing affiliate marketing, placing display adverts on the site, testing button colors to boost conversion rates, and so on.
- De-Personalize. Potential consumers may be turned off if they believe the site’s followers are more interested in you than in the site itself. Take efforts to depersonalize before selling. This could involve hiring other authors to publish content, utilizing copy that promotes the site rather than you personally, and lowering your profile throughout the site. You don’t have to entirely detach yourself, but you don’t want potential buyers to be concerned that the site will suffer because you’re no longer involved.
- Build Your Email List. An active and engaged email list can be incredibly useful. Your list can help you produce more income, boosting buyer confidence by diversifying traffic and revenue streams. Work to expand and nurture your list.
- Consider new revenue streams. Adding new sources of revenue might help you raise profits and diversify. This could include posting adverts on your website, initiating affiliate marketing, expanding your affiliate programs, developing your own items, or lining up sponsors.
Before selling, you must determine how much your website is worth to potential purchasers. Of course, each buyer is unique, and they will use their own technique to determine how much they are willing to pay. However, you can use some standard guides to obtain a good notion of what your site is worth.
Most buyers will calculate the value of your site using a certain multiple of your usual monthly or annual profit. Currently, most content-based websites and e-commerce enterprises are valued between 24x and 42x average monthly earnings.
Using this approach, if your site made $100,000 in profit in the last 12 months, it is valued between $200,000 and $350,000. Of course, this is a generality, but it provides a decent starting point.
The easiest approach to determine how much your website or business is worth is to seek guidance from an expert broker. Empire Flippers provides an amazing valuation calculator. You’ll enter the specifics of your firm, and it’ll give you a range and a suggested list price.
The Different Ways to Sell a Website
Want to know how to sell a website? There are several choices.
Hire a website broker.
Website brokers, such as CasinosBroker and Empire Flippers, focus in selling websites and online enterprises. They have a large database of qualified purchasers looking for sites to buy. Their team will oversee the entire process from beginning to end. This includes:
- Advising you on a proposed list price.
- Creating a list to market your website to the intended audience
- Creating marketing materials to accompany the listing.
- Communicating with possible purchasers and scheduling calls between you and them.
- Negotiating terms
- Assisting in the due diligence stage
- Assisting with the closing
The disadvantage of utilizing a broker is that they will take a percentage of the selling price as a charge. The proportion will vary based on the broker you choose and the size of the transaction, but 15% is quite standard for transactions under $500,000.
Selling through a broker may result in a higher profit than selling on your own, even with costs. Brokers can frequently obtain better selling prices due to their contacts and big database of qualified purchasers.
There are a few further benefits to selling through a broker:
- They can provide expert advice on the valuation of your company.
- They can advise you on what would be a decent offer.
- They can save you time by identifying potential purchasers for you.
- They will handle many first conversations with potential purchasers, ensuring that you only deal with serious people.
- Most brokers provide contract templates and other legal forms that you can utilize.
Brokers are paid a percentage of the selling price, so selling your site for the highest possible price is in their best interests. With the assistance of a competent broker, you will have an experienced professional with a vested interest in securing the best possible offer.
List it On a Marketplace
Listing your website or online business on a marketplace falls midway between listing it with a broker and selling it independently. A marketplace does not provide the same level of support as a broker, but it can assist you in getting your listing in front of potential buyers.
The most popular marketplaces are Flippa, Motion Invest, and Investors Club. Marketplace fees are frequently lower than what you would pay a broker based on a similar selling price. For example, Investors Club charges a success fee of only 7%.
While a marketplace can help you locate possible buyers, you may be responsible for the rest of the transaction. You may be on your own to engage with possible purchasers, negotiate, and carry the transaction through to completion. If you have no experience selling a website or business, you may profit from the services of a broker.
Sell It Privately
You can also sell your website without using a broker or marketplace. The benefit is that you will not have to pay any fees; nevertheless, selling a website on your own is far more difficult and time-consuming. You’ll need to be aggressive in marketing and advertising your site’s sale, as well as identifying potential purchasers.
Many sellers do not have the contacts in their network to find a private buyer, making this a challenging option to sell a site. However, it is a viable alternative if you have connections with people who may be interested or if you are ready to undertake the legwork of reaching out to potential purchasers.
I’ve sold a couple websites both to folks I knew and through cold contact. However, it is normally challenging if you have never gone through the process before.
When you sell a site on your own, you will not receive assistance with any aspect of the process unless you engage someone, such as an attorney, to assist with specific aspects.
Prepare Your Documentation for the Sale Process
When you’ve decided how to sell your website or business, it’s time to take action. The next stage is to prepare the papers that potential purchasers (and/or brokers) require. This contains a profit and loss statement (P&L), income verification, traffic data, and manuals or standard operating procedures.
If you’re selling through a broker or an online marketplace, they’ll demand appropriate papers to show your listing. In addition to these information, potential purchasers will probably want to learn more about:
- The current (and previous) revenue sources
- Profitability Trends in Recent Years
- Traffic levels change over time
- Information on staff and contractors involved in running the website/business.
- Any client or email lists related to the website/business
- Any intellectual property relating to the website/business
- The technologies utilized to construct and operate it
If you sell through a broker, they will help you understand exactly what you need to do.
Creating an Effective Listing
After you’ve gathered your evidence, it’s time to make a persuasive listing. Your goal should be to present the website or business in the best possible light, emphasizing what makes it appealing to potential customers.
If you are selling through a broker, they will prepare the listing for you, but they will require your input. Most brokers will have a method for collecting this information. They may present you with a paper with a series of questions, and they will develop the listing and marketing materials based on the information you submit.
If you’re establishing your own marketplace listing or pursuing potential customers on your own, make sure to put in a lot of time and effort to create a listing that effectively advertises your business.
When making a listing, make sure to precisely describe:
- The present performance of the website or business
- The monetization strategies employed (and how they could be increased)
- Any long-term contracts or partnerships connected to the site/business
- Any intellectual property related with the website or business
- The technologies utilized to construct and operate it
- Any advantages you have over competitors?
- Opportunities to increase the site’s profitability.
Once you’ve created a comprehensive listing, it’s time to contact potential purchasers. If you sell through a broker or marketplace, they will do this for you.
Negotiating with Potential Buyers
When potential buyers contact you, you should be prepared to negotiate. Your goal is to sell your website or business for the best potential price, and a qualified broker can assist you. The broker will manage the negotiations for you, but they will need your input to determine the type of offer you are willing to accept.
There are three ways to reply to an offer:
- You can accept the deal as-is.
- You can counter-offer.
- You may reject the offer without a counter.
A broker can advise you on the best approach to reply to each offer, but it is ultimately up to you to decide which offers to accept and which to refuse.
If you’re selling through a broker and the buyer believes they’ll be competing with other purchasers, the offer will be stronger. In this instance, there may be limited room for negotiation.
However, if you’re selling privately or the buyer isn’t under the pressure of competing offers, they’ll probably start cheap. You may need to bargain to reach an acceptable selling price.
Whether you’re selling through a broker, listing on a marketplace, or selling on your own, you should know the minimal price you’re willing to take. This will allow you to evaluate the offers you receive and determine when negotiation is necessary.
Closing the Sale
Once you’ve reached an agreement, a few steps must be taken before the transaction may be completed. There will be a due diligence period during which the buyer can verify business-related data. You may be required to give bank statements, credit card statements, or other documentation to prove your income and expenses. For larger transactions, you may need to furnish tax returns as well.
You will also need to create a contract or asset purchase agreement. If you’re selling through a broker, they’ll most likely have a standard template. These agreements can be modified as necessary. You may also want an attorney to evaluate the agreement, so make sure to allow time for this.
The transaction can be handled in a variety of ways. Many buyers and sellers choose to use escrow services such as Escrow.com. Escrow fees are normally shared 50-50 between the buyer and seller.
Escrow services safeguard both parties. The buyer will deposit the funds into an escrow account, which will be released once the seller has completely transferred everything to the buyer.
If you and the buyer believe that an escrow service is unnecessary, payment can be made via wire transfer, ACH, cheque, or another means. However, you and the buyer must reach an agreement on when payment will be paid and the assets transferred.
Transferring the Website
The final stage is to transfer the domain name, website, assets, and associated accounts to the buyers. If you’re selling an online store, you’ll need to transfer the goods to the buyer.
Transferring the domain name is simple if you both have accounts with the same registrar (such as GoDaddy or Namecheap). Transferring ownership from one domain name registrar to another is simple, but it may need a few extra steps.
Ideally, each website will have its own hosting account. If so, simply give the buyer login information and they can amend the contact and billing information. If the site is housed on the same account as other sites you own and is not included in the sale, it will need to be moved to a different hosting account.
Migrating a site to a new hosting account can be time-consuming, so I recommend putting the site on its own hosting account before selling. This simplifies things for both you and the buyer.
You’ll also need to grant the buyer access to:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- WordPress, or whatever CMS the website utilizes.
- Social media profiles.
- Affiliate accounts
- Plugin accounts
- Software and Other Tools
- Any other accounts associated with operating the site
The transfer time can range from an hour to a few days for more difficult sites. To ensure a seamless process, make sure to prepare everything ahead of time. Create a spreadsheet with a list of accounts, usernames, and passwords. Also include information about which accounts require payment data to be changed.
Note that not all accounts can be transferred. For example, some affiliate accounts’ conditions prohibit transferring. In this instance, the buyer will need to create new accounts or use existing ones.
How Long Does It Take To Sell a Website?
This question cannot be answered exactly because the timing varies from place to site. Several factors can influence this, including the amount of the sale (smaller sales typically move faster), whether you’re selling through a broker or on your own, the transaction’s complexity, and the buyer’s timetable.
If you’re working with a broker, you should expect the listing to go live within 1-4 weeks of signing the agreement. It could take longer if the listing is sophisticated or the broker has a backlog of listings that need to go live.
The most important variable in the process is the time required to find a buyer and accept an offer. I’ve sold two properties through a broker. The first time, I received two solid bids within four days of the listing going online. The second time, I had two bids approximately three weeks after listing (one was modest, the other was strong).
In another case, I listed an Amazon FBA business for sale with a different broker for over three months with no offers. After the 90-day exclusivity period expired, I found a buyer on my own within a week.
After accepting an offer (which is normally a non-binding agreement), the buyer will conduct due diligence, which includes verifying data such as income and expenses. This process typically takes about a month from the moment the agreement is reached to the closure, although it can be longer or shorter. Larger or more sophisticated transactions may take much longer.
The two times I sold sites through Quiet Light, the entire time from when I signed the listing agreement to when the sale was final was roughly five weeks for the first transaction and six to seven weeks for the second.
When I sold sites on my own, the time between starting to hunt for purchasers and closing the sale ranged from one to four months. However, this will vary substantially based on your current network, the size of the transaction (larger deals typically move slower), how quickly you can contact the proper purchasers, and how willing you are to negotiate down from your asking price.
Final Thoughts on Selling a Website or Online Business
Selling a website or small business may be both thrilling and rewarding. It is critical to approach the procedure with a thorough grasp of your alternatives and the advantages of each technique. Once you understand how to sell a website, the procedure becomes lot simpler.
With some advance planning, selling your website or business can be a pleasurable transaction that results in significant financial success for both parties involved. Good luck!