Flipping Websites For Profit

Flipping websites is big business when done properly. You can sell websites and complete turnkey solutions from $200 all the way up to $50,000 or more depending on its profitability, its design, the number of visitors, and the amount of good quality, unique content provided on the site. There are three steps to flipping a website – Buy it, Build it, and Sell it. Let’s walk through each step in the process so you know what to look for and what to look out for.


Buy It

The first step in the website flipping process is to buy a website. A common misconception of website flipping is that you make your money on the sell, when in fact, when done correctly, your flip should make money on the buy. By that I mean that you need to find an excellent deal, one that no matter what happens, you make money. Even if you never sold the site, it would make you money residually – month after month.Let’s look at an example of this in action. If you bought a site for $500 that generates $100/month in residual income, even if you weren’t able to increase its traffic, or improve the value of the site, and you couldn’t sell it, you still had a website that would recoup your investment in only 5 months and continues to pay you every month thereafter with no extra work. That’s called making your money on the buy.

With so many different types of websites out there, let’s examine which websites you should consider buying to get the most bang for your buck.

What Type of Website to Buy

When choosing a type of site to buy you’ll need to consider your budget, your abilities, and the amount of time you have to devote to the site. 

Content Sites

A Content Site, sometimes called an Adsense Site, is a website focused on a niche topic with several relevant, unique, good quality articles available. They’re called Adsense sites because content-rich websites are perfect for placing Google Adsense ads on to generate extra income. (We’ll discuss Adsense in depth later on.) 

Content sites are easy to buy, fix up, and sell. And, they’re also easy to start up from scratch. In fact, Content Sites are the easiest and quickest way to start with $10 and flip a site as a beginner. We’ll talk about building a site from scratch later.

Product Sites

A Product Site is a site that focuses its attention on a particular product or category of products, with the sole intention of selling those products to generate an income. Product sites can include affiliate products, where you’ll need to get an affiliate account with the manufacturer, or a proprietary product, where you will be buying the rights to that product, and in essence you’ll be buying an entire business (not just a website).

Transferring these types of sites or businesses may be more difficult, especially when the products are physical shipped products, as opposed to informational downloadable products. You will need to consider whether you want to handle the drop shipping of physical products, or if you can acquire an affiliate account with the appropriate manufacturer.

Turnkey Sites

Turnkey Sites are websites that are brand new with little if any established search engine rankings, traffic, or Google PageRank. You are paying for the building of the site, the template design, any backend coding, and the content of the site. 

If you have no desire to be a part of the building of the site, this may be the best solution for you. Although, there are other ways to get someone else to build a website customized to your specifications for very little upfront money. We will discuss these methods later.

Workhorse Site

A Workhorse Site is one that has lots of pages, its well ranked in the search engines and generates a good steady flow of traffic. People buy Workhorse Sites to do the work for their other sites. By controlling a powerful website in a specific industry, you can then place links to your other topically related sites and gain traffic and Google PageRank (PR) from the Workhorse Site.If you had a few struggling cooking sites that just didn’t seem to get any traffic, you could buy a Workhorse Site to do the heavy lifting for you. You’d make money from the Workhorse, while also allowing your other sites to ride on its coattails.

You’ll usually pay more for this type of site, but depending on your market, it may be a good investment.

Blogs

Blogs make great flippers. A blog is a frequently updated website on a niche topic with journal entries or comments from the owner or approved bloggers. There are so many types of blogs on the Internet today, we can’t possibly list them all, but you can have a review blog, a sports blog, a health blog, or a local city blog.Blogs are easy to start with one click posting and easy to use setup and templates. Blogging software, like WordPress, is usually free and plug-ins makes it easy to customize your blog. Blogs can get lots of traffic and users will often generate their own content by commenting on your blog.

Forums

Forums, or message boards, are websites with running discussions between members. Forums usually have great content that is generated by the users, so content is free. But, it can be a lot of work to moderate a forum, and they’re not easily monetized. So, if you’re really interested in a topic that has a forum for sale, this could be a good idea.

Mega Database Site

A Mega Database Site is a purely informational website that provides a huge directory of something. You could have a database site of churches, dog groomers, or parks. These sites have an enormous number of pages, frequently get crawled by the search engines, get linked to often, and can get ranked high in the search results.They also make good Workhorse Sites, so if you can get your hands on a Mega Database Site, consider grabbing it.

Where to Find Websites for Sale

You can buy a website from anyone, anywhere, even a competitor simply by emailing them and asking them if they’d be interested in selling. But, it’s faster and easier to go to the popular website marketplaces that have established guidelines and rating systems. Here is a list of the top website marketplaces:

Evaluating the Site’s Worth

Remember that you are in the business of buying undervalued or underdeveloped websites. You are looking for the fixer-upper, not the top site on Google!

There are a few features of a website to consider when determining its value – how much traffic it gets, what kind of search engine optimization techniques are used, its Google PageRank, its organic search rankings for keywords, and its monthly net income.

Traffic

To determine a site’s traffic volume many people go to Alexa.com. But Alexa is not always accurate and only tells half the story. You can get an indication of how many people visit a site with Alexa, but you can’t tell where that traffic is coming from.

If a seller is telling you that they receive 5,000 unique visitors monthly, that’s great, but if that traffic is coming from pay-per-click advertisements, then that traffic will disappear as soon as you buy the site.

A better way to determine true traffic statistics is with Google Analytics, a free website stats online program. Ask the seller to see the stats from the site.

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization is an easy way to take a site that’s underperforming and boost it’s placement in Google, Yahoo, and MSN. This can dramatically improve traffic volume and quality.So check to see if the site is already using keywords throughout the content, the title of the page, and the header tags. Is there a meta description for each page of the site? All of these things can be checked in the source information of a webpage.

Google PageRank

Google PageRank (PR) is a measurement used by Google to evaluate the popularity of a webpage. Each page of a site has its own PR. The homepage usually has the highest PR, so start there. 

The only way to see PR is with a Google Toolbar. If you don’t have one installed on your browser (Firefox or Internet Explorer), you can download one for free here.

A site with a PR 0 is usually brand new and may have never been spidered before. PR 1 and PR 2 are fairly easy to achieve with decent content and a few sites backlinking to it. A PR 4, 5, and 6 are well established sites that have been around for some time, constantly updating its content, and have a good number of quality backlinks from high PR sites as well. PR 7, 8, and 9 are reserved for the Big Daddy’s of the Internet world. These rankings are reserved for sites like Google, eBay, Amazon, and other similarly popular sites.

The higher the PR of the site you are looking to buy, the more its worth.

Monthly Net Income

Ultimately, it all comes down to earnings. You must get proof from the site owner of the net earning of the site. They may show you an Adsense report of $5,000/month, but you’ll need to be able to see that the income came from the site in question.You’ll also want to ask how much they spend on advertising so you can identify the net income of the site, as opposed to gross income. This is important because the site could be earning $2,000 in product sales, but if the owner is spending $2,000 in advertising to generate those sales, then your net income from that site is ZERO.

If you want to use a surefire formula to evaluate the value of a website, you can follow the equation used at BuySellWebsite.com. They have provided an example Website Appraisal for you to review.

 

Build It

There are two ways to make money flipping a website. You can either buy a website, tweak it and make improvements to it, and sell it, or you can build a website from scratch by buying the domain, building it, and selling it. 

We will explore both avenues so you can decide which way makes the most sense for you and your current situation.

Building a Website From Scratch

When you’re just getting started with website flipping, you may have more time than money. In that case, it may be easier for you to find a good niche, buy a domain name, and build the site yourself (or hire someone to build it for you). 

Finding a Niche

When developing a website, it’s always easier to create one in a niche that you personally belong to. By that I mean you are the target audience for that site topic. Think of what hobbies you have, what car you drive, what profession or industry do you have experience in, places you’ve traveled to, and anything else you know a lot about.

When you’re a part of the niche you know what visitors to your site are looking for, the jargon involved, and what they need to buy. Those are the best kind of sites – ones written by and for the niche members.

Finding a Great Domain Name

Go to GoDaddy.com, or your favorite domain registrar, and type in your primary keyword or keyphrase in the domain search box. Try to stick with .com and if you have to you can revert to .net or .org (especially if it’s informational only), but everything else is scraping the bottom of the domain barrel.

If you can’t find your primary keywords in a domain, then add hyphens, but don’t use more than two hyphens if possible. You don’t want your domain to look too long and spammy.

If you are having difficulty finding a domain, try adding these words to the beginning of the domain:

  • Buy
  • 1st
  • Get
  • Your
  • My
  • Best
  • New

Or these words after your keywords:

  • Online
  • Club
  • Center
  • Store
  • Site
  • Shop
  • Blog

Find a domain that conveys the topic in the shortest, keyword-rich manner possible.

Find a Template

You can find templates everywhere on the Net. But the easiest way to build a site with no HTML knowledge or experience is to use WordPress or Joomla – both free. These site managers have built in templates and easy installs, so you won’t need to know any HTML to get started.

Writing Website Content

Writing content for your website can be a bit intimidating at first, especially if you don’t consider yourself a good writer. But trust me when I say you don’t need to be an English major in college to write content for your site. 

This is where being a part of the niche helps. Write what’s important to you, what you are interested in, and what you want the answers to in that particular niche. Create about 25 pages to start, about 350 – 500 words each page. Make sure to use the keyphrase for that page at least once in the title, header, first paragraph, and last paragraph.

After you launch the site, drip content in every week with an added 3-5 pages. This will keep the search engines coming out to index your pages and give your site more link bait (something to link to).

Hiring a Freelancer

If you have more time than money or are intimidated by the writing, then don’t hesitate to hire a freelancer. You can hire a writer, a website designer, or someone to perform both tasks in one project.

Your best bets for low prices and quality work is RentaCoder and eLance. It doesn’t cost anything to post a project and see what kind of bids you receive back. But, here’s a word of caution – You get what you pay for. If you hire someone from India or Russia to write your website content because they only charged you $4/article, you can expect to do some editing because it will most likely be choppy and difficult to follow.

Anytime you hire a freelance writer, make sure to check their work on Copyscape.com to ensure they didn’t steal copyrighted information. There’s no faster way of getting your site blacklisted on the search engines than publishing duplicate content.

Renovate a Site

If you don’t want to spend your time building the site, but would rather renovate what’s already there, buying a site and fixing it up is a better idea for you. Sure, you may spend a few hundred or a thousand dollars to get an established site, but you’re paying for a head-start on other start-ups.Whether you’re building a new site or renovating an existing site, there are a few tasks you’ll want to work on to boost the value of your site for huge profits in flipping.

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization is one of those moving targets. There are no hard and fast rules or formulas to follow to get ranked on the front page of Google for your top keywords. There’s no magic button, or secret trick you can learn that will launch your website above all others to stardom.

Rather, its trial and error and being consistent in adding good quality, unique content that people want to read and link to. SEO consists of on-page optimization and off-page optimization.

On page optimization is fairly straightforward – choose one keyword phrase for each page and make sure that keyphrase appears at the front of the title, in the header tags, alt tags, as the anchor text in outgoing links, and in the body of the text at least 3 times.

Here’s an example of the HMTL tags necessary for on-page optimization:

 

<html>

<head>

<title>Website Flipping – Flipping Websites for Profit</title>

<META name=”DESCRIPTION” content=”Website flipping is a profitable way to earn money from home. You can flip a website and make hundreds or thousand of dollars overnight.”>

<META name=”KEYWORDS” content=”website flipping”>

<meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=iso-8859-1″>

</head>

<body>

<h1>Website Flipping for Profit</h1>

<p>Flipping websites is big business when done properly. You can sell websites and complete turnkey solutions from $200 all the way up to $50,000 or more depending on its profitability, its design, the number of visitors, and the amount of good quality, unique content provided on the site.</p>

<p>There are three steps to flipping a website – Buy it, Build it, and Sell it. Let’s walk through each step in the process so you know what to look for and what to look out for.<br>

</p>

</body>

</html>

Backlinking and Google PageRank

Off-page optimization is primarily made up of backlinking or generating links to your site from external websites. The links that come into your site should go to your homepage, as well as the many deeper pages in your site. 

They should be linked with anchor text that relates to the topic of the page, since whatever other sites use as anchor text in a link to your site is usually what you’ll get ranked on.

Backlinking can be achieved with resource boxes in articles you distribute to article directories, reciprocal linking, and your resource box in forum postings and blog comments. You can get your site listed in the major directories like Yahoo and Business.com, but that costs money. 

A good linking campaign should include a few links from every category mentioned above. And they should occur gradually, so they appear to be natural. If you get 50 new backlinks in the first week after your site is launched, this will appear like you’re manipulating the system and Google, for one, will not rank you for several months. This is called being placed in the Google Sandbox. This is where many new sites go for the first 6 months so they have a chance to prove themselves to Google before earning a place in their rankings.

The more links you get pointing back to your site, the higher your Google PageRank. The higher your Google PR, the more money you can command for your website. So focus on getting good quality, high PR backlinks to your site right away.

Generate Traffic

In the process of building backlinks, you will be generating new traffic to the site. Every blog comment, article, or forum posting will likely be seen by someone who may be interested enough in your comments to click on the link to your site. This is called natural traffic – you didn’t pay for it and people came by it naturally.

The more traffic you can prove, the more money you can get for your site when you sell.

Multiple Streams of Income

There are several ways to monetize a site. You can add advertising like Google Adsense, Chitika, AdBrite, or other pay per click or impression contextual advertising. Contextual advertising displays ads that are relevant to the content of the webpage. You get a percentage of whatever the advertiser paid for the click. This is a great way to instantly monetize a website.

You can also feature products as an affiliate for other sites and be paid a percentage of the sale. You can find hundreds of affiliate programs to join at the top networks – Linkshare and Commission Junction. The key is to offer products and services that are complimentary to your site’s topic.

Sell It

Once you’ve done the work of building or renovating your website so that it provides value to any owner, you are ready to sell your site. It may be difficult to say goodbye to a site you’ve worked on for some time, but ultimately you’re doing this as a business, and if you price it appropriately, you’ll be rewarded for your work.

Where to Sell a Website

You sell your website in the same marketplaces you went to find a website to buy.

 

How Much to Sell For

You determine the selling price of your site the same way you evaluated the value of site you wanted to buy. It may be difficult, but you must remain objective. This is a business transaction. If you overprice your site, you won’t get any bites, so be fair in your evaluation.

Figure your natural traffic, your PageRank, and your monthly net income in your equation. These all impact the value of your site.

How to Set Up an Auction

When you are ready to set up an auction for your website, you’ll need to list the reserve price, if any, the Buy it Now price, if any, and the description of the site you are selling.Make your description include the pertinent information like how much the site earns each month, what you spend on advertising and your overhead costs, how many visitors you receive monthly, and why you’re selling the site. People want to know why you’re letting a profitable business go, so tell them the truth.

The best advice for a winning description for your website auction is to be forthcoming with the relevant information and truthful about the reality of the site, and your intentions. Buyers appreciate honesty, and the truth seems to be recognizable. 

While some people tend to oversell their site, others tend to undersell it. Don’t be afraid to boast about what’s great about the site. Does it address a certain niche with very little competition? Does it have unique content from an expert in the field? How do you differentiate your site from the others in the pack? Make sure buyers know why your site is special.

What is a Reserve Price?

A reserve price is the minimum price you are willing to accept for the site in an auction. If you set a reserve price, the site cannot be sold for less than your reserve price even if the highest bidder was above your starting bid price.Some marketplaces will not let the bidders see the reserve price until after the auction is over. This is a secret number not published on the site. Other marketplaces, like eBay, will inform the bidder if their bid did not meet the reserve price set.

Should you use a BIN?

BIN stands for Buy It Now. This is a price you can set at the beginning of the auction or at any time during the auction. If someone agrees to the Buy it Now price, the auction automatically stops and the site is awarded to the BIN price buyer.

Setting the appropriate BIN is critical to the success of the auction. If you price it too high, people will complain and it will actually prevent bidding. If you set it too low, someone will scoop up your site right away at the BIN price and you’ll never have the opportunity to see how high the bids would have gotten. Set the BIN at the start of the auction if you’re in a hurry to sell. Otherwise, hold off and wait until you get a feel for the direction of the auction. 

Accepting Payment

Payment can be a tricky transaction that comes with risk if not properly executed. A service like Escrow.com helps both the buyer and the seller reduce the risk involved in making the transaction. 

Both buyer and seller register at Escrow.com. The buyer initiates the payment and puts the agreed upon amount into escrow. The seller must transfer the site to the buyer, and once transferred, the buyer releases the payment to the seller and pays the escrow fees. This way both parties are protected and the transaction is complete.

You can also accept payment through Paypal, if the seller feels comfortable with this. This is the typical payment method for sites selling for under $200.

Selling a website can just be a matter of putting it out there for bid. You never know when someone needs a site in your niche, or you type, and with your market share. The more value you add, and are able to prove in numbers and statistics, the more money you can make on your flip.

Conclusion

Website flipping is a business that you can approach in several different ways. You can choose to build a site from the ground up and sell for a profit. You can buy an existing site, improve on it, raise its value, and sell it. Or, you can collect sites by buying an undervalued site or one that is not monetized well, and turn it into a residual income generating center that pays you for years to come.Your approach is determined by your level of risk tolerance, your budget, and the amount of time you want to spend on a site. In the end, website flipping can replace a full-time income and become your profit producing passion from home.

Written by: Brad Gosse – Do not copy without permission

 

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  • Great crash course on flipping URL websites, great read I'll be back to read up some more.

  • websiteflipping

    Good stuff Brad and great "summary" of everything you should be considering. Another thing I would note is to make sure the website you are buying is not a duplicate site with thousands of copies floating around, it makes it nearly worthless. I usually use copyscape to check for this.

  • This is a great list of valuable resources. And I agree that backlinks is one of the most important factors to a website's success and rankings with the search engines. Kudos on your blog post.

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