Ever hear of flipping houses? Or flipping cars for thousands of dollars in profits? Of course! But…..what if you’re not handy? What if you’d rather be sitting on a computer writing code and playing video games than in a house swinging a sledge-hammer? Well, you might just want to flip a website or two. There could be some serious cash involved once you get the hang of it!
The History of Websites
The very first website was launched in 1991. By 1994, there were 3,000 sites active online. And according to Statista, this number has absolutely exploded and is now at 1.7 billion. Insane right?
Put simply, everyone is on the web. It’s how we bank, it’s how we navigate from point A to point B, and most importantly (not!), it’s how we look up the ages of our plastic-faced celebrities! 😉 Lol. FYI, Phil Mickelson is 50. I just looked that up yesterday.
Since everyone knows about the world wide web these days, there is definitely money to be made there – ESPECIALLY if you want to flip a website.
What Does It Really Mean to Flip a Website?
If you hear someone saying they’re going to flip a website, they’re really just saying one of two things:
- They’re going to buy a website, improve it, and then sell it for more than they bought it for originally, or
- They’re going to build a website with the intention of selling it down the road (likely within a short time-frame)
Either are great options, but if you’re a newbie in the space, I’d suggest that you build a website vs. buy one (it’s cheaper that way, and far less risk!). If you’re more seasoned and you know what it takes to build up a website into something that’s sellable, then by all means, start hunting one down that’s a deal and do your magic!
I’m a businessman at heart. I just think it’s fun making money, regardless of the platform.
- At age 12, I bought smiley-face key chains in bulk and sold them one-by-one for double the cost
- At age 14, I built shoe cabinets made out of free lumber that came from my Dad’s work
- In my early 20’s, I started hunting out deals on used cars so I could drive them for a few months, and then sell them at a profit.
- In my early 30’s, I bought and flipped my first house (for a $27,000 profit!)
- And starting just a few years back, I built three websites that I have now sold for thousands of dollars!
Like I said, making money is fun. And you know what? Making money by flipping websites was especially gratifying…and this last one was certainly no exception!
My Initial Website Flips
My first website is the one your reading now — the one that will likely never be sold! It’s my baby and I still enjoy writing these articles and teaching all of you new stuff about money. It helps me learn and grow too!
The second site I started was called Creating a Passive Income. It was a niche site that was intended to teach the readers all about building up and earning a passive income.
The third site was called Online Money Bloggers. When I started making money with my first two sites, I thought it would be fun to have other bloggers talk about their earnings, and how they intended to expand their audience and grow even more profitable.
As it turns out, not quite as many people were as eager to talk about their income statements as I was. So it never fully took off as intended. It was still successful, but not massively.
The Dollars and Cents
With three sites, a full-time job, and a spouse, things were getting a little crazy and apparently humans need sleep… 😉 …so I decided to sell sites #2 and #3.
- If I remember right, Creating a Passive Income fetched $2,000. I sold it to a friend that I made while networking in the personal finance space.
- And, the Online Money Bloggers site, while not growing to extent I had hoped, was still doing well and earned me another $1,200.
I started these sites with iPage for just $24, so the profits were HUGE. All I put into it was a little time and networking. So, earning $3,200 for a few pages that I had some fun with wasn’t bad at all!
The Latest Website Flip
This last website flip was actually pretty comical. I secured the domain name in 2016, wrote 3 articles, and then pretty much forgot about it entirely until just a few weeks ago!! Lol.
The initial intent of the site was to just show people how easy it was to start a website and make it look good.
- So, I did that in a couple of days,
- linked to it from my main website here at Life and My Finances,
- and then just let it sit there…for four years! 😉
It was only until just recently, when I was thinking about revamping this website, that I remembered I still had that other one!
I was obviously doing nothing with it, so I wondered, “How much is this simple website worth? What if I sold it? Would it be worth it?”
So, I listed it on Flippa.com.
The Selling Process
I didn’t really know where or how to sell a website since I sold the other two to my friends (which – as a side note – is actually one of the best ways to sell your sites by the way!). The only space I had heard of to do something like this was Flippa.com, so after checking it out and deciding it was the best medium for buying and selling sites, I listed the fourth site I ever created, a Side Hustle website.
The domain name was a good one, and I had kept the site alive for a while, but that was really all this page had going for it.
- There was virtually no traffic,
- the look was outdated, and
- it would need quite a bit of work to grow it up into something big.
The Flippa Listing
I listed it on Flippa, set a reserve at $500 (you know, so I didn’t accidentally sell it for pennies), and set a “buy it now” price at $2,000. The post went live for 14 days – Let the bidding begin!!
- My first bid…$30. Okay, not great, but at least the ball was rolling!
- The next bid…$150. Cool, cool. Getting there.
- With about 2 days left, the bidding went up to $400…and then halted…
The auction ended and my reserve wasn’t met, so my efforts to flip a website were officially a bust…or were they?
Little did I know, Flippa had this cool thing where, even though the auction ended and the site wasn’t sold, members could still make offers for your site.
About a day after the auction closed, I got an offer for $600.
Whoa! This could be the real deal. I could sell right now…but should I?
I took my question to my personal finance blogger community – after all, they’re not only savvy with money, but with blog building as well!
The ultimate answer:
“No way dude, your site name is worth at least $1,500. Maybe even more like $2,500.”
So, I turned down the $600 offer and just waited for another day or two. And then, the true interested party was ready to take the bait.
- This new individual offered $500 (not knowing I had turned down $600), I declined
- He then offered $1,000. I told him it was tempting, but declined again.
- Then he left it up to me. He expressed his interest and was wise enough to ask what I really needed for it.
- I thought about going for $1,700, but I really wanted to sell and get it over with (sometimes you don’t know when the next buyer will come along – and besides, this is a site I had forgotten about, remember?? ;)). I asked for $1,500. He took.
Just a few days later, the site was transferred over and fully paid for. It was far less painful than I expected, thanks to Flippa’s tools and guidance!
Intrigued? Thinking maybe you want to flip a website? It’s a pretty cool gig to get into, especially when you make thousands of dollars at a time.
As I mentioned in the intro, there are really two main ways to flip a website:
- You can either create a website from scratch, or
- You can buy a website, build it up into something bigger, and then sell it for an even larger price tag.
Let’s dig a little more deeply into both. What do you need to do to be successful in each arena?
1) Build a Site From Scratch
This is what I’ve done a few times now. I knew I wanted to start a site about a passion of mine and I didn’t have a ton of cash to throw around to buy one. So, I paid my $24 and built one! (FYI – just recently I have switched my allegiance from iPage ($24 for a one year deal) to Bluehost ($106 for a 3-year deal). They’re a more well-known brand, the customer service is better, and the web speeds are faster. So if you’re serious about blogging for the long-term, go with Bluehost.)
Here are the important steps I took to build a site from nothing into something of value:
- Research a rock-solid domain name (use domain name generators to help!)
- Be sure the domain ends in ‘.com’
- Sign up with a reputable web host (NOT a freebie hosting service! You won’t make any money this way! Again, I recommend Bluehost.)
- Find a free theme through WordPress that looks decent (here’s a great list of free themes)
- Start creating content like crazy! Write an article a day if you can. Build up your content to at least 50 articles before you think about doing anything else.
- Use a plugin like Yoast SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to optimize each article
- Buy professional images for each post – it will make your site look SO MUCH more professional! It costs $1 (or less) per photo when you use Deposit Photos (that’s who I use for this site).
- Start reaching out to other websites in your space to see if they’ll let you guest post and link back to your site (link-backs are INCREDIBLY important for SEO) – plus, it will give you some decent traffic for a stretch
- Find a network of bloggers in your niche – this might be a Facebook group, a website, a forum, or just building up a bunch of friends on Twitter. Be a friend to them and they’ll likely be a friend to you too. Expect nothing in return, but give. Believe me, you’ll still benefit.
- Comment like crazy on all your friends’ posts. They’ll love the interaction, it might give you a link back to your site, and if your comments are good enough, readers might head over to your page too!
Then, just continue to put up new posts and keep your friend group alive.
After all of the above, your goal will be to get 25,000-50,000 visitors to your site a month. Once you get there, advertising and making money is a breeze. Try to monetize before that and your site might stall (I’ve done this repeatedly…it’s not fun!).
Ignore the instant cash, build your site like you were already wealthy, and then the dollars will start flowing in. And THEN the buyers might start coming out of the woodwork to you because you’ll have something special.
2) Buy a Site, Build It Up, and Sell It
I admit, I haven’t officially bought a site and built it up (I’ve always done it from scratch…which is arguably harder). But, since my current site is worth $40,000-$50,000 and I’m confident that I can ramp it up to $200,000 over the next year, I feel somewhat qualified.
Basic Things You Need to Know
If you’re already passionate about blogging and have found a niche website in your space that you’re interested in buying, here’s what you should know initially:
- The ‘.com’ site still rules. Ideally, you’d be buying a site with a ‘.com’ domain
- Years of life means something. Try to find a site that’s been alive for more than 2 years. Then, commit to growing it for another two.
- A site is worth approximately 3-4 times its annual profits. In other words, if you find a site with a yearly revenue of $10,000 and it costs $3,000 a year to run, the profits are $7,000 a year. At 3-4 times profits, the site is worth somewhere around $21,000-$28,000 (FYI, buyers usually take the earnings from the past 12 months).
- If the site depends on sponsored posts and direct ads for income, then it’s really worth far less (since it’s not at all passive AND it could soon be penalized and worthless at any time after you purchase it).
- On the other hand, if the site is earning all of its income through CPC (cost-per-click – think Adsense) ads and hasn’t monetized by any other means, the site could be worth far more (because it has great traffic, but has just been marketed terribly).
- Be sure you also buy the secret sauce. If a website is very personal and the owner is heavily involved, you might want to pay a commission to keep their involvement going for a while. Or, you might just want to withhold your bid and move onto the next site. The last thing you want is to buy something that tanks because the secret sauce just runs away with your money and leaves the site (and you) in the proverbial dust.
How to Actually Flip a Site For More Than You Paid For It
If you’re going to sell something for more than you paid for it, then you’ll obviously have to improve it, right?
Like, if you buy a house, you can’t just expect to put it back on the market immediately and yield a higher price than you just paid. To earn more, you’ll need to put some sweat equity into the property… You’ll have to rip out that ugly carpet, paint some walls, and maybe even update the kitchen. Once you fix it up, more people will be interested.
The same is true for a website.
- Clean up the look
- Speed it up if it’s slow
- Make it more personal to capture more readers
- Set up a nice offer to encourage people to sign up with their email
- Then, market to their email address!
Everything you do should cater to the most important asset of the world wide web: TRAFFIC!
The more eyeballs you can get on your website, the more opportunity you have of earning money.
Then, once you gain the traffic, you can start monetizing the site. Which, when done right, can be a huge draw for your future buyer.
The main avenues of earning money are with:
- CPC (cost per click) ads (once you get your traffic up to 50,000 sessions a month, I recommend getting in touch with Mediavine Advertising), and
- Affiliate ads (where the readers are actually paying for a product that’s advertised on your site, and you get a cut of the sale, and you can earn a commission for your marketing efforts. Earnings offered will differ for every brand/company you work with.)
- These should relate closely with your niche. For instance, my top affiliate links for my personal finance site are:
- If you truly believe in the products you’re recommending and that they’ll benefit your readers, you’ll be much more likely to earn money with them. If you’re only pushing them for the sale, then don’t bother. Your readers will sense it and not buy. And, worse yet, they’ll start leaving your site.
Between just these two methods – CPC ads and affiliate marketing – bloggers out there earn hundreds of thousands of dollars (heck some of them even earn millions, which is INSANE, but possible!!)!
Flip a Website, Earn Thousands of Dollars
Flipping a website is tempting, especially if you already know a bit about blogging, marketing, or technology.
- If you’re more risk-averse, you’ll probably want to build a site on your own for $100. Either that, or buy something that’s somewhat established for $1,000 or less.
- If you know about blogging already and have had some success there, you might want to up the stakes a bit – buy something that already has traffic and income for a 5-figure sum, and then build it up into something HUGE.
Remember the example above where the site was earning $10k a year, had $3k of expenses, and therefore earned $7k a year? The value was between $21,000 and $28,000.
What if you could bump up the traffic from 10,000 viewers per month to 100,000 viewers per month?
Your net earnings wouldn’t be $7,000 a year. They’d be closer to $100,000 a year. Then, at 3-4 times net earnings, you’d be looking at a paycheck of $300,000-$400,000! That’s a pretty great return on a $20,000-$25,000 investment!
It’s absolutely possible. People do it every day. And you never know, the next big sale could be yours.
So what do you think? Are you ready to flip a website?
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.