6 Tips for Selling a Website

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One thing I learned over the years is that combining interests can have a synergistic effect. For example, I have a love of coding and diet/nutrition, and about five years ago I combined the two to create a website to help people calculate their macro-nutrient needs. Over the years, it slowly grew in popularity from a few people visiting the site to a couple hundred, to a few thousand, to sometimes over one-hundred thousand visitors a month. With the popularity, came offers to buy the site. This past month I decided to sell it and here I share some tips I discovered during the process.

Know Your (Website’s) Worth

Determining your website’s worth can be tough. There are online calculators like Worth of Web or Site Price, but they can vary in estimates by a factor of 10X or more. Another option is to check website selling marketplaces like Flippa for the going price for a site that is similar to yours, but often times it is hard to find a close match because there are so many factors that determine a website price like:

A Few Factors that Influence Website Value

  1. Traffic
  2. Existing revenue
  3. Industry the website is targeted to
  4. Included technology e.g. if you buy facebook.com, all the code needed to run facebook
  5. etc. (there are many more, trust me)

With all the ways to determine value, the best we can do is to take a rough average from different sources and come up with a reasonable evaluation.

Partner with a Professional, Principled Buyer

Life is so much better when interacting with good, honest, principled people. I think the same thing goes with business. If the person buying your site seems a bit shady, walk away from the deal (even if the offer is 10X what you think the site is worth). Selling a website requires trust from both parties and if that can’t be established, it is best to abort.

The main reason I decided to sell my site is that the guy who emailed me seemed like a good, honest dude who seemed open to negotiating a fair offer.

Know Negotiation Basics

You don’t have to be a negotiation ninja to sell a website, but it helps to know the basics. Is it best to make the first offer? How to counter-offer? All good questions to think about.

These are all topics covered in books like:

  1. Never Split the Difference
  2. Getting to Yes
  3. Negotiation Genius

Buying one book on negotiation (and reading it) is worth its weight in gold when selling a website.

Be Principled, Over-Communicate

“Selling a website requires trust from both parties” - me, earlier in this blog post

Notice I said “both” here (that includes you!). Being a principled, trustworthy seller means:

  1. Providing all the relevant details about your site to the buyer in order for him or her to make an informed decision.
  2. Not trying to max out the offer after you feel a fair offer has been made.
  3. Honestly answering any questions from the seller.
  4. etc. (you know when you are being principled)

If you need a more practical reason for being principled, giving false information and then selling your site can warrant legal action on the part of the buyer.

Use an Escrow

An escrow is a third-party whose job it is to ensure each step of the transaction between buyer and seller is fulfilled to the satisfaction of both parties. For example, when selling a website, the steps might look like:

  1. The buyer makes payment into escrow.
  2. The seller transfers domain.
  3. The seller transfers source code.

The escrow ensures all these steps are complete and then releases the funds to the buyer.

Over Deliver

Basically, selling a website is a single transaction business. In any business, you try to give customers more than what they paid for. For example, when I sold my site, I took some time and customized the source code to make it easier for the new owner to change it in the future. This wasn’t part of the contract. I wasn’t obligated to do it. But I knew it was something that the buyer wanted and did it anyway in good faith.

One More Thing

Another thing I learned in life is that doing things out of the love of the process always works out better than doing things for the end result. I did not build the website so one day I could sell it. I built it because it was something that I wanted to use and thought other people might want to as well.

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