< GUIDES

What kind of websites should you buy on Flippa?

This guest post was written by Michael Bereslavsky, the Founder and CEO of Domain Magnate, business broker, investor and an active Flippa Broker and seller. View his listings for sale!

Flippa is a convenient place to list a website for sale and a great place to find website business opportunities. There are wonderful deals to be had on the Flippa platform, but just like other trading platforms, buyers need to be aware that there are also a lot of suspicious (too good to be true) deals here as well. These are the sellers who manifest their product in a way that puts the website in a very favorable light when in reality the website is not set up to make as much money as they claim. So, if you judge these websites at face value, without doing some proper research and analysis and without knowing what you want, chances are you will make a very poor investment.

You Need To Know What To Look For!

Owning an online business does not mean you have a magic wand that gives you instant success. Not all web businesses are successful. In fact, statistically, about 90% of all online startups fail within the first 120 days. Why do so many fail? Because new entrepreneurs are too fast to JUMP ALL-IN. An online business does not work by itself, the owner needs to analyze the market, address the needs, improve the site and touch-base with the right audiences.

Every good online business has a basic framework with three important facets. You need to learn to identify the three points of potential success for any website you might consider buying. These three determining factors are:

  1. Marketability – Whether or not the product is selling well at this point is not of that much concern. But whether the product or service is marketable, and the niche has a viable following is a crucial factor when you want to buy an online business. You can always grow the audience and improve the site to bring in more people, but if the product or service is not “Sellable” then no amount of additional work you put into the site will make a difference.
  2. A Well-Defined Business Process – successful online business will have a well-defined business process. They follow an outline of steps to create and develop the project. A seasoned buyer can identify that this process has been taken, but even a new investor can learn to identify a process that is being followed. Look for websites that have an identifiable niche, where the website framework follows a pattern and the navigation will flow smoothly from awareness to sales conversion. A potentially profitable website will have a visible roadmap to success, no matter the phase it is being sold at, from its initial phase of preparation to the more advanced sales level.
  3. Growth – fast growth is what entrepreneurs crave, investors need and marketers want. It is the sign of a great idea and a hot product or service. Look for sites that show growth.

Prepare for The Purchase

The above three elements are what you need to define in a potential investment, but first, you must realize that buying any type of business whether it is brick and mortar, or an online business takes preparation. You would not whip out your check book to go buy the little take-out restaurant down the street, and you shouldn’t be so quick to invest in a website either. You first want to get insight into the type of online business you want and be sure it contains the important points we have discussed. Finding the right online business requires a process of research and analysis which can take some weeks or even months. You want to narrow down the field of options and understand exactly what you are looking for so you can identify the REAL opportunity.

I always tell my clients that the best approach is to sit down, make a list and define what you want. Below are several steps I recommend first-time buyers make before plunging into the marketplace and looking at those specific deals.

Consider The Learning Curve

Running an online business takes effort. You can’t just sit back and expect the revenue to come in. This type of business is different from running a brick and mortar business, and that means your tasks and your business experience will differ as well. We all know that the primary benefit of running an online business is that you have the freedom to work the hours you want, but still,  you do have to make your business grow. And to strengthen any online endeavor, you need specialized skills and knowledge. Even if you don’t plan on doing many of the day-to-day tasks yourself, you still need to know about the tasks the website needs, and you should have a general working knowledge of the way the work is done. This way you can hire the appropriate online experts to help.

You will need to gain specialized knowledge in search engine optimization (SEO), website updates, Google updates, graphic design, freelancer management, and an overall understanding of the lifecycle of an online business. Does this mean you need to go back to school to understand how to invest in an online business? No, not necessarily! You can learn most of these skills by reading, researching online, or taking a few online courses.

Define The Budget

A simple piece of advice I always give new website buyers is to think of that first investment as a learning experience and not as a win or break purchase.  Remember you are also investing in your education, which is why your first purchase should be in the amount you can afford to lose (just in case it doesn’t go as well as planned).

How much can you expect to pay for a decent website? If this is your very first purchase, start slow. Don’t throw all your money into the first attractive deal, look at it more as a “learning the process” type of deal. Where else can you get an opportunity to acquire a profitable and operational business for as low as a few hundred to a few thousand dollars?

On the flip side, if you have already built, run, or bought and sold websites before, and you feel more comfortable with the particulars of maintaining an online business, increase your budget. But be sure to look for a website that aptly fits your skills and needs.

Time

Websites require work, no matter how successful they are. And usually, those sites that cost less, require more work, effort and time. So you need to ask yourself, “How much time am I willing to spend on improving the website?” Can you spend a few hours a day improving the structure and the content, or maybe just a few hours a week? Remember more passive websites that require less work also cost more.

A simple way of determining the time you need to spend on a website is to review the tasks that are performed frequently on the site. A good Flippa website description will have this information. Keep in mind though that it may take you longer to perform these tasks yourself, especially for those areas where you are less experienced. You also may not want to take the time listed by the seller at face value. Remember, he is trying to sell the website, so the time investment may be slightly higher than he specifies. Keep in mind that websites usually take longer than you might think to make operational.

Work with Your Existing Skills

A web business should be in an industry you either like or are experienced and knowledgeable in. Look for sites on topics or with products where you know you can use your skills, your interest, and your experience. Flippa is an excellent place for professionals who already have some experience working in the online environment to purchase existing businesses. But if you don’t have experience, don’t worry too much about it as you can pick up online skills as you go. It is not rocket science.

If you are already an experienced online industry working professional you will find the process much easier, but even then, you need to be careful in your selection process. Look for investments where your skills can help develop the site further, making it into a real money-making machine. The following are a few examples of the type of websites different online professionals should look for when making an investment.

Web Designers – Flippa offers fantastic opportunities for web developers to add services or products to current business interests.  For example, working designers and developers might make a wiser investment by looking for Flippa websites that offer products such as templates, design creation or other creative products. Yes. you can probably make these sites from scratch, but you also know that a website with an older domain, traffic and existing products that already convert is easier to develop and grow.

Content Creators – As a specialist in this industry, you might do best on Flippa when you look for websites where you can improve organic rankings and bring in more traffic to produce income. The type of website for sale you might work best with might be review sites, industry news sites, or travel sites. You want to look for websites with content on a particular topic you are interested in.

Adwords and Marketing Professionals – Because you specialize in creating ads for social media and search engines, you might want to look for websites that sell specific products, either internally or through affiliate programs.

Management and Organizational Professionals – Even when you are not a techie and aren’t all that familiar any of the online professions, but you are a great manager and organizer, you can do well with an online business. Just look for websites that are associated with your skills. For instance, if you have a life of logistics experience you might want to look at sites that specialize in the sale of drop ship products, or e-commerce sites that have inventory management needs. Sure, you will need to become familiar with the other skills, or more likely, need to manage freelancers who specialize in the other facets of an online website, but you can focus on your management to keep every task organized and scheduled for continual improvement.

Why worry about your existing skills? When you buy a website from Flippa and you rely on your existing experience, chances are you will purchase a site that succeeds. You have an edge over other buyers because you are experienced in areas that when developed on the existing site will make it more successful.

Look for sites you know you can improve by:

  • Monetizing it better. A few ways of doing this is through ad placement optimization, improving sales copy, or by selling better converting products.
  • Add, rewrite, improve content.
  • Improve the design, or the navigational structure
  • Work on SEO to increase rankings
  • Improve social or paid traffic strategy 

You Need to Know: Websites on Flippa Are Not Out-of-The-Box Money Machines

Even when you buy an existing website, you will need to manage it and improve on it. This is why when selecting possible websites to purchase you need to keep ease-of-use in mind.  The easier the website is to access, change and manage, the faster you will be able to help it grow. For this reason, you want to avoid considering websites that have a lot of custom code, or even those that use multiple management systems.

Of course, the exception to this rule goes to the buyer with strong tech skills.  A buyer with strong coding skills can turn to the more complicated sites and often find that cheaper deal.

Needed Improvements

Any website you purchase on Flippa, no matter how advanced, or how much it makes, can benefit from improvement. It is by strengthening its positive features that you will make more revenue and get a better return on your investment. So be sure to look for websites that have a sound framework, but one that you can enhance.

Analyze Your Goals

Before you think about buying, you need to think about your goals and expectations. To help you understand your goals ask yourself these questions.

  • Are you buying just to try it and learn to manage an online business, to see if it’s right for you to put more money and effort in later?
  • Do you want to find a business that can help replace your job? Something that will give you sufficient monthly cash flow to live on without your needing a conventional job?
  • Are you looking for an easy flip? Do you want a site you can improve, increase the revenue and then resell for a profit?

Think about the goals you want to attain through this investment. Having a clear objective allows you to narrow down your search and remain focused on only those websites that fit your requirements.

Put In The Research Time

Once you know what you are looking for, you’ll want to do some careful research. Review the “Just Sold Listings” on Flippa to compare website prices and features. Be sure to read the descriptions of websites you are interested in. This tells you how well a site is monetized, whether the content is original, the age of the site and more. It is this information that will give a better idea of what you can expect to buy within your budget range.

Ultimately …

You need to be aware that there are hard sellers out there, and some of these website owners will offer you that “Great Deal.”  This is that hard to pass up deal where the business is all set up for you, but that does not necessarily mean it will be PERFECT for YOU. Your best bet is to create a purchasing plan, know how you want to market the website yourself and know what your next step is going to be. Don’t just jump in. Sometimes finding the right website can take some time  (just like buying any business). Make the process easier by having a goal in mind, whether it is reselling the website within a few months, doubling the profit in a year or growing visitors and users within a certain amount of time.

And After You Do Purchase…

Be ready to start running once you buy a website. Don’t waste time. Start implementing your goals and growing your business!