As an investor, you aren’t just looking to buy a website that already has a great track record – you’re also looking for a site that has room for improvement.
This is especially true with flipping websites, which is the process of building or finding a good website for sale, figuring out what its strengths and weaknesses are, improving on its weaknesses and turning it around before selling it for profit.
“Flipping” is a term that was first used in the real estate world to describe more or less the same process of buying a property, making it better (by changing the carpet, painting the walls, installing hardwood floors, etc.) and then selling it for more money.
You can make a lot of money with flipping if you do it well, but it’s not so great when it’s done poorly. So let’s take a look at the do’s and don’ts of flipping websites.
Do Optimize Your Listings
Even the smallest things can make a big difference.
If you have poorly crafted descriptions for your listings, you can evoke suspicion from potential buyers. They may assume that your website isn’t legitimate, that you simply don’t care or that you don’t personally see the value in the site.
Take time to optimize your site’s description. Be detailed and specific. Put effort into creating an attention-grabbing and professional overview of your site. Mention any benefits or extras the buyers will be getting.
This step alone can build a lot of trust and confidence with potential buyers.
Don’t Use A Cumbersome Domain Name
A good, strong domain name is a key factor to the success of your site flipping efforts.
Here are several criteria for a good domain name:
- One that isn’t too long. The longer the domain name, the harder it can be to spell out and remember.
- One that’s easy to remember. This ensures that the business gains brand recognition over time.
- One that’s unique. If possible, it shouldn’t sound like a business that is already in existence. On first glance, this may appear to be an advantage, but if people confuse your site’s name with another business, you could end up driving a lot of low-value traffic that doesn’t convert. Visitors will bounce off your website to find the other site they were looking for.
- One that doesn’t contain hyphens or numbers. Special characters can make the domain needlessly complicated and harder to market.
- One that is a .com address. This is a general guideline more than anything, as extensions like .org, .net and .edu are fairly well-recognized. But the strength of a .com address can’t be underestimated, and the average user is more likely to type in “.com” in the address bar over other extensions. They could end up confused when they can’t find your website using the wrong extension.
If the site already has a complicated domain name, and there’s a good reason not to change it, then do your best to play to its strengths.
Do Pay Attention To Design
In most cases, a clean and simple website design works well. But depending on the niche and subject matter of the site, you’ll want to make appropriate adjustments. For example, gaming sites tend to feature a lot of images and visual media. This is to keep the reader or visitor engaged with the content. If you’re in the gaming niche, you’ll want to take note.
Furthermore, don’t use bland colors on a site that’s supposed to be playful and fun, and don’t go too crazy on a site that’s supposed to be classy and professional.
Also pay extra attention to: navigation, ads and ad placement, mobile-friendliness, the website’s code (i.e. how clean or cluttered is it?) and so on. Anything that could potentially be a stumbling block for a buyer needs to be examined with a watchful eye.
Don’t Forget Added Benefits
Do you know what your target market is looking for in a site? Are there any specific value-adds you could provide? Is there anything extra the buyer will get when they purchase the site?
Emphasize any extras or features they’ll be getting when they buy the site, such as:
- A custom template.
- Unique monetization opportunities.
- A site with a unique angle. A particularly innovative concept or approach is sometimes an added benefit.
- Any other benefits that buyers won’t find with other similar sites.
Do Choose & Buy Websites That Have Room For Improvement
It’s easier to make improvements to a site that clearly has runway than to take a strong and established site to the next level. Additionally, while you may be able to double, triple or even 10x the revenue of an underperforming site, it will prove far more difficult to duplicate these results with a website that is already optimized for performance. This isn’t to suggest that a good site can’t be improved; it’s just that the upside could be significantly less.
It also helps if you have the right expertise and experience to know what you need to do to make a site better. A few quick tweaks can make a big difference when you know what to tweak, and that means increased efficiency and less time spent on individual sites.
Don’t Gamble With Your Resources
Time and money are all you have, and of the two, most would agree that time is more important. As an entrepreneur, money is a renewable resource, but time isn’t. Once it’s gone, it’s gone, and you can’t get it back.
If you’re going to be doing all of the work yourself, you have to think carefully about what’s worth your time and effort. Some sites may require a solid 10 hours of your time to optimize, but there might some sites that would only take two hours to make saleable. The more projects you take on, the more time and effort you’re going to be sinking into flipping, so it’s good to take a look at what projects are likely to be low-effort and high-value.
You may also consider documenting your process and outsourcing tasks, as this will help you automate the workflow with less direct involvement.
Do Your Due Diligence
Make sure you know what you’re getting when you’re buying sites.
Though you are generally going to be looking for sites that are underperforming, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t verify data.
You need to look into:
- The seller. Are they trustworthy? What’s their history like? Is their seller rating high or low, and do they have good reviews (if applicable)?
- Reason for the sale. Why is the site being sold? Is it because the niche is on decline? Is the product or service becoming obsolete?
- Revenue. Verify numbers with the seller.
- Traffic. Are there any anomalies in the traffic? Weird spikes or low times? Where is the traffic coming from? Is the traffic low value?
The aforementioned is just a short list of details to cover, but is a good starting point.
Don’t Rush It
In business, if you aren’t in a position to walk away from a deal, you’re going to get the raw end of it. You always want to be able to enter negotiations without feeling desperate or urgent to reach an agreement.
Flipping websites is the same. If you don’t need the profits now, don’t invest in a business just because you can. Or, don’t be in a rush to sell a site that’s in your roster. You might be able to negotiate a better deal if you aren’t in a big rush to make something happen.
Keep the upper hand in negotiation and making deals. You’ll make fewer mistakes, and you’ll get more out of your flipping efforts.
Do Be Aware Of The Competition
Odds are you are more knowledgeable in certain niches and industries than others. This should factor into your building, buying and selling plans, unless you are absolutely confident that you can boost the performance of any site on the market.
But buying and building strategically is part and parcel with flipping success. And another crucial factor is competition.
Whether it’s ranking for keywords or vying for market share, it’s best to be aware of what competitors are up to in the marketplace. This should inform your buying and selling strategy, because flipping in a particularly competitive niche could prove challenging.
Be aware of any advantages you have, and how you can maneuver around competitors if necessary. Flipping isn’t supposed to be a long, draw-out process.
Flipping web properties is a great way to learn the ins and outs of what investors are looking for in a business, and earn money from your efforts in the process.
But this doesn’t mean that it’s a “safe” or “easy” way of making money. If you know what you’re doing, you can definitely see a return on investment more often than not, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some risks involved.
Familiarize yourself with the above do’s and don’ts, as that will serve as a good starting point to generating income with website flipping.