This guest post is by Chris The Traffic Blogger.
My hands were shaking like crazy and I had to focus very hard on entering my bank account information correctly. Just minutes prior a buyer had been approved for my website on Flippa (see the actual auction page here), and I had to somehow manage to calm down to fill out my escrow payment options.
The bid was an astonishing $50,000!
Yeah, that amount was almost enough money for the down payment and closing costs of my first home combined. Even now, when I think about it, I still get chills up my spine at the sheer amount of money that my website sold for. If I had been a little more patient, I may have been able to sell it for closer to $75,000, especially with the steady $4,000 it was earning per month on autopilot.
Today I’d like to touch on six major lessons I’ve learned from selling my first website for so much money. It’s my way of saying thank you to Darren, Georgina, and all the contributors of this fine community for your support and advice over the years. Also to you, the reader, for your comments, emails, and patronage.
Lesson 1: Escrow and Flippa were great
I felt that escrow was essential for providing a safe environment for selling my website. The way it works is like this: if the buyer cheats the seller, then escrow holds the money until the seller’s goods are returned. If the seller cheats the buyer, then escrow charges the seller for the transfer fee and cancels the transaction entirely.
I also liked all the options I had for presenting my information on Flippa, such as attachments, a chart of the last year’s earnings, and even Google analytics. All this information was readily available on the auction page, along with countless other little details.
Lesson 2: You need to know the process
The only major snag in selling the site occurred when the buyer couldn’t figure out how to use my EPP codes and login information to transfer domains from my hosting provider to his.
This was one of the reasons why I went through so much stress and agony trying to sell my website—I didn’t totally understand the process either, nor did I have the experience of knowing how to transfer the domains to the buyer.
I lost about three nights’ sleep before I calmed down enough to come up with a solution to the transfer issue. Instead of trying to get the transfers done between the two of us, I had the buyer change my personal information on the domains to his and also my passwords so that he essentially controlled my domains.
Now the transfer process was on the buyer, not between the buyer and seller, since he owned the domains. This decision allowed us to move forward with the escrow payment process, instead of getting bogged down in figuring out the technical issues of transferring between hosting providers. I think I actually had a few hours of sleep that night!
Lesson 3: Submit your oldest domain
I had a blogspot.com domain changed to .org about two years into the site’s existence. When I went to enter my .org site’s age I put down three years. However, Flippa detected that the .org extension was only available for the past year and said that I was basically contradicting the evidence Flippa had discovered.
There was no way to go back without completely cancelling the auction, so I probably lost a few potential buyers to this mistake.
Lesson 4: Know why you’re selling months beforehand
I knew why I was selling my site six months prior, when I decided that I wanted to focus on other projects. I intended on using the influx of quick cash and free time to build up other projects.
To achieve the selling of my site which was so dependent upon me to survive, I then had to go about the process of replacing myself with a team of writers that could blog in my stead. The new owner was pleased to see a writing staff, as that meant he could take over without needing to create his own content. This was the only reason I was able to sell the site in the first place—otherwise it would be like Darren selling problogger.net years ago when he was the sole contributor. It just wouldn’t have worked.
Lesson 5: Use Google Docs like a champion
Google Docs were amazing for listing all the account logins, instructions, and writer information that was needed to run the site without me.
Given the time difference between the buyer and myself (I was on the US East coast; he was in Malaysia), Google docs provided us with a convenient method for storing information and communicating, and it worked out far better than hundreds of small emails would have.
Lesson 6: Sales funnels are essential
I understand that you most likely do not have a website worth $50,000, but that you would love to get it to that point. If you are serious about blogging and want to turn your hobby into a business, then you need to create a sales funnel.
A sales funnel is simply a system for obtaining leads, building trust, and finally converting leads into buyers. Even if this is simply a post series that you link to, it’s better than nothing. Whether you use email marketing or advertise products on your sidebar, you need to have some method for determining how much money you can make per new subscriber to your site. This will enable you to make calculations regarding what services you could afford to outsource to and still make a profit while growing your site.
Even though building backlinks is crucial for growing your website, you still have to focus a large portion of your effort on your sales funnel, or else you’ll be gambling instead of taking calculated risks.
I’ve learned a lot from this process, and unfortunately I couldn’t possibly fit it all into a single post. I have compiled everything I learned from this experience into a downloadable report which can also be viewed online if you don’t wish to download it. There’s no opt-in: this is my way of saying thanks to you!
Have you ever sold a website? I’d love to hear what you learned from the process, too.
Chris is a self proclaimed expert at showing bloggers how they can get traffic, build communities, make money online and be successful. You can find out more at The Traffic Blogger.