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6 Lessons I Learned Selling a $50,000 Website

Posted By Guest Blogger 15th of October 2011 Blogging for Dollars 0 Comments

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.

Other lessons

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.

About Guest Blogger

This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above.

  • great work it inspire the reader …

  • Chris,

    First off I have never sold a site, so I really don’t have any personal experience. But a lot of articles I have read recently have been recommending brokers over Flippa since brokers can get a better deal for sites with real value. DO you have any idea if you might have done better using a broker with their connections?

    • I’ve heard Flippa can be dangerous to BUY on, but I guess selling on Flippa might not be the best idea the first time around either, good point.

      I’m personally really hesitant to buy anything on Flippa, it’s so easy to get fake traffic, can you really trust what’s being put up there?

  • I haven’t sold a website but I’ve bought a few on Flippa. None were anywhere near that price range though! But you’re 100% correct on the sales funnel.

    The site I bought was purely a site for Adsense and really had no type of sales funnel or a way to stay in contact with visitors, so earnings fluctuated quite a bit.

    If anyone’s thinking about buying a website, make sure it’s an evergreen site that will be solid for many years to come. The site I bought was a TV show site and when the show is off-air the traffic drops like a rock!

  • Chris – these are great tips for anyone wishing to sell their website. I particularly like the Sales Funnel point that you have so rightly detailed at the very end. I am still not at a point where I can even think of selling, but this brings a new perspective to improve my blog. Thanks for sharing.

  • Hey Chris,
    I had attended a flippa webinar several months ago and I never even thought of the possibility of selling my website. Now, it is definitely in the back of my mind to consider selling my site in the future.

    I know that there is a formula for estimating the potential value of a website.

  • Interesting story. So many of the sites on Flippa seem to be crap so I guess one with high quality content fetched top dollar. Congrats.

    • Agreed. Chris also wrote a nice description for his auction which I guess helped a lot in the sale. Congratulations on the sale and best of luck to your new gaming website.

  • I’ve wondered about Flippa, so it’s nice to see someone had a good experience with it. I’ll keep it bookmarked for future reference!

  • Good information on selling a site. I’ll take a look at Flippa to see what’s offered there.

    Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide.

  • Man, that WAS a nice description for the website. It made me want to buy it. I guess decent websites that rank are worth a lot of money. Thanks for the great post!

  • Congratulation on the sale and even sharing the information for free. That would really help for my site but unfortunately I have leave this sales method for my site later on…

  • Thank you for such good detail.
    There are so many things newbie bloggers like me can learn and absorb from you.
    We might be experienced in our own fields but information exchange is a good thing.
    Thanks again. I appreciate it :)
    Lella xx

  • Great article! I hope I can get to that point with a website at some point… I was actually surprised by your google docs advice, I had never really heard of anyone doing that! Its a great idea though, I think I can come up with ways to take more advantage of it without even selling a site now

  • If the site was really making $4k/month, and I don’t debate that it was, then I’m not sure selling it for $50K was a great call. You were making $50K/year on it basically.

    That would be the equivalent of me saying I would quit my job for one year of salary in a lump sum, which obviously would be a bad idea.

    It sounds like maybe you needed to sell the site for a number of other reasons, but I’m not sure I would toute it as a good sale…

    • Peter

      Nick I have to agree with you.

      Whilst its great for someone to share this type of information and lessons learn’t I would not put this down as a big win or “how to do it”

      1, There was one bidder and one bid – hardly suggestive that you got a good price
      2, You actually lowered the minimum bid price during the auction
      3, Average net income on any business delivering consistently over 3 years at one years earnings is considered a poor return.

      3 x earnings is the bench mark for a real, sustainable business

      My primary concern is this doesn’t spill over into an ebook about how to flip sites for profit haha

    • I wanted the money to invest in other projects and I know that in less than a year I will have an equally valuable site.

      Could it have sold for more? Maybe. That niche is volatile right now and people are not really sure how much longer it will last. Charging more may never have sold.

      I did the math too and I wanted 1 year’s worth of revenue for it. Very few sites on Flippa ever sell for more than 3 months automates revenue. It was a decision that once made, took six months of careful planning.

      • Peter

        I don’t think that anyone is bothered by your motivations to sell the site – the issue is that you are now positioning yourself as being an “expert” on how to build a sell sites for $50,000.

        Its hard to escape that positioning when you use headlines like

        “How to Build and Sell a Website Worth $50,000”

        on a report intended to make money via affiliate links or to build reputation.

        If this was about a real small bricks and mortar business that you built up over 3 years and sold at auction on one bid from one bidder after reducing the asking price to years earnings I can guarantee that you would not be writing books on “how to start and sell small businesses”.

        That’s how ridiculously low the bar is online – the most modest of results – no body is saying you failed here becomes “bragging rights” and a platform to move into the “how to make money online” niche by those hardly qualified to do so.

        That’s the rub here – not that you sold your business for $50 K but that your now an “expert” offering advice on how to build and sell $50 K websites.

        Not having a go at you personally – you are following a well beaten path carved out but countless others : )

        • I’m not really sure how to react to this. Hindsight is 20/20 but the site I created had a lot of risk involved with buying it.

          Anyone who understands marketing knows that I should have required your email in exchange for this report. I didn’t because I wanted to help people more than make money from them.

          Equating me to a novice is completely out of line. I don’t know everything but I certainly know enough to keep learning and being successful. A $50,000 sale is more than 99.9% of online marketers will make in a year. So what is an expert then? Only seven figure earners?

    • Nick I’d have to agree with that.

      I would buy the site for that price and then resell it at retail value.

      In my opinion the multiple paid is wholesale value, much like all the sites that sell on fippa. I hav’t seen a decent site sell for anything over 2 years revenue.

      Which in my opinion is cheap. That is a 50% return on investment.

      When average joe is getting a 6% return on their investment property. Sure websites might be slightly more risky but I’ll stick to my virtual real estate any day.

      • There were seven bids made on the site privately as well as the winner. They ranged from $15,000 to $50,000.

  • I’ve heard of a website or domain that sold millions of times more than the price first, as fund.com, but I still can not imagine my Website sold with a fantastic price, but all is possible. safely enjoy the fruits of hard work friend

  • Amazing story!. Would be great if you could drop me a message on YouTube.

    Thanks,

    David Edwards

  • Great info – thanks for sharing! All of this blogging is so exciting and fun. I learn a few new things each day from your blog and others. Then I go work on my own site to improve it.

  • Congragulations!- and very well documented narrative. It should help folks out there believe that “yes it is possible to make a living in this arena”.

  • Hi Chris,

    Know the Why in the What. That’s why #4 is so crucial. ID this reason, as it will be your driver.

    Thanks!

    Ryan

  • I’ve sold websites on Flippa and used Escrow too – worked like a charm. On the flip side of that, the most successful sale I had I conducted privately in 2008. I selected the top 4 affiliates I was earning with since they obviously knew what I was earning from them and I alerted my contacts that I was selling and what the asking price was. Within 4 days I accepted an offer of $98,000.

    Just another option to keep in mind :) Congrats by the way :)

    • You’rve right gayla.

      Most good sites pass hands privately.

      The best deals you never even hear about.

  • Can we sell blog that are hosted on blogger.com?

    • Peter

      And you are running a teach people to make money online site ?

      I made some previous comments about the author of this post using this experience to leverage himself into the “teach people to make money online niche” this is a great example of what I am talking about.

      How can you run such a site and ask this question ?

  • Great information,Thanks for sharing and congrats

  • Pedro

    Do you still can use Escrow if you’re outside of the USA? I mean, european seller and american buyer, for example?

  • THANKS for sharing , nice bit of info for website sellers !

  • I’m still trying to figure out how to make money from my sites. However, this is great information for future reference.

  • I haven’t yet sold a blog, but this guildline is good for my preparation. Thanks for the good info!

  • Wow, $50k from flippa? Most of the sites on Flippa are junk. I could see how Blogspot.com would fetch some pretty big dough.

  • Jon

    wow, amazing!. I’m still trying to find ways in which to make money from my sites, your posts are an inspiration to me….

  • Very Nice Tips Chris.. its really inspiring.

  • It would be hard to sell a site. I would want it to go to a good home.

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