How to Sell a Website in 2021 and Get the Price You Deserve – Kinsta
Are you tired of running the day-to-day of your ecommerce store? Did you suddenly get a new job offer that’s getting in the way of your online business? Do you want to disconnect from the urban chaos and live offline in the countryside? This guide will show you exactly how to sell a website and get the highest price for it.
If you’re worried that selling websites won’t be worth it, you might want to rethink. You can get between 20–40 times your monthly net profit. This article will show you exactly how to do that.
Excited? Let’s begin!
How Long Does It Take to Sell a Website?
Most website brokers and marketplaces have an active listing period of between 30–180 days. But that doesn’t mean that a month or two will net you the price you want for your online business.
You can compare a website sale to a startup exit or the sale of a home in many ways.
You need to invest the time to take your website to its peak. You also have to lay the foundation for new ownership before reaching out to buyers. If you fail to do this, you will struggle even to find a willing buyer in the first place.
The more time, money, and effort you put in up-front, the easier the sale will be. A well-managed online business with automated content creation processes and fulfillment is much easier to sell than an improvised mess.
We have included some essential steps to take before you should even consider listing your website for sale.
The 7-Steps to Selling Your Website for Big Bucks
Selling your website or online business might seem like a complicated process. When you add in steps to try to maximize the value pre-sale, things get even more complex. Below, we outline a 7-step process that will help you navigate this challenge.
1. Diversify Your Traffic Sources
If your business is currently relying primarily on paid traffic and ads, you should diversify your traffic sources before considering a sale. In particular, you want to focus on increasing your organic traffic.
Organic sources of traffic have higher profit margins, but that’s not all. Experienced buyers and brokers put a lot of value on long-term stability and ease of management.
There’s a big difference in the value of an ecommerce store driven by micro-influencer promotions and one that consistently attracts thousands of organic visitors month after month.
Steady organic search engine traffic from Google shows buyers that they won’t go broke on advertising.
As an example, A-Z Animals had a relatively low earnings number compared to their monthly visitors. Even though some months didn’t clear $5,000 in revenue, it sold for over $300,000.
But the traffic sources were organic, near guaranteeing hundreds of thousands of visitors each month for years to come. Successful sellers know how to highlight this with Google Analytics and Search Console reports.
Organic traffic reports help interested buyers assess untapped earnings potential. They might have the network or resources to improve the business model and improve the revenue generated per visit.
We will cover this example in more detail below, but the main takeaway is that stable, organic traffic is a great sales argument. It can even drive up the value of your business even without an actual business model.
To get more organic traffic, check out our extensive 45-point WordPress SEO checklist. Many of the tips apply even if you use BigCommerce or Shopify instead of WooCommerce.
If you’re already nailing organic traffic, make sure that you take advantage of email marketing and social media to build up a platform of returning visitors. These audiences are a powerful asset to any ecommerce store or online business, even if you’re on your way out.
Repeat sales to existing customers will also look great when you’re trying to sell your business.
2. Create Processes and Use Third-party Services
Some types of websites and ecommerce stores require more involvement than others. If you are running an ecommerce store and are currently fulfilling your orders yourself, you should change that before selling the business. You must minimize your involvement in the business as much as possible before selling it.
Potential buyers who have the capital to buy a business for a flat fee of tens of thousands of dollars aren’t looking for another full-time job. They are looking for ready-made investment opportunities. That typically means a business that’s automated and requires very little hands-on work.
If they don’t think your business meets the mark, they will be quick to ask questions.
Here, a potential buyer is concerned about maintaining the WordPress plugins that are the seller’s primary income source. It’s a glimpse into the priorities of your target market: they don’t want to take over a business—to have to devote their lives to it—as it falls apart at the seams.
To help alleviate concerns like this, follow the checklist below.
Automated processes checklist:
- Train a virtual assistant to handle day-to-day business tasks (customer support, operations, etc.).
- Handle order fulfillment with a third-party service.
- Outsource new content creation to reliable writers and designers.
- For software products, line up freelance developers to handle updates and hotfixes.
- Automate CMS updates and backups.
Note: You can also opt for a managed WordPress hosting provider like Kinsta, where we handle backups for you.
The more you can remove yourself from the process, the better. Of course, these expenses only become selling arguments if your site’s revenues cover them without issue.
3. Get Your Financials and Traffic Reports in Order
Nobody is going to invest in a business that doesn’t have evidence of its finances and assets. If one of your online business assets is organic traffic or a social media following, take steps to document this properly.
Keep in mind that marketplaces and brokers require months of verified financial and traffic reports.
So make sure that you have installed Google Analytics or an alternative on your website. Sales reports can typically just be exported from any ecommerce tool and are less of an issue.
Recommended financial reports:
- Profit & Loss Explained (PnL Explained or P&L Explain)
- Proof of Sales (Amazon/AdSense/WooCommerce/Shopify/BigCommerce reports)—most brokers require at least 6–12 months of reporting.
- Ad Spend
Recommended traffic reports:
- Google Analytics: Most brokers require at least three months of verified Google Analytics reporting.
- Google Search Console Reports: You can use them to demonstrate the potential value of your organic traffic.
- Ads Reports: Whether it’s Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or other ad networks, if one of your primary traffic sources is ads, supply the relevant reports to prove your profit and loss numbers.
4. Choose the Right Marketplace or Broker
Once you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s, it’s time to move on to the selling part. The first part is choosing the right place to sell it.
Since you’re reading this blog post, you are probably wondering:
Where Can I Sell My Website?
The best place to sell your website is with proven website brokers or website marketplaces. They are much more effective than marketing on your website or social media pages. They also act as intermediaries between you and the buyer, handling the sale with an escrow system.
We’ve prepared a shortlist of the three most reputable marketplaces and brokers. These platforms have handled a combined volume of well over a million dollars in sales last week alone.
Since the number one priority when making a sale is reliability, ensuring that no one steals your site or runs off with your money, we’ve focused on the brokers with the best track record.
Users have sold more than 38,000 websites on Flippa since it launched. Flippa is an open auction platform similar to eBay. By default, anyone can see and bid on your website. To avoid inspiring competitors and reveal your niche, you can also choose to make your listing confidential.
Fees: $49 for listing, 10% of successful sales of up to $50k (15% if you elect to use a broker).
Flippa is the only website that has a viewable catalog of recently sold sites. You can visit these for inspiration and compare the final prices to your bids.
Empire Flippers is a website broker that focuses on online businesses of all sizes. The minimum requirement for a listing is $1,000 in net monthly profit.
They have sold nearly $245 million worth of websites since their launch.
Fees: $0 to list, percentage of the sale
The success commission depends on the list price of your business:
- 2% for firms above $10 million
- 5% to any companies between $5–10 million
- 8% for businesses between $2–5 million
- 12% for firms between a $1–2 million
- 15% for firms under $1 million
One of the benefits of choosing a broker like Empire Flippers is that potential buyers already trust them. They have rigorous requirements for sellers and their websites. That helps you ensure that you prepare everything a buyer would want.
Your potential buyers will be more confident in the numbers you put forward because a trusted third party has verified them.
They have handled more than $60 million in sales since their launch in 2010, a number that continues to rise.
Fees: $0; ~14% commission
There is no listing fee. The commission is the only expense related to selling a website with FE International.
The commission varies on the deal size, and they have no public guidelines. But in an interview with Growth Everywhere, FEI’s CEO stated their average commission is around 14%.
5. Know Your Potential Buyer and Customize Your Sales Page
When you’re creating a page to sell your website, you need to know who your prospective buyers are and what they are looking for in a website. Watch this interview Empire Flippers did with a buyer and listen to his priorities and his fears.
Look through recently sold websites on Flippa that met the profit multiple that you want to achieve. Consider factors like traffic sources, reliable documentation, and labor intensity. You might be able to find a pattern where one aspect stands out as vital in your industry.
86% of consumers are more interested in products from companies that provide relevant content.
If you can provide all the content, reports, and details that your ideal buyer wants, you’re one step ahead of the game. They will feel more comfortable bidding on your website, and their upper limit will be much higher than if they had any unanswered doubts.
Since all significant brokers charge a commission, they have an incentive to market your website. The larger the potential deal, the bigger the motivation to push your listing and finalize the sale.
That’s another reason to get all your ducks in a row before getting a listing done.
If you choose a broker like Empire Flippers, they will design the sales page for you and handle the advertising.
6. Prepare Your Team or Virtual Assistants for the Sale
Once you’ve decided to sell the business, you need to prepare everyone involved for the potential transfer of ownership. Ensure all the stakeholders understand the situation and that the core members are ready to help the buyer transition into the role of owner/operator.
You can make things easier for yourself by using modern team management solutions like Slack, where transferring ownership is a straightforward process.
That way, they can instantly see all the projects in the pipeline. You don’t have to forward hundreds of emails relevant to the business.
You should also handle any email on a transferable business account rather than your personal Gmail. It’s beneficial for customer service issues and similar communications.
7. Know What Your Site is Worth
To avoid losing big, you need to know what your website is worth. Before you pull the trigger and sell your website, you should have a rough idea of what it could bring in.
Typically the value lies in a range between 15–30 times your monthly profit (or 1–3 times your annual profit). Generally, you can calculate this number using the average over the last 12 months.
The average price for websites sold in 2015 ranged from 2.2 to 2.9 times, depending on the industry.
For the individual site, there are other factors, such as the expected longevity of sales, traffic sources, expenses, amount of work required, and so on.
We’ve already covered the process of estimating the value of your website in-depth in another post. But the average multiples listed above should give you some idea of how much you can expect to net.
The “rule” of 2–3 times your yearly net profit isn’t a hard rule. If you’ve seen steady, fast-paced growth over the past six months, you can expect your projected earnings to be different, which means your site valuation should reflect that.
On the list of recently sold websites on Flippa, you can see one site sold for over 5.6 times its annual profits. Another website barely scratched 2.0 times. There were other key factors, but the key difference is that one buyer set an instant “Buy It Now” price that was lower than three times annual profits.
If you’ve seen similar businesses reach higher numbers in the last year, don’t rush yourself when you try to sell your website.
5 Websites that Sold for Over $100,000 in 2021
In this section, we take a closer look at five websites that have sold for $100,000 and above in 2021. We quickly analyze the moving parts of why they were able to sell for such a high price.
Jobs For Felons Hub — Sold for $500,000
Industry: Advertising (Business)
Jobs For Felons Hub sold for a whopping $500,00 on Flippa in 2021.
Why was this website able to get so much more than average?
The traffic and business model tell the main story.
SimilarWeb estimates around 56,000 monthly visitors for this site.
But that’s not all: over 85% of this traffic comes from organic search results.
The traffic source breakdown starts to show part of the whole picture. This site’s organic traffic and SEO strategies are robust, earning them a ranking beyond most websites in the same category without investing a penny in paid advertising efforts.
As you might have guessed from the domain name, this online business focuses on helping convicted felons find employment—a service that’s increasingly in demand. Its focus is on delivering quality content to help boost job-seeker prospects and provide a search aggregation platform for felon-friendly job listings in the form of a job board.
A 2010 study from the University of Georgia found that 3% of the United States population has a current or prior felony conviction on their record. And that number has only continued to rise.
Even considering that not all felons will seek work online, that’s a large audience.
While the content Jobs For Felons Hub provides is a driver for their business, it’s their affiliate links that are the cornerstone of their business model—a fact they allude to on their website.
The site also engages in targeted on-page advertising through Ezoic, a website monetization platform. With so much content delivered through their pages and blog, Jobs For Felons Hub has ample opportunity to collect affiliate commissions from readers.
ArtCove — Sold for $210,000
Industry: ecommerce (Home and Garden)
ArtCove has an entirely different foundation and business model. But it still netted a hefty sum of $210,000 for a respectable $13,339/month in net profit.
If we take a look at their traffic numbers, we quickly realize that traffic’s not the reason why.
According to SimilarWeb, it can’t show any stats due to insufficient data. It means the traffic is low enough that they have no way of providing a monthly estimate. Sites like this typically see a few thousand visits or so per month.
Using Ahrefs, we can see that traffic for the site is on the low end than other sold websites in this list, with only around 2,500 organic visitors each month.
With such low traffic, how did they manage to sell for over $200,000?
The business model is the straightforward retail of art supplies.
What’s unique about ArtCove is that it started as a brick-and-mortar business in the 70s. Then it evolved into an online-only retailer by 2015 to keep up with the changing business world and reach a broader consumer base.
Their long history lends them credence as a genuine and successful vendor. Having such an established business serves them well in regards to customer retention.
ArtCove has also built an established presence across social media. Their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts are frequently updated and carefully curated to appeal to artists and crafters.
A fully functioning retail business—complete with built-in suppliers, content, sales tactics, and loyal customers—can be invaluable to those looking to invest in a turnkey operation. In this way, even the most mundane of product-based websites can earn a significant profit during sales, so long as they can illustrate a concrete history of success.
Tiredeets.com — Sold for $200,000
Industry: Advertising (Automotive)
Tiredeets.com is a blog dedicated to reviewing tires for automobiles. Their model is fully content-driven.
This site has exceptionally healthy traffic for a site in its niche, with around 370,000 visits per month on average.
As with Jobs For Felons Hub, the majority of this traffic comes from organic search. Some of the top organic keywords are highly relevant. They guide users with high purchase intent to the website for zero recurring costs.
As a blog, Tiredeets.com relies on bringing in an audience of motorists with their SEO efforts, then makes the most of each user’s visit with on-page targeted advertising. The profits from these combined efforts earn the site owner an impressive $5,471 per month.
Icebrooks — Sold for $117,382
Industry: ecommerce (Jewelry & Accessories)
Icebrooks is the first ecommerce store on this list with self-branded products.
As with ArtCove, the traffic isn’t the reason behind the final price.
Compared to other items in our list, traffic for Icebrooks is nearly nonexistent. Much of this has to do with the fact that the website is brand new as of 2020—it hasn’t had the time yet to reach critical mass for visitors.
However, this may also speak to the site’s lack of content and general SEO strategy. The new owner could be planning to fortify this.
Icebrooks sells high-end gold jewelry products in an ecommerce store. The prices range from $71 to $561, with all original prices visibly slashed and reduced.
The products are physical, so they do need to be handled and shipped. But they offer a “Pay later” option on top of the standard prepayment option, which doubtless appeals to many shoppers.
They also rely heavily on advertising their past customers’ reviews. Icebrooks utilizes Loox, a Shopify app, to aggregate and display customer pictures and comments on their site.
Audio Assemble — Sold for $100,001
Industry: Advertising (Entertainment)
Another content website, Audio Assemble, sold for $100,001 with roughly $3,300 in monthly revenue. It labels itself a “one-stop audio engineering learning center for aspiring musicians and audio engineers,” It focuses on driving traffic through content that ranges from product reviews to student resources.
The site earns roughly 120,000 visitors per month, nearly all of which is organic traffic.
The readers they draw in are likely to click on the affiliate links displayed throughout the site since the traffic is 100% organic. You can disregard the bounce rate more readily in this case.
Audio Assemble’s business model is almost exclusively affiliate marketing. The site features a list of partner links in their product reviews and comparisons. There is no inventory, fulfillment, or customer service involved.
Although it has less potential for continued growth, the ease of operation and the opportunity for niche exploitation led to its final price ending at 2.5 times the yearly net profit—nearly as high a profit margin as Jobs For Felons Hub.
When you’re selling your website online, it’s essential not to go in ignorantly. Actively study sites that successfully sold for prices you’re pursuing.
Be patient, invest in your website, and improve it as much as you can. Figure out your potential buyers and learn to speak their language.
Finally, pick the right platform for your business and create a listing that focuses on your site’s most vital selling points.
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