Start An Online Business By Buying An Existing Website

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Many of you reading this are only just getting started with your own website or blog online. I have talked a lot about methods to set up your own website from the beginning, but a growing number of people are starting their own online business by buying an existing website.

Website For Sale

Risky Business!

It can be daunting starting your own business. You can conduct huge amounts of market research, calculate financial projections, even get investment, but starting a business is always a bit of a gamble. Approximately 90% of all new businesses fail within their first year, whether you are an inexperienced novice just starting out, or a veteran of the business world with years of experience. That is just business! There will always be more risk and uncertainty with any new business, compared to an established one with a proven track record.

The exact same principles apply to websites! Most new websites never last beyond the first 12 months, whether they are run by a novice individual or a huge corporation. That is the nature of websites!

Buying And Selling Websites

Buying & Selling Websites

Anyone thinking of making a living online has a choice to make. Either start from scratch and build up your own website or buy an existing blog!

There is a huge market for buying and selling websites online. Sites like Flippa make their money from doing exactly that, by advertising sites that are up for sale. There are tens of thousands of profitable websites up for sale that are looking for new owners.

But if these websites are already doing so well, why are they up for sale? Many people think this, but there can be endless valid reasons for wanting to sell up. Many people make careers from building up websites from scratch and then selling them on (known as website flipping), some people move on to bigger and better things, they need to pay off bills, etc.

Buying a website has one major downside however. It can cost significantly more to buy an existing website business with an established customer base, rather than build your own from scratch. You are essentially paying a premium for the effort that it takes to set up a site from scratch and get it generating income and traffic.

There is an argument that it is better to start at the bottom and work your way up. You can learn so much by starting from scratch yourself, rather that buying an established site, which will give you the experience to further help your business in the future. I myself, would recommend that getting started from scratch is the best option, especially if this is your first time running your own website. You are going to make mistakes along the way, so it would be better to make them and learn from them from the start, rather than risking your investment in an established business. But that is an opinion!

How To Find The Right Site To Buy

Sites like Flippa list loads of sites that are up for sale. You need to begin by browsing through them and finding any that interest you, after all, there is no point running a business that you have no interest in. You will be spending a lot of time working on it, so having a keen interest in the subject matter is key, otherwise you will get bored and not put in the required effort to make it succeed. There is no point getting involved in a business that specializes in pet fashion products if you don’t like animals, or a business that deals in religious events if you are an atheist!

Make sure that you discount sites that are very new, or that blatantly over exaggerate themselves. These types of sites can usually be created easily yourself from scratch, so there is no point paying over the odds for them.

At this point you should have a list of potential sites that interest you. You can whittle these down further, simply by doing a bit of research on them. Whenever someone puts their website up for sale, they have to provide certain information that usually wouldn’t be publicly available. This includes traffic statistics, financial information, analytics data, Adsense income, etc. You can learn a lot from the information provided, which should tell you whether you want to buy the site or not.

Act like a Property Developer

Website Flipping

You don’t always have to bid for existing sites that have a good track record. Some sites don’t work simply because there is not a market for them, however some sites haven’t worked because they haven’t been run properly! Finding sites that just need improving can be a good way of getting your business started.

Property developers are an excellent example of this method in action. They try to find run down or derelict houses that are in excellent locations and then renovate them. These derelict houses can often be bought on the cheap and sold on for a huge profit when they have been completed.

People do the exact same thing with websites. Individuals could start a site within an excellent niche, or acquire a brilliant domain name and then never really develop the site to make the most of it. These types of sites are excellent examples of investment opportunities. Buy them and develop them into a successful business, which can then be sold on or run yourself.

Buying A Website

Should you find a site that you are interested in buying, then you need to bid on it, just like you would for an item listed on eBay. If you are successful, then congratulations! You are now the new owner of an existing business which you can then build upon. If you are outbid, don’t worry! Hopefully you will have learnt a lot from conducting research into the sites that interested you. You can use this information to make better informed decisions on future bids on websites, or take the plunge and get stuck in making your own website from scratch.

Hope you found this helpful.  Please leave your comments below & feel free to ask any questions.

About Matt Smith

Matt Smith is the founder and editor of OnlineIncomeTeacher. He is a Professional Blogger, SEO Consultant & Web Developer, running a number of sites from the UK. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

  • Zack Richards

    Hi Matt, great post! Its a good idea to look at buying a pre-made site instead of starting from scratch. Though I suppose it depends on the site you want to buy

    • Yes, of course! There is no point investing in a site that you could make yourself for a fraction of the price. But, if you can find that one site that you are interested in & already has an established visitor base, then it is worth buying

  • It is a great post but I want to comment from the other side of the transaction. I also want to support your comment about reasons why an otherwise good web site might be for sale.

    About 4 weeks ago I paid for a basic listing on Flippa to sell an entire web site including the domain (SameDayClean.com) because the client who ordered the site disappeared after running up a bill. I did get an upfront deposit – I always do – but he left a balance I want to recover.

    What is disappointing about Flippa is a very low number of views and, naturally, a total lack of bids, with about two days left to go.

    I am not impressed with how Flippa is structured for someone paying for a basic listing. The listing is allowed a single tag. There is no other promotion. My conclusion is that Flippa is no more helpful to the shopper than to the seller.

    • Hi Joe, Thank You for your honest opinion, it is always good to hear both sides point of view. Flippa is the most popular site for people wanting to buy & sell website, but it does have its flaws. You are right, it can have low numbers of viewers, but there is only a small population of people that are interested in buying & selling sites. Can you recommend any other sites that you would use to buy/sell a website on?

      • You asked, “Can you recommend any other sites that you would use to buy/sell a website on? ”

        Arrgghh – I was about to ask you the same question. There are sites that sell Domain Names. I know that some of them offer listings of names together with a functioning web site. I have no experience with any of them.

        Anyway, thanks for a good article.

        • I wouldn’t say that I could recommend these sites because I havn’t used them myself, but as well as ‘Flippa.com’ try ‘WebsiteBroker.com’, ‘WebsiteToSell.com’ or ‘SitePaw.com’.

          If anyone else has any recommendations of places to buy/sell websites, please leave a comment.

          • CyberTron

            Hi Matt (another Matt here) SitePaw was offline, WebsiteToSell only had one listing….

  • It is a great post but I want to comment from the other side of the transaction. I also want to support your comment about reasons why an otherwise good web site might be for sale.

    About 4 weeks ago I paid for a basic listing on Flippa to sell an entire web site including the domain (SameDayClean.com) because the client who ordered the site disappeared after running up a bill. I did get an upfront deposit – I always do – but he left a balance I want to recover.

    What is disappointing about Flippa is a very low number of views and, naturally, a total lack of bids, with about two days left to go.

    I am not impressed with how Flippa is structured for someone paying for a basic listing. The listing is allowed a single tag. There is no other promotion. My conclusion is that Flippa is no more helpful to the shopper than to the seller.

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  • Austin SEO

    Buying a blog can be a nerve-wracking process if you’re doing it for the first time but do look on the site’s performance as a start…thanks for providing us with this helpful info.

    • Hi Austin,

      Yes, buying a blog for the first time can be a bit of a nervy process. That’s why I always think that you should get to know blogging first with a scratch built site before dipping your toe in the world of blog auctions.

      Still, if someone is going to buy a website, they should do it properly through Flippa. Stay well away from eBay!!! Most sites that are sold on eBay are dodgy and aren’t worth the money. Like you say, look up a site’s stats before committing to anything.

  • Issa

    I tried Safe Site Buying dot com to have professionals assess the websites that I am interested in. I even found a coupon code online (ssb20), which gave me an amazing 20% discount off Flippa’s products.If you’re looking to spend thousands of dollars for your website, I think these sites are worth checking out.

  • Buying a website is not such an easiest task thousands things need to consider before going to buy an website, So this blog found very helpful to whom buy website first time also for those who are old in the market.