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How to Sell a Website Fast

Buying and Selling websites has been a part of my life for more than a decade. In this guide I will share with you everything you need to know about how to sell a website.  

From small sites purchased for under $1k to multi six-figure deals, it has been a big part of my daily activity. Several well-timed sales were a big part of what gave me both the runway and confidence to pull the trigger on leaving my successful day job and pursuing online entrepreneurship full time

In this article you will learn:

  • How to sell your website fast!
  • Free tools – Listing Comparison Calculator
  • Should you sell?
  • How to prepare for the sale
  • Where to sell your site
  • Value of your website
  • How to negotiate a fair deal
  • How to protect yourself and transfer safely
  • Follow up like a boss

Plus, I will share some fun stories from the ten plus years I have been doing this, from calling a Monk at a monastery about a website sale, to dealing with the dark side of brokers and their clients and other interesting adventures I have had. 

Who is this article for?

If you are thinking about selling your website (specifically a content website or a blog monetized with display ads or affiliate links) this article will provide you with all the information you need to guide you through the process. 

This article is not focused on e-commerce or SAAS business models. However, if those businesses have content marketing with search traffic as one of their marketing channels and are looking to sell, this article will still be relevant. 

I Want to Sell My Website Fast (in Under 24hrs)

If you need to sell your website fast there are limited options out there. However, if you have all your information together and are prepared to sell at a slight discount there is one option. 

Best Option for Selling Your Website Fast – MotionInvest.com

MotionInvest.com was started by myself, Spencer Haws of Niche Pursuits and Kelley Van Boxmeer. We buy and sell websites directly, allowing us to move MUCH faster and be the most efficient place to buy or sell your website. 

Benefits of Selling via MotionInvest:

  • Fast Sale – Ability to close in under 24hrs if you need it fast
  • Guaranteed Sale – You don’t need to hope it will sell … we buy it directly
  • Easy & Hands Off Transfer – No hand-holding or training after the sale
  • No Listing Fees or Success Fees – Sell your website for free
  • Fair Market Price – Fast sales are typically low ball offers but we offer a fair market price
  • Non Invasive Due Diligence – Simple due diligence – analytics & earnings proof only required. No 50 part questionnaire or calls required. 

If you don’t happen to get a fast enough response and need cash in your account today feel free to reach out to me directly at jon (at) authoritywebsiteincome (dot) com and I will be sure to move it along. 

Sell Your Website – https://www.motioninvest.com/sell-site/

Of course I am biased, but I do recommend checking out MotionInvest first if you are looking to sell your site. If you are not happy with our offer then by all means explore other options but remember, they will take more time and effort on your end. 

Resources to Help You Sell Your Website

To help you sell your website and guide you through the process, I have created several tools that show your options and which one is right for your given circumstances. 

Which Option Is Right For You – Free Calculator

When it comes to selling your site there are 4 variables that matter the most in determining how much money you should receive:

  • How much your site is making (profit / month)
  • How much you sell it for (multiple on that profit – ex 24x monthly)
  • How long it takes to sell / how much effort it takes
  • How much you pay in fees (what is your final take home)

This free calculator compares the 3 options available to you:

  • MotionInvest.com – No listing fee, No success fee, very fast but expect a lower multiple
  • Flippa.com – $50 non refundable listing fee, 10% success fee and takes 1-2 months
  • Brokers (such as Quiet Light Brokerage or EmpireFlippers) – Typically a $297 non refundable listing fee, 15% success fee but a higher multiple is likely achievable and it takes much longer, 2-8 months.

So depending on how you value your time, at some point, in terms of profit / month, it could make sense to list via a Broker compared to MotionInvest.com 

This calculator helps you visualize the difference between your options. Simply enter your monthly net profit and you can see the impact in terms of your take home. 

Click Here to Access the Free Calculator

How to Create a PnL – Free Template

What is a website’s PnL? A PnL is a profit and loss statement that shows the revenue, expenses and the resulting net profit for a business, in this case for a website. 

The template I have shared below is custom built for an income producing content website and is easy to update. It covers 3 main sections: 

  • Income – list all the sources of revenue the site is generating
  • Expenses – list all the expenses, generally for a content site there are very few
  • Add-Backs – any expenses that the new owner won’t need to incur (see more below explaining adbacks) 

What does TTM mean? TTM stands for the Last or Trailing 12 Months a business has been operating. It is often how a website is valued – what was the average profit for a website over the last 12 months. The alternative is to look at the last fiscal years books but in the world of income producing websites, with the speed at which things can change, you always want to be looking at the most recent information. 

What is an Add-Back? When selling a business there are expenses that will not be carried forward to the new owner. For example, the legal fees to set up the business in the first place and your salary are not going to be ongoing expenses for the new owner and therefore get “added back”. As an example, if you have a website making enough to clear $1k in net profit while also paying you a salary of $3k/month the effective net profit after add backs would be $4k/month. For larger more complex businesses the EBITA earnings before interest tax and amortization gets used. More info on add-backs and EBITA

Should content be considered an add back? If you have invested in content marketing, you need to consider whether this was a one time expense or should it be considered an ongoing expense. The beauty of content marketing is that when it works as planned you spend money on content creation now and reap the benefits for years to come. For this reason it is generally treated as an add-back. Of course if the business requires continual updating of the content, you should forecast that into your expected expenses moving forward. 

Click Here to Access the Free Website PnL

Making the Decision – Should You Sell Your Website?

One of the often not talked about but critical aspects of selling a website is making the decision to sell. Should you sell or hold? 

In this section I am going to go over the most common reasons for selling and reasons for holding. 

Plus I will go over some of my personal stories and why I decided to sell or not.

Personal Stories – Why did I decide to sell. 

  • Multi Six Figure 100% Ownership Sale – I had two metrics when I was wanting to leave my day job… 1st was to have a set monthly income and the 2nd was to have a certain runway in the bank (runway = x months of expenses in the bank). I had achieved the first but hadn’t yet achieved our family’s runway target, so I made the decision to trade some of the surplus profit (above my monthly target) for a lump sum that would push us past our runway target. This strategy allowed me to trade cash today for a lump sum that achieved my dual targets of monthly income and runway, triggering us to make the decision to leave my day job and make money online
  • Six Figure Minority Stake Sale – I sold a portion of one website to a strategic investor at a discount who would be in a position to help grow the business. Ultimately, increasing the overall value of the business with their involvement, was my reason for selling. 
  • Sub Six Figures 100% Ownership Sale of Content Sites – Why do I sell some of my smaller sites? Typically I will look to offload some of my smaller sites when they either no longer are a focus for my portfolio (and they require attention) or a strategic buyer becomes available. If I can sell a site to someone that can take it further because of some synergies with other properties, I am always happy to do so at a fair market price because I know other opportunities will present themselves down the road.

Why You Should Sell Your Website

Here are some of the most common reasons people list when selling websites, but in general it almost always comes back to two factors (Time & Money):

  1. Cash out – The simplest one… trade your site now for a lump sum of cash. 
  2. Free up time – If your site is taking up time to operate it then selling now to maximize the value might be the right decision.
  3. Passion has faded – If the site or blog was started as a passion project and you found success but that passion has faded it’s usually a good idea to sell. Often when the passion for a project has faded a gradual decline will start. Selling as soon as you lose that passion is critical.  
  4. Focus on another business – Has another project started to take up more of your resources (time and money)? If the opportunity on another project is greater then the return you can achieve with your current project, then it certainly makes sense to sell.  
  5. Unexpected bills – Has an unexpected tax, house or medical bill popped up? If so, selling an online income generating asset to cover that expense can be the right decision. 

Everyone’s situation is always unique but these seem to be the most common reasons someone decides to sell. 

Why You Should NOT Sell Your Website

Why would you potentially decide to NOT sell your website? Here are some of the most common reasons for myself personally and what I often hear other people say: 

  • Value Destruction – If a website’s value is reliant on your personal involvement, it can be hard to sell and you may be forced to accept a significant discount. For example, if I were to try and sell AuthorityWebsiteIncome.com it would not go for as high a multiple as a site in my portfolio that was not attached to me personally. Any site that requires YOU will generally see value destroyed when it is transferred to new owners. 
  • Rapidly growing – If a site is rapidly growing it can be a good reason to hold onto the site until you see where the meteoric growth will start to slow. 
  • Rapidly declining – If a site has recently been hit by a Google update or on a significant decline people will be very cautious about buying it and therefore require a significant risk-adjusted discount. It is almost always best to ride the decline until it stabilizes and then sell for a fair multiple at whatever the new normal is. Sometimes you will ride it all the way down to zero but even if that is the case, I would argue it is much better to not dump a potentially worthless asset onto someone. 
  • Potential growth – If you know there are some options to see significant growth and have the time/resources to execute on the plan then holding onto the site would likely make sense.  

Prepare for the Sale

Now that you made the decision to sell it is time to prepare for the sale.

If you are after a fast sale all you need is your earnings proof and analytics. You can submit that and get an offer quickly here.  

If you have some time (6-12 months before listing for sale and another 2-8 months for the sale) and are looking to maximize the value of your site, here are some activities to do. 

  1. Revenue opportunities maximized – Having a stable or growing revenue trajectory is one of the most important things to do when it comes to getting a good multiple for your site.
    1. Improve your display advertising CPM via either direct advertising deals or if you are only using adsense try mediavine or ezoic 
    2. Review your top 10 most visited pages and identify opportunities to maximize revenue on those pages. Doing some conversion rate optimization (CRO) split testing on those pages can make a big difference. For ideas, look at 21+ tips for improving CRO for affiliate sites
    3. Make sure all affiliate links are working and linking to relevant products. Over time, especially Amazon Affiliate websites, you may be linking to products that are no longer in stock. Ensure each link has the right tag and is linking to a product in stock.  
    4. Do you have an email list you have done nothing with? Time to start engaging. Lots of sites will have an email list that has not been engaged with.
  2. Clean up backlink profile – Should you consider disavowing some links to ensure your backlink profile is healthy. Using SEMRush or other tools you can disavow links that are “toxic” and put your site at risk. 
  3. Google Analytics installed – If it isn’t installed INSTALL IT, for better or worse it is the default in this industry and is needed to validate the authenticity of your traffic. 
  4. Diversify traffic sources – If you are completely dependent on a single traffic source it is time to consider other options like social, affiliate or paid. Here is an in depth article of other traffic sources to consider.
  5. Grow your traffic – If you aren’t upgrading your content or doing consistent content marketing, now would be a great time to start. 
  6. Website design – this sounds crazy but huge discounts get applied to ugly sites. But don’t make any drastic architecture changes that could impact your rankings. If you need some help with redesigning a website the team at BrandBuilders makes very good looking money making websites and can help. 
  7. Procedure and SOPs – For any activities that occur within your business make sure there is a procedure for it. Including any content marketing, monetization, team management or social media tasks
  8. Work On Your Business … Not In Your Business – The less involvement needed by you now, or the new owner when they take over, the more valuable your business will be to them. People want an income producing asset not a job. An amazing book on the topic is called Traction.
  9. Clean PnL – Make sure the PnL is clean and verifiable for all earnings and expenses. Make sure the affiliate tags are not a complete mess in Amazon and you have the ability to track each affiliate link directly. You can use this template I created for free. 
  10. Contracts – If there are key staff, affiliate or writer relationships that are critical to the value of the business then getting an affiliate MoU in place is a great step to maximize the value of the business.
  11. Do not get your account suspended – Whatever your monetization method is make sure you are staying compliant so there are no weird drops in earnings that you need to explain. If you are an Amazon Affiliate owner, check out this complete guide on Amazon affiliate requirements to be sure to not get your account suspended. 
  12. It is important to have a list of all the assets included in the sale and easy access to them in a secure location like a password manager such as LastPass or 1Password and not just in a Google Sheet. An example of accounts you should have listed and ensure access to could include domain names, hosting arrangements, social media accounts and email list.

Recommended Places to Sell Your Website

In my selling websites comparison table described earlier, I introduced the three basic options for where to sell your website but I will go into more depth in this section, including some of my personal experience at various locations.

Process for How to Sell a Website based on the Option:

Again, of course I am a little biased being a part owner of MotionInvest but will try and present an accurate description of the process.

MotionInvest

  1. Provide information (analytics access & earnings proof) here (and if you are looking to sell very fast make sure to mention that so your site is prioritized) 
  2. Answer any questions the due diligence team has (1 day up to 1 week)
  3. Receive a 100% cash offer (typically on the lower side of the fair market value range) in as little as 24hrs but definitely in under 1 week, sign an Asset Purchase Agreement (APA) and begin the transfer process with the experienced transfer team 

Flippa

  1. Create a profile here
  2. Fill out the list of information required to decide on how to structure the auction, with a buy it now, duration, reserve price, etc factors
  3. Pay your listing fee
  4. Promote your listing
  5. Communicate with seller through direct messages and in the chat
  6. Depending on the auction accept an offer below your reserve or move forward with someone who purchased
  7. Support the transfer process with a potentially inexperienced buyer

Brokers

  1. Submit your information
  2. Pay the listing fee
  3. Work with their listing team to get all information accurate
  4. Complete an intense seller questionnaire or seller interview or both 
  5. Review the prospectus or listing page and provide feedback
  6. Listing goes live
  7. Take calls with potential buyers and provide answers to any questions they have
  8. Negotiate a deal if any offers come in
  9. Accept an offer and agree on paperwork to sign (whose asset purchase agreement APA to use – yours, the brokers or the buyers)? 
  10. Transfer site and assets with the buyer transferring the funds to escrow (either escrow.com or similar or the broker holds) 
  11. Once income is verified by the buyer then funds are released  

6 Considerations When Choosing Where to Sell Your Website:

Ultimately it comes down to time (how much will it take), money (how much will you walk away with) and probability of success (what is the chance it will sell). Here are the six considerations you should think about on where to list your website for sale.  

  1. Multiple – What is your website going to be sold for? It’s one thing what you or a broker decide to list it for but it can be a very different thing depending on what it gets sold for. Don’t let unrealistic multiple expectations or promises get in the way of getting a deal done.
  2. Time – How long does it take to go from providing information to money in your pocket? This can range widely from as little as 24hrs to over half a year (1 month to prepare to list, 6 month exclusive listing period, 1 month transfer and sending of funds). 
  3. Listing Fees – Listing fees are non refundable and are designed to ensure only serious sellers submit information. It can be a significant percentage of the overall sale price, especially if it is a small site. 
  4. Success Rate – Not every location has the same chance of success. I have certainly had experiences with brokers over-promising on this front claiming to have  a 97.4% success rate and then knowing that myself and a handful of others whose business did not sell. 
  5. Brokerage Fees or Success Fees – If your site sells there is usually a success fee attached that can typically range from 8%-15%, depending on the size of the deal. 
  6. Contract – If the location you are looking to sell your website with requires you to sign a contract make sure you understand how restrictive it is? Does it require six months of exclusivity with penalties if you don’t accept a deal that comes your way? 

To help you with this decision I have created a free calculator that tries to estimate what your take home amount will be given various options for selling your site. 

You can access it here for free and can adjust the numbers to suit your situation. 

Below is a more detailed breakdown and review of the various options you have to sell your website. 

Flippa – The Last Resort

Flippa is a marketplace that focuses on the ability to list an incredible number of sites for sale. It has earned a reputation as being an efficient place to buy and sell websites BUT also one that is filled with potential scams. 

In general, I have never felt good suggesting someone who is either looking to buy or sell a site to go to Flippa, unless they are very experienced and understand the pitfalls of the open marketplace. 

Pro – You can list your site without a gatekeeper. 

Con – Lots of sites listed, MANY of which are potentially mis-representing information (aka scams) and it can be tough to be accused of being a scammer in the questions. 

  • Multiple – 18x-26x monthly
  • Time – 1-2 months and 1-2hrs/week
  • Listing Fees – $50
  • Brokerage Fees – 10% of final sale price

Flippa is good for someone who has a smaller site that was not the right fit for MotionInvest. 

MotionInvest – Efficient and Best for $50/month to $2,500/month Sites

MotionInvest is unique in that it purchases the websites directly and then sells them. 

This makes MotionInvest not a broker but a partner in the process of selling your site with real skin in the game. 

Pro – It is the most efficient place to get a fair price quickly and with minimal time wasted. No listing fees, a guaranteed sale and a smooth experienced transfer team makes it the best place to start when looking to sell your website making under $2.5k/month. 

Con – There are a couple of downsides to MotionInvest. First, if your site doesn’t meet the due diligence criteria it won’t be purchased. Only about 10%-20% of sites submitted for sale pass due diligence and get purchased. Second, the multiple you will receive on your site will be lower than some other options but make sure to calculate your take home amount and time considerations (your time and length of time until your money is received). MotionInvest ONLY focuses on Content websites right now and not e-commerce (Shopify or Woocommerce) or Amazon FBA. 

  • Multiple – ~20x monthly (but varies based on the site)
  • Time – 1 week (but can do as little as 24hrs)
  • Listing Fees – $0
  • Brokerage Fees – $0

MotionInvest is the right place to start to see if the price you receive makes sense.

Empire Flippers – Recommended for $2,500 – $25,000 per month in earnings websites

EmpireFlippers and Joe & Justin have been around the industry for a long time. Empire Flippers has grown from selling their own smaller sites to being the largest broker in the sub $1M range. 

They have a solid inventory and clearly are able to move a large number of sites. 

Their industry reports, podcast and transparent dashboard are all great content to review when you are considering selling your website. 

EmpireFlippers is a website brokerage that sells a large range of profitable websites including any website or blog, online store, e-commerce sites on almost any ecommerce platform and SAAS. 

Pro – Respected broker in the space with a large list of buyers. Established team that does a reasonably large volume in deals so transfers should be reasonably smooth.

Con – Like any broker there are a few critical downsides. The listing fee and amount of time to make the sale happen makes it a less than ideal option for content sites making under $2.5k/month. During the transfer process funds are held until the seller confirms they are receiving money from the site, and if dealing with an inexperienced buyer, this can drag the process out. The total amount of time from submitting your site for sale until receiving money can be up to 8 months with no guarantee of success that the site will sell. 

  • Multiple – 26x monthly
  • Time – 2 months – 8 months (1 month to get a listing live + 6 month exclusive + 1-2 months until funds are released) 
  • Listing Fees – $297
  • Brokerage Fees – ~15%

Quiet Light Brokerage – Recommended for Over $1M Content Sites 

I have less personal experience with QLB (have worked with all other options mentioned above) but have several contacts who have sold larger business with QLB. All feedback from the sellers via QLB has been very positive and would be a great option to explore if you have a larger content site making $30k/month+. 

Pro – Seasoned entrepreneurs as brokers who really understand the typical seller and not brokers who come from the finance world. Very positive reviews from sellers of over $1M deals I have spoken with.  

Con – Same problem as all brokers in terms of length of time and lack of certainty on if a deal will get done. However, when you are over $1M in deal size, maximizing the deal value certainly is going to be worth the extra time (for almost everyone). 

Be sure to check out their MASSIVE guide on website valuation.

Other Content Website Brokers

For a complete review of each check out this guide for buying websites.

How Much is My Website Worth?

How much is my website worth? To determine your website’s value it comes down to the amount the site makes every month and then there are factors that are used to adjust that valuation. 

(Average Monthly Income Trailing Twelve Months TTM) x (Multiple – market value adjusted based on the factors listed below) = Value of Your Website

Don’t be Unrealistic – These income producing websites are beautiful assets that require minimal SOPs to operate and have very low overhead. However, they are not tech startups with insane growth potential and DO NOT deserve crazy valuations. Your sale will not be featured on TechCrunch!  

Profit of the website (this is the MAIN factor that matters) – All other metrics adjust the value but the average monthly profit for the trailing twelve months is what sets anchor for the value. 

The 14 Factors That Influence The Multiple Applied to your Websites TTM Profit:

  1. Domain – If the domain name is valuable on its own it can increase the valuation applied to the site. For example a one word .com will have a significant premium applied to its value. However, other than a premium domain the domain name will not matter much, there is a difference in valuation between a GREAT domain and a decent domain but essentially no difference in valuation between a decent domain and a crap domain. 
  2. Type of income – Recurring revenue is always the best but rare for a content site. If you have some form of recurring revenue with favourable metrics this can make a big difference in the multiple applied to your website. 
  3. Age of the website – The older the site the lower risk that it will disappear soon. According to the Lindy Effect the length of time of some non-perishable thing (like a website) will continue to be around is proportional to its current age. Read Skin in the Game for more ways the Lindy Effect is applied in the world. 
  4. Trajectory of the income and traffic – Although income and traffic are not necessarily perfectly correlated I have included them together here. The point is that a declining site (traffic & earnings) will have a penalty applied to its multiple while a growing site (traffic & earnings) will receive a premium multiple. 
  5. Stability of the income and traffic – Does the traffic and earnings spike at the start of the school year and then is minimal for the rest of the year? Or any other similar pattern that could impact the value you receive when selling your website. The more stable the income and traffic the better. Some seasonality almost always exists but extreme seasonality (Black Friday deal website) will typically have a significant discount applied to its valuation. 
  6. Backlink Profile – Is the backlink profile filled with real and relevant links or spammy crap? Not all purchased links are immediate reasons for buyers to not consider your website. The goal of a purchaser is generally to try to estimate the risk profile of the backlink profile and adjust the multiple accordingly. 
  7. Email List – If your site has an active email list with a reasonable % of income being generated by it that can be a great risk mitigating factor and increase the value of your site.
  8. Social Media Following – Similar to your email list, if there is a strong presence on other platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram with those accounts being included in the sale, that can increase the multiple applied to your site. 
  9. Technical Complexity & Transferability – You might think your custom coded website is awesome… but the reality is people want a simple to operate site that doesn’t require complex/expensive support. A WordPress site with a straightforward build/tech stack is always preferred for a content website sale. 
  10. Certainty of Numbers – If there is any uncertainty or your PnL is not clean that can quickly either tank a deal or reduce the multiple you will receive. Clean, verifiable numbers help ensure you receive a fair deal and a smooth due diligence process. 
  11. Industry Trend – Is it a fad (fidget spinners) or a multi year trend that will likely continue to grow (electric vehicles)? Fads will have a steep discount applied.  
  12. Concentration of Customers or Vendors – Customer concentration is not typically a concern with content sites. However, if you think of vendors as your monetization source it can impact your earnings. If you are solely dependent on a single monetization source it will decrease the multiple you can ultimately receive for selling your website. 
  13. Transferability of Critical Contracts – If there is a team member, writer or affiliate relationship that is critical to the ongoing success of the site then the stronger the relationship the better. For example, if you have a critical relationship for the success of the business then your multiple will be adjusted down. You should try and mitigate this by having a contract in place that communicates how that relationship will continue after you sell your site to the buyer. 
  14. Ethical or Legal Uncertainty – If you are in a niche that has uncertainty from either an ethical (guns, anti-vaccine blog etc) or legal (cryptocurrency, cannabis) standpoint you can expect it to either take a lot longer to sell or require a reduced multiple. 

All of these factors can make the range around the fair value vary widely. 

For example, a site making the same per month may sell for as low 1x the TTM profit while another may sell for 3x+.   

Typical Website Deal Structures 

Here I will try to explain and help you understand the various deal structures so you can see which one is a good fit for you to get a deal done. 

The deal terms can be more important than sale price when it comes down to getting a deal finalized. 

There are many ways that website deals get structured in order to help the buyer reduce their risk, and add additional leverage to the deal in order to acquire a larger site. 

Types of Deals:

  1. 100% Cash – Simplest and best for the seller.
  2. Earnout – You the seller agrees to receive a set amount or set % of the profits over a period of time. Often there are performance minimums to be achieved in order to trigger the earnout. 
    • Example Deal – 70% of purchase price paid in cash with a 30% earnout to be paid out over 2 years at 6 month intervals if the business achieves at least 50% of the TTM profit.  
  3. Seller Financing – There can be a scenario where the right buyer for your business does not have enough funds to purchase the deal outright. However, you know they are the right person to take over your business and are confident it will be a success in their hands. You can help them by essentially loaning them part of the purchase price with a fair interest rate. 
    • Example Deal – $100k purchase price with $75k paid upon close and a $25k seller financing note with an 8% interest rate and a 5yr term. 
  4. Equity Retained – If you think you can efficiently continue to add value and believe in the growth of the website under the new buyer there may be a win-win with you retaining some equity. This can reduce the total amount of money needed by the buyer and help ensure the website’s success with you staying involved. There are legal risks and considerations to this that may not be worth working through for smaller deals. 

Typically deals don’t get creative until they are over $100k. 

There are other creative deal options but those seem to be the most common. 

Negotiate and the Types 

When you are looking to negotiate the sale of your site here are some things to keep in mind. 

Be Trustworthy and Friendly – The seller is evaluating if this is the type of person I believe I can work with to transfer the business. If the answer is no then the deal won’t get done. 

  • Personal Story – I was selling a business and the potential buyer was a two person team, the more senior individual with the money and a younger operator. The younger operator hadn’t prepared for the meeting and I believe was intending to play “bad cop” by insulting the business. It was an incredibly unproductive discussion and I refused to entertain any offer from them other than a 100% cash offer. A deal never got done. 
  • Personal Story – When I was looking to purchase a site from someone who had once listed their site for sale but had since taken it down, I tracked down their cell phone number via a Whois lookup. When I cold called them he informed me that he had recently moved to become a monk (I thought a monk with a cell phone?). Initially he was going to let the site expire but after a couple conversations he was happy to see his site carry on for a small donation to charity I made. Definitely the strangest purchase I have ever made!  

Dig to Understand What They Value and Don’t Value – Using some of the strategies from the great book Never Split the Difference, ask open ended questions to try and discover what they are after. What do they REALLY care about and which of those requirements do you care about less and can provide to them to find a win-win? 

  • Personal Story – I was selling a relatively new business and the buyer was looking to both de-risk their situation and set themselves up to earn. As a result, and understanding that my motivation was not to receive a significant lump sum of cash but to maximize value, we were able to create a deal that involved both a performance based earnout and some retained equity. 

Getting to Yes, 7 Habits and the Great Courses The Art of Negotiating the Best Deal are excellent at explaining concepts like BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement), win-win but Never Split the Difference is the most significant mind set shifter when it comes to negotiating. I highly recommend it! Reading these books or summaries of them will be better than any summary I can provide. 

How to Protect Yourself

Now that you have a deal in place how do you go about ensuring your interests are protected?

Disclaimer – I am not a lawyer & this is not legal advice… 

In general, I find it comes down to two things to keep yourself protected. 

  1. Asset Purchase Agreement (APA) and Know Your Customer (KYC) – You should have an APA that you are comfortable with or is prepared/reviewed by an attorney looking out for your interests. Plus, it is important to have enough information to be sure you know who you are doing business with (name, phone number, address etc). With the APA and knowing who you are doing business with in place, you should have a solid foundation for a deal and be protected. 
  2. Secure Transfer Method – The next and very important step is the balancing act of safely transferring the assets in exchange for funds. The most commonly referenced option is Escrow such as escrow.com. However, I have used it and it always seems to have some challenges that delay the process. Many brokers or marketplaces offer some buyer/seller protection by overseeing the transfer and the release of funds. When I have been a buyer or seller I have generally used the recommended method at the location where I was doing the deal. 

A few other things to note…

  • Make sure to transfer passwords securely – Don’t share via email or a Google Sheet
  • Transfer quickly and smoothly – Ripping the bandaid off fast with a quick/smooth transfer is much less painful than a dragged out transfer and everyone involved (buyer etc) appreciates it. 

Follow up like a boss

This is so important it is worth being its own section! 

You have sold your website, received a pile of money and now the new buyer is running the site. 

There are things they don’t know about the site that you will… keyword ideas, how some new news impacts your site etc. 

The way that you can stand out as being one of the best website sellers is to follow up with the buyer and provide suggestions well after the sale is done! 

It can take only a few minutes and add a ton of value. Knowing you as the seller cares about the buyer and can provide help, goes a LONG way to helping you build a reputation as a great seller. 

Summary

My hope is that this giant guide has provided you valuable direction on what your options are when selling your website. 

Resources:

  • Compare Website Selling Options – Here
  • PnL Template – Here
  • Sell Your Website Fast – Here
  • Buying Websites complete guide – Here

If there are any other resources I can reference that will make this article more complete please let me know. 

Covid-19 Impact on Online Business

In what are uncertain times, how can you adapt your online business to the impact of COVID-19?

It goes without saying that the current world climate is in an extraordinary situation. In what is an anxious, ever-changing environment, non-essential businesses have had to close down around the world and a majority of people have been urged (or forced) to work from home. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all permanently, and suddenly. 

There are immediate negative impacts… Healthcare systems are overwhelmed, jobs are lost, businesses are shut down (some forever), the economy is in a state of uncertainty, and many other aspects of society will be affected by this pandemic. One thing is for certain: things will change after this, making way for a new future. And it’s closer than we think. 

We’ve Bounced Back From This Before

The quote from Darwin is as applicable today as ever. No advice I have heard on how we as a people or as a business should handle these times is better than this quote. Identify and adapt to change while we live within our means and co-operatively work together to overcome both the health and economic threat!

It’s easy to worry about the current state of things and that worry is valid. But there is the potential to change things. Let’s quickly examine the state of business about 12 years ago: during the financial crisis of ‘08/’09, Bitcoin, Uber and AirBnB had all just begun and had yet to gain value. They were merely start-ups that hadn’t fully come to fruition. Now, AirBnb and Uber are both valued at over $33 billion and Bitcoin is worth around $106 billion. 

Twelve years ago, most of the well-known online companies that are now household names, were just ideas or start-ups at the time. Even back in 2003, Alibaba and JD.com grew in value after the SARS crisis. 

In times of crisis, we adapt to the state of things. Businesses are created, they change and grow, and can thrive if they change to the times. Newsletters like thehustle.co updated daily on the latest in tech business, highlighting those who are evolving to the times. It’s corners on the internet like this that are keen on showcasing the change-makers who are putting a positive impact on their industry. 

So what has been the impact to online business and where should we be looking for how to adapt…

Internet Traffic Has Had a Huge Change

Since self-isolation and quarantines have begun around the world, peak traffic has increased on average. With more people at home using the internet, traffic is like never before. 

However, some are noting that globally, internet traffic for certain industries have decreased, and competition for ad revenues decreased. 

Instead, a lot of internet traffic is geared to the current pandemic. In the last month, web searching has skyrocketed for key terms like “corona,” “lockdown,” and “social distancing,” all things that have only recently entered our daily vocabulary. In the US, the key trending search terms involve protective equipment like face masks and hand sanitizer. Pandemic has become the zeitgeist, but what is the impact of this? 

For the short term, major spikes in traffic will mainly revolve around COVID-19-related things, purchasing items, and media articles, as people mainly look for up-to-date info regarding the pandemic. 

However, in the long-term, certain industries will see trends in their internet traffic. E-commerce stores selling to customers online have the potential to continue staying open, even while working from home. Many brick and mortar stores have actually made the switch online as well, even selling on WeChat to those who were quarantined in China. This signals a change towards consumers making online their go-to method. 

Of course, the airline and travel industries will have one of the largest impacts, as airports and borders close down and general interest in travel comes to a halt. 

This begs the question, how has ecommerce and marketing reacted to this sudden change?

Display Advertising Needs to Go Where the Traffic Will Be

In what’s an unsure time, advertising has taken a hit even before the pandemic hit the Western hemisphere. 

On March 2, Publicis Groupe’s Zenith said it would lower its December prediction of a 4.3% rise in global ad spending this year due to COVID-19, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

That same day, New York Times CEO Mark Thompson said the Times “is seeing a slowdown in international and domestic advertising bookings, which we associate with uncertainty and anxiety about the virus,” and that the publisher now expects first-quarter digital advertising revenue to drop 10%. 

Ad revenue is changing from its typical industries and in response to this, marketing can make a shift to where consumers are going to go, moving to digital platforms. But there are significant winners and losers by industry. 

Think of where major internet traffic is going to go in the coming weeks, months other than general work: to online education, video streaming, various at-home hobbies like crafting, job search sites, discount retailers, at-home exercise. The activities people normally engage in offline will be making shifts to the web. 

And the ones who will struggle covers those that require a location or crowds, like traveling, luxury goods, sports, music, and live entertainment, to name a few. 

Marketing teams need to adapt to this and shift their content accordingly to regain revenue. Staying online is key. No one will be able to see the billboard outside, anyway. 

Website Buying & Selling

The general demand seems to be staying strong at the lower price. At MotionInvest.com, a business I own with partners that buys/sells websites, websites are still sold in hours and demand is staying steady. 

I had the opportunity speak with Emilia on this topic which she put on her YouTube channel…

This signifies that people are still looking to buy sites and grow in the online space.  And we’re not the only ones. EmpireFlippers saw record number of new weekly site listings earlier this month. 

Interest rates are going to be at or near zero. so-far a functioning financial system and significant stimulus packages issues by governments. Will all of that mean that money is easier to get than before, the search for yield and stock market volatility will mean there is a boom in debt financing at all price points in the website buying and selling industry?

My prediction is that the smaller and cheaper websites will increase in demand as more people rush to get into the online space. And the demand for larger sites that sell their products for higher prices might go down as less money becomes available to spend (but I could be 100% incorrect and it could be the complete opposite). More people will shift their focus on building sites to grow their value, rather than investing in larger sites. Whether this is a short-term or long-term change is unknown, but a strategy is key to surviving.

With these changes, multiples will be highly dependant on the availability of debt financing and if I had to bet with the data we have now I suspect will decrease in line with the rest of the stock market for the over $100k range and sub $100k will stay flat (but again I could be totally wrong!).

The Impact on E-commerce

This is e-commerce’s chance to prove just how fundamental it is in our society when we need it most. And companies have stepped up. One of the biggest, Amazon, recently hired 100,000 new workers and are temporarily pausing unloading of all non-essential products to keep up with the demand for goods. 

Online businesses will have a chance to thrive and are already seeing a huge spike in the countries most affected. 31% of Italian and 50% of Chinese consumers say they’re using e-commerce more frequently, in a poll by Ipsos MORI. 

Lockdowns disrupt the supply chain but that only puts more pressure on manufacturers and e-commerce to get the essentials out there. More people are shopping online but only for the essentials. E-commerce is affected by the supply chain now because it is becoming the core provider. 

Find A Problem Worth Solving!!! 

The key is to always keep moving and not be that guy who’s bulk-buying and reselling sanitizing wipes providing no additional utility in the world. Anyone trying to exploit the current economic situation will suffer because they’re prioritizing the short-term of benefiting themselves and not considering others during an incredibly sensitive time. Google and Facebook are already cracking down on this by banning resales and providing credible info linked on their homepages. 

So what will be some of the changes that we can look at…

High quality writers will become more available and interested in remote work.

Our knowledge on how to manage work remotely will become more of the norm and companies will be led to create working from home procedures and policies which will stay in place after the pandemic is over. I have always thought that the next recession would accelerate remote work, companies would ask why do we have an office. With a recession triggered by a pandemic that has forced remote work it will only accelerate that trend.

Specific industries could see a spike in demand after this, like the cleaning, food, and manufacturing of essential goods, as consumers go back to core values and realize these are what is needed and relied on when all else fails. 

And in an effort to keep things low-cost, marketing teams will have to come up with solutions to deliver a low-cost-efficient product to clients. For instance, ContentRefined is focusing on this strategy with its new offering from ContentLever (4 posts and social media management for $199/month). Online marketing will increase, and if we’ve learned anything from this, it’s that the internet is the essential medium we need to run industries and stay connected. 

At no point in most of our lives has the rate of problem creation been soo extreme. With so much mental capacity freed up due to layoffs, I am optimistic about the businesses that will be created to solve real problems and help the world.

The world needs entrepreneurs now more than any moment in recent history to identify and solve real problems!

Internally we have paused the development on one project to shift focus on a solution (that likely won’t make anything) but will help people – more on that soon.

Further Reading

COVID-19 And Its Effect On Bloggers And Web Publishers

With uncertainty the new norm, the coronavirus rattles the media industry

The economic effects of a pandemic

Google Trends: Coronavirus

Treasury Secretary Warns 20% Unemployment Rate Possible Without Coronavirus Stimulus Package

Amazon warehouses will stop accepting non-essential items amid COVID-19 outbreak

Amazon hiring 100,000 new distribution workers to keep up with online shopping surge caused by coronavirus

Coronavirus: Nasa images show China pollution clear amid slowdown

Unprecedented Uncertainty: How the Coronavirus Is Disrupting the Global Advertising Industry

What does the coronavirus mean for business?

How A Recession (might) Affect The Website Investing Space

https://www.wefunder.com/virus

Amazon Affiliate Requirements – Disclosure and other Rules

A few years ago I shared my story about my Amazon Affiliate Account getting closed and costing me a painful $100k in affiliate advertising program earnings! 

Today I'm sharing a detailed analysis of the Amazon Affiliate Requirements and what you need to do to stay compliant so that your Associates Program account doesn’t get closed. 

Most importantly, I'm sharing a completely free new WordPress Plugin that helps you get your site compliant with Amazon in seconds!

Specifically, I'm going to go over the updated disclosure recommendations for 2020, how the free plugin makes it easier then ever to be compliant, and a detailed audit process that we can execute as affiliate marketers. 

If you have had your Amazon Associate account closed we will get into how to appeal to get it re-opened, and if all else fails, the critical steps to open a brand new one. 

Think about this post as covering 2 parts… 

  • First: Prevention (what to do to not get your account closed) 
  • Second: Recovery (how to get your account re-opened or create a new one) 

Prevention Sections:

  1. 7 Most Common Reasons for Getting Banned by Amazon Associates
  2. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure Template
  3. Complete Amazon Affiliate Requirements (including checklist) updated for 2020

Recovery Section:

  1. Appeal and Reopen Your Closed Amazon Affiliate Account
  2. How to Start a “New” Amazon Associate Account

To read the Amazon Associates Program details (highly recommended - but tough read), here are the 2 links:

My $100k Loss Backstory & Why I Care So Much About This Topic

Very shortly after I left my day job and had planned (in part) on my Amazon Associate earnings as being one of my main sources of income to support my family, I received the dreaded email saying I was no longer welcome to participate in the Amazon Associate program. Yikes!!! I had just made the entrepreneurial jump and then immediately took a HUGE hit. No longer being able to run my Amazon Affiliate websites was going to be an issue for my business. I needed to figure out a way to fix this.

The reason... myself and a partner had just purchased an Amazon Affiliate niche site and one of his other partners was doing some sketchy things with Amazon. 

This impact was PAINFUL and wiped out well over six figures in value very shortly after I left my day job. The silver lining is I'm now able to help other Amazon Affiliate store owners by sharing details about the process on this blog post.

This is what Amazon said in both their emails ...

During our research, we have determined that an account belonging to you (or a person affiliated with you) has previously been closed for violations of the Operating Agreement or one of the other Associates Programs operated by our affiliates.

Based on the analysis I was able to identify that the bad actor was a partner of one of my partners resulting in 3 accounts I was associated with (and all connected) getting suspended.  

From that, the process and tools shared in this post were born.

This post, as well as additional research, has led us to create this list of the 7 most common mistakes that people are making with their Amazon Affiliate sites that could lead to their accounts getting suspended or closed! 

But what I am most proud of is the best, fastest and completely free wordpress plugin dedicated to helping ensure you stay compliant with Amazon - check it out!

7 Most Common Reasons an Amazon Associate Account is Closed

In this post I have tried to stay on the conservative side, however, I fully realize people may choose to dial up the risk in order to generate more clicks/sales since this is affiliate marketing. I understand the need to try and find the right balance between risk and reward, and in this post have tried to present the “ideal” low risk plan.

Now that we’ve had the Amazon audit process up and running for a little while, we are able to analyze the data and see the biggest problems with our sites and the sites we have reviewed. I hope this post provides you with 7 actionable items to consider regarding your Amazon Affiliate website and the Amazon associates program.

See below for the 7 most frequently failed Amazon Audit questions that could result in your associate account being suspended.

ONE - Use of Logo at all or Trademark without Disclosure Statement

Update - Thanks to Matt Allen AMALinksPro for providing feedback and based on his research and interpretation of the Operating Agreement this section has been updated. 

Everyone knows to include an earnings disclosure but what about a trademark ownership disclaimer? 

Amazon Logo and Trademark Disclosure Template:

The correct disclosure to use on every page of your site that has Amazon or an Amazon.com logo is “Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.”

Your Amazon Affiliate Account can get shut down pretty fast if Amazon thinks you’re violating their Trademark and Logo policy. The tricky thing with Amazon is that they actually own the rights to other Trademarks and logos, such as Kindle. 

This question comes from probably the most clear requirement on the Amazon Affiliate Program Rules and Trademark Guidelines. You can find them here, or see the snapshot below.

So basically if you have anything that looks like this on your site then Amazon could shut you down:

Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates

  • TIP – Most people have the earnings disclaimer on their site but people (myself included) usually miss having the trademark disclaimer on the required pages.

  • TIP – Although it looks ugly, if you want to be on the very safe side don't include images and do include the Amazon trademark disclaimer on every page and not just the disclaimer page! This free affiliate plugin gets you setup properly in seconds!

So to answer the question ...

Can I use Amazon logo on my affiliate website?

No, although the operating agreement contradicts itself and there is an argument for being able to use it. I would recommend to NOT use any image for Amazon OTHER than the ones provided and only if you are using an Affiliate link. So what are the images provided by Amazon? Just these beautiful ones from 1994 when Amazon got founded 🙂 ...

Buy from Amazon buttons

To read a much deeper analysis of this and an interesting chat transcript with an Amazon customer support checkout this great post...

https://amalinkspro.com/can-i-use-the-amazon-logo-or-the-amazon-prime-logo-on-my-website/

TWO - Incentives

The second most common issue is the following question:

“Does the site offer affiliate advertising incentives (including any money, rebate, discount, points, donation to charity or other organization) for using Affiliate Links on the site?”

Many of the niche website affiliate marketing tricks need to be dialled back when it comes to staying compliant with the Amazon Affiliate Program Rules.

 

We have been finding that some of the sites that we have audited provide incentives, especially in the form of money rebates for using their link. Most of the offers we found were clearly only to incentivize the click and had no substance to people looking to claim the “rebate” or “save an additional x%”.

The clean and simple rule is DON’T do it! Incentivizing people to click on a link to Amazon is a slippery slope and a very easy way to get your account shut down. Including text like “ Click here to get 10 dollars off this product” are no good.

Here are some images of what NOT to do (not images from any sites we have reviewed):

THREE - Incorrect Use of Pricing or Product Images

The third most common issue that people have with their sites is incorrectly using product images and/or prices.

 

Here is the general rule of thumb – don’t include images from Amazon or pricing UNLESS you are pulling them with the Amazon API.

Comparison tables are great but don’t include the price on your site because Amazon products change their prices all the time. Including an old promotion price without realizing that the promotion has expired could also be seen as “inaccurate or misleading advertising” which will also get your account shut down.

Tools such as AMALinks Pro and AAWP will use the Amazon Associates API to automatically pull the price and images.

Below are a couple examples of what not to do ...

Example: You still have this on your site after the promotion ends

Remember: ONLY pull the price or product image using the Amazon API. 

FOUR - Link Cloaking

You will not cloak, hide, spoof, or otherwise obscure the URL of your Site containing Special Links (including by use of Redirecting Links) or the user agent of the application in which Content is displayed or used such that we cannot reasonably determine the site or application from which a customer clicks through such Special Link to the Amazon Site.

– Program Participation Requirements, Section 6. (v) “Content on your Site"

The fourth most common issue with Amazon Affiliate sites is the question “Are any links on the site using a link shortener in a manner that makes it unclear that we are linking to an Amazon Site?”. This is listed as 4th but is certainly the most debated issue when it comes to Amazon.

A lot of people do this! I’ve done it. Basically, Amazon doesn’t want you to make it unclear that you are sending a user to Amazon so they have words in their TOC’s that make it questionable to use link shortening/cloaking services.

So can you use Bitly, PrettyLinkPro or Geni.us Link? The truth is it is not 100% clear! Many many people do and Amazon knows they do so it is likely a lower risk (if you take some additional steps), but still not 100% compliant with Amazon. 

If you do use one of these URL shorteners you need to take an extra step to ensure that it is clear the link will direct people to Amazon.  Here & here is how Geni.us links discusses the use of its tool to stay compliant with Amazon Associates.

The short version is DO NOT use link shorteners like Bitly and PrettyLinksPro. If you are going to use tools like Geni.us links, then use your judgement based on how they recommend you use it.

FIVE - Off Page Promotion (social, email, print, etc)

The fifth most common issue with Amazon Affiliate sites is the question “Does the site engage in any promotional, marketing such as printed material, mailing, SMS, Facebook Ads, Youtube videos, MMS, email or attachment to email, advertising activities on behalf of Amazon or their affiliate sites?”.

This one gets a lot of people flagged because it is very easy for Amazon to check! It is tricky because this essentially makes it impossible to do any kind of email marketing with a link in it.

Even if you are emailing just one friend, be sure to not include an affiliate link in that email.

One solution if you want to make money from Amazon Associates from your email list is to funnel them through a squeeze page (for example a review post for the product on your site).

  • TIP – If you send out the content of your post in an email newsletter automatically, make sure links are turned off just in case you have an affiliate link in the first paragraph of the article.

“Are any amazon Affiliate Links shared on other social platforms/networks such as Twitter or Facebook?”.

This is a tough one because there are some instances where you CAN share your links on social pages and some where you cannot.

Personally, I recommend just to stay away from all of it.

Many bloggers and influencers get this one wrong trying to generate passive income from their audience. 

If you really want to do it, I would go here to learn more about what is acceptable and what isn’t in terms of social sharing.

SIX - Use Star Rating and Reviews

The sixth most common issue with Amazon Affiliate sites is the question “Does the site display or otherwise use any of Amazon’s customer reviews or star ratings, in part or in whole?”.

This is something we see A LOT (and did a lot!).

We see many people using reviews as testimonials, which makes a lot of sense since it gives honest and accurate reviews on a particular product. It also seems tempting because it can add really valuable content to your site which helps your reader.

Another thing that people like to do is use “Star Ratings’. Using star ratings on your site that look like Amazons can be perceived by Amazon as using “their” star ratings and yet another way to get your account closed.

SEVEN - Associate Yourself With Someone Whose Account was Banned

Another tough one to avoid and one we see a lot of sites doing. People will be added as a user to an account and then when that account gets banned, so does theirs. 

Here is what the email from Amazon will say:

An account belonging to you (or a person or entity connected or affiliated with you) has previously been closed for violations of the Operating Agreement or one of the other Amazon marketing programs.

The best way to avoid this is simple: DON'T associate yourself with anyone who has had their account banned. If you associate yourself with someone who has had their account banned, it can result in you becoming banned.

 

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure Template and How to Install

The simplest and fastest way to get the correct disclosure in the proper spot on your website is this free Amazon plugin I had created. 

The most commonly discussed topic in terms of staying compliant with the Amazon Associates Agreement is the need for showing you are part of the Amazon Associates program.  

It is a critical part of staying compliant and therefore I would not be doing you justice if I did not include the current thoughts on how to maintain compliance. 

For an in depth analysis on what Amazon Associate Disclaimer to use, check out Doug form NicheSiteProjects' post here or what Dom Wells wrote at Onfolio here.

There is a surprising amount of debate on how best to handle the Amazon Disclosure requirements.

The Amazon Agreement States:

You must clearly state the following, or any substantially similar statement previously allowed under this Agreement, on your Site or any other location where Amazon may authorize your display or other use of Program Content: “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.” (Section 5).

Most people therefore include some version of this in the footer or a disclaimer page and think they are good. 

Then… Amazon shared an email in 2019 stating:

This is a reminder of your disclosure obligations under the Operating Agreement. Any time you share an affiliate link, it’s important to disclose that to your audience. They will trust you more if you are transparent about where you are directing them and why. To meet the Associate Program's requirements, you must (1) include a legally compliant disclosure with your links and (2) identify yourself on your Site as an Amazon Associate with the language required by the Operating Agreement.


To comply with Federal Trade Commission FTC regulations, your link-level disclosure must be:


  1. Clear. A clear disclosure could be as simple as “(paid link)”, “#ad” or “#CommissionsEarned”.
  2. Conspicuous. It should be placed near any affiliate link or product review in a location that customers will notice easily. They shouldn’t have to hunt for it.

In addition, the Operating Agreement requires that the following statement clearly and conspicuously appears on your Site: “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.” For social media user-generated content, this statement must be associated with your account.

(Amazon email Oct 2019)

Associates should also consider the relevant social media platform’s guidelines. For example, Associates may use Facebook's Branded Content tool.

 

So what are you to do now? Where do you place the FTC and Amazon required affiliate earnings disclosure?

The options on where to include the disclosure are shown below along with our recommendation. 

  • Footer Only - Not enough since it won't be above the first affiliate link

  • Top of Sidebar - Not enough since it won't be above your first affiliate link on mobile

  • Hello Bar - One solution, but likely overkill as again, it may not show on all mobile and impact user experience.

  • Identify Each Link - This seems to be what they are after but I would think this HAS to be overkill. Anytime you link to Amazon you include “Commissions Earned”... seems excessive!

  • Top of Each Page - Safest, but be careful to not end up with your search result showing the disclaimer text instead of your first paragraph or meta description. 

How to include your affiliate disclosure but not have Google index it?

Over the last few months I have seen several search results with the top part of the page indexed with the affiliate disclosure. This hurts SEO and provides a poor user experience. The solution to this is to use Google On/Off flags

<!--googleoff: all-->As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.<!--googleon: all-->

To learn more about google on/off flags, check out this Google Search Help article.

Make sure to not end up with this as your search result:

Below is the tool I had created to install the affiliate disclaimer as well as the trademark disclaimer.

Option 1 - Install Disclosure for Amazon Affiliate Plugin

Under 30 seconds to be compliant (free plugin)

This plugin was developed to help us ensure all of our Amazon Affiliate sites are 100% compliant with the FTC disclosure and Amazon earnings disclosure requirements.

The Amazon Associate Disclosure plugin is the fastest and easiest way to get your Amazon Affiliate site fully compliant with both the:

  • FTC and Amazon required Affiliate Disclosure
  • Amazon Trademark disclaimer

It places the pre-loaded disclosure text from Amazon in the right locations on your website with the bonus of tagging it so search engines will ignore the disclaimer and rank your content. 

Benefits of the Amazon Associate Disclosure Plugin

ONE - Simple Fast and No Setting Changes Required

It is rare that you can use a tool that achieves everything you need it to with so little effort on your end. 

With this wordpress plugin in seconds you can have a compliant disclosure properly setup on your site. Simply...

  1. Install
  2. Activate
  3. Done - You are compliant

TWO - Proper Google On Off Tags

Many people have recently and correctly moved their affiliate disclosure to the top of their articles. This affiliate disclosure text is incorrectly now being picked up by Google as the page description. This is a large problem for both search rankings and click through rate. 

The solution is that using this plugin the Google Off / On tags are properly placed so that the disclosure text will be ignored by Google and your great content will be why they rank your page. 

THREE - Fully Editable Text and Customizable Appearance

Although it is not needed and comes installed following your sites design with the text provided by Amazon you can both…

  • Change the text to add additional disclosures or modify the words however you see fit
  • Fully customize the section however you see fit  

FOUR - Control Globally or on the Page/Post Level

Not every one of your posts/pages likely need the disclosure and you may not want them on every website. 

You can easily and efficiently control which of the posts & pages see the disclosure text blocks. 

Both global and local level controls are available.

Option 2 - How To Easily Install Affiliate Disclosure on Your WordPress Site with Ad Inserter

Another popular option to ensure each page has the right disclaimer, which takes a little more work but gives you more flexibility, is shown below. This process uses one of the most popular WordPress plugins Ad Inserter. Like the method above it should work with any existing plugins like Yoast SEO, RankMath or Woocomerce plugins. 

Ad Inserter plugin is originally developed to inject ads to any pages/posts on WordPress sites. It can also be used to automatically add affiliate disclosures to every post. That's what I am going to walk you through belwo.

Step 1: Log in to your WordPress dashboard and go to Plugins > Add New and search for "Ad Inserter" then click the "Install Now" button.

Step 2: Click the "Activate" button.

You will be directly taken to your Installed Plugins page

Step 3: Click "Settings"

The Ad Inserter settings page will be opened

Step 4:  Copy the following HTML code and paste it in the block editor

TIP: a lot of sites are currently having their Amazon Associate disclosure appear in the description within search results. The Google Off/Google On tag solves this problem.

<!--googleoff: all-->
<p>As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.</p>
<!--googleon: all-->

NOTES:

 

  • The two Google off and Google on tags are to prevent Google from indexing the text or the code in between.
  • Optional: If you would like to change the space around the disclaimer text or to change the font size. So it looks different from the post content. You can select "Custom CSS" from the "Alignment" dropdown box, then click the "Show" button and scroll down until you see the CSS box. Then paste the following CSS code:
margin: -10px 0px 20px 0px; font-size: 80%;

Step 5: Click "Save Settings"

That's it!

Adding text in the site footer

We can also use the Ad Inserter plugin to add this text to be compliant with Amazon trademark terms.

Step 1: In the Ad Inserter plugin settings page, click on a new Tab. In our case here, Tab #2

Step 2: Paste the following code in the block editor:

<!--googleoff: all-->
<p>Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates</p>
<!--googleon: all-->

Step 3: Select all checkboxes here to display the text in ALL site pages. Then select "Footer" and in alignment dropdown list select "Center"

Step 4: Click "Save Settings"

Complete 35 Question Amazon Affiliate Requirements List (Updated 2020)

Now that you have some context on what Amazon is looking for in terms of compliance, here is a step-by-step procedure you can use to ensure you are staying compliant with Amazon.

If you want to go deeper than the most common issues and be as fully compliant as possible, here is our attempt at turning the Amazon Associates agreements into an actionable list.  

To make this process even easier I have had my team turn this into a 100% free to use Google Sheet that you can make a copy of and edit. 

After reading every word several times and having my team update the procedure we have been using for the last few years to ensure our sites are staying compliant with the amazon associate program, we were able to come up with some actionable steps.  

Here is the complete list of 35 questions to turn the Amazon Associates Operating agreement into an actionable questions list. 

  1. Are there any affiliate disclaimer links that do not include this disclaimer: “Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates"? 
  2. Has the site displayed or used any trademark or logo of any third party seller on the Amazon Site in connection with any of our Affiliate Links without permission from the seller? 
  3. Have any privacy links/affiliates’ trademarks or logos that are included in a Special Link been removed, obscured, altered, or made invisible, illegible, or indecipherable to visitors of the site?
  4. As the user of this site, will you be linked or redirected to any other forms of monetization that include Amazon Affiliate Links other than the Amazon site? 
  5. Does the site engage in any promotional, marketing such as printed material, mailing, SMS, MMS, email or attachment to email, advertising activities on behalf of Amazon or their affiliate sites?
  6. Does this site display content that requires us (the website owners) to sublicense or otherwise give any rights in or to any content to any other person or entity?
  7. Do any pages on the site get redirected to a different URL that are not an Amazon Associate IDs or Tags? 
  8. Are any Amazon Affiliate Links shared on other social platforms/networks such as Twitter or Facebook? 
  9. Within the site’s content, are there any names used within that content, in a manner that implies a person’s or company’s endorsement or sponsorship of, or commercial tie-in with, any product, service? 
  10. Have any keywords, search terms, or other identifiers that include the word “Amazon,” or “Kindle,” or any other trademark of Amazon or its affiliates been purchased or registered or used in domain or subdomain, Associate ID’s or Tags?
  11. Does the site offer incentives to increase the conversion rate (including any money, rebate, discount, points, donation to charity or other organization) for using Affiliate Links on the site?
  12. Is the operation of any buttons, links, or other features of the Amazon Site modified, redirected, suppressed, or substituted?
  13. Are there any Affiliate Links used to link to the Amazon Site from references to items on the site that are not products?
  14. Does the site take any action that could reasonably cause any customer confusion as to our relationship with Amazon or as to the site on which any transactions (e.g., search, browse, or order) are occurring?
  15. Are any Affiliate Links or content used in connection with any spyware, malware, virus, worm, Trojan horse, or other malicious or harmful code, or any software application not expressly and knowingly authorized by users?
  16. Does the site frame the Amazon Site, or any part of it, including by display within an integrated web browser (e.g., WebView) within a Mobile Application?
  17. Does the site post any Affiliate Links or other content promoting the Amazon Site within any pop-up or pop-under windows, transitional page ads, or layer ads around or with the display of any site that does not belong to us? 
  18. Does the site include any Affiliate Links in any content that you place on the Amazon Site?  
  19. Does the site contain functions that might artificially increase advertising fees? 
  20. Does the site request, collect, obtain, store, cache, or otherwise use any account information used by customers in connection with any Amazon Site (including any usernames or passwords of Amazon Site customers)?
  21. Does the site have functions that will attempt to intercept or redirect traffic from or on, or divert advertising fees from, any site that participates in the Program.
  22. Does the site artificially generate clicks or impressions or create sessions on the Amazon Site, whether by way of a robot or software program or otherwise?
  23. Does the site display or otherwise use any of Amazon's customer reviews or star ratings, in part or in whole?
  24. Does your site hide, cloak, spoof or otherwise obscure the URL of your site containing Affiliate Links (including by use of a redirecting page)?
  25. Does your site knowingly collect, use, or disclose personal information from children under 13 years of age.
  26. Is the link used on the site missing an Associate ID or “tag”?
  27. Are any links on the site using a shortening service in a manner that makes it unclear that we are linking to an Amazon Site? 
  28. Are there any links on the site that are related to limited time promotions that are now expired? 
  29. Is there any content that could be perceived as overly promotional or inaccurate advertising?
  30. Do you clearly state the following, or any substantially similar statement previously allowed under this Agreement, on your Site or any other location where Amazon may authorize your display or other use of Program Content: “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”?
  31. Does the site have any content relating to products offered on any site other than the Amazon Site, in accordance with the Associates Program Policies? 
  32. Within the site’s content, are there any names used in a manner that implies a persona’s or company’s endorsement or sponsorship of, or commercial tie-in with, any product or service?
  33. Does the site state any testimonials from Amazon or third-parties?
  34. Does the site contain functions that cause any page of the Amazon site to open in a customer’s browser other than as a result of the customer clicking on an affiliate link on the site?
  35. Does the site disclose accurately and adequately, either through a privacy policy or otherwise, how they collect, use, store, and disclose data collected from visitors, including, where applicable, that third parties (including Amazon and other advertisers) may serve content and advertisements, collect information directly from visitors, and place or recognize cookies on visitors’ browsers, and providing information on the visitor’s choices with respect to opting-out from online advertising where required by applicable law?

How to Recover Your Account

Sometimes despite your best efforts, there is a misunderstanding with Amazon. In those cases, here is an approach to re-open your Amazon affiliate account. 

 

Below is a story shared with me by a reader (and with permission sharing). It is the most in-depth process I have seen. 

Make sure to check out his site with more details shared on the steps he took here.

Great post Matjaz and congrats on getting your account re-opened

  • 13.2.2020: email from Amazon that my account was terminated. Reason: -The sources of your traffic are obscured in such a way that we cannot reasonably determine on what Site(s) your Special Links are displayed.

  • 13.2.2020: my first email to [email protected] with the list of my affiliate ids and websites where I’m using them plus my findings of noreferrer attribute.13.2.2020: my second email to [email protected] with two screen recordings showing my two biggest websites and data of clicks/traffic from Google Analytics plus how I’ve fixed noreferrer attribute.

  • 13.2.2020: combined these two emails in an appeal through Associates Customer Service Support page

  • 17.2.2020: got an email from Amazon: We received your appeal regarding the termination of your Associates account. A specialist has reviewed your account, and the decision to terminate your account was found to be correct. As stated previously, under the terms of the Operating Agreement (https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/help/operating/agreement), we may terminate your account at any time, with or without cause. This termination is final and not subject to appeal.

  • 17.2.2020: been on the phone with Amazon Customer Support regarding my problem. No help at all. We don’t have details, and the team that does works only through email. Write to them or appeal again.

  • 17.2.2020: tried to send an appeal through Associates Customer Service Support page only to find out that the Subject option of “Associates account terminated option” now returns not valid or something similar when you want to submit the form

  • 17.2.2020: wrote my combined two emails to the boss himself 🙂 [email protected] … with the subject “Not an appeal, but additional information, please read”

  • 18.2.2020: reapplied to Amazon associates with the same email and data as before, fixed links to new affiliate ids on my biggest website only to find my account closed with no email a few hours later

  • 18.2.2020: wrote my combined two emails to the boss again 🙂

  • 19.2.2020: got a reply with the subject “Your E-mail to Jeff Bezos BC – Re: Not an appeal, but additional information, please read” and message: Thank you for reaching out regarding your concern. We’re currently looking into this issue to make sure the matter is taken care of properly. Please expect a response within two business days.

  • 19.2.2020: got an email from Amazon Associates 1 hour later: This message is to advise you that your Associate account and your previous Advertising Fees have been reinstated. Please accept our apologies for the closure error.  We appreciate your patience and understanding in this matter.

  • To see each step broken down in more detail checkout his post

How to Start a New Amazon Associate Account

So you tried your best not to get banned, you got the nasty letter from Amazon, and even after attempting to plead your innocence, you still are not able to get back into the advertising program. 

So time for the last resort … start a new account!

This is not what you need to do if you are opening an Amazon Affiliate account for the first time. It's only something you want to consider if you are starting a new one after your account got closed.

 

Here are the recommended steps when all else fails:

1. New Computer

  • Tracking the Mac address of a computer that logs in to Amazon Associates is possible. Having a dedicated Chromebook ONLY for logging into Amazon is a reasonable risk mitigation step.

2. New Internet Connection & VPN using the Incognito/Privacy Browser Tab 

  • A dedicated internet connection for checking your affiliate account is a great option. Instead of needing to “buy” another internet connection, use a coffee shop wifi that is not one of your usual work locations.

3. New Entity, Email, Address, Name, Bank Details

  • Having all new details when you sign up is obviously critical. Having a new entity, email, address, name, phone number and bank details along with any other information is critical.

4. New Websites and Cross Domain Rel=Canonical Link (don’t 301 redirect)

  • Sometimes people choose to dial up the risk and 301 redirect a website that has been burned to a new website. Obviously, the 301 redirect can be followed, but isn’t ideal. To be safer and still get the traffic benefit of the old site I recommend a safer approach of using rel=canonical cross domain linking. This process tells the search engine the page that should be ranked is on the new domains BUT if (I think unlikely) someone from Amazon were to visit the burned/banned website it would still appear as normal since it was still live. Here's a great tutorial on cross domain rel=canonical link by Moz here.

This is a last resort ... the recommended path is to be compliant, appeal if you have an issue, and then as a very last resort create a new account for a new entity with new URLs. 

Summary

This post was written to provide you with some tips and knowledge about the most common Amazon Affiliate site compliance offences. Have a look at your site and see if you’re in violation of any of these! If you have any questions feel free to reach out!

Other resources:

  • AMALinksPro & a breakdown of what 7 successful affiliate sites are doing wrong. Special thanks to Matt Allen from AMALinksPro for reviewing this guide and providing some recommended changes to stay safer. He has definitely thought A LOT about the Amazon Associates Operating Agreement! His level of knowledge definitely gives me more confidence using AMALinksPro! 
  • Free Amazon Affiliate Disclosure Plugin

If you have any thoughts or comments on the plugin we would love to hear your thoughts. 

Ice Breakers For Remote Teams

This article is part of a series we are doing on remote work, a relevant topic in today’s times. With social distancing becoming the new normal, social isolation will also start to take place, especially when it comes to team building. When you are forced into remote work, you might find yourself with a lot of questions. You might have many things you feel like you need to do, and very little time to get it all organized. This article will focus on a simple part of this process – getting your employees familiar with each other through some simple team building introductions.

For more topics on how to best run a remote team checkout these articles…

How to Manager Remote Staff

Always On Video Solutions Reviewed

This article will hopefully give you the tools so you can have your team working together like this…

Not this…

When it comes to coordinating remote team members, often the most difficult part is getting them on the same page. This all starts with the introduction. This is a very simple part of any working relationship, but is more important than you may think. First impressions are everything, and if people feel connected to their virtual team from the start, they will be more willing and motivated to hold themselves accountable to the standards of their co-workers. 

In this article, we will cover some fun ice breaker questions and games for setting up your remote workers. These team ice breakers for remote team will get your employees introduced the right way. These are fun activities, which are easy to introduce, and will hopefully help things progress into a great working relationship. Let’s get started. 

20 Ice Breakers For Remote Employees

Tell Us About Yourself 

I know, this one’s a little boring, but it’s also by far the most common team building exercise, so good to get it out of the way first. A basic introduction probably is composed of “tell us a little bit about yourself”. We know, it might not be what you came to this list for, but it’s still a basic, effective and important introduction. If you just want to keep things simple and straightforward, consider this one. 

Two Truths and a Lie 

Maybe the second most common introduction game, this one has stood the test of time because it’s so fun and engaging. In this one, the participant tells two truths about themselves, and one lie, and the others guess which is the lie. This is great because it involves interaction with all the participants, which really makes them remember what the other person said. On top of that, these are fun icebreakers and often hilarious. If you really want to get these details drilled into people’s memories, consider this game. 

Favorite Food 

Here’s a simple question that surprisingly opens a pretty real discussion. Simply asking people about their favourite food or restaurant, you create an instant common ground, as well as some friendly competition. You’d be surprised just how much food can connect people, and since it is something that everyone is passionate about, it is a great question to ask off the bat. Immediate team bonding over common interests. 

Would You Rather? 

Always have a fun list of “Would You Rather?” questions on hand for virtual ice breakers (safe for work of course!). These questions are funny and really get people thinking. Keep it simple, because you’d be surprised just how entertaining the responses can be! Additionally, it encourages others to chime in with their thoughts, and laugh along. 

Hometown

A unique factor with distributed teams is that everyone can be in a very different place in the world! That’s why simply asking where someone is from can be a fascinating exercise with remote teams. People will be very interested to see that they might be communicating with others all over the world. From there, you can get into deeper discussions about the favourite part of their hometown, and they can find some common ground with others from all around the world. 

Have You Ever?

In this game, you ask some simple, interesting questions to the group, and anyone who has done it will stand up. It’s easy, and best of all it basically hands the interaction to the group. No one really has to think about anything besides whether they have done it, and the whole group will learn something new. This is a great way to learn about people in a quick, organized manner. For remote teams, you can use video conferencing and have your team raise their hands instead of standing. 

Favorite Music

Music is another one of those things that connect people, similar to food above. You can learn a lot about someone by their favorite band, song, or genre. These building activities will instantly connect people, and have them feeling some common ground with other people who may be miles away. To mix it up a bit, you can ask “Who was the last artist you searched for on your music streaming service of choice?”.

Tell A Joke

Keep it safe for work of course! A joke can be a great way to break the ice. Have someone share their favorite joke, and see if you can get the team laughing. You can even start out with a joke before everything gets started, to loosen tension and break the ice for everyone. When it comes down to it, nothing unites people like some laughter. 

Ranking

Another simple way to get people talking is to ask them about two similar objects (like ice cream vs. pizza) and ask them what their favorite is. This is a great game because it’s easy, but also generates a lot of healthy competition as people defend their favorite things. People find common ground amongst some healthy rivalry, while learning about each other as they go. 

Rock, Paper, Scissors

How about a quick rock, paper, scissors tournament to get things started? Have everyone play, with the winner advancing. It’s a fun game because everyone knows how to play, and you can get the remote team building started with some healthy competition as well. 

Draw Something

If you tell people to have a note taking pad and paper handy, it can be a fun start to have people draw their favorite animal (or any other fun ideas you can think up). The results are relatable, and often quite hilarious. It’s a really fun way to get things started and to have a shared, interesting experience. 

Favorite Hobby

Another classic question, finding out something about a person outside of work is always a great place to break the ice. This gets people talking about something they are truly interested in, instead of just jumping right into work. It also helps unite people, and lets them know a fun detail about the people they are working with. 

Don’t Laugh

This one is simple, first one to laugh loses. It can be a great way to break the tension that is almost always present upon first meetings. It is also easy because it doesn’t require anyone to speak, simply give them a fun game before they get started. 

What Is Your Role?

This one is a bit more organizational focused, but with remote teams it often can get confusing who even does what. By starting off by allowing everyone to explain their role, everyone gets a chance to introduce themselves, but you also get a way for everyone to understand which role on the team each person plays. 

Share a Photo or gif

Everyone has smart phones these days, so why not give them a chance to share a photo on their phone that they really like. It can be of anything, and they get a chance to explain to the group why it is so special to them. Of course, it’s important to make sure everyone is comfortable with the game beforehand, and can sit out if they like. 

How’s the Weather There?

Another fun game to play with remote teams is simply to ask how the weather is there. Because everyone might be in such different locations, it can be fun to compare what it’s like outside and this really helps to show how varied remote teams can be. When it’s snowing somewhere and sunny and warm elsewhere, that can be a real conversation starter! 

Who’s Your Team?

Sports is another way in which people find common bonds and playful rivalries. Asking about their favorite sports teams is a great icebreaker activity to open discussion. If they aren’t sports fans, they can always say something about the city they’re from. It’s a great way to let people get a gage of where everyone is from, and understand the truly “remote” nature of a team. 

Past Experience

We don’t want to risk any ice breaker questions sounding too much like an interview, but asking people about their past experience can be a great opening question so people can learn about each other. 

5 Quick Facts

Sometimes you can even send the participants a quick list of questions beforehand. You could send them 5 of any of the questions above, and have them rifle off 5 quick facts about themselves at the start of the meeting. This is a great way to quickly learn a bunch about the others, and they can figure it out beforehand to avoid being on the spot. 

Introduce Yourself

We saved the most basic for last, the open ended “introduce yourself”. A classic question that is surprisingly broad. Give people the chance to say a few short things about themselves, and see what happens. Sometimes the most classic ice breakers are the ones worth pursuing, especially when you don’t know the dynamic of your team yet. 

Important Considerations

Often the icebreaker that you choose is really more dependent on the situation at hand. There are various types of virtual groups, and various levels of professionalism you might expect from your team. This makes it difficult to know what level of sharing people are comfortable with right off the bat. We think these three key considerations are very valuable in choosing whether you want to err on the side of humor or professionalism: 

Is This The First Time Meeting?

Not all ice breakers take place on everyone’s first time meeting. Maybe this is simply their first time working remotely, or maybe many of them have shared experiences before. Regardless, it is often the case that everyone loosens up a lot more when they have met each other before. 

For this reason, you might want to avoid some of the more humorous ice breaker games and questions when it is everyone’s true first time meeting each other. This is for the simple reason that it might make some uncomfortable. When in doubt, pick a game you are sure everyone will enjoy. 

How Old Is Everyone?

The dynamics of a group will often change a lot depending on how old everyone is, or more specifically, how familiar is everyone with remote technology? Of course, we aren’t meaning to make broad generalizations on age, but it is often the case that people aren’t as comfortable joking around when there are large age differences. Your primary concern is finding an icebreaker that keeps everyone comfortable, so considering the different generational dynamics is often important. 

What Is Your Industry?

Simply put, different industries often have different standards of professionalism. Often, people enter meetings (especially first meetings) with an idea of keeping things quite professional. This is especially true in more “serious” professions that involve higher stakes. Keep this in mind when deciding on an icebreaker. They can be a great way to loosen tension, but don’t pick something that is inappropriate for the situation. 

Time Constraints

A final issue is time constraints. Depending on the size of your team, it may affect how simple or how complex you may make your icebreakers. You have to consider how long it will take everyone to answer, and you don’t want to run the risk of anyone losing interest, or of running out of time to get to the heart of the meeting. We included several options on our list which run a range of time to complete, and you can choose the one that best suits your needs. 

Conclusion

Overall, you just need to pick the icebreaker that you think fits the situation. Evaluate the dynamics, and decide what you want out of your remote group’s initial meeting. So take some time to sit down and really figure out what you are wanting out of this meeting, and pick an icebreaker to match. We’re confident you can find one in our options above. 

Thank you for reading our list of ice breaker games for remote teams. Remote teams present a special issue in getting everyone acquainted, as you often don’t get the opportunity to meet them in person. But with a good icebreaker, you’d be surprised how quickly everyone can come together! 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: How do you make a team call fun?

A: Turning a virtual call into a fun activity for a team member can be easily done by incorporating the ice breakers included in this article. Pick one and start off your next meeting or call with it!

Q: What are your top tips for team building with remote teams?

A: Incorporate an all-hands meeting every morning with your team, especially if the majority of your employees are working remote. Within these you can include the ice breaker ideas above multiple times with everyone – having your colleagues learn more about themselves brings everyone closer together and keeps people on their feet for every meeting. 

Q: I’m not great at coming up with ice breaker questions. Do you have any good examples I can use?

A: Of course! Here’s some great group icebreakers to improve communication and build an overall better company culture:

If you had to delete all but three apps from your smartphone, which ones would you keep?

You can have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life, what is it?

How would you change your life today if the average life expectancy was 400 years?

What would you be found doing if the police unexpectedly breaks into your home in the day?

If you could be in any movie, what would it be and what character would you play?

If your life were a hero’s journey, who would be your antagonist and what’s stopping you from winning?

If you had to eat only one type of food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what question would you ask?

If you could choose any historical figure to be your imaginary friend, who would it be and why?

If you could choose to remain one age until you die, which age would you choose and why?

If you could choose any person from history to be your imaginary friend, who would it be and why?

If you can go back to college again, would you take the same course that you finished or try out a different one?

If you could live anywhere on this planet without having the leave anyone or anything behind, where would you live?

If you could add a word to the dictionary what would you add and what would it mean?

If you had to identify one person who completely changed your life, who would it be?

If you could go back to your younger self, which age would it be, and what would you say?

If extraterrestrials landed on earth and offered to take you with them, would you go?

If you can go back to any of your younger selves, at what age would you choose to go back to?

If you could travel to and live in any time period in history, where and when would you live?

What is something that you believe in that most people probably don’t believe in?

If you could visit anywhere in the world, regardless of budget or time it took to get there, where would you go?

If you could commit any crime and get away with it what would you choose and why?

If you could have the power of teleportation right now, where would you go and why?

Use a word that begins with the same letter as your first name to describe yourself and why?

What’s something that someone has said about you that has really stuck with you?

If you could buy any .com domain, what would you buy and what would you use it for?

Tell us a book or movie or video you’ve read or seen lately and which you would recommend?

4 Always on Video for Remote Teams Tools Reviewed

Coronavirus is rapidly accelerating the way we work. Many businesses, team members, and organizations will now have to rely on remote work for the majority of their employee communications. As a result, you can expect video tools to see a massive surge over this time. 

One of the best (and definitely unique) options for managing remote staff is always-on video. In this article, we will explore this technology. We will examine what it is, the pros and cons, how to use it, and quickly review the best tools on the market. So let us get started. 

Tip – When you have this solution setup be sure to start off on the right foot with some ice breakers for remote teams.

What is Always on Video for Remote Teams?

One of the major downsides of video for remote teams is the hassle involved in setting it up every time. Making sure everyone in your virtual team is at their computer, making sure everyone logs in, connecting, you get the idea. With always-on video, you have exactly that, a video portal that is always turned on and ready to use. 

This may take a variety of forms, but often it is situated in an area of a room that someone can go up to and instantly connect with their team. Because it is already switched on, they simply need to press a button and they will be connected with the team. This allows a level of integration similar to that of an office. 

Always-on video takes different forms as well. You can add extra levels of reachability and availability, depending on what works for you. You can choose to have the software “on” but to require people to notify others when they want to talk. Alternatively, you can have the cameras and communication devices on at all times, similar to a real office. Additionally, you can choose how many people are involved in the video conference at all times, from everyone at once, to one-on-one meetings. 

Benefits to Always on Video

The benefits to always-on video collaboration are quite robust. They encompass the benefits of normal video conferencing, but have the extra benefits of extra-connectivity. 

Firstly, let’s talk about video conferencing benefits. When you’re working with remote teams, there is nothing like meeting face-to-face. Sometimes, you need that extra level of human interaction in order to really get things done. This accomplishes something that email or even the phone cannot. Video conferencing adds that extra level of social interaction and interconnectivity that people need to stay connected. 

It is also great for productivity. There is nothing like sorting things out with a conversation. A back-and-forth with email can take forever. With a video conference, you can quickly sort out your issues and have people on similar pages. 

Next is organization. Things can quickly become separated when people are working remotely. Keeping everyone in the loop is crucial, and you need to be able to stay in contact with people to make this possible. People can understand their tasks, deadlines, as well as how others are contributing. 

Always-on video provides even more benefits that simple video conferencing does not. By having the software always on, the problems associated with sorting out connections, logging in, and time of meetings is not an issue. Since everyone is committed to being fully reachable through the always-on software, you can quickly drop in and out with any questions or concerns you may have. 

Overall, always-on is simply a more interactive and connected version of video conferencing, and probably more so than any form of remote communication. If you are looking for the ultimate integration for monitoring or organizing your remote business, then always-on video tool may do the trick. 

Downside to Always on Video

Of course, no evaluation would be complete without also examining the drawbacks of a certain technology. In this case, the drawbacks of always-on technology are mostly that which are akin to remote work in general. Sometimes, it is simply not a substitute for in-person communication. 

However, when you don’t really have an option, you have to make do with what you can get. It is tough in times where meeting in person isn’t practical, but luckily people tend to get more and more accustomed to these technologies over time. 

In terms of always-on video specifically, there is often the hurdle that people simply don’t like to be connected at all times. They may feel it represents a lack of privacy or a lack of trust from management that they will get their work done.

This is why it is so important to set up a system that you and your employees are both comfortable with. You need a process that works for everyone. Everyone should understand that the system is simply for sharing information, and not as a means of “spying” on employees. The whole process should be built on a foundation of trust, with the communicated goal of having everyone work together toward a common objective.  

Alternative – Scheduled daily standup / status meetings on video

Always-on video conferencing might be a good option for you, but it also might not. Depending on your team and the type of work you do, you might be comfortable with an alternative arrangement. You should weigh your options, and also talk it out with your team if necessary. Remember, the goal of this is to have everyone communicating effectively, and to do this everyone needs to be comfortable. 

One alternative is a scheduled daily video call. By having it scheduled, people don’t have to worry so much about dropping everything and doing it. It won’t be an interruption, but rather a planned part of their day. You can structure these meetings so everyone knows what to expect. It’s a great time to catch up on objectives, works in process, and talk about future goals. 

Finding the method that works best for you is key. 

4 Best Always-On Video Tools

You might be thinking that this sounds great, but what technologies can you use to put this in action? In this section, we’ll outline our top choices of always-on video software. Technically, most video-conferencing softwares have an always-on option. It is just a matter of how you set up your portal. For always-on, you will simply leave one of these programs running, and allow people to jump in when they want. 

Skype

No list of video conferencing platforms would be complete without the most obvious – Skype. Skype gained its popularity by being innovative, but it kept its popularity by adjusting and keeping up with the market. With Skype, you have the major bonus that most of your employees have probably used this program before. 

Skype supports group video calling for up to 50 people, and even more if you have a paid subscription for a business account. No matter how you want to structure your video conferencing, there is probably an option on Skype. There are even screen sharing options for when you have to show people what you have been working on. 

GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting is a paid service, but often you have to make an investment if you want that extra functionality. GoToMeeting simply offers some usability that other programs do not. 

With GoToMeeting, you get everything you’d expect with something like Skype, but most features are a bit more fleshed out. There are plugins to integrate various programs (Salesforce, Google Calendar, Office 365). There are many advanced features so that you can set up your meeting exactly how you want, and include whoever you want.  

Zoom

Probably the second most popular option on this list, most of your employees will probably have used Zoom before. Zoom is great because it is another free software, but has all the features you would expect from a more sophisticated program. It includes up to 100 participants at once, which is a big bonus if you have a large office. 

There are a wealth of features to make your experience more seamless, such as screen-sharing, whiteboard sharing, instant messaging chat, and annotations. Zoom also offers heavy encryption options, so you don’t have to worry about your team collaboration meetings being secure. 

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is a great video conferencing tool, but don’t expect the wealth of features to be had with some of the options above, especially if you opt for the paid version of any of these software’s. However, if you simply need to have a conference with a small team, Google Hangouts could get the job done. It is easy, intuitive, and free, and sometimes that is all you need. 

Conclusion

It really depends on evaluating your needs when considering any of these options. You need to know what kind of software you actually need, because there is a chance you will be paying for features that you don’t actually use. 

So before you begin this search, take some time to sit down and evaluate your needs. By this, we don’t mean what kind of video conference software you need, but how you actually intend on communicating with your remote employees to keep them organized and motivated. Once you know what you actually need, you can easily plan out a software that matches these needs. Your decision becomes simplified, and your system of managing your employees becomes much easier. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: How many people need to be involved in your remote meeting?

A: It really depends on who the necessary personnel is for the meeting in question. Unless you are setting up a company-wide meeting to address a large matter or go over specific policies with everyone, then always be sure to include only the necessary people in your video meetings in order to keep it efficient and communication clear. 

Q: How not to fail with transitioning to remote in 2020? 

A: Communication and clear procedures are two of the most important factors with remote work. Whether or not your team has experience with remote work, making sure you have consistent and clear communication (such as a scheduled daily standup meeting) with them will lead to a successful and effective team. 

Q: What challenges have you encountered building a remote team?

A: The main challenges have been communication and tracking work. Both of these are easily solved through tools like always on video and cloud storage for files such as Google Drive. 

Q: Where do you store all of your files, and make sure the entire remote team have access to them?

A: Almost any cloud storage software will work, however Google Drive offers some great online storage, making it accessible to anyone who needs to view it, and is easy to use due to it’s integration with G-suite. 

Q: How else do you ensure your remote team is engaged, challenged and successful?

A: Keeping everyone up-to-date with daily updates and weekly meetings are two of the best ways to ensure everyone is engaged. A weekly meeting with an always on video software allows your team to have something they own and can communicate to you on a weekly basis which helps you stay in the loop with what they’re doing and keeps them feeling responsible for their own tasks.

Q: What advice would you give to a team considering to go remote?

A: Ensure you have all the proper software’s and tools in place, such as always on video and a cloud-based file sharing system, like Google Drive. Then make sure to create and share the procedures to using these with your entire team. After that, implement strict policies for communication and schedule daily and weekly meetings with everyone.

For a complete list of our SOPs on how to work remote have a look at this guide to managing a remote team.

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