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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. 

About the Author Jon

I am a 33 year old husband, father of 3, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours AND so I can spend time outside skiing and biking with my family.
Jon Gillham, Online Entrepreneur

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