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If you’re one of the millions looking for an easy way to make money online or for a scalable side hustle idea, then website flipping may be just what you’re looking for. It is a simple process, and it doesn’t require any prior experience or a lot of technical skills to get started. All you need is a desire to learn, a couple of hours a week, and the ability to invest and outsource.
Like real estate and land, owning a website has now become a modern-day flex. Websites are valuable assets where business owners sell their products and services or host their blogs to sell other people’s products and services (think affiliate marketing). For something so valuable, can you imagine how much of a living you can make just by flipping existing sites for profit? In this comprehensive article, we will show exactly how.
What is Website Flipping?
Website flipping is a business strategy of buying existing websites, improving them, and then selling them at a profit.
You can flip any kind of website, even a legally registered company or product. The idea behind website flipping is simple — thousands of websites have operators whose intention was to make money off of them at some point. Whether it is selling their own products and services or selling other people’s products and services (e.g., advertising, affiliate marketing, sponsorships, digital products, etc.) But, for whatever reason, they now want to offload that website to someone else.
This is where you come in, and you might wonder how website flipping works. In short, the process is simple and straightforward. When you flip a website, you’re buying an existing website with the intent to resell it for a profit. To flip it profitably, you need to make sure that your investment (i.e., how much money you are putting into the project) is less than your sale price on the backend of the project when all is said and done.
If you are a skilled website operator and you have time to spare, then you could have found yourself the ultimate money-making opportunity. There are a number of ways to increase the value of the asset (i.e., website). Without oversimplifying things, all you need is an understanding of search engine optimization (SEO), monetization strategies, and the importance of publishing good content.
You can even hire professionals to do the work for you. After that, you just watch the checks roll in.
Why Website Flipping is a Good Side Hustle
Website flipping is a great way to earn money on the side because it’s simple, can be done on your own time, and works well for people who love to innovate and create. It’s also a scalable gig — you can flip several sites in a month or focus on one or two at a time.
Website flipping is a viable side hustle because there’s tremendous demand for websites. You can flip websites that are already established and actively making money, or you can also build brand new sites from scratch and sell those as well if you happen to be a skilled website operator.
Flipping websites is 100% scalable and can return huge profits in a matter of months. The only thing is you may need a few hundred or a few thousand dollars to get started.
However, once you get started by purchasing your first website to flip, your business can quickly grow into a six-figure business. This is because selling the finished product often triples or quadruples your initial investment, making it all too easy to start again with two or three new websites.
Once you’ve completed a couple of successful flips, you can also outsource some of the tasks required to improve the website, so you don’t have to do all the work yourself. This will allow you to work on your business rather than work in your business and find more websites to flip.
Before you know it, you’ll be flipping and selling websites worth well in the five figures in as short as a year.
Don’t believe us? Just check out these success stories. Many website flippers have earned well into the thousands in terms of profit. Of course, others don’t earn as much in the beginning, and there will always be websites that don’t perform as well, no matter how much work you put in.
With that said, whatever stage you’re in, know that this is not a get-rich-quick solution. Rather, it is a chance for you to build an infinitely scalable business that can earn you a sizable living in a matter of months. Even better, you can eventually automate the process as well.
Strong Return on Investment (ROI)
Think of the process of flipping houses to sell vs. renting them out, selling will give you the biggest return on investment right off the bat. The same goes for flipping websites. You will be rewarded for your efforts and receive the strongest return on investment for the site as soon as you sell it.
In fact, it’s not uncommon to sell websites for 30 to 40 times the monthly revenue.
If you didn’t notice already, a website’s profitability also depends on the niche it is centered around, but we will touch more on that later.
Sought After Space
As referenced before, people are buying websites as is the new form of real estate, but online. A website is an asset that can generate money on the internet, and it all depends on the amount of traffic the website gets. The more visitors you have, the more income potential your site has.
Large media companies and investors are always looking to buy websites to add to their portfolios because they know how valuable these websites are. They use them to sell their products and services or host their blogs.
Websites are also an excellent source of passive income in that paid advertisements can be constantly run on them. Platforms like Mediavine, Google AdSense, Ezoic, and AdThrive are some of the most popular ad networks out there, making it possible for websites to monetize their content via display ads.
Affiliate marketing is another monetization strategy used by business owners and bloggers where commissions are earned every time a site visitor clicks on or purchases an item on a specific page or takes a specific action.
As you can see, websites are no longer viewed as a hobbyist’s playground but are now a valuable, income-generating asset. You can be cashing in on demand as someone that makes websites reach their highest potential and sell them for a premium.
How to Flip Websites for Money
Flipping websites is not as complicated as you might think. Yes, you may need some technical knowledge to improve the quality of the website (you could also outsource this part of the process), but in the end, it’s just a process. Here are all the steps you need to follow to flip a website, from finding the website to negotiating the sale.
Step 1: Find a Website to Flip
Many factors go into finding a website that will be worth your while. From selecting a profitable niche to recognizing what metrics to take into consideration, it all becomes second nature once you have the process down.
Select a Profitable Niche
To help you get started, here are some of the most profitable niches that you should consider. Choosing one or two niches that you happen to be passionate about will get this side hustle started off on the right foot for you.
Keep in mind that a profitable niche must have a level of interest, people already making money in that space, and room for future growth.
Digital marketing is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world of business. It’s valued at around $460 billion, and there doesn’t seem to be signs of slowing down anytime soon.
There are thousands of digital marketing companies that provide offering products and services in this space. From search engine optimization (SEO) and email marketing to influencer marketing and paid advertising, there are all sorts of companies popping up every day.
That said, digital marketing is one of the most profitable website niches, and it’s no secret that most website owners have set out to make money online in this space. Companies are selling their own products or services, or website owners are selling other companies’ products and services.
If you are serious about making money as a website flipper, digital marketing can be a powerful tool and niche to get started with.
Personal Finance and Investing
Can you guess what the second most searched topic is for web surfers? Yes, finance! People are always searching for ways to manage their money more effectively, how to make more money, and grow their wealth. The finance and investing niche is a profitable one for sure, and you can easily flip a five or six-figure website centered around it.
Take Larry Ludwig as an example. He was able to grow his website, Investor Junkie, to a six-figure blog and then sell it to XLMedia for $5.8 million. That’s pretty sweet, isn’t it?
A personal finance and investing website is a great way to build a business online. People that are visiting personal finance and investing websites are in need of reading and learning about investing and personal finance content.
There is nothing more valuable, especially post-pandemic, than writing content related to stocks, portfolios, savings, retirement, insurance, credit cards, loans, mortgages, inflation, recession, etc. Even if you are not an expert in the field, you can always hire a personal finance freelance writer to create content for you.
A personal finance and investing website can easily be monetized via affiliate marketing and display advertising.
Wellness and Fitness
You know what they say, health is wealth. So it only makes sense that wellness and fitness is another popular niche.
In addition to finances, you can flip a website covering a variety of health and fitness-related topics. From weight loss and holistic remedies to workout plans, people are always looking for the newest health tips.
If you are a therapist or something similar, this option can apply to the mental health niche as well. As mental and physical wellness is becoming more and more related to each other, there is no shortage of wellness retreats and hotels coming to the service. It could be worthwhile to promote some of them on your website as well.
There are numerous ways to monetize a wellness and fitness blog, from online fitness courses and ebooks to selling your own products or affiliate marketing.
Relationship blogs and websites are becoming very popular in today’s world as this is becoming a rapidly growing industry. Relationships affect all of us. We all have friends, partners, co-workers, relatives, etc., so the need to get better at your relationship skills is ever-growing.
There are many sub-niches that people can focus their efforts on, like dating advice, divorce advice, break-up advice, etc.
There are also many ways to monetize these websites, such as creating your own digital products (courses or ebooks), creating a membership site where you can give one-on-one advice, or even affiliate marketing.
Software and Technology
New software and technology come out regularly, and not everyone is born knowing the ins and outs of each new development. That’s why software and technology websites have earned their spot as a profitable niche.
This niche is an income potential gold mine. Not only can you host tutorials and drive traffic to other social channels, but you can even earn commission on various technologies if your site becomes popular enough.
Big corporations love to take advantage of every opportunity to advertise their products, and if you have the traffic for the job, you could be racking in the dough alongside them.
In the personal development niche, there is a great demand for websites that share the benefits of improving yourself. In fact, it is all the rage. People want to learn about how improving their lives is possible and, more importantly, how to become better versions of themselves.
In this case, a blog or a newsletter is the most appropriate option to drive traffic continually for this sort of website niche. You can write about a variety of personal development and mental health topics or hire an expert freelance writer to do it for you.
It is also noteworthy to mention that you don’t necessarily have to be an expert in any given niche to flip a website around it. Not only can you hire those with expertise, but there is a wealth of information online for you to learn from.
Learn from other blogs, observe what people want solutions to, and you have solid content to contribute to your website.
Recipes and Food
If you are a chef or home cook on the side, you can cash in on the website flipping game as well. There are countless numbers of daily searches looking for new food recipes. It’s even become a trend on various social media platforms.
Not only can you host a successful food blog on your website, but many people use this niche as an opportunity to collaborate with other food professionals. Perhaps you can use the site to sell custom cookware or highlight local cuisine for travelers. The possibilities are endless in the food and recipe niche.
What to Look For In A Website
In addition to targeting websites centered around profitable niches, it is also important to pay attention to some technical aspects of the website you are considering flipping. Although buggy or sketchy websites are not necessarily a bad thing, familiarizing yourself with these terms will undoubtedly save you time and money in the long run.
This is very important as you don’t want to buy a website with toxic links that will hurt your rankings in the future. When you are analyzing or auditing a potential website that you want to buy, you should use a platform such as Ahrefs (the most popular), Semrush, Moz, Majestic, etc.
These tools can generate reports to identify spammy or toxic links, as well as looking at the backlink profile of a website (i.e., the quantity, anchors, and quality of links pointing to a website). To be safe, make sure you don’t buy a website that has the following links:
- Private blog networks (PBN) links
- Spammed international links
- Adult or x-rated links
- Gambling and casino links
Websites with these types of links are red flags and should not be purchased for flipping.
Domain Brandability and History
The brandability and history of the website are critical factors in choosing a website to flip and cannot be changed once purchased—all the more reason to be especially diligent with this critical step.
Surprisingly, you don’t want the domain name to be too specific. If the site intends to sell pet supplies, it wouldn’t make sense for it to be called cattoys.com. A more general name, such as onestoppet.com or petparlor.com would make much more sense for the type of business.
If you find that the website has a history of niche hopping (i.e., clothing to lawn care, technology to bed linens) or it is less than a year old, those are red flags and can hurt your conversion rates drastically. Even more so, a history of adult or gambling content should be an automatic no-go.
Lastly, you want to inspect the site for illegal uses of trademarks thoroughly. If a brand finds out that your site is using something trademarked to them, it could get you into serious legal trouble.
The bottom line is to check for brandability, illegal uses of trademarks, and the site’s age, and thoroughly inspect the history before purchasing a website. Thankfully, there are a plethora of tools to determine these factors at your disposal.
Traffic Sources and Trends
This refers to the source of traffic and what the trend of traffic looks like. Is it on an upward trajectory or going down? Is the traffic paid, social, or organic?
Using Google Analytics, you can find the answers to these questions, among other important ones, before purchasing a website. Here are some things to look for:
- Are the top pages getting traffic exceeding 15%?
- Are visitors spending less than one minute on the site?
- Are the pages visited per session low?
- Is the bounce rate more than 90%?
- Is the traffic paid traffic rather than social or organic?
- Is the website being visited by certain countries that you don’t want?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions, walk away, or feel free to ask follow-up questions for further clarification.
Take a look at how good the content on the website is. This is important. You don’t want to buy a site with thin, machine-generated low, quality content. This applies to the niche as well. It’s best if the website you are purchasing is within the eight niches mentioned above to ensure maximum profitability.
Depending on the severity of the low-quality content, this doesn’t necessarily have to be a deal breaker, as you can incorporate improving the content into your flip project.
Above all else, make sure the website’s niche interests you and that you are excited to build upon it.
How is the website making money? More resilient websites include multiple income sources such as sponsorships, ad revenue, affiliate marketing, email marketing, digital products, lead generation, Amazon Associates program, consulting, etc. The more revenue sources a website has, the more money resilient it is to volatility or changes in the market.
A couple of things to take into consideration are the potential for a given website to add other revenue sources and also whether the existing revenue sources are confident, predictable, and can be reliable for future growth.
Website Costs and Expenses
This is basically how much it costs the owner of the site to operate the website. Think of things like content production, acquiring backlinks, hosting, software, etc. Be sure to calculate the cost to operate the website against the revenue the asset generates to calculate your net monthly income accurately.
To obtain this information, simply ask the seller. Make sure you do your due diligence and find out how much a website owner is spending every month on its website.
Is the website old and using an outdated Content Management System or theme? Does the site have a newsletter or an alternative email listing process? You will have to put more money into improving the site if the previous owner has not put much money into keeping the site updated and healthy.
This refers to whether or not the website also includes other assets that could be monetized or add value to the overall business. For instance, an email list, a YouTube channel, social media accounts, etc. Often, these other assets can be bought alongside the website, which will maximize your revenue potential.
Step 2: Purchase the Website you Want to Flip
Once you’ve evaluated the ideal website that meets your criteria for flipping, it’s time to make the purchase. The question is, what are the best places to purchase flippable websites? Check out the list below.
Website marketplaces are sites where you can browse their inventory of sites and decide what’s good for you. The good thing about these sites is that they do a lot of the heavy lifting for you:
- Research websites
- Vet sellers
- Document how the website operates and makes money
- Provide valuations
- Be a reliable intermediary between the buyer and the seller
- Transfer the ownership of the asset and stick around after the purchase to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Pros of using website marketplaces for purchasing a website:
- These sites are trustworthy and secure
- They offer turnkey solutions
- They do all the work for you
- The process is streamlined
Cons of using website marketplaces for purchasing a website:
- Some sites only focus on high-end or top-tier sites
- Some sites ask you for a deposit as proof of trust (sometimes the deposit is up to 5% of the value of the site)
- In some cases, you will have to pay a high commission (sometimes up to 15%, but you get what you pay for)
There are a lot of Facebook groups where people go and find potential buyers or sellers. Keep in mind that there are a ton of spammy and shady Facebook groups out there, but it is possible to find some genuine gems.
Pros of using Facebook groups for purchasing a website:
- Zero commissions and fees
- Direct communication with sellers
- Wide range of offerings
Cons of using Facebook groups for purchasing a website:
- More susceptible to scams
- No database to browse around
- You have to do the due diligence yourself
Solo Web Owners
This refers to people that only have one website. It’s easier to negotiate a purchase from a solo website owner rather than trying to buy a website from a media company that owns and operates multiple websites. If you see an opportunity, you can reach out directly to the site owner and inquire about potentially purchasing the site directly.
Pros of reaching out directly to a solo web owner for purchasing a website:
- Lower prices and great for beginners or for those that want to keep costs low
- No commissions are you are dealing with the seller directly
- You can negotiate with the seller directly
Cons of reaching out directly to a solo web owner for purchasing a website:
- Harder to find as many opt for marketplaces due to the simplicity
- Riskier as you have to do the research by yourself
Step 3: Negotiate with the Seller and Transfer Ownership
Believe it or not, the act of purchasing a website is not as simple as you might think. It is worth the time it takes to hone some valuable negotiating skills to save you some money. Remember, the lower you purchase the website in its current condition, the higher your profit will be when you sell it later.
Negotiate a Price
Lowering the price of the asset you’re buying as much as possible will prevent the sale from cutting into your profit when it’s time to sell the websites. This goes for hiring outsourced help as well, but be sure that it doesn’t skimp on quality.
Make sure you take some time to negotiate a good price for your site.
Setup a Timeline
Transferring ownership can be a lengthy process, as many steps need to be taken before the sale is complete. Establishing expectations as to how long it will take to transfer the ownership of a site will ensure everything will go according to plan.
Draft a Contract
This is an important step to ensure the website and its assets will belong to you upon purchase. Put everything in writing. Write a contract with all the deliverables, timelines, and what is included and not included as part of the sale. For a good reason, this can be a lengthy process as well. Take your time.
Transfer the Ownership
Once the sale is complete, go ahead and obtain passwords, download files, and work out financial and technical logistics to begin transferring ownership.
Step 4: Improve the Website you Want to Flip
You have reached the fun and most time-consuming part of flipping a website. This is where you unleash your creativity and technical knowledge to make the website dramatically increase in value. As mentioned before, you can even hire freelancers that specialize in web design or SEO, for example, to complete some of the processes for you.
Perform a Website Audit
You can sometimes complete this step before purchasing the website to determine if it is in good condition or salvageable. You can also do it again to determine your plan of attack. It will show you what you need to work on.
Technical SEO refers to the work you do at a hosting and domain level, like implementing HTTPS protocols for your domain, extending domain registration length, working on the website’s overall loading time, creating and implementing robots.txt file, creating proper 404 error pages, making sure your site is mobile-friendly, making sure you don’t have duplicate content, making sure the images on the website are well-optimized, etc.
You do not have to be an expert to do this. Simply hiring some expertise will take care of this step for you.
It all starts with having a good website architecture and making sure your website is crawlable and indexable by search engines (like Bing and Google).
On-page SEO refers to all the things that are within your website, such as title, meta description, SEO-optimized content, image optimization, using short descriptive URLs, linking to relevant sources with your content, adding internal links to help search engines understand what your site is about, making sure you add proper schema markup to your pages, etc.
Overall on-page optimization means structuring or building your website content to be user-friendly and search engine friendly.
Off-page SEO is essentially link-building and building your domain’s authority and reputation in the eyes of your audience and search engines. Think of this step as behind-the-scenes work to get your website to rank on Google. This can look like keyword optimization or link-building-related content. Ultimately, this step ensures that you have established a presence on the internet.
Some of the most popular link-building techniques include:
- Reclaiming lost links
- Pursue unlinked mentions
- Publish guest posts
- Digital PR or outreach
Off-page SEO is as equally important for growing websites as on-page SEO, so make sure you pay close attention to it when improving the website you want to flip.
This is where you can find strategies to improve the revenue of the site. Maybe you can add ads to the site or improve your affiliate relationships to increase your commissions. Maybe you can start getting sponsorships or create a digital product that you can sell on the website.
There are many monetization methods for a website, but some of the most popular ways to make money with a website include the following:
- Affiliate marketing
- Paid Memberships
- Display Ads
- Creating and selling digital products
- Monetize an email list
- Gated content (people pay to read exclusive content)
- Speaking gigs
Remember, your audience is your most valuable asset, so you should spend time growing and nourishing your audience and building a reputation online.
Step 5: Sell the Website for a Profit
Next is payday! You’ve spent the time making the website you purchased the best it can be, and now it is time to reap the rewards. There are a few strategic tips to keep in mind to maximize profits.
How to Price the Site
You want to be sure to document the amount of work and funds you put into the site in addition to the monthly revenue. Multiply your monthly revenue by 30 to 40 times, and you have your sale price. Yes, on average, websites sell between 30 to 40x their monthly income.
It is important to note that selling websites should not be based on the time you put into them but rather on their value or profitability. This is because websites are a huge source of passive income, and you will already be receiving compensation as you continue to improve them.
The big payout comes when you want to essentially transfer a high-performing website to a buyer because you are relinquishing your consistent income.
Prepare for the Sale
This is with regards to the documentation to have ready for the sale, accounts, backup, passwords, etc. Here is a list of criteria to have on hand when you are making the sale:
- A way to forward site-relevant emails to the buyer
- Up-to-date backup proof and backup hosting methodologies
- Anything that was mentioned in the contract
- A trusty tech guy
- List of passwords and a migration protocol
It is important to have all this information handy as it will make the sale process much easier and simpler.
Places to Sell your Site
Unless you are experienced, we recommend using a website marketplace like the one you may have used to purchase the site to sell the website you want to flip. Some of our favorite places to sell websites are:
- Motion Invest
- Empire Flippers
These marketplaces are trustworthy, and reliable and have a proven track record of selling websites. Plus, they do all the heavy lifting for you.
As always, be aware of scams and do your due diligence.
Advantages of Flipping Websites
- Flipping websites does not require an educational investment, as much of the process can be learned for free online.
- This business model can be a great side hustle or a full-time gig, as it is easy for anyone to try.
- You can outsource skills and tasks to someone more experienced and even have someone take over the sales process for you via marketplaces.
Disadvantages of Flipping Websites
- Search engines and commissions can be volatile.
- You must have patience and a good eye to find the best websites to flip. Unfortunately, there are more websites in bad shape than good.
- Takes time to hire the right outsourced talent and get your business off the ground.
FAQ on Flipping Websites for Profit
We’ve found some of the most frequently asked questions on the internet regarding how to flip websites for profit; here are our answers.
How Much Can I Make Flipping Websites?
You can easily make 3 to 4 times the amount you bought the website for or 30 to 40 times the monthly revenue amount when you sell the site in its new and improved state.
For example, if you bought a website for $1000 and put $500 worth of work into it, you can easily sell it for $3,000 to $5,000 in a matter of months. Check out these other examples to better understand what you could be making.
Is Website Flipping Legal?
Yes, there is nothing illegal about flipping and selling websites.
Just make sure you do your homework and know how to spot a shady website or a bad deal to avoid getting scammed. You don’t want to overpay for a website where you have to put in more money and work than you bargained for.
What is the Difference Between Website Flipping and Domain Flipping?
A domain is always included in the price of a website. It is simply the component that hosts the entire website as a whole. When you separate the two, domain flipping is a much simpler process than website flipping.
Domain flipping involves buying a domain with a simple website or no website as cheaply as possible, then turning around and selling it to another for a higher price than you paid.
As you might have noticed, website flipping involves revamping the entire website within the domain and takes a lot more work.
How Much Money Do I Need to Flip a Website?
You will need an upfront investment of at least a couple hundred or a thousand dollars to start (some websites will even sell for millions). This is for the initial cost of buying a flippable website.
Once you have the knowledge and a game plan, you can save up to buy your first website to flip. Keep in mind that you will need extra funds on hand if you plan to outsource certain tasks.
A website flipping business is a perfect solution for someone looking to turn their passion for technology, user experience, or a certain niche into a full-time income. It does not matter what your skill set or background is; with the proper planning and execution, a website flipping business can easily be scaled into a profitable side hustle.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post and that you can use some of the ideas in here to help your website. Remember to enjoy the process and continue to educate yourself by testing different strategies, analyzing results, and then implementing what works.
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Christa is a skilled researcher and serial entrepreneur. Her passion lies in providing people like you with ways to become financially independent without breaking the bank in the process. Currently, she’s tested and perfected over 37 unique side hustles and brings that information to you through articles like these.