What is Website Flipping?
Website flipping involves buying underperforming websites, improving them, and then selling them for a profit.
At first glance it may seem like an easy way to make money. But successfully flipping websites requires time, knowledge, and learning from experience.
The Basics of Website Flipping
The core business model is straightforward – purchase websites with potential, enhance their value, and resell them for more. Sites ripe for flipping often get traffic but don’t monetize well, or rank for some keywords but could rank for more.
The goal is to boost the site’s SEO, content, monetization, design, and user experience enough to sell it for substantially more than you paid.
The Pros of Website Flipping
- Low barrier to entry – can start with a small budget
- Simple business model to understand
- Existing marketplaces like Flippa to buy and sell sites
- Strong demand for profitable, well-performing websites
The Cons of Website Flipping
- Requires patience – typically takes months to flip a website
- Need knowledge of SEO, content creation, design, etc.
- No guarantees of success – depends on market demand
- Risk of making poor site purchases as you’re learning
Is Flipping Websites a Worthwhile Endeavor?
While flipping websites takes effort and learning through experience, many find the model rewarding. With patience and persistence, flipping can become a fruitful endeavor. More on whether it is ultimately profitable coming up in the next section!
Flipping as a Business Model
The concept of buying an asset, improving it, and selling it for profit is nothing new. People have been doing this for years with things like antique furniture, classic cars, and real estate.
Website flipping applies this same model, just in the digital space. The idea is straightforward – purchase an underperforming website, enhance it, then sell it for a higher price.
Compared to physical assets, websites offer some unique advantages:
- Location independent – can be built, bought and sold anywhere with an internet connection
- Minimal overhead – no need for storage space or transportation
- Low barriers to entry – basic hosting is the only requirement
Additionally, there is strong demand for profitable, well-performing websites. Many existing sites get traffic but don’t monetize it well. Others are outdated or subpar when it comes to design and user experience. This presents opportunities for flippers.
The website flipping model allows for both monthly cash flow from a site’s earnings, plus a big payout when it’s eventually sold. This lump sum can then be reinvested to scale up – buying more sites, outsourcing content, and repeating the process.
While success is not guaranteed, many find website flipping to be a viable and potentially lucrative business model. With some experience, the risks can be minimized and the rewards maximized.
Why Flip a Website Instead of Keeping It?
If a website is profitable, why not just continue owning it instead of flipping it? There are some good reasons one might opt to sell:
- Guaranteed lump sum payout – For example, selling a site earning $2,000 a month for a 35-45x multiple could garner $80,000+ upfront. This capital can then be reinvested into new websites or other projects.
- Eliminates ongoing upkeep – Selling transfers the day-to-day management and expenses to the new owner.
- Mitigates risks – There’s always the chance a site’s traffic or rankings could drop 50% or more overnight. Selling locks in the current value.
- Scaling a business – The $80,000 from selling one site could enable purchasing multiple new sites to flip, versus waiting months or years to scale off $2,000 monthly cash flow.
- Personal finance goals – For some, having $80,000 available immediately from a sale could help tremendously with things like paying off student loans or maximizing retirement savings.
So while keeping a profitable site can certainly be a good long-term strategy, flipping it brings some unique financial benefits as well. There are solid reasons on both sides, and entrepreneurs must evaluate their own goals and risk tolerance.
5 Steps to Website Flipping
Below you can find a breakdown of what steps are required to flip a site.
But before you read on, have a look at case studies shared by our podcast guests!
Our Podcast Case Studies About Flipping Websites
Step 1 – Find a Website To Flip
Finding the right website to flip is a crucial first step that requires careful evaluation. While buying an existing site is faster than building from scratch, not every site is worth investing time and money into. When assessing potential sites to flip, keep these tips in mind:
When starting out, you’ll need to decide whether to build a website from the ground up or buy an existing site. Both options have their pros and cons. Building gives you full control over the site, but buying is much faster since the site is already indexed and receiving traffic.
Learn what it takes to pull the trigger and buy an online business with Jaryd Krause. Get valuable insights in this episode!
The Flipping Dilemma: To Buy Or To Build?
Buying an existing website can get you started faster, since the site is already indexed by search engines and receiving organic traffic.
Building a profitable site from scratch can take well over 2 years. With an existing site, you instantly have an audience to build on.
However, building gives you full control over the content, design, and monetization from day one.
- Buying an existing site is faster since it’s already indexed and has traffic. Building a site from scratch can take over 2 years to rank and flip.
- Buying gives you an instant audience. With building, you have to attract visitors over time.
- Building gives more control over content, design, etc. But buying lets you improve what’s already there.
When browsing potential sites to buy, it helps immensely to focus your search on profitable niches. Consider categories like food, travel, business, health and technology.
You may also opt for a micro-niche for greater focus and profit potential, like keto recipes or SaaS management tools.
Ideally, choose a niche you already have knowledge and interest in, as this makes creating content and marketing much easier.
Create a Website Buying Checklist
Having a checklist ensures you thoroughly evaluate potential sites before purchasing. Include criteria like:
- Domain history – Ensure no spam or shady history.
- Content quality – Well-written, valuable content is best. Avoid sites that will need full content overhauls.
- Website traffic – Look for decent organic traffic from major countries.
- Platform – WordPress sites sell best and have abundant expert resources.
- Revenue – Current earnings and revenue potential are key.
Conduct Proper Due Diligence
Doing in-depth due diligence is a must before acquiring any website. Never skip this crucial step. Proper due diligence helps avoid making expensive mistakes and spots any red flags early on. Include steps like:
- Verify traffic and income numbers independently to confirm what the seller claims. Many use analytics screenshots which can be manipulated.
- Closely analyze traffic sources. Ensure a good portion comes from organic search and direct visits, not primarily social media or paid ads.
- Examine the backlink profile. Watch for sketchy purchased links or toxic links from low-quality sites. These can jeopardize rankings.
- Look for unusual trends or patterns in income and traffic numbers month-to-month. Drastic variations may indicate issues.
- Search for any history of penalties by Google or other search engines. This can severely impact organic rankings and traffic.
Never ignore any red flags uncovered during due diligence. Even if a site has great potential, major issues are best avoided from the start.
Seek Out Easy Revenue Wins
When evaluating a potential acquisition, look for ways you can quickly boost earnings. This shows the site has solid growth potential once you implement further optimizations. Things to check:
- Swap out the theme for a more modern, conversion-focused design. Outdated themes hurt conversions.
- Review page speed. Improving site speed can directly increase conversions and revenue.
- Assess internal linking structure. Broken navigation or poor interlinking affects site structure.
- Check for missing affiliate links or other monetization opportunities based on the content.
- See if advertising could be further optimized, like switching ad networks.
Even just a few quick fixes early on can significantly impact earnings. This indicates big potential for future growth and profits.
Best Sites to Buy and Grow When Flipping Websites
When searching for an existing website to purchase and flip, you want to find ones with clear potential for growth and increased revenue. The best sites to buy are those with proof of concept, untapped opportunities, and room to optimize.
Look for Solopreneurs and Hobby Sites
Websites run by individuals and hobbyists often have untapped potential without huge price tags. If teams of experts were working on the site, they may have already maximized profits, leaving little room for you to improve.
Search for solo owners on marketplace profiles. Hobbyists especially may not have invested much in monetization, SEO, etc.
This presents opportunities.
Catch this insightful episode with Jaryd Krause and Carl Broadbent and discover how to manage and scale a content website portfolio.
Sites with Proof of Concept
Rather than unproven ideas, look for sites where the traffic source and monetization method already work together to generate income.
For example, a site with steady organic search traffic and affiliate commissions.
This shows the model functions and just needs some optimization and growth to boost profits.
Avoid sites that are essentially failed ideas without any traffic or revenue proof points yet. These require much more investment and risk to get off the ground.
Sites with Untapped Potential
Search for sites where you can clearly identify opportunities to improve growth.
- Does the site get traffic but could use better on-page SEO and content?
- Does it rank for some keywords but have room to expand into related topics?
Perform SEO audits and content gap analysis to reveal areas for optimization. Also ensure the niche has long-term relevance, not just a temporary trend.
Sites with clear potential have growth opportunities via better SEO, expanded content, increased links, and similar optimizations.
Sites with Room for Revenue Growth
Look for sites where you can quickly boost earnings through simple changes.
- Can you add a new monetization ad unit or affiliate program?
- Negotiate a higher commission rate on existing affiliate products?
- Improve site speed or conversions to increase ad and referral revenue?
Avoid sites where traffic and monetization are already fully maximized, as there will be little room for you to substantially grow profits.
By targeting websites that meet this criteria of proven concepts, untapped potential, and revenue growth opportunities, you set yourself up for success flipping websites.
Check out this episode with Jaryd Krause and discover valuable insights about buying a business so you can make an informed investment decision!
Step 2 – Buy It
Once you’ve identified a website to flip, it’s time to purchase it.
We have a whole hub page about buying websites, but here are some main tips for buying your first site:
Choose a Website Marketplace
Website marketplaces like Flippa, Motion Invest, and Empire Flippers make it easy to find sites already for sale. You can search based on criteria like niche, traffic, revenue, etc. These platforms hold your payment in escrow for safety.
Flippa is a top choice with its massive selection and user-friendly interface. They only charge a small processing fee, not a commission on the sale price.
Negotiate the Price
Don’t be afraid to negotiate, especially as a first-time buyer. Aim for a price aligned with a valuation tool, but be willing to bargain. Patience can pay off with finding the ideal site at the right price point.
Make sure to thoroughly vet sites using your checklist before purchasing. With the right marketplace platform and negotiation strategies, you can acquire a quality website tailored to your niche and budget.
Step 3 – Transfer The Ownership
After purchasing a website, you must formally transfer full ownership to yourself. Don’t skip this crucial step. Follow these tips for a smooth transfer process:
Ensure You’re Buying the Entire Site
- Verify the purchase includes the domain name, content, images, databases, servers, mailing lists, and all assets.
- Get a detailed list of everything that’s included to avoid surprises.
Draw Up a Contract
- A contract covers parties involved, site details, price, payment terms, and the transfer plan.
- Consider adding a non-compete clause so the seller can’t create a competing site.
- Get access to the hosting account and domain registrar to take over control.
- Take over affiliated accounts like Google Analytics, social media, newsletters, etc.
- Receive all website files and assets such as custom graphics.
- Leading marketplaces like EmpireFlippers, Flippa, and FE International provide streamlined transfer checklists.
The transfer process seems straightforward but many details must be covered. Using a clear contract and checklist ensures you legally obtain full ownership and don’t miss any key elements.
Step 4 – Improve
Once you’ve acquired a website, it’s time to optimize it before reselling. Follow these tips for improvement:
Conduct a Thorough Audit
A comprehensive audit identifies problem areas to address. Use heatmaps to see where visitors struggle.
Perform technical SEO audits to catch issues hurting rankings. Check for broken links, inappropriate tags, poor internal linking. Auditing gives you a roadmap of what to improve.
Learn how we audited a website to recover it from a Google’s algorithmic penalty:
Create More Content
Add new, original SEO-optimized content that targets relevant keywords and provides value. Creating fresh, high-quality content attracts search traffic by giving Google more pages to index. Also improve existing thin or outdated content by expanding or updating it. More robust content enhances appeal.
Expand beyond basic affiliate commissions. Add sponsored posts, display ad units directly sold to advertisers, digital products like ebooks, online courses, subscription options.
Provide affiliate links to complement your content and recommend relevant products. Pursue diverse income streams to increase earning potential.
Additional Monetization Ideas:
- Build a community forum for your niche – charge for premium memberships
- Start an email newsletter with sponsorships and promos
- Sell display ads directly to advertisers instead of just using networks
- Include affiliate links and content to promote relevant products
- Create an online course to sell on your site
- Offer lead magnet ebooks which also generate email signups
Do you want your site to be more profitable? Check out this podcast with Jaryd and Kristal Audain to learn how to generate and sell leads on your content website.
Drive more visitors by leveraging SEO keywords, guest posting on other sites, expanding your social media presence, sending email newsletters, and building backlinks.
Pitch relevant blogs in your niche for backlinks in exchange for guest posts.
More quality traffic should also earn you more, which makes the site more attractive to buyers.
Play to your strengths for improvements. Excel at Pinterest? Tap into that. Great at pitching sponsors? Monetize via direct ads.
For hands-off improvement and growth through search optimization, consider our managed SEO service B.O.B. SEO. Our experts handle improvements to accelerate your website flipping success.
With the right audits, optimizations, and traffic boosting, you can significantly increase a site’s value and profitability for a future sale.
Step 5 – Sell
Once you’ve optimized the website, it’s time to sell it for a profit. Here are tips on pricing, listing, and selling your flipped site:
Consider Valuation Multiples
Websites typically sell for 24-36x monthly revenue or Seller’s Discretionary Earnings (revenue minus operating expenses the buyer will inherit).
This gives a valuation baseline.
Discover the latest insights on buying an online business with Jaryd Krause and Greg Elfrink. Check out this episode!
Prepare a Quality Listing
Make your listing shine by:
- Including the domain name, hosting/email logins, SOPs, branding assets to smoothly transition accounts
- Providing site analytics showing growth over your ownership period
- Detailing optimization work done to demonstrate increased value
- Having clear, organized documentation ready for potential buyers
List on Marketplaces
Top platforms to list your site include:
- Flippa – Large open marketplace good for all experience levels
- Empire Flippers – Focuses on 6-7 figure websites, great for larger deals
- Motion Invest – Very hands-on with excellent support for buyers and sellers
- Investors.Club – Members-only site gathering experienced buyers in one place
Optimize Listing for Search
Boost visibility by optimizing your marketplace listing for relevant keywords. Include keywords in titles, descriptions, and even in the URL slug if possible.
Promote the Listing
Get the word out by sharing your flipped site listing on relevant forums, social media groups, and your own site if applicable. Direct promotion expands reach.
Engage promptly and professionally with inquiries to build trust and rapport with potential buyers. Share documentation and answer questions.
While flipping websites takes effort, the rewards can make it worthwhile.
You’ll likely make some mistakes at first, but these become learning experiences.
With time and persistence, you can develop skills to consistently flip sites for profit.
Or, work with a proven website operator to handle optimizations while you focus on the buy and sell ends.
Is Website Flipping Profitable?
When done right, website flipping can absolutely be a highly profitable business model. However, like any endeavor, success is not guaranteed. Flipping websites for profit takes patience, persistence, and accepting some risk.
The core concept is simple – buy undervalued sites, improve them, then sell for a higher price. This buying low and selling high can produce large profits. Experienced flippers can purchase sites for 24-36x monthly earnings, then sell just 6-12 months later for 3-5x what they paid.
However, pinpointing sites with clear potential takes some skill. Conducting due diligence to confirm reported earnings and traffic is crucial to avoid getting burned on poor acquisitions. Maximizing value also requires expertise in areas like SEO, content creation, and monetization. Novices should expect some costly mistakes in the learning process.
There is also always the risk of Google algorithm changes negatively impacting traffic and rankings. And demand can fluctuate, making selling at the desired price point challenging at times, especially for smaller sites.
There is always a risk of losing money:
In this episode, Cody shares his heartbreaking experience of losing 6 figures from buying the wrong business. Tune in to avoid the pitfalls!
Yet despite the risks and learning curve, successfully flipping just a few websites can produce sizable profits. The keys are targeting sites strategically, thoroughly vetting them, and methodically improving them to amplify earnings. With experience, flippers gain the knowledge to consistently acquire and optimize sites for a significant return on investment.
While certainly not a get-rich-quick scheme, website flipping offers entrepreneurs a viable path to generating income online. For those willing to learn through experience and stick with it, it can become a fruitful endeavor.
Guides about flipping websites
How To’s about flipping websites
Tools useful when flipping
Great Podcast Episodes About Flipping
Common Questions (FAQ)
Is flipping websites still profitable?
Yes, website flipping remains a viable business model for generating income online. However, success requires strategic buying, improvement skills, and persistence. See the 'Is Website Flipping Profitable?' section above for more details.
What is website flipping?
Website flipping involves purchasing underperforming websites, optimizing them, and then reselling them for a profit. See the introduction for a more in-depth explanation of the website flipping process.
Is it possible to flip websites?
It is absolutely possible to flip websites with the right approach. The keys are targeting sites with clear potential, thoroughly vetting them, methodically improving them, and having patience through the process. With persistence and some trial and error, flipping websites can become a fruitful endeavor.
How much money do you need to start flipping websites?
The capital needed can vary greatly. It's possible to get started with just a few hundred dollars for a simple site.
But flipping larger, more complex sites may require tens of thousands for the acquisition and improvement costs.
Beginners should start small and reinvest profits to build up their flipping capital over time.
What you should focus on is building your skills to improve the website for a higher multiplies, so you don’t have to spend your money on outsourcing.
What skills do you need to flip websites?
Some key skills include SEO, content creation, basic design, business valuation, negotiation, online marketing, and data analysis. However, total beginners can see success by starting with simple sites and learning through experience.
How much do domain flippers make?
It varies substantially based on factors like the quality of the domain name, market demand, and the seller's skills. But experienced domain flippers can generate from a $1,000 to anything above $20,000 in profit from a single short-term sale.
Top-tier premium names can sell for north of $1,000,000.