Buying an established website for sale for passive income is a solid strategy, but there is another good reason to look at established websites versus building from scratch: flipping websites for profit.
While it takes skill to get good at buying established websites with strong upside and building them up to their full potential, anyone can learn how to do it with enough study and practice.
This is an excellent starting strategy for making money online.
Why Buy An Established Website?
An established website offers several advantages that you don’t get when you build from scratch.
- Immediate cash flow
- Indexed content
- Some established backlinks and authority
- Site history
Being able to skip the Google Sandbox, indexing issues, and the months of hoping your keyword research and writing pay off is a huge benefit that comes from starting with an established website.
The cash flow is also very nice, especially if you can spot some easy wins that would allow you to quickly improve the incoming revenues.
Because of that established history with Google and the other search engines, this also means any work you do like adding content, optimizing the theme, improving site speed, all of these will have an immediate or near-immediate effect versus having to wait months to see the results.
Buying an Established Website vs Building
Building a website has its benefits, especially for beginners. For many true beginners who have never built a profitable niche website before I would actually recommend going the building route to learn how the process works.
Understanding SEO, good content vs bad content, and solving technical problems will give you the knowledge and experience to train outsourcers. This will also give you the skills needed to spot potential problems with websites you’re looking at buying versus those that could be a good deal or drastically improved with minimal effort.
Once you have that experience, the benefits of buying an established website make a lot of sense.
- Skip dealing with the indexing problems and infamous “Google Sandbox” new sites face
- You start with an established website with backlinks
- You start with an established website with content and traffic
- You can take advantage of easy wins to quickly boost website traffic and revenue
- Get immediate cash flow from month one
How To Make a Living Buying and Selling Established Websites
Buying and selling established websites, aka flipping websites, can be an incredibly profitable business. When done well this can easily provide a full-time income.
Learning how to make a living buying and selling websites takes some focus and work but anyone can pick up the skills to make website flipping work.
Take note of the following five things that help speed up the process and make sure you’re on the right track to creating a long record of profitable flips.
Be Aware Of Your Time & Money Limits
One of the biggest mistakes new investors make is overestimating their time and budget for building up a site. A huge site might have a lot of potential, but if the work required or the amount of income needed to outsource the work is too much, that’s a bad investment for where you’re at.
Make sure any established site you’re considering buying can be ramped up in the time you have to spend on the site and within the budget, you have to spend on it.
Recognize Good Niches
Some niches simply pay better than others. Some niches are also insanely competitive while others have plenty of room for another site to come in and grow.
Being able to look through sites and see where you would be fighting an uphill battle versus where you can make good in-roads with minimal effort will make a huge difference in determining your success.
Ideally, you want a good-paying niche with opportunities for growth that isn’t overly competitive. Enormous amounts of easy traffic can make up for lower EPMV in some cases, but in general, good niches have plenty of room for growth, good earnings per thousand views, and don’t have obvious roadblocks like YMYL topics.
Buy Websites With Easy Growth Potential
I love finding a niche where the sites are product-heavy but the competition for high-traffic informational terms is very low or even just forums. This tells me the growth potential for a site in that niche is huge.
There are also websites with a lot of authority that don’t dive into informational content or only go for the highest competition keywords – meaning there’s still a ton of low-hanging fruit that could easily add to the growth of a site.
Developing your eye for sites that have serious growth potential with minimal work is a huge part of becoming a profitable site flipper.
Make Steady Improvements
Don’t get overwhelmed trying to change 50 things in one weekend. Steady improvements make a difference. Find a better site theme for aesthetic appearance and site speed. Revise a couple of articles a week that rank part way down page one of Google but aren’t that good.
Focus on a little bit at a time because over six months those steady improvements will add up. This is more effective than trying to tackle everything at once and then getting frustrated or overwhelmed.
Flip For a Bigger Exit Price
When you optimize monetization and massively increase traffic, you will make an established website much more profitable when you go to sell it versus when you bought it. The bigger the difference, the larger the profit when you have a big exit.
Keeping the final flip in mind as a goal can help guide you through improvements as you focus on getting more traffic and finding more ways to make money from the existing website traffic.
Types of Established Websites
There are multiple types of established websites that can provide a profitable online business. Understand that monetization, amount of active work, and level of active management required varies depending on the website type.
Common types of established websites include:
- Content websites (the most common by far)
- Lead generation
- Amazon FBA
It’s important to thoroughly understand the business model of any site you’re buying. Each one has its own intricacies that you need to know if you want to succeed, so stay with what you know well or with adjacent styles of site.
Where To Find Established Websites For Sale
Multiple places exist for finding established websites for sale with profits. A large number of options available for finding good sites allows for plenty of practice in learning how to separate good potential sites to invest in versus those that don’t have so much upside.
Marketplaces offer listings that can be viewed by potential buyers and give basic information. More information might be available depending on the platform, but after due diligence, a buyer can purchase the site for the listed price.
Keep in mind that marketplaces vary greatly based on due diligence, buyer/seller protection, and more so do your full research to see who you are comfortable working with.
Brokers focus less on an open marketplace and instead create a group of qualified buyers and bring them good deals from sellers. By having motivated buyers they get a good reputation with sellers, who then bring more good deals for the buyers, and the cycle continues to benefit both parties.
Never underestimate the potential of direct outreach. There are many hobbyists or individuals who started websites and then became too busy to work on them or bother learning how to sell them.
Direct outreach can sometimes provide the opportunity to get a great deal on an established website that isn’t publicly for sale.
Groups On Social Networks
There are Facebook groups, newsletters, and other social network groups that focus on established sites for sale. These groups can sometimes bring a very good potential deal to your attention.
How Profitable Are Established Websites?
This will vary from site to site. Most websites put up for sale pay at least a few hundred a month, which if it’s a content site means it’s worth a few thousand dollars. There are also many sites that make thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars a month. Those sites are often worth five to six figures.
Content websites also tend to have a very high-profit margin from the total revenue numbers while other forms like dropshipping, FBA, and others require a lot more investment so the profits are going to be a smaller part of the gross revenues.
The real money to be made from established websites comes from how much you can improve revenues to make the site more valuable when you sell.
10 Due Diligence Tips When Buying A Website
Due diligence is a crucial part of the process for buying established profitable websites.
1. Revenue & Profit
Total revenue is a very important number, but so is profit. Don’t just look at the base numbers but make sure the numbers make sense compared to other average sites of the same type or in the same niche.
2. Traffic Numbers & Sources
Is most of the traffic organic? Is it direct? Is it social media? The sources of traffic are important as are the total numbers.
3. Existing Monetization Channels
This information can tell you how well, or how badly, a website is monetized, and helps paint the picture of potential easy wins for monetizing better.
4. New Monetization Opportunities
Upgrading display ad networks, finding better affiliate offers, or even adding an info product or lead generation can lead to new major monetization opportunities that drastically improve how much the established website can make.
If there are many new monetization opportunities, that can make the site more attractive to buy.
Does the domain have a strong history to it? What does the backlink profile look like? Good backlinks and a long history make a site even more attractive.
6. Website History
The full history of the website matters. If the website was in a “bad neighborhood” niche or used by spammers at one point, there’s a good chance even the good backlinks to that domain won’t do much good.
On the other hand, if the website has been around in some form for years or even decades, that is going to be a major plus in the eyes of search engines.
7. Website Design & Performance
A badly designed website that is doing well anyway could be a great buy since replacing a terrible design with a good-looking design that optimizes site speed could result in huge boosts all by itself.
The same goes for hosting. Site speed and reliability are major parts of SEO and moving a site from terrible shared hosting to excellent server hosting can result in massive traffic gains.
8. Content Quality
Google has said the same thing for two decades: they want to rank the best content near the top. Great content quality on an established site means you don’t have to worry as much about possibly losing rankings.
On the other hand, poor quality content that is ranking at the bottom of page one could be an opportunity. Revise that, add high-quality content, and publish, and you might see a surge of traffic from new, higher rankings in Google.
10. Time It Takes to Maintain & Grow
Some sites can be radically improved and grown in a very short time, and then take only minimal maintenance or systems to maintain. With others, the growth can happen but it’s clear it will be a longer-term project and require frequent maintenance.
Get a clear and accurate picture of how much dedication you will need to keep a site growing before deciding on whether or not to buy.
How Much Is An Established Website Worth?
This depends on its earnings and to some extent its potential. For content sites the formula is normally average of last 6 months’ earnings multiplied by 35x to 45x monthly multiplier. That gives the expected range of prices.
Sites like newsletters, FBA, or dropshipping are evaluated differently. They don’t have the same standard formula as content sites.
This average market value gives an idea of what a fair price is. When you see a seller willing to take the lower end of that and you see a lot of easy wins for traffic and revenue, that’s a good potential deal.
Looking through all the listings of established websites for sale can be overwhelming at first but when you learn what to look for it becomes easier and faster over time.
- Established websites give a wide array of advantages over built from scratch
- Know what type of site you’re looking for
- Do proper due diligence on established websites on sale
- Look for easy wins for traffic and monetization
- Focus on sites that align with your skills/experience
- Plan for the eventual flip from the beginning
Keep these tips in mind and over time you will hone your skills for seeking out and finding great deals on established website deals.