If you’ve been considering starting your own website in 2018, stop right there. Now, there are many fantastic reasons to run your own site, but there are also a lot of obstacles to launching a website that may cause you to run out of steam before you even get started.
What happens if all your ideas for domain names are taken, or you can’t figure out a suitable niche? What if you have no clue about web design, or you dread the thought of slowly building an audience from scratch? Well, have you considered skipping some of the early steps and simply purchasing an existing website?
This might sound like more work than the alternative, and of course, sometimes it can be. However, if you choose your purchase carefully, and do the necessary research, you can give yourself a headstart on your journey into digital entrepreneurship, and save a considerable amount of time and resources.
Here’s a look at why you might decide to buy a website in 2018, how to go about it, and what to look for when selecting a site to purchase.
Related reading: 7 Steps to Consider Before Purchasing an Ecommerce Business.
Pros and Cons of Buying a Site
One of the main upsides to working with an established website is that it already has authority with search engines, making your SEO endeavors a little easier. In addition, it means you can begin generating income from your website right away, assuming you purchase a site with existing revenue streams.
In contrast, with a brand new site, it can take months to establish reliable income and build up your audience. In addition, ranking for your chosen keywords requires a bit of extra work, as new sites are generally given lower priority by search engines.
However, when you purchase an existing site, you have to accept that there may be things about it that don’t entirely gel with your original vision. Now, it might be that you can simply change these things, but you need to consider your existing audience. Will your changes be well-received, or are you running the risk of damaging your revenue stream?
Another thing to keep in mind is that not all websites have a great reputation. Find out whether the site has been blacklisted and take the time to look through its history to see whether it has a stable income and regular traffic.
Reasons To Buy
For many people, the main draw is that you can enter the market with a functional, monetizable website. However, this might not be your first website. Perhaps you are looking to branch out, explore a new market, or even reduce competition.
- A website within the same or a similar industry could be used as sister site, providing you with valuable opportunities for expanding your enterprise, and building authority. Make sure you have strong, consistent branding, and build a network of complementary, cross-promoting websites.
- If a website is in direct competition with yours, one way to handle this issue is to buy it yourself. This is generally not a cheap way to acquire a site, but depending on its impact on your revenue, it could still be a worthwhile option.
- If you have a great site, but a limited audience, you might benefit from looking for sites within your industry that come with a large body of followers, or an extensive mailing list. This is a less common reason to make such a purchase, but if the price is right, it’s a handy way to acquire a reasonable quantity of leads that are likely to be interested in your business.
Choosing a Website.
Don’t just pick up the first website that looks like it could turn a profit. Remember that you will need to work with this site, and dedicate yourself to growing, expanding, and marketing it as your own business. This means it needs to involve something you care about or have an interest in.
Great marketing happens when you’re able to convey your own passion for your subject to your audience, and make them feel just as inspired. So narrow your options down to industries that you know you would enjoy working within and talking about.
Next up, you’ll need to find a suitable niche. This means narrowing things down even further, or figuring out how you can adapt an existing website to the niche you have in mind. Remember to do some research and check out the competition to see how viable a given niche might be.
You also need to look into the existing audience, content, and revenue. This will let you know what you have to work with, and how much effort it will take to make the site your own, and earn enough to see positive returns on your investment. Remember that even bad content can be reworked into something useful.
However, if it appears that visitors have been deterred by the site’s content or aesthetic, you might want to rebrand the website entirely, so your audience will consider giving the website another chance.
Buying Your Website
One of the first places to look for suitable website is a marketplace such as Flippa. If it’s your first time buying a site, or you’re operating on a low budget they even have a “Starter Sites” section you can browse.
Be wary, however, as many of the lower price sites have little to no revenue, traffic, or history. Nonetheless, if you are simply looking to skip the site-building step, and a domain within your chosen niche catches your eye, these websites can still be a viable option.
If you are hoping to buy an ecommerce website, you should also check out Exchange, Shopify’s website marketplace, which launched mid-2017. These pre-made Shopify stores can operate as a good baseline, if you’re willing to put in the work to build your audience and flesh out your brand.
A final option is to approach a website’s owner directly. Perhaps you’ve stumbled across a site that has a lot of potential, but seems to be stagnating, for example. Look into the website’s background and determine a fair offering price to see if it’s within your budget.
Of course, you can always make a lower offer, but be aware that even if the site’s owner is willing to sell, they may change their mind about doing business with you if your proposed price is too low.
As with any business venture, the most important thing to do when considering buying a website is to conduct plenty of research. The market is changing all the time, and it’s not always easy to predict the potential profitability of a website.
Keep in mind that if a deal looks too good to be true, then it probably is. Always look into the history of the site, explore the competition, and try to find out why the site is being sold. But don’t be immediately put off by a site that’s struggling. Depending on the reasons, and your interest in its niche, you might still be able to turn it around.
Prices aren’t set in stone, and you may be able to negotiate a more reasonable figure if you feel the seller is overestimating the value of their website. Then, with the same passion and dedication you would have given to a site you’d built from scratch, you can begin to transform your newly purchased site into a profitable venture that you can continue to grow year by year. Or, when the time is right, sell it on to the next budding entrepreneur.
Victoria Greene: Writer & Digital Marketing Specialist
Now that I’m freelance, I love spending my days writing, learning more about digital investments, and sharing my tips with fellow entrepreneurs. I live for digital and am always on the lookout for the next big thing.