So, you’ve recently decided that you’re interested in getting started investing in websites, only to find out that you don’t actually know how to start finding websites for sale?
Not to worry.
I’ve put together a fairly comprehensive list of strategies you can use to find established, profitable websites that either are currently being sold, or can be sold if you make the right offer.
Even if you’re not necessarily ready to buy right now because you’re still working on building your skillset and learning how to perform due diligence, the list I’ve created may still be useful for you.
The best way to get good at performing due diligence is to look at live websites and figure out how much you would be willing to offer them, and understand how you’re putting together your valuation.
Looking at live website listings and even websites that may not already be for sale can help you figure out the different types of sites that are currently available, and how to tell the difference between quality listings and fly-by-night sellers that are looking to pull the wool over some unsuspecting investor’s eyes.
Most of the due diligence you’re going to perform doesn’t actually depend on any input from the seller or website owner.
If you want to dig deeper on a website you’ve found, most brokers and sellers (that have their websites listed publicly) will be more than happy to give you access to their Analytics with a quick phone call or email message.
It’s also worth noting that you’ll want to focus your efforts on learning how to perform due diligence on the types of sites you’re actually thinking about buying.
For instance, how you examine a site that’s worth $3,000 is substantially different than how you examine a site that’s worth $30,000, or even $300,000.
As the price range of the websites you want to buy increases, the nature and difficulty of the due diligence you’ll need to perform goes up, as well. To give you another example, a website that’s worth $300,000 is going to require more legal paperwork and an accountant to help you navigate through the sales process.
Without going too much deeper into the due diligence aspects of buying a website, here is a list of places and strategies you can use to find websites that may be worth buying.
Public marketplaces are great for getting to see the listing before you reach out to the seller.
They can also help you dial in your due diligence skills because of the types of listings that you’re going to be looking at.
While some of those listings are for legitimate websites, many listings on public marketplaces are going to be scams, full of inaccurate information, or trying to hide certain aspects about the business.
That means you’ll get good at spotting the red flags seller’s try to cover up, and you’ll get good fast. The high number of scams is exactly why I recommend many investors get started learning how to perform due diligence by using public marketplaces.
Below are 4 of the most reputable marketplaces you can start finding live websites for sale.
Flippa is one of the most well-known public marketplaces currently available, but with being well-known comes one major caveat: there are a ton of scams and the marketplace is, in general, a free for all.
All this means for you is that you’ll quickly learn how to tell the difference between the scams and low-quality listings, and those diamonds in the rough that are actually valued less than what they’re truly worth.
Freemarket is a mix of both websites and domain names. I’ve looked over some of the listings and there does seem to be a good number of established, profitable websites, but the platform, itself, is harder to use and navigate than Flippa.
Just like the name implies, SideProjectors is a marketplace where entrepreneurs can sell of their side projects. I’ve looked over some of the listings and it appears that they focus more on SaaS (Software As A Service) websites and web apps.
While the website may appeal more to developers and those with a technical background, if you happen to know a developer that you could partner with while you focus on the growth and marketing, you could find quite a few deals on SideProjectors.
WebsiteBroker seems to have a reputation that’s worse than Flippa, with a huge number of low-quality and dubious listings. However, as a beginner, it’s great for learning how to perform due diligence. It’s also a great way to find starter sites and new industries that may interest you.
When you want to see high quality website listings, business brokerages are, by far, the best way to do it.
However, brokers tend to only work with people that they know are interested in submitting offers on the businesses that they’re selling.
This means that you may need to get creative on how you’re using them to perform due diligence, unless, of course, you are actually interested in buying one of the businesses you’re looking at.
Below are 4 of the most reputable brokerages you can use to find those businesses.
Digital Exits is as the higher end of the spectrum, with most of their deals pushing the 7-figure mark. While they do list some businesses that are low 6-figures, those are typically few and far in-between.
They have a blog that’s full of information, along with a podcast that can help you learn how to perform due diligence, if you’re looking to start investing in websites.
The websites that Empire Flippers list tend to get bought up relatively quickly, so using them to learn how to perform due diligence can be difficult. As a business, though, the guys at Empire Flippers have built something special.
Their sites are at the lower end of the spectrum, ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 in value, with a few here, and there that exceed the $100,000 price point.
FE International is another professional brokerage that focuses on a wide range of sales. Websites they list start at $50,000 and quickly move upwards to more than $1,000,000 in some cases.
They also feature a wide range of business models, so they’re an excellent source for websites to evaluate.
QuietLight is a brokerage on the higher end of the spectrum. Most of the websites they list are above the 7-figure mark, with a few select businesses coming in around the 6-figure mark.
Because of the range of deals they list, it may be harder to get in and perform due diligence, but they are definitely worth having in your arsenal if you get creative and find a way to start examining the businesses that they’re selling.
If you’ve built up a network of entrepreneurs and website owners, you can reach out to them every so often to find out if there are any websites they own that they may be willing to part ways with.
Many entrepreneurs and webmasters will find themselves getting bored after working on the same project for so long, which means they’ll readily sell you a site they’re no longer interested in.
Even if you’re not on the market to buy right now, it’s worth it to build your network so you can tap into them one day when you are ready to start investing.
Some forums, like DigitalPoint, are great places to find websites that are currently for sale. Others, like the Warrior Forum, will have posts from time to time with entrepreneurs wanting to sell a website that they’ve build.
Getting active in entrepreneurial-focused Facebook groups is another great way to find websites that may not currently be for sale, but owners that are open to accepting offers you may be ready to submit.
Staying active in both forums and on social media can help you understand what drives a website’s value, the types of websites that typically come up for sale, and what you can do to position a website you own so that it sells for a higher asking price.
One of the best ways you can find websites to buy is by looking at websites that currently aren’t being sold.
This strategy works especially well if you already own a website and are looking to secure more under-developed sites to merge into your own, or you know the niche and industry you want to get into but want to shortcut your path to success.
Most website owners that are open to working out a deal with you privately will want to avoid working through a middleman, like a broker, and will be more flexible with their final asking price.
If you’re going to cold email webmasters with an offer to buy their website, though, you are going to need to make sure your due diligence skills are top-notch before you get into negotiating the deal.
Buying off-market websites can help you avoid the fees associated with most marketplaces and brokerages, which can help reduce the valuation of the business -- typically, in your favor.
Many sellers have simply neglected their site and will be surprised to hear that someone is willing to offer them money for it, which can set you up to uncover some amazing deals.
Sellers that hadn’t already decided to list their business on the open market may also have lower expectations about what their business is worth, which gives you more wiggle room during the negotiation process.
Regardless which strategy you use, I’ve just given you 5 proven ways to find websites to buy.Even if you’re not already on the market and ready to buy a site, you can use each of the different strategies to start developing your due diligence skills, learn how to spot the good sites and filter out the bad sites, and get a good idea for how much website you can get within your budget range.
Mohit Tater is the founder and CEO of BlackBook Investments through which he helps people invest in online businesses and digital assets. Apart from advising clients on SEO and marketing he also blogs at mohittater.com.