A couple of weeks ago, I asked whether you’d ever dreamed of selling your website … whether it was making money or not.

That question seems to have hit a nerve. So many people checked out the link I provided that Flippa contacted me to let me know and ask me what I’d done to get such a response.

So I thought I’d kick off with something a bit different this week and if it’s of interest, I’ll do more of it in the future.

By “it” I mean, that once a fortnight, I’ll pick a website or digital asset that’s for sale on Flippa and break down what I think would be of interest to someone wanting to buy.

I’ll also include my thoughts on how the seller might make their site more attractive to a potential buyer.

Why would I do this?

Because after my successful purchase of freelancewritersonline.com late last year, I’m looking to buy another one later this year.

And by sharing what I’ve learned (and keep learning) you can apply what you’re learning to your own site … just in case you ever want to sell it … or to buying a website or digital asset yourself.

So What Is A Digital Asset?

Let’s start by defining what a digital asset actually is.

The most succinct definition I’ve found is from Investopedia who say that “A digital asset is anything in digital form with value, ownership, and usage rights.”

And that means that a digital asset can take a wide variety of shapes.

For example it could be:

  • A website that is content-based, sells digital products or physical products (e-commerce)
  • A directory or list
  • SEO-optimised content, e.g. blog posts
  • Newsletters
  • Email lists
  • Apps
  • Lead magnet quizzes
  • Courses

And the list goes on. Personally, I think you’re only limited by your imagination when it comes to building or creating something that could be defined as a sellable digital asset.

So to set the scene for future newsletters where I cover specific digital assets that are for sale, I thought that today it was worth sharing the criteria I use when hunting for a website or digital asset to buy.

Of course, every buyer has different criteria, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

Purchase Criteria – What To Look For And Avoid

Type of Site:
The first thing to consider is the type of website or digital asset you want to buy (or that you have and want to sell).

I’m interested in content sites that can be easily monetised with ads, courses and/or affiliate sales. Other buyers might want an ecommerce site or a directory or a newsletter based site.

Age of Site:
There are a lot of sites for sale that are “starter sites”. These “starter” sites are usually less than a year old and typically have not started making money yet.

Personally, I’m not interested in anything less than 2 years old because I want to see a consistent pattern of growth. Which of course doesn't exist yet if the site is only a few months old.

Revenue Generation:
I will occasionally consider a site that’s not generating revenue (yet or at all). Sometimes you can find excellent older sites that were created as a passion project or a hobby and the creator has never bothered to monetise it.

However, I generally prefer sites that have already been approved for ads or that have a course or some type of digital product that is already selling. It makes it much easier to come up with a fair value for the site.

Plus it means there will be money coming in immediately, which is always good for the old bank account.

Whether buying or selling, you will need to check to make sure that any revenue generating accounts (e.g. an ad account) can be transferred from the seller to the buyer. Some accounts cannot be transferred and that can be a deal breaker for the buyer.

Price/Profit Multiplier:
If the website or digital asset is already generating revenue, it’s important to take a look at the profit margins. This is because the profit margins are typically used to determine the asking price.

On Flippa (affiliate link), It’s also possible to compare the asking price against similar sites for sale so you can see at a glance whether the asking price is above or below the average asking price.

Sometimes the profit multiplier can seem quite high, but once you look at the underlying numbers you can see that the asking price is actually quite reasonable.

Web Address/URL:
Not all web addresses are created equal.

I prefer URLs that:

  • Have been around for awhile (an aged domain)
  • Make it instantly clear what the website is about
  • Are as long as they need to be, but as short as possible
  • Have dot com as the top level domain (versus dot net or dot org, etc.)

Having said that, if you’re selling, it could take quite a lot of work to change your URL and I wouldn’t advise it. If you have great content or good digital products like a course, the effective of a URL that’s not ideal won’t necessarily have that much impact on purchasing decision.

Proof Of Traffic:
Sellers are required to provide screenshots of their google analytics reports. I always look at these quite carefully. I’m looking for slow consistent growth. If there are spikes in the number of people coming to the site, it usually means that the owner is using ads to drive traffic.

Which can be okay. But the cost and effectiveness of those ads needs to be considered as part of the equation. Especially when thinking about the time, money and effort it will take to run the site.

I also consider where the majority of the traffic is coming from. Is it from ads or search or social or from people typing the URL directly into their browser? Also which country is sending the most traffic. Is it legitimate traffic that you could reasonably expect would be interested in that particular website’s content or products?

For example, recently on freelancewritersonline.com we had a couple of months when up to half our traffic was coming from an Eastern European country that I wouldn’t have normally expected traffic from. We got no signups or sales from that traffic and it almost certainly was from a bot, which was annoying. Especially because it skewed the stats for the months that bot was running.

So if you’re selling (or want to sell) your website or digital asset, it’s really important to have at least 12 months worth of traffic reports to show prospective buyers. That means getting your Google Analytics set up correctly and integrating it with Google Search Console.

Proof Of Revenue/Expenses/Profit:
If you are buying, it makes sense to double and triple check that the revenue amounts claimed by the seller are genuine. Sellers will usually post screenshots of their ad revenue accounts.

What can happen, though, is sellers can sometimes neglect to include pertinent costs related to the running of the site. Which of course results in an overstatement of profit.

Also, many site owners will do all the work on a site themselves, which is fine. But whomever buys the site will have to factor in the cost of paying someone to do that work or do it themselves.

So I always look for hosting costs and content creation costs at a minimum. And if ads are being run, I’ll want to know how much is being spent per month on those ads and what their click through and conversion rates are.

So if you’re selling (or want to sell) in the future, make sure your financial records are clean and unambiguous. No mixing in revenue and/or expenses from anything that’s not part of what’s for sale.

What’s The Site Built With And Where Is It Hosted?
I much prefer sites that are built using WordPress and popular themes like Divi or Elementor. But I will consider other tools and themes. Particularly if they can be easily moved across to WordPress or a different theme.

With respect to selling, is your website already on a trusted hosting platform like SiteGround (affiliate link) which is what I use? Or is it self-hosted or on some unknown platform that will make it difficult to transfer to your preferred hosting provider?

If you are self-hosting, I highly recommend that you either move your site to a trust hosting platform or make sure that it’s easily movable. If your buyer isn’t that tech savvy, they could easily be frightened off by the thought of having to manage that change to a new hosting provider.

Is The Seller Legit?
Sometimes, despite best efforts, a tiny handful of sales listed on these platforms are not legitimate. I always make sure I get access to the relevant Google Analytics account before I speak to the seller. If the graphs look in any way suspicious, I just move on. If they look okay, I always book a call with the seller and have a chat with them.

Any red flags, like a refusal to answer questions or answers that don’t add up make it an immediate no for me.

So if you’re selling, you need to make sure that you’ve got all your information ducks in a row before jumping on a call so you can answer any questions clearly and with confidence.

Potential For Improvement
A really key consideration for me is whether there are good opportunities to improve the site or digital asset. And by that, I mean, improve it so it’s better for visitors AND so that it generates more revenue for me.

Which means those improvements have to be something that I have the skills to do … or can hire someone to do.

Typically I’m looking for sites that:

  • Need a new/different/better lead magnet – I like to use quizzes because they are one of the most effective kinds of lead magnets around (check out my upcoming masterclass on designing lead magnet quizzes)
  • Need more content or need their content updated
  • Would benefit from adding a course
  • Have a newsletter about a topic that people are deeply interested in

Finally, sometimes lots of things about a site just don’t stack up for the buyer. HOWEVER, there might be a ton of great content that could be repurposed elsewhere, either on another website or in a newsletter.

Or there might be an email list that’s been neglected, but could be revived with a bit of effort.

Or an old course that could be updated and rejuvenated.

So keep an open mind about whether YOUR site has got digital assets that are worth bringing to the eyes of potential buyers.

As I said earlier, you’re only limited by your imagination about the type of digital assets you could sell.