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  1. #1
    SitePoint Enthusiast jawzishere's Avatar
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    Buying And Selling Websites Online - Your Opinion

    Many of you here have purchased or sold websites here on SitePoint or other sites around the net.

    I'm curious to know what you guys consider the pros and cons of buying and/or selling websites online.

    Some places like Sitepoint use a forum system for selling, some sites are entirely dedicated to selling websites and you can purchase sites off of Ebay as well.

    Of all these methods and experience you have had buying and selling sites what elements do you consider the most beneficial and which are the most detrimental? What features do you like and which do you hate? Whether it's the cost or customer service or effectiveness, I'm interested to know.

    Your input is greatly appreciated and I'll be happy to discuss further the topic of buying and selling websites online. Looking forward to your responses.
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  2. #2
    O Rly?? JakeJeck's Avatar
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    So, you're just trying to get content for your site by stealing answers given here?

  3. #3
    SitePoint Enthusiast jawzishere's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JakeJeck View Post
    So, you're just trying to get content for your site by stealing answers given here?
    Wow, way to start out on a bad foot. Trying to jump all over me without knowing anything about my situation.

    To answer your question no. I will soon be launching a site where people can by and sell websites. I was just collecting data on what people like and dislike about sites they've used to do that with in the past.

    I would simply like to modify my site around my consumers preferences.
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  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy hooperman's Avatar
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    Why not mention in your first post that contributor's opinions will be used to shape your business. You could also offer free gifts like other market researchers

  5. #5
    Resident Grump BillyParadise's Avatar
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    A few notes re buying sites:

    1. If you do auctions like they do on Sitepoint, a) seller must have a reserve price like ebay - and when it goes over, the site must sell. b) BIN means BIN. BIN can't change until the auction is over. c) Seller can't decide whether his site is "premium" or not. The only thing splitting the sites into "premium" and "regular" did was to give me 2 lists to follow. Gee thanks SP!

    2. Sellers should be forced to fill out a more detailed evaluation of their sites. What have they earned in the last 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 months. Hosting Expenses. Time spent per month. Advertising Expenses.

    Then people can build their own formulas.

    Hey - even better idea. Let people pre-fill their own formulas - ex I will pay 18x net as long as the site gets over 500k visitors per month, is in the x niche, and makes at least y% from Adsense. Then send alerts whenever a matching site is listed.

    That would be a great marketplace.
    Last edited by Shyflower; Dec 13, 2007 at 09:47. Reason: removed the spam of the day award. Please use the triangle to report spam.
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Zealot sitesbycal's Avatar
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    I think the reason I haven't sold a website yet is because the process is somewhat unknown to me.
    I would say that if you had a definite process or series of events that take place after the sale, it would help tremendously in pushing people like me that extra inch.
    I constantly wonder, what if this person buys and can't get it to work.....What if they buy it and don't have a clue how to install it, will they bug me and harass me until it works and what is my obligation after the sale.

    Hope that helps.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Enthusiast jawzishere's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great input BillyParadise and Sitesbycal.

    BillyParadise: Definitely some good ideas in there, the more detailed evaluation of sites that are listed is something we will surely be doing. The more information the better it is for potential buyers and less chance of getting ripped off. Glad to see reinforcement for this idea.

    Sitesbycal: Great idea with having a set process. This would be great for buyers and sellers and allow things to be completely finalized and tied down making the transaction quick and clean. We will definitely work to get something like this implemented.

    Please keep posting your input everybody.
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  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    I have bought a few sites. I look for a feedback system so I can see that who I'm buying from hasn't got a lot of ticked off customers from other sales. I also would want some sort of escrow arrangement for larger ticket sales. I'm not just going to Paypal the money to them and hope to get some login info.

    The larger the sale, the more I'd like the intermediary to help with advice, sample contracts, etc.

  9. #9
    Intoxicated with the madness petertdavis's Avatar
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    The con is that 99.9&#37; of the websites you'll see listed at marketplaces are just crap. The vast majority of the sellers go in with the attitude that they're going to slap together some crap and list it up on the marketplace and hope to make a hundred bucks.

    Ebay is the worst, you almost never see a decent website up for sale there, just tons and tons of the same old crap. Sitepoint is somewhat better, as a result of the higher listing fees. Of course, loads of sellers even here have figured out that they can slap together some crap, pay the listing fee and if they make a sale at a hundred bucks, they've still made a good profit.
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  10. #10
    SitePoint Addict shaxs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JakeJeck View Post
    So, you're just trying to get content for your site by stealing answers given here?
    Come on, that was a little harsh. This is what Sitepoint is about. Finding out what the consumer wants, finding out how to do things, ect.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Addict shaxs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by beley View Post
    I have bought a few sites. I look for a feedback system so I can see that who I'm buying from hasn't got a lot of ticked off customers from other sales. I also would want some sort of escrow arrangement for larger ticket sales. I'm not just going to Paypal the money to them and hope to get some login info.

    The larger the sale, the more I'd like the intermediary to help with advice, sample contracts, etc.
    The escrow is a good idea. I always wanted to start an escrow service that was focused on digital goods. But there is a lot of regulatory things that go into holding money ect.

  12. #12
    O Rly?? JakeJeck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxs View Post
    Come on, that was a little harsh. This is what Sitepoint is about. Finding out what the consumer wants, finding out how to do things, ect.
    I looked at his [empty] site and figured that's what he was here for.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Zealot
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    You want to make sure that they have good rating, sometimes you can't trust them.
    And it is true most of the website people sell are crap, and the good website that go for sale l are way overpriced

  14. #14
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    Following what Peter said, I have been turned off by site sellers because I rarely found something that I felt was a good value to me. It seems it is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, so I usually ignore site sales.

    In addition, sometimes there are sites that are being sold in an area that is not in my expertise. I know other people are making money, but I don't feel confident I could do it myself, nor do I know if the type of site in question has already saturated the market.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Enthusiast jawzishere's Avatar
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    Beley: We plan on implementing a feedback system and for sure will have escrow payment available. Those are both key elements to have for a site like this to help protect buyers and create an honest trading atmosphere.

    One major point we plan on implementing is "Don't Pay Until It's Sold". This means that listings will be completely free and the seller doesn't have to pay anything until the site actually sells.

    Now, from reading the responses here I can already see that that philosophy could create a problem with sketchy people selling sketchy sites. It sounds like upfront fees filter out a lot of bad sites but we want to cater to the sellers just as much as we do to the buyers and offering a free listing unless sold policy seems to be the best deal we can present to sellers. Now it's a simply a matter of bringing quality sites and safe, reliable deals to the buyers.

    What do you guys think of having a "Don't Pay Until It's Sold" policy? Do you think it's a good idea. Do you think there will be too many problems? What suggestions do you have to overcome these problems?

    So to be able to provide quality sites to buyers we already will be hand checking and personally verifying the quality of each and every site. There will be no automatic posting. This however could still potentially let some poor sites through the cracks that on the surface look reasonable.

    For sites in question we could possibly require further contact with the seller by phone or email where they need to answer a few more questions and provide more information. We could also create a site section called "Junk" where we would file the site under. This could be helpful for the buyers looking for basic crappy websites that already have the groundwork laid that they can put a lot of work into and improve and also keep these sites away from the buyers who are only interested in quality sites.

    So as far as how we can best cater to buyers and if you think we could cater to sellers better let me know what's on your mind. Thanks again for the input.
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  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    I think if you let anyone post, it's going to be worse than eBay -- hundreds or thousands of SPAM posts with crappy $50 templates going up for sale.

    Just my opinion.

  17. #17
    SitePoint Enthusiast jawzishere's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by beley View Post
    I think if you let anyone post, it's going to be worse than eBay -- hundreds or thousands of SPAM posts with crappy $50 templates going up for sale.

    Just my opinion.
    What do you think about our prevention methods though? Sure anyone can post, but we're personally hand filtering the sites. I could just put those type of sites into a Template section which would keep them separated from all the other sites. Or we could just simply not allow those sites to be posted.

    Do you think we'd just be better off in general charging like 5 bucks per listing?
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  18. #18
    SitePoint Wizard iTec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jawzishere View Post
    What do you think about our prevention methods though? Sure anyone can post, but we're personally hand filtering the sites. I could just put those type of sites into a Template section which would keep them separated from all the other sites. Or we could just simply not allow those sites to be posted.

    Do you think we'd just be better off in general charging like 5 bucks per listing?
    I have recently started a very similar website to you Jaws, and the approach I am taking is to only add listings that I find to be worthwile to my readers, there is no point having 100 listings for sale and 99 of them being rubbish.

    Instead I would rather have 1-2 new listings a week that are quality listings and this can only be done by monitoring the sites you add.

    as for charging, this is not going to get rid of the people out to make a quick buck (look at sitepoint as an example), but will give you an easy revenue..

  19. #19
    SitePoint Enthusiast jawzishere's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iTec View Post
    I have recently started a very similar website to you Jaws, and the approach I am taking is to only add listings that I find to be worthwile to my readers, there is no point having 100 listings for sale and 99 of them being rubbish.

    Instead I would rather have 1-2 new listings a week that are quality listings and this can only be done by monitoring the sites you add.

    as for charging, this is not going to get rid of the people out to make a quick buck (look at sitepoint as an example), but will give you an easy revenue..
    Our sites are actually quite different however they are the same concept.

    Yea I plan on creating a checklist of various factors that must be met for a website to get accepted and listed on my site such as a certain amount of backlinks, certain site age, etc.

    There's really no way around it, I'm going to have to manually screen every site and have to try and make it as efficient as possible.
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  20. #20
    SitePoint Wizard iTec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jawzishere View Post
    Our sites are actually quite different however they are the same concept.

    There's really no way around it, I'm going to have to manually screen every site and have to try and make it as efficient as possible.
    yep they are similar but different for a reason there are enough directory style sites out there in my opinion

    If you do have a minimum standard of quality then that will make you different, different is good especially when you are competing against some regularly established players such as sedo and the like.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Evangelist micmol's Avatar
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    IMHO ... Quality beats quantity every time. I think the net is badly in need of a reputable site that lets market forces take control. In recent times I'm getting disillusioned with sitepoint market place.

    IMHO .... dont accept "trash" listings you will lose the buyers. With no serious buyers you will lose the sellers.

    You have to get rid of the trash or your sited is doomed to failure.

  22. #22
    SitePoint Enthusiast jawzishere's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by micmol View Post
    IMHO ... Quality beats quantity every time. I think the net is badly in need of a reputable site that lets market forces take control. In recent times I'm getting disillusioned with sitepoint market place.

    IMHO .... dont accept "trash" listings you will lose the buyers. With no serious buyers you will lose the sellers.

    You have to get rid of the trash or your sited is doomed to failure.
    Yea, this is exactly what we will be counting on. There's so much open room in this industry as it is pretty young compared to other industries on the net and as far as I know, there is no website marketplace site that only allows established websites.

    I feel this will give us a distinct advantage over other sites and positive reputation among many website buyers and sellers.

    So yes we will definitely be going for quality over quantity. Thank you for the feedback.
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  23. #23
    SitePoint Evangelist micmol's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jawzishere View Post
    So yes we will definitely be going for quality over quantity.
    Easier said than done ... you have to very very tough on your sellers. Dont let the spammers and 'garbage' makers take control. I think selling online real estate is very similar to selling off-line real estate. You as the agent (or middle man) must condition the seller. You dont have to condition the buyer the market does that naturally.

    I thought of an idea ... that I think would be a win-win for buyers and sellers.

    Where you could group sites into categories by where the sellers set their reserve prices.

    a/ reserve set under $1000
    b/ reserve set above $1001- 2000

    Etc

    Hence if I have a budget of 2000 plus .... its easier to find attractive sites.

    PS For what its worth ... I understand your logic allowing people to list their sites for free. However, IMHO you are only encouraging the 'time waister's' and people testing the market.

    Good Luck

  24. #24
    SitePoint Enthusiast exstatic's Avatar
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    I slightly disagree.. if you are trying to run the site as a business and want to make real money then manual approval of sites is not scalable.. and can cause more issues than they are worth. If people find thnigs too complicated they will usually just not use it.

    When I first started buying sites, I started off on the crappy ebay/adsense $50 cheapos.. as I was just testing the water.. these are the sites that are going to get you to hook new website buyers. If you don't offer these and just offer 'premium' sites.. you are not giving yourself a wide enough market.

    Maybe a better way to police it is only allow people to list a certain amount of sites per day and if they want more than that, then they might have to upgrade to a power-seller or something, maybe offer packages that allows them to list x sites per month, and the sites must meet a certain criteria or will be removed.

    This way, sites get submitted and approved instantly, you wont get flooded with spammers, and if you have got a crappy site you can remove it if need be. You have dynamic content, money coming in, and a subscriber base... as well as the ability to keep quality content.

    Good Luck

  25. #25
    SitePoint Enthusiast jawzishere's Avatar
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    Micmol: Yea, we actually have a search feature that will allow you to find sites within a certain price range.

    As for the spammers we will have a required check box on the website listing page that says the person is sure they are listing an established website and if it's not don't bother wasting your and our time because it will be rejected.

    We will also probably add in our terms of use that 'if you knowingly post a template site we reserve the right to delete your account' and will follow through on this.

    Initially we will inevitably get spam sites submitted but people will figure out pretty quick that you can't get a template or turnkey site listed.

    Exstatic
    : You really feel there is too small of a market for people buying and selling established websites? Interesting, because from what I've seen on other major website marketplaces that is quite a sizable amount of quality site trading. In fact I think this is a niche market that has remained relatively untouched (the trading of established websites).

    Sure people won't be able to start out their website trading on our site but we will be catering to everyone else who is not new to the game which seems to be a pretty big market.

    I also don't think that just because people start out and get hooked with another means they wouldn't ever shop around and use other sites for trading as well.

    Oh and the manual screening of sites can be relatively scalable. All we'd have to do is set a serious of standards that a website must meet to be accepted (domain age, number of backlinks, amount of traffic, etc.) then hire cheap labor to check every site to make sure it meets these standards and approve or disapprove sites.

    Thank you both for your feedback. Everything you post is helpful and appreciated.
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