The first time I decided to buy a website, it didn’t go well. I was scammed and I lost $2,000. Thinking about it, this may have been the only bad thing that ever happened regarding website investing. It took me a few years to bounce back, and try again, but once I did, there was no turning back.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, you can actually build or buy websites that are generating cash flow. But my guess is, since you are reading this article, you already know about this option, and are interested to learn more.
Don’t be put off by the way my story started. As a matter of fact, don’t be put off if your website investing journey started the same way! These websites are revenue-making cash cows. Golden egg-laying geese. And guess what, they are for sale!
If you are outside of the chosen few, when you think about a website, you are probably thinking about Facebook, Gmail, Google, Amazon. You could also think about a small website that is owned by that small brick-and-mortar business where you occasionally buy food for your pet. But it’s a brave new world out there.
Not so new anymore, but still a lot of land-grabbing opportunities. How do I know? Well, just a few years ago, people were asking for 12X multiples when they were selling their websites, now it goes up to 40X. This is 40X monthly profits.
Why invest in a website?
Obviously, when I say “website investing” I don’t mean “invest in your company’s website”. You don’t have to be a business owner with a website to “invest in a website”. What I mean is “buy a website”, or several websites that are monetized by themselves. In many cases you don’t even need a product, or build a product or a service.
On these websites, you can resell products and services from other companies, or display ads and not sell anything. Another great thing about this is that you get to choose which products you want to “carry” on your website. This way, you can choose the best, most ethical, highest quality best selling products, and sell those!
Sell only the best products, from the most reputable companies
A small website that’s making just $500 per month, is like a small business. And you can invest by purchasing it. It is an asset and treat it as such. This, on the other hand, is a pretty broad topic (how can a website make money), but I had to mention it in order to get your gears running. This is different from domain investing because most domains don’t generate cash flow.
Often times domain investors turn into website investors. There’s more work involved, but so is the paycheck. Furthermore, if you have all the skills of a domain investor, your website investing game will profit from it!
Profits are better than wages.
— Jim Rohn
If you are still working for someone else, it probably means you have to show up at a certain location, at a certain time. If you own a few websites that are generating income, that’s not the case. Essentially, you are your own boss, you get to chose your hours. It’s like owning a small website portfolio, a small company. Better yet, you can keep your old job, and make something on the side. (As long as you keep things legal and report your revenue).
How are these websites generating revenue?
There are plenty of options so, let’s name a few:
- Content websites (with various ads)
- Content websites (with affiliate links)
There are many more combinations, but if you are starting from scratch, you will probably get into one of those. You could say I am a more seasoned professional, so on top of the one I already mentioned, I also operate a SaaS business (software company). Running a software company is not exactly connected with website investing, and most entrepreneurs just run their software company and that’s it.
However, there are investors that buy, keep and sell software companies, as a part of their portfolio of websites. Now mind you, I am doing this on a very small scale, but there are investors that buy software companies for north of million dollars, and then they go on and buy an E-commerce website for 2 million dollars, and then they buy a content site for half a million, and so on.
- Content websites (Monetization: ads)
If you are own several content websites you have an easy and passive option of monetization. Running ads. Again, you could take a more active role (sell ad space) or a more passive role (display ads from platforms such as Google AdSense).
I own about two dozen small content websites that bring around $1,000. For all you meme lovers, here’s an appropriate one.
This is not all I make in my life, but let me tell you, these are the easiest $1,000 per month I make in my life. And then again, raise your hand if you would like $1,000 per month added to your bank account. Thought so.
- Content websites (Monetization: affiliate links and ads)
The following is basic knowledge, but let’s cover it quickly for those who need it. In the first category “Content websites (Monetization: ads)” you make money when someone clicks on the ad displayed on your website. You can get from 0.50 to $5 (or more) depending on who clicked the ad, and what the website is about.
In this (affiliate) category, you get your commission when the item is sold. You get $0 no matter how many clicks the ad gets. This is a great thing because these affiliate commissions can bring you as much as $100, $1000 or more depending on the product or service you sold.
These can be products on other E-commerce stores, services from other professionals and companies and anything that has an affiliate program. Usually, in the past, in situations like this, I would mention a certain product to show you an example, but links placed like this rarely entice the purchase.
You really have to go above and beyond to provide value to the reader before they will be moved enough to purchase the item. Also, the reader has to be in buying mode. Anyway, don’t expect a single paragraph like this to exlain how to make sales with affiliate commissions. There’s both art and science to it. Again, the great thing is that these websites are for sale as well so you can buy something that’s already working well, and then learn and build on top of that.
You could say that any time you are selling something on your website, this is e-commerce. But there are also full-blown online stores with thousands of items. And then again, there are online stores with thousands of products, and there are “Amazons” of the online world. So, if you have 2 products in your online store, or 2000 or 2000 million, it’s E-commerce.
As a website investor, you can buy an online store with X amount of products. These products can be developed and produced internally, or sold via affiliate links. For example, I own a “web store” that offers thousands of products, which are all coming from Amazon.
I bought this website for $700 back in July 2017. At the moment, it is February 2021, and this website made over $2000. I haven’t invested any time and money (apart from the initial $700, and the yearly shared web hosting + domain name) into this website.
It would have probably made more if I worked on it, but I mostly spend time in my main business, and sourcing website deals (buying and selling). Also, I no longer buy such small websites. This one I bought when I was still testing the website investing waters, and didn’t have money for expensive mistakes.
You buy a website, the website is growing, generating revenue, you made your investment back. And then along comes a potential buyer, and offers you 40X on your monthly revenue. You can then decide to sell, or as they say in the biz, flip the website.
You might be asking, why would you sell a website that’s doing great. Well, take my story as an example. I am testing the waters as a website investor. I buy a website for $1000. In 24 months, the website is doing great, and it has made me $1000. So, after 24 months, I have $1000 in my bank account, and own a website that is making roughly $40 per month. Not much, but it pays some bills.
Then someone comes along, and offers $1600 to buy this website. It is a premium multiple of 40X on monthly profit, so you are excited. Besides, in the past 24 months, you bought other websites, some ten times bigger! And working on small website making $40 no longer excites you. You sell the website for $1600.
Let’s do a little math. You invested $1000, and after 24 months, you made $1000 (revenue) + $1600 (sale) a total of $2600. Somebody check my math, is that a 260% return in two years?
Some of you are not excited about $1000, so just add a zero to it when you are buying a website. There are small and big websites that are for sale on marketplaces such as Flippa, Empire Flippers, FE International and many others.
Now let’s get back to the beginning. If you have a website that has some traffic, here are some ways how you can monetize it.
- Google AdSense and similar ad platforms
- Amazon associate and similar affiliate platforms
- Direct affiliate commissions
- Selling various digital products
- Selling various physical products
- Sponsored articles, banners, backlinks
Main traffic source (free and paid):
- Search engine (free or paid)
- Social media
- Email list
As I mentioned earlier, I can write a lot about this topic, but it was important to at least just mention this so that you get a better understanding.
Have in mind, this is barely scratching the surface because a combination of each item on the list is possible. You could have a website that is selling man beard products, with the main source of traffic from a search engine, and another website that is selling the same type of products, with a different source of traffic like social media and email marketing. And yes, you can have a combination of those on a single website.
On the other hand, you could sell software, or a plugin, or a widget or an app you developed, or you could just drive traffic to your website, and resell software someone else spent millions of dollars to build. Moto here is, if you can’t beat them, join them.
Build or buy? Fastlane to website investing.
Sooner or later, everyone faces this dilemma. Why spend $10,000 on buying a website, and risking that money, when I can build a website from scratch. I’ve tried both, and I can say I am now in the second tent. Maybe, you will be in the “build the website myself” tent. I will take buying a website any time over building a new one.
You could say I am biased, but you can (and should) treat this post as one man’s opinion. But I am not biased. Webmaster.ninja (the tool that helps website investors, and managers) doesn’t care if you built a website, or bought a website. So I don’t really profit if you built or bought a website.
The thing is, once you start doing it, it’s going to be impossible to just stick to a single website! And once you have several websites, it becomes hard to track and manage them all.
- Some people are good at building, and some are good at investing. Others just like the process of building, while others are more excited about investing. Some people read books about building, coding and designing, some people read books about financing and investing.
- Building a website takes a lot of time and effort before you start getting any ROI. If you buy a website, you start getting returns the very next day.
- If your hourly rate is $100, it doesn’t make sense to invest 100 hours into setting up a brand new website and writing initial content. And if your idea is to “just outsource everything”, you better keep track of all the expenses, so that “building from scratch” doesn’t become more expensive than “buying a website”. And also, be certain that after you spent $10,000 into a website, it will give returns.
- I will say this, there is a time, where I would pick building a new website from scratch. Sometimes, you want to get into a certain niche, or you have a limited budget, but you can’t find a website that’s for sale. Months go by, and no one is selling. Then it could be a good idea to just build a website, and get into that hot niche you are craving, and do it fast.
- Naturally, if you don’t have any money to invest, then you have to build a website from scratch. That’s where you should start. Besides, it will be a great learning experience later when you are managing your websites.
Is it too hard to own and manage several websites?
Depending on the size of your business, and the number of websites, it could become difficult at some point to manage all your websites. For me, it’s a bit easier because I use a special tool that helps me keep track of everything. That way, I can just log in twice per day (once in the morning and once in the evening) and check how the websites are doing. I absolutely love the process.
Website investors keep track of a ton of things:
- Is the website up and running?
- When are my domain names going to expire?
- When are my SSL certificates going to expire?
- Has my email been blacklisted for spamming?
- Is the traffic coming to the website at the rate I am expecting?
- Do all my websites load in under 3 seconds?
- Is my AdSense income as I am expecting?
- Does the website look like it’s supposed to?
- Is there a WP error like Error Establishing a Database Connection?
- Was there a surge in backlinks?
- Am I ranking for some new keywords?
- Which of my pages are getting the most traffic from Google?
For me personally, this is second nature because I ran a small web hosting business. But I can see how this could become stressful for someone managing even a small website portfolio. That’s why we built Webmaster.Ninja. To help website investors manage and track their portfolios.
Where can I buy websites?
I wrote an extensive article on where you can find online businesses and websites that are for sale and begin website investing. If you are serious about looking into websites that generate revenue and that you can buy, I definitely recommend reading that. I guarantee you will find at least one good opportunity on any given day. It is a growing industry, and each day more and more websites are for sale. Not only that but old marketplaces are being upgraded, and new ones are showing up.
I don’t have a course where I walk you through the process, find great deals and help you to protect yourself from scammers. Right now I am trying to post as many articles as possible, and I am working with my team to improve Webmaster.ninja tool that helps you manage your website portfolio. If you have any specific questions regarding website investing, I am more than happy to answer them.
Stocks, bonds, gold, real estate, and now websites! Since 2009 when Flippa was started, buying and selling cashflow positive websites has been more and more popular! It’s a vibrant marketplace where thousands of website investors gather to do business!
In 2021, there are dozens of marketplaces where entrepreneurs and investors alike can buy and sell websites.
Mind you, these are not websites for brick and mortar businesses. These websites operate as small businesses themselves! Some of the more popular monetization methods are through advertisements, eCommerce, and SaaS.
Overhead is minuscule compared to many industries, and most of the expenses go into marketing and sales. Which leaves plenty of revenue for healthy profits. Opening a local cafe with doubtful success could cost tens of thousands of dollars. Buying a website for $30,000 could bring you as much as $1,000 on the very first month.
The number you are looking for in 2021 is 30X
If you never ventured into the digital world of commerce, risks could be substantial. However, with some education, and mentoring, you could reap the benefits very quickly!
COVID or no COVID, the number everybody in the industry is still looking for is 30X. If the website’s profits are $1,000 per month, you can get it for as little as $30,000. This is a ballpark figure, and it largely depends on many factors! Age, trend, industry, monetization method, and many others.
Vice versa, if you have a website that’s making $1,000 per month you can ask for 24X – 40X on monthly profits.
Passive cash flow?
Although considered as passive income by some, there is still a lot of work to be done in running a successful website. Once you lift your foot off the pedal, you will still generate interesting revenue, but eventually, the traffic to the website will stop, and so will the revenue. Even though, it could take years for this to happen in some cases.
Managing several websites, as many website investors do, is quite a challenge!
Here’s what a typical day at the office might look like:
- Check if all websites are up and running
- Renew any domain names that are about to expire
- Check if all SSL certificates are running smoothly
- Log in to Google Analytics to check traffic
- Log in to Google AdSense to check revenue
- Log in to Google Search Console to check website traffic for top keywords
Webmaster.ninja helps you run your website portfolio
This is where webmaster.ninja comes to the rescue! You can track as many cashflow websites as you like! Make sure that your website portfolio is running smoothly and making the revenue you are looking for!
The beauty of running a website portfolio is that:
- These websites are making money 24-7-365 (while you sleep)
- You can choose your working hours
- You can work from anywhere in the world, or from home
- You can expect a sizeable return on your investment within 30 months
- Websites are very liquid and you can expect 30X on monthly profits when selling
Websites vs stocks
Returns are better for websites (as you can see by the 30X explanation before), but perhaps provide less security compared to stocks. However the security that comes with stocks, only comes if it’s a blue-chip stock like AMZN, GOOG, or MSFT. Let’s face it, some no-name website making you $100 of pure profit every month can tank tomorrow and no one would hold their breath.
With that in mind, raise your hand if you would like to get $100 every single month with very little work involved. Also, if you know a stock that is giving $100 returns every month, or year (for that matter), I am interested in hearing that stock tip.
Websites vs real estate
Websites are similar to real estate in many ways. Where they differ in my opinion are returns and security. Again, returns are better for websites, and security is stronger in real estate. However, with real estate, there’s a bigger barrier to entry compared to stocks. Finding a blue-chip stock is easier than finding top real estate in a prime location that will stand the test of time.
I suppose, for many, it is easier to manage several houses or apartments, but for the millennials, it could be that “digital real estate” is more attractive! As the younger generation is more tech-savvy and would like to travel more (which is very hard if you have real estate in a fixed location).
I personally own more than a dozen websites and have been actively buying and selling websites for the past three years. It’s a very exciting process, and so are the returns! If you are tech-savvy and are looking for an additional income stream I would recommend testing the website investing with an entry-level website.
With just a few thousand dollars ($3,000) you could be the new owner of a website making as much as $100 per month. From there, as they say, sky is the limit.
After my list of 6 website investors you should follow in 2019, it is only natural to post a new list! Since my list last year I’ve met several individuals in this industry that are making waves. So this post is a perfect gateway to see who’s out there, and what’s being created to support you.
“You collect smurfs? Smurf it up!”
— Gary Vaynerchuck
When will website investing become mainstream?
People like Blake Hutchison (CEO of Flippa) certainly think that website investing will become mainstream. And buying a digital asset that’s making money such as AdSense website, Dropshiping business, or eCommerce website will be as ubiquitous as buying a car or a house.
Just imagine, you pick an industry, product, and business you actually love and care about? What a concept.
So, how do we get there? Luckily for us, there are people who are able to provide stepping stones.
1. Blake Hutchison
Flippa was my gateway to website investing. Once I was hooked there’s no turning back! That’s where I found out I could actually buy a website, and make my money back in less than 2 years. Blake Hutchison is the CEO of Flippa and he runs a tight ship! Flippa improved its screening process, security features and made many other improvements since he came on board.
They are keeping the entry point low for newcomers, so you don’t actually have to shell out six-figures just to get your feet wet. At the same time, their deal flow is significant so there’s something for everybody, including you. No waiting lists, just dive in.
You should know: At the moment there are over 3000 listings with 120,000 buyers and sellers. Blake has been with Flippa since September 2018.
2. Andrej Ilisin
If you browse closely on Flippa, you can find a special deal with Alpha Investors. They offer ready-made website that you can pick and choose from. Prices are higher compared to the no-name seller, but you get a high-quality, well-researched website!
Fellow Croatian behind Alpha Investors, and https://investors.club is Andrej Ilisin. Is investors.club different than Alpha Investors, you ask? Yes, it’s a separate project with a members-only marketplace for serious buyers and sellers. No purchase fees, no sales commissions and superior due diligence!
Furthermore, just as I was writing this, I received notification that they launched a website valuation tool, so definitely check that out.
You should know: Just by looking at Investors.club’s sample listing, you can learn a lot about proper due diligence.
3. Matt Raad and Liz Raad
Here’s a different route you can take. Instead of buying a website, how about learn the entire process and build it yourself? Matt Raad and Liz Raad are website investors and co-founders at e-Business Institute. Aside from their digital marketing and web development courses what really caught my attention was:
“How To Buy Established Websites Training Program – Build Your Online Income Portfolio The Fast, Smart Way”
You should know: Some of his students went on to buy a website for $20,000, and then made over $100,000 in 12 months. Matt is an angel investor, and has founded e-Business Institute in January 2017.
4. Jon Gillham
In my last year’s list, I mentioned Spencer Haws, and in this one, I will mention his new business partner Jon Gillham. Recently they started Motion Invest. Jon is famous for creating amazing content (like the one about recent Amazon update) and although Motion Invest was started last year, he’s been on my radar for a while.
I already mentioned his Amazon FBA success on webmaster.ninja blog.
You should know: Motion Invest recently gave away a website that was making $200 per month.
5. Adam Smith
Hand-picked powerfull expiring/auctioned domains direct to your inbox? Affiliate website that’s being fed with content and backlinks by some else? Those are the type of projects that Adam starts!
Domain Geeks and Niche Website Builders!
You should know: Adam is a up&coming website investor from Cardiff, and these projects were started recently.
That’s it for now! I have many other website investors to reveal, but I gotta leave some ammo for 2021! Besides, who has time for long list?! Happy website investing, and take care!
Reding this in 2020? Then you should check my “5 website investors you should follow in 2020“!
In case you are considering becoming a website investor, here’s a shortlist of internet entrepreneurs who are no strangers to website investing. The great thing about them is they give some great tips for free!
1. Spencer Haws
Spencer’s podcast has listeners around the world, and his blog NichePursuits will get you into deep waters of website investing. He not only shares how to build websites and online businesses from scratch, but also how to buy them, and sell them.
You should know: Spencer founded and sold Long Tail Pro, a tool that every website investor should check out.
2. Joe Magnotti and Justin Cooke
Founders of Empire Flippers, although not as active in buying and selling as they used to be, website investors are their clients. Joe and Justin with their team go above and beyond at leading the industry with amazing data, and deal flow. Their podcast is also well worth your time.
You should know: Empire Flippers valuation tool will give you a rough estimate of what the market is willing to pay for your website or online business if you are willing to sell.
3. Jaryd Krause
Although Jaryd is not popular as Spencer or founders of Empire Flippers, he is certainly active on LinkedIn and has an insightful podcast. Hopefully mentions like this will keep him going! Also, he is a native Australian, so it’s great to see the website investing is growing in that part of the world as well!
You should know: Jaryd is giving away a due diligence framework, and website evaluator tool.
4. Michael Bereslavsky
Started as a domain investor, Michael realized that investing in websites that produce cash flow is the way to go. His blog Domain Magnate is filled with great advice, and he recently started a podcast with some high profile interviews.
You should know: Michael is always looking to buy and sell websites. Signup on his newsletter to get in touch.
5. Jim Harmer and Ricky Kesler
Jim and Ricky co-founded Income School, and decided to share all the metrics and their websites publicly. Harder for them, but great for first-time website investors who are eager for some knowledge. They have a massive Youtube channel where you can learn just about everything!
You should know: See exactly which sites are making how much money.
6. Jeff Hunt
This list just couldn’t exist without the author of “The Website Investor: The Guide to Buying an Online Website Business for Passive Income”. Jeff shares a lot of his knowledge via his YouTube channel, so be sure to check that out.
You should know: Although his book is a bit dated for the advanced website investor, if you are behind your first deal(s) you should definitely read it.
Who did I forget to mention? Share in the comment section!