How do you find profitable websites for sale? With more and more people getting into the website investing space, lots of brokerages are springing up where you can find profitable websites for sale. But what are the best options? Where will you get the best deal? This article will answer those (and many more) questions about finding profitable websites.
Table of Contents
- What are profitable websites?
- Brokers vs marketplaces vs direct
- Websites with revenue or profitable websites?
- How do you buy a profitable website?
- Marketplaces with profitable websites for sale
- Brokers with profitable websites for sale
- Key points
What are profitable websites?
Consider a traditional small business: a local restaurant. The restaurant has revenues — the money coming in from customers — and costs, such as labor and rent. The profit is, as you surely know, the difference between the two.
For a website, the revenues generally come from ads or affiliate commissions, or a combination of both. Some sites also sell products or have other revenue sources, such as sponsored posts.
The costs, meanwhile, are very different from those of a traditional small business. For small to medium sized websites, there are no rent or raw materials costs. Depending on the type of site and your involvement, there may be a labor cost. The only other costs are hosting and maintenance, which for many small to medium sized sites are insignificant.
Because of this different cost structure, it’s easier to make a profit off a website than a traditional small business. Nevertheless, it’s important to look for websites that have either good profits or good profit potential.
Brokers vs marketplaces vs direct
There are three different categories of methods to find profitable websites for sale. You can work with a broker, you can search an online marketplace, or you can do direct outreach to website owners.
Brokers are generally thought of as the best option for first-time website investors. They do a lot of due diligence for you (or at least, they’re supposed to), and they can be helpful in interfacing with website sellers. Brokers also generally write a LOI (letter of intent to purchase the site) and asset purchase agreement for you, which means you save on attorney fees.
However, they mostly broker high-priced deals, so you have to be willing to put up some cash in order to use their services.
Marketplaces are generally the first option people look at when they are getting started. Unfortunately, marketplaces contain a lot of scams — and even more noise. This can make them daunting for first-time investors, and better for website flippers.
Nevertheless, there are benefits to using marketplaces. You can find much lower-priced websites for sale on marketplaces than you would find with a broker. While risky, these low priced sites may make sense if you’re not ready to put down a large amount of money at first. Another benefit is that marketplaces don’t put any pressure on you to make a deal — something that brokers may do.
The third method for finding profitable websites for sale is going direct. This is my favorite method, since it is often much cheaper (there is no commission) and you don’t have to be competing with other buyers. This is an advanced method and requires extra work and due diligence.
Websites with revenue or profitable websites?
One important thing to understand is that websites with revenue aren’t necessarily profitable websites.
This may be obvious for e-commerce websites, where there is a certain cost to produce and distribute a product. However, it’s also true for affiliate and ad-supported websites. These types of websites have less well-defined cost structures, so it’s not necessarily clear what the costs are.
Before starting the buying process, I recommend reading the articles on this site about costs to run a website, especially this one about cost of the owner’s time. Sellers often don’t make clear what all of the costs are to running a website, so it may appear that any website with revenue is a profitable one.
But don’t be fooled: make sure you’re looking at a truly profitable website.
How do you buy a profitable website?
Buying a website can be daunting. You need to know how to value the website so that you don’t over pay. You also need to perform a due diligence analysis, understand risks, and find the right broker or marketplace.
If you’re interested in buying a website, you can check out my “How to Buy a Website” article. But before doing that, I suggest downloading my FREE Website Investing Beginner’s Kit, which includes a valuation worksheet, a due diligence worksheet, an income planner, and much more.
Marketplaces with profitable websites for sale
Flippa is the most popular and well known of the online website marketplaces. It’s a great place to find profitable websites for sale — if you know what you’re doing. It has thousands of active listings, and I have found it to have about 50 new listings each day. However, it has a lot of junk that you have to sift through, and there are scammers who try to sell bad sites.
It’s always worth perusing Flippa — I check it every day — but know the risks of buying with Flippa before you jump into anything. And it doesn’t hurt to also look at some of the lesser known Flippa alternatives.
- Widest selection of profitable websites for sale
- Low starting price websites available
- Scammers are common, so you have to be careful not to get ripped off
- There is a lot of junk listed, such as “zombie” sites, sites that are no longer for sale and were never updated, etc.
- 10%+ commissions PLUS listing fees
- Very little vetting is done on listed websites
Motion Invest is a marketplace as well as a brokerage as well as a flipper as well as an investor. I placed it here under marketplaces because it is possible to buy from them with little to no human interaction.
Motion Invest has mostly smaller sites available. There are starter sites for as little as $500, and there are more established sites that go into the tens of thousands of dollars. The sites available on Motion Invest tend to make $1000 per month or less. The nice thing about Motion Invest is that unlike Flippa, they perform some due diligence on the sites they list.
- Some vetting performed before listing
- Only a small number of sites available
- You get access to the website URL and full details without starting the purchase process
- 15-20% commission is high
This is a marketplace with vetted sites to buy. Buyers need to be members of the club in order to see information about the businesses. To get membership, you need to show proof of funds, or you can buy in for around $250/year. They provide a due diligence report as well as interviews of sellers.
Websites for sale on Investors Club and go up to $1M. This is a great intermediate option between a marketplace like Flippa and a broker. There are dozens of active listings at a time.
- A reasonable number of active listings
- Can be hired to do direct outreach to sites for unlisted opportunities
- Lower commissions
- Must purchase subscription to see listings first, or must provide proof of funds to view listings
Here are a two marketplaces that I don’t personally have any experience with:
Micro Acquire is an interesting marketplace, as it has thousands of listings. I have never worked with them so I don’t have a good sense of the level of quality, but there seem to be a lot of failed startups on here. Unfortunately, you have to pay around $400/year in order to see details about the listings.
Human Proof Designs
This is a marketplace of mostly starter sites with no revenue. They have a section for revenue generating sites, but there is currently nothing in the list.
I generally don’t recommend buying starter sites, as you’re not really paying for anything of value, and the seller will generally just reformat the site and try to sell it to someone else.
Brokers with profitable websites for sale
FE International is one of the older and more established website brokers. The company has a large staff of brokers and has grown rapidly over the years. They perform a lot of due diligence on the sites they list.
Listings with FE International are almost always $100k or more, and often go into the tens of millions of dollars.
- Knowledgeable team helps you through LOI and purchase process
- Very good vetting scheme
- Small selection of listings under $500,000
- You must engage with a broker before getting specific listing information and site URL
- High commissions
Empire Flippers is a well-known name in the area of website sales and investing. They have a lot of listings and a wide selection (for a broker). However, they have a long and cumbersome process before you can view their listing details.
In the past, Empire Flippers used to require you to make a cash deposit in order to view details of their listings. They have eased that restriction, but they now require you to connect your bank account and verify your passport or driver’s license — just to see a website URL.
- Good vetting process
- A wide array of listings for a broker
- Invasive process for determining a website’s URL and details
- 15% commission for sites under $700,000
Quiet Light Brokerage
Quiet Light Brokerage is another good option for finding profitable websites for sale. In my experience with them, they have been generally focused on larger online businesses ($500,000+), although it seems that they now are listing some lower priced options.
Quiet Light does due diligence on their listings and provide full details on their listings to interested potential buyers.
- Responsive, knowledgeable, and easy to work with brokers
- Reasonable listing prices of sites for sale
- Small number of listings
Here are a few less prominent brokerages where you can find profitable websites for sale. Their listings tend to be around $1M or more, so I don’t focus on them as much as the others.
Deal Flow Brokerage
Deal Flow is another brokerage, which is a bit more like a club. You can sign up for listings from their network. They tend to list high priced sites, and they offer services to identify sites for purchase. They also have private equity funds which invest in sites.
This brokerage has a wide range of websites and other businesses for sale. It’s most expensive listing is over $100 million, but there are some listings as low as $100,000. Most of their listings are in the $1M+ range.
Latona’s is another broker focused on the e-commerce space. They have a lot of Shopify, Amazon FBA, and direct e-commerce listings. They have many listings for under $100,000, so if you’re looking to get into e-commerce, they are worth a look.
Shopify Exchange Marketplace
Shopify has their own site for selling Shopify e-commerce sites. These vary in quality, but Shopify can verify all of their sales and earnings figures, providing some assurance of value. It’s a reasonable place to look for e-commerce businesses, but don’t expect to find many gems.
There are a bunch of great marketplaces and brokers offering profitable websites for sale. The most popular brokers and marketplaces are:
- Empire Flippers
- FE International
- Motion Invest
- Quiet Light