How to Sell Your Website on SitePoint
Tutorial: how to sell your website on the SitePoint Marketplace... and how to ignite a bidding war of interested buyers to effectively maximize your final sale price.
In this tutorial I'll be sharing with you a step by step process I recently deployed. My simple UFO website fetched a final bid of $12,500 on the Marketplace. Just a few days later I received the check and happily cashed it at my bank. Here, in a nutshell is the strategy...
Step 1: Creating the Pitch
Your first and most important step in selling your website is to make a convincing offer. And then you must back it up with the authoritative evidence. The most effective way to do this is by writing a provocative headline followed by a down to earth letter directed at your potential buyers.
Follow this guideline to creating your letter. My site sold for over $10k and the difference between making $100 and $10,000 was all in the letter. Here's how you structure it:
Start by deepening the reader's interest. Then produce authoritative evidence that demonstrates what your saying is true. Itemize all of the advantages. And finally in the last paragraph: motivate them to place a bid.
A) Grab the reader's attention!
This starts with the title of your auction. You should write a provocative title that immediately tells everyone the most essential reason why this is a great investment opportunity.
The title I used was: YOU WILL OWN THE UFO MARKET
Notice how boldly and quickly I conveyed the single most important advantage the reader has by placing a bid. Owning an entire niche' market on the web is pretty provocative isn't it? It immediately entices the user to click and learn more.
A bad title is: L@@k: I'm selling my alien website
First thing: this isn't bloody eBay! It's amazing how many ridiculous titles people are using on the Marketplace. Your title shouldn't sound like spam. Secondly, "I'm selling my website" is so self centered you'll be lucky if anyone bothers to click and view your auction.
Some other good examples of titles are:
How My Tomato Website Will Make You $900 Per Month
Here you are immediately telegraphing the essential reason why this is a great opportunity ($900 per month). The word "How" is powerful because it immediately implies credibility because you obviously have a strategy and it provoke's the reader's interest to find out exactly "How" it will produce the results you say it will.
The Once in A Lifetime Chance to Buy a Site That Can Make $25,000
This example is an interesting offer that has flexibility by using the word "can". Your using a bold number like $25,000 to grab attention yet by using the phrase "Can Make" you don't necessarily have to be making $25,000 on it at this point in time. You just have to prove that it really can make $25,00 by providing the authoritative evidence & supporting documentation in your auction description.
B) Deepen the Reader's Interest
After clicking the Title the first thing your potential buyer is going to read is your opening paragraph. Here is where it is crucially important that you deepen their interest even more. Tell them why they should be interested and don't assume they see the obvious reasons. Make the connection for them.
C) Establish the Facts
If you would want to make a sale with little effort and with sub par results then quickly skim over your facts. OR if you want to generate the maximum sale value for your website then provide authoritative evidence and supporting documentation. This is a key area in your auction letter.
Tell the reader why he or she should believe what you are saying is true. And back it up with authoritative evidence that demonstrates instantly that it is the truth. This includes supporting documentation & screenshots proving revenue, site traffic, and the performance projects you are predicting. Other helpful ways to build more facts & credibility into your letter is including examples, case studies, references or citings of research.
D) Itemize All of the Benefits & Advantages
Make it easy to see why this is such a great opportunity. Itemize and describe all of the benefits and advantages the reader has by placing a bid on your auction. Your website may have forums, it might be built on a CMS platform, you may have a newsletter subscriber list. Itemize all of these but denominate them in what that means for the user. The point is: don't just list features - explain the advantage. Because the age old adage of the hardware store applies here: when people goto the store to buy a drill what they really want is a hole. Your potential buyer is no different. What they really want is probably an easy to maintain website that has high potential of producing a lifetime of recurring revenue. So highlight the best reasons why your website will achieve this for them.
E) Ask Them to Place The Bid!
This may seem like you're stating the obvious but sometimes we all need that little extra push to motivate us to action. In fact, this can be very powerful in your auction letter. In the last paragraph, explain specifically how they can get started. For example: tell them to take advantage of the Buy It Now (BIN) for the fastest, best way to take ownership of your site. Then say "Otherwise, place your highest bid right away." These two statements are that extra push to ensuring everyone interested does not hesitate to place a bid.
Step 2: Promoting Your Sale
Posting a well written auction letter is only half the job. What you need to do now is take an aggressive approach to driving readers to the auction. The only way you can sell your website is if you find that qualified buyer. And the only way to increase the odds you'll get the price you want is to find a whole bunch of them.
First thing, you can Upgrade your auction to a Featured Listing. This puts your auction link in the Featured Listing box within the SitePoint Marketplace. Yet since there is so many other featured listings I question how effective this is. This should not be your primary promotion technique.
There are lot's of innovative ways to drive people to your auction. Heck, you could buy Google Adwords to direct people to the sale. Yet here is the most powerful and free way to do it.
Post on DigitalPoint & Other Forum Marketplaces
Spread the word by posting your sales pitch and auction link to other forum marketplaces. The three best forum marketplaces are found on DigitalPoint, The Warrior Forums, and Wicked Fire. It's important to note that before you post your sales pitch on these forums that you should already be a member with a number of contributed posts (ie- start making posts now if you haven't got an account yet). In addition to meeting requirements, you'll want to do this to avoid receiving any negative comments. On DigitalPoint they have a 25 post count and a minimum 2 weeks old user account requirement and for the Warrior Forums you'll need to make a special offer that isn't provided anywhere else such as a discount.
When posting to the forums, include you're entire auction letter as posted on the SitePoint Marketplace and a link to your active Marketplace auction. Posting the full details in the thread will generate more interest on your post. The advantage of having your site sale featured in these forums is the "bump effect". The more interest you have and the more people posting and asking questions: the longer your thread stays near the top effectively gaining you maximum exposure.
You'll also want to customize your letter. Personalize it to the forum your posting to. And be sure to revise the final "How to Get Started" paragraph by clearing stating that the auction is hosted on the SitePoint Marketplace and that is where bids must be placed in order to buy your site. You may find a buyer on these forums, yet it is important to maintain a strong policy that everyone interested must place a bid at SitePoint. This helps to increase your bids and the chances for a bidding war.
Posting your auction letter to these forums is a no brainer. The added exposure can multiply the number of people who see your website sale by ten fold and thus increasing the chances of finding qualified buyers who are ready to bid.
Step 3: How to Accept Payment
Congratulations! You found a qualified buyer. Now you can proceed with the transaction.
For small sales you might consider PayPal. Yet for larger sales, don't even think about it. Using PayPal can be a huge risk for the seller if the buyer issues a dispute. Leaving you with no money and no website.
Escrow.com is the best and most well recognized service for making domain transactions. It's very popular because it's safe for both parties. Here's how it works.
1. Buyer & Seller Agree to Terms
You the seller should begin the process by logging into Escrow.com (and creating an account if you don't already have one) and clicking the "Start" transaction button. Here you'll be be able to establish the details of the transaction: including the sale price and who pays the Escrow fees. You'll also enter the buyer's email address so after you complete the details they receive an email from Escrow.com with further instructions. Once the Buyer has received the email from Escrow.com they'll click the link to view all the details of the transaction.
2. Buyer Pays Escrow.com
After the buyer receives the email and confirms the terms at Escrow.com they will be prompted to choose a payment method to fund the Escrow account. The buyer then pays Escrow.com the full amount of your sale price. It can take upto a day or longer depending on your buyer's payment method (wire transfers are the fastest). Once Escrow.com receives the payment they give you the notification.
3. Seller Transfers Domain
Once Escrow.com confirms they have the buyers funds, you can safely proceed to changing the domain registrant information. If both you and the buyer have a GoDaddy account you can do this in about 5 minutes. Login to GoDaddy and click the domain you want to transfer to the seller. Click on the "Change Account" option and it will bring up the information you'll need to enter to push the domain to their account. After completing the domain transfer confirm this at Escrow.com
4. Buyer Approves Transfer
The buyer now has the opportunity to verify they have received full ownership of the domain name. Depending on what you set as the Inspection period the buyer will have a day(s) to verify this.
5. Escrow.com Pays the Seller
Once the Buyer officially approves Escrow.com will send you payment via the payment method you specified in your user profile. The best method of payment acceptance is wire transfers. Usually you'll see the funds arrive to your account within 24 to 48 hours.
Remember that the SitePoint Marketplace is just a tool to facilitate the deal. You are the person who is responsible for making the sale.
You've invested countless hours and focused efforts on developing the project. So owe it to yourself to get the best price for all that work. Don't hold anything back and make your auction the best it can be.