As the world of online trade and digital media continues to boom, the prospect of making a living over the internet has become an attractive one. However, despite how encouraging it is, not all people have the guts to start. Many of them are deterred by the prospect of having to start from scratch.
Building a successful website can seem like a daunting task to someone who has never done it before. In addition to a great design concept, you also need a comprehensive business plan, the know-how to improve your searchability and the right strategy to bring traffic to your website.
Fortunately, you can bypass a large part of the work by buying an online business that’s already existing. Once you find one with potential, all you need to do is keep it running and focus on its growth.
However, as is the case with any business venture, entering the world of E-commerce without sufficient prior knowledge could be disastrous. Some websites may appear to be promising acquisitions but require more work than you’d ever bargained for. Others may have a bad history or even be blacklisted.
Yet, these are not enough reasons for you to give up your dream of becoming an internet entrepreneur. Simply take some time to research your potential purchases and ensure you are fully prepared to work on your goal.
Of course, before you do any of this, you need an idea of the type of business you would like to own. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you have to be passionate about your endeavor.
Purchasing An E-commerce Site
If you are convinced to buy an online business, a good place to start is by browsing listings on an established marketplace, such as Exchange. There are numerous e-commerce business brokers to explore, with listings at all price points across a huge number of industries. (And if you’re into buying a website, check out Empire Flippers.)
However, it is not as simple as just finding an affordable existing site and expecting to turn it into a profitable venture. Unfortunately, some of the seemingly more affordable options may have hidden problems that could severely hinder your success. For example, the site may have been previously blacklisted or be under an AdSense ban.
As such, there are a few factors you ought to investigate before you start buying an online business.
The Good and the Bad
The true value of an online business lies in its potential for growth. When people purchase an existing business, it is generally either of the two reasons:
1. They have a passion for the industry and wish to grow the business as a long-term venture.
2. They plan to flip the website, increase its traffic, ranking and profitability before selling it.
Whichever you aim to do, you will need to investigate several factors in order to get a full measure of the business you are considering. Take, for example, the presence of an active community.
Check comments and forums in order to determine how many people are regularly using the site. Be aware of the site’s bounce rate- the higher it is, the more people simply navigate away from it.
Go over all links, titles and headings and check them for relevance and functionality. Factors, such as keyword density and authoritative functional backlinks, can impact the success of a website. Consider using the Wayback Machine to explore the site’s history and get a feel for how it could be improved.
The Right Price
For your investment to be worthwhile, it is vital not to overpay for your chosen business. However, determining the true value of an acquisition can be challenging, particularly if you are new to website brokerage. Fortunately, there are a few factors which can help you put together a more accurate picture of a site’s current value.
Existing revenue streams, such as AdSense, sales and donations. Do not be fooled by a recent spike in revenue. Instead, look at a site’s long-term performance to get a fairer idea of how the business performs on average.
Volume of traffic and its sources. Be sure to scrutinize traffic referrers. You could be fooled into thinking a site has high traffic but it may just be coming from dubious sites rather than Google or legitimate sources. Check also that you have traffic coming from websites, social media accounts and subscribers. Mailing lists can also be very valuable- if put to good use- as they allow you to connect with a site’s community and raise awareness about your site.
Page rankings. The better the site ranks in searches, the less work you may have to do to get it noticed. However, it is important to determine how many pages rank highly and for what reason. This will enable you to figure out how to optimize the site going forward.
Age of the domain. Older, established sites can have more favorable rankings as they’ve had time to build up a reputation and become more trusted by Google and other search engines.
Running costs. Don’t purchase a site without investigating the cost of keeping it online. Calculate the combined cost of the domain, hosting and security packages. Weigh these things against the potential profitability of the business.
Now that you have an idea of the site’s performance, the next step is to look for recently sold websites with similar statistics and within the same industry. This will give you a rough sense of what may be a fair price to offer.
Flipping, Clipping and Drop Shipping
Once you’ve found the business you want and have negotiated the terms of sale, it’s time to get started on making the website your own.
If there is existing content, you already have something to work with. However, you may need to reorganize and refresh the site’s content in order to boost SEO and generate a consistent, coherent voice throughout the website.
Reach out to suppliers and make sure you know exactly what role you have to play in ensuring that the business runs smoothly.
If you have purchased a drop-shipping enterprise, your main responsibilities will be communication and increasing sales through marketing. Alternatively, if you sell a service or digital product, you will need to ensure that this remains up-to-date and relevant.
Engage with the site’s existing community to let them know what to expect going forwards. Pay attention to their feedback and work to build on what you already have. The first step could be to optimize the site’s layout, ensuring it displays and functions correctly on mobile devices and across all major browsers.
One way to speed up this process is to invest in an e-commerce CMS. Not only does this give you access to a range of tools with which to improve your domain authority, you can also uniformly rework the site’s aesthetic without interfering with sales.
Onwards and Upwards
Ultimately, it is not difficult to find and buy an online business. However, even the most promising venture requires time and effort if it is to continue to be profitable. You need to be prepared to continuously create content and keep your website up to date.
Make sure you have thoroughly considered the time and attention you will need to give your new enterprise. Ensure that you have a full understanding of its maintenance and running costs before you seal the deal. After all, whether you adopt a struggling business and transform it into a successful one or you purchase a more established website and make it even better, this transaction is only the beginning.
Nevertheless, if you keep these tips in mind, you can approach the world of website brokerage with confidence. From there, you will be able to seek out a business within your preferred industry and work towards developing the booming online enterprise you have always wanted.