It's probably something you've thought (or dreamed) about: selling your website.
Maybe you're simply looking to cash in; maybe you've hit a wall and want to hand your website off to somebody who can take it to the next level.
Whatever the case, selling a website can be a rewarding experience but it can also be a complicated one. So here are some pointers.
Getting your house in order
Anybody who has an interest in buying your website is almost certainly going to want to do some due diligence. That means that you need to be prepared to provide them with certain information. From analytics data to financials, the average prospective buyer is going to want to quantify your website so that a value can be placed on it. Make sure you have the following ready before you start looking for a buyer:
- Detailed traffic stats for a meaningful period of time.
- Financial data showing how much money your site makes and how much it costs to run. The more detail you can provide, the better.
- A detailed technical description of your website (what technologies are used, how it is hosted, etc.).
- Your valuation.
Ideally, you can present all the relevant information in a PowerPoint-style 'prospectus' that gives prospective buyers an easy-to-reach package with all the information they'll need to evaluate the opportunity.
Looking for a buyer
Assuming that you haven't been contacted by a prospective buyer in an unsolicited fashion, you're going to need to generate leads. You can use online marketplaces like the one offered by SitePoint and you can use forums like DigitalPoint to solicit buyers, but you should also look at the ways you can reach out to buyers in your specific niche.
Don't forget the value of direct, targeted approaches. Would any of your competitors be interested in buying you out? Are there other companies that could benefit from owning your website? Don't hesitate to reach out directly because much of the time, this is how you will make a deal happen.
Discussing and negotiating
Once you've got some interest, it's time to start discussions and negotiations. You may not want to provide your detailed prospectus to anyone without some protection; in that case, have a non-disclosure agreement signed before furnishing anything you consider confidential.
Once you're down to the nitty-gritty, remember that issues like valuation are often very subjective and a point of tension. While this post isn't meant to serve as a how-to guide for negotiating a website acquisition, remember to keep the big picture in mind when dealing with prospective buyers. Your goal is to sell your website and if you and a prospective buyer are close on the big terms, creativity can usually be applied to bridge the gap.
Closing the deal
Once you've got a commitment from a buyer, be sure to formalize the terms of the deal in a written contract. This probably means you'll need to get an attorney involved but the cost of doing a deal without a solid contract far outweighs the cost of paying an attorney to look out for your interests.
Depending on the amount of money involved, you may want to handle the exchange of money through an escrow facility. Attorneys can usually provide this, or you could use a third party service like Escrow.com.
Photo credit: Andyrob via Flickr.