I planned on starting a general thread on buying/selling websites, but @nate beat me to it. So instead I will start a case study/journal for a site that I bought a few days ago. The money arrived at Escrow.com yesterday so with some luck I can start working on it in a few days. My background: Some of you may have seen my journal on WF, but here’s a recap: I started out by building (horrible) sites about 5 years back while I was in university. At first I only focused on content sites, because hey digital nomad and all that. None of those sites took off. Usually due to a combination of not knowing what I was doing and not doing enough in the first place. This changed after I read a thread about importing products. After spending a few days on Alibaba I found my first product. It was a complete failure. Both the product and my ‘market research’ were virtually useless. I returned to Alibaba and after a week or two I found a far better product. More than 3 years later I’m still selling the same product and every year is better than the last. This summer I finished my master’s degree and got an offer to stay at the company I did my final internship at, but I turned it down and started working on my business full-time. Back to the buying/selling websites part. I used the money that wasn't needed to expand my e-commerce site to buy some sites in the last two years. A few examples: A foreign language site I bought for mid $xxxx in early 2014. I almost made my money back in the first year. I currently spend about an hour/month on it and the 2015 ROI was ~150%. The site is now worth 4-5 times more than the purchase price. Overall it was/is a great investment. Forums are not dead (yet) and are great CPM ad targets. An evergreen content site about healthy food. Bought for mid $xxxx at the end of 2014. The ROI so far is 60%. However, that is where the good news ends. Over the past year I almost completely neglected it and the traffic keeps declining. Most likely I will sell this site after the Januari/Februari New Year’s resolution bump. My guess is that I will be around break-even after the sale. This was a great purchase, but neglect turned it into a bad investment. Lesson learned: evergreen does not mean you can sit back and expect that the money will keep rolling in. If you buy a site that needs occasional updates make sure it’s on a topic you enjoy or that you can outsource. A simple one-page calculator type site. Bought for low $xxxx around 9 months ago. I only changed the ads on the site and the ROI so far is around 30%. Traffic is slightly increasing. So far it’s a nice 100% passive investment. This shows that you do not need a big budget to start buying sites. New e-commerce site: This time I bought an E-commerce site as that is what I enjoy the most so far and have had the most success with (coincidence?). I will try to be as detailed as possible about the financials, problems, solutions, successes and (most importantly) failures. I will not post the domain/niche (not even if I sell the site). In case you figure it out anyway please do not post about it. If it gets leaked I will stop posting. Some info about the site I bought: The site is 100% dropshipping. I’m not a huge fan of dropshipping to be honest as I like being in full control of my product. However the number of products is in the thousands so it is not reasonable to keep stock myself. The site has been neglected for almost 1.5 years by the previous owner. Products and stock haven’t been updated for months and checkout was disabled over 2 months ago. After negotiations I was able to buy the site for $12k. Using the 2014 stats and the 2015 traffic trend I should be able to make back the investment in 2016 just by getting everything running again. I've started doing a SWOT analysis of new projects to get a good overview before I commit. Before someone points it out, I know the opportunities part doesn't follow SWOT to the letter. Strengths: Stable traffic despite an almost complete lack of updates in the past year. Aged domain. Almost 10 years old and it has always been used for e-commerce. 100k+ Facebook fans. 15k+ email subscribers. Nice (mostly) natural backlink profile. Around 8 years of Analytics data with ecommerce data enabled. 150k+ visitors with keywords visible and 230k+ visitors through AdWords. Hundreds of referral sites that sent traffic at some point. Dig in. Weaknesses: The neglect will have permanently driven away some customers and some bad reviews are floating around (though nothing serious and they are buried in the SERPS). The CMS is relatively unknown and seems a bit outdated. Thousands of products. This will make it almost impossible to get high quality unique descriptions and pictures for every item. Many products are no longer being sold by the suppliers. My guess is a few hundred. Dropshipping (lack of control, lower margins and a lower barrier to entry. It could also be a strength depending on your view because it saves time). Opportunities: A large market that should be easy to reach through social media advertising. Their low income also means that this will be relatively cheap. Sponsoring deals should be easy to find and based on experience free products will be enough for all but the largest influencers. No competitor is active in this area from what I have seen. Low/medium competition and low CPC’s for many interesting terms on AdWords. Very low conversion rate. In its prime it hovered around 0.25% for organic search traffic. In 2014 it was even lower at around 0.16%. Simple things like extra payment options, free shipping and optimizing the checkout should be able to increase this. Cross-sells and upsells have never been used. Interlinking is horrible (from a conversion and SEO viewpoint). Site speed can be drastically improved. A few powerful links might give search traffic a nice boost. Threats: Dropshipping. Anyone with a company can sell these products with little to no startup capital. Most products are listed on Amazon/eBay at prices that leave little margin. This means that people who like shopping around will find a better deal elsewhere. Silver lining here is that dropshippers with these margins will have very little (or no) room for advertising. Many customers will be fairly young and thus have low disposable income. Goals: $75k+ revenue in 2016 150% ROI in 2016 Sell the site in early 2017 for at least $50k. Unless I see more potential or was able to automate/outsource everything to the point where a few hours of my time per month is enough. To-do list: Move site to a new host Change ads Fix contact pages/setup email accounts Contact wholesalers Get a second Stripe account SSL Update/remove products 301 removed products Remove ads Enable checkout Optimize checkout + offer free shipping for orders above $xx(x?) Optimize site speed (lots of clutter, might need to change theme) Optimize internal links Optimize the most popular pages (conversion/SEO) Start (paid) marketing Updating/removing products is what worries me the most. There is no easy way to find out just how many products are no longer being sold by the suppliers. It could be 100 or 1000. Based on a spot-check I’d say it’s between 250-500. Redirecting those products will also be annoying. Automated product imports should be possible, but I’m not familiar with the CMS so it could take some time to figure it out without breaking things. Hopefully I will be able to get things going before the year ends, but it will depend on how active the seller is. Most likely I will post an update a few times a week at the start. After things get rolling I will at least post a monthly update and whenever something interesting happens. Feel free to chime in with questions or insights, thanks!