You’ve been browsing the websites for sale on Flippa and you can’t seem to find the ‘perfect’ one. Buying websites can be a full on experiencing and you might resign yourself to thinking you can’t seem to find a website that’s worth buying. This is the wrong attitude to have.

Even if you’ve been disenchanted in your search, there’s a way to turn it all around. You’ve simply been placing your attention on the wrong type of websites. It’s time to expand your perspective and begin searching for diamonds in the rough. We’ll be calling these websites ‘forgotten sites’. I’ll also explain the first steps you should take after purchasing a forgotten website.

What Is A Forgotten Site?

Essentially, a forgotten site is a web property that’s leaving a lot of potential on the table. This can mean a variety of things, but just keep in mind that forgotten sites are hidden gems. Most people overlook these sites, but with what I’m about to share, you’ll be well placed to spot them when they appear.

The main elements of forgotten sites are:

  • Not frequently updated. They often give off a feeling of neglect.
  •  Leave a bunch of money on the table. Not being optimized properly.
  • Lack of passion for the business. Usually, the owner is burned out.

There are obviously a wide variety of ways you can go about your search. For instance, you could search by your interests and passions and try to find a site within those niches. Or, you could look for sites solely based upon your income potential.

Once you understand the basics of a forgotten site, you’ll be able to use your newfound knowledge within any niche you choose. Although we won’t go in depth about niche selection (there are a number of great posts on niches on the Flippa blog) and whether to buy a website based upon your passions, these questions should get you started. It’s important to know your motivations for your new website before you begin.

  1. What is my main motivation for wanting to buy a site?
  2.  Am I trying to buy a website for profit or passion?
  3. What skill set can I bring to the table through this website?

With your intentions in line, and the foundation for being able to spot forgotten sites in place, it’s time to dive deeper.

Elements To Look For

Forgotten web properties can come in all shapes and sizes and span across a variety of niches. However, some of the most common sites you’ll find for sale are blogs, niche content sites, e-commerce sites, membership sites and community or local websites.

There are two things that always need to be in place if you want to profit from a forgotten site.

1. Something About the Site Can Be Fixed

This means there needs to be an element of the site that if you improved upon would take it to new heights. An example of this could be an engaged community that’s hungry for content, yet there hasn’t been a new post in a matter of months. The site owner could have lost interest or simply moved onto other projects.

In the case of lost interest, you can buy the website and move in for the steal and begin to serve the audience in new ways. This could mean creating epic content or even building a product that addresses the audience’s needs. Since the site you’ve found has been neglected, the audience is craving for a solution to their problems and you’ll be the one who can deliver.

A simple fix that’s present way more often than not is poor design. By having a poorly designed website, there’s usually a lot of cash left on the table. By taking the time to work with a designer, you can increase your conversions from traffic to grow your email list. In the online world, a list can be your biggest asset.

Aside from poor design and neglect, another common mistake is a failure to monetize the website. There are a lot of ways to make money from your web property. For instance, if the website is getting a lot of traffic, you could monetize the site with ads. If the website has a large email list, you could survey the audience about what product they want created and then create it.

The fixes you employ are activating the site’s potential and transforming a neglected property into a powerful asset.

2. Potential for Increasing Revenue And/Or Decreasing Expenses

If you find a website that has some of the above properties, yet you have no way of transforming those properties into profit, it’s a good idea to move on. Usually, you’ll want to aim to buy websites that are already profitable, but you can use your skills to improve and take the site to the next level. Of course, you can always hire a person to manage the site, create content, or do a site redesign, but you want to be careful about how much money you’re investing into your site before it’s a sure thing. 

Think of a forgotten website as a foreclosed property. You’re going to get a good deal and you could strike it rich. But, there could also be some unforeseen circumstances that you didn’t see through, such as a burst pipe. Just keep this in mind when searching to buy forgotten websites.

It’s important to minimize your risk when buying any website. One of the best ways to ensure you’re protected and actually buying a gem instead of a dud is to talk to the owner. That way you’ll be able to verify the site stats and even uncover the real reason they’re selling the site in the first place.

That said, it’s still important to look at the data and numbers of the site you’re thinking of buying. Our intuition can often tell us a lot. If you think the deal is too good to be true, or get a weird feeling when interacting with the website owner, it’s probably a good idea to move on with your search.

What Skill Set Can You Bring To The Table?

The style of website you end up choosing will depend upon your skills and focus. For instance, if you’re a writer by profession you should be able to create quality content, no matter the niche the site is in. However, if you struggle to write a coherent sentence then you’ll have to outsource the work, which will be an added expense.

It’s easy to get in over your head when buying a website. You think the website you’re buying will be extremely profitable with a few simple tweaks. Often, this is far from the case.

For some reason there’s a stigma surrounding making an investment in a website. Many others assume all we’ll have to do is push a few buttons and we’ll be on our way to soaring profits. Think of investing in a website along the same lines as investing in a business. If you’re taking over a struggling business you better be prepared to put a lot of work in. You should have the same mentality when buying a website.

From Dud To Stud

Once you’ve purchased a forgotten website and have evaluated your skills it’s time to move on. Although we won’t discuss a complete strategy for growth in this post, we’ll dive into a few elements you’ll need to ensure are present in your new site.

1. Make building your email list a priority.

The main way to grow your site’s traffic and ensure its profitability in the long-term is to collect email addresses. Make sure the day you take over your site that you add an email opt-in box, and offer some form of sign-up incentive. That way, anytime you have a new blog post or product to offer, you can alert your email list.

2. Go beyond search engine traffic.

Google can send a ton of traffic your way, but you don’t want to solely rely on it as your only source of traffic. Use the early phase of your site ownership to experiment with alternate traffic means. For instance, you can drive traffic via Google and Facebook ads, guest posting, and through your social media platforms.

3. Increase your conversions.

If your site isn’t set up to convert your new visitors into subscribers, you’re wasting your time. You’ll want to make sure your site is optimized for conversions. You’ll want to test your conversion rates to increase them as high as possible. Only when you have a solid conversion rate does it makes sense to move forward with means to increase traffic.

4. Narrow your focus.

Once you buy your forgotten site, you’ll actually need to spend time on it. One of the biggest reasons website purchases aren’t worth the investment is due to the lack of focus on your end. If you want your new site to be successful, you’ll have to put time and energy into it and be willing to experiment.

I hope this primer on buying forgotten sites helps guide you through the process of finding hidden gems and turning them into gold mines.

How do you filter your sites when looking to buy? Share in the comments.

Thanks to Martin for the photo!