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Selling an established website

12:41 am on Oct 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I've been running a website as a home to a GPL'd open source project for about 3 years now. The foundation is a phpbb bulletin board with a wiki tied in to it. The board is for discussion of the development and use of the software with related topics covered in the wiki. There are about 10,000 users now with maybe 1000 unique visitors each day. This is a very niche website and the software it is home to just so happens to have cut in to the revenue of a few companies that were providing similar software for a hefty price tag.

I was never very proactive in trying to make the site profitable. It was never meant for profit, but to host my open source project. I get next to nothing from google ads right now, and have the leftovers of an unsuccessful partnership program (ie, they still get to do their advertising but I haven't asked for money in over a year). The value is in 1) someone who wanted to take over the site and do the legwork to advertise successfully or 2) a competitor who wants the name. At this point, I'm satisfied with the work I've done and for the right price, either would be fine with me (though I'd obviously prefer the first option and see the project continue). I'd guess the second option is more likely.

I'm just wondering if anyone has any tips for me. I'm not a salesman and definitely don't want to be cold calling my competition or any other potential buyers -- a service would be necessary.

2:38 pm on Oct 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Approaching your competitors may not be the best idea, it opens the doors for them to low-ball you (since they now know you want to sell). It also opens the door for them to "act" interested only to get performance details/stats from you for their own use.

Yeah, I know you would require a non-disclosure agreement, but it does not mean they won't use the information... It only means they will make sure you don't realize they are using the information... ;-)

Best bet might be to look at some larger business broker sites, like BizBuySell or Sitepoint, etc.

Be aware that most buyers are going to value your site based on past revenues. If your site does not make much, you probably won't be seeing the type of offers you think the site is worth.

If this is the case, I would work on building up the site revenues before trying to sell it. It is kind of a catch 22. If the site was making good money, why would you sell it? Well buyers think the same way... if it is not making good money, why buy it?

Good luck !

10:42 pm on Oct 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Maxi is right -- if your revenue is low, you're unlikely to get much for your site.

Website buyers and investors rarely pay for "potential". They figure that if you weren't able to make money from the website and that you're abandonining the project, that they are going to have trouble with it as well, irregardless of what "official" reasons for selling you state.