E-property buying and selling is a growing industry. It’s a lot like building, buying and selling homes for profit. And you can get in from the ground up by developing a successful, profitable Website, selling it, and then re-selling it over and over again.
A little bit of business sense is all you need to get in the e-property development game. What you don’t need is:
* HTML or programming knowledge
* Your own product or service to sell
* Web-design ability
This tutorial will teach you how to create and develop your first Website, and how to use that Website as a foundation for creating more Websites to sell. It’s broken down into five easy-to-understand steps.
How to Create Your First Website
1) Start with a great idea. You need to select a topic, one that has these major characteristics:
* It must be something you know about. You don’t necessarily have to be a certified expert on a given subject to build a Website around it. You should, however, have enough understanding about your chosen topic that you can begin to do some intelligent research to create quality site content.
* Your subject must be one in which there is likely to be sufficient interest in. Otherwise you won’t be able to attract enough traffic to make your Website appealing to a potential buyer. (Not sure how to gauge potential interest in a topic? Check out the section entitled ” Niche Marketing: Creating a Website that People Actually Want to Visit.”)
* There must be products related to the topic that you can market from the site. Whether you sell something directly or you choose an affiliate product, you need to be able to demonstrate to a potential buyer that the site generates an income. So when you’re deciding on a topic, be sure to check out related products first.
2) Create your Website layout. Not a programmer? Don’t worry. You don’t have to be, and you won’t have to hire a programmer, either. You can either use WordPress or an online Website builder and do it yourself.
I suggest using WordPress to build your websites. It is easy to use and when you go to resell the site, many buyers want to see that it is built on the WordPress platform. WordPress can be easily installed on your hosting account with just a few simple steps. Don’t use WordPress.com. I am referring to building your website on your own hosting account and having the WordPress software installed on your hosting account. The video below will show you how to do this:
You can also use website builders. They may be a bit harder to sell because the potential buyer may have to use that same website builder in order to take ownership and run the site.
Website builders provide you with dozens of different pre-programmed templates to choose from. Choose the design that you like. Make sure that you select one that’s capable of providing you with the kinds of features you’ll need (such as the ability to make and accept financial transactions, if necessary).
Once you’ve chosen a design, you simply add the elements you need by clicking on them and dropping them into the right places on your layout. (These kinds of site-builders are sometimes called “drag-and-drop.”) You can even add your own pictures and custom graphics, including a logo. Some easy-to-use site-builders include Wix.com, Moonfruit.com and Webs.com.
Before you choose an online site builder program: Think through your Website and decide what kinds of features that you’ll need. Not all online site builders support all possible features, so your needs will influence your decision. Some features that you’ll want to think about include:
* The ability to accept and make financial transactions.
* A way to create a product catalogue.
* The ability to add HTML coding.
* A way to blog.
* The ability to upgrade and add more memory/storage later on.
* The ability to run ad programs (such as AdSense): some online site builders let you build this right into your site.
* Social networking support.
* Interactive features, such as chat and commenting.
These are just a few examples of elements you might need. If you do need any of these, be sure to choose a site builder that supports those options.
To use an online site-builder, you need to create an account. Account-creation itself is free. You won’t have to pay anything until you’ve created your site and you’re ready to launch it.
In fact, many online Website builders allow you to play around with their site templates for free for a trial period (usually around 30 days). We suggest that you do this, and perhaps try two or three different online site-builders before handing over your credit card information. This way you’ll be able to figure out which one works the best for your needs.
You’ll only have to begin paying once you’re ready to make your site live. What you pay will depend upon a few factors, including:
* How much data storage you require (the more you need, the more it will cost you.)
* How much bandwidth you need.
* Whether or not you need a domain name.
* The length of your hosting contract (you’ll pay more if you make monthly payments; less if you make an annual, lump-sum payment.)
Hosting, if you need lots of bandwidth and storage, is usually relatively economical. Many site owners recoup these costs simply by running ads.
Note: Some Website builders offer free hosting programs. This isn’t a suitable option if you plan on monetizing your site and selling it later on. You need to pay for at least a basic hosting plan and your own domain name.
3) Create (or purchase) content. Content is key to the success of your Website. Search engines rank sites based on content. A significant majority of your future visitors will be finding your site by using a search engine. So you must give the search engines what they want so that you can attract visitors.
How to create effective content: Your site should be packed with articles- that is, short blocks of text (500 to 600 words) on subjects related to the overall topic of the site. For instance, if your site is about bird-watching, some potential articles might include:
* “Choosing the Right Pair of Binoculars”
* “How to Photograph Nesting Birds”
* “How to Attract Birds to Your Backyard Feeder”
* “How to Distinguish Bird Calls”
* “Identifying the Markings of Birds”
* “The Best Bird Identification Guides”
While each article is on a different subject, each one is related to bird-watching, and would be the kind of information that someone who likes to bird-watch might be interested in reading.
Don’t launch your Website until you have at least five quality articles posted on its pages. Even after you have that initial content, you should keep adding and/or turning over content on a regular basis. Search engines love fresh content. Plus, one a search engine has scanned your Website, it won’t come back again unless there’s something new there to scan. So the ongoing success of your site depends upon a continual influx of new content. Always give those search engines reasons to keep visiting your site and indexing you for more keywords.
How to create effective content: You can’t just write a series of words and expect that your Website will get a decent ranking. The content has to be effective. Effective content is:
* Grammatically correct and spelling error-free
* Sprinkled with keywords
“Keywords” refers to the kinds of words that a search engine user would use to find a particular Website through a search engine. Referring to our bird-watching Website as an example, someone searching for information about products related to bird-watching may use “keywords” (search terms like):
* “Bird watching”
* “Bird watchers”
* “How to bird watch”
* “Where to bird watch”
* “Bird watching clubs”
* “Best places for bird watching”
* “Meet other bird watchers”
In order for the bird-watching Website to draw in targeted visitors (those who like bird-watching and might purchase items related to it), the site owner would need to fill it with articles that target those keywords.
Those keywords are what search engines are going to look for in order to correctly index your site’s pages. You MUST use keywords strategically. Specifically, you should:
* Never over-use keywords: Search engines got wise to this tactic a long time ago. If you overuse a word or phrase too much, your content might get ignored and/or classified as “spam.” Most experts today agree that keywords should be used sparingly: only about 1.5 to 2.5 percent of your total content (in a single article) should be keywords. In other words, a 500 word article with the keywords “how to identify birds” should use this phrase only between seven and twelve times.
* Make sure your keywords make sense in relation to the rest of the text. You can’t simply create a page of non-sense and use the words “how to identify birds” over and over again. Not only will you not get indexed, you might even be penalized by the search engines.
* Try to use your keywords once within the first paragraph of your text and once within the last paragraph. Sprinkle the rest throughout the remainder of the text.
* Don’t focus on more than two keywords/keyword phrases per article. This may confuse a search engine and may result in getting incorrectly indexed. If you want to focus on more keywords, create more articles.
What if I’m not a writer? That’s okay, not everyone is. In fact, SEO (search engine optimization) writing is a specialized kind of writing. If you’re the slightest bit uncomfortable with it or unsure of your own ability, then hire this partout to a professional writer. It will cost you a bit, but it will be money well-spent. (It’s a little like the difference between paying your 11-year old neighbor fifty bucks to paint your house versus hiring a professional contractor…. It’s a lot of money, but your house will look better and sell faster in the end.)
4) Add pictures and graphics…but don’t go overboard. Just like with keywords, too many pictures may actually hurt rather than help.
Pictures, graphics and illustrations have a few purposes. Their main one is to show potential buyers what a product looks like before they buy it. Another purpose is to lend visual interest to a site. Still another might be to convey a message in a different way than using words (such as a pie chart demonstrating how many robins are typically found in a given area versus other types of birds).
Pictures and graphics should enhance a page without overpowering it. Keep them to a minimum, and if you must use a lot of pictures (as with a product catalogue), use thumbnails. Picture files will slow the down the downloading of your site, and statistics show that Web surfers don’t like to wait. If it takes more than five seconds or so for your pages to download, visitors will simply leave.
You should also remember that pictures do nothing to contribute to the indexing and ranking of your site. So make sure that text is always predominant over pictures on any given page.
A word about the legal use of photos and graphics: It’s against the law to use pictures that you don’t “own” on your Website. You must either have taken the photo yourself or have paid for the rights to use any photo or graphic that you post on your Website.
You can join a stock photo Website, such as 123rf.com or iStockphoto.com which keeps thousands of photos and graphics on file on just about every topic you can imagine. Here you’ll be able to purchase the rights to use any of the photos that they stock and legally use them on your Website.
5) Launch your Website! Now your site is ready to go. Most potential buyers are going to want to see a proven track record in terms of how much money your site generates. Therefore, you shouldn’t expect to be able to sell it right away. Instead, expect to wait at least three months before listing it for sale; a year is even better, since many potential buyers will want to gauge its performance over an entire year.
One year gives you sufficient time to discover what works in terms of advertising, as well as what kinds of affiliate products sell best. You’ll have a chance to tweak things over the months until you hit on a “formula” that generates the most possible revenue.
Listing Your Website
Selling a Website isn’t a lot different from selling any other piece of property, like a home or a vehicle. First you’ll want to list the site with a Website broker, such as WebsiteProperties.com, WebsitesForSales.com and WebsiteBroker.com. You’ll need to provide basic information about your site, including its average monthly income.
You can also sell your website on sites like Flippa.com which is one of the leading website auction sites on the web.
If your website is making over $10,000 per year, I would suggest selling it using WebsiteProperties.com. Flippa’s fees are much less than a website broker but usually on Flippa you will get about 10 times your monthly net earnings. Selling using a website broker such as WebsiteProperties.com will cost you a 10% broker fee but will normally allow you to get 3 times yearly net earnings so it ends up being more in the long run.
Pricing Your Website
Determining the fair market value of a Website is tricky. Unlike a home, you can’t really refer to your next door neighbor’s property value as a starting point for pricing your own.
The value (and potential value) of a Website is based on a number of factors, including:
* Its PageRank: This is a Google link analysis algorithm that is something like a popularity vote for a particular Web page. A page can receive a ranking between zero and ten, with ten being the best possible score. Google arrives at this figure by looking at the number of links that lead to your page(s) from other Web pages. Sites with high PageRanks may be able to be sold for more money than those with low or no PageRank.
* Its Alexa ranking: Alexa ranks Websites according to the traffic that it receives. A site’s Alexa ranking is based on data that’s exclusive to Alexa toolbar-enabled browsers, which doesn’t necessarily reflect the habits of Internet users at large. Therefore, this ranking may or may not play a significant role in determining a site’s value, unless Alexa ranking happens to be important to a specific buyer.
* Its monthly revenue: This is probably the most significant factor in setting a Website’s price tag. Potential buyers want to know approximately how much they can expect to profit off of a site. Obviously the more revenue a site generates, the more you can sell it for.
* Its number of daily visitors (average).
* Its number of daily (average) page views.
* Its expenses: This includes hosting costs, marketing, average monthly cost of acquiring content, etc.
You can find Website value calculators, like the one found at YourWebsiteValue.com that can help you determine a site’s value. Simply enter the Web address and the calculator will come up with a value based on its traffic, page views, etc.
However, it’s important to note that these calculators do not take into account factors like a site’s monthly revenue generation or the quality of its content so are not very accurate. Its findings are based strictly on measurable data that can be quickly accessed via the Internet. Therefore, we recommend that you use this figure only as a point of reference as you begin to decide at what price to list your Website.
Re-selling a Website
Once you’ve developed a successful Website, you can take that same basic layout and theme, use similar strategies, and create new Websites. It’s a little bit like cloning. Your existing site becomes a template for the new site. As long as the “new” content is unique, you can use the same template again and again if you like to create more Websites.
Some virtual real estate dealers focus on a particular genre of products. Take nutritional supplements, for example. The supplements market is a large and potentially lucrative one. A virtual real estate developer might create a site touting a particular kind or brand of supplement. He can then take that same concept using the same site layout, swap out a few pictures and logos, add new content, and market a different nutritional supplement. In fact, he can market numerous nutritional supplements using the same basic design.
Niche Marketing: Creating a Website that People Actually Want to Visit
You can’t assume that because a particular topic or idea is popular that you’ll automatically get visitors to your Website devoted to that topic. The fact is: the more popular a topic is, the more competition that you’re likely to have for visitors. Just go to a search engine like Google and type in something broad and generic, like “milk.” You’ll most likely get five hundred million or more returns on such a broad query, because there’s lots of information on the Web about “milk.”
Instead, you’ll probably find more success looking for “niches.” This is referred to as “niche marketing,” and it’s the opposite of the traditional definition of marketing. Normally someone with a product to sell goes out and tries to convince people to buy that product. Niche marketing, on the other hand, is looking for “gaps” in the market and then creating a product to fill one of the those gaps.
When it comes to Internet marketing, the key is finding “niche keywords” and targeting those words within the content of your Website in order to make money off of related products and advertising. You can find niche keywords by trial and error on your own.
This simply involves coming up with keywords and variations of those keywords and then running an analysis using Google’s keyword selector tool. This will tell you how much competition there is for each keyword and will also generate related keywords and their related search data. You can use this data to figure out which variations are being underused as keywords.
You can also subscribe to a service that will do an in-depth analysis for you. ConcentrateAnalytics.com is one such service. Data from such service providers is more comprehensive and detailed than what you can find using Google’s keyword selector. These services usually cost money, but may be well-worth the investment for the edge that they can give you on the e-commerce market.