There are a ton of resources out there detailing how to create a side project, but very few showing you where to buy or sell a side project. I’ve been doing some of my own research this year, here’s what I have found.
*Updated: April 2019
Recently, I’ve been considering selling some of my side projects, mostly due to the lack of time I now have to maintain them and also because I regret the fact I can’t put as much work into them as they deserve. So a few weeks ago I started to look into marketplaces specifically geared towards selling and buying smaller online side projects. I then posted the question on the Indie Hackers forum and NoCode Slack community group and got some great suggestions back I thought would be worth sharing.
TransferLot is one of the newer marketplaces on the block. One of the main advantages of TransferLot is it offers free listings for the first 2 weeks and no transaction fees. Thereafter, they ask for a modest $20 for an additional two weeks and feature your listing within their newsletter. The only criteria to list on the platform is the site cannot be an e-commerce platform, must allow generation of some type of passive income and have an English version.
I recently gave their free two week listing a shot myself and got about 5 enquiries. All subsequent communication between buyer and seller is done through email which works well and saves you going back to their site to message them back. One thing to note is there is no escrow system in place currently and the transfer of any money between buyer and seller will need to facilitate yourself.
Opportunity Overload is a weekly newsletter. They charge a one-off fee of $10 to be featured in their newsletter. I have actually successfully sold a side project using OO a few years ago. Defiantly worth a shot considering their reach and the extremely low one-off fee. However, you can only provide a very short summary for their newsletter so be prepared to answer a lot of questions about your listing once featured.
I ended up receiving about 11 enquiries most of which were serious buyers. I eventually sold it to a buyer in the US and agreed to use Transferwise to handle the money transfer due to its super low transaction fees for foreign money transfers.
Flippa gets a lot of negative press, mostly due to their high fees (15% success fee) and in occasions their customer experience when things go south. However, Flippa is by far the largest marketplace for buying and selling websites and therefore receives a lot of traffic. However, due to its size there is a lot of trash you need to sift through to find a gem.
Flippa provides a host of helpful analytics about each sale regarding revenue and traffic which is gathered from a variety of third-party sites; including, Google Analytics, Adsense and Alexa which are generally considered reliable.
One of the main benefits of Flippa is their escrow service, allowing both buyer and seller financial protection. This is especially relevant to large sales with various caveats and terms attached to the sale.
Flippa also offers a handy free business valuation tool if you are struggling to come up with a figure for asking price.
Looking for an e-commerce project to buy or sell? Shopify actually has their own marketplace for Shopify built sites.
Through the Exchange platform, merchants can list their online stores for sale, including information like traffic and revenue data pulled directly from Shopify. Sellers can’t edit this data, which means you can feel secure knowing that what you see is what you get.
Stores on Exchange range from ready-to-go starter stores to successful e-commerce businesses. As such, the prices also vary. Starter stores can cost as little as $50, while established 6-figure e-commerce empires can sell for over $1 million. Expect a lot of dropshipping sites, some with little to no income to be wary when purchasing as these are notoriously hard to run (trust me).
Buying and selling through the platform is free and the sale can be transacted via Shopify’s partnership with escrow.com (fees vary).
Think of SideProjectors as the craigslist of buying and selling side projects. It doesn’t handle any payment aspects but instead just connects the owner and the buyer. Therefore, there are no fees to list your project for sale and there is also no fees when purchasing a site. Again, no escrow system in place so do your homework before you consider any transaction.
SideProjecters provide a reasonable amount of information regarding each listing. However, I did notice a lack of important information within the listings due to a lot of the fields when submitting not being required. It doesn’t seem to show traffic analytics, revenue, social media following or subscriber/member figures.
1Kprojects is a curated marketplace where makers sell their abandoned projects for less than $1000 (there are a few going for well over 1K 🤨). As the description suggests you won’t find sites with strong MMR or even launched for that matter. A lot of the sites listed contain very little info — however you can contact the owner via the listing.
The quality of listing varies, from a basic Wordpress site built on a standard theme claiming to offer a dropshipping platform to some interesting potential fixer-uppers that are turning a small MMR and have some reasonably proven traction.
It’s free to list, but you will need to pay a one time $19 fee to unlock the ability to read and respond to your enquiries. If you're looking to sell it’s worth a shot and if you get some reasonable interest you can then consider paying the fee. The site seems to get a reasonable amount of traffic but mentions at the time of writing this it only has 1500+ newsletter subscribers. To buy it’s totally free.
Top tip for sellers
When selling your side project be prepared to spend a lot of your time responding to emails with enquiries about the finer details regarding your listing.
You can waste a lot of time going back and forth with questions, however, to save a ton of time, draft out a summary of your products key proposition and associated metrics. This gives the potential buyers a sufficient understanding of what is being sold and prevents you from receiving emails with unnecessary questions.
Check out my list below to get you started:
- Monthly reoccurring revenue (MMR)
- Percent of revenue that is recurring
- Fixed costs
- Monetisation methods
- Asking price (inc preferred payment method & terms)
- Why you are selling
- Site traffic (unique users per week/month)
- Social media and associated following/ engagement
- Email subscribers and engagement rate
- Strong backlinks
- How you acquire traffic to your site
- Current marketing channels and associated spend
- Newsletter subscribers (inc open/click-through rate)
- Tech stack & plugins
- Brand (difficult to measure)
- Time spent maintaining the site
- How long it’s been live for
- Does your sale include for example, logo, email list, domain, email addresses, supplier list, social media accounts, images etc.
With regards to calculating the value of your side project - check out this handy calculator created by Pieter Levels. Michael Thomas also provides a great in-depth account of selling his business and discusses the valuation process and formula.
This is not an exhaustive list and was curated more specifically for buying and selling side projects. I will keep this list updated so please share any other resources and I will update.
Always be sure to do your due diligence on each prospective buyer or seller. As with most listing on these sites their figures are inflated and some of their claims are false and mixed together with sales hype, so be wary! Through my own experience there is no rush in a sale or purchase, always do your homework first!
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