P2LHosting is now closed, thank you everyone!

I wanted to write a quick little blurb and thank you to all my clients and past-clients that entrusted me with their website assets by using P2LHosting for their webhosting needs.  As of today, the primary server was taken offline for good and hopefully everyone was able to switch over to a new hosting plan before the due date, which I communicated to all active clients twice via email earlier this month.

Unfortunately P2LHosting had been losing money for several years, but the amount was not that big of a deal as it proved extremely useful for me personally as well as for my clients.  But as the last few years have unfolded and I have been dedicating my work hours to my full-time career, the hosting business stagnated and eventually clients started to drop off.  Not many, but in a business where ever penny counts, even 2 or 3 clients lost per year hurts.  In addition, I was no longer able to respond to trouble tickets as quickly as I wanted, and I didn’t think that was fair to my loyal customers that were used to 1 hour response times over the years.  There is really no time to grow this business as all of my efforts are focused on serving the Playboy digital network that I currently manage.

For anyone that did not transfer in time (perhaps you never received any of the emails) I did keep a close eye on domains that were still pointed to the P2LHosting nameservers and I have downloaded complete cPanel backups for your accounts.

Didn’t transfer your account yet?

OK don’t panic, here’s what I have asked clients to do:

  1. Sign up for an account with a hosting company that uses cPanel.  I have personally moved to HostGator and I am referring people to use them as well.  You can choose a package and sign up HERE!
  2. During the sign up process, make sure you use the SAME cPanel username on your hosting sign up that you had with P2LHosting,  This is the username you would use when logging in to cPanel.  This is really important.
  3. Forward me your welcome email, which should contain your new cPanel information, including the login URL and login credentials as well as your site’s IP and nameservers, and your helpdesk login information.
  4. I will upload the cPanel backup to the home directory of your account.
  5. You will then be provided with specific verbiage for the restoration of your account.  You will need to create a helpdesk ticket and copy/paste the verbiage provided.
  6. You will need to update your nameservers on your domain via your registrar or you can send me your credentials and I can do it for you.
  7. Once the restore has been done, your site will be back up and running.

You can contact me directly via my contact page at http://www.danrichard.com/contact/ and I will get back to you ASAP.

Thanks again everyone for your loyal business over the years, it has been a pleasure serving you!

Dan

How to search for specific text within your website’s PHP files using SSH

Here’s a quick little tip for anyone that needs to plow through a zillion PHP files to find a specific line of code or a specific keyword.   I recently needed to scan the entire P2L folder for a specific word within any PHP files in the main public_html and subfolders.  The alternative would be to download everything to your local PC and then run a search locally on your PC.  That’s fine and dandy if you have a small site that would only take seconds to transfer, but it’s a different story when you have dozens of folders and subfolders and hundreds of pages.

So, let’s put the magic of Linux to work shall we?  Open up Putty or whatever SSH program you use and log in and make your way to the public_html folder of the account you want to search.

Here’s the command you want to run:

grep -r -i -l "keyword" *

Hit enter and the quary will run… be patient as it will take some time to complete.  It will list any files found that contain your keyword as the query runs.  Here’s a breakdown of the command flags used:

-r recursive (will search folder and subfolders)

-i case insensitive (ignores UPPERCASE or lowercase)

-l list only (displays names of files found only)

Hope that helps!
Dan

Optimize Your Website – Myths and Tips for Website SEO

This was really a fantastic syndicated article I wanted to share… a great breakdown on the truths and myths of SEO, check it out:

What’s the big deal about search engine optimization? Isn’t it enough that you’ve put up a website, purchased some Google AdWords, and sent out an email to everyone you know announcing your site? In short, no. There is an art and science to search engine optimization (SEO), and it is critical for web-based businesses to know, understand and utilize if they want to drive quality traffic to their website via the Internet.

Where do you begin, though? How can you possibly know whom to trust or what to do first with so much information out there on SEO? Do you buy links or not? Pay per click or go organic? And what about those SEO companies who are aggressively promising Number 1 rankings? When it comes to search engine ranking, there are a lot of rumors and myths about what will improve your rankings and what won’t.

Debunking Some Popular Search Engine Ranking Myths

1. Pay per click (PPC) ads will either help or hurt organic rankings. (Organic simply means the process by which web users find websites having unpaid search engine listings.)
Debunked: PPC is categorized differently than organic listings. There is no effect, one way or the other, on ranking.

2. Websites are banned if they ignore Google guidelines.
Debunked: While it’s a good idea to read Google Webmaster Guidelines or Google 101: How Google Crawls, Indexes and Serves the Web, you are not banned if you ignore their guidelines.

3. Websites are banned if they buy links.
Debunked: Sites are not banned. The links just aren’t counted.

4. Copy must be a certain number of words, use a specific keyword density, and contain bold or italicized keywords.
Debunked: It used to be thought that there was a magic number of words used or certain times a keyword or keyword phrase should be repeated. Not so. Same with bolding and italicizing. They don’t do anything for ranking.

5. Duplicate content will get your website penalized.
Debunked: It will just get filtered out and not counted.

6. Reciprocal links won’t count.
Debunked: Every link counts, to a certain extent.

7. SEO companies can improve your rankings without doing any on-page work.
Debunked: Run if an SEO company tells you this.

According to SEO expert Jill Whalen, SEO isn’t magic and isn’t a crap-shoot. “SEO is about making your website the best it can be for your site visitors and the search engines.” Want to help the right kind of people find your website? Then you need to design your site so search engines can find, crawl and index your pages.

Pro tips!

Tip from Dan – Here are some additional Myths provided by www.mediumblue.com

There is an abundance of search engine information available on the web- some of it valuable, much of it contradictory. Throughout the years some prevailing search engine myths have developed. Some of these myths are still encouraged by companies with a financial interest in their continued existence. Others are based upon techniques that were effective years ago but no longer work. Still others come from simple misunderstandings that inevitably come with a relatively new medium. What follows is a few of the most prevalent.

Myth: Using a program or service to “Submit your site to 10,000 Search Engines” is a good idea.

Fact: There aren’t 10,000 search engines. There aren’t even 500. In fact, the top 10 search engines account for the vast majority of search traffic (studies vary from between 85 and 98 percent). Most of the sites that these programs or services list as “search engines” are called FFA (Free For All) sites, sometimes called “link farms”. These sites will agree to place a link to your site on their site, which is usually just a collection of links. Your link will usually only appear for a short time, since as new links are added, the older ones are pushed off the page. Almost no traffic can be expected from such links- but you can expect a lot of unsolicited mail to the email address that you provide them. In fact, these pages are set up largely to collect email addresses to which spam can be sent (and you can get spam for free!). In addition, engines do not like submissions done by computer programs (because of the excessive use of bandwidth and resources), and many of the most popular have taken steps to make automated submission impossible. This means that these programs or services will not even get you listed in many of the top engines.

Myth: Meta tags are the most important factor in search engine rankings.

Fact: Many search engines (most notably Google) ignore meta tags completely due to constant abuse by webmasters. The only importance placed on meta tags these days is actually the meta description tag, which will appear as the description for the corresponding page on engines that use inktomi data (such as MSN). Meta tags are virtually irrelevant in the ranking algorithms of the top engines- but many people continue to believe that they are the only optimization strategy that they need.

Myth: It’s impossible to do search engine optimization in-house.

Fact: It often is done in-house, and done effectively. This is typically when a large corporation hires in-house talent that is largely devoted exclusively to promoting the website. However, it is unrealistic to expect someone with many other job functions to do a credible job of SEO. Much of the skills are acquired through experience- and it isn’t usually desirable to have someone “experimenting” with the company website (especially considering that certain techniques can get sites penalized on engines or banned outright). SEO isn’t rocket science, but it also isn’t something that can be learned overnight. When deciding whether to outsource SEO or do it in house, it is important to consider the actual costs involved. Often, when the necessary hours it takes to pay someone to learn on the job are taken into account, it is cheaper to outsource (and the results are almost always better). Only a careful evaluation of your goals and resources can determine the best course of action for your company.

Myth: Sites must be constantly resubmitted to retain rankings.

Fact: This is a scare tactic popularized by various submission services and software companies. In fact, it is a waste of money to pay to have your site resubmitted once it is already listed in an engine’s database. It will not hurt your rankings to constantly submit (or else people would submit their competitor’s sites to get them penalized), but it will not help, either.

Myth: Search engine optimization is not as effective as “traditional” marketing.

Fact: In many ways, it is more effective. Companies often spend countless dollars on direct mail, television and radio advertising, and bulk email without a second thought. The common thread with each of these strategies is that the prospect is “approached” by the company, and that the company must reach a great number of people to find a few motivated prospects. On the other hand, search engines can deliver highly motivated prospects directly to your website- people who have already demonstrated, through their use of particular keyphrases, an interest in your products or services.

WARNING: Your site CAN be penalized by Google if you allow other websites to purchase links on your site and you do not employ the use of “nofollow” tags.  Google has been penalizing website PR levels, and you can read all about it on my blog when it happened right on Pixel2life.com.

Seven Ways to Get Your Website Crawled

1. It’s better to have one main website with numerous domains pointing to the main domain, than to have mini-sites or multiple sites with similar content. Mini-sites and multiple sites with similar content do not increase search engine listings and are frequently viewed by search engines as SPAM.

2. If you do have several stand-alone websites, make sure each serves a different target audience and has unique content with different domain or sub-domain URLs.

3. Search engines need to be able to follow internal links. To make that happen, use tags, text links, image links, and CSS menus. Spiders have difficulty with JavaScript menus, pop-up windows, drop-down menus, and flash navigation.

4. Choose keyword phrases that are most relevant and specific to what your web page is about. Think from the perspective of someone searching for what you are offering on your site. Ask, as if you were they: What would I search for if I am looking for something on your page?

5. Validate your keyword phrases through either paid or free services, such as Keyword Discovery, Wordtracker, or Google AdWords.

6. Check for keyword competitiveness. Take into consideration the size of your business. In this case, size does matter. If you are a major player with a major brand, you can play in a larger competitive pond than a smaller company just starting out. Know what size pond is right for you, and check for competitiveness by putting: allintitle: “keyword phrase” in your browser and check the number count.

7. Once you have your keyword phrases validated and checked for competitiveness, use them in anchor texts, clickable image alt tags, headlines, body text copy, title tags, and meta descriptions. Meta tags aren’t all that important for crawling.
SEO can be both intimidating and exhilarating. Intimidating because it seems as if just about everyone has an opinion on what it takes to get a high ranking in Google, so it’s hard to know what to believe. Exhilarating because, once you understand the method behind the madness of SEO, you see the art and science of it. Then it becomes fun and easy to come up with a strategic plan about where to place keyword phrases, how to write copy, and what size pond is best for your company to compete in. Optimize your website, and they will come.

About The Author

Dr. Susan L. Reid is a business coach and consultant for entrepreneurial women starting up businesses. She is the Award-winning author of Discovering Your Inner Samurai: The Entrepreneurial Woman’s Journey to Business Success. Susan provides intuitive small business solutions, powerful attraction marketing tools, inspiration, and direction. Visit SuccessfulSmallBizOwners.com and download your copy of her latest free business success article.

Hope you enjoyed!
Dan

Selling Your Site – Learn how to sell your website and not get ripped off!

Introduction:

Selling website and domain property is big business, and just like any popular money making venture, the field is full of players that range from first time novice sellers, to the advanced, multi-million dollar sale companies that control thousands of domains and websites.  Unfortunately there is also no shortage of con artists and thieves out there looking to prey on inexperienced website sellers.  There is usually very little that can be done once a website and domain’s control has been handed over to the new owner, and one could spend thousands of dollars trying to regain control.

To top it off, there are hundreds of large sites that make website buying and selling a breeze, but at the same time, quite faceless with a high risk of fraud and basic annoyances that comes with selling anything online.  As someone that has sold websites and other goods online in bid style sales, I have quite a bit of experience in covering your butt and making sure that your sales are as secure and safe as possible.  You may lose out on some sales with these tips, but it’s damn sure better to be cautious than to get caught with your butt in the breeze!  So in this tutorial, I am going to share with you tips and tricks to ensure your site sale is secure, safe and you will also know how much to charge and who should pay what!

Where Can I Sell My Site?

There are site selling and auction sites all over the web that allow you to sell your site yourself, or you can search online for companies that specialize in site sale brokerage in the same way a real estate company will sell your home.  Having a company sell your site is definitely easier and very secure, but you will be paying a large portion of your final sale price to the sales representative, and it will be difficult for you to control the sale.  Selling a site yourself is really not all that scary.  The key is to be confident and very specific in your sale terms.  If you’re obviously a newcomer to site selling, then the blood suckers of the industry will take advantage of that.

A few places where you can sell your site yourself:

You can also use Google to look up site auction sites, site sale brokers etc.  The market is massive and you’ll find many sites that offer these types of services.  Personally, I’ve used Sitepoint and eBay in the past for making sales, but the concepts I will show you apply to any site, and many of these rules will apply to selling more than just websites online.

How Much Do I Ask For?

The asking price for your site is determined mainly by the revenue of your site, and get ready, because you have to prove your earnings.

Warning: Do not ever talk about your predictions or potential.  No one is interested in what your “potential” is, they want to know what the site does now.  Mentioning what the site “could do” or what “potential” it has is quite frankly laughed at by the general site buyers market.

The basic formula for your asking price is 1 year’s revenue based on the average of your last 3 complete months.  Here’s a breakdown of the math:

Let’s pretend I am selling a site today (March 20th) on Sitepoint.  First thing I need to do is look up my gross revenue for December, January and February.  Let’s look at the numbers:

In December I made $250.00
In January I made $300.00
In February I made $275.00

So our monthly average is (250 + 300 + 275) / 3 = $275.00

We now take our monthly average and multiply it by 12 to give us a 1 year figure of $3300.00.

Now we have our ballpark figure: Our reasonable asking price is $3300.00 for this site.

If this is an auction style site, you will probably have to specific a starting price and/or a reserve price  and/or a BIN.  Let’s look at what these terms mean and how they affect the auction:

Starting Price:

This is the starting price of your auction.  All bids will be added to this starting amount.  Beware though, if there is no reserve price and only 1 person bids on your auction, this means that the person will win your auction for that starting amount.  If there is no reserve, it’s a good idea to make your starting price the lowest price you’re wiling to accept for the site.  In the case of my site of $3300.00, my starting price would be around $2500.

Reserve Price:

The reserve price is the lowest acceptable bid price you will accept as a winning bid.  If your auction system allows the use of a reserve bid, this is how it works:  You create an auction and specify a low starting price to attract people to a great deal.  People start to bid, but until the bid price reaches your reserve price, the bids will not win the auction.

Let’s look at some examples with our site worth $3300.00:

Auction Example 1:

Starting Price is set to $2000.00
Reserve Price is set to $2500.00
Auction ends with 1 bid at $2000

This means that even if someone bids on your site at $2000.00 and the auction ends without the bids meeting or going higher than $2500.00, the person who bid the $2000.00 does not win the auction.  You basically would have to re-list your auction if your reserve is not met.

Auction Example 2:

Starting Price is set to $2000.00
Reserve Price is set to $2500.00
Auction ends with 5 bids at $2600

The final bid amount is now past your $2500.00 reserve, so this means the highest bidder has won your auction, and the payment and owner transition phase is set to begin.

Now the question comes up, should you specify a Reserve Price?  As someone who also buys sites as well as sells, I can honestly say that reserve price auctions are annoying and not very effective.  Personally, I would prefer that sellers simple set their Starting Price at the lowest amount they are willing to sell the site for, instead of trying to bait people with low starting amounts and setting reserve prices.  So, if I were setting up this auction and I had the option of setting a reserve (you usually do not HAVE to specify a reserve price… if you do, make it the same as your starting price), this is what I would do:

Auction Example 3:
Starting Price is set to $2500.00
Reserve Price is set to NONE or if required, I would use $2500.00
So at this point, just 1 person needs to bid at the minimum $2500 and it’s sold!

BIN:

BIN stands for Buy It Now, and this is very handy to have on your auctions.  The BIN price is the price you are willing to accept to end the auction immediately with no further bid process.  The person who first buys your auction at the BIN price wins.  Let’s look at an example of how I would set up my BIN:

Auction Example 4:

Starting Price is set to $2500.00
Reserve Price is set to NONE or if required, I would use $2500.00
BIN is set to $4500

So now if someone comes in and accepts my BIN price of $4500 in the middle of the auction, the auction is immediately ended and the buyer who used BIN has won the auction.

What about bid increments?

Some auction sites will ask you to enter bid increments.  This means the site is asking how much more each bid ads on to the price.  So if you set the bid increment to $50, this means that every time someone bids 1 time, it will add $50 to the bid amount.  I generally like to use bid increments in the $50 – $100 range when it’s applicable.  If your yearly value for your site is very small, such as less than $1000, you may want to go to $25 or so.

How Long Should I Run the Auction/Sale?

If you are running a timed auction, you want to run at least 7 to 10 days so that you know it’s been seen by a decent amount of traffic.  Some sites don’t have a time limit issue, so this is usually not a big problem.

Pro Tip: Make sure you edit your post when the site is sold so other people don’t bother trying to contact you with bids or questions on your auction or sale.

What information should I have in my sale?

Now we get in to the critical portion of this tutorial, and that is ensuring you give the appropriate information and terms of your auction.  By having a detailed and complete sales write-up, you will help avoid last minute surprises, buyers trying to control your sale and getting ripped off and having a bad sales experience in general.

Your auction should contain all of the following information:

  • Website Domain link so they can visit your live site
  • How long you have been running the site and how long the domain has been registered, how long it is registered until, and where you have it registered.
  • The site’s REAL Google Page Rank and Alexa Rating.  You can also provide additional search engine related information such as how many crawled pages you have with Google, backlinks etc.  The more information you can provide, the better.  You can find a nice handy tool at paegrank (not a typo) that quickly shows you your Google PR and Alexa ratings with one click and a bunch of other handy stats.
  • A detailed overview of what your site is about and the target market and audience your site addresses.
  • A realistic breakdown of how much maintenance the site needs.  This would include what kind of content you need to add, how many hours you spend on the site content etc.
  • The total cost of ownership… this means how much it costs to run the site and should include any equipment/server costs, hosting, licensing, employees etc.  This is usually a total monthly cost average.
  • How much you spend on advertising if you advertise.  You don’t have to say WHERE you advertise (no sense giving out trade secrets) but the buy will want to know if you’re paying for some of your traffic.
  • Your site traffic.  You will be expected to provide screenshots of your traffic, usually a couple months worth.  Don’t just type it out, you will be required to provide real screenshots from your reporting software, such as AWSTATS or Mint.  If you don’t have a stats program on your server, download your logs and process the raw logs through a traffic log analyzer and generate yourself some stats.  You can download free analyzers from Tucows, Download.com etc.
  • You site income.  It is extremely important that you provide your site earnings for the last few months whenever possible, and you will need to post proof.  In the case of AdSense or other network ad sales, you will be expected to post screenshots of your adsense interface showing your earnings.  Make sure you sensor out information that is not permitted to be shared according to the TOS of your ad provider.  With AdSense, you can sensor everything except the the total earnings, CTR, Impressions and Clicks.  Just check the TOS to be sure.  If you are doing direct sales and payments are via paypal, show screenshots of your Paypal payments.  Either way, you need screenshots to prove everything, and it is VERY important that you do not fudge your numbers or you will get caught with your pants down.
  • Outline your payment terms.  Let me be very clear on this folks, because this is one of the most important things in this tutorial.  BE CLEAR AND FIRM with your terms and do not back down on them for any reason.  As soon as you get a buyer that is trying to get you to bend on your terms, you should be very suspicious this guy is out to rip you off.  I will discuss payment terms in greater detail after this list.

WARNING: DO NOT lie, fudge or edit your sales numbers and screenshots!  If your numbers don’t ad up in any way, you will get caught for fraud and face potential legal action.  Disclose your earnings in an honest manner or simply don’t sell.

What kind of terms should I ask for?

It is absolutely critical that you set out the terms of your sale right from the get go, and you should refuse to deviate from those terms in any way.  When someone questions your terms, simply answer that they should not bid if they are unable to comply with your terms.  Don’t be rude, but be firm.

The first item in your list of terms is when payment should be made.  I reasonable limit is 5 days from when the auction ends.  So you would write it out something along these lines:

“Payment expected within 5 days after the end of the auction.  If payment is not received after 5 days, auction will be re-listed and winning bidder will be banned from any additional auctions and reported.”

By the way, you might be wondering what happens first… do you hand over the goods first, then they pay, or is it vice versa?  Let’s be clear here…  THEY PAY IN FULL and you VERIFY THE FUNDS before you do anything in the way of handing control over to the new party.  I also HIGHLY recommend you accept electronic payment types to protect yourself from fraud.  Ideally, you want to accept PayPal or some other form of electronic processing, or for larger values, direct wire.  For $1000, I wouldn’t bother with someone trying to do a wire, I’d be worried about giving out my banking information for such a small amount.  If you want my opinion, I wouldn’t go with wire for anything less than $10,000, and if you do go with wire, have their banking representative contact you directly for your institution information.

So now we’ll add this new stipulation to our terms:

“Payment via Paypal ONLY!  I will not accept money orders, checks or requests for direct wire.”

You’ll also notice that I said you need to VERIFY the funds.  I will give you a real life example of what happened to a friend of mine that sold his site to someone who paid via PayPal.  My friend sold his site on Sitepoint for something along the lines of $5000.00 and the winning bidder made payment immediately.  My friend then proceeded to transfer the domain and all files/accounts to the winning bidder.  It was all taken care of within 24 hours, everyone was happy.

3 days later, PayPal puts a hold on his account because the winning bidder paid with a COMPROMISED account!  This means the guy that won the auction used a hacked PayPal account to make payment, but by the time PayPal and my friend found out, it was too late.  he had already transferred everything to the new owner, and once you transfer the domain, good luck getting it back.  At this point, my friend had no choice but to enter the EXTREMELY huge pain the ass domain of legal proceedings.

We obviously want to avoid this, so you need to verify the funds first.  One of the easiest ways of doing this is to ensure that the email the winning bidder has been using to contact you is the same as the email associated to the PayPal account that made payment.  If it’s not (the payment receipt you receive in Paypal tells you the email), send that email address an email asking to confirm that they made this payment intentionally.  This is usually enough to ensure the payment was valid and you won’t get bit in the ass my a con artist.  If you’re still not sure, call PayPal or the merchant processor you used and tell them you have a high payment pending and that you want to make sure it is legit.

The next part is to protect yourself from bidders that want payment terms, such as “Can I pay in 30 days” or “Can I pay half now and half in 3 months?  I don’t have enough money right now.”.  Trust me folks, you don’t want to TOUCH this kind of thing.  So now add this to your terms:

“Payment in full is required.  Please do not ask for payment terms, split payments or any other payment methods.  I need full payment right away.”

And finally, make sure you specify that this isn’t a try before you buy:

“Please note that all sales are final.  I personally guarantee that all sales and traffic history are accurate, and should any of this information show to be proven false, I will provide a full refund to the buyer.”

Now you see why it’s so critical to make sure you are honest with your site performance and earnings.  Don’t forget, there are a lot of cons SELLING websites too, so buyers know a lot of the tricks and will sniff out any dishonesty in your listing.

So let’s look at a complete set of sales terms:

“Terms of this sale:

Payment expected within 5 days after the end of the auction.  If payment is not received after 5 days, auction will be re-listed and winning bidder will be banned from any additional auctions and reported.

Payment via Paypal ONLY!  I will not accept money orders, checks or requests for direct wire.  Payment in full is required.  Please do not ask for payment terms, split payments or any other payment methods.  I need full payment right away.

Please note that all sales are final.  I personally guarantee that all sales and traffic history are accurate, and should any of this information show to be proven false, I will provide a full refund to the buyer.”

What about the hosting?

You need to specify if you are selling the hosting of if the buyer is expected to provide their own hosting.  If you are selling the site AND the account on which it’s hosted, make completely sure they have taken over the billing of the hosting.  Get a letter from the host saying you are no longer responsible for the hosting and keep that email on file in case you are charged the following month and you have to do a chargeback.

What is Escrow?

You may get a request or see other auctions mentioning the use of Escrow services.  An Escrow service is a neutral party that “holds” the money until both parties are satisfied that the deal is complete.  Here’s how it works:

  1. The buyer or seller requests the use of an Escrow and both parties agree to use it.
  2. The buyer makes payment to the escrow service provider
  3. Escrow confirms payment to seller
  4. Seller transfers site package to buyer
  5. Buyer confirms to escrow the deal is done
  6. Escrow releases funds to buyer

In my opinion, the use of escrow for anything less than $10,000 is pretty much a waste of time, and I would definitely refuse to waste my time with escrow for anything less than $5000.  As a general rule of thumb, the buyer will normally request the use of escrow and paysthe fees of using the escrow service.  Typically it is the seller who offers a list of acceptable escrow services and the buyer picks from that list.

If you need a list of escrow service providers, I recommend you search on Google for some top names in escrow services or check out Sitepoint.com for recommended escrow companies.  I personally have never used escrow, so I can’t honestly say who is good and who isn’t.  Just do your homework and you’ll find tons of escrow reviews and get some reputable providers that don’t cost a fortune.

Special circumstances when selling a website

I will be the first person to say that selling based on potential and perceived value is absolute nonsense, and anyone trying to justify an asking price higer than the 1 year rule is only fooling themselves.  BUT there are some exceptions to the rule that I would like to list here:

High Revenue Model:

If your site has been a consitent large dollar earning site for a year or more, you can justify a higher asking price.  If your site makes $800 – $1000 a day, your site is making around $300,000 a year.  Having a $500,000 – $1,000,000 asking price is fully justified.

Extended Reputation:

If your site has been actively earning consistent revenue for several years and your name is will established in your niche, you can add on to your price.

Extreme natural traffic:

If your site is an overnight success and has been experiencing extremely high volume natural traffic for the few months it has been open, you may be able to justify asking a higher price.

Brand new site:

If you are selling a site you just created and deployed, don’t expect a lot of money.  It doesn’t matter if you spent $5000 in development.  If it has no traffic and no revenue, no buyer will care how much it cost to make.  Your best bet is to run it for a couple of months and try and get some numbers on the site and try to get a Google PR level assigned.  Again, don’t try to sell potential, it won’t work and there’s a good chance someone will just call you on it.

Conclusion

It is important to follow some basic concepts in your sales in order to stay safe, be protected and experience relatively stress free selling:  Be detailed, be accurate, be professional and be firm.  There are some very pushy and arrogant people out there that will try to muscle in on your terms or aggressively question your stats and earnings.  Be polite and answer the questions to the best of your ability, but always stick to your guns.  Do you really want to close the deal on your beloved site with a complete jerk?

For those of you BUYING a site, simply reverse this guide and be sure that all of the information that I have told sellers to provide in their auctions and sales is present in whatever deal you are considering.  If a seller refuses to show you any of the information I have described, especially when it comes to disclosing any earnings or stats, or they get mad when you question numbers that seem innaccurate, I recommend running like the Bay City Rollers are on your tail looking to recite their entire LP collection using spoons and a galvanized 10 gallon pail. (Just to clarify, that means run VERY fast!)

Good luck in all your sales and use common sense in your dealings!
Dan