I sold a web business for the first time! I'm going to go over all the steps in this process from the idea to selling it. Hopefully you can learn from this. I'm not mentioning a figure by the way - it wasn't life-changing but it was a good pay day for the work I put in.
I had made Remote Companies originally with the intention of getting companies to pay to have their profile added to a directory along with their various perks e.g. maternity leave. My favourite ever Indie Hackers episode is the Lynne Tye interview where she talks about her website Key Values, which shows the best companies to work for based on their culture.
My idea was to niche down a bit further and focus on remote companies. Now I've seen Google Sheets of 10,000 remote companies. So there's clearly a huge number of potential customers. My plan was to build a profile for them and charge a big sum annually. For what it's worth, I had a couple of meetings and a nice lady told me to ask for $3,000 minimum.
I started working on it in December 2020 and spent a few months toiling away in Django. Eventually though I hit the problem of deployment and I just could not get it online - frustrating! So I made it in Webflow in a few days. In hindsight I should have made it in an afternoon in Sheet2Site.
I had done a soft-launch in January 2021 as the site was taking a long time to finish and I knew I needed some action. So I started sending out the newsletter and I got some traction early on with that. I'm bullish on building newsletters offering jobs. People will always sign up to another newsletter if they are job-hunting. It's a very easy thing to get someone to sign up to.
However, even after I finished the site on Webflow and published it, I never did a proper launch on Product Hunt. I can't say why but I think by taking a long time to build it, I had lost interest in the process.
Also, by this point I had about 5 projects on the go and it was hard to dedicate enough time to Remote Companies.
Why I sold the website
I had a great call recently with Thomas Evans, the co-founder and Head of Growth at EmailOctopus. He made the point that I already had a compelling product with traction, No CS Degree, and that I should just focus on that and experiment more with it's monetization. (You can book a mentorship call for free with Thomas here)
The portfolio of tiny bets is all the rage right now but I think as well it can also lead to tiny results. It's fair enough in the early days when you are looking for ideas but once you have something with traction, IMO, focus on that. Certainly 1 or 2 things is fine but trying to work on 5-6 things like me is just pretty fruitless.
So I decided to sell the website.
How I sold the website
I put out some messages on Twitter and Telegram groups and got a couple of DMs but they never went anywhere. I tried to list on MicroAcquire but they said it was too low quality basically which I disagreed with but hey, ho. I also posted in the Indie LDN Slack group and there I got a serious DM from a London founder. He made a really great offer. I said I'd think about it LOL.
After 2 weeks I came back to him. We negotiated the price down quite a bit as he had misread my revenue figures. But still I felt like it was a good deal:
- He gets a website already made which he can tweak to his liking, plus a social media account and an email list/Mailchimp account.
- I get money I can re-invest in other things like hiring or running adverts.
We didn't use a broker so basically we had a Zoom call and I signed him into the social media accounts and showed him the Webflow page I would transfer him. He paid the money into my bank and then I completed the transfer of Webflow and the domain. It all went very smoothly!
I would say I'm sure the deal was made a lot easier by the fact we're both in the UK and we knew mutual people so there was some trust built in already. Doing a deal with a total stranger would have been harder.
I do admit it felt a little emotional on the day I sold it. I had given up on a possible idea and there's always that feeling "oh, maybe I should have worked on it more". But that passed quickly.
I think it's a lot better to focus on No CS Degree, which has a lot of traction already than always starting a new thing. Another thing Thomas Evans discussed was that a lot of founders start new things to chase the dopamine rush of the next shiny object. The reality of entrepreneurship is less sexy - you just keep on working on the same thing every day, making it a little better each time.
I'm definitely glad I sold it and every so often I'll think "oh yeah, I got money in my bank from something I made!"
It's a nice feeling.
Re-invest money to make more money
My immediate idea for what to do with the money was to have a big splurge and take a holiday. Although that would be fun, I realised after reading Nathan Barry's famous Ladders of Wealth essay that I should re-invest it instead.
Nathan is the founder of ConvertKit which makes millions if you didn't know so he know what's he talking about when it comes to wealth. He talks about an Uber driver he met who uses his extra cash from driving to buy drones etc. Which is fun! But is not a great way to build wealth.
So my plan is to hire some freelancers to help with some of the repetitive work I currently do with No CS Degree which will free up time for me to focus on high-value tasks like sales. I'll use some of my cash for something fun like music production stuff but I'll get this second-hand and it will be less than 10% of what I made from the website sale. I think that's a better balance so I can have some of the money for totally fun stuff but re-invest most of it.