It is reasonable to expect that you could get overcharged or scammed when buying websites. Although it is less likely, you can get tricked out of your money when you are a seller. The fact that you are a seller and not a buyer can give you a sense of security, which makes you vulnerable to unexpected circumstances.
The danger is lurking in many directions; from scammers who will get your website without paying you to uninterested buyers making you do additional investments and never buying your website in the end. It doesn’t matter if you are a buyer or seller the safest option to avoid these is to get help from professionals that specialize in the process of buying online businesses.
If for any reason you want to sell your website without help, you will have to be careful not to make a mistake that could cost you a lot of money. In this article, we will go over some of the greatest dangers you could run into when selling a website.
Selling your website through PayPal
If you have ever done some online shopping it is likely that you have used PayPal to do the transaction. PayPal is one of the safest services for online payments and online money transfers. As such it might seem like the best option for the transaction when selling your website.
The fact that PayPal is a trusted service is where the trap lies when selling websites. If a buyer offers to send you money through PayPal it is most likely that you will accept without giving it a second thought.
What you might not be aware of is that PayPal doesn’t cover digital items or services in their seller protection policy. This lack of protection paves the road for shady buyers to trick you out of your website.
The trick a scammer can use here is to make you a payment via PayPal and ask that you transfer domain, and all websites data and files to them. Once the transfer is finished they can claim that they never received the goods. As digital items are not covered in seller protection policy it is more likely that PayPal will rule the dispute in favor of the buyer and return the money to them.
The only way to completely protect yourself is to use a service that covers digital items in their protection policy. If you still insist on using PayPal there is a way to mitigate the possible damage by putting the files and data on the USB and sending it physically to the buyer. That way the goods will be counted as physical goods and the only digital item they will be able to trick you out off is the domain.
Selling intellectual property you didn’t want to sell
Let’s say you’re running a business consisting of several brands. You have a website for each and you decide to sell one of the brands. However, you are using the logo of your company and some other intellectual property important for all of the brands on each of your websites.
A buyer could offer you a tricky contract that will transfer all intellectual property that is on the website to them. If this happens you could lose rights to use some of the intellectual property necessary for the successful operation and reach of your other brands. It is important that each asset you are transferring is clearly stated in the contract, and that there is no room for misinterpretation of the contract.
If you are not an expert in reading contracts the only way to avoid this is to get someone who is to read the contract and/or complete the transaction for you. If you are not confident in your legal knowledge always hire a lawyer and you should be safe from tricks like this.
Spending the money and not selling the website
This one doesn’t require a shady buyer, just a buyer that doesn’t have a real interest in your website. A potential buyer could show initial interest in buying your website without being completely satisfied with it. Then they could negotiate that you change the website and put in additional work into pimping it up to their liking.
In this situation, a potential buyer will probably offer you more money for the website if you redesign it and this might seem like a lucrative deal for you. There is nothing wrong with this way of thinking and you should consider accepting it, but what happens if you redesign the website and never hear from the buyer afterward?
This can lead to you losing money and/or time without closing the deal and successfully selling your website. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make deals like this one, it just means you should be careful when you make them. Always sign the contract with the potential buyer before you start making changes to the website. If the contract is written correctly, once you make the changes the two of you agreed on buyer will be obliged to pay for the website. Again, if you don’t know how to write such a contract, hire a professional that does.
These were the most common dangers you could run into when selling your website. If you are interested in buying websites or just want to learn more about both buying and selling you should consider listening to this podcast with Ken Roberts. It is focused on helping people who are buying websites, but lots of the information he shares in the podcast is useful to sellers as well.
Don’t forget that false sense of security is the greatest danger in any business deal. The fact that buyers are usually in a more vulnerable position in transactions involving digital goods can be exploited and turned around. Don’t trust anyone before having a clear contract with them, get professional help when you don’t know how to do something and always read the terms of service from any online money transfer service you use. If you follow all these steps you should be safe when selling your website.