As the digital market continues to grow and evolve, more people are investing in digital real estate. This investment doesn’t require significant funding upfront, nor does it pose the same massive risks as other markets.
If you’re thinking about tapping into this market, here’s what you need to know about digital real estate and how to get a share of it.
What is digital real estate?
Everyone’s familiar with real estate investment. It’s as simple as buying a house or land to rent or sell for profit. Digital real estate works the same way. Every domain name, every website and every blog you see online is internet property. They represent digital real estate you can buy and sell just like houses, apartments and lots.
In fact, there are people making a living buying and selling domain names and websites full time. Some domain names sell for millions of dollars, and websites often get acquired for lots of money as well. And yes, you can make money with digital real estate, too.
How to invest in digital real estate
One of the biggest reasons many people stay away from investing in websites is the belief that it requires advanced technical knowledge and web design experience to build and manage a website. But the opposite is true.
You don’t need any experience to set up a website and start investing in digital real estate. New technologies and free software platforms such as WordPress have made this process much easier for beginners. Today, you can set up a website with just one click.
There are two ways you can invest in digital real estate: You can either build a website of your own from scratch or buy an established website.
Each strategy comes with its own benefits and downsides. Building a website from scratch requires a small investment, but you have to put in a lot of work to make it successful, and it will take a long time before you can sell it for profit. If you decide to buy a website, it will cost you a lot of money, but since the site is already making a profit, you can get a return on your investment much sooner.
FYI: You don’t need experience in order to invest in digital real estate. Website platforms make it easy to set up and run a website within minutes.
Where to buy established websites
If you have enough funds to buy an established website, there are several marketplaces you can explore to find websites on sale.
Flippa is one of the most popular marketplaces where you can begin your search. This platform allows you to participate in website auctions and buy websites that are already making a profit. The website listings in the marketplace show you the exact amount of money the site generates every month and what type of monetization strategies it uses to generate revenue.
Keep in mind that when buying websites, you can’t always trust the listings. Do your own research to make sure your investment doesn’t go to waste. You can use a tool like SEMrush to analyze a website and check its SEO, backlinks, visitor count and other statistics before buying. You can also hire a website brokerage firm like FE International, which handles all that heavy work for you and helps you find the right website for your investment.
Bottom Line: When buying a website, do your own research to ensure your digital investment is worth it.
How to build your own website
Another way to invest in digital real estate is by building your own website. While this option means more upfront work to establish the website, you’ll also have full control over the domain and its content.
With over 800 responsive, industry-specific templates as well as customizable tools, Wix makes it easy to design a website regardless of experience level. Tech beginners can take advantage of the platforms’ easy setup wizard and drag-and-drop tools, while those with advanced technical skills can create custom coding through Wix’s Dev Mode.
Wix offers both free and paid plans; however, the free plan comes with advertisements. Paid plans are ad-free and range between $16 and $45 per month. The Unlimited, Pro and VIP plans include website analytics to help you understand how your page is performing.
If you’re looking for a professional to take the reins, Hibu may be the right fit for you. The full-service web design agency specializes in creating “smart” websites tailored to both search engines and targeted audiences. The company offers additional services to help you manage listings, online reviews, reputation and e-commerce sales.
Because Hibu is a service rather than software, costs depend on the project. You will need to set up a consultation with a Hibu representative, who can offer a custom price quote depending on your needs. However, as the company focuses on supporting small and midsize businesses, the services lean on the more affordable side.
Weebly’s intuitive interface and comprehensive features make it easy to build a website that meets your needs. The platform features 50+ website templates organized by categories as well as drag-and-drop design; it also has an HTML editor for custom coding. Additional features include analytics, e-commerce and marketing applications.
Weebly’s free and paid plans make it easy to scale as your business grows. Paid plans range from $6 per month billed annually ($9 month-to-month) to $26 per month billed annually ($29 month-to-month). All paid plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, as well as a free professional domain for one full year. If you downgrade or cancel your plan, you may also be eligible for a partial refund.
A mobile-friendly website is a significant advantage in today’s marketplace. Duda allows you to build a mobile-responsive site and edit it based on the access device. The platform is easy to use, with drag-and-drop elements as well as templates designed specifically to work on mobile. Multiple users can also collaborate on a single site, making it great for teams.
The Basic plan is $14 per month billed annually ($19 month-to-month), with the Team plan running $22 per month billed annually ($29 month-to-month) and the top-tier Agency plan costing $44 per month billed annually ($59 month-to-month). You can sign up for Duda with a 14-day free trial, which includes all the features of the Team plan.
Did you know? Website design software is a self-service tool that allows users to build their own websites. Web design services, on the other hand, are full-service companies that support website development, building and maintenance. These companies typically offer additional services, including SEO, branding and marketing.
How to profit from digital real estate
After buying or making your website, you need to create content on a consistent schedule to attract visitors to your website and generate traffic. Use Google’s Keyword Planner to brainstorm ideas for your blog using words that people are already searching for.
If you’re too busy to write blog posts and promote your website, hire freelancers to write content on your behalf. You can find freelancers from sites like Upwork at affordable prices. Once you’re generating enough traffic to your website, monetize that traffic to generate revenue from your website. Here are a few ways to make money from your web traffic.
- Advertising: Sell ad space on your website or use an ad network like AdSense to monetize website traffic. When people click on an ad, you earn money.
- Affiliate marketing: This involves promoting and selling products created by other businesses. Whenever someone buys a product through your affiliate link, you earn a commission off the sale.
- Selling products: You can also create and sell your own products, like e-books, online courses and software on your website.
- Sponsored content: Advertisers will often reach out to you to sponsor blog posts that promote their own brands and products. They will pay you to write about their products on your blog.
Eventually, you may start making a profitable income from your website. Then you can decide whether to sell it for a profit or to continue developing the site to use as an income stream. The choice is yours.
The good news is that you don’t have to open your checkbook or empty your bank account to invest in a website or a blog. The bad news is, unlike when you invest in stock or real estate, you can’t expect the value of your digital real estate to go up over time if you don’t do anything. You have to put in the work to make your website more successful and increase its value. Make sure you’re willing to put in the work before you invest if you want to see a financial return.
Additional reporting by Syed Balkhi.