Without a doubt – when you’re selling a website, security is one of the most important issues you’ll face. Not only do you need to be sure that the buyer is transferring you the appropriate funds, but the buyer wants reassurance that you’ll actually deliver the goods.
There are risks to using other payment methods for both buyer and seller. For you, the seller, the risks are much higher. For example, with PayPal, a buyer could open a dispute or use a fraudulent credit card.
With credit card transactions, they could initiate a chargeback or use a fraudulent card. Either way, they end up with the goods, and you end up without your money.
An Escrow service is the best way to handle transactions like this. The buyer puts the funds in escrow, assuring you that the money is there. You send them the goods.
For them to receive rights to own and use the goods (i.e. the website and/or domain, in this case), they need to release the funds to you. If you don’t get paid, they don’t get their goods – and if you don’t send the goods, you don’t get paid.
Escrow.com is by far the most popular name in online escrow services. If you’ve never used them before, it can be intimidating to figure out – so here is a step by step guide to using Escrow.com to sell a website.
Step 1: Create an Account
To create your account, go to Escrow.com and click “Register” in the upper left hand corner (just as in the image.)
A form will come up, requesting your name, email address, physical address, and phone number. Only the bolded fields are required!
Fill in all of the details, and click “Continue” at the bottom of your screen.
Make sure you double check your name!
** The name you register with is the name that all Escrow.com proceeds will be issued to, so if there is even the smallest typo, you won’t be able to receive your money!
Once you have double checked your information, click “Confirm” at the bottom of the page.
**An automatic email will now be sent to the address you specified, asking you to confirm your email. You don’t have to do this right away, but when you check your email next, be sure to click the confirmation link for your account.
Step 2: Start a New Transaction
You’ll be taken to a screen that looks like the one to your right. Click “Start a New Transaction”, and you’ll be taken to a similar looking page that will ask you what type of transaction you’d like to start.
If you’re simply selling a domain name, click “Domain Name”.
However, if you’re selling a full website with content, you must click “Services”.
Step 3: Enter the Transaction Details
A new screen will come up, called “New Services Transaction: Step 1 of 3”. This is the beginning of setting up your transaction.
The only required information is the Transaction Title and the email address of the other party (boxes one and two) – the other are optional.
It does make the process easier if you fill out all of the information, though.
** Make sure you read the “tips” on the right side of the form! They will tell you what each form box is, why you should fill it out, and what it will do!
Click “Continue” to move on to Step 2 of 3, which details each Item, Phase or Milestone of the transaction.
This is important!
If you’re delivering both a domain name and website content to the seller, you want these to be individual stages of the transaction. The payment in escrow will be released on phases, for each stage of the transaction. You have to set a dollar amount to be released with each item. Here is a sample of what a website with a domain name would look like :
Note that the item price for the domain name (www.sampledomain.com) and the website content are set at $1.00 each. That means that the buyer will release $1 of the total price when they receive each item.
You can add as many items as you’d like, including images, web hosting, SEO services, or other extras. Use the “Add Additional Item/Phase/Milestone” button in the bottom right corner to add more items to your escrow transaction.
When you’ve finished setting up the details, click “Continue”.
Review all of the details of your transaction, including the fees (by the red arrow):
When you’re happy with the details, and have reviewed the agreement and Escrow Instructions at the bottom of the page, click “Agree”.
Step 4: Choose How You Will Be Paid, and Send The Info to The Buyer
You can be paid via Wire Transfer, Paper Check (delivered by mail), or Paper Check (delivered overnight). The wire transfer and overnight check options have additional fees involved, so if you choose one of those, make sure to calculate them into your profit! Paper Check delivered by US Mail is free.
Choose your option, and the buyer will be sent an email asking them to agree to the terms of this transaction.
They will follow the steps that Escrow.com gives them, including securing the funds inside their Escrow account by wire transfer (or PayPal/Credit Card, if both parties are within the US and the transaction meets certain other criteria.)
Step 5: Send the Domain and Website Content
Once you receive confirmation that the funds are in escrow, you can send the buyer all of the website content and begin the domain transfer. Once they receive the content, they’ll have a chance to review everything and make sure that you’ve sent everything they’ve paid for. Then, they release the funds.
Escrow.com pays you, after subtracting the escrow fees. The buyer takes all of their goods.
Congratulations, you just completed your first Escrow.com transaction!
Everyone is safe, happy, secure, and the transaction went off without a hitch! Now you can continue to use your Escrow account for future transactions. Simply login at Escrow.com, and click the “Start a New Transaction” button. Then follow steps 2-5 above!