Breaking the myth about "turnkey" websites

I was in the middle of writing a completely different article and I decided to check the status on one of my eBay items and for some reason I just decided to search for domain names for sale. I’m always curious to see what kind of junk is being sold out there for ridiculous prices.

It was right then that I noticed a “turnkey” website for sale and I must say, I was quite impressed with the ad. I mean, this thing went on and one describing every single element to the site and how it worked, etc., etc. It was laid out so nicely that I almost got sucked right in. Why not? The price was only $81 with 2 hours to spare and according to the ad, if I had 5000 visitors to my site and a 15% CTR, I’d be making about $54,000 per year!

Say what?!!

What is a turnkey website?

The concept of a turnkey…anything is simply that of a website, business or some other operation that’s all ready to go. You just jump right in and keep it going. You can equate this to opening a McDonalds–you have a large corporation that essentially sells itself and all you need to do is manage the day-to-day. Sounds easy enough, right?

Well, it is and it isn’t as anyone who runs a business will tell you! The problem with turnkey websites is that a website can looking phenomenal online, have tons of content, videos, links and blog posts, but not be exactly what it claims. This is more true than ever before thanks to software like WordPress, Drupal and other CMS packages.

With this software, you can build a great looking site in literally 7 minutes (the 5-min WordPress install, plus 2 minutes to upload a theme).

Misleading ads

Like I mentioned above, this guy’s ad covered everything:

  • Professional design
  • Fully automated and maintenance free
  • Valuable domain name included
  • Established website
  • The site store updates by the minute
  • Profitable income streams from AdSense, Amazon and ClickBank

That last one is the one I really want to draw attention to. Whenever you tell someone that the thing they’re buying has “profitable income streams…” and you ad posts projected numbers without so much as saying these results are not typical, you’re misleading your customer.

In my opinion, you’re feeding off desperate people. Maybe the bad economy has hit some people really hard, so they’re out there trying to make some extra money. They come along and see this and get the impression that this site is already making money and because it’s “turnkey”, all they have to do is promote it a little bit and off they go!

The truth

This particular ad is nothing new. I’ve seen these pre-made sites for sale for many years. But if you were to calculate exactly what you’re getting, you may think twice about bidding. Let’s break it down:

  1. Professional design: Listen up folks…WordPress is FREE and there are THOUSANDS of free themes out there that can make your site look “professional”.
  2. Fully automated: How can anything be fully automated? Even running an autoblogger takes time to manage and maintain! The best part is in the very same ad, this guy tells you all you have to do to make this site work is to promote and advertise. So much for fully automated.
  3. Valuable domain: This of course falls within your own opinion. The domain in the ad I’m referring to is: Valuable? Not in my opinion.
  4. Established website: Doesn’t this imply that the website is already operational? Of course it’s online, but the way I take it is that it’s already doing what it claims to do: make money.
  5. The store updates by the minute: This is an easy task given that the store is nothing more than an Amazon store imported into your WordPress theme. Anyone who’s an Amazon Associate knows that this task is much too easy.
  6. Profitable income streams: This is a loaded statement because it doesn’t mean this site is actually profitable, but that it can be. But, this is so obvious it’s funny! Anything in theory can be profitable if promoted correctly. In fact, this portion of the turnkey site is by far, the hardest. If you run a website, you know how difficult it can be to get traffic.

Ok, so now that I got that all cleared up, lets total it up:

Domain name ($9.99) + WordPress software ($0) + Pro Theme ($0) + Amazon store ($0) = $9.99

This auction is worth about $10 and that’s even if you thought that domain name was worth the registration fee. Think about this before you get lured into purchasing a domain name with a turnkey website. Also, remember that you have to host the site somewhere, so you can figure about another $10 per month.

My two cents

If you think your winning bid is worth having all this set up for you, then by all means, purchase it, but don’t think you’re getting some established business. Always read the fine print and do some Google searching first. Look for keywords in the ad that might pinpoint how theses sites are created and see if you can create something yourself without having to spend a lot of money.

Lastly, if you’re really interested in purchasing an established website, you’ll want to check out They offer legitimate businesses for sale and they can prove their worth by showing you traffic results and income reports. Good luck in your business ventures!

Site Creation – Domain Name System (DNS)

Understanding the Domain Name System, or DNS is an important part of understanding web hosting as well as the Internet in general. Without it, we wouldn’t have domains and the Internet would not be what it is today. You may not have known it, but underneath the entire infrastructure, lies DNS.

What does it do?

In short, DNS takes domain names such as and translates them into an IP address like: Imagine if you had to remember how to find websites based on their IP address? Even if you did, imagine what would happen if that website changed its physical location, thereby changing the IP address? DNS was created to bypass these problems and allow for the creation of what I call aliases that are understandable to humans.

How does it work?

When you register a domain name, you’re placing a record in the domain registry that tells the Internet how to find your website. If someone types in, this is what happens:

  1. Your computer asks your ISP (Verizon, Time Warner, AOL, etc.) if it knows what and where is.
  2. If your ISP doesn’t know, it asks the Top Level Domain server. In this case it’s .com and of course .com knows that there is an entry for “ledfrog”.
  3. It returns the IP address of the server that Ledfrog is located on and tells your computer where to connect.
  4. Your web browser then connects to the IP address and you now see the website on your screen.

Of course, that’s a very basic look at the process because there are thousands of DNS servers out on the Internet that do search queries to help with the processing of domain names.

How does this apply to me?

Once you register your domain name, you need to point it the name servers of the web host you’ve chosen to host your site. As an example, the name servers for my site are: NS1.MEDIATEMPLE.NET and NS2.MEDIATEMPLE.NET because hosts my site. Those nameservers are responsible for telling the world that my website is located there and to display it to everyone who asks for it.

Another main advantage to DNS is the ability to change your web host at any time. Since the web host isn’t going anywhere, their IP addresses will never change. If your site moves, your nameservers change and therefore get updated with the new IP addresses. Because you have a registered domain name, there’s nothing more you have to do once you update your nameservers.

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Site Creation – Domain Registration

Today, domain names are everywhere and they aren’t always used for a company’s website such as or Domains are now registered to capitalize on all sorts of things like catch phrases, movie titles, personal names, marketing jargon and just about everything else. When it comes to registering your own domain, you’ll want to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What message will the domain convey to other people?
  • Does it make me sound professional?
  • Is it easy to remember?
  • Does it infringe on a registered trademark?
  • Does it have branding potential?

The most important question is: Is it available? There are millions and millions of domain names out there already, so finding one you like may be a larger process than you anticipated. However, there are plenty of after-market places to buy registered domain names for sale.

How do I decide what to get?

After answering the questions above, you should have a clearer path to finding the right domain. If this site is going to be your personal website, try using your name or nickname. If you’re using this domain as a business, obviously use your business name, or find something generic that relates to you business. As time goes on, more and more traffic will be coming to your site, so pick a domain that you won’t want to change a year from now. Your domain name is also part of building your brand name.

There are also lots of top level domains (TLDs) to choose from. You might know the top three: .com, .net and .org, but there are over 1600 TLDs worldwide! Each country has at least one like the United States (.US), Tuvalu (.TV), Montenegro (.ME), United Kingdom (.CO.UK) and Western Samoa (.WS). Picking your TLD can be a matter of geographical location, preference or necessity. Keep in mind that foreign domain extensions often cost more and might carry specific restrictions.

Where do I get a domain?

To search for an available domain name and register it, I recommend GoDaddy. I use them for all of my domain services and setting up an account is free. The best part is that, compared to others, they still offer the cheapest domains when you consider all the free services you get.

If the domain you want is already registered, you might be out of luck unless the owner is holding the domain for the “right price”. Yes, domains are sold as commodities these days and some can command millions of dollars. The best advice I can give in this situation is to contact the owner and see if they’re willing to sell. You can do this by finding out the registrant’s email address using

Alternatively, you can search after-market domains on sites such as,,,,, and just to name a few!


Use your best judgement when registering or buying a domain. When buying, know that there are a lot of scammers out there that will try to steal your money or make a domain seem worth more than it really is. When registering, make sure you’re not treading on someone’s trademark. This can lead to you not only losing the domain name, but also paying huge lawyer’s fees and fines.

A complete list of domain extensions can be found on Wikipedia.

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