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Buying and Selling Blogs with Strong Personal Brands

This guest post is by Andrew Knibbe of Flippa.

The responses to my last post raised the crucial issue of selling a blog that’s built around a strong personal brand.

Mark Wolfinger wrote, “When I write a blog, it’s my passion that the readers see. It’s my writing style and knowledge. Buy an existing blog and the blog’s voice changes immediately. How can you keep loyal readers who loved the previous voice?”

This is of course a key consideration in buying or selling a personally branded blog. It’s true that the strength of some personal brands may make a blog unsaleable, but that doesn’t need to be the case.

The blog as a business

In response to Mark’s comment, the Blog Tyrant pointed out, “Mark you read ProBlogger and hardly any of the posts are by Darren nowadays.”

This reminds me of that old saying that if you want to have a saleable business, you have to be able to step back at some point and work on it, rather than in it.

This seems to be the approach that Darren has taken with ProBlogger. He’s spent years building a strong personal brand, and building a blog that revolves around that. By establishing ProBlogger as a leading light in the niche, he’s able to attract some of the best bloggers and source high-quality content for the site, and that’s let him step back from the blog to work on aspects like product development.

We can guess that he’s now spending time he used to spend writing blog posts preparing courses, writing ebooks, and coming up with new concepts.

But the things that make ProBlogger what it is remain here, even if Darren’s time and presence on the blog has decreased from what it was when he started all those years ago. There’s a large and loyal community, a strong brand, an enormous, high-quality content inventory, and  a raft of happy advertisers, affiliates, and so on. So if ProBlogger was for sale, you can see that it would have a lot to offer a potential buyer.

Getting personal

What if this site was called DarrenRowse.net, rather than ProBlogger.net? Sure, that might reduce the overall sale price of the site, but it certainly wouldn’t make it unsaleable. As a potential buyer, you might choose to move it to a new domain, but if you were smart, and Darren was a caring seller, you’d probably negotiate a handover arrangement whereby you as the new site owner could be introduced to the ProBlogger readers and community.

Before you agreed to buy the site, you’d probably assess the alternative domains you could use, and you might buy one—possibly one like, say, ProBlogger, which talks about the niche more than a personality—as you bought the site. Perhaps you’d also secure Twitter and Facebook accounts with the same brand, or negotiate with the owner to transfer the existing account’s ownership with the blog.

During the handover period, you might undertake a gradual rebranding of the site and announce to users that its location was changing. Rather than switching off DarrenRowse.net the day your turned on the ProBlogger domain, you might have the two running in tandem, with a redirect attached to the personal domain, for a while.

Buying (or selling) an existing blog isn’t like buying a used car: it doesn’t need to be a take-it-or-leave-it situation. As the buyer, you can request any assistance you need to transfer the blog safely to your ownership, complete with its full complement of readers. If the seller cares about the community he or she has built up, they’ll hopefully be pretty happy to negotiate this kind of thing among the terms of the sale.

Finding opportunities on a personal blog

Another response to Mark’s comment on the article came from Alex, who wrote, “buying a blog which already has a small reader base and some articles can save you quite a bit of time, otherwise you’d need to “get the ball rolling” yourself, which is the hardest part of blogging, IMO.”

Mark replied, “It’s funny. I find writing to be the very easy part. And I have a decent number of readers (24,000 monthly unique). It’s the monetizing that’s difficult for me.”

These comments really show the variation that exists in the blog trading space—people buy and sell blogs for all sorts of reasons, and a blog that has real potential for one buyer will hold little appeal for another.

Take Mark’s comment, for example. It sounds like he’s built up a great content inventory, and a loyal, committed readership—but he has difficulty monetizing blogs. Alex says he finds the initial stages of starting a blog the biggest challenge, but perhaps he’s the type to easily spot monetization opportunities and do something about them. The fact that Mark’s been unable to monetize his blog presents an opportunity: if he wanted to, he might sell the blog to someone like Alex, who had monetization skills. After all, strong community and great content are valuable assets.

Mark comments that his unique style and personality are what readers come to his blog for. That’s great, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that, if he wanted to sell the blog, he couldn’t.

Firstly, he’d be choosy about the buyers he considered, looking for someone who knew his site and understood what it was about—he might well find that among the interested buyers were some of his site’s current users. He’d look for a potential buyer who had an appealing writing style that he felt would really engage his readers. Perhaps he’d invite them to write some guest posts so that he could see how his readers responded to the potential buyer, and to help that person build a profile among the readership in advance.

If the sale went ahead, he’d make a personal announcement to his readers, perhaps via email to subscribers as well as in a post on the blog itself. He might also recommend a handover period to help the transition go smoothly, and keep readers as loyal to the blog—and the new owner—as possible.

Personal brands can add an extra dimension to the buying and selling of blogs, but they don’t have to be a problem. A buyer might be able to find a personally branded blog that doesn’t have a strong personal style (we’ve all seen them online)—another opportunity for the astute buyer who knows what they have to offer.

Have you ever though about buying or selling a blog with a personal brand? What other concerns would you have about the process?

Andrew Knibbe is the Marketing Manager at Flippa, the #1 marketplace for buying and selling websites. He blogs at the Flippa blog. Follow him @flippa.

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Comments

  1. Darren business approach is a total inspiration.
    Going personal is probably the most honest way and people always appreciate honesty!

    Great post
    cheers

  2. I’ve sold my blog before (and have now moved on to online entreprenuership). I think I’ve banked on my strong personal brand since my blog’s voice really is distinctly mine. That’s where I only realized the problem after handling it to a company that manages tons of blogs. They used the “we” instead of the “I” and I’ve seen lots of my subscribers flee because that’s just not what my blog has been about.

    The moral of my story is more of knowing that the potential buyer can handle (or surpass) your own voice as to not alienate your loyal readers.

  3. Darren’s business approach is a total inspiration.
    Going personal is probably the most honest way and people always appreciate honesty!

    Great post
    cheers

  4. My personal blog potpolitics.com was originally to write about all the Joys of Marijuana but I found smoking it much more fun then writing about it, then I went on a blogger mission as the smoke cleared and wrote about social media for like 2 years, now I was offered to sell it to a company that sells weed seeds and crap like that and refused the offer although I should of took it/
    The Point is I like Flippa and do scope out blogs for sale and have some for sale.
    I have seen some HOT BLOGS sold then the owner failed
    you have to choose if it is worth it
    if I could get a site that had VERIFIED income of 300+ a month for 3000 I would do it all day long
    verification is often a problem
    I look forward to learning more and check Flippa on a regular Thanks
    Stumbled
    I would say this site would sell for Over 1 million :)

  5. Interesting post from Andrew Knibbe, this has certainly open up my perception about buying blog via Flippa.com.

    I doubt blogger will find it easy to sell personal brand that they build for year, well its a lucky deal if a buyer spotted a gem like probloger.

    Cheers ,Nice blog

  6. Facemot says:

    like my name is already used as a brand of a website, but the website is not mine

  7. Thanks Andrew for a great post.
    I also think personal branding can brings more earning while a person going to sell a website or blog.
    But I think running a popular website is more passive then selling it.

    Shajjad

  8. dotCOMreport says:

    “people buy and sell blogs for all sorts of reasons, and a blog that has real potential for one buyer will hold little appeal for another.”

    That, I think says it all.

  9. This really is an inspiration! I had never thought of this approach but it really does make sense!

  10. Jagan Mangat says:

    I can’t just sell my blog even if i don’t get enough traffic to it.You every day check blog stats,posts dead links,improves your skills every day and then sell it……….What the hell!

  11. Constantine says:

    Today I was thinking of making an offer for a finance oriented blog that has been around since 2003, it has thousands of pages indexed by Google but the problem is the blogger was banned from Google Adsense.

  12. contrarian says:

    Andrew –

    My biggest concern with acquiring a blog right now (as apposed to 4-5 years ago) is are we buying into a frothy bubble? See: http://www.contrarianism.net/2011/01/06/blogging-is-dead-when-the-bubble-bursts/

    Blogging shares all the historical and stereotypical characteristics of a bubble – just like dot com stocks of the 1990′s and housing in 2008.

    Every time you find the vast majority of people en mass enthusiastically adopting anything you will find irrational bubbles forming, followed by a unanimous consensus and collective denial from the participants in the bubble, claiming that, “it is different this time” …which inevitable is followed by a loud pop! – which quickly silences the crowd.

    I know the claims of blogging’s death is nothing new, but as a buyer/seller who is deeply invested and entrenched in this media, I’d be very interested in your take on why you believe blogging will survive and thrive, as well as get your expert analysis of the future of blogging.

    Thanks,
    – Contrarian

    • We’re experiencing a massive shift and while it may seem like a bubble, I think there’s no question about it – blogging is here to stay.

      It enables us to express ourselves and communicate with like-minded strangers. It enables us to collaborate, share ideas, share experiences, interact, grow with each other, and provides a sense of community to a lot of people that normally find themselves on the outskirts of social settings.

      I don’t think people will give up their voice.

      Aside from that, blogging gives us what we want as readers – it gives us the latest information, and it gives it to us now.

    • Agree with CreativeBlogger on this one that blogging is indeed here to stay.

      I can’t really comments broadly in terms of the future of blogging and its ability to survive and thrive – there are a number of commentators on problogger better positioned than me to do this ;-).

      However, from a pure buyer/seller perspective, blogs that generate revenue, dominate a monetizable niche or provide access to a specific audience will always have value. No matter what the latest trend might be, these blogs are media investment material and will attract serious buyer interest.

  13. Sam says:

    Awesome post. But the $19 charges is way much.

  14. Pete Carr says:

    It’s blogging by association, Darren is associated with ProBlogger. Bryan Clarke is Associated with CopyBlogger and so on. John Chow has said it before, his blog is worth a lot less as it is built around his name, not that he would sell it, but the value is greatly decreased.
    I think selling a well established blog such as this one, would require a lot of thought from both sides of the sale. Get it wrong and the blog could be sunk. Then all you have is the money. Nice but doesn’t last forever.
    Pete

  15. I think the best one to look at here is Techcrunch. Arrington built that up to a stage where it was all about him and his ego and his take on strories. There came a time where he clearly said right I need to get writers in here and the brand slowly become much bigger than him and he would only write a couple of posts a week. He was still very much there and everybody knew it was his gig but to new people coming along or those who don’t know him they were just reading great content.

    The other thing to think about is that I would say 99% of people have no intention of ever selling their blog so the more personal brand they can build up the better!

    More articles about selling blogs please. Great insight :)

  16. Blog Tyrant says:

    Great follow up Andrew.

    I find the name thing interesting. Many offline corporations are named around the founder: Harvey Norman, McDonalds, etc. and it has no effect on value of the company.

    • The value of brand equity is backed by huge budget promoting the name in offline world.

      Cheers

    • Good point.

      I think it depends on what people are getting from the brand – McDonalds provides people a recipe they really enjoy, so they probably wouldn’t mind if ownership changed because it wouldn’t effect the recipe. A personal blog on the other hand provides people with a voice they really enjoy, so changing ownership would most likely change that voice, unless the blogger landed a spot as full-time blogger on their own blog.

  17. I have thought about buying a blog because the start is always a very long process but I am a little wary of getting something that I don’t understand fully because i haven’t built it up from scratch. Also its hard to truely know the reason for sale or and of the statistics that they give.

  18. peter says:

    I have a number of mini sites that I am of the mind to sell off soon as my focus will soon shift to a small number of review sites.

    This is totally new ground to me, thanks for the information

  19. Ross Corbett says:

    It’s funny as I have spent all weekend worrying about this very subject. My website is a British travel blog called The Blighty Traveller. One day It will come to the point where I will want to sell it and i think it will be a very attractive buy for a travel company due to it being packed full of pages of information and hopefully a popular blog but I am very, very concerned about the name.

    Does The Blighty Traveller sound very personal to you?

    A great post and I hope more on this topic will be posted soon. For instance, how on earth do you actually buy or sell a blog in practical terms? I would be very interested in buying a blog but I would not have a clue how to actually get hold of the data and site etc?

  20. tim says:

    Good article with good insight. I’m wondering what the impact on SEO if you were to need to change the domain in order to sell. Would search engine ranking and traffic drop?

    Another type of sale would be to keep the personal brand, and possibly even the original owner as the writer, and monetize the blog as is. For instance a bigger company may be interested in buying johnchow.com but keep Mr. Chow on and keep the name but either master the income possibilities or use it to drive traffic and brand their own business.

    Techcruch is owned by AOL now aren’t they? And Mr. Arrington still writes I think.

  21. Salman Saeed says:

    I loved this post. Great work Darren :)

  22. Income Scene says:

    I love building businesses from scratch as I would not want a situation where I would have to spend more time on fixing any problem it has. I bought it to save time, I wouldn’t want to spend time on it.

  23. Kate says:

    Whenever i blogged related to personal stuff say hobby or pets, harder it becomes for me to shut that blog or to sell it. I don’t know but it’s easy to flip blogs which you don’t like personally and flip it for commercial purpose than blogs which you write for personal reasons. Maybe i’m not good at personal brand management :)

  24. chris says:

    Personally, I use my blog to write about what websites I am developing – this helps me increase exposure to not only my personal blog – but also gets me some traffic (and sometimes a potential sale) to the site that I am writing about.

    As far as selling a personal blog, I dont think I would sell mine – I have put too much time and effort into it.

    I do agree with the above – writing is easy – its making money off a blog that is the hard part!

  25. tim says:

    As far as making money goes, I’ve found that earning indirectly is a bit easier. For instance, I’ve landed blogging jobs and even “real world” opportunities by displaying writing ability and knowledge in my niche using my blog.

  26. Susan says:

    Good post, but here’s my problem: since Darren stopped writing most of the posts on ProBlogger, my interest has waned and continues to wane. I don’t like the shifting tones and points of view. I agreed that Darren was an expert and that I could learn a lot from him when I subscribed. Now, I think of unsubscribing about three times a week and I already skip most posts. Not here, I’m not available to be sold to…

  27. Very interesting. I think that some day the word “blog” will mean more that a platform for sharing thoughts! It seems to appear in US! :)

  28. I think blogging is a very personal medium anyway, whether you have your own name as your domain or not. If you like though, you could set up a “personal” blog as well as your main business one(s). If you run multiple blogs the personal one could remain your hub of some sort that you hang onto, while all the other ones are what you run your business out of and sell off if it ever comes to that. Yes, running multiple blogs may seem a little daunting but with a little planning and a lot of coffee it can be done ;)

  29. Esref says:

    My name is also used by an organization but it is now on sale for 995 USD :)

    • I guess i’m lucky enough to be able to get a .com domain under my own name.
      The main challenge one will face for personal brand is not to create bad reputation for own name.

      Cheers,
      Ganesh

  30. Randi says:

    I just bought my first website http://www.buyingblogs.com a few weeks ago from flippa.com. It’s full of content on buying and selling blogs, websites and domains. I was glad to find your article and I look forward to reading more posts on this site. Please, feel free to link to me!
    Randi