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A Blogging Exit Strategy: Sell Your Blog

This guest post is by Chris of www.freelancepf.com.

Just this past February I had a guest post on ProBlogger detailing the joys of: co-blogging with your spouse.  Now here I am just a few months later with a new guest post about selling that site.

What happened?  Why did I sell a blog I loved and got to work on with my wife, no less?

I’ll give you the hint that I still love blogging as much as ever.  So why?  More importantly for you, how did I sell my blog?

Exit

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Too often I see people abandon their blogs when they tire of blogging or have to stop because of outside forces.  If there’s just one thing you take away from this article, let it be this: even newer blogs might have some value.  Perhaps even significant value.  That is true even if your blog has never before been monetized.

If you ever want or need to quit blogging, consider a sale as your go-to blogging exit strategy. It’s a little more work than abandoning the blog, but the extra money should more than make up for it.  This guest post is going to examine the mechanics of selling a website using my experience as a guide.

Making the decision to sell

The personal finance site I sold was my first blog.  It detailed my wife’s and my struggle to pay down six figures in student loan debt.  In just a few months—and with no budget aside from a Thesis theme and a dedicated IP address/hosting—I had taken the blog from brand new to more than 5,000 visitors per month.  The blog was my pride and joy, but there were beginner’s mistakes I did not know how to fix.  My biggest mistake was that no matter how hard I looked, I could not envision a business plan.

I kept delaying fully monetizing the site for this reason.  My student loan debt made me feel guilty about partaking in such a time-consuming hobby—particularly because it was costing me money each month.  I started blogging because I love to write, but I thought I would at least break even financially. in fact, I felt I had to in order to justify the expense—financially, things were getting really tight because of my student loan debt.

More importantly, I wanted to focus on starting my own freelance writing business—but I knew my old blog would take away from that endeavor.  I started to look for my blogging exit strategy.  Eventually I decided the best option was to sell.

Selling a blog: overview

Selling blogs is actually a fairly new concept.  There are no hard rules in selling a blog, although it is generally accepted that one to two times the blog’s annual revenue can approximate the standard sales price.  This expectation makes it difficult when your blog has not been fully monetized.  Remember, however, that if you have a solid inventory of hundreds of archived posts—as I did—your website might still have significant value.

There are a ton of considerations involved in the valuation of a website.  Some of them include the stand-alone value of the domain name, the traffic and other statistical information, the Google PageRank, other generally accepted blogging/website metrics, the blog’s yearly percentage revenue growth, monthly or yearly revenue, and the number of archived posts.

Buying or selling a blog involves negotiating skills not dissimilar to that of selling a car.  Another thing to know in advance is whether you will simply sell to the highest bidder or if you will consider other intangibles such as which prospective buyer is the best fit for taking your blog to new levels. I personally sold my blog to a lower bidder because I loved her enthusiasm for the project and her writing talent.  I would never fault someone for taking the highest offer, either.  It’s a personal choice.

How to sell your blog

There are a number of ways you can get the word out to perspective blog buyers.  There are various websites that specialize in blog sales, such as flippa.com.  You can also post about your intention to sell on your blog itself, although I wouldn’t do that unless I was absolutely certain I wanted to sell.

You can write about the intent to sell on various forums to help spread the word.  Perhaps the most effective method is to simply reach out to people in your blogging network whom you believe might be interested in purchasing the blog.  In my case, I put out word in a blogging network I was involved in and ended up having at least three bloggers contact me inquiring as to price.  I eventually sold my site to one of these bloggers.

A quick word to prospective buyers: it’s important as a blog purchaser that you verify all of the metrics the blog seller is claiming.  It is important that both sides properly contract—and perhaps even put the terms in writing—so as to have a smooth transition from seller to buyer.

As a buyer, you may want to consider negotiating certain “royalties” as part of your deal.  For example, you could ask for $10,000 and 10% of the blog’s profits for the next year.  In the alternative you can “front-load” the deal and take all the money upfront.  So, instead of the above deal, you might just ask for $12,500.00.  The great thing about negotiating is that you can be really creative.  Will you accept installment payments?  Will you throw in social media accounts?  Remember to figure out all the details up front.

Exit strategy complete … but there’s still work to be done

Remember, just because you have a contract for sale doesn’t mean that the blog is now magically in the other party’s possession.  You still have to go through your web host and domain provider, and work with the seller to effect the transfer of title.  According to the terms of the sale, you may have to provide the seller with various passwords, such as the one to your Twitter or other social networking account.

There is also the matter of post-sale exit strategy.  I felt I owed my loyal readers an explanation.  I also agreed to stay on as a staff writer at my prior blog and write a certain amount of posts each week so as to smooth the transition.  This scenario is ideal for the seller and also the smoothest transition for the readership.  You should negotiate these terms and the expected compensation as part of the sale of the blog.

Remember too that you could always partner up with another blogger or company and sell a percentage of your blog.  Be careful in that scenario that you are selling to a legitimate “partner,” as partnership laws where you live might be more-encompassing than you would expect.  You may even want to consult with an appropriate expert to see the legal implications, if any, of entering into such a “partnership” or selling your blog in general.

An exit strategy for you?

Selling your blog can be very stressful.  Almost any serious blogger feels a sense of ownership or pride in their blog, and it’s not easy to “sell your baby.” However, for me, the sale has been a blessing.

The sale of my former blog has allowed me to start a profitable online freelance writing and copywriting business. Most times I visit my old blog, I don’t even feel sad that it’s no longer mine.  I just feel grateful that it allowed me to start a business I love.

The other great thing about blogging is that you can always start again.  I even have my own new personal finance blog.  It barely gets any traffic and it feels lonely compared to the active community I sold, but in my freelance business I get to write for major blogs that have vibrant communities and I still get to visit my former blog’s readership as a staff writer.

Again, if you are thinking about simply abandoning your blog, consider selling it and potentially making some money out of all your hard work.

If you have any questions about buying or selling a blog, send an email to [email protected], or visit FreelancePF’s blog.

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Comments

  1. No! I’ll never sell! My blog is too personal.

  2. Jacob says:

    Selling your blog can be an effective way of getting out of the niche without losing everything. If you’re unable to work on it anymore, sell. But, what I find so many people doing is selling their blog with five articles, trying to get a ton of money for it. It’s important to really appreciate what the value of your blog is and to understand that while you might think it’s worth a thousand bucks, if someone is only willing to pay $500, that’s all it is worth to them. That puts you in the situation of having to decide whether you want to sell or not.

    • Graham Lutz says:

      Same in houses, cars, and everything else bought and sold! Value is in the market’s willingness to pay, not the sellers perceived value.

  3. Graham Lutz says:

    I would definitely consider selling my blog! Right now, though, I’m focused on growing it and creating great content and providing value – the exit strategy is far in the future.

    Are there people that specialize in selling blogs or websites like real estate agents sell houses and property?

  4. Bob Garrett says:

    Great post and something that Ive been considering – just not my blog(s) but my entire online persona(s) – I have a few

    What I have been toying with is selling my Linkedin profile/twitter profiles/facebook and the alike. As well as all of my WordPress blogs. There will come a time either at my choice or a choice out of my hands, that I will no longer want or be able to do this. I also dont have any family members interested in taking over my “business”.

    I realize a lot of this is not allowed in the TOS of various Social Media sites but on the flipside – I am not sure I agree – so be that as it may – this is certainly something that I have been thinking about for a while.

    • FreelancePF says:

      Everything in life has an ending….even our control/ownership of blogs. But I like the idea of the blogs living on even when we are through with them (or they us!). Any business should have an exit strategy–even if the business is sentimental like our love of our blogs. Best of luck to you as you consider your exit strategies in the future.

  5. If you don’t monetize your site do you have any other metrics to determin it’s value?

  6. Dave says:

    Good post. It seems that even though some people might know that they can sell their blog(s), many people don’t actually go that route. I like that you point out that even newer blogs can have some value and could be sold. I think a lot of people undervalue their blogs. Perhaps that’s why they don’t follow through with selling them.

  7. Carl,

    I can definitely see why selling a blog can be a great exit strategy. I can see myself doing just that in the future to start up other online ventures. But first I need to get to the point of building my blog and gaining traffic!

    I have actually been looking into selling websites, because I have one that gets a decent amount of traffic every month. I am going to build that one up a little more and then see what kind of offers I can get.

    I’ve never thought of selling blogs before though. This is much better than contributing to the ever growing pile of “dead blogs” on the internet. I am happy that selling your blog has led you to even better things!

    Congrats on your freelance company!

    -Stephen

    • FreelancePF says:

      Thanks Stephen. Best of luck to you in all your endeavors as well. What an exciting time to be alive with all the opportunities before us. I can’t help but think that for generations in my family it was nothing but coalminers, and here I get to be with so many different opportunities. Very cool.

  8. I would only consider selling my blog if I became too busy and had no chance to focus on it and IF it were worth actually selling – why sell something if it is worth nothing? Well, you know… worth nothing financially – don’t get me wrong. Some people get too ahead of themselves in the blogging world and tend to think they’re worth so much when that’s not the case.

  9. FreelancePF says:

    The funny thing is that it’s tough to sell your blog, but it’s also tough to buy a blog. I’ve tried buying a blog here and there and people want way more money than the site is worth. I would also recommend really weighing whether you sell or not, because although you can start another blog, the audience may not follow you.

    @Graham – That could be a really good business idea: online real estate agent. I’m sure people do it, sell your blog and take a commission.

  10. Alex says:

    What are your thoughts on personally branded blogs?
    Obviously harder to sell surely?

  11. selling our own blog is a hard to digest.. It is true that we should always ready for the positive and negative moments, while in blogging.. Escape strategy will be good, if something going to be terrible soon and you are smelling that..

  12. What about starting up blogs just to sell them? That’s got to be worth something?

    • FreelancePF says:

      In most instances you can make more by properly monetizing your site, although I am sure some people are “blog flippers.” I was just near broke and sort of desparate to continue blogging any way I could. Now things are much better, but I would never start a blog just to immediatly flip it. And by the time a site has a decent value (which I define as $1,000 or more), again, it may be worth holding on to. This is really about if you lose passion or are forced by external pressures/forces to sell. Better to sell than to let your blog fade away. And I believe more fair to your audience as well.

  13. Patrick says:

    I agree, selling your blog would be beneficial for all parties involved. If you have built a great blog it would be better to sell it to someone who really cares about that topic than to simply abandon it. I really like how you come on as a staff writer as well. I’m sure the existing audience really appreciates it.

    • FreelancePF says:

      I think sometimes we overvalue our own importance to our blogs. People may start because they like your voice, but eventually to some extent they keep visiting out of habit. If you turn it over to someone of equal or greater talent, the site might not suffer at all.

  14. Ifham khan says:

    Bloggers should not sell their blogs until there is a big problem because, bloggers can earn more with thier blog instead of selling the blog and earning just for once

  15. IT Rush says:

    Developing and selling blogs later on really is a great money making strategy..

  16. Carl,

    For those that are going to get out anyway, selling a blog can be a great way to make the transition and make some extra dough.

    As mentioned in comments above, I can certainly see a dark side to this. People who become experts at quickly building and flipping blogs. Like anything, once you learn the in’s and outs there should be a way to build it quickly and easily then flip for profit.

    While “moving on” or just not wasting a blog you plan to quit on are great reasons to sell blogs I am not sure I am crazy about the idea of professional blog flippers (I am sure they exist).

    What do you think of these serial flippers?

    • FreelancePF says:

      I touched on this and think it’s a little unfair to your audience and probably not a good business decision. That said, if your whole goal is business than why are bloggers held to hire standards than any other business when it comes to profitability. Just a thought.

  17. Selling a blog is just like heart breaking. You give it all you got, but it’s going when you sell it for money.It’s a great way to make money and exit from blogging, but sorry I can’t play in that way.

  18. Never knew about Flippa, thanks for the heads up. Good article too =)

  19. Dave Drew says:

    I’d really hate to think about selling my blog, or even being in the position to need to sell. Times would have to be pretty tough to sell. I guess I don’t have any exit strategy.

    Once the blog starts bringing in real money, you could hire out to keep it going and have that passive income constantly growing. I guess everyone has their own objectives, and also problems to face.

  20. Jon Morrow says:

    Yep, it’s definitely possible, assuming your blog isn’t too personal. Personally, I sold one of my blogs for five figures, and I wasn’t making a dime from it at the time. It just had 1,000 subscribers, and the guy who bought it thought he could monetize the list.

    But I don’t think it’s worked that well, and here’s why: you can’t really sell your relationship with the list. You can sell the content, the traffic, the domain name, and the design, but most people read our blogs because they like us. If the blog changes hands, they may give the new owner a chance for a few weeks, but if they don’t like him/her, they’ll leave. The subscriber count for the blog I sold has actually dropped continuously since I sold it.

    So, it’s something to think about. Personally, if I were going to start a blog and sell it now, I would prefer working out something with a popular guest blogger. They’ve already been writing for your audience, your audience likes them, and so it’s not going to be such a shock if you leave. Also, you wouldn’t have to sell it out right. You could maybe do a deal where they buy your ownership over time, and you remain an owner, just to make sure the transition goes well.

    • FreelancePF says:

      Everyone here loves blogging. I’ve seen some backlash to the idea of selling your own blog and I understand those sentiments. I just wanted to address how to go about it if the worst happens. For instance, my wife and I had just bought a new house. We had an unexpected $800+ bill come in and we were strapped–for both time and money. I decided to try my hand at switching to freelance work so I could make money off every post. (The sad irony is that I loved the blog I sold so much that I barely ever attempted to monetize it). But I don’t regret it, because I learned a lot about a new area of blogging—having an exit strategy. Too often I see people have children or simply lose interest in a blog and let it join the great blogging graveyard rather than be sold and perhaps revitalized. If you have the passion and the means, I would never suggest selling your blog (unless you get an offer you can’t refuse). At the same time, the blog is really a collection of your thoughts. Nobody can buy that, and you can always start again. I’m really enjoying reading all the different opinons here about this issue.

  21. Rory Mullen says:

    Good job Darren.

    I have implemented an exit point for all of my online work so that at any time I can make or break a profit and see what I have earned.

    Thanks for showing everyone how you can implement a decent business plan while working online.

  22. Kendra says:

    I actually have three blogs and am finding out that I spend more time on one more than the others. I will give it a little bit more time, maintaining three blogs, but eventually as I am pulled more to one or two, three will definitely be a bit much for me to handle as my blog(s) grow and I will have to let one go.

    I actually know of someone that buys and flips websites and domain names. It has been profitable for him thus far. He has no interest at all in blogging, it’s strictly business.

    Thanks! Kendra

    • FreelancePF says:

      I think the key is to have a business plan—provided you want to make money. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying to make money. Blogs are hard work and very time consuming. They are also costly to run. My blog ended up being an asset I was able to move when all my other assets were tied up. I will always be greatful to my blog for that, and hope it has greater success with the new owner than with me even.

  23. Satish says:

    Now most of the people are selling there blogs when they are banned from google or effected by panda. If you are buying a blog, you have to be safe and make sure you check all. One of my friend sold his blog when it was effected with panda update. But its always better to keep up the spirit and continue rather than selling it. Nice post by carl. i loved it :) this article deserve a +1 :D

  24. yup, it’s a great solution when we feel very busy in our offline work. but,it’s very dilemma for me. why? because i want to be a blogger! what’s the real meaning of blogger for me? it meaning that i can use my blog for writting, make a suggestion for everyone, design myblog, and other action as my hobby.
    so, when i attend in possition if i must sell myblog, wao. it will be confuse for me.
    i don’t blogging in one focus to make money as much as i can, but i’m blogging for my hobby, and it’s very enjoyful. xD

  25. FreelancePF says:

    I think blogging is the greatest hobby of all, because it’s one of the few hobbies where you might actually make rather than spend money. I used to have hobbies like “designer board games” where I would spend a ton of money on my hobby. Now I make money, and while you make money in the present, you’re also building up your site as an asset should you ever wish to sell. That’s the beauty of any business, really. That double benefit.

  26. Steve says:

    Selling a blog is absolutely fine but selling subscription lists is altogether more problematic. The fact that most of a blog’s value is usually in the list compounds the problem. Most of us have some sort of verbiage on our sites saying that subscribers will never be spammed. If we sell, we can no longer guarantee that this is the case and this would represent a serious breach of trust.

  27. Hey Carl,

    This is a good intro, and it’s nice to see you deal with the softer side of selling a site – the transition, which most people forget is quite difficult, especially if you’ve developed a bond with your readers.

    I wouldn’t quite agree on your valuation though. Blogs rarely sell for 3 x annual profits unless they are serious authority sites, have huge traffic or recognition in the industry. It’s more typical for a blog to sell for 0.75 – 1x annual revenue (or gross profit – the two are frequently confused on Flippa!), especially if it’s valued at less than $20K, simply because most blogs rely on one source of traffic (google) and one type of income (advertising) so the risk to an investor is greater.

    The blogs which I see go for multiples of 4x or in one case 10.4x annual gross are in lucrative mature industries (eg financial leads, medical, some travel) , have multiple traffic sources (social, rss, email, referrals) and multiple sources of revenue like lead gen, affiliate deals and advertising in addition to having a substantial and responsive opt in list.

  28. This is a useful and helpful article.
    I’m considering selling two websites. Let me know if you interested.
    1. entrepreneurshipsecret dot com
    2. 360naija dot com

  29. Really great article. By using Flippa, the sale process is easy but the trade-off is a lower multiple. The buying culture on the site has resulted in a low average sale multiple of roughly a 6 to 12 x monthly profit. In my opinion, this isn’t a good deal for bloggers who could get a better multiple through a private sale or through a broker. If you review listings on a site like quietlightbrokerage dot com (I’m not affiliated) you’ll see that the asking prices are in the 3x annual profit range. For an established, legitimate site I think this a decent starting point. Of course, everything is subjective and it all depends on what the market supports. How’s that for a disclaimer :)

    Also, keep in mind that on Flippa especially, it’s almost impossible to sell a site based on “potential”. Even if you have a nice sized audience, your site’s value will be assessed based on the monthly profit.

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  31. Be interesting to hear what you guys have to say on the value that you can get from selling blogs. I’ve heard that X8 multiple of the subscribers that you have is a very good indicator. In other words 1000 subscribers would value your blog at 8000k. Any insights?

  32. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with a blog I had going and 8 months into it realized I needed to change the name and focus of my blog. I needed to change from a general blog about photography textures to my own blog selling my textures. I’ve just left the other as an archive for now.

    If I had the time, I’d still like to keep the other one going, but I just can’t. I’ve thought of maybe finding a partner for that one. Not sure about selling it. Maybe to the right person. Mainly I feel like it might reflect badly on my new site if the right person didn’t take over.

  33. Brandon says:

    I’d never be able to do it… I have personal attachment to the domain.

  34. I’ve been working on a blog of mine for the last few years, and its growing in traffic, but not really comments/community wise. I haven’t spent time on it for the last 6 months, ut I’m still getting like 300 hits a day to http://iambored.co.za.
    The other day I had a random thought to put my domain up for sale. Because its a cool domain name to have.
    I’ve not actually thought of selling my blog. Thats a very good Idea, now that I think of it. :)

  35. Dave Lucas says:

    flippa doesn’t allow the sale or trade of blogspot blogs. I have one for sale if anybody is interested! The URL is http://thetwitterer.blogspot.com

    If interested just comment on my personal blog – I have to approve comments so I will see that yours is an inquiry and it won’t get posted – just leave your offer and a way to contact you

  36. mohdfirdaus says:

    great technique and strategies