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How to Create a Website and Sell it for $200,000

This guest post is by Patrick Meninga of Make Money with No Work.

Over the last four years, I created a single website that exceeded $2,000 in monthly income, and sold for six figures to one of my direct advertisers.

When I started this journey, I had no idea what I was doing.  I wasted a great deal of time using actions that were inefficient, wasteful, and unprofitable.  Looking back, it is easy to see which actions produced the most income.

My action checklist for creating a website and selling it for $200,000 looked like this:

  • selected the perfect topic
  • published a high volume of content
  • created premium content to attract organic links
  • pitched premium quality guest posts
  • cultivated a community of fans
  • negotiated direct advertising deals
  • persisted through any setbacks
  • sold when the right offer came along.

Select the perfect topic

I chose the perfect topic for my website.  The subject of addiction worked because:

  1. I had expert knowledge and first-hand experience in it.
  2. There was sufficient traffic and interest in the topic on the web.
  3. There was money to made from related products and services.

If you want to creating a six-figure website, you’ll need to meet all three of these requirements.

How can you find the perfect topic?

Think carefully about where your expertise lies. What have you done, what have you learned, and what could you teach others? Brainstorm a list of potential topics based on your experiences. ProBlogger has some helpful suggestions on how to do this.

Next, filter your list of potential topics by profitability. ProBlogger has a detailed guide on how to do this.

Then, filter your list of topics based on potential volume. ProBlogger explores the idea of considering your niche’s volume in detail.

It is not enough to choose a topic in which you are an expert. You need to find the intersection between:

  • your expertise
  • sufficient traffic volumes and interest on the web
  • profit potential.

Publish a high volume of content

I sold my website for six figures because I published a large number of articles. This is how I attracted large volumes of search engine traffic.

My success stemmed from a mountain of content. Over the life of my website, I averaged three new articles per day, resulting in over a thousand new articles each year.

My website sold for six figures because it had a lot of quality content on it.

One of the most important things to implement is a daily quota for publishing new articles. Build a big website. Publish regularly. Writing multiple articles per day will result in the fastest growth. Volume matters. Ninety percent of my effort went into content creation.

Create premium content to attract organic links

One action I took was to create premium content. What is “premium content?” It is content that beats the competition on the web.

Search for you topic online, and glance through the top sites. Analyze the quality, depth, and usefulness of this content. Your goal is to write and publish content that exceeds the quality of what’s already out there. Create a better resource that is useful to your audience.

These are the actions I took to accomplish this with my website:

  • I designed custom infographics (even though I did not know exactly what I was doing!).
  • I published several free ebooks.
  • I helped anyone with personal questions via email for free.
  • I created videos to give the audience a choice of content formats.
  • I created a discussion forum where people could ask questions, get advice, or seek feedback from each other.

Few of my competitors were implementing these tactics, and many of these strategies generated organic links and word-of-mouth exposure for me.

Pitch premium quality guest posts

My website sold for six figures because it had enough authority to rank for many keywords. The site was pulling in over eighty thousand unique visits per month because it had a combination of lots of articles and enough authority to rank well. That authority was created through a handful of guest posts.

While ProBlogger already explores how to get your first guest post published, I want to highlight a couple of points that many people may not realize.

Firstly, because guest posting can be difficult, many people will turn to chasing easy, manufactured links.  Don’t do this!  While some links are very easy to get, they won’t be as powerful as a real guest post. Recognize that quality links are difficult to achieve but are well worth the added effort.

Secondly, with most topics on the web, you only need a few guest posts to create powerful authority. Do not be discouraged. Just start with a single guest post. Give things time. If you are not getting the results you want, add another guest post. This is part of a long-term strategy: give new links time to produce results.

Cultivate a community of fans

I created a fan base in a simple two-step process on my website:

  1. I engaged my readers by opening discussions with them about my articles, encouraging them to leave comments, and having conversations with them.
  2. I gave them a platform in which a community formed and took hold. For my site, this meant adding a discussion forum.

This approach was so successful that some of the fans spread the new forum via word of mouth, bringing in friends and growing the community naturally.

Thus, the action of cultivating fans must begin by engaging your readers. Start a discussion, have conversations, and build from that.

Negotiated direct advertising deals

While I built my site and earned decent money from it, I asked myself, “What if I could monetize more efficiently?”

I was using Google AdSense, so I set out with the goal to make a direct advertising deal. I made a list of each advertiser, then contacted them and inquired about going direct. This was my basic pitch:

“Look, you are already purchasing traffic from my website via Google. What if we were to cut out the middleman, do a direct deal, and both come out ahead for it?  Is that something that interests you?”

After contacting about 20 advertisers, five replied, and I struck three different ad deals. Each of these ran separately, and they had mildly successful results. In all three cases, AdSense delivered better results. There were two problems. First, our advertising contract was too short: there was not enough time to measure real results. Also, the advertisers didn’t have enough control over my website, and couldn’t fine-tune things to their needs.

Even though these direct advertising deals didn’t pan out, they were still valuable because I learned from them. Most importantly, the last direct deal that I made resulted in an unsolicited offer to purchase the website. This would not have happened had I not experimented with new forms of monetization.

Persist through any setbacks

During my journey to create a full-time income online, I experienced a few setbacks. The reason that my website sold for such a large amount is because I persisted through these setbacks and continued to improve the website.

In one instance, a Google algorithm update reduced my traffic by about 40%. I quickly made corrective actions and improved the quality of my content. This particular setback helped in that it raised my standard of quality for future posts. Instead of producing “good enough” articles, I tried to redefine what “premium content” meant to me. I challenged myself to be original, insightful, and helpful with each new article I published.

Sell when the right offer comes along

As I stated above, my last direct advertising deal resulted in an offer I could not refuse. $200,000 was a life-changing amount of money for me. I also had the knowledge and skill to build another profitable website.

Think carefully about your selling price, and keep it in the back of your head. If your website is earning $1,000 per month, would you sell the website for $30,000?  Why or why not?

My website sold for an outrageous premium because it was “best in class” in terms of original content, epic resource articles, and lots of free ebooks. The strength of the content and the community will allow the site to remain profitable long into the future.

Review your action list

To increase monthly income or sell your site for a huge premium, review the actions I’ve suggested in this article and make sure that you are addressing each of them. Six figures does not just fall into your lap, but if you are determined to work hard for your success, these actions can get you there.

Any questions? Let me know in the comments!

Patrick Meninga runs Make Money with No Work. Patrick recently sold his flagship website for $200,000 dollars and has since taken to sipping cold beverages on white sandy beaches.  He also recently launched a free eBook titled “Ninjanomics – This Changes Everything.”

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Comments

  1. It’s great to hear your experience, that’s always so much better than just advice for advice sake. There’s some points I haven’t thought of before that I’m realizing I need to take a deeper look into now. Thanks, great post.

  2. It really does seem easier said than done. But none the less, the pointers you have gave are very good and very good all the same for a beginner who has ambitions of flipping sites.

  3. Janmejaya says:

    i like this topic.
    Thanks for sharing a awesome topic with us.

  4. Bithints says:

    Well the first lesson I’ve learned is how to choose the most attractive title :) (How to Create a Website and Sell it for $200,000). I am actually running French language blogs, may be one of these days I’ll have the chance to come and talk about my experience à la française ;)
    Thank you for this guide. One question : you didn’t talk about your social networking strategy. Isn’t the secret there ?

    • Tom says:

      Good point it is a pretty compelling title.

      I have 1 question was it a strategic buyer that paid such a high multiple ?

  5. Chihuahua0 says:

    Once I get home from school, I’ll definitely check out the website you sold (I would like to see an example of a six-figure website), and download the e-book.

    But with the teacher in the room…let’s say I’m supposed to be working on a storyboard.

  6. Awesome pieces of advice…

    From my experience, I can say that creating premium content is the single most important factor in attracting traffic and creating value.

    Google’s aim is to provide the best content to its users. As Patrick said, if we can write content that is better than the top ranking pages in Google, sooner rather than later, our page would come up top in Google SERPs.

    Pitching premium quality guest posts is something I have been meaning to do, but have not done so far. Thanks for the reminder – I would start working on it right away! Darren, watch out – I would be writing to you soon with my guest post :-)

  7. Patrick says:

    @ Janmejaya – You’re welcome. Glad you enjoyed it.

  8. A good article. Thanks for sharing us.

  9. Todd Millett says:

    Great read! Thanks for the insight! I especially like the section about Google Adsense. Interesting that Adsense was more effective overall, but you found your buyer through direct ad deals.

  10. Benleem says:

    I should be starting one like now..great info right there.

  11. Creating a mountain of content, love that idea Patrick. It’s what I do to move my blogs up google for some super competitive keywords. Thanks for sharing with us.

  12. It seems like you dedicated a lot of time, passion and personal experience to this site. Monetizing is great, but did you at any point feel like you were delivering your “child” off to less caring hands? Do you ever check on this site to see if it is still doing a good job engaging readers and producing content?

    I think that selling a website for $200,000 is an incredible achievement and an opportunity I would not pass up. I just wonder how it makes you feel after you have sold it. Great article, thanks for sharing.

  13. Praveen says:

    Your checklists sounds really interesting, but I feel like doing everything right and selling it for a six-figure in just ONE YEAR is impossible or may be VERY HARD!

    Great Job and thanks for your article :)

  14. Great schtuff here Patrick. Now the perfect topic?

  15. Nisha says:

    Thanks for the great article – you make it sound so easy! I need to hire you as a mentor. :)

  16. Hando says:

    In my experience the best way to have a content rich site is to have users to generate content for you. Yes, first you need to post some content on your own but once you have passed that critical point then users will take over and generate content on autopilot, you just need to moderate to make sure the quality is high. But if you are a good writer or have enough funds to outsource your content requirements then that of course will work very well.

  17. Jim says:

    I don’t get it.

    You spend four years creating a site that you sell for $200,000. Essentially that’s $50,000 per year.

    You say the site was generating roughly $25,000 per year. You would have had your $200,000 in a few years anyway, particularly if you continued to grow it.

    Didn’t you sell a cash cow?

  18. Excellent post. I do want to add that a small website with even 5 pages of content can be sold for as much as $600 within a matter of months. I sell a number of micro-niche websites on flippa making as little as $25/month from AdSense within 1-2 months of launch and its a great way to turnover quick revenues to re-invest in more profitable projects.

    I wrote a blog post about how i do this a little while back for readers interested in learning more in addition to this great article:

    http://www.nichesense.com/7-tips-for-selling-your-niche-site-on-flippa/

  19. Muhsin says:

    Hi Patrick,

    Thanks for sharing your inspirational experience.

    Although creating & selling websites is not what I am doing now,
    it is definitely something to consider in the future.

    I love the fact that you use an action checklist!

    I think that having an action checklist can be applied
    in whatever projects that we do to keep track of our progress. :)

    Cheers!

  20. Wes says:

    Nice job, Patrick. Congrats on the premium sale.

    Thanks for sharing what worked, and what didn’t – like your experience with direct advertising deals.

  21. Kalen Smith says:

    These are some great tips Patrick. It should go without saying that people should choose a niche they can write on authoritatively, but so many people don’t do that. People seem to go where they think the money is and write on something they have no direct knowledge of. It can be done if you take the time educate yourself (at least in some niches) but you can really be fighting an uphill battle.

  22. Cipto says:

    It’s of course the hard work and wondeful efforts and need many years strunggling. Base on my experience blogging and online business is not easy to make a big money. I try to apply your info for my blog and website. Thanks a lot for your detail explanations.

  23. Thanks for sharing !!!

    Interesting points .

    Yes , Choosing niche for your blog/website is definitely important .

  24. Calin says:

    And when I think that I was so thrilled for selling my first blog recently with $1,400… :))

    Either way, the deal that you made was incredible and, despite the great content I am sure that you wrote, plus the premium management of the site and everything else, I am sure that a bit of luck was also involved. Selling a $2,000 per month site for 200,000 is pretty much a gamble for most people and there’s always the risk of seeing the site go down after the brain behind it (which is you) no longer works on it.

    Still an amazing deal and a truly inspirational story proving that anything is possible.

  25. Webly says:

    I took away 3 tips you provided that I am going to apply on my own blog. Used to post often than stopped which hurt my blog. 3 times a day sounds like a lot but I’ve read other posts on pro blogger suggesting the same, so it works to do it.
    Second thing is the free ebook, everyone likes free stuff. How did you create the free ebooks? Is there a specific software to do it yourself?
    Third is the forum. I love the idea of a forum which gives your readers a voice in your site.
    Great post.

  26. Patrick says:

    @ Christelle – Yeah there was a feeling of loss when I sold the site. My baby! But it continues to thrive, and still has an active forum community to, of which I remain a part.

    @ Jim – The income was not really stable enough to make me believe that I could keep “milking the cow” for the next ten years. The people who bought it could monetize much more efficiently than I could (because they own a business).

    @ Anshul – sure selling smaller sites works too! I guess I just like to go long term and think bigger though….

    @ Kalen – agreed. Niche selection is critical.

    @ Calin – yes you are right on the money. I believe I got fairly lucky, but on the other hand I was aiming high by creating the best possible content and killer resources on the site. Also, I plugged away for years at it. But yeah, still a darn nice payout, I agree!

  27. Tom Parker says:

    Great post. I think the part where a lot of people fall down is the premium content. Everywhere I look people seem to be looking for quick fixes and cheap writers. The problem with this approach is that no one wants to read it.

    Glad to hear you managed to recover from setbacks too. I took my first Google hit in over 5 years during October 2011 (about a 60% drop in traffic).

    Tom

  28. adpop says:

    That’s true, and I think the hardest part is created premium content to attract organic links. Organic links did not come so easy except the content is rare or could not find elsewhere. Thanks for the post.

  29. Vern says:

    Nice post – and I hope you nail it again Patrick. The real key is that you are driven to create new content all the time and you never seem to tire of it. That, and your topic was right on the first time. Second time? Bigger topic, but I think you’re on track to whack one out of the park again. Cheers man!

  30. Erik says:

    Hi Patrick,

    Congrats on creating, running, and selling a huge quality authority site.

    Your articles on that site are appealing and thorough.

    This article on ProBlogger contained a lot of useful tips and was inspirational. I agree that posting numerous posts that contain a lot of valuable substance is the way to go. That was a big part of the reason I looked forward to reading Darren’s posts for so many years.

    Questions:

    1. Why doesn’t your site currently have any monetization? When did you remove the Adsense and Sponsor banners?

    2. Since you sold the site, why is your contact info still up?

    3. Did you monetize the forum differently than the site?

    4. What do you think made someone offer more than 3x monthly site income for your site? Do you think you set a record on getting the highest multiple sale value vs. your actual monthly income (looks like it was around 10x)?

    5. How do you think the new owners will monetize the site?

    6. Did you find that spreading out over several areas of addiction such as eating, drugs, alcohol, nicotine was a good business move or did the alcohol articles generate the most interest? If you could do it all over again, would you just write articles on alcohol addiction?

    Nice guest post. Nice site!

    Thanx,
    Erik

  31. Richard Ng says:

    Thanks for sharing your personal success story and experience. The question from top of my head is how and where do you get your regular high quality content? We all know that Content is king but it takes time if we do it all by ourselves. I am interest to learn what is your approach in obtaining such quality content?

    Thanks.

  32. Patrick says:

    @ Tom – yeah it is tough to create premium content but I feel it is more than worth it in the long run (not so much in the short term….think 1 year+)

    @ Richard – I sort of raised my own bar as far as quality was concerned, then the speed came later. At first it was only one article per day at the most. Later on I got faster and knew my topic better, so could crank out more content much quicker.

  33. Patrick says:

    @ Erik – great questions. I will try to field them all:

    1. My new site is not monetized yet because I am still in the “brand-building” phase. Less monetization, easier to acquire links. Just my opinion, but it worked well for me in the past…

    2. I reminded them once to change the contact info, they forgot. Later they asked if I could help maintain the site for a fee. So I am fielding reader emails for now, which has been fairly negligible. Not a huge deal for the moment.

    3. Never tried to monetize the forum in any way, and would not recommend.

    4. It was not 10X, it was 100X the monthly income. The reason they paid so much is that they were VERY high up on the value chain of monetization. They own the facility where people pay tens of thousands to attend. They own it. So at any time they have roughly 30 clients or so, all paying tens of thousands of dollars. They are not running ads, they own the business and they monetize the traffic DIRECTLY. Big different from those of us who are just hoping for a few ad clicks.

    5. They already have. See above. They own the facility, so each lead they get from the site is pure gold to them.

    6. All of my posts that strayed from drug and alcohol addiction did poorly. For example, I have articles on there about “coca cola addiction” and they get traffic but make no money, and obviously do not convert for the new owners. This is a VERY valuable lesson to learn. Stay focused, stay on topic, do not stray far from the core of your niche.

    Excellent questions. Thank you for asking them.

    • Erik says:

      Hi Patrick,

      Thanx for addressing each question and for being thorough. Your answers were both interesting and helpful – especially your reply to question 6.

      Erik

  34. Jon Loomer says:

    Invaluable tips. Many of my strategies are based on making money later, and not necessarily a lot now. That makes things difficult now, but I’m most interested in first building the audience, making it more attractive to advertisers and then eventually a buyer (maybe).

    I’ve always thought about going direct with advertising. Gotta look at it again.

    Thanks!

  35. Just the kind of story I needed. I am starting of on the road to problogging.

  36. A post like this is a motivator for me. It shows me what could be done and ways of how it could be so. Ninety percent of your time creating content. That’s a great lesson for me. Also the fact that you’re able to create such high volume of contents is something that I am still aiming for.

    I could only imagine the kind of effort and hardwork that went into building your site. But at the end, the 200k is the reward you deserve. Good job! Thank you for your inspiration.

  37. I know Patrick from a few private forums I belong to, and I just wanted to say that I’m glad he posted this story here. I’ve been reading some similar inspirational stories recently, and the takeaway for me has been to create a “mountain of content” :) And I agree that manufactured links are just not worth it! In the future I’ll either be guest-posting, or just letting my content rank on its own.

  38. mixtapes says:

    Is there a current multiple used to determine the value in relation to income?

  39. Dan Schlotte says:

    I was very pleased to seek out this net-site.I wished to thanks for your time for this excellent read!! I positively enjoying every little little bit of it and I’ve you bookmarked to check out new stuff you blog post.

  40. Peter Lawlor says:

    Finally a website that sells for what it’s worth. I’m tired of the same old valuation of 10 to 18 times monthly income. That valuation doesn’t make sense to me unless there’s a downward trend of revenue/traffic.

    The fact you build up a community definitely resulted in a huge premium from the standard website valuation. That’s great. Congrats.

  41. Prasanta says:

    Hi Patrik,

    Very helpful article to create a website for business. I have gone through your site http://www.spiritualriver.com and checked internet popularity (Alexa trafic rank dated 4/6/2012 =384789). Are you saying that with this popularity you sold your site for $200,000? Traffic rank of site is similar but I don’t have much earning through google adsense. Can you please explain – How it worked in your case?

    Thanks in advance.

  42. subhash says:

    Where I am sold out my web site
    Please tell me.

  43. Great post. I don’t plan on selling the website/brand I am currently working on, but that could change in the future. If I was offered a deal you just can’t refuse I might just sell. But what I write about is a passion. I believe in it. I know it helps a lot of people. There is a lot of controversy on my topic but that is a good thing I noticed. Because I love writing about my subject I am not so sure about selling it. Maybe I would keep it and create another website that I would create to sell it. I would have a lot of experience from my first site so that would be a plus.

    I have a question for you. I was going to ask it on the topic page but comments must of been disabled. I had a few advertisers approach me (this was before I was running ads) and it got me to do some research on what someone should be charging. My question is, if you were getting paid based on how many clicks the ad got on your website, how would you keep track of that? You would need to know how many clicks the ad got so you know what the bill would be for that ad. I am not saying that’s how I plan to sell my ad space but I want to be prepared. Is there a program that you use to keep track of that? Because my blog is still very new I will be charging a flat rate.

    And I do plan to getting my own domain name instead of using the blogspot. I will just redirect my traffic to the site. I will probably keep the blogspot setup just get my own domain. I kinda got use to blogger and like the setup my website currently has. People have given me good feedback so I don’t feel the need to change the setup. If the day comes and I need something better I would certainly upgrade.

  44. Mike says:

    Hi,

    Well, wonderful post. One thing to consider is now, that google, via its
    Panda updates kicked out some of the best websites on the net,
    even if they were whitehat and natural links. I am quite sure,
    Investors are now looking on that. The perfect website would
    work with PPC alone, without the need of organic traffic,
    to avoid losing its value incase of a google slap.

    Mike