In this post, I uncover the truth behind selling websites and what you must know if you want to sell your own blog or website.
My entrepreneurial journey has definitely not been a linear one.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you might know that my first biz was a freelance photography business, then I started a healthy living blog (called Sensual Appeal) which turned into a business generating a steady monthly income. The blog was one of the biggest ways I realized I absolutely love online marketing and it has opened many doors in the marketing world.
I didn’t realize my success with the blog was a big deal until everyone around me started gushing about how impressive it was, from both the content perspective (“you made that? that look deliciiiiious!”), but also the marketing perspective (“you get how many page views each month?! without any paid ads? How!?”).
How I sold my blog for thousands of dollars (+ what you need to know about selling websites) (click to tweet)
Even when I worked in the agency world, my boss would brag about my blog to clients when talking about me and how remarkable it was that I was able to get 100,000 page views each month and 50,000 monthly readers, while working a full-time job and still generating an increasing amount of revenue without a lot of hours of upkeep.
So you’re probably like, why the heck did she sell the blog if it was doing so well?
I’ll get to that in a second.
There are several things I learned through my adventure in selling my blog.
It was a bit of an up and down journey, starting with huge excitement followed by disappointment followed by excitement again followed by discouragement followed by settlement.
I’m going to share with you what I learned from this experience so that if you want to get into selling websites (or your own blog, if you have one) you’ll know what to expect and how it looks like.
Video table of contents:
- 0:00 – My story in a nutshell (more detail below)
- 5:40 – Your bounce rate matters
- 6:34 – Revenue sources matter
- 7:44 – Level of attachment
- 8:43 – What bonuses you include
- 9:43 – What’s your monthly spend
- 10:33 – Next steps
Why did I sell my blog?
The biggest question I’ve gotten since announcing my retirement from Sensual Appeal has been “But Whyyyy?!”
“If it only took a couple of hours per month, why leave it? Why not continue milking it for profit?”
“Are you no longer interested in health and wellness?”
All valid questions indeed.
So here’s the deal:
I started Sensual Appeal as a way to track my health and wellness journey back in early 2012. It’s allowed me to experiment with different foods, recipes, food photography (it’s SO much harder than portraiture!) and experiment with my marketing skills. It was fun. And it was a good outlet.
But then, I started getting increasingly busy.
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I liked the blog and had a big vision for it, but I eventually lost that spark I had for it when I started out. At that point, I had already started my current business… and working with clients, plus managing the blog, PLUS working 40 hours per week in a marketing agency (being in charge of an entire social media and email marketing department) was beginning to drain me.
I noticed that I was no longer doing few things extraordinarily well, I was doing many things just mostly alright. That’s not good enough for me.
I was getting pulled in too many directions and I wanted to keep all my projects ALL afloat but it simply wasn’t possible. My social life suffered. My stress level skyrocketed. I gained plenty of weight. Not a good time all around.
Am I still interested in health & wellness? Yes, I still am. Do I want this to be my business? No. What do I really love? Marketing. What did I love the most about my blog? Getting it out there.
Problem solved. Except, not really.
It’s hard to let go of something you’ve spent so much time and effort in building, especially when that something is profitable.
So back in October 2014, I went to a business conference (hosted by a woman who became my mentor) and we had this hot seat thing, except it was for just a couple of select people. I was one of those people.
I told the panel about my blog and my new business and one of this super-successful millionaire guys was like, “hey what if you sold me this blog? I’ll buy it from you.”
At first, I was defensive and didn’t wanna do it. If he’s interested, heck there’s gotta be something there! I got re-inspired to run the blog.
But after about a month or two of hustle, I came down and realized again: “nope, this is not for me anymore.”
The stages of grief
I was talking with my mentor one night and I had just made the final decision to sell my blog.
She was like, alright – let’s do this.
And as soon as I got off the phone, I started feeling… really sad.
I was mourning my blog. The loss of my blog.
I was reasoning not to sell it.
I was thinking, there must be another way.
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I was worried someone might take over and turn it into some weird porn site. (I mean, the name IS sensual appeal..)
But then, it passed. Acceptance set in and I was ready to get this blog off my hands and into somebody else’s.
Selling the blog directly VS putting it on auction
I reached back out to the man who offered to buy it during the business conference hot seat experience to see whether he was still interested.
After a few emails and phone calls, there was no offer on the table. He seemed to be a pro at disappearing when I wanted to get down to the sale. Flaky. I guess that’s what happens when you deal with people directly.
I registered an account on Flippa with a general idea of how much money I wanted to sell my blog for and I selected that as the “reserve price” (which is, from my understanding, the minimum amount of money you’re willing to accept for the website during an auction). I also selected a “buy it now” price that was even higher.
Then the auction began.
Flippa is really cool because it does all the marketing for you to let people know about your website. I started to receive bidders as soon as the site went on sale.
An hopeful inquiry
A few days into the auction, I got an intriguing email from someone inquiring to buy my site. He claimed he hasn’t seen it on Flippa but that it was an interesting coincidence. He said that, based on my revenue and my website statistics, the blog could be worth around $22,000 and he’d like to present it to his board of investors who buy websites.
Oh man, I was PSYCHED. I nearly spit the water out of my mouth when I read that email.
Long story short: I had to end my auction on Flippa early because the direct buyer wanted to be the only one in the running as he presented the website to his investor friends. He talked to his circle of investors and ended up saying no one was interested in the blog after all. So I basically stopped my auction for nothing and wasted a few weeks of back and forth with someone who got me hopeful and then shit all over it. Fun.
With the site still unsold, I had no choice but to put the website back on auction.
Back on auction
Flippa offered to re-list the website for free, so I decided to take them up on it. I was hopeful, THIS is the time I’ll finally sell the blog!
But… this time around, the bids were lower. Much lower.
I was feeling discouraged, thinking I’m not gonna sell this thing after all.
I was mentally ready to just be DONE with it already and move on, but things were simply NOT lining up. It was very frustrating.
After a few days of pathetic bids, I ended the auction early.
My mom expressed interest in potentially doing something with the blog but was unsure if she could keep up since it’s new technology (to her) and the fact that she’d have to write in English (not her native language).
But I figured if I’m not gonna sell this thing for less than it’s worth, I might as well just keep it or teach my mom to run it. Even if she wasn’t all that convinced she wanted to move forward with the responsibility.
After closing an auction on Flippa, you are presented with an option to send a private message to all bidders with a last-minute offer to buy the website NOW.
Ehh… might as well try, I thought.
I sent a message to all bidders stating that I’m contemplating on keeping the website after all unless someone is willing to pay at least however many thousand.
I had some lame counter offers… until I finally got a decent one. Not quite what I wanted to but okay.
I sent another counter offer. A few rounds of back and forth and we had finally agreed on a number that worked for both of us.
Not quite as much as I’d hoped but higher than he was willing to go, so it was a good compromise.
We talked via their messaging system to get things figured out and my website and social media accounts transferred over. A couple of days later, my website and domain had been moved out of my host and onto his and he had the full control.
I was no longer the owner of Sensual Appeal.
Dun dun dun…..
So that’s the story in a nut shell.
What I learned about selling websites
Now I want to break down some things I learned and some things you should know about selling websites if you’re interested in selling your own blog or website too.
This information is based purely on my own experience.
1. Your bounce rate matters
You have to connect your Google Analytics to the Flippa stats so that bidders can see the traffic you’re getting on a monthly basis. You have to be comfortable doing that.
But it doesn’t end there.
You have to also be comfortable sharing the full viewing access to some interested bidders as well so they can dig into the website more and see what kind of traffic sources you get, what your bounce rate is, and what the behavior is for people who land on your website.
No one wants a website where most of the people who come on a website leave right away. It’s a good idea to do what you can to lower your bounce rate so more of your audience sticks around, especially if a big part of your income comes from advertising on the site (those page views matter!).
2. Revenue sources matter
Everyone who was interested in the blog wanted to see the revenue sources to see how the revenue breakdown looked since, especially since the revenue I had claimed to receive on a monthly basis was way off from what the Adwords revenue was.
That’s because I was not really using Adwords for my advertising. My main advertising network was Glam (now called Mode Media) and it was my main sources of recurrent revenue from the advertising stream that you could see on the site.
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When looking at the revenue sources, the buyer wants to know how much of an upkeep it will take to generate that same amount of money from the website. For my specific situation, most of my money came from working with brands through blogger networks such as Collective Bias, Clever Girl Collective, Fitfluential, and others.
Does this require upkeep? Well, yes. If you don’t work with a brand to do sponsored content, you don’t get paid.
Makes sense. But many buyers were not willing to keep this part of the blog up since it requires ongoing management to keep the revenue flowing.
(Side note: the free stuff I was receiving from brands was definitely one of the main reasons why I didn’t wanna stop… Who doesn’t love free stuff (or better yet, getting free stuff AND getting paid to try it!) Le sigh.
3. Level of author “attachment” matters
I wasn’t sure what to call this one but it’s basically this: how much are YOU, as the website owner or blogger, connected to the blog or website itself? Is your picture all over the place? Is the website named after you? Do you make it very clear that YOU are the person behind the website and YOU are the one who makes it go round?
If so, it might be difficult for a buyer to revamp it without the website losing steam.
This is especially true for blogs. I had several people reply back to my counteroffers concerned about them being able to keep the same level of revenue going since my audience knew how much my website relied on me as the main gal. It was my photography, my recipes, my personal musings… emails, always signed by me as Kammie.
Granted, I’ve been stepping back a lot in the last couple of months before selling but it still had an effect. This is also why the buyer is still using my name on the blog to slowly transition and make it easier for the audience to get used to seeing less and less of me, and eventually nothing of me at all.
4. How much you’re offering as a “bonus” matters
A functioning website is great and all, but people want more than just a domain name and a website. That’s why it’s important to be clear what else you are willing to throw in the mix.
For me, I was really selling a brand, not just a website.
The buyer would receive the domain name, the website content (including my photography!), my email list, my social media accounts (except Pinterest), as well as the access to my ad networks and blogger platforms.
There was a bit of concern about the fact that I was not willing to give up my Pinterest since most of my social referral traffic was coming from there. However, since I’d been using the platform for my marketing business AND personal reasons, I had enough of a reason to not want to sell it, plus I ensured the traffic would NOT drop off after I hand over the website to the new owner.
5. How much you spend to maintain the revenue and traffic matters
The last most important thing I was asked a lot during the selling process was how much money I was actually investing (mostly in ads) in order to keep the traffic and the revenue the way it was. Bidders were interested in knowing how easy or hard it will be to keep up the performance of the website.
Thankfully for me, I have spent maybe a total of $100 or $150 during the entire course of my blog’s existence, so all of the traffic and revenue was coming from completely organically.
It was shocking to many people. It’s like they couldn’t understand how I could possibly get the traffic I was getting without spending money on paid ads or spending tons of time on upkeep. I haven’t been doing either.
Most of my social referral traffic was coming from Pinterest and it has helped some of my recipes go viral (like this one). The other helpful thing was SEO. My site was optimized (somehow, even though I don’t exactly consider myself an SEO expert but I do dabble) and my main source of traffic was Google.
This was a big selling point to the bidders as well.
What do you think?
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