Buying, selling and flipping websites has become incredibly popular over the last few years. I first starting trading websites around 2002 but it’s much more common now than it was then.
The Sitepoint Marketplace and the Digital Point Site Room are the two places I check most regularly though there are dozens of other great web development related forums with trading areas but those are the ones I usually check first before the likes of DnForum and NamePros.
Over the years I’ve noticed that success breeds imitation. Template affiliate stores were all the rage at one point and then Amazon Web Services sites, followed by turnkey websites, arcades and build a niche stores (to name but a few). Discussion forums have also been popular since I can remember as well. If you get in at the right time with a ‘hot type’ of website then you can make a lot of money. For example, I still make over $1,000 a year from template referrals and I haven’t owned a template related website for over 5 years.
Without doubt, Blogs have been the flavour of the month for quite some time now (should it be called flavour of the year?) and I have paid close attention to the marketplaces. However, I’ve yet to see a blog which was worth buying. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some great blogs for sale but they have all, in my opinion, been greatly overpriced. This is great news for bloggers who are selling their blogs though it’s not so great for potential buyers.
On the whole there are more poor blogs for sale than good. I’ve seen scraper blogs for sale, blogs which have been online a few weeks, blogs which are populated with free articles which are duplicated around the web and blogs which have terrible designs and more advertisements that content. I don’t want to discuss these types of blogs which are being sold though so for the rest of this post please assume that I’m referring to blogs which have original content and a good design
First of all let me say, that I’m not against blogs being sold for high prices. As a blogger I think it’s great news as it means the blogs I own are worth a good amount of money though as a buyer I feel that it’s impossible to find a well priced blog, let alone a bargain.
When you are buying a blog there are a lot of factors you must consider but the main questions you need to answer are :
I’m sure some of you may be thinking to yourself ‘That’s a lot of questions to ask for every blog you see for sale’ but it doesn’t take long to address them. Once you start looking at websites for sale you can quickly answer most just by looking at the site and the rest of the questions are just plain common sense.
So why aren’t many blogs meeting this criteria? Well, for me the main reason is that they are selling for too high a price. I can’t blame the bloggers for listing the blogs at a higher price because at the moment the marketplace is suggesting that they will get it however I certainly won’t be bidding as they represent a poor investment. Most of these blogs are being sold on the potential the blog has. Commonly the seller says something like ‘The blog is making $50 a month just now but with a little time it could make $500 a month very easily’. A sales pitch which strangely does seem to work!
Of course, value has to be placed on potential however every blog has potential and the time you spend on this new blog could be time spent developing a brand new blog yourself. I’m aware that starting a new blog is difficult and I also know that there are people who have little time but a lot of money so they are happy to pay over the odds for the blog but personally, I’m looking for something which will give me a good return for my investment.
We’ve established that finding a good blog at a bargain price is very difficult these days but on a happier note, this means it’s a great time to sell. I’m not suggesting you all run out and sell your main blog but it could be worth your while developing a 2nd or 3rd blog for 3-6 months with the sole purpose of selling it on (if you have the time).
The blogging and web development niche has been particularly popular however all types of blogs are being traded. There have been quite a few blogs in the blogging niche which have sold for over $5,000 and only had between 200 and 500 subscribers. It’s possible to get a blog to that level within 3 months so in that respect, it’s a great bit of business for the seller.
If you already have a successful blog then you are in an even better position as you can push traffic from your existing blog and if you are well known within the niche, you should be able to develop the blog even quicker. However, I do think that this can harm your reputation and it’s one of the reasons why I haven’t started a 2nd blog with the intention of selling it. If your readers follow you to the new blog and then you sell up they might be annoyed (particularly if you do it frequently). Then again, some readers are maybe not as fickle as I am! Seriously, I think that if you develop a reputation for starting blogs and selling them it will make it harder to get future blog projects that you are serious about off the ground.
This can all be avoided by using a pseudonym. If you start a 2nd blog and distant it from yourself then you can build, promote and sell blogs and it won’t hurt your main blog/website. This is the way I think I’d do it. For example, if I had to start a blog about domain names and my sole intention was to sell it 6 months later I’d perhaps talk about it on my personal blog however I wouldn’t promote it here.
If you would like to make some extra money by selling a blog then I recommend keeping tabs on the trading areas of webmaster forums where the blogs are being bought and sold. Pay attention to what type of blogs are selling well and look at the reasons why they are selling well ie. are they well designed, are they making a lot of money, how many subscribers do they have etc. A classic case of Monkey See Monkey Do!
It’s very difficult to predict what will popular in 6 months or in a years time. There is a chance that blogs are just a fad that webmasters are going through and perhaps we will see less blogs traded in the next year.
My gut feeling is that we may see a small decline in the prices that blogs are selling for but I do think that blogs will continue to sell well in webmaster circles for the next few years. At the end of the day, if you have a website, any website, and it has traffic and a little income, someone out there will be interested in buying it. But whether blogs continue to sell at the prices they have been selling at is anyones guess.
In the current market, it is definately a better time for bloggers to sell rather than buy. Good deals are few and far between and in most cases it would be better to start a blog from scratch and simply promote it using the money you had set aside to purchase a blog.
It is a great time for bloggers to sell though. Blogs with just a few hundred subscribers are selling for thousands of dollars and the market doesn’t seem to be saturated as yet.
If this is all new to you, drop by the Sitepoint Marketplace or the Digital Point Site Room over the next few weeks and see what’s being sold. It won’t take long til you are familar with the types of blogs which are selling well.
As always, I’d love to hear what readers think about all of this so please leave a comment if you have time
Kevin Muldoon is a professional blogger with a love of travel. He writes regularly about topics such as WordPress, Blogging, Productivity and Social Media on his personal blog and provides support to bloggers at Rise Forums. He can also be found on Twitter @KevinMuldoon and Google+.