Aaron Brazell of TechnoSailor is selling his personal blog on Ebay Sitepoint. He’s added a “Buy Now” price of USD $30,000.
I’m not sure what the future holds for him, and I do hope he will not leave his passionate and much appreciated involvement in WordPress.
Still, this got me wondering about how much a blog is worth.
In October 2005, a fun gadget tool was developed which allows you to test your blog’s value, according to a combination of Technorati popularity and ranking, along with a value equal to the “dollar ratio as the AOL-Weblogs Inc deal”, which was one of the largest blog sales at that time.
Using the tool, I decided to find out what Lorelle on WordPress was worth. In October of 2005, my blog was worth $80,000.00. Wow! I checked again a month later, and my blog was worth $145,651.00.
While it’s fun to make jokes about how I’m going to spend the money, this is just virtual paper, which is worth less than money on real paper. ;-)
Sixteen months later, and wondering about Brazell’s life changing blog sale, I started wondering what my blog is worth today.
It’s worth $776,807.04.
OH MY GAWD!
If my blog was a stock, you’d better invest in it cuz it’s going to split very soon. ;-)
While I was checking my own blog, I decided to check on Blog Herald. The Blog Herald is worth $964,234.32. Damn. Beaten.
When is the Right Time to Sell Your Blog?
How do you know when it’s time to sell your blog? Brazell admits he needs a change. He’s ready to jump off the cliff and sell his blog.
Many of the blogs I found listed for sale admit that the owners have just gotten bored or have too many blogs and something has to go. What would make you sell your blog?
In 2005, Darren Rowse of ProBlogger wondered how much you would sell your blog for, noting that timing is everything.
How much would you sell your blog for? How would you determine it’s selling price?
A few months ago I was offered $13,000 for Digital Photography Blog – I almost laughed when I got the email. If someone had offered me that much a year or so back I’d have jumped at it – but now I know it’ll make me that in a month or two just from its Adsense earnings. But it did make me wonder what I’d be willing to sell it for.
How much would you take right now if someone offered to buy your blog? How much would you have taken a year ago if they offered then?
Is there a right time to sell your blog? When would be the right time for you?
Many sell their blogs when they are bored or finished with them, but is that the right time to sell your blog?
The right to sell is when it is at the top of the charts. When it is doing its best. After you’ve just had two or four hits from Digg, Wired, or other traffic generating sources. When your blog is getting the most attention, this is when it has the most value and looks the best to buyers, right?
You aren’t just selling a blog, you are selling what the blog is built on: the return readers, reputation, quality content, and incoming links. When the blog is doing great, you will probably get a better price than when it is doing nothing.
How Much is Your Blog Really Worth?
What does it take to make a blog worth $30,000 or $776,807.04?
While Brazell listed his blog’s marketable assets to include Google PageRank, SEOMoz.org’s Pagestrength, Technorati Ranking, Google Inbound Links, feed subscribers, and his web traffic statistics, what are the real selling points you need to highlight to sell your blog?
I went looking for the criteria for selling and buying a blog. What makes a blog a good buy? What are blog buyers looking for?
Blog buying and selling is still a new market. Domain buying and selling has been around for much longer. Buying a domain name is similar but different from buying a blog with content. When you buy a domain name, you are buying an address, like a piece of property without a building on it. When you buy a blog, you are buying the building, too.
BloggerTalk offers Blog Selling and Buying Guidelines, specifically designed for their forum and those offering their blogs for sale or buying blogs.
The information BloggerTalk requires for their blogs for sale listings are pretty basic. They want to know how much traffic the blog gets, income sources, average income, and other economics of the blog, as well as Google PageRank, Alexa Ranking, and Yahoo and Google top keyword search results. They also want to know the date the blog was established, how often you blog, and the blogging platform.
In the discussions between sellers and potential buyers, buyers want to know where traffic comes from. Incoming links have value. Do they come mostly from Google or Yahoo search results, or from Digg, Wired, Slashdot, Engadget, or other social bookmarking and networking style services or blogs? Are there solid and long term sites or forums that link to the blog? The correct number of backlinks are very important in judging the potential earning capacity of the site.
Average monthly traffic is expected, but they also want to know when and what caused traffic spikes, and how much of the traffic is consistently return traffic, not just an average pushed up due to some Diggs.
Blogspot blogs are not permitted to be listed for sale on Blogger Talk, as well as some other site selling websites I visited. Redirected sites are also not appreciated. The reasons are not clear other than the hassles of buying a redirect. I wonder if free WordPress.com blogs would also not qualify.
They say you need to be specific about exactly what you are selling. You can sell the whole shoebox, or just the domain name. Does your blog’s sale include everything on it, including the hosting service, all rights, licenses, trademarks, and customized programming and code? Or are you selling just the content and domain name? What about retaining licenses, copyrights, and other intellectual property rights? Are you keeping the content for yourself? What are you offering for sale?
Most buyers want the “whole thing”, taking over the hosting, and everything therein. But some sellers only want to sell part of the package, retaining control over the rest. You have to be specific about what you are offering when you post that first “buy this blog” notice.
If you, the packaged “blogger”, are part of the blog sale, you need to be specific with what your responsibilities will be after ownership has transferred. Are you giving up total control, or taking a step back from the power seat and only contributing? Or are you walking away? For extremely popular personality-driven blogs, new owners often want the old folks to hang around, at least for the transition.
SitePoint also offers established websites for sale in a forum-auction format. They offer a Selling A Website FAQ (pdf) and Guide To Buying A Website (pdf).
A key point they make in establishing your blog’s value is the power of its brand:
Similar to your domain name, if your website is an established brand in its content niche that might add value. For example, there is value inherent in the SitePoint name simply because it is a well-known brand among web developers and it has a presence in thousands of stores worldwide.
They also add inventory (if available), custom programming, script licenses, and an established community (regular return readers). Syndication rights and agreements would also be included in the content and services part of the blog’s value.
Looking through the list, I see a couple of blogs stating that their blog has been “appraised”. Who appraises blogs? How do you appraise a blog for sale?
Digital Point offers Domain Appraisals. According to their Domain Appraisal Guide and Appraisals: A Guide, they recommend a 10 point system for “grading” the quality of a domain name’s marketability. For them, it’s all in the name, not the history of the site itself, though for serious buyers, that’s critical. It just isn’t important for their appraisals.
Digital Point also offers Sites for buying and selling but I couldn’t find a guide listed in their forum.
I looked all over and couldn’t find any other resources or experts who specialize in appraising blogs. So I wonder where those appraisals came from? Do you know? Are there other blog buying and selling sites?
Selling Points for Selling Your Blog
From my short research venture, here is a list of the information most frequently requested by those selling their blogs and those interested in buying them.
Not all of the information needs to be made public, but you need to be prepared to present all and any of this information if a buyer asks.
- Domain Name: There is something in a name and the name means money. If your domain name is easily recognized and remembered, it will add to your blog’s value. Does the blog title match the domain name? Buyers take these things seriously into consideration.
- Date Blog Established: The age of the domain is important to Google PageRank.
- Google Page Rank
- SEOMoz.org Pagestrength
- Technorati Ranking
- Alexa Ranking
- Yahoo and Google Top Keyword Search Results: Which search terms bring in the most traffic consistently.
- Branding: Name recognition and value.
- Transferable Revenue from Ads: Include information on ad contracts and arrangements as well as amounts.
- Web Traffic Statistics: Averages for the past week, month, three months, six months, year, and farther if available.
- Recent Traffic Spikes: List recent heavy traffic spikes from mentions in Digg, Slashdot, Wired, Engadget, etc.
- Consistent Return Traffic Levels: How many consistently return for more?
- Feed and Feed Subscriber Statistics: How many subscribers? What type of feeds and how many are offered. Does the blog include category specific feeds?
- Unique Visitors Statistics
- Market Specific Content Description: Is the blog industry or marketplace specific, serving a focused group?
- Number of Posts/Articles
- Number of Comments
- Demographics: Who needs this blog and returns frequently?
- Google Inbound Links: Be honest. This is easily checked. Do not include intra-site links as inbound links. Only external sites linking to the blog.
- Incoming Link Sources: Where are the most links coming from?
- Inclusion in Blogging Networks and Social Bookmarking Networks: Is such inclusion transferable?
- Email Lists/Subscribers: Does the site come with any subscribers via email? How many? How often are they contacted?
- Newsletters: Does the blog offer newsletters? How many, how often, and what is the content? Does it soundly integrate with the blog or totally separate?
- Forum Included: Is there a forum or discussion/chat area included in the blog? What are the statistics and assets associated with the forum?
- Press Coverage: Some blogs and bloggers are now becoming sources for news as well as news themselves. Have the blog been featured in recent news stories or reports? Is it frequently quoted or listed as a resource in news stories?
- Events Associated With the Blog: Are there any special events, conferences, or regularly scheduled events associated with the blog and expected to continue? Has it consistently participated in the Blog-a-thon or reported on an annual technology conference?
- Sponsorships: Has the blog sponsored events or programs or other business entities or blogs? Is it affiliated through promotion, reputation and business relations with other commercial entities?
- Inventory of Assets: Web page design, Plugins, comments, written and image content, audio and video files, programming files, downloadable content, archives, and related content and code are included in the sale or not?
- Inventory of Intellectual Property: Copyrights, licenses, customized programming code, trademarks, etc., are included in the sale or not? What are the agreements for transferring the licenses? Handling renewal fees, etc.?
- Host Server Agreement Transferable: Is it included or not? Describe hosting agreement and features.
- Syndication Rights and Agreements: How syndicated and to whom.
- Your Participation After Sale: Will you stay or leave, share control, give up control, continue to participate in some way. Outline specifics for your involvement, if any.
- On-site Content Used and Referenced by Off-Sites: Does the blog host images, Plugins, scripts, tools, or other content for use on external blogs or sites? How is this maintained?
- Unique Content: Is the content unique and original or mostly link lists and blockquotes?
- Current State of the Blog: Is posting ongoing and current or old and dated? What is happening today with the blog?
- Posting Frequency: Has a pattern been established for post frequency? Do readers expect content published on a regular basis? When?
- Content Freshness: How “timely” is the content? Does it go out of date quickly or is it long lasting?
- Competition: What is the blog’s competition and how does it measure up?
- Blog Authors: Is there only one blog author or multiple bloggers contributing. How will the sale impact them? Do they come with or not? What are the rights to their content? Are the copyrights transferable?
- Non-competition Agreement: Will the blog seller be restricted from creating a similar blog in the near future after the sale? If so, how long is the restriction? Or no such agreement will be made?
- Use of Inventory After Sale: Can the new owner use the same program, programming code, and content? What are the long time permissions, fees, and agreements that need to happen to permit such use?
- Blocks or Blacklists: Has the site ever been listed on any spam blacklists or blocked in any way? Explain why and how it was removed from the blocks and lists.
Have I left anything off you think should go into the list?
Have you sold a blog or are you considering selling your blog? What do you think are the most important points you would need to make if you were to sell your blog? What would make your blog appealing to buyers?
Even if you aren’t considering selling your blog, do you know the answers to these questions? Might be worth investigating your blog’s value by answering them. If you don’t like the answer, consider putting a little more effort into change the answers.
UPDATE: Technosailor’s sale has been cancelled, and the announcement offers some interesting insights I’ll be discussing later. Stay tuned.
Lorelle VanFossen blogs about blogging and WordPress on Lorelle on WordPress.
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.