Inside: How to sell a blog and tips for exiting I learned along the way.
I sold my first ever business, A Subtle Revelry in 2019. Here’s the story and advice from a now serial digital business seller to you.
I mean… where do I even start? This first sale was all a little surreal, but I’m excited to share our process incase you might be thinking of building or selling your blog.
All in all, the process was WAY easier than I would have ever imagined.
Here’s a few things I learned along the way.
Deciding Why You Want To Sell A Blog
This is a big one. Why do you want to sell?
It’s a big question, not just because the buyer wants to know… but also for yourself.
We went through a lot of talking, making pros and cons and work to figure out why we wanted to sell.
When it came down to it, my priorities had changed and we were focusing more on our family and building other businesses and honestly after 9 years of running the A Subtle Revelry brand, I was just done.
I realized I wasn’t going to be the one to take the brand to the next business level, but I had built it & primed for someone else and was ready to hand it off.
A couple of the issues we thought through when deciding why we wanted to sell the blog:
- How would it feel for me, not be known for running this brand any longer.
- What would our income structure look like? Since our blog had been providing for our family we needed to figure this out.
- How were we going to invest the earnings of the sale into the future of our family.
- How did I feel about giving away nearly 3,000 posts of content + social media channels I had grown lovingly over the years.
- Was I going to be okay if the buyer took the site in a different direction than I imagined it?
- Do I acknowledge the future opportunities I will not have once giving up this brand.
I think it’s fun to talk about selling your blog for a large price tag, but at the end of the day working through these issues takes a lot of thought and process. Many sites (like Design Sponge), just don’t feel right about selling and many others would be too broken hearted to give up all their work for any amount of money.
This is 100% okay and we spent a couple months working through all these thought and processing until I felt for sure we were ready to sell.
Creating A Sellable Blog Brand
This is a BIG, HUGE deal in the content creation space. If what you are looking to sell is a blog that creates content to generate traffic and income, you will have to prove to the buyer that they don’t need to be you to do this.
Once we decided we were for sure ready to sell, this was our next focus. I have always had freelance writers and photographers work for me, from day one… So this was already happening in a lot of ways for our site.
If you currently produce all your content you will need to look into hiring out the work.
Most buyers don’t want to buy a site they have to work more than 5 hrs a week on. So you’ll need to figure out how to get your time managing down.
This will increase expenses, but is worth it of you are looking to sell your site down the road. Plus, I’ve heard from a number of bloggers that once they did this, they realized how little work running the site took and decided not to sell after all. HA!
We had freelance content creators in place and also a social media assistant. I got verbal confirmation from all our contractors that they’d be happy to stay on for the new owners, which helps the buyer feel more comfortable for sure.
A Note On Personality Based Brands
The other issue when looking at making your brand sellable is to remove as much of your personality from the brand as possible.
I know this goes against EVERY training on building a solid brand, but here’s the catcher you can have a great solid brand… it just cannot be based on you.
This is hard to swallow for sure, but think of it from the buyers perspective – if they are purchasing your brand, they want to know they can run it successfully and unless you want a golden handcuff issue where you have to stay on running the brand for the next 3 years, you need to show them your face isn’t needed to run the brand.
We did this strategically a few months before selling by doing easy things like removing our face from our IG profile and hiring models for any shots that needed people in them, instead of showcasing my face and family. Unless it was absolutely necessary, I tried to keep my face out of the running of the brand as much as possible (even IG stories!).
One easy trick is to go through your story highlight real and see how much of it is focused on your life. Then begin to rebuild your brand story based on the best of the brand, just without you involved.
This gave our buyer the confidence they needed to take over our brand in their way.
Compiling The Proof
Buyers, especially those ready to dole out six or even seven figures for your blog want proof of everything! To finalize your sale you will need to show:
- Proof of income
- Proof of expenses
- Proof of traffic
- Proof of affiliates
Just to name a few. Although this seems scary, it is really not.
Just to be 100% honest, I was not the best at keeping books clean and tidy for this first business. I think many of us that start something as a hobby first can be stuck in this boat. We’ve learned so much over the years, but if I was able to sell with our messy books so can you.
For proof of income we were able to provide bank deposit statements & Paypal deposit statements. For expenses, it helps if your contractors invoice you, but if not bank/paypal statements work here as well. For proof of traffic you will need to give the broker access to your google analytics account.
They will also want proof of any affiliate relationships and any outstanding contracts you have in place with brands, agencies etc.
It sounds like a lot, but it honestly took me maybe a day and 1/2 to compile and submit everything and that was with my very messy books. If you keep clean books or have a book keeper your life will be 100% easier!
What Metrics Help A Blog To Be Sellable
We already talked above about how the buyer doesn’t want to buy a site they end up working 60 hrs a week in. But what other metrics will make your blog appealing. There are two really big ones to consider:
1. Sustainable income
Whether this is from larger brand agencies you work with, Ad companies, products you sell or affiliate relationships having consistent stable income in the #1 thing your business sales price will be based on. Income that consistently comes in every month is very appealing for buyers.
This can often be hard for bloggers, one of the things we’ve always done is to work with larger ad agencies like Adthrive for ads and Ahalogy or PopPays for social campaigns, so even though our brand partnerships are all over the map every month, the company paying us was consistently depositing monthly.
2. Sustainable site traffic
Buyers are buying (in large part) your audience, so they want to make sure the audience will still be there after the deal goes through. Google organic traffic and Pinterest traffic combined made up 89% of our site traffic, this made us very compelling to buyers because that traffic is sticking traffic.
One of the best things you can do 8-12 months before deciding to sell your site is to FOCUS ON YOUR TRAFFIC. Build stronger traffic from the most important senders online.
Obviously, if you’ve been here before you know that I can help you with that through my plan to scale coaching package.
3. Organic, solid & engaged social media following
This is another area that although it’s not really part of the valuation of your site, is important to any buyer of your site. What is your social media audience like? The more engaged they are the more valuable they are in the eyes of a buyer.
We built our social media following organically through a lot of hard work over the past 9 years which was another point that our buyers seemed to really love.
What Will Your Blog Be Worth?
While I cannot share the specific number we sold for, I can say that selling a blog for high six figures or even seven figures is 100% normal. I didn’t realize this when we started the process and was honestly a little astonished to see what our brand was worth.
Here are the basics of a site valuation. How a brokerage firm values your business:
Yearly profit x a multiplier = List price
Your site will be valued on the last 12 months of income, so selling after your best year ever is the best way to do it! If we all just had magic crystal balls this would be the easiest.
Your valuation (the multiplier) will depend on a number of factors including how old your business is, how much content you are bringing, what your traffic sources look like etc.
We went through the valuation process with 3 different brokerage firms (more on that below) and they all came out in the same general range.
Most online content businesses will list for a multiplier of between 2.5-5.0. Our list price was based on a multiplier of 4.7. I felt really great about this and it showed what a strong content based business we had created over the years.
How Do I Pick A Brokerage Firm To Sell My Blog?
When selling a blogging business using a brokerage firm has many advantages. They will handle the marketing and promoting of your business and many of them have lists of customers waiting to buy your exact business!
We interviewed 3 different firms before finding the one we decided to go with and I will do nothing but sing their praise publicly. They made what could have been a very scary process, easy and straightforward for us.
I’ve created an entire online broker review post here for you to consider and I’m always happy to help make a contact for you with the right firm.
Email me at [email protected] and I can guide you on the journey.
One thing I will say is that not all my experiences were positive. Please be sure to read all SMALL PRINT for any brokerage firm you choose.
The Process Of Working With A Brokerage Firm
The process with all three above is pretty similar, they will ask for an initial estimate of earnings and schedule a call to go over the process with you. Then once you sign a letter of intent, which gives them exclusive ability to sell your site for a set period of time, they will start the due diligence process.
This is where you provide all the proof of income, expenses, traffic etc and answer A LOT of questions. The basic idea is they want to ensure they are selling the right business at the right price and know how to market it best to buyers.
What Did We Do After The Sale?
Sat on the beach drinking margaritas forever. HA! Nope…
Selling was a huge decision for us and we had a plan in place before deciding to take the leap. My biggest passion right now is helping other woman to start, scale and sell their own digital businesses.
Right after the sale I took a couple months off to regroup and jumped into a product based business, which is another story of building to scale and eventually sell. That business was sold in 2022.
Now I am enjoying getting to start new sites – once you do it and can see the result it gets too exciting to not continue! And training others how to do the same, here daily.
A great exit plan is a great business plan
This is something I’ve come to dearly believe.
We are also working on a few fun side projects as well that have replaced the creative elements of the business need I have.
What Is The Hardest Thing About Selling A Blog?
For me, the most difficult part of the process was the waiting.
There’s a lot of waiting…
- Waiting for due diligence
- Waiting to go to market
- Waiting on offers
- Waiting in escrow
- Waiting for the migration to be over
In every step of the way it felt like it was taking for eternity. Truth be told from our first phone call to selling the site actually took 6 months on this first business sale.
My second sale took 4 months and the 3rd sale only took 2 months!
Once the waiting is over though there is so much to celebrate! I found it was helpful to have a fun plan for closing day. It gives you something to think about during the long process you are embarking on. It could be easy like book a spa day, or go out to buy a pretty dress. Perhaps there’s something you are really excited to pay off right away?
I went with my husband to Napa and we bought a fancy bottle of wine. It felt like a great way to celebrate the end pay off & all the work and effort along the way.