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Buying and Selling Blogs: How Do You Value Blogs?

Selling blogs is a growth area of professional blogging. Having said that it’s not just people who want to buy or sell blogs that want to know how to value them. Bloggers often want to compare their progress against others.

This is a very difficult question because often you are comparing apples and oranges, plus you have to take into account what the bloggers intentions are.

The main generalized criteria will be the value of the domain, plus traffic, income, comments and subscribers. Unfortunately there is no standard measurement for blogs as to what is a good “score”, even worse is trying to compare blogs across niches.

Even closely related niches do not compare well, for example “make money” and “pro blogging” might have a lot of overlap but they are not the same by any stretch. More people are searching for making money than blogging tips, and a blog about making money is easier to monetize.

I am not going to give a dollar value but give you some ideas of what makes a blog more valuable outside of the obvious subscribers, income and domain name. First though a word on flukes …

Fluke Versus Strategy

Most bloggers want to know how to get more traffic, or achieve better search rankings. Occasionally though you have a page or site that gets a top ranking and some exposure purely by accident. How do you value an unexpectedly successful attempt, and most importantly make the most of a lucky fluke?

What do I mean by lucky fluke? One example I heard about today was a funny picture gallery that had become popular. It was never intended to be a viral success but all of a sudden it was ranking for a phrase and the hit counter was spiraling out of control.

I am in no way disparaging lucky accidents. They are great! But if you are looking to buy or sell a blog where it seems more good fortune than good judgment that has gotten it where it is you really need to dig further to find its true value. First you need to determine what has happened and why. Then you need to determine the value and how long the value will last for.

A fluke could be over or under valued, it all depends on who is seeing the value and what price they put on it :)

Content

If the blog has any chance of getting traffic or money then there will need to be great content and lots of it. Content is seen by some as a commodity, and in some ways it can look like that, but as any reader or subscriber will tell you not all content is made equally. The quality of a blog, and therefore value, has to come from the content and how much of it is there. If you have to choose between quantity and quality, go for the latter.

Where has the content come from, who does it belong to and where will the new content be generated?

Search rankings

While many people would like to rank #1 on Google, there are rankings and then there are ranking. Some phrases are worth a great deal, some appear like they might be worth a lot but are not, and some are worthless.

If you are ever going to buy a site be very careful when the description lists “ranks for many phrases” as an asset. Find out exactly what the phrases are and if they are any use.

A search phrase is only useful if A) people actually search using those keywords and B) if you can do something with the traffic.

Traffic

Following from the above, is a particular page or entire site generating traffic? If so, how much and where from? In general you want long term traffic from a steady source.

Front page Digg stories will send a spike of traffic all at once, but in three days will probably have fizzled out. If your blog is suddenly popular in social media just enjoy it while it lasts, on the other hand if there is traffic from several sources sustained over time then that is worth leveraging.

Digging up a property ready for sale is a new variation on old scam. You look at the stats and see thousands of unique visitors and think it is worth a great deal, only to find it has been on the social media sites every week for the last couple of months through less-than ideal means. In older days the traffic would be paid for to get the same result, now Digg and co are spammed like crazy. It makes the page views look good but unless you have access to the same Digg team don’t expect it to continue.

Non-targeted traffic has value when sold as CPM advertising or funneled towards another money-earning property. Targeted traffic can be valuable with performance based ads, such as adsense or affiliates, or for generating leads or selling products. With the humorous pics above it will likely be loosely targeted. If there is a theme to the content or audience you can usually monetize better than generic traffic.

Inbound links

Even a tiny blog will be worth a great deal more if it has tons of good quality links. You want a spread of links between the homepage and deep links to articles. Even better if there are a bunch of articles with many links each. Links are the currency of the web, they mean your blog has been noticed and voted for, and this turns into a search boost.

What you don’t want to see is the link count inflated by junk, spam or paid spots. Junk links are crappy sites set up just to increase the link count, like a lousy copy and paste job at blogspot or a rushed Squidoo lens. That is bad enough, but some blogs have their count increased by spamming comments, forums and guest books. Not good.

I have heard about blogs being sold with a bait and switch (or pump and dump, however you want to see it). To increase the perceived value links are created to point to the domain using friendly sites and bought links. Once the sale has gone through they all magically disappear, leaving way fewer inbound links and a big drop in actual value.

Attention and Loyalty

While this might be similar to traffic and links, attention is something that has value on its own. Think of attention as “brand recognition”, “profile”, “fame”, etc. On the one hand we do feel loyal towards certain blogs and bloggers more than others, on the other hand would we feel the same way should a site change hands?

When Performancing was sold Ryan, Raj, Ahmed, and co did a great job of rebuilding the community. It could have easily gone way worse in less capable hands. Consider if Techcrunch was sold without the authors staying on, could you keep the site going for long?

For each site you have to work out what the draw is, if it is cult of personality or access to a particular network you might have a tough job keeping the value after purchase.

Summary

In general you have to look past the surface of a blog to see its real value. You have to lift the hood to see if the value is real or smoke and mirrors.

Have you ever bought or sold a blog? Let me know your tips, stories or feedback in the comments …

Table of contents for Buying and Selling Blogs

  1. Buying and Selling Blogs: How Do You Value Blogs?
  2. Buying and Selling Blogs: Adding Value
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Comments

  1. Comments add value? I don’t think so as they can’t be monetized.

    Purely from my experience, you value a site at about 10x it’s monthly earnings. If it isn’t being monetized – it sells for a lot less. However, it’s true value will still stem from around 10x the money that could be made with it and that’s how you flip under-monetized sites for a quick profit.

    How do you make money? Search engine traffic makes money through CPM ads, RSS subscribers make money through affiliate recommendations so it’s just a matter of working out how much the site will earn monthly based on traffic numbers and usual sign-up rates.

    You also add a bit of value if the site “runs itself” and you don’t have to do any work. But if you’re buying a really profitable site, it’s not too hard to outsource content creation and you just minus those costs from the overall price.

    Essentially, you just simply value it like any other business.

  2. Comments add value? I don’t think so as they can’t be monetized.

    Purely from my experience, you value a site at about 10x it’s monthly earnings. If it isn’t being monetized – it sells for a lot less. However, it’s true value will still stem from around 10x the money that could be made with it and that’s how you flip under-monetized sites for a quick profit.

    How do you make money? Search engine traffic makes money through CPM ads, RSS subscribers make money through affiliate recommendations so it’s just a matter of working out how much the site will earn monthly based on traffic numbers and usual sign-up rates.

    You also add a bit of value if the site “runs itself” and you don’t have to do any work. But if you’re buying a really profitable site, it’s not too hard to outsource content creation and you just minus those costs from the overall price.

    Essentially, you just simply value it like any other business.

  3. Comments are an indicator of community, not something that add value directly. I would take comments and subscribers together to form a view of if the traffic is pumped or actually a readership.

    Take two blogs, both with 30k uniques a month. One has a RSS count of 1000 and each post gets 5 comments on average, the other does not show any comments or RSS subscribers, which is more valuable?

    Either way you would have to investigate further but I would lean towards the one with a good subscriber count and repeat commenters.

  4. Comments are an indicator of community, not something that add value directly. I would take comments and subscribers together to form a view of if the traffic is pumped or actually a readership.

    Take two blogs, both with 30k uniques a month. One has a RSS count of 1000 and each post gets 5 comments on average, the other does not show any comments or RSS subscribers, which is more valuable?

    Either way you would have to investigate further but I would lean towards the one with a good subscriber count and repeat commenters.

  5. I don’t think that 10 times monthly earnings can be used for all types of sites. I have a few sites which make me a few hundred a month and I never update them therefore I would be crazy to sell them for just 10 times the monthly profit.

    However, if a site was taking up all my time I would obviously be swinging more towards 10-18 times monthly earnings.

    With blogs it can be a bit more complicated as it depends how many people contribute to the blog – eg. it’s much easier to buy a blog and keep earnings stable which has a lot of authors compared to a blog where all the posts were written by the same person

  6. I don’t think that 10 times monthly earnings can be used for all types of sites. I have a few sites which make me a few hundred a month and I never update them therefore I would be crazy to sell them for just 10 times the monthly profit.

    However, if a site was taking up all my time I would obviously be swinging more towards 10-18 times monthly earnings.

    With blogs it can be a bit more complicated as it depends how many people contribute to the blog – eg. it’s much easier to buy a blog and keep earnings stable which has a lot of authors compared to a blog where all the posts were written by the same person

  7. Selling of blogs seems to be a common thing – but it can be quite a flop. Wisdump, blogged by 9rules fame, Scirvis, was sold to Splash Media (or something like that) and if my opinion is of any worth, has led to its ‘fall‘.

    Among other things, when blog is bought, an important factor is does the buyer recognize the direction of the blog and the readership. If this is misjudged, then what you have in your hand is a blog which has had great brand history, but a messy comment thread in the present.

  8. Selling of blogs seems to be a common thing – but it can be quite a flop. Wisdump, blogged by 9rules fame, Scirvis, was sold to Splash Media (or something like that) and if my opinion is of any worth, has led to its ‘fall‘.

    Among other things, when blog is bought, an important factor is does the buyer recognize the direction of the blog and the readership. If this is misjudged, then what you have in your hand is a blog which has had great brand history, but a messy comment thread in the present.

  9. I sold my old blog for $1000, which I considered a fair price at the time. It could have sold for a lot more if I had fully monetized it before hand, that way there would have been high earnings to boast about.

  10. I sold my old blog for $1000, which I considered a fair price at the time. It could have sold for a lot more if I had fully monetized it before hand, that way there would have been high earnings to boast about.

  11. I’ve never bought or sold a blog or site, but I continually have people contacting me to try to buy the domain name I use for my blog. I happened to grab a good url back in the day — 12 years ago– and just held onto it. Finally last month I started to use it and began blogging. I enjoy it and for me that’s worth more than I could sell it for. I haven’t figured out how to determine the $$ worth, so for me I just keep telling those who ask that it’s not for sale.

  12. I’ve never bought or sold a blog or site, but I continually have people contacting me to try to buy the domain name I use for my blog. I happened to grab a good url back in the day — 12 years ago– and just held onto it. Finally last month I started to use it and began blogging. I enjoy it and for me that’s worth more than I could sell it for. I haven’t figured out how to determine the $$ worth, so for me I just keep telling those who ask that it’s not for sale.

  13. I agree that RSS subscribers add value, but you haven’t convinced me on comments. My research has shown that regardless of a blog’s size, about 3% of readers leave a comment. Hence, the comment level flows proportionally to a blog’s traffic and traffic is much more easier to value and measure accurately than comments.

    That’s the reason you’ll see things like “5% of visitors click on this ad” rather than “5% of commentators click on this ad”.

  14. I agree that RSS subscribers add value, but you haven’t convinced me on comments. My research has shown that regardless of a blog’s size, about 3% of readers leave a comment. Hence, the comment level flows proportionally to a blog’s traffic and traffic is much more easier to value and measure accurately than comments.

    That’s the reason you’ll see things like “5% of visitors click on this ad” rather than “5% of commentators click on this ad”.

  15. Well put, Chris. Value is in the eye of the beholder.

    When I buy sites for myself, partners or clients, I know what they want out of it. For example, if someone mentions that they get $250/mth in paid review requests, it doesn’t mean I’d value that for my use. That’s not passive income (which you discussed recently).

    So know what you want, and what a site is worth to you. Then figure out what the site is worth to the seller and see if you can find something between.

  16. Well put, Chris. Value is in the eye of the beholder.

    When I buy sites for myself, partners or clients, I know what they want out of it. For example, if someone mentions that they get $250/mth in paid review requests, it doesn’t mean I’d value that for my use. That’s not passive income (which you discussed recently).

    So know what you want, and what a site is worth to you. Then figure out what the site is worth to the seller and see if you can find something between.

  17. I’ve heard anywhere from 10x to 24x monthly revenue. Kevin makes a great point about the “cost” of sustaining a revenue stream. That can be modeled into a purchase price as CashQuest describes.

    Good article

  18. I’ve heard anywhere from 10x to 24x monthly revenue. Kevin makes a great point about the “cost” of sustaining a revenue stream. That can be modeled into a purchase price as CashQuest describes.

    Good article

  19. well for valuing a blog/site, there is no single rule. There are diff ways for diff kind of sites. You give us a very nice points to think upon. Thank you

  20. well for valuing a blog/site, there is no single rule. There are diff ways for diff kind of sites. You give us a very nice points to think upon. Thank you

  21. something that i have been thinking about for quite some time now is how to measure the brand value for a blog…
    any idea on that chris.. how do you put a measure on say something like attention and loyalty

  22. something that i have been thinking about for quite some time now is how to measure the brand value for a blog…
    any idea on that chris.. how do you put a measure on say something like attention and loyalty

  23. Great article!..I also started doing my blogs..for now my blogs’ stats are not really high but I know with hard work I will get there…^^…soon!

  24. Great article!..I also started doing my blogs..for now my blogs’ stats are not really high but I know with hard work I will get there…^^…soon!

  25. Very good point about fluke traffic. I was in the process of just starting my blog last week when I happened to post content based on a popular Google search. My pageviews soared and here at my 10 day blog birthday I’m up to over 2600 unique visitors a day, 2,991 page views, and 54 RSS subscribers.
    It caught me by surprise so I’ve been scrambling to get some content out there so I don’t lose the momentum.

  26. Very good point about fluke traffic. I was in the process of just starting my blog last week when I happened to post content based on a popular Google search. My pageviews soared and here at my 10 day blog birthday I’m up to over 2600 unique visitors a day, 2,991 page views, and 54 RSS subscribers.
    It caught me by surprise so I’ve been scrambling to get some content out there so I don’t lose the momentum.

  27. Yesterday I sold a year old fitness site for above $15k USD. I think the brand of the site was a huge factor in the sale.

  28. Yesterday I sold a year old fitness site for above $15k USD. I think the brand of the site was a huge factor in the sale.

  29. Great article that covers the main element. I should have done this instead of letting the site die. I still have my domain name and it’s still PR5; but nothing on it now so I doubt it has any value.

  30. Great article that covers the main element. I should have done this instead of letting the site die. I still have my domain name and it’s still PR5; but nothing on it now so I doubt it has any value.