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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
- Buying and Selling Blogs: How Do You Value Blogs?
- Buying and Selling Blogs: Adding Value