[Case study] How we Sold an AdSense Site for Over $69,000 in 3 Hours

Branden Schmidt Updated on March 16, 2020

[Case study] How we Sold an AdSense Site for Over $69,000 in 3 Hours

When was the last time someone offered you over $69,000?

That is exactly what happened for the seller of this AdSense business. Once vetting was completed, the business was live on our marketplace for three hours before an offer for the full list price was submitted. Selling your business fast helps you move forward with a new business venture or kick off your next big investment.

For the seller of this AdSense business and its affiliated site, it was the opportunity to invest this capital into another business and start the process all over again.

He never imagined that we could help make that happen in such a short amount of time.

When most people think of affiliate sites, it usually revolves around one particular sub-niche or problem the customer is trying to get a solution to. Many of you reading this blog now may be in the middle of building out your very own content site and looking for ways to expand into something that looks less like clickbait and more of an authoritative site.

That is exactly what this seller was determined to do with their photography business.

The seller had purchased this business when it was already fifteen years old. He started by doing a majority of the work on his own, and in three years he made it one of the top resource sites within this niche. His evergreen content helped build a name for the business, which offered a stable stream of revenue with plenty of room for growth.

This case study serves as a reminder that hard work and determination will pay off in the end. If you are building your own content site or perhaps just recently purchased one to grow, it’s best to remember that success doesn’t happen overnight, but selling a desirable business can.

So why is the AdSense business model so attractive to potential buyers? We will explain why content sites offer huge potential to those who focus on evergreen topics and how you too can benefit from taking a similar approach to what this seller has done.

Authority Sites Are Lucrative To Buyers

It’s no secret that content sites are a well sought after business model for the simple fact that most of the work required to grow the asset comes at the beginning stages. When you offer quality content coupled with free information to your audience, you give your business value, which increases the conversion rate for the products that you sell.

Producing quality content every week is how the seller of this site was able to captivate his audience. He not only offered free information on various topics surrounding photography, but also product reviews and tutorials offered on other platforms through affiliate links. He published two articles or lessons per week, and would promote these articles alongside affiliate lessons within a newsletter that was sent out with every new piece of content.

At this point the seller was posting content on a weekly basis, outsourcing content from other photographers to add even more value, and promoting courses and tutorials found on sites like Udemy, CreativeLive, Craftsy, and other online photography platforms.

He had over 24,000 unique visitors to the site every month which is good to see from a search engine optimization (SEO) standpoint. With the right content for keyword volumes, he offered enough value to the site’s readers to generate almost all of the traffic organically.

Monetizing the site with display ads generated 60% of the business’s revenue with an average net profit of $1,824 from a total monthly revenue base of $2,143.

A good portion of revenue from this business comes from AdSense, but the seller was also able to diversify revenue streams with tutorials and affiliate offers from other photography professionals making up the remainder of income sources. Marketing other courses based around the photography niche gave this seller’s audience a great deal of content within their lessons while offering promotions and discounts within the newsletter and social media posts.

Know Your Niche

When the seller first purchased this business back in 2015, he was already very familiar with photography, managing a celebrity music photographer with aspirations to produce and sell training courses and videos online. Already having this knowledge and experience in the photography niche helped him to expand on the quality of the sites content allowing him to grow the business on his own with little outside help.

Knowing valuable information about your business niche can not only help you grow, but also give you the chance to become an authority leader in your market. Having this experience had given the seller an opportunity to grow the business without the added cost of hiring a team of content writers, allowing him to keep expenses low.

This was important to the overall health of the business as the seller had hired a design firm shortly after acquiring the business back in 2015 to perform a complete front end overhaul of the site. A new design though wasn’t the only thing the seller did to improve upon the asset.

Here is just a few things the seller did to improve the business:

  • Began generating new, quality content
  • Replaced old low-resolution images
  • Optimized ad placement
  • Established new affiliate relationships
  • Created email newsletters they sent out for every new piece of content
  • Offered affiliate tutorials in every email

With all of these improvements in place, the seller was able to improve site traffic, increase conversions, and rank higher for their target keywords. When new optimizations take place on an existing site, it may take a few months or even a few years for these improvements to take effect in Google’s algorithm.

Based on the improvements the seller made on this business, the average net profit grew by over 73% from 2017 to 2018. Going from making an average net profit of $523 to $1,824 every month in a year’s time is an amazing return on investment (ROI), considering most of the work had been done by the owner up to that point.

As mentioned above, all of this comes into play due to the simple fact that content sites usually take some time to build in the beginning. After you’ve published a few articles and begin ranking on google, the journey to success for this business model is not far behind.

Not all Brokers are the Same

After running the business for three years, the seller had decided now was the time to prepare for an exit to focus on other ventures he had been working on. He had a steady stream of income coming in like clockwork and figured the site should sell itself. The simple fact is that there is more to selling a business than listing it for sale and waiting for the offers to roll in.

You see, the seller first decided to list his business for sale with the same broker from which he originally had purchased the site from back in 2015. The site was almost 18 years old now and having grown the business, he was confident he would be offered a nice return on all of his hard work.

He soon realized that not all brokers are created equal. He was locked into a six month agreement having only one Craigslist-type low-ball offer come to the table. In the end, they wasted his valuable time—time he could have spent on legitimate offers from serious buyers.

After some time digging around the Internet looking for better options he discovered us. Upon reviewing our vetting requirements, he was more than confident his business would meet our standards. Having spent six months on another brokers marketplace with nothing to show for it, he was more than eager to get the site sold.

What happened next surprised him as well as us, prompting the following discussions of generating the valuation of his business.

Know Your Worth

When the seller submitted his business with us to be evaluated by our team of vetting specialists, he was eager to get a high multiple. At the same time, he wanted to sell the business quickly, having just wasted six months trying to sell this business with the same broker he had purchased it from. When our vetting team performs due diligence on a submitted business, no stone is left unturned. Every factor from source of traffic and conversion rates to what’s happening on the backend of the site analytics are taken into consideration when determining the value of any business we list on our marketplace.

So how did we compare? Well, we can’t tell you the name of the seller but here’s a direct quote from him about the experience:

“The vetting process went smooth as silk”

– Seller

Being the largest curated marketplace for online businesses with the most deal flow on the market, we have the data and experience to give every customer the best possible valuation of their business. Depending on the seller’s needs, we offer two types of valuations after determining what their site is worth compared to other similar sites we’ve sold in the past.

First we give a typical valuation multiple, which is backed by hard sales data and offers the seller the best possible multiple with the shortest acquisition time.

We also give an absolute valuation of the business. This is more theoretical and offers the seller the option to list at a higher than typical range if they wish to hold out for a bigger offer, or lower than the typical range for a seller wanting to make a quick sale.

In this case, we had given this business a typical multiple range of 34 – 41 and an absolute multiple range of 19 – low and 57 – high. After proper due diligence and vetting every aspect of the business, our team decided to give the seller a typical multiple of 36x.

After reviewing our decision just a few days prior to his listing going live on our marketplace, the seller had requested us to reevaluate his business in hopes of obtaining a higher multiple. He was willing to wait longer for the business to sell if that meant he could receive a higher multiple in doing so.

The seller accepted the 38x multiple that our vetting team suggested was still within the typical range, well-aware that the higher multiple might lead to an overall longer sales period.

The listing went live on our marketplace, and within one hour, had five deposits.

Within three hours… the listing sold at full list price.

The seller was shocked.

He couldn’t believe we sold his business for the full asking price in less than three hours. He knew from that moment choosing us was the best decision he could have made when selling his business.

Here are his verbatim words about the experience:

“Holy cow that was fast! I thought it would take at 30+ days to get an offer. You guys did it in 3 hours!!! I definitely made the right decision using Empire Flippers.”


Selling a content site like this is not only great for the seller, but the buyer had also received a valuable asset with plenty of room for growth and already producing cash flow for the buyer. Purchasing a site within an established niche, an authority site that had continued to grow year after year is something plenty of buyers are always on the lookout for and is why this particular asset sold as quick as it had.

The Buyer’s Opportunity

Receiving the full asking price within just three hours of the listing going live is not surprising, considering businesses underneath the $100k range on our marketplace tend to sell fast. Being a well-established authority site with an evergreen niche like photography is something most investors will jump on in a heartbeat. It was already earning money and had plenty of room to grow, such as expanding to other affiliate offers, utilizing social media channels to their full potential, and expanding to other markets. This was an opportunity with huge potential.

The business had over 25,000 active email subscribers. That email list meant that the new owner could capitalize on this addressable audience and potentially grow affiliate offer margins within the email newsletter.

Backlinks were another low hanging fruit the buyer had noticed hadn’t been optimized yet. Building the site’s SEO was something the seller hadn’t spent much time on during the three years he owned the business, so this presented a great opportunity to grow the organic traffic to its full potential.

After growing your own content site to what you believe is the full potential, make sure you’re not missing out on your own low hanging fruits before listing your business for sale. Scheduling an exit call with one of our professional business analysts will ensure you get the ROI you deserve.

If you are interested in acquiring your own content or AdSense site, schedule a buying criteria call with our team to take the next step in growing your own empire.

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