How to Buy a Blog
Arguably, the most difficult step in building a blog is getting started.
With so many unanswered questions about what niche to pursue, what tools to use, or what skills to acquire, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the options and find yourself years later without having taken a meaningful step forward.
Buying a business can be an answer to many of these obstacles, but this comes with its own set of questions that can make it equally as difficult to get started — how much should you pay for a blog? Where do you buy blogs without getting scammed? How do you identify blogs worth buying as well as ones to avoid?
In this article, we’ll answer some of the most common questions that arise when considering buying a blog, and a step-by-step method for finding a blog that works for you as a business owner and investor.
By the end of this, you’ll ideally have more clarity and confidence to take the next step in buying a blog and becoming the owner of a content-based business.
Before we get started, let’s address a pivotal question: is a blog still even a good business model to own?
Is a Blog Still Worth Owning Nowadays?
Blogs, also known as content sites, have been around for as long as much of society can remember using the internet.
With the rise of social media, ecommerce, and Web3, are blogs still relevant in today’s online world?
While on the surface, it can seem like blogs are outdated artifacts of the digital landscape, if you take a look at the Empire Flippers marketplace, you’ll see that they are very much alive and thriving as business models.
Many of the sites you visit, even the smaller ones, can on the back-end be businesses owned by a single blogger generating thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per month in net profit.
Why Blogs Are Still Attractive Business Models
Some of the main reasons why owning a blog is still an attractive business model to own include:
Low Overhead Cost
Blogs can be launched and operated with very low expenses compared to other business models, such as with ecommerce or SaaS, which require purchasing inventory or hiring expensive talent to get started.
At a minimum, a content site requires you to pay for a domain name and website hosting and for someone to write and publish the blog content on the site. If you’re writing the initial content on your own blog yourself, you could get started with even less than $100.
No Inventory Management
The purpose of a blog is to drive traffic, and this traffic is commonly monetized when your audience purchases other businesses’ products or services.
Assuming you aren’t selling your own physical products, you won’t have to manage the process of manufacturing, shipping, and fulfillment. Additionally, you won’t need to worry about stocking out of inventory, supply chain issues, or manufacturing cost increases.
Potentially Low-maintenance and Relatively Passive
Established blogs that are up and running with a solid foundation of content and traffic can require minimal time to maintain.
Especially if content production is handled by a freelance writer, a website can provide a source of consistent and relatively passive income with very low involvement for the site owner.
A Source of External Traffic For Ecommerce Stores
Whether selling through Amazon or a personal website, ecommerce store owners endeavor to generate a higher portion of their sales organically rather than through advertising, and blogs can offer an additional source of organic traffic to accomplish this.
Companies acquiring other businesses for the purpose of increasing the sales of the original business is known as a bolt-on acquisition strategy. While this strategy originated with larger companies, it’s also now being implemented by smaller online businesses.
Can Be Flipped Like Real Estate
Many people who build websites are unaware that they can actually sell their sites, sometimes for retirement-level amounts of money.
Similar to flipping real estate, some business owners choose to buy websites instead of building them, with the strategy of growing them and then re-selling them for a profit in as short as a few months later.
To Build or Buy a Blog?
A common question in this space is whether it’s better to build a new blog from scratch or buy a blog.
Some of the primary reasons for buying blogs over building them include:
The Significant Return on Investment
Online businesses are typically valued at 30-40x their average monthly net profit.
This means if you bought a business that consistently performed at its average, it would take 30-40 weeks until you saw a 100% return on your investment.
For example’s sake, let’s say you bought your business at a 36x multiple, with the implication being that it would take 36 months or three years to see a full return on your investment. This is roughly a 33% annual return on investment. Compare this to alternative investments such as a high-yield savings account which might yield a 1% annual return, or an index fund which on average yields an 8% return annually.
As a disclaimer, online businesses can drop below their average performance and sometimes for reasons outside of a business owner’s control, but they can grow exponentially as well. While this is certainly not the case for all site owners, some buyers have experienced a return on their investment within even as short as 6-12 months!
The Time Saved
Driving traffic can take time. It’s not uncommon for it to take months for a blog to start driving traffic, and potentially over a year to make decent money. When buying a business you’re saving time and you’re making a return on your investment from day one.
In addition to the amount of time it takes for a site to rank and start driving traffic, there’s the possibility that the website doesn’t rank well even after a longer period of time.
This could be due to the niche selected, the competitors in the space, or for various reasons that could ultimately mean you’ve spent months or years working on a blog that isn’t producing the level of income you expected.
When buying a blog, you’re working with a site that has a proven history of performance. You will know what level of performance to expect, and ideally, see the performance trajectory indicating its growth potential.
The Other Assets That Come With a Business
If you buy a business, you’re also buying anything else that comes with it. These might include assets such as:
- Standard operating procedures (SOPs) for all business tasks
- The Google Analytics property
- Introductions to writers or freelancers
- The domain name
- The WordPress account and any plugins set up on the account
- Social media accounts or pages
- Email subscribers
These are all assets that people don’t immediately think about when buying a content site, but many of these are necessary elements of building a business that can also save you time and resources.
How to Buy a Blog
If you’ve decided that buying a blog is a better option than building one, how do you get started and how do you find a good deal?
Below is a step-by-step summary of how to define the best type of blog for you and how to identify ideal buying opportunities within that criteria:
1. Choosing your Budget
When choosing your budget, you will want to of course consider how much you can afford, but you should also understand how much net profit you want to generate with this business and why.
Is this business meant to replace job income? Is this meant to be a bolt-on acquisition?
You can review our marketplace of businesses for sale to get an idea of what blogs are valued at based on how much profit they generate.
Furthermore, are you just starting out in the online business space or do you already have experience with running a blog? If this is your first foray into online business or websites, you might consider buying a smaller website to test out the process and understand how to operate the business, before moving on to a larger purchase.
As a side note, when purchasing a website through Empire Flippers, you can potentially negotiate an earnout payment structure, which means you’re buying the business for a portion of the cash up front and the remaining paid out over an agreed-upon timeline.
For more information on this, we recommend reading through our definitive guide on deal structuring.
2. Understanding Business Operations
Behind the scenes, the business operations of two similar-looking sites might be very different. One business might require the owner to work 20 hours per week, and the other business might have a team of content writers and specialists, enabling the owner to work only two hours per week.
Many buyers are not acquiring a business to be a full-time job while others do enjoy taking a more hands-on role within their business. Understand what the operations of the business look like and what your day-to-day role would look like as a result.
3. Finding a Blog to Buy
Choosing where to buy a blog is a very important step. How do you ensure you’re dealing with trustworthy sellers who are selling healthy businesses? How do you ensure your transaction is protected and you don’t get scammed?
Blogs are commonly bought and sold through online business brokerages or sold via private deals between a buyer and seller.
In addition to performing proper due diligence on the businesses (discussed in the sections below), you will want to ensure that whichever route you go, you are protecting yourself in the transaction by ensuring specific terms are outlined such as where your money is held during the deal, what the transfer process looks like, and conditions for terminating the deal.
4. Deciding to Purchase Privately or Through a Brokerage
The decision to work privately or through a broker is usually more difficult for sellers, as they are the ones who pay a commission to brokerages.
Perhaps the one benefit for buyers to work privately with a seller is if they can negotiate a better deal. However, there are multiple services that brokers can provide that can both protect buyers in deals and save them time and money that could easily outweigh the amount saved on negotiating a deal privately.
If deciding to work with a broker, it’s important to note that not all brokers provide the same services. For example, most brokers do not provide a migration service, meaning a buyer and seller are responsible for transferring the business assets on their own.
Transferring a website can be risky if done improperly. It can lead to ad accounts, such as Adsense, being shut down and websites becoming demonetized.
When considering buying online businesses with different brokers, review their terms of service or ask them the following questions:
- When is a deal considered complete? Is it after all assets are transferred or just the domain?
- Do you offer escrow services?
- Do you offer migration services?
- Am I offered any protection if the business significantly drops in performance during the negotiation?
- How are the businesses vetted before being listed on the marketplace?
5. Analyzing Blog Characteristics
The characteristics of a blog can answer a few key points.
First, if a blog is built off of a solid foundation, it is more likely to remain resilient through the inevitable Google algorithm updates. Your goal is to find a blog that is likely to continue to perform, and ideally grow, for years.
Second, if a site is not fully-optimized, this can provide ideal opportunities for growth.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when analyzing the strength of a blog:
- Does the site contain quality content or does it look unprofessional?
- Do you find this niche interesting?
- Does the site have a strong backlink profile? Is the site mentioned by any other established blogs?
- How old is the site?
- Does the site load quickly or slowly?
- Are all pages monetized?
- Does the site use a PBN or any non-whitehat SEO techniques?
6. Reviewing Traffic Performance
Reviewing blog traffic levels and traffic sources can tell you how resilient a blog is likely to be to algorithm updates, and also how well it is likely to perform in the future.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when reviewing a blog:
Can you identify any major drops or spikes in traffic?
Major drops or spikes in traffic might be due to the website’s reaction to a Google algorithm update.
If the blog was negatively impacted by an update, you’ll want to determine the likely cause of the drop and how it was resolved so you can determine how likely you think it is that this site will be similarly impacted in the future.
How many traffic channels does the blog have?
A blog might drive a percentage of its traffic through organic search, direct, social media, advertising, or an email list.
If a blog drives traffic through multiple channels, it is more likely to continue to perform well in the event that one of the channels is impacted.
What is the traffic breakdown amongst the top-performing pages?
Blogs that drive small percentages of traffic across several pages are seen as more stable investments than ones that drive a majority of their traffic through a few pages.
For more ideas for analyzing traffic, feel free to check out our article on the scuttlebutt approach to website due diligence.
7. Reviewing Revenue Performance
Similar to traffic, reviewing revenue can tell a similar story about how the business is likely to perform over the year.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when reviewing the revenue performance of a blog:
Has the blog experienced a year-over-year increase or decrease in revenue?
Do traffic and revenue fluctuate according to the months or seasons, or is revenue relatively consistent month by month?
Drops or spikes in revenue unrelated to seasonality
Was revenue impacted by an algorithm update? Was there any other reason for revenue to drop or spike?
Number of revenue streams
Does the business generate revenue through multiple sources or is there just one method of monetization? A blog might drive revenue through affiliate marketing, display advertising, or other types of paid promotion. Within these channels, there may be multiple affiliates or display advertising partners that a blog works with.
For more information on how to perform due diligence feel free to check out an article that provides a buyer due diligence checklist.
8. Identifying Growth Potential
Aside from performance, another major factor in determining if a site is a good deal is its growth potential.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself when determining the growth potential for a site:
- Is content SEO optimized? Is there an opportunity to improve the content and how it ranks on search engines?
- Could you work with a different advertising company to immediately drive more revenue with the existing traffic?
- Could you work with more profitable affiliate programs?
- Is there an unused email list and could you potentially monetize the email subscribers?
- Could you leverage the traffic to sell your own products?
- Could you use a social media channel or create a podcast to increase traffic?
Sometimes you can make small changes to a business that can have an exponential and immediate impact on the growth of the business. If identified and executed properly, this can help you generate a far quicker return on your investment or potentially enable you to flip the site for a higher valuation within a short timeline.
Your Journey Starts Here
If done right, buying a blog could mean overnight access to a higher level of monthly income, the ability to potentially replace a job, and in the future to potentially sell this asset for a much larger return.
Using the above information should serve as a starting point for you in analyzing buying opportunities on marketplaces such as the Empire Flippers marketplace, but it can also help to speak with someone experienced in reviewing businesses.
If interested, you can schedule a free call with one of our buying advisors to discuss exactly what you’re looking for as far as budget, niche, and type of business.