Hello and welcome to the LONG overdue edition of my Niche Website update series. This is a very special write-up because it’s somewhat of a conclusion: The story of how I sold my websites, how much money they made, and what I will be doing next!
But first … let’s go back to the beginning.
Originally I had created these niche sites as a way to dive into the world of Internet Entrepreneurship. My goal was to use these websites to create multiple streams of passive income. And for a while, it worked! I was making a nice sum of money from the sites, and every month my progress seemed to be heading upward in the right direction.
That was until 2015 when I discovered I had cancer. From that point on, everything changed. My health became the top of my priority list, and blogging quickly feel by the wayside.
Fortunately I was able to beat cancer and make a lot of other positive changes in my life such as getting a new job, moving into a new house, continuing to take better care of myself, etc. But again – blogging was low on the food-chain. Hence my niche sites started to show signs of neglect.
This is when I first started that it might be time to sell my websites. I figured the best way to do this was to reach out to the Empire Flippers and see what they could do, starting with niche site #1 (NS1). But that unfortunately turned out to be a huge disaster.
Spooked by this negative experience, I decided to again set my niche sites aside until I could figure out a new plan of action. And so they continued to sit and collect dust.
For most of 2016, I decided it was time to try something new. I focused my energy into writing several personal finance ebooks.
While doing so, nothing new happened with my niche sites. No new content was added, no new links were built, no guest posts on other blogs, etc. The only actions I took were to perform just the general WordPress maintenance stuff like updating my plugins and reposting old articles to keep the site current.
All the while, I received a few random inquires about selling the websites. Unfortunately, all of them turned out to be nothing.
Then … finally a real opportunity came along …
Selling My NS1 and NS2 Websites
This February, I was privately contacted by someone I had done some advertising with previously. He was very interested in buying my websites, NS1 and NS2.
At first, I valued the sites at the typical 24-30x earnings. However, that quickly proved to be well out of range for this potential buyer. He made a counter-offer that was lower than I was comfortable with, and so I had a decision to make:
Do I hold out and get top dollar for these sites? Am I ever really going to invest the time I need to make them great again?
I had to be real with myself and stop comparing this offer to the value they brought in during their heyday; as opposed to how they were presently performing.
After a few negotiations back and forth about the price, we finally agreed on a price that I was much more comfortable with: Selling them both for $11,500 USD total. That was roughly 17 times their revenue in 2016. All-in-all, not too bad!
Awesome! I had went from never selling a website before to selling two of them at once!
Now the only question was: How exactly does one actually execute the sale of a website? How do you safely collect payment and perform the transfer?
Securely Transferring the Payment
First, the question of the financial transaction …
I had read many negative things about using Paypal for website sales. Unfortunately having been developed to suit a site like eBay, Paypal is great for Buyers. But when it came to situations where the Seller needed protection, I had heard they were lacking in this department. So I passed on them.
Next, I decided to take a look at a service called Escrow.com. Many of the same forums that voicing concern about using Paypal for website sales were saying all kinds of great things about Escrow. They said that they do a better job of mutually serving both the Buyer and Seller. And they apparently had pretty decently low fees too.
There was just one problem … Google “Escrow.com reviews” and you’ll notice there are a ton of negative reviews. Just have a look for yourself.
Despite this concern, I decided to go ahead with using them.
As it turns out, it was the right choice!
Everything about using their service was very professional, concise, and smooth. The funds transferred in, and the money only moved out once both parties had agreed everything was satisfactory. All it took was having some patience while the wire transfer completed.
As far as the fees, we were able to split the fees between Buyer and Seller. This made only a small dent in my profits: $89.70. That was less than 1% of my total revenue!
Transferring the Websites to the New Owner
For transferring the actual website files, I worked out a very accommodating deal with my hosting service Big Scoots to partition the two sites into their own account. This new account was then handed over to the Buyer, and he would then have the option to buy hosting with Big Scoots (as low as $3.55 /month) or move the sites elsewhere.
The domain transfer was perhaps the easiest and yet most excruciating part of the process. It turns out to transfer a domain, all you have to do is unlock it and give the unique code to the Buyer. With this code, they can then initiate a transfer to their chosen domain service provider. Simple! Yet you have to have a lot of patience because it can take 5-10 days for the transfer to go through. So there’s unfortunately a lot of twiddling your thumbs while waiting for things to finalize.
Final Thoughts and NS1-NS2 Revealed!
Overall, everything about this transfer was super-smooth! A great experience!
So now that the two sites were sold, what were they?
NS1 was called IRA vs 401k Central. It was a niche site devoted entirely to the two most prominent retirement plans in the U.S.: IRA’s and 401(k)’s. At the time of its creation, it was a natural spin-off of MyMoneyDesign where we could do a more thorough, deep-dive into the technical aspects of these two savings tools.
NS2 was called Great Passive Income Ideas. This niche site was a spin-off of the Passive Income Ideas page on My Money Design. At one point, I had decided to re-write this page and make it more “epic”. But when I was done with the re-write, I said to myself: Why not turn it into a whole new stand-alone website? Thus Great Passive Income Ideas was born.
I am very proud to have created these two sites and was even more pleased to have seen them rise to popularity within the Google search ranks. Both were on Page 1 of Google for their respective target keywords for quite some time!
However, priorities changed and I just couldn’t give these two sites the love and attention they continued to need. So I am happy to see them sold to a great Buyer at a very reasonable price.
I’m On a Roll! So How About Selling NS4 Also?
I must admit – selling NS1 and NS2 was a very exciting experience! I got a little caught up in the moment and said to myself:
Why not go full-circle and try to sell NS4 (my Amazon-based site) while I’m at it?
Giving Flippa a Try
Without a Buyer in mind, I decided I would try my hand at the website auction site Flippa.
Despite all of the terrible and nasty things I had heard about Flippa over the years, something about using this site just seemed “logical”. How can it be so awful when literally every non-private website sale I’ve ever read about happened through Flippa?
Again, as it turns out, selling my website through Flippa was an extremely positive experience! Basically if you’ve ever sold anything on eBay, then you already know more-or-less how to use Flippa. Everything about their service was simple and easy to use. Flippa also had a free escrow service that gave you a discount on your commission if you elected to use it.
I wrote up a very honest and straight-to-the-point listing about NS4, and right away it seemed to get some attention. I had a number of private messages from people trying to negotiate a “Buy It Now” price.
By default, Flippa makes you list the last 12 months of income, which averaged out to $39/month. At a standard rate of 24X, this would have put my site at a value of $936. But I knew it had a lot more potential than that, and I really wanted to sell it for $2,000.
One potential buyer in particular and I really got some good dialogue going, and ultimately I ended up selling it to him for a negotiated $1,750 USD. You can read all about his experience at his write-up here.
If we only consider the last 12 month’s revenue, that’s an almost 45X valuation. After Flippa’s commission of $210, this left me with a profit of $1,540.
Final Thoughts and NS4 Revealed
Again, I can’t say enough nice things about my experience all around. The Buyer was great, Flippa was a breeze to use, and the escrow service went off without a hitch.
So what was NS4? It was my first non-personal finance website called My First Axe. (Why “axe”? For those of you who don’t know, “axe” was a popular slang term for a guitar back in the 70’s British rock band days.)
As many of you know, one of my big hobbies since I was a teenager was to play the guitar (you can read a fun guest post I wrote about this over at Budgets Are Sexy).
My First Axe was going to be an Amazon-based review site for entry level guitars (based off of the Niche Pursuits Niche Site projects). The main page was a comparison of all the best guitars under $500. Each supporting article targeted a different keyword and was a review of different guitars and gear. The site was monetized entirely from commissions from Amazon Associates.
For a while, MyFirstAxe was ranking very well on Page 1 of Google for the main keyword and made almost $500 in just one month around Christmas. But I quickly got discouraged with the project when I discovered it’s a lot harder to do SEO for a non-personal finance niche website.
Again, I’m happy the site is now in the hands of someone who will do more with it than I was going to.
What About NS3?
In case you’re wondering what ever happened to NS3, quite simply: … It died …
The site was called No Exam Life Insurance Guide.
I’ll be the first to tell you – it wasn’t my best work …
At the time of its creation, I had discovered a whole cluster of keywords within the “no exam life insurance” niche and said to myself: I should create a niche site about it!
Live and learn …
As it turns out, that ended up not being a very good idea. For one thing, the competition among insurance-based websites is fierce! More importantly, my heart just simply wasn’t into the project. “Life Insurance” is just not something as near and dear to my heart as retirement planning, passive income, and playing the guitar.
Needless to say, I quickly became bored of the subject matter and lacked the ambition to create any new content let alone promote the site.
Eventually I ended up taking down all the content and setting the domain renewal to “manual” so that it can lapse when the time comes.
Why not sell it?
I had thought about this for a second but then said “nah”. The content, rankings, and link profile were all so poor that it would have likely fetched almost nothing for the hassle.
All in all, I consider my experience with NS3 a great reminder of what “not to do”. If you’re going to start a project, no matter how financially lucrative it might be, make sure it’s something you’re actually into and can enjoy.
So after all of this, what it all worth it?
Absolutely! Creating these niche sites was a great, fun experience. I not only learned a lot about blogging and SEO in general, but I also in trying to grow and nurture a business from the ground up. Plus I think it’s really cool that I was able to create something from nothing and turn it into something tangible with actual value.
So will there ever be another niche site?
Of course there will be!
To be honest, I’ve actually created a number of other websites over the years. (I’ve just never really talked about them publicly.)
Just this last November, I started another new website that I’m very excited about. I’ll have another post about this project soon.
For now, I’m happy to take my earnings and replenish our emergency fund. This will allow me to focus on my other ambitions; most importantly building up MyMoneyDesign as reputable brand.
If any of this inspires you to want to know more about building money-making websites, then please check out our complete “how-to” guide for getting started.
Readers – How many of you have sold a website? Who did you use for the money and website transfers? What were your experiences like?
Featured image courtesy of Flickr
Great that you had no regrets over selling your websites. You feel accomplished because you are able to make profit from these niche websites. You were able to enjoy each journey of these as you’ve learned so much about SEO and website design. Congrats MMD!
Thanks James. I’ll admit – it was hard to say goodbye. But I also knew it was time. The good news is that this will now give me the opportunity to start fresh on other goals!
Goodbye, Great Passive Income Ideas! Your epic post about how to be a successful blogger was what gave rise to Angry Retail Banker. I was on the fence about blogging before, but that article pushed me over the edge and convinced me to go for it.
So wait……NS3 wasn’t F** D**? It was No Exam Life Insurance Guide? Okay, mind blown.
Congrats on selling them. Shame you weren’t able to keep up with them like you used to. I remember your four niche sites getting you a combined $1,000-$1,5000 per month pretty consistently a few years ago.
ARB–Angry Retail Banker
Wow! Thanks – I’m glad to hear that post had such an impact. It was a fun one to write. That post was originally supposed to be my first ebook, but I decided to put it up on GPII for free and see what kind of reaction it got. If it inspired you, then it looks like that’s a +1 for me! Hopefully I develop my “how to blog post” on this site to have the same level of influence eventually.
Nice post. Glad you beat cancer and are back doing what your great at. Great hearing the specifics of the sale and potential of one’s site. Best of luck with the books.
Thank you, and welcome to the site!
Mustard Seed Money says
I’ve never sold a website heck I didn’t know there was an active market for people to sell websites. So that’s probably my first mistake. Anyway I had no idea that websites could sell 24x-30x their revenue. That’s really cool and if my website ever makes money and I was getting burned out I would definitely do it. Thanks for sharing!!!
Yes, it’s pretty cool to know that these fun little “blogs” we all work on and visit are actually worth real money! I remember when I first started blogging I would read fantastic stories about people who had sold their blogs for hundreds of thousands of dollars. While those days are long gone for most of us (I believe), you can definitely still fetch five figures if you’ve got decent content and rankings. Like any asset, the trick is to know when to sell. Though it was hard to let these sites go, truthfully I could have probably earned double or even triple if I had considered letting them go during their peak.
As the buyer of My First Axe (NS4) I’ll be the first to say this was a very positive experience! Thanks for sharing your perspective as the seller and I look forward to keeping in touch!
Thanks again Chuck for being a great Buyer! Yes, please do keep in touch.
Matthew Allen says
Great story MMD! To be honest, you Niche Website Updates have always been about the only thing I read on your blog. Not that your other content isn’t good… But as you know, you and I have had a dialogue going for years pertaining to our niche sites. I loved reading your updates and keeping up with how your sites were doing.
Glad to see that all of your sites didn’t completely die off and you were able to sell for respectable amounts.
You said that this post was a conclusion (of sorts), but at the end you state that of course there will be another niche site. Any chance you’ll do semi-regular updates about the new niche site?
Of course! I’m always dabbling on the side with Internet entrepreneurism, and will definitely be willing to share once I have a recipe worth sharing.
Jason Butler says
That’s great that you were able to make 17 times more for your websites. I tried making a niche site last year and failed horribly. That was because I didn’t know what I was doing. I understand things a little better now, so I’m considering starting another niche site in the near future.
I hear your pain on the niche site failure. I was limping along at first with NS1 until I did a whole bunch of research on SEO and more-or-less got lucky when my keywords finally started climbing. Even after my NS2 success applying what I learned in NS1, I still managed to totally bomb growing NS3. Each of these “experiments” is pretty much just that – we learn as much as we can from it and try to minimize the risks going forward. Hopefully your next one hits it big!
David Domzalski says
I have to tell you this post is really inspiring. I’m new here, so I didn’t know about your cancer survival story. That’s incredible. My mother was able to beat breast cancer twice, so I observed what the sheer amount of determination that took.
Niche sites have always appealed to me and will be something I pursue in the future. I liked how you spun off topics into their own sites. Great idea.
Thanks for sharing,
Thanks David. That’s great to hear that your mother was able to beat cancer, twice!
Building those niche sites was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun. They gave me different avenues outside MyMoneyDesign where I could experiment with SEO and ways of bringing in income. Before you get ready to pull the trigger, I’d really encourage you to read back through my other niche site updates for a ton of lessons learned in what worked and what didn’t.