How I Built and Sold a Blog Valued at Over $200 a Post

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How I Built and Sold a Blog Valued at Over $200 a Post post image

Gary Vaynerchuck famously said that anyone can ‘cash in on their passion’ creating online communities that revolve around engaging content. The truth, though, is that you are never cashing in on your passion. You are cashing in on somebody else’s.

If you haven’t heard on the podcast, I recently sold one of my blogs to my friend Chris Ducker.

I can’t reveal the sale price of the blog, but I can give you a general ballpark. We received a bunch of offers. In the end, we made over $200 a post– a five figure transaction.

I could have sold the blog for more. I could have cut a deal where I could make the exact financial figures public. That would have made for a better case study. I didn’t because I wanted the blog to be in hands more capable than my own. That meant selling to Chris.

Chris is by far the best peson in the world to run such a blog. (That’s a thrilling thing to say and to be 100% serious about).

I’m thankful that he stepped up to buy it from me. He didn’t need to. He’d continue to dominate all things outsourcing in the Philippines without taking on a new website.

During the process of building and selling a blog I’ve developed a basic approach that I’ll use for my next blog. I expect it to be more successful than my first sale. I’m interested in your feedback as I go along. I am by no means an expert at this stuff.

My overall philosophy for my next blog (and why OTTP was moderately successful)…

Create fun and engaging blog posts around an emerging or growth market. Only create information for markets where there are high dollar products and services. Make sure your topic is something that people want to read and talk about.

Focus on one domain.

Create entertaining content for the main feed of the site. Create a category of posts (or pages) that don’t go out to the RSS feed. Load it up with highly focused keyword query content. This kind of content won’t be interesting to your subscribers, but would be interesting to people searching Google to solve specific problems.

An example of an entertainment post would be “My Experience Using the Nikon D5” whereas a keyword post would be like “Buy a Nikon D5 in the Philippines.”

Combine passion and commerce. Create content from the heart that solves commercial problems.

Most good blogs make no money. For many of them, one could brainstorm ways to re-position the content and branding to make somebody some money. Here’s what I mean:

Instead of a travel blog, review locations that you visit as potential spots for entrepreneurs to relocate their businesses.

Instead of a personal development blog, write a blog about how foods, chemicals, and drugs affect mental performance.

Instead of a ‘watch me try to make money on the internet blog,’ write exclusively about email marketing products and services.

Instead of a family adventures blog, write a blog that talks about the challenges of securing solid insurance for traveling families.

Making content for blogs like this can not only be fun and soulful, but it also can be easier than creating content for your passion project.

Select a niche based on other people’s passions. Create content based on yours.

If you feel your niche is too narrow for your ambitions, you are on the right track. Instead of producing content about “marketing” write about Adwords optimization for ecommerce stores.

Every post about adwords optimization is essentially about marketing. Your grand marketing theories will reveal themselves eventually, but possibly in more concrete and interesting ways. By giving yourself a focused starting point, you’ll likely have an easier time generating topics and creating useful content.

Having creative constraints– in this case solving a central commercial problem– can be a great thing for a writer, podcaster, or videographer.

Take a look through the archives of the OTTP site. You can see that a lot of the posts are quirky and have a lot of personal style. I’m talking about things others are commerically interseted in, like outsourcing and relocating to the Philippines, but with my own personal style. That made it fun for me as a creative person.

When Chris and I were discussing the site he said “a lot of these posts could have been TMBA material.” He’s right. I probably should have taken his advice long ago (I’m sure he forgets this…) He said:

“Focus on one domain.”

Having gone through this process and talking to many potential buyers, I’m sure that if OTTP would have gotten my full creative energy the selling price would have been at least double what I got for it.

Creative funneling and sustaining passion in narrow commercial niches.

I’ll be using two strategies for creating content on my new blog. First, every single blog post fundamentally answers the same question from a different angle. That might not be 100% accurate, but I find it useful to frame things up this way.

I had a thought a few years back while I was listening to Dave Ramsey’s podcast. He basically talks about the same thing every day, but with slighly different lead-ins and from unique angles. For me, listening to Dave became something like a spiritual exercise. I wanted to have the experience of listening to him even after I had learned all the basic information he had to teach.

Your blog doesn’t need to uncover a new piece of information every post. You just need to give readers the kind of experience they are coming for.

Since I started thinking of content this way, I’ve noticed the approach with a lot of the successful media personalities. Dave Ramsey, Adam Carolla, Suze Orman, Leo Babauta.

Your posts will answer the central commercial question, but you’ll lead in with what you are interested in or with a personal experience that you find compelling and relevant.

The next approach I’ll use is more concrete. I’ll inventory every problem I can imagine my target audience could possibly have. If you are looking to outsource to the Philippines, what kinds of problems are you looking to solve? Write down 10-20 headlines like “do I need an outbound visa when I visit the Philippines?” then drink a bunch of Diet Coke and get cranking. I found that by recording podcasts you can create content much faster than by writing. By using this approach on OTTP, my business partner and I created three months worth of weekly podcast and blog content in less than 8 hours.

Forget about your personal brand.

Personal brands are a big distraction for people interested in content businesses.

Building a website that acts as one giant resume is a waste of time. The kinds of benefits that people generally reference with “personal brand” come from developing high quality products, services, and content that people use, love, and tell their friends about.

For me, the personal brand conversation ends at “put a decent picture of yourself on your site.” Fair enough? Now get back to work doing stuff that people care about.

My “should I start a blog” checklist.

  • Is my approach and topic unique?
  • Are the products and services in the niche expensive?
  • Can I see myself being an authority in the niche 5 years from now?
  • Do people love to talk and share information about the topic?
  • Are there companies who would want to buy this blog from me?

That’s it for now. I’ll share more about our new blog soon.

-Dan

PS, If you liked this article and want to hear directly from me, put your email address in to the form below.

Published on 08.22.11
  • http://twitter.com/mylifestylemax Stacey Herbert

    Congratulations, the celebratory drinks went down a treat, lol. I just put one of my sites up for sale that I neglected in favour of focusing on MLSM…fingers crossed eh

  • http://twitter.com/kkinnison Kendra Kinnison

    Thanks so much for sharing this post. I’m not even particularly interested in making money directly through blogs, but this point really hit home for me:

    “Your blog doesn’t need to uncover a new piece of information every post.
    You just need to give readers the kind of experience they are coming
    for.”

    That’s a great reminder that it is always about the experience more than anything else, whether we’re talking about blogs or businesses.

  • http://joelrunyon.com/two3 Joel Runyon | [BIT]

    Interested in hearing your thoughts about maintaining a blog personality without maintaining a “brand.”

    i.e. giving it a personality that people are familiar with, but not tying yourself to it indefinitely, so, if you want to, you can sell it down the line.I know it can be done…just haven’t seen it done *well* a lot.

  • http://ryangoesabroad.com Ryan

    Dude you blinded me with that pic at the top! … Great hearing more of your way of thinking. I like the approach of answering one question from a thousand different angles. Coming up with that target question is probably a core piece of work that takes some time… I also like the phrase “content business”, I need to iron that phrase into my brain.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    haha. this is a good time to say– 98% of the pics on this site are taken from my old school 3GS… that’s the sunset the other day on Seminyak beach… .thanks for the shout! :D Been enjoying your blog lately. 

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    yeah ya know I think that’s a worry that a lot of people over-inflate. 

    Let’s flip the script and take Chris Ducker’s virtual business lifestyle as a hypothetical example. Imagine the scenario where he created a relatively corporate site without much personality….. i don’t think that would do as well on the open market as a blog known for having engaging content and interesting personalities. I think people assume that because a site is built around a personality it’ll fail if they aren’t there. I can’t come up with examples in the blogosphere off the top of my head, but my thought is that having a fountainhead drive a site for a while is way better than never having had them in the first place. 

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    You aren’t interested in making money from blogs. WHAT KIND OF CRAZY PERSON ARE YOU!!!?!??!!

    Ok… I kid!

    Thanks for that really nice complement. I feel that way with Adam, Dave, Howard, all these guys I call by their first name. They aren’t telling me anything new, but I still want to go and hang out with them every day. 

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    AH! Interested to hear about this!!! Def had the drinks :D

  • http://www.brandsuperpower.com David Crandall

    I read this post when it came out 5 months ago, but reading it now I realize that I’m in a different place mentally and feel as though I had never read it to begin with.

    For example, I was totally floored by your plan of write out 10-20 headlines, record a shit-ton of audio, schedule it out for 3 months. HOLY CRAP! I’m doing this.

    I couldn’t help but think of NerdFitness.com when reading the tips on this. Main question: how to get fit. Steve’s approach: every nerdy thing he can write about to drive that point home. 

    I know the stuff I’m passionate about but trying to figure out what the commercial problem is seems to be my weakness. 

    What tips do you have (or where can you point me) regarding how to clearly identify the topic that you apply the “should I start a blog” questions to?

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    That’s a deceptively simple question! I think i’m going to need to work up a blog post to this in the next few days to describe the types of conversations I’d have around the commercial potential of micro-publishing ideas. I’ll kick you an email when it’s done. Flattered you’d step back into the archive! :)

  • http://www.brandsuperpower.com David Crandall

    What? You think I didn’t know that was a loaded question? ;)

    I’ll be looking forward to that blog post and email!! Trying to wrap my mind around this is still currently a weakness to me. Learning through doing…but frustrated. 

    And btw – You = Boss

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