Welcome to episode 297 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Chelsea Clarke about buying and selling websites.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Kingston Duffie from Slickstream about Google Web Stories. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
Starting and growing your own blog is an exciting and fulfilling process, but it can also be a difficult and time-consuming.
And if you want to grow your own business, have you ever considered skipping the “starting” process all-together?
That’s right! You can actually buy a profitable site to build and grow, and that’s exactly what Chelsea is here to talk about today. She’ll walk you through the entire buying process and give you tips if you’re considering selling your own website.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- How Chelsea got her start
- Why people would sell their sites
- How much you could expect from selling a website
- How payments for websites work
- How the buying and selling process works
- What makes a site more valuable
- The different types of buyers
- How to make secure payments when you’re buying a site
- How taking over an ad account works
- How to take the first few steps in this process
- Her Paper Route
- WP Tasty
- SureSwift Capital
- Tasty Pins
- Genesis Framework
- Blogs for Sale
- Quiet Light
- Buy then Build
- Follow Chelsea on Instagram here and here
- Get your free website valuation
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].Learn more about joining the Food Blogger Pro community!
Transcript (click to expand):
Bjork Ostrom: Hey folks, Bjork here, recording on a different mic today. If it sounds different, that’s why it is. The actual interview, which is with Chelsea Clarke, from blogsforsale.co is with the normal mic. So you’ll hear a little switch when it switches over to the interview with Chelsea, but I wanted to record a quick intro to set up this interview. I’m really excited about it because it offers a different way to look at building a business. One of the things that we try and do on the podcast is represent as many different views and as many different angles that we can for ways that you can build a successful and thriving business. And a lot of times we talk about starting and we talk about growing and how to do that well, but we don’t often, sometimes, but not often do we talk about acquiring and that’s what this interview is about.
Bjork Ostrom: I know a lot of people, some friends and my close-ish circles, internet circles. So however close those are, who that’s the only way that they operate. They only operate through acquiring. They almost never start. And we don’t talk about that a lot in this podcast, but if you’re interested in having a successful business online, whatever that looks like for you, whether that be monetary success or the ability to build your day and have time autonomy. One of the ways that you can do that is through acquiring a business. Now there’s potentially a little bit more risk or just different risks in that it requires you to spend money or potentially take out a loan to be able to purchase an asset, a business, a website, but the advantage is you know that there’s a history there, you know that there’s traction with it.
Bjork Ostrom: And it’s one of the great ways that you can get a leg up, that you can jump ahead of the people who are starting is by acquiring something that is already up and running. So I wanted to take some time to talk about that, how you can do that, strategies for doing that. And Chelsea who is a broker, much like you have a real estate broker, you can have website brokers, she’s a broker for blogs. So we’re going to talk about what that looks like to acquire a blog. Let’s go ahead and jump in. Chelsea, welcome to the podcast.
Chelsea Clarke: Thank you so much for having me. I’ve been so excited knowing that this day was coming because I’ve really been looking forward to get to talk to you. I’ve actually been following you for some time. So thank you so much for having me on.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. It’s always fun when people have a little bit of context for what we do, we’ve had some conversations with people, I’m trying to think of what an industry might be, bookkeeping or accounting or something where people are coming from a completely different realm, but this is squarely in your realm. It’s what you do, it’s what you referenced Tasty Pins which is a WP Tasty product and being familiar with that. So we can hit the ground running, but I’m curious to hear your story a little bit. How did you get into this world and talk a little bit about your background in marketing, monetization specifically, which a lot of people are really interested in. And then we’re going to talk about the concept of buying or potentially selling websites.
Chelsea Clarke: Let’s do it. Well, I was in school for marketing and digital media way back in the day, and I love building websites, I love the marketing side of things, and I also really enjoyed the strategy of how you can monetize your own digital content. And after school, I got into corporate marketing and I was building websites for companies and I was working at a business brokerage where all of the brokers were just really focused on brick-and-mortar companies. So buying and selling, real walk in the door businesses. And I really noticed there is a lot of money and amazing creators in the digital space. So I’ve always been a blogger, I’ve always loved it as a passion. And around this time I was monetizing my blog and I said, hey, I’m going to go to my own and just develop, monetize and sell sites for myself and thought that’s really how I got started doing it.
Chelsea Clarke: And then pretty soon people started asking me, hey, can you help me sell my site or hey, can you help me monetize my site, teach me about affiliate marketing. And so that is really how I started doing it. I became a broker, I went through IBBA and now I do it full time, helping people buy and sell online businesses.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you share a little bit IBBA, so what is that for people who aren’t familiar with the industry slogans, myself included. I’m guessing it’s some type of question around brokerage.
Chelsea Clarke: It is the International Business Brokers Association, so they offer training for brokers. And they really focus also on brick-and-mortar specifically. But I went through that program with it in my mind that I was just going to apply what I learned there to what I already knew about content monetization and just apply it to the online space.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. It’s one of the things that I think is really an important concept for people to know about, which is, hey, not only are you building something that is cash flowing, but anything that cash flows then in and of itself is a product. It is a thing that you can sell. So sometimes we think on the micro level as we should, how do we create more ad income? How do we create a product that we can sell on our website? Maybe it’s an ebook, a course, but there’s a lot of different factors that go into this, but for the most part, every dollar that you earn within your business, that represents a value increase of what your business is worth. So there’s this thing called multiples, which maybe we can talk about, but if you earn $10,000 from your website, you might be able to sell that website for 30,000. Or you can go up and up and up, if you make 100,000 from your website, it might be worth 300 to $400,000.
Bjork Ostrom: It depends wrapped up in that. But it’s really an exciting thing and an important thing for people to think about. It’s not just cash flow that you’re creating, it’s also a valuable asset. So I’m actually curious to rewind a little bit, when you were doing at the brokerage, people were selling brick-and-mortar. What was that experience like? Were you doing some of the brokering? Were you helping in different ways, support those brokers? And what types of businesses were they selling?
Chelsea Clarke: Yes, so I was in the marketing department. I was building the sales pages. I was building all of the deliverables about the businesses that the brokers were representing and I was creating the email newsletter. So I was working in the email marketing side. I really got to hone in on a lot of different things that I would always do for my own blogs, but I was able to do it for the brokers. So that really helped me to see what was possible. And it was a great experience. And it also really taught me about looking at things always from a business perspective. And so when I was then… Sorry, I’ll jump back. The type of businesses that they were focused on, a lot of the time they were mom-and-pop shops or a small business, bakery, coffee shop, we sold a lot of those-
Bjork Ostrom: I’m imagining it was like in the building that we are in. So in this office, there’s a frame shop in the bottom right corner, Stephen’s Art and Frame. And they have gone through the process of selling it, but he’s owned it for 30 years and is going through the process of selling it. I’m imagining that’s the businesses where it’s like, somebody’s owned it for a really long time, they’re retiring, their kids don’t want to take it over, so then they need to find somebody to buy it. that type of situation?
Chelsea Clarke: Definitely that type of situation. And now with the online space and bloggers, we’re seeing a lot of people who either created their blog and maybe their passion has changed or they’re focusing on a different niche now, they don’t have to just let it fall or the hosting expire. They can actually sell it to someone else, make a profit and put that money onto their next project.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk a little bit about why that is because I would imagine people listening they’re like, wait, if you have a website and it’s making $10,000 a month, whatever it might be, why would you ever sell it? It feels like something where it’s like, hey, this thing’s working. You finally achieved a certain level of success. What do you see in the conversations that you’re having with people for why they’re like, you know what? It’s time to wrap up. I want to get rid of this. Why would people do that?
Chelsea Clarke: The biggest reason that I see is people interests have changed. They may be built it from the ground up. And now as they’ve developed themselves as a content creator they’ve realized that their passion is actually in a completely different niche. We see this lot with people who when they’re just getting started, maybe they’ll start a lifestyle blog with travel and beauty and fashion and talking so many different things. And then they realize, oh, the money, if I really own in on one of these categories and make this what I’m known for, I can grow that big much more. So we see that but we also have people who they’ve got their website earning $1,000 a month, and then they think, hey, I could just cash out and I can just do something else completely. So if your site is earning about a $1,000 a month, you could sell it for 24,000 to $36,000. And that just gives you that headstart to focus on your next thing. This buy out will typically pay two to three years times the monthly earnings of a site. So that’s one way.
Chelsea Clarke: And then we also have a lot of people who did it like me, they’re blog flippers. They create something, they can create a startup business, they can monetize it quickly, they can drive traffic to it, they can create digital products, but they don’t want to literally be the person sitting there creating content for all eternity. They get it up and ready and then someone else can come in, acquire it and that they can run with it.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s almost like you think of people who flip houses. What they love doing is coming in, they love to… Or even developers building something from the ground up. They build it, they sell it, but they could rent it out, but they just decide not to. That’s not what they do. Or you flip a house, you come in, you clean it up, you improve it. And that being one of the options, a lot of people might say, hey, what I’m going to focus in on is I’m going to take something that is available for sale, somebody else has already done the work and I’m going to come in, improve it, optimize it. So it’s like there’s all these different stages. Some people could be… If you think about it from an investing standpoint, it could be from the zero to one where you’re like, hey, I’m going to start this thing and I’m going to build it to a certain point and then I’m going to sell it.
Bjork Ostrom: And there’s other people who are like, hey, I’m going to find something that’s already built. I’m going to come in, I’m going to improve it and then I’m going to sell it. And then there’s another group of people. I think of my friend, Kevin, who has a company called SureSwift Capital. They’re like, hey, we’re going to come in, we’re going to improve something and we’re going to hold onto it forever. We don’t want to get rid of it. We’re just going to hold onto it. We know that we have a team that can support it. So I think what’s great about this conversation is on the podcast a lot of times we talk about starting. Here’s how you get started. Here’s how you build your thing. And for some people that’s going to be a good fit, but for others, it might be a good fit to say, hey, I’m going to take some of my savings, maybe I’m going to get a small business loan and I’m going to purchase something that already has cash flow.
Bjork Ostrom: So what if somebody is like, gosh, that sounds really awesome. What are the things that they need to consider in regards to getting money to purchase something? Can you get a business loan if it’s an internet business you’re going to have to have savings. Do you have any thoughts on that or have you seen anything around getting financing if it does get to be expensive for the asset that you’re going to purchase?
Chelsea Clarke: Definitely. And again, it really depends on the scale of the business that you’re looking to buy. If you’re coming in and looking at a business that’s for sale for let’s say $40,000, you may be able to do that with savings. Your bank may be able to give you a loan depending on your credit. Of course, everyone will be different. But there’s also such a thing as seller financing as well. So sometimes when you purchase a business, the seller in a sense, it’s almost like loaning it to you. So you’ll pay a payment plan until it’s paid off. And then once it’s paid off at say six months to a year, that would be long a year, but I’ve seen it done, then you completely own it and then you get the domain into your registrar account. So that’s one way of doing it. You don’t have to always have that big lump sum of cash upfront, but 90% of the deals that we do are paid in one escrow payment.
Chelsea Clarke: So it’s a cool way to get on the digital property ladder is to buy a smaller business and then develop it, you can even sell it on, get that profit and then you buy the next one. So there’s so many different options. And the great thing about it when you buy a business is yes, like we’re talking it has cash flow, but it also has an audience. It has traffic, it has email subscribers, has customers, people buying things, someone created a ton of digital products and maybe it comes with an online course, hundreds of articles of reviews or content that would take you or your team months, if not years to actually write. So that’s another huge benefit is the actual content that you get to acquire when you buy.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. You think of that. If you had hired freelancers to create content and maybe it’s 200 blog posts who knows what the price would be. That in and of itself is valuable, especially if it’s good content, but you’re also buying the cash flow from the business. One of the things that’s interesting you’ve referenced earlier, you said, $1,000 easy number to use. Let’s say a site is earning $1,000 and we’ll assume that’s profit. So it’s like, there’s revenue and maybe there’s $1,200 in revenue and then $200 in expenses, whatever that might be. So you consider that $1,000 of income that you get each month. And so that’d be 12,000 in a year. And you said two to three times earnings. So 24,000 to 36,000, might be what something sells. And a lot of it depends on what type of product it is? What type of blog it is? All of those factors. But can you talk about why two to four? Why does that exist? It’s the multiplier on yearly income.
Bjork Ostrom: Whereas if you were buying let’s say a commercial building or a residential house, it might be 10 to 15 times. So it seems like, wait a minute, that cash flow so to speak “cheap” considering how quickly you can potentially pay it back. Why is it different for a website versus a physical building or maybe even a brick-and-mortar business that you would have sold before?
Chelsea Clarke: Yeah. And I think it is because it’s easier to scale a digital business. So when you take it over, there’s not many expenses. You’re not relying on customers having to walk in the door, you’re not paying rent, you’re not XYZ that a physical business would have. Your return on investment can come back a lot quicker with a digital business. I didn’t make the rule, that just seems to be an industry standard that it would be between two and three years. We have seen some sites sell for more. And the reason for those ones selling more in my experience is because they’re getting so much organic Google search traffic. So if you have a site that is really ranking really well and you’re getting those high keyword searches for your site, that’s a really valuable asset that will come into the monitor the valuation of your business for sure. But I also always recommend don’t just focus on one traffic source. And I know you guys have talked about this on your podcast before too, but diversify your traffic stream.
Chelsea Clarke: So go into Pinterest, use Tasty Pins, use Pinterest marketing to really get another source of search traffic for your business. Because we all we’ve seen it algorithms change, things change at any time, you don’t want to lose all your eggs in one basket.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And I would assume that as you look at the potential risk involved with websites would maybe be another consideration where let’s say you do have something where you’re like, great, I’ve got this website. It’s got traffic, I’m earning income from it. But then if you dig into it maybe you realize wait a minute, a lot of the traffic is coming to one blog post about my banana smoothie. And it’s like, nobody else has written about banana smoothies. And I totally own that organic keyword, but then maybe there’s a banana smoothie craze and then everybody posts about it. And then your post drops out. Suddenly that income goes away. So I’d imagine another reason why websites or blogs or whatever it might be is the risk involved. There’s a certain level of risk involved with you spending, let’s say $50,000 and potentially that algorithm changes after you buy it and then it all goes away. So have you seen that happen or if somebody is interested in buying a digital asset, we’ll call it just to broadly speak about websites. What are the things that they should be looking at and being like, wait, I need to check along the way the due diligence process.
Bjork Ostrom: If I was buying a house, I’d make sure that the furnace works and that there’s not any ants in the basement, but what is the equivalent of that for a digital asset?
Chelsea Clarke: I’m so happy that you asked that question. So important to cover that. And in your due diligence, when you’re thinking about buying an online business you’re going to want Google Analytics access. So you can actually go and see what pins are popular. You can see where the traffic is coming from and really get a full overview of what it is that you’re buying. And then you’re probably going to want to jump on a call with the seller, or if you’re working with a broker like myself, you would jump on a call with me and the seller and we would actually go over the sellers dashboard. So over the shoulder, they would share their screen and you could see the WordPress backend, you can see the plugins they use, you could see all of their ads dashboards. If they work Mediavine, you can actually see their RPMs, you could see what payments they’ve had, you can see what are the most profitable articles from their Mediavine dashboard. You can also go and look into all of their affiliate counts with them on the call.
Chelsea Clarke: So seeing what their share of sale payouts have been, what their most profitable affiliate programs are. You really want to just make sure that you’re looking at everything and really just understanding. Because yes, things can change. And like we were saying about diversifying your traffic sources, you’re also going to want to make sure that the site diversifies their monetization sources too. So we don’t want to buy a site that only relies on ad revenue. Ad revenue is great. We’d like to have it, but it can’t be the only thing, you want it to also earn from affiliate programs or its own digital products as well.
Chelsea Clarke: That’s the Holy grail, the Holy Trifecta, the three affiliate programs, digital products and ad revenue combined. And then just note about the traffic too, when you’re looking at the traffic for a site, you’re also going to want to make sure that the business comes with an email list or social accounts that are active. So that even if something did happen and you traffic dropped and maybe it’s seasonal, you’re not sure if it’s going to come back, you know that you have a customer base, an email list that you can continually just send those newsletters and keep people engaged if it comes with a Facebook group. These are all things that put together a healthy picture of a business that you would want to acquire.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. One of the things I love about it is the way that we operate businesses. We’re like, hey, we love this. We imagine ourselves doing this for a really long time, but it’s even just best business practice type stuff. Even if you aren’t thinking about selling it or acquiring a site is to think about, I’m I diversifying? I’m I building an email list? The reason these are good things to check when you’re buying a site, is because they’re good things to have with the site that you own. There’s a certain level of stability there if you have an email list or if you’ve built multiple sources of traffic or you have multiple sources of income, regardless of if you’re going to sell it eventually or regardless of if it’s a site that you’re looking to acquire.
Bjork Ostrom: So it’s one of the great things about talking about any of the purchase process is, hey, these are just generally things you should be doing. Even if you’re going to hold onto it for 10 to 20 years or never sell it at all. What are the things that you see when somebody puts a site up they say, hey, I want to list this. And then somebody buys it. Where are the opportunities that you see or the gaps a lot of times when people purchase it? If it was a house you might come in and you say, oh my gosh! If we upgrade the kitchen and add another bathroom, we’ll be able to charge 500 more dollars for rent. Or their equivalents for websites or blogs specifically where somebody purchases it and really quickly you can start to slot some things in that makes the site more money or it makes it more valuable. What do you see in the deals that you’ve done?
Chelsea Clarke: Absolutely. So in the deals that I’ve done and when I’m purchasing sites myself, the first thing that I always do is I go in, and it seems like something small, but this is always my first step is I go and I remove a bunch of the plugins because I always see so many sites they have too many plugins and they’re just not necessary. And a lot of the time I can just write my own code to do what the plugin was doing. So I go through and I just set that up and then I’ll usually give a new theme, something more professional and get it on genesis. So it’s just faster. And then I’ll go right into the content. So the main thing that I focus on is the actual content. What is there? How can I build on it?
Chelsea Clarke: And this comes into play when you’re looking for a site to buy too, you’re always going to have an easier time monetizing it and developing it if it’s in a niche that you specifically have some experience in or are connected to, or you’re educated in, or you just are interested in learning more about. So that way when you go into the content, you or someone on your team that you’re having help you, you can improve what’s there and build on it. You can make the articles meteor, have more information, improve the affiliate links, add more pictures, right? With better SEO in mind, there’s so many things that you can actually do with the content, even if it’s already ranking quite well I’m sure you can make it better. So that’s where I would say start.
Chelsea Clarke: And then the next thing would be to go and look at the community that came with it and put yourself in front of them, go into the Facebook page, go into the Facebook group if it came with one, Instagram account and just go and start engaging with the community that’s already there, letting them know about changes or upcoming things that you have with the business. And that is also really going to help you, because I know when you acquire a business, some people get nervous and they feel like it’s someone else’s audience and they wait too long to speak to them. They wait too long to send an email. They wait too long to engage in the Facebook group. And if you just jump in, you throw yourself in, it’s going to be a lot easier. And then people are going to come to know and like, and trust you as the new owner. And then it’s just going to be so much easier to help them and find out what their pain points are and create products to serve them better.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. What about the personality driven sites, right? So especially in this space a lot of times you’ll think of a site and you’ll attribute it to a person. Which is I think great when you’re building, when you want to connect with people, it’s a personal brand. But my guess is that ideally when you’re looking to purchase a site, you’d be looking to purchase not a personal brand, but a brand that’s personal. Maybe has a voice, has a personality, but it’s not somebody’s face everywhere. Because then if you do jump into the Facebook group they’ll be like, wait, you’re not this person. You aren’t the brand because the brand becomes synonymous with the person. So how do you handle that if it’s a very personality driven site or is it maybe you don’t want to purchase those types of sites?
Chelsea Clarke: Yes. So we have two types of buyers usually. One type of buyer they want to come in and be able to put their own picture, their own name on, and essentially just take over the content. We see this a lot with coaches. So coaches will buy an authority site that they can just slap their name on and then they have all of this authority content related to their name and Google searches. So we see that. But then we also have, it’s usually the bigger corporations that the bigger website investors that come and buy websites to hold like you were mentioning. Actually, they want to buy the persona of that person on there. So there is a lot of blog sites where the blogger who has been gone for years, but you’ll still see her face on the image and she has allowed the new owner to keep her name in the email. So it looks like she’s still there, but she’s not, it’s a corporation running the shots now.
Chelsea Clarke: And it really just comes down to the seller’s choice. So personally if I created a business with my name, Chelsea Clarke on it, I’m not going to sell that with Chelsea Clarke in my own image, because I have my own personal brand, but I create startup businesses with an avatar. So I start from the beginning where I come up with a new name, I have an image of a stock photo of someone, that way the new owner can just come in and either leave it as is, or they can add their own name. So it really is something that’s worked out on a deal by deal basis. And it’s whatever the seller is comfortable with. If you don’t want your persona to go to the new owner, you don’t have to. Whereas if you don’t mind, there will be buyers that will be interested in that as well.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Yeah. It’s interesting. I would imagine that there’s in certain scenarios a premium that comes with buying the persona of somebody. So it’s like, hey, if you want to own my persona there’s definitely going to be a price tag attached to that. But I would imagine any deal there’s probably varying different ways you could structure that. For instance, you could say, hey, you can purchase all the content. I’ll keep my name on it. I wrote it. You don’t have to update that. But you can’t write things as if it’s from me. Maybe that’s one of the things that you say, or I would imagine there’s 50 different scenarios that you could come up with to meet the needs of the buyer and the seller which is the deal-making is figuring out what works for everybody.
Bjork Ostrom: So would you say, hey, here’s how if you’re a buyer versus a starter? Is there any advice that you have for people who are want to through and understand and reflect on, I’m somebody who’s a starter or am I somebody who’s a buyer? Are there characteristics that you see for those different types of people or any advice that you’d have for people who are like, wait, I’ve always just thought about starting, but maybe I am a buyer. How do you know if you are one of those people?
Chelsea Clarke: Yeah. I think if someone has always thought about starting their blog, but they just don’t seem to get around to it or they try, they got their hosting, maybe they installed WordPress, but then they’re like, oh, this is so much work. You are probably better suited to buying. If you’re noticing that time is going by and you’re just not getting those startup things done. Fair enough, it takes a lot of time to build up something from scratch. So if you would like to literally jump ahead and acquire something that already has that traffic, that community, all the content done, and it’s already making money, then you have those options. And that can be really appealing to someone who wanted to do it for so long. And then there’s always a million things that seem to get in the way. Family comes up, there’s certain things that are stopping you from actually making it happen, you can give yourself a break and just make it happen. So just cut ahead.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. How about teams? If somebody has a site and they have somebody helping, does the site usually come along with the team that somebody was working with or what does that look like and how does that work?
Chelsea Clarke: Yes, we have. Sometimes that does happen. A lot of times sites will have virtual assistants that will be willing to stay on, and that is worked into the deal as well. So it’s not necessarily that you’re taking on their employee, but you have a contact for their virtual assistant and someone who already knows the business. And then that way you can just continue working with them if you wish. So that’s always a great thing to work into a deal as well, because that person knows the ins and outs of the business. They’ve probably written content, they probably engaged with the audience, so it’s just an easier process when you’re transferring things along, but it’s not required if you have your own team or you just literally are passionate about it and you want to work on it yourself you absolutely can. That’s a great thing.
Chelsea Clarke: I know we were talking about with house flipping, it’s very similar with website flipping, website development, except you don’t need a huge mortgage. You don’t need a huge team of contractors. You literally could do it yourself on a small budget if you want it to.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So walk me through what the process would be. So you have your site, if you could talk about your site a little bit? Where you’re listing different blogs? One of the things that’s great about your site is it focuses on blogs, right? There’s a lot of brokers who will be like FBA businesses for Amazon and SAS and blogs and e-commerce, but it’s like, hey, you’re focused on content sites on blogs within different niches. But what does that process look like? If somebody is like, I think I might want to be somebody who looks at buying websites, start to finish high level overview the outline, what does that process look like to actually find a deal you want to move forward on and then actually close on it and then own the site?
Chelsea Clarke: Absolutely. Yes. I will walk you through every step. And yes, we do specialize in blogs. The website is a marketplace and a brokerage it’s called blogsforsale.co. So .co and although we specialize in blogs we do also sell Amazon FBA, e-commerce sites as well, but blogs is my passion. So I always have a lot of blogs there too at all different niches as you mentioned. And so if you are someone that you’re thinking of buying a website you can come and take a look and we have everything listed on the site. So you can actually see the domain, you can see how much it’s earning, you could read the profit and loss sheet, you can see a snapshot of the analytics. So to just understand the business and then if it interests you, there’s a form on each listing that goes right to me. And then we can get in touch. And I can answer all of your questions on some of the bigger sites, like the ones that are selling for over $100,000. We don’t usually post the financials live on the site, but you can get that one-on-one after.
Chelsea Clarke: And so the process is really seamless. So after some questions are answered and maybe we’ll jump on a Zoom call to really see if it’s the right business for you, then you can make an offer. So there’s asking prices listed on the listings and the asking price will be within that two to three-year multiple, but you are welcome to make an offer that you feel is right for you. So that offer you can send that to me via email. I present that to the seller. They have the opportunity to either accept it or decline it or send a counter. And then once we’ve agreed on the right price I’ll provide the legal contract that will protect both you and the seller and have everything outlined. So you understand exactly what you’re getting. Everything is listed the social accounts, how the transaction will actually happen, and you’ll both have the opportunity to sign that and agree to it. And then I opened an escrow account so that you can send the money to a secure third party for holding while we get all of the website files and assets sent to you.
Chelsea Clarke: And during that time that’s really important. I know if you’re ever buying something, maybe not from my site, but you’re thinking of buying a site that you see out in the world, it’s always best to go with a broker just so you have that legal protection and certain things that we see to be aware of that you may not be aware of. But if you are going out on your own, I would say always, always, always use some escrow service. Never buy, sell any big businesses over PayPal. You’re just not protected. But if you’re working with a broker they will handle all the escrow. So that’s okay, that’s covered. Once the money is there, it’s secured, it’s being held and I’ll also mention when it’s held in escrow, nobody sees your bank information, the seller doesn’t see it, I don’t see it and you don’t see theirs either. So that’s part of the security level.
Chelsea Clarke: Then we just start sending everything to you. So you’ll get all the passwords for all of the social accounts. You may actually acquire the whole email service provider. So maybe it’s something convert kit, or it might just be a file with all of the email addresses that you can upload to your own. If you already have one, you’ll get the actual WordPress sites. We do a website migration from the sellers host over into your own host. The only thing you really need to buy ahead of time is just make sure that you have web hosting. When the domain gets transferred to you and any other assets that come with it, YouTube channels, Google accounts. That can be a bit of a process because Google is so secure. So we have to usually go back and forth to confirmation codes for that. But once that’s done, you’re in the clear. So as I said, the social accounts, any digital products, so Canva templates, if you have online course you’ll get the online course access. Anything else that comes with the business, we just are there to make sure that you all get it in a timely fashion.
Chelsea Clarke: And then once it’s all on your side, you go back to escrow. You say you click, yes, I’ve received it. And then that unlocks it. It releases the funds to the seller. And then now you have everything. The final step.I would say, if you’re buying a business that is an LLC, or it has a trademark, that process will take a little bit longer and the trademark offices to do that after you have actually closed escrow, that’s when they will start to do it because they just want to know that it’s all tied up. So they don’t want to have to go back and do it if something happened, you backed out of escrow and they’ve already had started some trademark work. That’s all done afterwards. And then once you have everything, that’s really it. You have it all. And then I’m also there to provide marketing support, monetization support. I have a lot of online courses on marketing, blog monetization, email marketing, all that stuff that I can help people with at any time as well.
Chelsea Clarke: And really then you’re free to run it however you want to run it. Everything is been in your name.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s awesome. It’s fun to think about that moment where it’s like, suddenly everything’s transferred over and then you go and check the Mediavine account or the ad traffic counter or whatever it might be. If it’s payment processing and it’s like, oh, and then there’s money coming in. And you’ve purchased a business and you have the benefits of that said business. Specifically around Mediavine and AdThrive, do those accounts transfer over in the same way? Or any Google ads and whatever it might be, do create your own account and then put in the ad code on your own? Or do you like transfer that account over? How does that work in an acquisition for any of those ad providers?
Chelsea Clarke: Absolutely. That’s a great question. So each provider is a little bit different. If you are buying a site that’s on Mediavine, Mediavine recently changed some of their requirements. So they still will allow a site to move to a new owners account, but it just has to be getting over 50,000 monthly sessions. So that’s something that I should have mentioned too when you’re looking at the traffic. You’ll just want to make sure if it’s with Mediavine that it is getting close to 50,000 monthly sessions in order to stay on Mediavine. And then we actually work with Mediavine. They work between the buyer and seller to actually take the website and move it right into the new account. So there’s no downtime, there’s nothing that needs to be changed, it just really just switches from one account to the next. And then the new owner starts being paid the day that it lands in their account and the actual ads on the site don’t need to change.
Chelsea Clarke: Everything is done on the Mediavine end, AdSense is a little bit different, but the great thing about AdSense is usually you just have one little block of code that you’ve put if it’s in genesis, you just have it on your head or you have it wherever you have your ad code maybe you’re using a plugin. That’s really easy because then the new owner can just replace that with their own code or they can take over the Google AdSense account. But I recommend that you just have your own AdSense account because it has your own tax ID and all that stuff that you’ll just want to have it fresh as your own. It’s really easy just to put your own code in. And then AdThrive I haven’t worked with, but I know Ezoic is really easy to move sites for as well, and the sessions are much lower.
Chelsea Clarke: So that’s something that we’ve done as of last summer for any sites that we’re selling that are Mediavine sites that aren’t meeting that 50,000 monthly threshold that’s okay, because you can still buy it and just move it to Ezoic and we have our rapid Ezoic that’s really great and they get that sorted really fast.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s great. One of the things that you had talked about when you’re recapping the process was, going in and looking at analyzing the site itself, make sure that it’s a good fit, make sure that something you want to move forward on. It’s one of the things I’d suggest even if people are super early on and they don’t know if it’s something that they want to do, to start getting in the process of looking at financials for businesses. And my friend Mark has a site Quiet Light Brokerage which isn’t the brokers you might be familiar with. And I get the email listings and this morning it was sent out this listing for… I forget what it was. It was a site that was started five years ago and it was… Is this the one? No. I’m looking up in Real-time which is the worst thing to do in a podcast, but it was a five-year-old site in the beauty space. It was $5 million listing. It was like, well, oh, my gosh! That’s super inspiring and interesting to look at.
Bjork Ostrom: And I think for myself or people who listen to this podcast, we’re probably not going to be buying a $5 billion website, but it’s interesting to look at it. And in the same way there’s a site recipe blog on Blogs for Sale right now, it depends on when people are looking at this. And it’s $76,000 to purchase it and you can click and look and see here’s the P&L profit and loss statement for this website. You can take a look at that and explore to see what the details are on that site. And it’s like, oh, you look at it and it’s March and April. Those are really profitable months, May was a profitable month. That’s when you can start to dig into it and start to learn a little bit, ask those questions about certain sites and learn a little bit.
Bjork Ostrom: So even for people who are really early on and maybe you’re not going to buy something in the next month, to start the process of educating yourself around different businesses, their P&L’s, how those businesses are doing to inform your own decisions, but also the site that might be a good fit for you if you do want to decide to go the buy route. And then just to shine a light on the escrow comment how important that is, to make sure you have the central place, we’ve used it a couple of times for buying domains. So we bought tinybit.com. We haven’t spun it up yet, but that was an escrow account. We bought Clariti with an i at the end for a new SAS product we’re working on. We had a conversation with a GoDaddy broker on domains, and we’re like, “We want to buy Clariti.” And he’s like, “Okay, it’s going to be a million dollars.” I was like, what million dollars? And he’s like, it was with the why-
Chelsea Clarke: Oh, GoDaddy.
Bjork Ostrom: It was with the why? So I was like, actually I at the ends with i at the end and he was like, okay, that makes sense. We could probably get that for 10,000, which is how much we bought it for, so. But just really important to escrow as well. So one of the things that’s fun on your side is the different niches. Can you talk about those? Obviously food is one of those areas, but there’s a couple other niches that you focus on. All within the publishing category for the most part, you said you also do FBA and other sites as well. But talk about the different niches that you have and any differences in those in terms of monetization or how those sites are run, or are they all pretty similar across the board?
Chelsea Clarke: Yeah. Well, I noticed that even if the niche is really different, they’re still run in a very similar way and they’re monetize in similar ways. So most of them really focus on affiliate marketing, which is great. I like to see that from any site. So if you’re thinking about just even developing your site to hold having that affiliate marketing links and all of that in there is so important, it’s so good. What I noticed too is although we do our food blogs sell very fast. So everyone here listening I know that you probably have an awesome food blog. I would love to take a look at it. You are thinking of selling it. We do have a lot of buyers who are always looking for food blogs. But-
Bjork Ostrom: Do you know that is?
Chelsea Clarke: … like that.
Bjork Ostrom: What is it about food that makes them food specific sites that makes them desirable?
Chelsea Clarke: Oh, everybody likes to eat. I think no matter what people are going to be looking things up on Pinterest what’s for dinner? What’s for lunch? What do I give my kids for their school lunch when they’re back to school? There’s so many, everybody is interested in that. Personally, I’m a terrible cook, but I will go to a food blog just to get a quick inspiration of what to make. So I think that-
Bjork Ostrom: Maybe something about like evergreen too. It’s not a tech blog where it’s within two weeks you’re going to have to create additional-
Chelsea Clarke: Oh, that’s huge, yes. Absolutely. Yeah. And anything, that’s an evergreen niche, like health and wellness, food, money and relationships, they will always be so many different ways to monetize a niche like that and there will always be interest I believe. When you get into more of the really like sub niches, I think that can still be very profitable. I know we just sold a pets niche. It was about dogs, that went so fast. There was so much interest on that because it was so niche down and they’re talking, there’s so many things that they can promote. There’s so many dog products. I say like, when you get a new puppy, it’s like having a new baby, you have so much gear that comes with them. So therefore there’s so many different types of gear that you can promote and earn commissions with.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s interesting. There was somebody that they were sharing the other day about FBA. So those who aren’t familiar with FBA, it’s Fulfillment by Amazon. So essentially stuff that you’re selling on Amazon, who’s saying the same thing for pets. Pet sites is like. people love buying pet sites which it’s as a dog person easy to understand-
Chelsea Clarke: Yeah. Me too.
Bjork Ostrom: But something for people to check out, even just to see what are other sites doing and what do they look like and how do they work it would be something great to explore as people are looking through that. So as you think about somebody who’s great, I’m super excited to do this at least to learn a little bit more about it. I’ll do a plug for a book I’ve talked about before Buy then Build. Do you know Walker, he’d be somebody who’d be a great connection here, wrote a book called Buy then Build. All about why it’s makes so much sense to buy a business and then build it as opposed to starting? But how about on your end Chelsea anything that you’d recommend as the first step? How do people get into this? Obviously it’s a little bit scary to think about, but how do you take those first few steps?
Chelsea Clarke: Yes. And I think you nailed it too. When you were saying just about educating yourself, go into these different sites and see what people are selling. Go and dig into the financials even if you’re not ready to buy yet, you may be down the road, go and sign up to people’s email lists. So get on our email list on the site blogsforsale.co and we send weekly listing though. And then that way you can just stay up to date on what is coming out, how much things are selling for. And you never know, your dream site may pop up down the road. And if you’re on that email list, then you have the opportunity to see it before anyone else. And yeah, just educating yourself, going and figuring out what your personal interest is. So we don’t want to just buy any site that looks profitable, we want to buy sites that will be profitable for us because we understand how to continue to run them and continue to grow them.
Chelsea Clarke: So I was saying before, if you have a personal connection to something, you have a passion or interest skills past experience, something you can apply to that niche, nine times out of 10, you’re going to make that more profitable than the one that someone else has made profitable, but you have no idea what it’s about. So just really educating yourself. The first site that I sold was a beauty blog. And I built it up because I believe in cruelty-free beauty, so against animal testing. So I created this niche site that just promoted brands and ethical companies that sold beauty products that didn’t test on animals. So that was so niche down and I was able to grow it and monetize it very quickly. And I sold it on its one year birthday for $50,000. And that was…. Yeah, it was just like a quick build it. I love it. I have a passion about it, but I don’t want to be running it forever. Someone else now can take it and just make it there.
Chelsea Clarke: So anything like that, that’s really what it is. Just education max with your own interests and you’ll be good to go. Anybody can start website investing, anyone can buy a site, anyone can sell a site. Developing your site to sell as exactly the same things that you would do to develop it for yourself, to improve it and grow it and make it successful.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. So Blogs for Sale obviously something people can check out we’ll link to that as well, but other places that people can follow along with you, Chelsea, and what you’re up to and connect with you if they have other questions?
Chelsea Clarke: Oh, sure. And I always love to chat with people. So you can find me on Instagram @herpaperroute or @blogsforsale I have two depending on what your interests are. So Blogs for Sale is where all the business brokerage and blog flipping stuff is. HerPaperRoute is where I share marketing online business development, blogging content, all that good stuff. I really love to dig into funnels and email marketing. So you’ll find that on the HerPaperRoute side, but yeah, just jump in DMs I would love to chat with anyone. And if you are thinking of selling your site I’d be happy to give you a free website valuation, just go to blogsforsale.co/val, like short for evaluation. There’s a form there that you can fill out and I will give you an email back with some information and a suggested listing price for what you may be able to sell that site for.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s great. Love it. Super fun to talk about this stuff. It’s a topic that I love, so it’s really easy for me we could jam on this for hours and hours but we’ve got other things to do-
Chelsea Clarke: I think we could too. I love how educated you are on it, you know all this stuff so this is so fun to jump back and forth about.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Thanks for coming on. I think it will be a new perspective for a lot of people and something that a lot of folks will be excited about and hope that a couple of people are able to connect with you, Chelsea. Thanks so much.
Chelsea Clarke: Well, thank you so much for having me, this isn’t so much fun getting to nerd out with you on this stuff.
Bjork Ostrom: Thanks. Well, coming on the podcast, Chelsea, and thank you for listening as always be sure to check out the show notes. If you want additional links that we talked about today on the podcast, or if you just want to dive deeper into some of the other podcasts we have, you can just go to foodbloggerpro.com/podcast to get all of the different show notes and resources that we have. And while you’re there, you can poke around and learn a little bit more about Food Blogger Pro and of course you can check out Chelsea’s sites as well. We talked today about Blogs for Sale, and she also has her paperroute.com. Route, route, whatever you’d want to say. So be sure to check that out as well. That is a wrap for this episode, thanks for tuning in, make it a great week. Thanks.