I’ve run a few interviews on SEOno before (you can see all the previous ones here) but I’m really excited to publish this one, for a number of reasons:
First and foremost, despite not yet meeting her IRL, Emma (@ejbarnes89) and I have known each other via Twitter for years and we get on famously. She’s my ‘sister from another mister,’ to re-work the classic saying… She’s guest blogged for me and I’ve guest blogged for her. So being able to interview her as well is just awesome.
Additionally, it’s a topic that really interests me. A lot of bloggers that I know are interested in monetising their blogs, but this is possibly the first instance I’ve heard of of someone selling their entire website, content and all (not just the domain name). After chatting to Emma about it, I asked her if she’d be interested in doing a proper Q&A/interview about it, and I’m delighted to say that she happily obliged…
Steve Morgan: Hi Emma! Tell us about Gaming Memoirs. How long did it run for before you sold it?
Emma Barnes: Gaming Memoirs was my personal blog where I posted reviews about games that I’d played. I ran it for four years before deciding to sell it.
Steve: What types of posts did you publish?
Emma: Mostly game reviews, but occasionally fanart (which I now post on my Tumblr) and the odd “how to…” post.
Steve: What were your reasons for selling the blog?
Emma: I got to a stage where I realised that I wasn’t enjoying writing blog posts about video games any more, and rather than let it die I thought I might see if I could sell it to make a bit of money back on hosting costs, etc.
Steve: To me, the idea of selling a blog sounds very intimidating. I wouldn’t have a clue where to start! Were you in a similar situation when you made the decision to sell it, or did you know exactly what you were doing right from the off?
Emma: I have actually sold one blog before – however it was to someone I knew personally and it was more like just giving them WordPress access to the website.
This time it was totally different. Instead of approaching people I knew (although some were interested) I thought I’d try my hand at an auction, because I didn’t really know what the site was worth, and thought I’d leave it with a buyer to decide.
I was a bit nervous because I was worried I might screw up the transfer to the new host, or that I would somehow magically delete my site before selling it…
Steve: How did you sell it? Did you put it onto a ‘blog marketplace’ type website? How does the whole process work from start to finish? And how long did it all take?
I knew sites existed for buying/selling websites, so I did a bit of Googling and decided on Flippa for a few reasons:
- It was specifically for buying/selling websites, domain names and apps rather than a more “general” web auction site,
- I browsed it as if I was a buyer and thought it was easy enough to find what I wanted,
- It looked fairly trustworthy and had decent reviews.
The process itself was quite easy once you got the hang of it. I’ll probably vary from site to site, so I’ll talk about what I did with Flippa.
Step 1 – Create account and tell Flippa what site I’m selling and prove that I own it
This involves uploading a file to the site – I had to do this directly form the host, rather than through WordPress, which was a little tricky for me because I don’t log in to my hosting very often, so wasn’t very sure what I was doing. But for someone who is familiar with the more technical sides of websites, it’d be really easy for them.
Step 2 – Once ownership is verified, create auction
Note: Flippa has classified listings and auctions, I used the auction function which costs $19 + 10% selling price
This is much like listing something on eBay. You set a minimum price and you can also set a ‘buy it now’ price. You then write the product description, and select the category of the website you’re selling.
As well as this, you can connect your Google Analytics account to prove how much traffic you’re getting to the potential buyers. This is a really easy process, and it just pulls in some basic stats about the website.
You then have the option to report on how much you earned from your website over the past 12 months. I think this can be done by connecting your Google AdSense account, but I’ve never used AdSense on the site, so I manually input some other figures.
Step 3 – AUCTION GO!
My auction lasted two weeks. You would think that you can just sit and wait for bids, but it’s a bit more involved than that!
Every bidder has to be approved by you. You will get an email for each new bidder. You can then view their Flippa profile, and see if they’ve bought something before, if they have good reviews, etc. I was willing to let anyone bid because I was a brand new seller, so if they were willing to trust me, I was willing to trust them.
You will probably get messages about your website. Some questions I got were:
- Can I get Google Analytics/Search Console access? – the most common question by far
- How much does it cost to run?
- Do any social accounts come with the website?
- Have you ever transferred a website before?
- How did you monetise it?
- Why are you selling it?
So I would suggest that if you’re selling a website, put these things in the description, as they can probably increase interest in the website.
You also have to monitor comments on the auction itself. Comments are public questions (rather than private), and generally they were the same kind of questions. I got email notifications for both comments and questions, so it was easy to keep track of.
Step 4 – Getting payment
This may differ, depending on the platform. My buyer used the ‘buy it now’ function which meant that money went straight into my paypal, and it was very easy.
However Flippa use several different payment systems, and if your auction ends with a bid rather than ‘buy it now,’ the process will be different. As far as I gather it’s a lot more agreeing what each person will give the other and the money doesn’t go anywhere until you’re both happy.
Step 5 – Transferring the website to the new owner
This is the stage I was most worried about, as although I have transferred a website from one host/registrar before, there was no money involved and I wasn’t at risk of screwing anyone over.
I had explained this to my buyer and he said to me that if I had any questions he would help out as he was quite experienced. He also offered to do it for me if I gave him logins to my cPanel (kind offer, but I declined as I had many websites on the same host).
The process for me was:
- Create a new WordPress Admin user for the new owner. You could also give them your logins, whichever you’re more comfortable with.
- We were both using 123-reg to host domain names, so transferring the domain was really easy. I have also transferred from one domain host to another before and it’s not too hard. I recommend Googling “transfer from host x to host y” because there’s usually guides.
- I told him that the transfer had happened, and it is then up to him to update his nameservers with his domain registrar for his website hosting. This process is fairly simple, but can take three days or so to transfer. Once we’re confident that this is done, I’ll remove the website from my hosting.
- I gave him access to other accounts associated with the website: Google Analytics, Google Search Console and FeedBurner.
Step 6 – Keep in touch
Once the transaction is complete, just verify that everything is running smoothly for them. And don’t forget to leave a review for your seller.
Steve: Wow, thanks for the detailed explanation of the process, Emma! If you don’t mind me asking, did you get the money for it that you were hoping for? Or perhaps more or less than you were expecting?
Emma: I had no idea of the value of my blog, and it turns out that my ‘buy it now’ price was actually fairly low! This is because I got a few messages from other would-be buyers saying “sorry I missed this, if the sale falls through get in touch and I’ll give you more money,” haha. So, I underestimated the value of my blog, but I got more than I thought I would have got.
Steve: He might not have discussed it with you, but do you happen to know what the new owner of the blog plans to do with it following the sale?
Emma: I’m not sure actually. I assume he will monetise it more than I did, but that’s about it.
Steve: What happens next? What are your future plans? Will you start another blog?
Emma: There are only a few things that left me in doubt about selling the blog:
- Where will I put my art? I decided on getting a Tumblr blog for it.
- What about people who have lost their follower in Skyrim? My most popular blog post by far was one written by you, Steve Morgan, on how to fix a specific bug in Skyrim. It would be a shame for the Internet to lose that valuable information if he deleted it. However, as discussed with you, it’s your post and I’m happy for you to take a copy should something happen to it.
- What about all my opinions about games? I figured I’ll still put those on Twitter…
As for starting another blog, for now, I doubt it. I’m not actually a fan of writing big opinion pieces, I prefer writing ‘how to’ pieces (I do a whole bunch of these over at my employer’s site) and drawing pictures, hence moving that to Tumblr.
Awesome, thanks Emma!
Have you ever considered selling your blog? If you have any questions for Emma then please feel free to leave a comment below!