Here's the auction page on Flippa:
 You'd probably be looking at about $10k for it usually: trailing year's proven revenue. Nothing about it is defensible at all.
Incidentally, if you were bound and determined to be the source for cupcakes online rather than a content scraper in the middle, you'd end up producing a site like:
My SEO buddies and I ballparked owning that site as being roughly as lucrative as a full-time job as a cookbook author/editor (though it may have suffered a bit since we spitballed those numbers, due to ranking changes and the like -- it no longer dominates results like I remember it doing in ~2008).
In my opinion with a few simple changes she could have gotten quite a bit more than $36k from the site. Flippa is usually the last avenue you should consider if you own a site with traffic and revenue history.
Could you very briefly explain what kind of changes you're talking about? I have a site I haven't updated in years that gets ~120k page views per month with about $2.30 EPM and I have no idea what to do with it.
So what would you recommend if not flippa?
Once you start collecting information in blog format, the difficult thing to do is to do anything interesting with it other than have it in date-based archives. The Christmas Cookies site is much more interesting in that way.
For anyone looking to start a blog with this sort of model, I've found it important to actually go and sell your site to advertisers as opposed to sitting back and waiting for them to come to you and buy.
Anyone else have wisdom on this?
It looks like your links are direct hyperlinks, so I would recommend using nofollow on the right-hand links or ads.
It's always exciting to come to your site once in a while just to see those nice offices (especially those outside North America).
Thanks for keeping the site up to date too!!
I've tried to be pretty diligent about categorizing offices by location, so if you're interested in a plain ol' list: http://officesnapshots.com/location/
When you have a site making 'real' revenue on flippa at 1k a month, it usually will go for at least 3x the yearly earnings, if not more. She found a niche and should have kept going with it, outsourced or even took a year off without doing anything. The revenue would have likely still been there. Who knows if it would have lasted 3 years and ended up making her the $30k+ though.
i don't agree. the url and existing content is worth at least that much to a larger publisher that specializes in food blogs. it's less than the cost of one junior FT employee for a year.
i know this because the sale actually happened, so by definition, you are incorrect in that it was overpriced. someone bought the business, it is therefore "worth that". not sure what you are trying to say here, you might as well say the sky is green and gravity pulls upward.
profitable, large companies have a very different interpretation of value than broke individuals. furthermore, they are oftentimes purchasing assets through debt or equity, which is quite different than something like money saved from free cash flow.
The important question is, was buying this particular site for this particular price a good decision, one that will tend to make money for the purchaser. I don't know what the answer is, but opinions can certainly vary.
what happens if the purchaser makes the purchase, and then are the victim of a class-action lawsuit brought against a sister brand in which they have to spend their entire savings and must declare bankruptcy, thereby bankrupting thecupcakeblog?
In other words, getting traffic through google is only a function of having good content insofar as good content is easier to market, i.e. convince people to link to.
Now if you're a business, of course you want to market because it's faster than relying on organic growth, but faster doesn't mean sites that don't do SEO and marketing won't get traffic, they just won't get as much traffic as they could have.
> So you need to market (build backlinks) to have any chance of driving search traffic.
You can start a blog and just load it with good content and the traffic will slowly and steadily build as long as the content is good and new content keeps visitors coming back. You don't need to market it.
To say SEO is required is to say that Google is stupid; they are not.
> To say that Google can't find a site with first marketing it is simply not true.
I did not say Google couldn't find it. I said Google will not rank it highly, which is true. Backlink profile is a huge part of the ranking algorithm and a page won't rank without good links pointing at least at the domain, if not the exact page.
So if you write a bunch of excellent content but don't develop a backlink profile, your site will be indexed on page 10,000 of results or whatever. Yes, people could technically find it. No, they won't find it. Revisit the studies where the top 3 results on the first SERP get 95%+. Hence the need for backlinks in order to drive organic search traffic. That is, marketing.
>To say SEO is required is to say that Google is stupid
No, that logic does not hold. To say SEO is required is to say that Google has a set of rules  it follows to rank pages relative to one another, and that webmasters who want traffic need to build pages/content according to these rules.
G doesn't publish its own SEO guidebooks for nothing.
I hear your position over and over again from developers who have a zealous disdain for marketing but know little about marketing. You presume that SEO is in itself something bad and evil that only evil bad people have to do, because good products speak for themselves and therefore earn merit.
Well, no. Google's algorithms are not sentient, they do not define merit subjectively based on qualitative things as humans do. Merit in Google's eyes is conforming to a certain set of rules. And SEO is basically just following those rules.
Google's rules are that pages with more links get ranked more highly. So if you want people to ever find your content through organic search, you must do some word-of-mouth to drive that initial traffic to your content.
 - http://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.com/en/...
Yes, but backlinks don't just come from marketing, which you seem to be presuming.
> So if you write a bunch of excellent content but don't develop a backlink profile
Again, good content will get backlinks organically, not just from marketing.
> Yes, people could technically find it. No, they won't find it.
This is quite simply false, people do find, tons of tons of blogs get the majority of their traffic from Google with no marketing from the blog owner. Good content will wind up on sites like this or reddit and backlinks will follow.
> I hear your position over and over again from developers who have a zealous disdain for marketing but know little about marketing.
I don't think you're actually listening very well to what those developers are trying to convey.
> You presume that SEO is in itself something bad and evil that only evil bad people have to do, because good products speak for themselves and therefore earn merit.
You don't know what I presume, how about you not tell me what I think and worry about conveying your own position thank you.
Marketing and SEO make a site grow faster, but it's wrong to think a site can't get traffic and grow without them.
Google's job is to find and display good content to their users, not to find and display sites which market themselves to death but don't have good content. Good content is the key ingredient, not SEO and marketing. Backlinks are but one of many factors involved in ranking, and their goal is finding good content, not finding the most linked content.
I'm not presuming that. If someone finds a piece of great content via organic search on page 10,000 of the SERPS and then links it, great. That's possible and I haven't precluded the possibility. I'm saying it's incredibly unlikely and rarely happens in reality.
You are technically correct that given an infinite span of time a blogger who puts no effort into obtaining links will eventually get linked to via users who hit from page 10k of the SERPs. For our purposes as humans who have finite and short lifespans I am not satisfied giving any weight to the presupposition of an infinite timespan. So I reject your argument and state that the vast majority of first backlinks come from marketing, including stuff like telling your friends on twitter that you wrote a blog post, which is marketing.
>tons of tons of blogs get the majority of their traffic from Google with no marketing from the blog owner.
In practice this rarely if ever happens. Show me a successful blogger who doesn't submit her posts to the aggregators, linkbait from forums, share posts on Facebook, do guest blog posts on other blogs, etc. first, before there is a loyal following to do the submitting themselves.
SEO and marketing precedes organic growth, always. And probably a lot of what you're terming "organic growth" falls under the umbrella of SEO and marketing.
>Good content will wind up on sites like this or reddit and backlinks will follow.
Once blogs pick up steam this indeed becomes a thing. Before blogs pick up steam it is generally the author or a marketing agency doing the submitting, e.g. marketing.
>Google's job is to find and display good content to their users
Based on a definition of good that Google has defined in a very precise way. Have you read The Paper? G draws the conclusion from a healthy backlink profile that since other people believe the content to be good enough to link to it is probably good. Hence the disproportionate weight placed on backlink profiles in ranking algorithms vis-a-vis other factors. Backlinks in themselves are a measure of good content according to Google.
>Good content is the key ingredient, not SEO and marketing
Only insofar as if you market a turd, it won't pick up steam. SEO is nothing more than following the rules to get indexed. If you don't follow the rules, you won't get indexed, and likely won't see organic growth from search. The rules state that in order to rank higher, you need backlinks. The backlinks preclude the higher ranking and thus as a logical necessity the growth.
>Backlinks are but one of many factors involved in ranking, and their goal is finding good content, not finding the most linked content.
For Google, finding the most linked content (combined with assessment of the link profile, e.g. good vs bad neighborhoods etc.) is a means to finding good content. Google cannot assess what makes content good without assessing the backlink profile heavily, because the entire philosophy driving the SERPs is that good = linked to.
Write the best, most authoritative article on a topic in the world, and if you simply put it out there without doing marketing (getting others to link to it), no one will ever find it on Google. If it's in the SERP it will be on page 9000.
This is the biggest mistake I see startups doing, simply creating content and hoping it surfaces to the top of Google.
Basically once you get indexed, the best content will rise to the top. Google is not weighing exclusively on inbound links anymore.
Shameless plug for my information jockey endeavor: http://heritagebros.com.
The more typical view: If that was worth ad revenue, it's already in the $1k per month, right? The model for churn-and-burn content scraping sites doesn't really have a term in valuations for engaged audiences, except insofar as it allows you to claim that you're not a churn-and-bun content scraping site. But, just between us industry professionals, it's a churn-and-burn content scraping site.
Joining a LinkedIn group asks a lot more of a user. There are multiple stages of pre-qualification, both user-initiated (seeking out and joining the group) and group-initiated (a lot of groups screen new members, for instance, screening "Stanford Alumni" for a Stanford email address of some sort). Your typical LinkedIn group membership is a lot smaller than a Twitter followership, but it's more homogeneously centered around a specific dimension of mutual interest, and the leads are more higly qualified.
Twitter can work, and quite well, but it's a painstaking process. Cultivating a qualified and influential Twitter following is tantamount to having a second full-time job. There are followerships of 100,000+ that have basically been hand-picked and nurtured. Those are the kind of followerships that actually work. If you have even 10,000 fans that hang onto your every word, and a decent portion of which have others who do the same for them, then your following is worth an order of magnitude more than a 100,000+ following of mostly bots and dead weight.
Getting to 1M+ followers on Twitter, based purely on buying or attracting bots or mutual follow/follow arrangements, is a nontrivial challenge and a serious waate of time and money. Not many people do it. This is why the sort of people who have 1M+ followers usually have a decent chunk of qualified followers, as well. These people tend to be famous outside of Twitter. I would be floored by any small business that managed to get into the hundreds of thousands of followers, let alone millions, with a strong percentage of qualified, active followers. It's pretty easy to suss out the difference, too.
Definitely want to try my hand in this. I don't know anything about SEO and marketing though. Where could one learn?
And of course if you're looking to buy a site, whether on Flippa or elsewhere, you'll want to ask about any recent webspam action notifications from Google, as well as ask about any traffic trends in case the traffic to the site has gone down recently.
You have to love writing, what you are writing about, self/product promotion and project management like outsourcing tedious SEO things for cheap otherwise it will rarely amount to much.
If you are a developer and love these things, then sure it would be great if you could spend an extra hour or two for some months to make $36k in addition to a regular income, but I would say the kind of effort and results achieved by OP is an outlier. YMMV even if you have all the skills.
It's INCREDIBLY hard to get a blog to a profitable state, despite the fact that many people make it sound like a walk in the park. In fact, most successful bloggers will tell you it takes years of doing everything right to really get there.
Not trying to be discouraging, just a little more realistic than this article.
If you really have the passion to start and stick with a blog, I'd definitely recommend these two books:
Blog Inc: http://www.amazon.com/Blog-Inc-Blogging-Passion-Community/dp...
Pro Blogger, Blogging Your way to a 6-Figure Income: http://www.amazon.com/ProBlogger-Secrets-Blogging-Six-Figure...
Another is their SEO Report Card from a different angle:
Moz (SEOmoz) provides another good source of info here:
This seems harder — making apps is more time-consuming and a less common skill than copy-pasting pictures of cupcakes.
It also seems less straightforward — the concept of "figure out what lots of people are talking about, make blog on topic, stick ads on it and let Google bring in visitors" is pretty simple, whereas I have no idea what the equivalent is for apps.
I think that's why it's easier to generate passive income.
Because of that, it's probably easier to generate income from apps because the market is not as saturated as niche-wordpress-blogs.
Just look for someone posting this comment on HN and partner up:
Wow, there is money in this? Why am I wasting time working on legitimate and difficult products? I'm a fantastic Internet marketer, and this seems like something slapped together very easily.
I'm open to questions, although here are the main aspects of it:
- Started a blog in Spanish about indie/casual games, mostly for fun
- It was part of a (very small) network (NexoBlogs.com) run by a friend of mine on his spare time
- After a year or so I ran out of things I wanted to write about, but then I noticed some terms driving most of the traffic, and focused on them. At this point I was making probably $40 a month
- A year later, after focusing on those terms, traffic grew a lot (even though for most "big" keywords I wasn't number one) and revenue was maybe a couple hundred bucks a month
- At this point I started looking at affiliate programs. Ended up with BigFishGames' which pays 25% of each sale and keeps the cookie on the user's computer for a year
- Another year went by and I was making around $1K or a bit more a month, quite comfortably
- I spent almost a year basically not writing (I'd write a generic summary once a week). Traffic still went up
- After that, traffic started declining, so I hired someone from oDesk to write for 5€ / post 20 times a month to write new content
- As you can read in the auction, at one point income from BigFishGames dropped a lot and I decided to sell it since someone else could do better with it, and it sold for the amount I wanted
- It ended up netting me (sale price aside) maybe $20K in total, and it was my only source of income for a year while I traveled around South East Asia
Someone asked in another comment how you gain traffic to a blog like this. Is there any keys to getting the word out there fast? Pinterest might be a quality start for this niche?
That is $2.08/1k views (CPM). In a niche space like cupcakes, doubling that to $4.00 is extremely possible.
If someone purchases the site looking at those 500k page views, and expects to be able to monetize at a CPM of $4, then $36,000 is a fine deal. It's a lot of risk, but not insane.
If you have a website that is awesome with content that people like, go sell the hell out of it to advertisers. Find companies that sell things your readers should know about. Then go and actively contact them and sell them advertising space.
Some easy ways to find potential advertisers:
-see who advertises on other sites in the same field
-if there are trade magazines, look to see who advertises in those
-look for trade shows and see who buys booths and advertisements at them
(Not spam, I'm not affiliated with this guy, I was just reminded of it so I pulled the URL from my history to share it, I promise!)
setup a cron job to scrape the top 100 or so sources for cupcake articles every day.
use mechanical turk as quality assurance to make sure the articles are indeed about cupcakes. You could also have them help tag each article.
write a script to automatically tweet each new article.
write another to automatically post each picture to pinterest with a link back to your site (might get banned for spam?).
24 months * (1000 / 2) avg $/mo = $12,000 
$12,000 earned + $36,200 sale = $48,200 total income
$48,200 / 720 hrs = $66.94/hr
Given the exceptionally high risk, I'd have to declare that a ROTI fail but different people value their time differently.
 My revenue calculation assumes a relatively steady growth.
I still remember my site being on digg 4-5 times a month and all the traffic I used to get and all the headache that came with trying to keep the site up using wordpress. Fun times really.
I couldn't find a blog engine that focused on A/B Testing and analytics. Is it because I missed something?
There are many other activities which can pay off much better with the same amount of time invested.