It's at http://thecupcakeblog.com/ , if you're curious. Personally I don't think the site is worth that, given the demonstrated revenues and what the market is typically like for sites with this model , but then again the fair price for most things is where a buyer and seller agree it is.
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).
Where are you getting your valuation multiple from? You seem extremely confident in stating "You'd probably be looking at about $10k for it usually: trailing year's proven revenue." I've been a successful website broker for many years now, and I have never seen anyone using trailing year's proven revenue in practice.
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.
>In my opinion with a few simple changes she could have gotten quite a bit more than $36k from the site.
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.
Interesting analysis. My website, http://officesnapshots.com, is essentially the same idea ("information DJ") but in a much different vertical - company offices.
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.
I've gotten the impression (pun!) that nofollow isn't strictly necessary for banners. In this video, Matt Cutts says many banners have nofollow to prevent bots from messing with tracking numbers, but I didn't get the feeling he is saying it is not allowed.
That's decent revenue. I'm not sure if it's sustainable for a site that basically has no unique content other than generic descriptions.
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.
People only find things "in Google" if Google ranks said things highly. The ranking algorithms are only minimally a function of content quality, as in how highly a human would rank the value of a piece of content. To rank, you need a solid backlink profile and a site structure that plays nice with G's SEO guidelines. So you need to market (build backlinks) to have any chance of driving search traffic.
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.
Simply not true. Good content will develop natural backlinks over time, you don't need to create them via marketing. To say that Google can't find a site with first marketing it is simply not true.
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.
Good sir. Please pause and think more deeply about what you are saying.
> 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.
> 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.
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.
>Yes, but backlinks don't just come from marketing, which you seem to be presuming.
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.
Linked to not equal to marketing, it's as simple as that. The idea that only marketed content gets traffic is simply absurd and nothing you can say will convince me otherwise because I simply know better from nearly a decade and a half experience building websites. Beyond that we'll just agree to disagree.
That's not true at all, as Google as no way of surfacing new content.
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.
How does Google know it's "The best content"? Because people will link to it, share it on social media etc... How do people find it to do that? By marketing it. Google will not rank you prominently merely on you creating content.
Not typically, but who knows, a buyer might value that north of zero.
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.
Twitter followers are just about worthless from a business perspective unless it's a staggering number (in my experience). You get a LOT more direct response from a Linked In group of 4,000 active members than a Twitter account with 100,000 followers.
A lot of that has to do with the way Twitter works. Following someone on Twitter is as simple as clicking "Follow" and forgetting about it. No social considerations to weigh, no social qualification (Do I actually know this person? Does he know me?), and no site qualification (Am I a real person? A bot? A highly connected person? A low-connected person?).
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.
The more followers you have the worse your click-through rate becomes. Twitter is horrendous for trying to get people to actually go to your content or advertised tweets because no one is constantly signed into twitter unless you're doing it for business or you're a teen.
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 "value" may well be the sale price by definition, but that's not really the important thing here.
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.
I would tend to disagree: it is difficult to know whether an investment is actually overpriced until after the buyer has filed for bankruptcy due to being unable to support its acquisitions. As the poster's original housing business demonstrates.
i would disagree with your disagreement. the price of the transaction is the value, period. what happens afterwards is neither here nor there and can be complicated by factors that are completely unrelated to the viability of the original business, purchase price, or anything else.
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?
Looking at the site in question, it has been affected by Google's Panda, so our algorithms don't think it's a very high-quality site and that has affected the site's rankings in Google's index, at least. Personally, I would look to add more value than the article described.
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.
I tried my hand at a couple affiliate marketing style blogs thinking the same thing - I'm a web dev. Never made more than a couple hundred dollars over the course of months of occasional fiddling.
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.
There are success stories like this for sure, but I wouldn't advise you to go quitting your job just yet :)
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:
Meh, I firmly believe mobile apps are the best passive income generators available today, and it's only going to get better. SEO and blogging is just a pain. If you want to go the blogging route, try to game Pinterest instead. A lot of money to be made there.
> Meh, I firmly believe mobile apps are the best passive income generators available today, and it's only going to get better.
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 am somewhat skeptical of this hypothesis. The market may be less saturated, but AFAIK also more competitive. A cupcake aficionado may read ten blogs on the topic, and Google can send lots of super-niche long-tail traffic if you rack up enough posts — but it's unlikely that many people will buy more than one or two fertility calculators in their lifetime, and they'll most likely just buy the first one they see that looks OK.
I have reached millions of people using SEO. From my perspective, it's not that hard. I'd be glad to teach you what you need to know in a short phone conversation. If interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Google has changed alot. I had sites sitting there and gaining strength before panda and penguin came along. You could almost write about nonsense and be ranking in google over time without any seo 'help'.
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?
You could easily bring in more revenue. Adsense and BSA are just the beginning to monetizing a site. She has no idea how much a site like this could make with that amount of traffic and probably didn't even look further. $1000 a month is nothing.
I've found that many site owners are lulled into passively accepting advertising on their website through Google and BSA (which is exactly what they want).
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
This takes more work but often yields better benefits. Adsense and BSA are easy, drop in some code and wait, with no fear of rejection. It's hard calling up companies, pitching yourself, and getting rejected but that's what you have to do to get more than $1k for half million impressions/mo in a niche like this one.
I think this is good advice. I researched this very subject some months ago, and came across an interesting article by an Aussie guy named Yaro Starak, where he discusses his ideas about selling blog ad-space directly, and his pricing model for it.
There are a lot of intangibles earned as well...time to get a similar blog to same levels of income will generally be reduced on next project. Piggybacking off of built asset authority -> fast launching new sites, building credibility for yourself as skilled in that area opens up consulting avenues...etc
How do these blogs build a user base given the proliferation of content curation channels like Pinterest (just save a "cupcake" search), Tumblr, and others? I recently went on cuteoverload which was huge at one point and there's barely any comment activity anymore.
About 5 years ago I sold a site on flippa (was called something else back then) for 15k, later worked on the blog for the new owner for about ~$600/month for ~6 months. It was PR-5 and at its peak (when I sold it) it had about 600k pageviews and I was making about $1000 month. I knew I probably could make a lot more if I tried, but I didn't.
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've started blogging for fun in May this year. When I started, I used Wordpress to start a blog ASAP. With all that is being said about blogs and revenues, I'm surprised blog engine still tries to focus their engine on the editorial part of the blog.
I couldn't find a blog engine that focused on A/B Testing and analytics. Is it because I missed something?
This woman is another Amy Hoy. A whole bunch of delusional talk about money, but very little evidence or indication that it's anything besides a "look at me, I deserve your attention" ploy. People who are humoring her in the comments here are naive beyond any hope.