$3M~ Website Sale, AMA

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Hey All-

I was asked todo an AMA here after completing the sale of my portfolio of sites back in Dec 2020.

This is was a group of 5 sites that were all started by me and my team and scaled up since 2015 or so.

We were approached by several buyers via Cold email and ended up selling to one of them after about 6 months of initial contact and about 90 days of back and forth with our Lawyer and theirs.

The deal was right around $3M USD when it was all said and done.

Some Key Takeaways from this Whole Journey
  1. Always be Open to Cold Offers from Anyone looking to buy.
    We had about 3-5 different Cold emails come through to purchase our sites over the last 24 months, which was odd due to Corona and such, but I can see how people started to value online businesses over traditional business.
  2. Due Diligence on Buyers are Key before Handing over Financials & Analytics
    You don't want to give some random stranger a competitive advantage without verifying they have funds and are actually capable. We did due diligence before responding to any emails and most of the time - We simply deleted the offers as we found out some buyers just didn't match the buyer profile we were looking for.
  3. Find a Good M&A Lawyer
    We ended up paying about $8000~ USD and they walked us through the whole process and really helped us navigate this whole deal.
  4. Build to Sell from Day 1
    We built these sites with the notion that 1 day we would sell them and thus scaled content strategies and link building in a way that was 100% safe and scalable. We acquired loads of natural organic links from high ranking content and enjoyed not having to think about link building at all for years. I'm seeing this trend with bigger sites and its really the benefit of having a well designed site and really good content - People will link to you naturally. Buyers love sites that grow consistently and naturally as the bigger brands do.
Please feel free to ask any questions and such, but Please be Aware - I'm under strict NDA and Non-compete and may not be able to answer all questions.

Ask Away!
 
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Potatoe

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Just posting here to vouch for this person, he's the real deal, have known and worked with him for years. Glad he decided to make this thread. Another home-grown BuSo SEO success story.
 
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felotus

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tothemoon - what multiple of SDE did you sell it for?
 

Ryuzaki

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Can you describe what an M&A lawyer is, what they specifically do for you, and maybe an example of how they protected you or made the process smoother?

Congratulations on your sales. Selling sites off in batches is a great way to take a bunch of weight off your shoulders after all that time and add a bunch of cash in your war chest. I did it once on a muuuch smaller scale and enjoyed it. It's an easy way to sneak in the liquidation of lesser sites too that you don't want.

Did you find that the 80/20 principle applied in your sale? Was any one site responsible for the bulk of the valuation, etc.? How did that play out?
 
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Can you describe what an M&A lawyer is, what they specifically do for you, and maybe an example of how they protected you or made the process smoother?

M&A Lawyer is a lawyer who helps business owners either buying a Business or Selling a business. Our lawyer helped us go through the APA line by line to ensure we weren't getting screwed in any aspect of the deal.

He helped us with Allocations (for tax purposes), NDA/Non-Compete section and anything related to our tax liability after the sale in conjunction with our CPA.

He had experience with larger M&A deals that he's seen go sideways via Stock sabotage and shorting to actually devalue businesses, to the stealing of IP and recipes for popular products from the sellers' company.

You cannot take anything off the table when your doing a deal of this magnitude and a lawyer with a Good "BS" meter and a bit of paranoia always helps with weeding out any possible foul play.

Congratulations on your sales. Selling sites off in batches is a great way to take a bunch of weight off your shoulders after all that time and add a bunch of cash in your war chest. I did it once on a muuuch smaller scale and enjoyed it. It's an easy way to sneak in the liquidation of lesser sites too that you don't want.

Yes, this is the feeling we had as well - Big weight off our shoulders and some freedom for a couple months til new projects jump into the pipeline.

Did you find that the 80/20 principle applied in your sale? Was any one site responsible for the bulk of the valuation, etc.? How did that play out?
I'd say about 3 of the 5 sites had the majority of value and thus were valued higher than the other 2 when allocations came into play.

Good questions!
 
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Many Congrats on the exit.

On multiple - on reflection do you feel you could have achieved a higher figure with a broker given that many are now listing at x40 - x45.
 
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Many Congrats on the exit.

On multiple - on reflection do you feel you could have achieved a higher figure with a broker given that many are now listing at x40 - x45.

Thanks!

I've considered that scenario multiple times, but considering the Deal size and the Broker fee's these days, I'm happy with where I landed in terms of money in hand.

Most brokers are taking 10%-14% ($300k-420k) on a deal this big, so I think even at at 40X~, I would've ended up near the same number.

I'm noticing now (last 60 days or so) prices are skyrocketing in every aspect of Business and Life -
  • Real Estate
  • Cars
  • Web asset sales
  • High value domains
  • businesses, etc
I think there's a lot of money out there and I'm sure things would've been different now, but back in Mid-2020, the certainty was starting to get to me and i think we made the right decision overall.
 
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Thanks for doing this!

  • How many articles per site (or largest site)?
  • What was your process for keyword research?
  • What signs of growth did you see in the first year?
  • How much did you spend per word for content?
  • Do you mind sharing your thoughts on the balance between content quality vs. quantity?

Thanks,
Charlie
 
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How many articles per site (or largest site)?

Minimum 100 Articles up to 250~ or So.

What was your process for keyword research?

Used SEMRUSH and KeywordsEverywhere tool to Find Kws that we related to the products we were pushing and went after every kw related to it, along with all competitor product and comparison kws.

What signs of growth did you see in the first year?
Growth was slow in the first year until google can establish a foothold on the topic and authority of your domain, but the more content we put out and shared, the faster we grew.

How much did you spend per word for content?
Initially we wrote content ourselves, but thereafter hired writers via Upwork and Linkedin ranging from $3 per 100 words up to $11 per 100 words.

We also used some content services, but they simply didn't have the quality and expertise we needed.

Do you mind sharing your thoughts on the balance between content quality vs. quantity?

Quality content is everything, especially well researched articles that have custom images and your own Youtube videos embedded into them. Gives you an edge of the everyday publisher who can get product images that everyone else uses. Do something to set yourself apart from your competition and give you the edge you need to solidify yourself as the authority for the niche or sub-niche.

Pumping out generic content for the sake of having content on your site really wont help imo. Needs to be tailored to your niche and have a purpose for either informing visitors and then directing them into your money pages, or having some sort of topical relevance to the overall niche of the site.

The more niche relevant your topics are, the more authority (i believe) google will give your domain.
 

secretagentdad

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Can you talk more about your experience with embedded YouTube videos.

Did you get any Cross network boost on the platform?

Did you have any brand name traction progression over time info you would be willing to share?
 
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Did you get any Cross network boost on the platform?

The more video views it got from Youtube, the more clicks i got to the page itself.

I didn't track KW rankings for the YT video within YT itself, but the niche I was in wasn't that big on youtube.

Did you have any brand name traction progression over time info you would be willing to share?

No much Brand name search volume, but i did have quite a few repeat viewers and readers when we published more howto type of guides.

Thanks!
 
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Thanks!

I've considered that scenario multiple times, but considering the Deal size and the Broker fee's these days, I'm happy with where I landed in terms of money in hand.

Most brokers are taking 10%-14% ($300k-420k) on a deal this big, so I think even at at 40X~, I would've ended up near the same number.

I'm noticing now (last 60 days or so) prices are skyrocketing in every aspect of Business and Life -
  • Real Estate
  • Cars
  • Web asset sales
  • High value domains
  • businesses, etc
I think there's a lot of money out there and I'm sure things would've been different now, but back in Mid-2020, the certainty was starting to get to me and i think we made the right decision overall.
I sold around the same time and agree - the certainty of cash in hand is hard to price into a deal.
Notice deal prices sky rocketing lately too which is nice for future plans.
Will you get back in the game with the funds you have?
 
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I sold around the same time and agree - the certainty of cash in hand is hard to price into a deal.
Notice deal prices sky rocketing lately too which is nice for future plans.
Will you get back in the game with the funds you have?
This is definitely a motivator for us right now - we're scaling into more maintstream niches with display and affiliate combined and seeing massive valuations - I feel confident about the future of online businesses and to be honest, i think they will continually grow in valuations as traditional businesses (unfortunately) are dying off due to mass closures, etc.

Will you get back in the game with the funds you have?
We're currently working in 2 other niches and have started to hire new writers for other niches that we're working in. Find short, brandable domains seems to be a challenge right now for us.
 
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This is definitely a motivator for us right now - we're scaling into more maintstream niches with display and affiliate combined and seeing massive valuations - I feel confident about the future of online businesses and to be honest, i think they will continually grow in valuations as traditional businesses (unfortunately) are dying off due to mass closures, etc.


We're currently working in 2 other niches and have started to hire new writers for other niches that we're working in. Find short, brandable domains seems to be a challenge right now for us.
We are on the same path it seems!

I just grabbed a site at x32 and in 9 months could do nothing and sell for x45.

there are definitely opportunities for brokerage arbitrage at the moment.
 
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there are definitely opportunities for brokerage arbitrage at the moment.
100% Agree! I've considered selling my lower earning sites, but i think scaling them to 5 figures shouldn't be that difficult with full-time writer/editor and we could easily get massive multiples, considering its history and build-quality!
 
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What's your background? How big is 3M$ for you? I know you mentioned you have a team, are you the sole beneficiary of the sale of your portfolio or will your team receive part aswell?
 
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What's your background
Mid 30's, married with 2 kids with Bachelors Degree.

How big is 3M$ for you?
Its a good portion of net worth.

I know you mentioned you have a team, are you the sole beneficiary of the sale of your portfolio or will your team receive part aswell?
Team refers to my writers, editors, etc

I owned the business outright and thus all proceeds came to me.

Some members of my team ended up going with the sale, which was good for them in the long run.

Thanks
 
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Thanks a lot for the AMA. I've read all your comments and they been really helpful.

May I ask what mistakes would you have avoided in the beginning now with all the experience you have now?
What do you do in terms of productivity ( schedule, etc) and motivation, how do you stay focused?

Again thanks a lot.
 
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May I ask what mistakes would you have avoided in the beginning now with all the experience you have now?

I used to not put out much content, like 1 article per week and would wait to see it rank and then start sharing it.

Now we put out like 4-8 articles per week on some new sites we work on and we see movement a lot faster, especially when targeting low hanging fruit.

Once the google traffic starts to trickle in, I've noticed its easier to get more and more traffic and into money pages with inner-linking.

Time is money - make the most of it as its the only thing you cannot get back. Scale fast and see where posts land in 30-60 days, reoptimize and update the posts (using whatever onpage tool you fancy) and watch it climb more, do it again in 30-60 days until your at the point you want.

Another mistake (or hindrance if you may) I used to make was over-analyzing everything.

Now I just get a domain, get logo and custom theme it and throw content onto the domain as fast as possible. See how Google reacts to the domain and if it starts to rank, then your gold.

Some niches are obviously going to take time (anything in Finance, etc) to rank, but at least get the content hosted onto the domain, optimized and load up kws in tracker to track movement. Never hurts to get a jump start, especially with movement taking weeks nowadays.

What do you do in terms of productivity ( schedule, etc) and motivation, how do you stay focused?
This is a hard one man, but i work when i can - i do this full time now and any time i have free time, i work - even on Weekends and evenings :(

You would think things would slow down once you sell off, but not so much - I have the fire again to get back to where i was and do it all over again - I love the chase.

What motivates me is building brands/sites that are custom themed from the ground-up that most affiliates cannot do. This includes optimizing for speed, ripping out bloat (postcss, etc) and optimizing my servers for pure speed. I know every little incremental gain will turn into a larger gain down the road, so every inch i can get from the Big brands, i'll take!

Focus is hard lately - FB & youtube kill my time a lot - but I've met a lot of great people on FB that I talk to daily and call my friends now. But i do limit my interactions to ensure my focus is dialed in and lately, its all about those 5-Hour energy drinks, as coffee has lost its luster (or maybe I just need way more caffeine than i used to?).

I will typically block FB & youtube via local Hosts file for several weeks at time to ensure i stay focused, after about 2-3 weeks, you lose the habit of going to those sites and wasting time.

Productivity-wise: I started to hire editors and writers to help me scale faster, and now I'm looking to start hiring legit link builders and haro writers to get my newer projects moving on a faster timeline.
This gives me more time to focus on technical (wordpress theming/branding and server optimization) stuff and planning content and finding easy KWs to rank.

Thanks for the Questions!
 

secretagentdad

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What host do you like best right meow?
 
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What host do you like best right meow?

For high traffic sites, Either AWS (Ec2 with NVME drives) or Google cloud behind their Cloud CDN load balancer.

I dont really bother with any shared hosting. If its a tester site, it goes on a cheap Digital ocean droplet.

I do believe in bad IP neighborhoods (https://www.rebootonline.com/blog/long-term-shared-hosting-experiment-update/)

and I want to be as close to googlebot crawlers as possible (hopefully in the same datacenter :smile: )
 

Golan

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Thank you for the AMA! And congrats with your success!

Due Diligence on Buyers are Key before Handing over Financials & Analytics
You don't want to give some random stranger a competitive advantage without verifying they have funds and are actually capable. We did due diligence before responding to any emails and most of the time - We simply deleted the offers as we found out some buyers just didn't match the buyer profile we were looking for.

Can you shed a light on how can you do that? How people with money can share their info with random strangers, even with the owner of product they want to buy? And how can you vet this info? I figure, financial numbers can be photoshopped even easier than GA screenshots.
 

illmasterj

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I'd say about 3 of the 5 sites had the majority of value and thus were valued higher than the other 2 when allocations came into play.
We're currently working in 2 other niches and have started to hire new writers for other niches that we're working in. Find short, brandable domains seems to be a challenge right now for us.
The general consensus around here seems to be that more than 1 project creates lack of focus and suboptimal results.

You, like @MrMedia (from his AMA), have multiple sites, and it appears your strategy moving forward is to again have multiple sites.

Is this due to FOMO/ADHD, or do you think it is a sensible strategy for affiliate/display/content sites? Does organic search represent a good portion of traffic/revenue for your sites and is this how you protect yourself against algo updates?
 
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Can you shed a light on how can you do that? How people with money can share their info with random strangers, even with the owner of product they want to buy? And how can you vet this info? I figure, financial numbers can be photoshopped even easier than GA screenshots.

Usually will have a letter from the bank or mobile screenshot or mobile video refreshing their screen, some people simply stop responding when asked for funding proof.

Is this due to FOMO/ADHD, or do you think it is a sensible strategy for affiliate/display/content sites
Our strategy is to Cover the top 3-5 positions of every kw we go after.

I'm not sure what the statistics are anymore, but from what i recall, covering the top 5 positions on the first page would result in an overall CTR of 60-62% of the overall clicks (per this study https://www.advancedwebranking.com/ctrstudy/)


Does organic search represent a good portion of traffic/revenue for your sites and is this how you protect yourself against algo updates?
Yes, organic is king for me, its targeted traffic for my given KW and many times, we'll get new companies emailing us to get ads or listed on our site and thats when we strike up private cpc or affiliate deals, since we cover the 1st page for the terms with all our properties.

Thanks!