Blog for Sale -- Not Sold!

I’ve been writing about random things that pop into my head on this website for a little over 7 years now. So I suppose it is natural to have a little 7-year itch.

As summer rolled around I was feeling little to no motivation. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and there was a world to explore. So I did a bunch of 100+ km bike rides with big climbs, played some guitar, did a bit of travel, and more or less let me inner laziness rein free. I did absolutely nothing productive and it was glorious.

So now what? Perhaps it was just the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, but in early fall it seemed like anybody and everybody was selling their blog. From long-time personal finance blogger superstars to recent upstarts, they were all handing over the virtual keys.

So… what the hell… why not explore the possibilities?

Selling a blog

It turns out selling a blog is a lot easier than I thought. There are a ton of individuals and businesses interested in acquiring websites with an established audience.

I reached out to some people… a few who had sold their blogs, a blog broker, a couple of medium to large media companies. And over the course of 2-3 months, I had 4 solid offers.

Prices for a website vary, but typically in the range of 3x – 4x annual revenue or profit, depending on who you ask. It can be more or less. For a generic personal finance site with rapid growth (e.g. it can be more. For a site centered around an individual (e.g. it can be less.

Last year (2018) Go Curry Cracker made about $75,000 in taxable profit (see GCC Business Review.) Based on that, the 4 offers I received were in the 2.5x – 4x range.

All but one of the offers required that I stay around for a while / continue writing in order to have a smooth transition. Two of the offers would have paid me for my time to do so. 2 of the offers also had performance incentive bonuses, whereby if traffic/revenue grew I would get additional payouts up into 6-figures.

Why Sell?

This is actually a hard question to answer. I wasn’t sure I wanted to, but I was also curious and feeling unmotivated and lazy.

So I did some light brainstorming…

Reasons to sell:
– time to do the next thing
– not interested in doing stuff that needs to be done to drive growth (SEO, etc…)
– push to go do something new
– no blog revenue means more opportunity to do Roth conversions and cap gain harvesting
– add some $ to the portfolio just because

Reasons to keep:
– I love helping people and interacting with all of you GCC readers
– It’s fun and flexible and has nice cash flow
– motivates me to think deeper about interesting money topics
– Why not?

I also went back and reread my old post, Everyone Should Blog, because if everybody should do it…

Ultimately, I figured my main motivation for exploring the idea was best explained by a popular Saturday Morning Breakfast Serial comic.

Maybe blogging was one of those lives that I needed to let die so I could go live the next one.

Taxes on Selling a Business / Installment Sale

As a tax curious individual, I spent some time exploring how a sale might affect our taxes.

I basically do everything on this site with a 2-year old laptop and a 3-year old iPhone, so there are no assets to transfer. Thus, ~100% of the sale price would be a capital gain.

As you know capital gains have generously low tax rates, but large lump sums are never tax efficient.

With a $200k – $300k capital gain added to income for the year, we would end up paying 15% on all of it ($30k – $45k.)

But there is an alternative.

With 2 of the larger offers, I proposed an installment sale. In essence, payments would be divided over 2-3 tax years. Instead of $300k in 1 year, we might get $100k for 3 years, plus interest, for example.

This would allow us to have more of the capital gains fall into the 0% tax rate. I estimated we could get between 75% and 95% taxed at 0%, saving up to $40k in taxes +/-.

And the final answer is…

The whole exploration process was really interesting, and there was a lot of creative thinking, but ultimately the results were underwhelming.

Trading this site for $ made no fundamental difference in our overall financial situation.

Continuing to write for a site I didn’t own seemed like a job. If I’m going to write, why not just continue as I have been?

I’m not yet sure what my next life will be, so there is no rush to make a leap. The things I thought about focusing on (biking, guitar, travel) I’ve already included in my normal life.

But, interestingly enough, In the process of doing all of the due diligence and background work I (re)realized a few things…

  • I can just focus on the stuff I enjoy and let the chips fall where they may.
  • External metrics like growth, traffic, revenue, while interesting, are completely irrelevant.
  • I like writing and thinking and learning

… and since I took a few months off (recharge!), I suddenly started feeling curious and motivated again.

Now, I’ve been writing up a storm, increased my backlog of interesting topics to write about, and fixed/improved a bunch of behind-the-scenes stuff that were bothering me.

I also contracted an SEO guy and a perf guy, and found myself excited to learn things that I previously wrote off as dull. I’m even exploring adding some contract writers (Is that YOU?! Email me!)

And wouldn’t you know it, I’ve been having a great time through it all.

How blogs are valued and sold, and how business sales are taxed, were all interesting things to learn. But I think I’ll keep my baby.

I blog therefore I am

Thank you!

Thanks for reading and all of your support over the years!

Stay tuned for my upcoming course on blogging! (kidding!)

* Post title inspired by a favorite book from yesteryear, Magic Kingdom for Sale – Sold!