Here’s a little secret that I stumbled upon a few weeks ago, trying to think of different ways to earn an income with a blog: buy a blog income. Investors in the stock market and real estate buy incomes all the time. For example, if you have $100,000 and you buy a $100,000 house then rent it out, all of the rent is income. So if you are renting for, say, $1000/m and hold the house for two years, you gross $24,000. Since you have no mortgage, your main costs are broker’s fee, property taxes and income tax, plus the standard maintenance, property management, and various operating costs.

The point is that without a mortgage to worry about, you are earning real income. Now, when you sell the house, you’re likely going to sell for at least what you bought it for. So you get back your original investment plus some rental income. I don’t want to get too deep into a real estate discussion, but if you see where I’m getting at, let’s continue.

Stock market investors do it too. Property is a big commitment. Stocks are not. If you put that same $100,000 into a stable blue chip stock or mutual funds that pays regular dividends, you’ve bought an income. If you lose a bit on the value when you sell your holding, it’s a tax write off. If you gain, add that to the dividend earnings. You come out ahead, and get back most or all of your investment.

So how does this analogy apply to blogs and websites? Well, building up a new blog is a lot of work, and maybe you don’t want to be a domainer. So why not buy an established blog [Performancing]. There are lots of zombie blogs of good value. The owner hasn’t posted in a while, but the site seems to enjoy some traffic, has a reasonable PR (Google PageRank), backlinks, is indexed regularly by the engines (including Technorati), and most especially, enjoys a monthly income from ad revenue.

As with real estate properties that you buy up, fix and resell for a higher value, the ideal candidate sites (websites and weblogs) are those that have been improperly monetized. You may find it easier to increase the monthly revenue of an existing blog than to get your new blog earning any money at all. Consider these points:

  1. Buy a site earning steady revenue over at least the last three months if not longer. Typical cost of a site is 12-18 months of revenue, plus premiums for the PR, if it’s high, and/or the domain name or any software.
  2. Keep the site for X months and build up its ad revenue using any or all of the following:
    1. More adsense earnings.
    2. More affiliate revenue.
    3. Text links or banner ads.
    4. Amazon
    5. Chitika
  3. After X months, when the monthly revenue is up, even if you sell the site for what you paid, you’ve made a bit of monthly income. Domain registration and hosting costs are fairly negligible these days.

Don’t forget to keep existing regular readers in mind. Don’t over-monetize, and roll changes out slowly. Each site and niche will have its own ideal advertising methods. That’s something I’ll try to talk about in the future; I don’t think I know enough yet.

[For thoughts on choosing a site, see my Performancing article 5 tips for buying websites, also linked above.]

Example:

  • Buy a site for $6,000 (12-18 months earnings) that has earned $500/m for at least 3-4 mnths (i.e., income is steady so far).
  • Keep for six months, earning at least $500/m, that’s $3,000+ in income.
  • Sell for $6,000 (if you didn’t increase rev), gaining $3,000.
  • Sell for $12,000 (if you doubled rev), gaining $6K + $3K plus whatever extra ad revenue above $500/m that you earn.
  • Subtract the cost of maintaining it. If you write your own posts, there’s only hosting and domain costs, and maybe be escrow fees during the purchase.
  • If the site had momentum from, say, one post per day, you could probably get away with three per week, or hire someone to help write.

Now, that’s not to say you have to spend $6,000 to be successful at buying a blog income. However, if you’re just starting out, don’t buy a site with no income else you’re back in the same boat, and in danger of having too many sites.

If you buy a site earning just $25/m, to start, do you think you can boost that to $50/m and sell it for a profit? You’ll have to decide whether you want to hold a site or whether you’re buying to flip. Holding means paying maintenance fees. But either way, this method of earning a living with a website may be much less effort than starting/ continuing your own blog.

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