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How To Position Your Website For A Profitable Exit

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While you may not necessarily be ready to sell your website right now, or may not have actually given thought to selling your business down the road, I want to introduce you to the possibilities.

Selling a blog, website, or other established online business can be a great way for you to get a massive cash influx so you can focus on bigger projects, or give yourself some much needed rest and relaxation after working so hard, for so long.

This post is going to help you figure out what to do while you still own the blog to make it as attractive as possible to investors, and how to make a proper exit when the time comes while getting the most money possible.

Below are 10 tips you can use now to help you get ready for the day you decide to sell.

Tip #1 – Plan For Your Exit Today

The value that you’re going to be able to extract from the blog when you sell has a lot to do with what you’ve prepared for in the months, and even years leading up to the time you decide to sell.

Factors like revenue and profit, your traffic stats, your email list, how you’ve monetized, and how much work the blog requires will all play a huge role in your final asking price.

Thankfully, though, all of these factors can be addressed and tweaked as you go along, which is why it’s recommended that you put off selling for at least a year. There’s quite a few different reasons why it’s worth it to wait upwards of a year, or longer, before you actually start finding investors.

To start, buyers are going to be looking at your net profits over the span of at least 12 months, and averaging that number to figure out how much they’re willing to offer to buy the blog.

If you are thinking about selling your blog within the next month or two, you may be able to increase your profits slightly before the sale, but having a couple of good months isn’t going to average out nearly as high as having those same profits over the span of 12 months.

When it comes to getting maximum value, having higher profits that have been sustained over the span of 6 to 12 months will have more effect on your final asking price than a couple of months will.

If you haven’t made the decision to sell your blog, and have been coasting with the same revenue numbers from month to month, your website can still be attractive to investors.  They’ll know that they can implement quick changes and increase the revenues, getting an ROI much faster.

Although planning to sell the website in advance isn’t always possible, if you’re able to hold off then it’s always going to be worth it to wait.

Tip #2 – Think About The Time You’ve Invested

Let’s assume your blog is generating $2,000 per month, but you have $500 in expenses that are required to maintain the blog.  You may think your profit is $1,500.

However, buyers are going to take into account how much time you spend working on the blog each month.  That means you’re going to have to factor in your time, and what it would cost for your investor to outsource those tasks to someone else.

They’re going to want to know how many hours you work on the site each month, along with the types of people each of those tasks can be outsourced to.

In many cases, an investor is going to come into the deal with an idea of how much they’re willing to pay someone to maintain the site on an hourly basis.  To help them figure out how much they’re willing to pay for the blog, outline the hours that you are required to devote to keeping the blog running.

Because of this, you’re going to want to prepare yourself for your investor not being willing to invest their own time, and reducing your valuation based on the cost of hiring people to help them keep your blog going.

Spend some time documenting exactly what you’re doing and how you are spending that time.

Make sure that you’re working as efficiently as possible, and that you aren’t spending a ton of time on things that aren’t going to help increase your revenue.  If the tasks aren’t tied to revenue generation, it may be possible to completely eliminate those tasks.

Tip #3 – Start Outsourcing Early

If you have been the only person putting in work on your blog, it’s highly recommended that you start outsourcing long before you start looking for investors.

First, investors are going to appreciate already having people in place so they won’t have to track down outsourcers and train them to perform the tasks that they need completed.

If you are outsourcing a part of the work before you list the business for sale, you will have an established pattern of expenses from month to month which will help make your offer more attractive to investors.

For instance, if you are consistently creating 10 blog posts per month, your investor is going to need to estimate how much that content will cost them to outsource.  If you’re already outsourcing, they will already know how much to expect.

An extra benefit of outsourcing early is that you can start saving yourself time and money.  If your hourly rate is, say, $15 per hour, but you can find a writer who is willing to work for $10 per hour, you’ve freed yourself up to work on tasks that generate more revenue.

Tip #4 – Implement Additional Monetization Methods

Before you come to the decision that it’s time to sell your website, you’ll want to take a step back and look at how you’re generating revenue.

Are there new opportunities you can capitalize on to increase your revenue?

Are you currently selling advertising space on the site?  If you are, can you create new ad zones that aren’t going to interfere with your user experience?  Can you increase the price on the ad zones you already have?

If you’re using AdSense, for instance, can you implement a few tweaks — like the color of the links, background color, the size or the location) on the ads that will increase your clickthrough rate?  If you’re not using AdSense, would implementing it be a good move?

Are you currently promoting any affiliate products?  Or, even better, are you selling your own products — either digital or physical?

Implementing new monetization methods can help you diversify your revenue, and increase it in most cases.  Having diversity in your revenue sources can help your investor feel at ease because diversity tends to equate to sustainability.

Tip #5 – Start Collecting Subscribers

Building an email list can be one of the best assets you can create when it comes to generating revenue — and selling your blog.

If you are creating and selling your own products, having a list of engaged subscribers and your past customers can make it substantially easier for you to get people to continue purchasing what you’re selling.

If you are monetizing the blog with affiliate promotions, having a list of email subscribers can make it easy for you to promote new products and services as they’re released.

Even if you are only generating revenue through content and selling advertisements, it’s still highly recommended that you start focusing on building an email list.

You can use the list down the road to promote new pieces of content, and have an easier time implementing new monetization strategies as you stumble on them.

Since you have an established list of email subscribers who you know are already engaged with your content, your job becomes significantly easier, and the value that you can ask for the blog when it comes time to sell skyrockets.

Tip #6 – De-Personalize Your Website, If Possible

In the beginning, your blog probably grew to where it is today based on you injecting your own personality into your content.  Adding a bit of personality helps you connect with your readers, but if your site is too tied into your own personality it can actually be a deterrent for investors.

Buyers are going to want to know that they can keep your blog moving forward even if you are no longer a part of the process.  They don’t want to lose their entire base of readers once your readers figure out that you’ve sold the blog.

If your blog is currently tied into your personality, it’s recommended that you start implementing steps to move away from your own personality, into a more generalized feel.

Something else to consider is how you’re currently marketing your blog.

If you are tapping into social media networks, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest, for instance, you may be using your own personal accounts to promote your content.  If you are currently using your own personal accounts, it’s recommended that you start profiles that can be transferred to your buyer whenever they purchase the blog.

Tip #7 – Start Trimming The Fat

One factor your investors are going to consider is your expenses.  While I did touch on outsourcing part of the content, and creating a new expense by doing that, it’s worth noting that some expenses are actually good — like outsourcing.

Instead of trying to completely get rid of every expense, you’re going to want to spend time figuring out where your expenses are coming from, and how necessary those expenses are to sustaining your blog.

Make sure that you’re spending your money wisely.

To reduce your expenses, go over everything you’re spending money on each month, and then evaluate whether that expense could be reduced, or even completely eliminated.

In most cases, you aren’t going to have a massive impact on the bottom line, but every little bit helps since your net profits are calculated at a multiple, and those slight bumps are multiplied in your investor’s offer.

Ensure you take a look at your marketing strategies and recurring subscriptions.  Are you paying for services and subscriptions that you barely use, or aren’t getting your money’s worth?

If you can reduce, or even eliminate a few of these monthly expenses, you will see a bump in your net profits.

Tip #8 – Get Detailed About Your Record Keeping

If you’re thinking about selling your blog down the road, you’re going to need to make sure that you have detailed records of your revenue and expenses, going as far back as possible.

Start tracking everything as accurately as you can, and keeping monthly logs of how the blog is performing.  Not only does this include your revenue and expenses, but you’ll also want to include information about your traffic stats, subscriber details, and time spent.

Include items such as your hosting account, social media accounts, any affiliate accounts that you’re using, advertising networks, etc.  The affiliate and advertising networks can be especially important because you could be left scrambling when it comes time to sell if you don’t have them well-documented.

The buyer will either need to take over ownership of those accounts themselves, or will need to change over every affiliate link and advertisement on your blog to their own accounts.

Tip #9 – Stats Are Your Friend

Before you start looking into selling your website, it’s highly recommended that you gather the basic traffic statistics to show your potential investors.

You can do this either by giving them access to your Analytics account, or by providing a spreadsheet that they can verify through your Analytics account after they have submitted a serious offer to buy.

Typically, before you actually list the blog for sale, you will want to put together a PDF that includes all of the information a buyer is going to want to see, such as your revenue, expenses, traffic, and subscriber counts.

You will also want to make sure you’ve included basic information about the history of the blog and how you are currently generating revenue.  This documentation will provide the initial information investors will want to see and help them determine if your blog is worth moving forward on.

It’s advisable to include at least 6 to 12 months of these stats, while also showing a basic breakdown of the income and expenses by category for every month.

Once the buyer has shown they are serious, you can allow them to verify your claims by giving them access to your Analytics account.  Don’t provide access to your Analytics until you have a solid offer on the table and you have agreed to a price.

If an investor doesn’t like what they’ve found during the verification process, they can still walk away, but if you are honest about the site’s performance upfront you shouldn’t have many issues moving forward with an investor that’s truly serious, at this point.

Tip #10 – Know Your Why

As you’re discussing the deal with your investors, you’re going to be receiving a ton of questions about how you’re generating revenue, where the traffic is coming from, and how you’ve structured the business.

One of those questions, in particular, will be asked again and again and can be hard to answer — “why have you decided to sell your website”?

Make sure that you are going into the sales process with your “why” clearly defined, because you are going to get asked.

Whatever reason you’ve decided to sell, make sure you can accurately portray that why to your investors.  If it’s because new projects have come along, tell them new projects have come up.

If you’re burned out, tell them you’re burned out and you’re looking to make your next move — whatever move that may be.

Investors are going to be asking questions to help figure out if you’re a legitimate seller or if you’re trying to hide anything from them, so being upfront and honest can help build a relationship that will carry you through to the end of the deal.

As long as you’re thinking about the potential of selling a blog long before you actually get to the point you’re ready to sell, and implement the tips I’ve broken down here, the chances of you increasing your asking price improve substantially.

Each of these areas are areas that your broker will address with you, if you decide to work with a broker to get the blog sold.

Whether you are ready to sell now, or have your eyes open to the possibility down the road, it’s best to start preparing for the sale sooner than later.

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