Thinking of buying a blog, but unsure if it’s going to be a worthwhile investment?
You are in the right place.
In this article, I am going to cover 10 of the biggest risks you need to analyze when considering this type of purchase. I’ll explain each risk and what you can do to mitigate it.
If you don’t have the time to read through all of it, here’s a summary of the 10 biggest risks of buying a blog:
- You get scammed
- You fall for fake or misleading numbers
- You buy a blog with questionable backlinks
- Google algorithm updates hurt your blog
- Traffic sources are not diversified
- You buy a newer blog based on “potential”
- Your blog has the wrong type of content
- There is strong competition in your space
- You mismanage your blog
- Monetization channels change or go away
Ok, we’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get into it!
The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not a recommendation to buy or invest, and it is not financial, investment, legal, or tax advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any investment or other decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
How Do Blogs Make Money?
If you want to understand the blogging business, you need to first grasp how blogs actually make money.
There are four main ways that a blog can make money:
- Ad revenue
- Affiliate Marketing
- Sponsored Content
- Selling Its Own Products and Services
We’ll cover each of these below.
This is perhaps the most passive way you can make money with a blog. Essentially, you just get on an advertising network, like Google AdSense, Ezoic, Adthrive and Mediavine and then start making money once the ads are placed on your site.
(Side note: I use Ezoic because they are really easy to qualify for and in my experience you make way more than you do through Google Adsense)
As a general matter, the more traffic your site gets, the more ad revenue you will generate. Other factors that dictate how much ad revenue you can make include the niche you are in (finance and insurance pays more than anime because your readers will be adults and will generally have more disposable income) and the time of year (Q4 is usually a good time because advertisers are spending more).
Affiliate marketing is also a popular way to monetize a blog.
That’s when you promote a product or service on your website and get commissions for each sale. You get a custom link from the company that you are promoting that tracks customers who come from your site, they know you are the source of the referral.
You can also make money by agreeing to write sponsored content. That’s when you write a blog post that promotes a company’s products or services and get paid for doing so.
Sell Proprietary Products and Services
Your blog can also be a great platform to sell your own merch and services. This could include t-shirts, informational courses, memberships, or any other products or services you create.
How Do I Buy a Blog?
The answer here is simple. Just go online. There are a variety of digital marketplaces that sell online businesses.
Among the three, I really like Empire Flippers because they strike the perfect blend of high quality vetting (so you don’t see a bunch of scammy websites being sold) while still having a ton of profitable options to choose from.
They get a new batch of websites for sale each week (on Monday morning), so you can predictably see what’s new and jump on any great deals that are unveiled. I am an active user and love their service.
Ok – now that we’ve got the introductory stuff out of the way, let’s dive into the biggest risks of buying a blog.
10 Biggest Risks of Buying a Blog For Passive Income
You Get Scammed
Like with any business, you can get scammed.
People set up flimsy websites and try to sell them. Or they may take your money and never deliver the website. The website could be propped by fake numbers. In short, the scams can take many forms.
The best protection against these types of scams is thorough due diligence. Don’t take things at face value. Dig into the claims made by the sellers. We talk about some of the things you should do in the following sections.
And if you can afford it, go with one of the premier selling platforms like Empire Flippers. As I mentioned, they vet the websites being offered on their listing platform, so you know that experienced pros have examined the websites beforehand. They also have in place escrow services and other protections that help prevent fraud.
You Buy a Blog Based on Fake or Misleading Numbers
Some sellers could give figures that are false or deceptive.
Make sure you have access to the seller’s Google Analytics account so you can view the statistics as provided by Google with regard to traffic. This is standard and shouldn’t raise eyebrows.
Sometimes you’ll see an abrupt increase in traffic; there may be several causes for this, so be sure to investigate them all. Was it a result of paid marketing? A barrage of blog entries? Bots or other dubious methods to increase traffic? You have to figure it out.
Make sure you cross-check the seller’s revenue figures versus claims made by associated programs and advertising networks when it comes to money (and any other monetization channels). Verify that the numbers line up. Make sure all expenses make sense by checking them as well.
A due diligence expert can look into all of this if you need assistance or suspect something is incorrect.
You Buy a Blog With Questionable Backlinks
Google’s anti-spam policies are no joke.
So you want to avoid sites that have used questionable backlinks strategies. In case you don’t know, a backlink is a link from one website to another. If the site giving the link is a good one, the website receiving the link will get a boost from google because it is now viewed with more credibility.
If this happens in the normal course, that’s fine.
But some people try to buy backlinks or obtain them in prohibited ways.
Google definitely frowns on this and if it finds out, the website could take a hit in traffic and rankings. You can use tools like SEM Rush, or Ahrefs to check if a website is using these shady backlink strategies.
Google Algorithm Updates Hurt Your Blog
How your article rank on google search will heavily influence how much traffic you get to your website, which in turn influences how much money you can make.
And Google’s ranking algorithm doesn’t sit still. They are constantly tweaking it and a few times a year Google will implement a major overhaul (known as core updates).
These algo updates can have a dramatic impact on your traffic and revenues. Sits can get obliterated by them.
So how do you protect yourself against this? Make sure the content on the blog is original, high quality content that would be helpful to an actual human reader. Make sure the content is accurate and reliable. If it looks and feels spammy, run for the hills.
Google has really been focusing on “helpful content” (they’ve had a couple of major core updates ones named after this) so you want to make sure the website deliver on that. If it does, the blog will have a much better chance of escaping unscathed from future algo changes.
Traffic Sources Are Not Diversified
A blog can get traffic from a variety of sources. Many rely on Google search traffic, as we just discussed. But others get referral traffic from social media channels (YouTube, Facebook etc.) or places like Pinterest.
I have even seen blogs that get the majority of their traffic from email subscribers who get a daily newsletter linking to the day’s blog post articles.
Regardless of the source (or sources), you need to investigate whether the blog is not too dependent on a single source of traffic. I am not saying it’s bad if it does – just understand the risk associated with no diversification.
If that traffic source dries up, your blog could be in real trouble.
You Buy a Newer Blog Based on “Potential”
Never buy a blog based on potential and certainly never pay a premium for potential.
You want to buy based on actual profitability. No one knows whether a blog is going to grow or shrink. There are things you can do improve your chances of growing, but nothing is guaranteed.
So don’t fall for the “potential” line. Also, a lot of blogs set their price on the average revenue over a certain period of time. While that may make sense in some cases, if the blog has been steadily decreasing in traffic and revenue, you make be paying based on higher number from a while back, but when you take over, you will only be making money at the current lower level.
Not a smart deal.
Your Blog Has the Wrong Type of Content
Make sure that the focus of the website is not on a fad that can disappear or have questionable content. The numbers may be good now, but where will the traffic be in 3 years?
There is Strong Competition in Your Space
Blogging is easy to start and appealing. So it means that there are a lot of people doing it.
Hence competition is going to be stiff. You should be aware of this and prepared to deal with it.
What does competition mean? It could mean that others take away your rankings by writing the same type of article and supplanting yours.
Obviously, when it comes to buying a blog someone, the first thing you can do to protect yourself is to make sure that the seller signs a non-compete agreement with you when you buy the blog. You certainly don’t want the seller to turn around and immediately create a competitor site to yours.
You can also try to protect your bottom line by writing more articles (or hiring people to do that for you). Or you can improve the quality of your existing articles.
You could also expand your monetization channels or switch to a higher paying ad network (if you qualify).
All of these strategies can be used to protect against any losses you might experience from competitive pressures.
Monetization Channels Change or Go Away
Your monetization channels may change and these changes can affect your revenue.
We already talked about google algorithmic updates that could impact your ad network revenues.
But changes to affiliate marketing programs could also impact your income.
For example, let’s say a lot of your money comes from affiliated marketing commissions. You have a great affiliate marketing partner and most of your articles are written to drive traffic to that partner.
But if that partner goes under, your blog could be in a really bad spot. The same thing holds if the product is discontinued or even if the partner reduces the amount of commission it will pay for the traffic you drive to them.
Some sites are engineered to promote a specific product or company, so you should be mindful of this issue when buying. Consider buying a site that has diverse monetization channels and doesn’t rely too much on a specific source of revenue.
Buying a blog can be a massively profitable and passive investment if done correctly, but there are a lot of risks you need to consider and address if you want to be successful with this strategy.
One of the best ways to protect yourself is to start a blog yourself and learn the business. There is no better instructor than first-hand experience. There are a million little things you will learn doing this that you will never learn any other way.
You won’t eliminate all risk by taking these steps, but you will be much better-positioned to avoid many of the biggest pitfalls.
If you are interested in learning more about starting a blog, check out my article on How to Start a Blog From Scratch.
I cover all of the key areas you need to know, including how to set up your website and most importantly, my best tips for writing great articles, getting traffic to your blog, and monetizing that traffic.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to do this on your own, you can hire a service to create a website for you. Make Lemonade is a UK based firm that specializes in this.
I have used their content writing service to help me expand my blogs when I was running short on time, but they do offer a full service model, where they will create your website for you from start to finish and include content that has gone through their rigorous keyword research process.
Check them out here if you want to learn more.
If you want more great passive income ideas, check out my ultimate beginner’s guide to passive income [25+ strategies that work], where I cover tons of effective strategies that generate passive income.
One of my favorite articles on passive income is my piece on businesses that run themselves. In that article, I cover some great businesses that can generate attractive levels of return without a lot of day to day involvement by the owner (obviously, blogging is included in the list, but there are many more). Check it out here.
Also, if you want to learn about other great passive income ideas that you can start with no money and very little efforts, check out my article on 15 ways to make truly passive income with no money.