Not more than a month ago, Google struck again.
After the terrible Panda Update, they came back like heathens to finish their massacre after they already set fire everywhere around the web. I called it the PR Slap. Over a span of 12 months, we bloggers, had to face 2 major events with direct impacts on our traffic and revenues. Even though the last event happened about a month ago, I can tell you that since then, a lot of things have changed already.
I don’t publish my income report anymore.
Some sites have been delisted from search engines.
People have lost tons of money.
There is a witch hunt going on.
Let’s just say that I’ve seen better days in the blogosphere…
I guess this was inevitable… that at some point, one might think that he has enough to fight back all the time. That it was so hard to survive this second wave that the best solution was simply to sell while you still have traffic and income to show. For the past month and a half, there are tons of blogs for sale in the PF industry.
Oh… you were not thinking that I was selling TFB right? 😉 I’m here to stay and this business is my playground. I just have too much fun running this business to quit just yet J.
But I now receive at least two emails a week from bloggers who’s considering selling. While I’ve spent a good 9 months looking for a blog to buy, I could have bought 8 blogs in the last month! And I could have bought them at a fairly cheap price (so much for my blog valuation series!).
Why are all these blogs for sale all of a sudden? Because the easy money is gone. Over the past 2 years, I’ve been quite surprised to see how people were able to make tons of money from their personal finance blogs without investing much effort. In a few months, several people became “kingpins” of the web and thought they finally found the hen laying the golden eggs! Most people didn’t understand my urge for diversification and interests in other business models. They thought of keeping things simple and raking in the money while it lasts. Can you blame them? Hell no! They have been doing very well and were able to cash in while most people can’t figure how to get a 5% raise at work. But unfortunately, they were not business owners, they were just there at the right time doing the right things without thinking about tomorrow.
I’ve discussed how I survived Google already so I won’t be rehashing the same thing here. I really want to put the emphasis on one word: sustainability. This is the key for any business regardless of which field you work in. Is your model sustainable?
The sustainability of a business model is hard to see for the one who operates it. Why? He wants to see sustainability everywhere. When a human being makes money, he surely doesn’t want to hear that he won’t continue in the future. In order to see if your model is sustainable, you need to take a step back, take a pause, and look at your business with a different eye. Here’s an example with my site:
One of the most important things for a website… no… the most important thing for any website is its traffic. A Blog is not a Blog without readers and a business is not a business without customers. The sustainability of our traffic was challenged last year during the Panda update. This is when we realized that we were greatly dependent on Google (who isn’t?). Like everybody else, we didn’t want to hear about it before being hit. We just thought that it was sustainable ;-). But we got hit and we had to find other ways to grow our traffic. This is why we have built our newsletter and strong network relations among bloggers.
If Google would drop my search engine visits by 50% today, I would still have a website. I can drive quite a lot of traffic toward my sites with my 7,000+ newsletter subscribers across my network. I have several websites hosted on different servers aimed at different keywords and topics. This diversification makes my search engine traffic more sustainable as a whole too. So today, I can tell you that my traffic is sustainable.
I’ve discussed many times that private advertising might not be sustainable over the long run. We now have a clear example that it’s not. While I have temporarily stopped my income updates, I think I will continue to post my affiliate and Adsense income starting in May. This is actually 2 sustainable sources of income. Adsense is probably the most uncertain source of income after private advertising because you never know when Google is going to change the game with that. Since the system is working and Google makes a lot of money with it, we can assume that it will continue to work over the years to come. In the event that this doesn’t work anymore, I have other options that I haven’t explored yet (such as Media.net or Investing Channel). I guess that if I work hard enough, I could be able to replace Adsense.
The affiliate programs are probably the most reliable source of income. Since you only make money when you sell a product, the company pays you only when they make money too. This is a match made in heaven! The fact that I run a lot of affiliate programs at the same time will guarantee me a minimum income every month.
In order to improve the sustainability of my income, we are developing several other projects at the moment. By offering our own products, we won’t depend on anybody else in order to make money from our websites. And I think this is how you can truly become sustainable.
The core of our business model is based on buying blogs, optimize them and make twice what the previous owner used to make with them. We have been quite successful and our business has never stopped growing over the past 3 years. Is buying blogs still sustainable since the market is evolving so fast?
The answer is definitely yes.
The rules have changed and will change again. But when you are buying a good asset, there is no reason why you should not be able to make money from it. The key is when you buy and not when you operate or sell it! As long as you have great diversification across your network, adding a new site will always be a good move.
I told you that I’ve received several requests to buy bloggers’ sites. To be honest, I would have not probably bought more than one out of the whole group. Why? They were all based mostly on the very same model. A business model that is not sustainable and where there is a lot work required to switch it to a more appreciable model.
If you are one of these bloggers who wants to sell after the debacle, I suggest you keep your site and modify it. You definitely have something great within your grasp but most people, like me, won’t make an offer because there is a lot of work involved. This doesn’t mean that you can’t make it. Actually, since you are the owner of this blog, you are the best person to make it happen… again!
Tomorrow, I’ll come back with a list of To do’s to revamp your blog and make it more sustainable.
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