The blog in question is careerramblings.com. According to the Whois database the site was first registered/created on 2007-01-23 18:45:55.0. That means the site was not even six months old when it was sold.
The question you are probably asking yourself is, "How do you flip a website in under six months for $20K?" The answer is deceptively simple.
One thing you want to improve prior to selling your site is the domains Page Rank. The higher the Page Rank, the more faith Google has in your site and the more money you can get for the site. Gaining Page Rank can be very easy if you know how to get back links.
Like the great John Chow, Career Ramblings took a tip from the man and instituted a "review for a link back" policy. Doing this cost Career Ramblings next to nothing (an occasional post) and appeared to grant a PR6 back link to the writer of the review.
I have done this myself in the past (wrote the review for a link) but I stopped doing it after I fell out of the zero Page Rank crowd. I still get a laugh when someone offers me this "great deal" where I write about them and I get a link from their site. It's BS people. Unless you are just starting out, don't do it! All the benefit goes to the site you are reviewing.
With all of these sites linking back to you your Page Rank will begin to rise. Add in some links from some Social News sites and it will rise even higher and faster.
Another benefit of all those blogs linking back to you is that your Technorati score will fall like a rock. On Technorati, a low score is better than a high score.
As of writing this Career Ramblings has 1,244 back links on Technorati which puts them in the Top 10K with a rank of 8,605. That is a very nice number. A lot of things open up for you when your blog enters the Technorati Top 10K.
Not all social news sites are equal. Digg will send you tons of traffic (when you make the home page) but it is traffic that acts like a swarm of locusts. They suck up a bunch of bandwidth, stress out your server, and leave nothing in their wake but a low CTR for your advertising. This can be good if you sell CPM advs, not so good if you run CPA or CPC advs.
Netscape, on the other hand, will send you far less traffic when your story makes it to their homepage but, Netscapers are an older bunch who like to click on advertising and follow through on CPA advertising. While diggers are like locusts Netscapers are like a bus full of senior citizens spending their child's inheritance on trinkets and doodads to bring home from a sight seeing tour.
Yes, I prefer the Netscape traffic.
Getting content on these social news sites also benefits you in the Page Rank department. When I last checked both of these sites were PR8+. You can do a lot with a collection of PR8+ back links!
What about StumbleUpon? StumbleUpon is a different beast...
Increasing your Page Views
Having a high Page Rank and a low Technorati score is great but you still need Page Views to show how popular your site really is. People might be bookmarking your site as a favor and not actually going there.
Getting on StumbleUpon can greatly impact your Page Views but only if your content is good. If you are printing junk than Stumblers will just give you the thumbs down.
When Career Ramblings was sold they boasted of over 60K Page Views a month. That works out to about 2K Page Views per day. They also claimed to be averaging $2K in earnings between all of their revenue streams.
It is clear they were getting a lot of traffic that liked clicking on advs but were they getting repeat visitors? I did not see any information on RSS numbers.
With only 60K Page Views a month how could they possibly be making this amount of money? It defies all web logic. Unless you discover how they managed to constantly stay on Netscape's home page.
Gaming The System
It's not that hard to game the social news sites. It has gotten harder to game Digg but it is very easy to game Netscape. Let's look at who has been submitting the Career Ramblings content to Netscape:
- Jane May - founder of Career Ramblings. It is interesting how she stopped submitting AFTER she sold the site.
- JoshCR - New PR man for the site? Notice he has only submitted two stories thus far and they are both for Career Ramblings?
Netscape is coming down on sploggers and it looks like Career Ramblings has morphed into a splog over the last few months. I even tried to submit a story from Career Ramblings a few weeks ago and was beaten to it by Jane May! One of the first rules of social media is not to submit your own content. You can break that rule every now and then but to submit everything you write? Bah!
It is very easy to game the system and sell a site for far more money than it is worth. Selling a site for ten months "projected" revenue tells me that the gravy train was coming to an end.
To go from $0 to $2K (in under six months) in monthly revenue shows extreme growth. You do not sell a site with a growth rate that high unless you feel it has run its course. Further you don't sell it for a mere ten times current revenue.
Image used under Creative Commons License from flickr user zacksphoto