Please note that I have affiliate links to Motion Invest in this write-up. I’m an affiliate for Motion Invest, but I’m also a customer. In late 2020 to early 2021 I listed and sold 7 websites with Motion Invest. This write up outlines my experience with Motion Invest.
Before I toot my own horn and Motion Invest’s horn, I had an advantage most site sellers do not have and that is a sizeable audience via the Fat Stacks email list.
Three sites I sold were purchased by readers on the Fat Stacks email newsletter. However, four sites sold, including the one that sold for the most (very low six figures), was a result of MI’s reach, marketing and efforts.
On the balance, my successful website selling spree was a result of retaining Motion Invest to broker and market the sales. On my own, I’m confident I would not have enjoyed the same success and that’s taking MI’s commission into account.
I was surprised how quickly the Motion Invest sold my sites via a Dutch auction starting at a whopping 45X. That’s nicely pushing the valuation envelope. I believe such numbers are good for the industry as a whole. The demand for quality content sites, no matter how big or small is growing quickly. If you’re a buyer you might cringe at this “good for the industry” statement but remember, while you are a buyer today, in the future, you will be a seller.
The thought occurred to me as the sites were flying off the shelf that I should have priced them higher, but we pushed the envelope starting at 45X net monthly income. On the flip side, I’m also an adherent of the saying “bulls make money, bears make money, hogs get slaughtered”.
Table of Contents
- My Overall Experience with Motion Invest
- Why didn’t I just sell the sites on my own without Motion Invest if I have a readership (and save on the broker commission)?
- Why did I go with Motion Invest over any of the other many website brokers?
- What did Motion Invest do for me to earn their commission?
- What would I change if doing it over?
- A few important site selling tips I learned
- Should you list with Motion Invest?
My Overall Experience with Motion Invest
Overall, I very much enjoyed working with Motion Invest. Not only was the working relationship good but they obtained for me very good results. Not perfect, but very good. I have much to praise but do have one regret which I set out below.
Would I recommend you sell your site with Motion Invest?
Yes, without a doubt. I would hire Motion Invest again.
Why didn’t I just sell the sites on my own without Motion Invest if I have a readership (and save on the broker commission)?
I may have been able to sell the sites on my own. It’s impossible to know of course. Probably not nearly as fast and I doubt the biggest sale would have happened.
Other bloggers with an audience sell their sites directly to their readership. I may in the future now that I’ve seen how the process is handled.
For my first go at selling sites, I went with a broker because I didn’t know the process. I don’t have the legal documents in place. I’m not adept at transferring domains. I have no idea or the time to create listing pages. Basically, I would have spent umpteen hours trying to sell my sites… and probably wouldn’t have sold all of them and/or may not have gotten the price I did.
Also, while I do have an email audience with some website buyers on it, Motion Invest has a large email audience of people specifically interested in buying websites. Their reach is impressive and effective.
When it comes to selling a website, it’s important to hire a broker who has access to buyers. Motion Invest proved they have an extensive website buyer network.
Why did I go with Motion Invest over any of the other many website brokers?
I’m a busy guy. I like to focus my time on my core business which is publishing content on my web properties.
I do not want to spend time learning the website broker business or setting up infrastructure to execute sales. My business is not selling websites. I will sell more websites in the future, but it’s not my core business.
Since my goal was to be involved as little as possible in selling my sites, I wanted a broker who would handle everything possible that didn’t require me. I did have to be involved and provide screenshots because these are my accounts. I had to assist in transferring the websites, again because they are my accounts.
Other than that I have to give a HUGE 2 thumbs up to Motion Invest for doing pretty much everything else. They told me they would handle almost everything when I reached out to them and they delivered in spades.
For example, I only had to give MI read and analyze access to my Google Analytics accounts. They spent the time getting all the necessary screenshots. Long ago I attempted to sell another site and that broker (to remain nameless) who required I get all the screenshots… and they asked for screenshots weekly. I was annoyed because they easily could have. It was a horrendous experience and time-suck.
It’s little things like this that I appreciate and am happy to pay for.
What did Motion Invest do for me to earn their commission?
Motion Invest more than earned their commission.
They did a lot for me. Here’s the list.
Explained the process and their strategy
MI sells sites via the Dutch auction model which is where sites start at the highest price and incrementally lower over time. I like this model because it incentivizes a fast sale. In my case, six of my sites sold in under 2 hours which means they sold at the listing price. It was an outstanding result.
Created all the website listing pages
MI obtained all screenshots that they were able to. This saved me time.
I was not prepared to give access to my AdThrive account (I never give anyone keys to the money) so it was on me to get AdThrive revenue screenshots. However, MI did get all the Google Analytics screenshots which saved me time.
They then crafted very nice website listing pages with tons of info to assist buyers. Buyers of sites want to see as much as possible and MI knew exactly how to put it all together to assist buyers. I was very pleased with the listing pages.
Communicated with all prospective buyers
This was a HUGE HUGE HUGE benefit for me. I did not want to deal with prospective buyers. That may be arrogant on my part but it’s a hassle for me especially since I was selling 7 sites at one time. The last thing I wanted to do was field and reply to tons of questions. I have other things I want to do. Motion Invest knew my sites well and they dealt with almost all questions from prospective buyers. Of course, there were a few questions that required my response, but I just had to email MI and they dealt with the buyers.
One exception was the most valuable website I sold which was priced in the 6 figure range. Because it was a more expensive site I did have to chat live with a few prospective buyers. At first I was annoyed by this but when I stepped back and put myself in the shoes of someone about to drop six figures on a website, it makes sense they’d want to speak with the website owner. I’m not sure I would just because I loathe meetings and calls, but I get that other folks would. So I relented and hopped on a few calls.
That said, the owner and manager of Motion Invest also attended the calls which was a nice touch. They acted as moderators and did a great job.
Handled the legalities
I’m not a law firm. While I practiced law years ago, I don’t have all the legal documentation necessary for selling a website. Motion Invest does and they provided all the legal documentation for smooth transfer.
IMPORTANT: Regardless of which broker you use, if selling, always read the purchase agreement before listing. That is your opportunity to make changes. When buying a website, it’s a good idea to read the purchase agreement as well. You can negotiate terms set out in that agreement.
Handled the website transfers
I do not like or know anything involving transferring domains and websites. I have no idea how to do that and don’t feel like learning. Motion Invest has a website transfer team that was awesome. While I had to assist here and there, they stepped me through every step. My involvement was minimal and they made it super easy. This part of the transaction alone justified MI’s broker commission IMO.
Were willing to change strategies
Initially, several of my sites were listed as a package (it’s a long story but there was justification for doing this). The sites didn’t sell.
MI came up with a smart solution for splitting them up so that buyers would be protected. I agreed. It was a clever solution that worked. As soon as the sites were split up and listed individually, they sold within 2 hours.
I really appreciate how MI was flexible and willing to adjust a selling strategy.
Did not give up
This is another area where MI really stepped it up for me. The 7th site I was selling was a difficult site to sell, primarily because revenue was in a long-term decline. It’s much harder to sell a website when revenue is dropping. But Motion Invest did not give up. They worked like crazy with many prospective buyers.
In the end, I dropped the price considerably because the writing was on the wall. MI did not insist I drop the price which was cool of them. I realized the sticking points of this site and that if I wanted to sell, I had to drop the price. When the smoke cleared, it sold for 22x net monthly income, which I was happy with. It goes to show you how multiples can vary especially when sites are in an upward revenue trajectory vs. downward.
What would I change if doing it over?
Looking back, there are only two things I would do differently. They are:
1. Use a higher net income figure and price the sites higher (for 6 sites)
6 sites I sold were in a pretty good upward growth trajectory. They were all smaller sites ($60K and less) so that buyers are less discerning compared to someone buying a 6 figure or 7 figure site.
The net income used for the valuation multiple was based on the average of several months’ trailing net income. This brought the net income for valuation purposes down which resulted in a lower selling price.
If I were to do it again, I’d probably put more weight on the more recent months for valuation purposes.
Motion Invest priced the sites as is typically done in the industry. It’s on me for not insisting as the client to price them higher. Live and learn.
Now, I say this as someone who sold sites very quickly and so it’s natural that I would wonder whether they were priced too low. Anyone would. It may very well have been the case that had I priced them higher, I wouldn’t have sold them at all.
I’m happy with the amounts I received because they did sell at a 45x monthly net income, which is quite high so I have no complaints. I just can’t help wondering whether I could have gotten more. Moreover, as a publisher, I don’t believe that content is an expense for the purposes of reducing net income. I view content as an investment in the future of a site. Motion Invest did not reduce net income by any content investment amounts which was very good.
2. Eliminate the non-compete clause
Going forward I will have no non-compete clause in the purchase agreement or if the buyer insists, I will reduce it to 6 months (which isn’t that long).
MI’s default non-compete term is 2 years which is an industry-standard.
Before I listed I had it changed to 1 year. I’m glad I thought to read the purchase agreement before listing.
I loathe non-compete clauses because they are vague and I do not like having my hands tied in business.
What exactly does a non-compete clause mean?
Does it mean I can’t publish any article on a topic similar to a site I sold? What’s a similar topic? They’rere so vague that in many ways they are pointless. That said, it’s fair to say a non-compete would encompass prohibiting me from launching a site in the exact same niche as the site I sold. For example, I couldn’t just relaunch the site going after many of the same keywords. It’s clear this would be a breach which means they do serve some purpose.
On the balance, if I could sell sites without a non-compete, that would be my preference.
A few important site selling tips I learned
Looking back, working with Motion Invest was a very, very good experience. They know what they’re doing. They offer amazing service. They can move sites.
Read the purchase agreement before you list
I don’t care much for reading legal documents but it’s served me well doing so over the years. I strongly recommend you review the purchase agreement your broker plans on using BEFORE you list your sites. This document will dictate the terms of the sale which can have long-term consequences. It’s even better to consult an attorney and have them explain it in lay-persons terms.
For example, as a site seller, I loathe non-compete clauses. Now I get why buyers want them but as a seller I prefer they be much shorter than the default two or three years. In my case, I reduced it to one year.
Sites in upward trajectory sell for a way higher multiple (and sell faster)
This is absolutely huge and it definitely rang true for my experience.
The six sites that were in upward revenue trajectory sold in hours. The site with slowly dropping revenue took months to sell.
Moreover, the upward trajectory sites sold for a 45x monthly income multiple. The downward trajectory site sold for a 22x monthly income multiple.
What does this mean?
If you can, always sell when your site is growing. I know it’s hard because you wonder how much it will grow but if you want to cash it in, you will get a far better result selling when it’s in a growth phase.
It makes sense. If I were buying a site, I’d much prefer to pay for a site growing instead of a site that appears to be distressed. Distressed sites are a problem because as a buyer you don’t necessarily know what the problem is and whether it can be fixed. If you buy it and it continues dropping no matter what you do, you lose a lot of money.
The more expensive the site, the longer it takes to sell
This is pretty obvious.
It’s a lot less work and time to sell a website priced under $100K than over.
There are far more buyers who can drop $50K than $250K.
Buyers spending less will be less discerning. Moreover, because there is more competition for these sites, they’ll snatch them up with less due diligence.
Does this mean you shouldn’t grow sites to 6 and 7 figure valuations?
Of course not. Selling for $250K or more is an amazing feat. It’s worth having to be more patient and putting more effort into the sale.
All I’m saying is that if you plan on selling many sites over the coming years and you like easy sales for top valuations, you can count on sites valued under six figures to move pretty fast (assuming upward growth trajectory and a quality site).
Having a premium ad network on the site helps big time (I think)
All of the sites I sold had AdThrive ads on the sites. AdThrive is super cool in that they will transfer the ad accounts to buyers, even if the buyers do not have an existing AdThrive account. It’s not easy getting into AdThrive so this is a huge benefit (something to keep in mind if you’re planning to sell a site).
AdThrive was amazing during the selling process. They have processes in place and it was super smooth and easy.
What does this mean?
If you’re selling, you can help yourself get a better result by getting premium ads on your site such as AdThrive.
Note that AdThrive will not automatically create accounts for buyers’ other sites. The other sites must be approved in the usual AdThrive application process.
Should you list with Motion Invest?
Yes. I would again without hesitation. I may attempt selling on my own but that’s because I have an audience with buyers… and even then I’m not sure I want to deal with all the legalities and other aspects of effecting a sale.
I’m delighted with my result working with Motion Invest.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes.
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.