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Some recent private correspondence made me wonder if we are going to see blogging used as the business plan for start-ups that intend to build up to a certain degree of success and then sell out. Blogs do have value, and actually this sort of thing has been going on for a while on a minor scale with junk e-commerce sites being sold to newcomers who think they are going to make money selling books or lingerie or whatever. Those sites usually have had no real value; they were just slapped together and have no traffic.

A more interesting development is real content sites that could be built up and sold. The purchase of Weblogs, Inc by AOL made headlines, but that was a purchase of the network more than the blogs themselves. I do know of a blog that was purchased and the writing hired out to a free-lance contractor; but that's not exactly what I am imagining either. I'm wondering if we might see seed sites developed purely with the intent of selling once they reach the point of being attractive.

So, if you wanted to start a home improvement content site, you could start from scratch, or you might buy something that already has a few hundred articles and a steady stream of traffic. This is similar in concept to the e-commerce sites being hawked on e-bay now, but these sites would have real value.

What would something like that cost? I'm talking through my hat here, just ball-parking numbers, but let's say it takes a few hundred hours to create and market a decent content site. That includes writing a few hundred articles and getting a minimal amount of traffic flowing to it. Let's call that 500 hours of work, more or less. Something like that might be worth $20,000 and up, depending on how popular it had become at the time of sale.

But could you actually sell it?

A lot of current bloggers couldn't even consider something like that. We have too much emotional involvement with our blogs and would not easily contemplate selling. But there are plenty of folks without sentimental attachments; you'll find thousands of them in the "Internet Businesses, Websites" section of Ebay. Few of those sell for more than a few thousand dollars, and most of those are adult websites. Most others seem to sell for a few hundred dollars at most, but again almost all of these are the kind of cheap e-commerce sites that most of us wouldn't want for free. In my research, the few honest looking sites I saw never sold: they had reserve prices that were not met.

Probably the combination of the dot.com crash and the high number of junk sites being sold doesn't help. People are understandably leery of dot.com businesses, and being surrounded by thousands of adult and affiliate marketing sites might tend to depress the apparent value of a legitimate website.

So, it might be difficult to make money building legitimate content sites right now. Still, I think it is an idea whose day will come. Perhaps what we need is an Ebay like site that filters out the trash sites? Maybe there's one out there somewhere already..



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