Starting 2011, our publishing company Socialoholic launched a large number of content websites mainly concerning humor and entertainment verticals. Most websites were social media driven with traffic from Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Facebook & Pinterest.
A lot of our websites eventually became throwaway domains as the social media hype died down on them. We pulled off the plug and stopped editorial operations. The websites had served their purpose. We had already generated revenue and we weren’t thinking anything long term with them.
As we had previously monetized all of these websites, they had one common feature: all our throwaway domains were approved by some of the top ad networks, DSPs and RTB platforms and there was a buyer looking just for that.
The buyer was in the content arbitrage business which basically means that his core business was acquiring traffic on his content websites by the means of advertising. He would then display ads on his content websites in order to earn revenue. He was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a day in traffic acquisition and needed instant access to domains with top quality advertisers. As part of the agreement, no other assets including content, ad accounts or anything other than the domain was sold.
This was a perfect opportunity to sell something to someone at any price we found reasonable and we seized it. A lot of success eventually comes from being in the right network and knowing the right people at the right time. It is how we accidentally got into selling throwaway domains, and made $15,000 per piece.
We are under an NDA with the buyer and can neither disclose domain names nor his identity.
Everyone says it’s great to fail. They say if you don’t fail enough times, you stand no chance at succeeding. I agree with that. But this post isn’t about that. It’s about one particular failure. A blog that I abandoned. Yet, it netted me $17,239.85. Which by the way is not an arbitrary figure. I exported it from my bank statement to know exactly how sweet was my failure.
Sometime in 2010, I started a technology blog. I was supposed to write about jailbreaking iPhone, rooting Android and all the other crazy things that you can do with your phones. Except that I don’t do crazy things with my phones and I had no interest in writing in this area. I started it because I heard the CPMs (Revenue per 1000 ad impressions) in tech are great (and they were). I also started it because many of my friends and colleagues were doing great with their tech blogs. The blog was inspired by Taimur Asad‘s RedmondPie and Zawad Iftikhar‘s SegmentNext. Since it wasn’t something I was passionate about, despite a good start, I just didn’t have the patience to run it for the long haul.
Personally I gave this blog about two weeks. Later I hired some writers and let them contribute content with no oversight by me but eventually stopped that too since I couldn’t see any growth. Over the past 9 years, I have passively generated $17,239.85 (average $160/mo) after costs from the leftover traffic that Google kept sending in small numbers. Like someone said, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. This post is about that. About taking a shot. Almost missing it. And still walking away with a pile of cash. Could it happen, if I didn’t take this shot? Will it happen, if you don’t take a shot?