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Want to Sell Your Freelance Business? Here’s What You Should Be Doing NOW to Get the Most Money For It

What prompted this post was a question I received from a fellow freelance writer recently. She wasn’t ready to sell her blog, but a colleague had gotten an offer, and she was thinking about what if some day she was. She wrote:

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Here’s the site’s affiliate disclosure policy for full details. Also, this post was originally publihsed on April 26, 2012. It was updated on June 5, 2017, when I did an interview featuring this six-figure blogger, who flips blogs for a living. Now, to that email I received.

I’m Not Ready to Sell My Blog Right Now, But …

One of my colleagues who has a very similar business as me [freelance writing, SEO writing, social media marketing and consulting], just got an offer from someone to buy his business. While, I don’t want to sell my business right now, that may be an option in about 3-5 years.

However, I am hung up on my name since my name is part of my business name [eg, Jane Doe Writes].

I am sure if I sell it, someone would probably want to change the name.  But, I notice you have your companies and then on your copyright you say:  An Inkwell Editorial Company.

When I get my LLC  I still want to operate under my company name (yes , it’s an ego thing, I guess), but I plan to go into coaching other writers  in the next few years, so I really want to keep [my current business] name [which includes my name].  So, I am wondering  if I can create  a  separate entity but it will still be under the [current company’s] brand . . .  and then put  “A Jane Doe Writes Company” in the footers.  My main reason for the name is because I want to keep the option open to sell if possible. If you have any links to articles, or thoughts you could share, that will be great.
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Publisher Note:  I have a notice (ie, “An Inkwell Editorial Company”) — or some variation of it — on all of the sites that I own that I want others to know about.

How to Sell Your Freelance Business: Steps to Take NOW

You’re right on about this, ie “create a  separate entity but it will still be under the [Jane Doe Writes] brand . . . and then put “A [Jane Doe Writes] company in the footers.” That’s exactly how I’d handle it.

FYI, the reason I do this is because people know the “Inkwell Editorial” brand. The company was started in 1996 and has been online since 1999.

Hence, it’s easy for me to create brand name recognition for new companies by folding them under the Inkwell Editorial “brand.” I assume it’d be the same for your company.

As for how potential buyers will react to this later on, I don’t know. I think it’d depend on the particular buyer and their circumstances (eg, are they expanding their company by buying yours, are they penetrating a new market and acquiring tour “brand” to create immediate recognition, etc.).

If you’re really serious about selling down the line, here are some some valuable insights from Deb Ng. In case you don’t know, she’s the founder of FreelanceWritingGigs.com. She started the blog in 2005 and sold it in 2010.

Although what you’d be selling is not a “blog”, Deb gives some great insight for selling any kind of online business.

Hope this helps,
Yuwanda

My Experience with Selling a Freelance Business

When I owned and operated my editorial staffing agency (Inkwell Editorial & Word Processing, Inc.) in New York (1996-2004), my business mentor at the time talked me into meeting with an investor who wanted to buy the company.

They were a larger staffing agency that was buying up lots of smaller ones so that they could service different niches. They were interested in my company because we were one of only a few that were doing this type of niche staffing (ie, editorial) in the NY metropolitan region. So to get up and running quickly in this area, it made sense to buy us because we already had all the pieces of the puzzle in place (eg, industry contacts, qualified applicants on file, etc.).

One of the first things they wanted to know was our bottom line, ie, our revenues. This is, quite literally, the bottom line for most companies who will be looking to acquire your freelance writing business.

Get Your Freelance Business Ready for Sale: 6 Factors to Consider

Some other factors to pay attention to if you want to one day sell your freelance writing business is:

1) Are You Plugged into Social Media?

Do you have a large following on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Social media is becoming as important as any other advertising done nowadays. So, having a large, engaged following is something you want to start building now if you haven’t already.

2) Do You Have a Newsletter?

Web visitors can become ghosts in that they appear, then disappear – if you don’t do something to hold onto them. One of the easiest ways to do this is to start a newsletter using a service like AWeber. Subscribers are like a built-in ATM because if a reader trusts you enough to let you into their inbox regularly, then making sales is relatively easy (if you have good products priced the right way).

3) Do You Have Your Own Hosted Blog/Website?

Like a newsletter, a blog is an integral part of getting – and retaining – customers. It keeps you top of mind with your customers. And because it’s so important to your online buisness (it IS your online business), it should not be on one of those free platforms. It should be on its own hosted platform. I use and recommend HostGator, for all the reasons listed here.

FYI, here’s a tutorial on how to set up a blog on HostGator quickly and easily.

3) Web Design

Make sure this is as professional as possible with all the right bells and whistles, eg, social media buttons so your content can be easily shared; plugins (eg, most read post, most commented on post, etc.); auto responders; etc.

Also, these days more than ever, it means making sure that your site is mobile-friendly and that it loads fast.

4) Bookkeeping/Accounting

If you don’t already, select and start using an accounting software. This not only makes your business more professional, it’s also an easy way for you to be able to crunch numbers for potential buyers in a ton of ways (eg:

i) last year’s revenue;
ii) unpaid invoices;
iii) average dollar amount of each invoice;
iv) number of accounts/clients;
v) average quarterly earnings and expenses;
vi) etc.

5) Automate/Outsource

As in, automate and outsource as many systems and processes as you can so your business doesn’t rely on YOU so much. Why is this important? Because, if/when you sell or go looking for a seller, you can point out how your business functions in certain areas without you.

This will make it easy for potential buyers to continue to run your business with the same success you had running it – without you.

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into selling a freelance writing business. The mistake that many freelancers make is that they treat their businesses more like a hobby by not having a lot of the above done. And I speak from first-hand experience here. Some of the above I haven’t done.

Even if you have no intention of ever selling your freelance writing business, all of the above should be done. After all, YOU are your business’ best investor (and of course I’m speaking to myself too).

6) Set “Sell By” Date

Examine your business and set a “sell date,” even if you have no intention of ever selling.” Why? Because it’s all the stuff that goes into making up a successful blog/online business (eg, getting more traffic, growing a suscriber list, automating systmes and process; etc.)

If you do all of these things, if the day came that you ever DID want to sell, you’ll be ahead of the game – and you’ll be positioned to ask — and get — a premium price.

Related Reading about How to Sell an Online Business from Some Experts

Note: Although the links below are about how to sell a blog, many of the elements of a freelance writing business are the same (eg, it’s a web-based business). So, the tips about how to sell an online business dispensed in these articles will help any freelance writer who’s thinking about selling their biz.

Good luck if selling your freelance business and/or blog is in your future!
Yuwanda

P.S.: Learn How One Blogger Earns Six Figure/Year Flipping Blogs & You Can Too!

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