The Journey to a $15 Million Blog Sale
As all WebProNews readers are probably aware by now, Bankaholic, a blog run by 22-year-old Johns Wu was sold to BankRate.com for $15 million, a price some people find shockingly high, but enough to change a man’s life dramatically. We’ve covered this inspirational story extensively since we first learned of it. I’ve talked to Wu himself a couple of times. We looked at why we thought his blog achieved the amount of success it has, and even spoke with famous successful blogger Jeremy Schoemaker, who incidentally, Wu cites as one of his biggest influences in blogging toward success.
"I have Shoemoney to thank for getting me into web publishing in the first place," said Wu in a comment on our previous article. "I was in college when Shoemoney’s famous Adsense check picture was circulating around the web. When I saw it, I was like DAMN, I wanna be like that guy! That’s what inspired me to launch my ‘Future Young Millionaires’ site which eventually led to Bankaholic."
The following interview is from the second round of questions I had for Johns, which were originally intended to be part of the last article, but due to conflicting schedules, we were unable to get that sorted out in time. However, Johns still had plenty more interesting things to say, so without further ado, here is the Q&A to come from that:
Chris Crum: We have speculated that BankRate was attracted to the user-engagement aspect that your blog brings to the table. What are your thoughts on this?
Johns Wu: Definitely. Bankrate is a boring old school corporate website that offers no platform for visitors to interact with each other. Now that they have Bankaholic, they will be positioned to spinoff a more interactive brand that will attract younger, web savvy consumers. Tom Evans, the CEO of Bankrate, affirmed this view in the conference call he had with investors regarding the Bankaholic acquisiton.
CC: What importance do you think user engagement has on the web in general?
JW: A HUGE deal. User generated content sells. For instance, last week I wanted to eat some good BBQ—I jumped on Yelp, looked for the restaurant with the best reviews, reserved the table, and had a great meal. A while ago when I wanted to learn more about DIY beer making, I went on Amazon, looked for the best rated book, and completed my order with 1 click ship and Amazon Prime. That’s 100% conversion rate in both instances! Companies need to learn how to take advantage of UGC or they will be left in the dust!
CC: What tips would you give to an aspiring blogger or webmaster to help make their site more successful?
JW: Take a look at your competitors and figure out what you can do to distinguish yourself from the crowd. There are about a dozen websites out there where you can lookup interest rate information, but a lot of them either have out-of-data or very poor user interfaces.
CC: How much negotiating was involved for the sale of Bankaholic and how long did the negotiation process take?
JW: Ahhh the process was extremely stressful. For the record, I’m really sad to sell Bankaholic… The negotiation itself took about 1 week, but it took almost a month for the stupid lawyers to settle things on paper. The fact that the financial world was in meltdown did not help either.
CC: How did you get started working with BankRate in the first place? Did they approach you?
JW: Yes, they reached out and we bounced some ideas back and forth before we decided to team up.
CC: How about when the idea of the sale came about. Did they approach you about this?
JW: Yes, they were the ones who suggested the sale. Ideally, I would have liked to hang on to it a little longer b/c I still have a lot of ideas on improving Bankaholic that I’d like to implement.
CC: How many page views and unique visitors does Bankaholic get?
JW: I’d love to tell you, but Bankrate would not be very happy with that!
That’s understandable, Johns. We don’t want to get you in trouble. I’d like to thank Mr. Wu again for taking time out to talk to WebProNews, so we can share his story with all of our readers, many of which are aspiring to find success online and can look to Wu’s story for inspiration and motivation.