Selling a Side Project
Robots on the Loose
A couple of weeks ago Dimitar Raykov and I completed the sale of Will Robots Take My Job? The buyer asked us to not reveal to much about the actual sale, but I wanted to share what I could about why we decided to sell the project.
If you’re interested in more of the back story of how we built and launched the website, checkout: From Idea to 4M Page Views in 4 Weeks
Why Even Start a Side Project?
When I start a side project, I usually have a clear reason to do so. The reasons can vary, from wanting to learn a new technology, to solving a problem I’m experiencing, to helping kick start a business.
Will Robots had an bit of an unusual start. After Dimitar reached out with the idea of working together, we looked for something quick and easy we could build to test out how we liked working together, before we did something bigger.
We came up with what we thought was a fun project, that would take us a couple of weekends to build and launch. Afterwards we could move onto another project if we liked working together.
Reacting to the Launch
We built the website in the 2 weeks we estimated, and launched the website in June of 2017. We were blown away with the response we received. In the first 2 weeks after launching the website, we had generated over 4 million page views.
We had no real plans to make money from the website, but decided to put some simple ads on the website, to help cover the costs of hosting.
A few week later the website will still generating 15–20K page views per day, and occasionally the website would be mentioned in a newspaper or even on television and traffic would spike again, often generating 100K page views in a single day.
Once it became apparent that the website had an audience long term, we started exploring our options.
While the advertising revenue was nice, it wasn’t enough to pay two people to work on site full time. What could we do to expand the website, to add additional features that users might want to use, and pay for.
We came up with a few ideas, but they all involved spending a lot of time either building companion sites, and/or time consuming manual adding of additional content to the website on a regular basis.
Looking for Partners
There are a lot of companies working in the automation space, so we explored the idea of partnering with a company that might benefit from the public exposure a well traffic’d site like Will Robots could provide.
Although we had a number of promising conversations with companies from all over the world, proving once again that automation is a global issue, nothing concrete materialized.
Deciding to Sell
Although we had explored ways to expand the website, we could simply have let it run as it was. The website kept bringing in visitors all by itself, mostly as a result of the great launch we had. Eventually though with no update, no promotion this would have stopped.
If the website was to continue to be a success it needed to be updated, to be promoted, to grow. If this wasn’t going to happen with us, then it would have to be under new ownership. Both Dimitar and I wanted the website to continue to be a success.
Maintaining the site didn’t take a lot of time, but having a popular site with a lot of potential burns a lot of mental energy. I was constantly thinking about the site, how it could be grown. This played a big part in my decision to sell. I wanted to remove this mental expense, to free up my mind to focus on other projects where my time could be better spent.
Making the Sale
A number of people reached out to us about acquiring the website, and it was at times a slow process negotiating a possible sale. We even listed the website on Flippa when all negotiations appeared to have stalled. Ultimately we did find a buyer and sold the site without a public auction.
I think we got a fair price, and hope the buyer thinks they did too.
I trust the website will continue to be a success under new management.
From launch to sale (~15 months), we had over 1.6M unique visitors, and generated over 14M page views, not bad for a quick 2 weekend side project!