How much is this site worth?

There’s a discussion on that subject in the forums – talking about ‘what if an admin fee were charged?’. To be honest I have no clue how much the site is worth. This is my baby, and it runs fine. However as some of the conclusions and stats in there aren’t right I thought I’d knock out a little note to clarify how it works.

1. The site has 1.3 million visits a month (visits not visitors)

2. There are 350,000 on the email list

3. There are 60,000 in the forums

The revenue situation is currently fine. The site does make money (there are now 8 full time staff including me) through the affiliate links.

I’ll explain the practical process of that. I write an article. This is done blind to any revenue making impact, purely on the best ways to save money. Once it’s finished it goes to Brendan. His job is to try and make any links in the article (to things recommended) pay. To do this he doesn’t go direct to product providers (one of my rules) he goes to the commercial money sites like Moneysupermarket, Uswitch, the Motley Fool, Moneyextra etc.

These sites have commercial deals with product providers. Where possible we then get a link to a product provider from one of these sites and have a revenue split arranged (negotiated fiercely as you’d expect). However if no link is available, then nothing changes in the article and that’s what non-profit driven means.

Let me give you an example of the impact and look at the current main best buy recommendations of three sites for 0% balance transfer cards:

0% for 10 months no fee Barclaycard
0% for 9 months no fee Lloyds TSB
0% for 9 months no fee NatWest and RBS

None of these links pay this site (sadly)

MBNA Platinum 0% 9 months but there is a fee
Co-op Travel 0% for 6 months no fee
Marbles 0% for 6 months no fee

All of these links pay it (unsurprisingly)

Motley Fool:
Virgin 0% for 9 months with a fee
Amazon 0% for 6 months no fee
Morgan Stanley 0% for 6 months no fee

All of these links pay it (unsurprisingly)

As you can see the links that pay currently aren’t for the best cards, which is why this site’s best buy table has much better cards in it than the others. Now it isn’t always like this. Thankfully last year the Virgin card (before it introduced a fee) was the best buy so I was listing it and it paid well.

Now if I were to look at this site as a business model, as opposed to why it was set up (i.e, with no revenue originally) it’s actually developed into something rather interesting – not by design, but by an organic way. The amount of revenue per user is massively substantially lower, I suspect, than all the commercial money sites, simply because this site has relatively few paid links and doesn’t get as much per link as there are revenue shares.

However this site is now the biggest consumer finance site in the UK, because of its ethical policy, and the fact the best buys are real. Therefore more people are clicking. Now I saw the Moneysupermarket profit figures out this week at £16 million, and I have to say even a fraction of that would be very nice indeed.

Yet this site’s finances are currently strong. It’s well balanced. The problem would come if less and less of the very best buys had paid links – the server costs are heavy these days (£30k plus), the charity fund takes about £40k a year, and I have 7 staff’s salaries to pay. At the moment things are great, no worries. I often mull though what’d happen if the income were to drop, if there were to be a change in the way the market operates.

I would have one of three choices i. to charge a subscription for the email (I wouldn’t like this, but if I balanced it by making it available for free to those in need it may be ok, though i suspect less than 20% of current users would sign up, people don’t like to pay). ii. To accept advertising iii. To start recommending not quite the top buys in some articles.

Well I hate the idea of iii, so what I’d probably do is put options i and ii to a site users’ vote. However let me reiterate, there is absolutely no prospect of that happening in the immediate future as all is very good. It’s just my ‘what if’ provisions.

As for how much the site is worth….. well my answer would be…. priceless!

Discuss this blog