Freelance Writers Den, a content site and community that helps freelance writers develop their business, was acquired by Jara Publishing in a mid-6 figure sale.

Founded by Carol Tice and known amongst writers as “The Den,” it offers freelance writers educational content, coaching services and a community to learn together.

Tice, who has worked as a writer for years, described the company as a passion project through which she could help her struggling peers amid the Great Recession in the late 2000s.

“I kept hearing from other writers who were starving as they slaved for content mills,” Tice wrote in an announcement of the sale. “This made me insanely angry. I wanted writers to know how to find good pay and stop being exploited.”

In 2008, Tice “almost accidentally” launched her business, and began slowly building an audience and newsletter list, she wrote.

Within two years, she had established herself as a thought leader in the freelance writing space and grew her email list to more than 1,000 subscribers. She personally coached writers, wrote in-depth educational ebooks to help writers grow, and hired 10 part-time staffers to produce regular content.

Why Tice decided it was time to sell the Freelance Writers Den

As she grew her business, Tice maintained a “crazy juggling act” of operating the Freelance Writers Den, freelancing for clients and being a mom of three. For 11 years, between 2010 and 2021, she ran on six hours of sleep and worked six days a week.

Her tenacity grew the Den to 1,500 members paying $25 per month at the time of sale, Tice told They Got Acquired, plus revenue from courses. Tice’s business was growing, but she was burnt out by the years of six-day work weeks. By 2021, she concluded it was time to sell.

“I started to feel tired and overwhelmed,” she reflected. “I didn’t wake up excited to race to my laptop and see who wanted to tell me how I’d changed their life. It was hard to admit that this amazing online world I’d created was beginning to feel more like a monster and less of a fun carnival ride.”

Tice used an M&A firm, OODIENCE, to find a buyer: Jara Publishing. The publishing firm purchased Tice’s site and audience in a mid-6 figure deal, which was roughly 3x the Den’s annual net income. It helped that the business had recurring revenue, she said.

After the sale wrapped up, however, Tice learned that the buyer was interested in flipping the business. It sold the Den to another player in the online writing space, Self-Publishing School.

The episode took a toll on Tice, who cautioned founders of the realities of selling a passion project.

“Seeing how the business was treated post-sale was incredibly painful,” Tice said. “Nobody writes enough about the emotional pain of selling a business that was a passion project for you. For me, this was like selling a 4th child. I had really poured my heart into this mission of helping freelance writers.”

The deal required Tice to support the Den for a certain period of time. Since the sale, she has returned to her freelance writing business, including contributing to They Got Acquired, and ghostwriting books for clients.