While Kaleigh McMordie was in grad school learning to become a dietitian, she found herself seeking a creative outlet.
She discovered a few registered dietitians who had successful blogs, and it seemed a perfect match: a blog would allow her to combine her love of cooking with her developing nutritional knowledge.
In 2015, McMordie started Lively Table, a recipe blog focused on simple, healthy recipes. She was immediately hooked, so much so that she started changing her life plans. Rather than working in a hospital for the rest of her career, her ultimate goal became to work for herself.
That meant Lively Table couldn’t just be a fun hobby; it would have to become profitable. It took about a year for the fledgling site to make any money, and its first paycheck was a sponsored deal for $100. In 2017, as site traffic reached over 50,000 visitors per month, McMordie turned the blog into a legal entity and joined Mediavine, an ad management agency specializing in lifestyle publishers. The move proved to be a game changer.
By 2018, McMordie was making enough ad revenue to leave her part-time dietitian job and focus on Lively Table full time. And by expanding to other income sources, including brand partnerships, she was able to boost her revenue as she worked from home with her newborn.
Despite achieving her goal of working for herself, McMordie had to admit the stress and strain of the content game were starting to take their toll. By 2021, McMordie was burned out and wanted to focus on raising her two young kids.
With the site attracting about 200,000 visitors per month, she decided it was time to sell.
Lively Table’s ingredients for a successful sale
For McMordie, the selling process, though successful in the end, was emotionally exhausting. Over the course of eight months, she went through two brokers, a marketplace and several private avenues before finally getting the sale over the line.
While McMordie acknowledges the challenges of navigating a deal as a first-time seller with little understanding of the process and perhaps high expectations for sale price, she also initially worked with a broker who didn’t understand the food blogging business. That mismatch resulted in a deal that fell through and left McMordie back at step one.
Throughout the turbulent sale process, McMordie found it difficult to juggle certain parts of running the business. She wanted to maximize her revenue while it was still in her hands, which meant continuing to work with brands even though the future was unclear. Brand partnerships were typically months long, and McMordie wanted to ensure she had finished all her contracts before handing the site over to someone else. At the same time, she had to detach herself from the site and struggled to find the motivation to put more energy into it.
“The hardest part for me was the emotional roller coaster,” she said. “By the end, I was so tired of the process.”
Eventually, the site sold to a private buyer who had acquired several other blogs through BlogsForSale.co, a marketplace that focuses on content sites. While McMordie couldn’t disclose the exact price, she said Lively Table sold for over $200,000, about a 35x multiple of the site’s monthly revenue.
Kaleigh McMordie’s advice to bloggers hoping to sell
Reflecting on the sale, McMordie said her biggest lesson was learning “what buyers value in a content site and what they don’t — which will significantly impact the price.”
For most prospective buyers, ad revenue was king. They weren’t interested in Lively Table’s large social media following, even though its channels produced income through endorsements and partnerships. At the time of the sale, the LivelyTable Instagram account had nearly 50,000 followers.
“At the end of the day, it’s an investment for them, not a hobby or passion project,” said McMordie, “so they want something they can more or less have on autopilot.”
That’s why she offers this advice for lifestyle bloggers looking to follow her footsteps: “Content creators, don’t focus on social media or inserting your personal brand too much into your business. It will be easier to sell if you’re not the sole focus of the brand.”
As for what comes next, McMordie is taking some time to focus on herself and her family. But she doubts it will last long.
“I can’t sit still,” she said. “I’m sure I’ll have some other websites in the future.” She’s also keen to continue doing freelance food photography and recipe development.