My Journey of Building and Selling opengraph.xyz for $20,000

My Journey of Building and Selling opengraph.xyz for $20,000

Today, I'm going to share an adventure close to my heart - selling my first side project, Opengraph.xyz.

Before this all happened, I thought a side project with 0 MRR was worth nothing. But now that I've seen what can happen when you put in the work and take risks, my perspective has changed completely!

Trust me, it was a ride filled with significant lessons, a handful of mistakes, and an array of unique experiences.

How It All Started

It all started when I found out opengraph.xyz domain is available at the end of 2019.

At the time, Hey Meta and Meta Tags are the go-to tools to check social media previews. I wanted to test if I could outrank both sites for open graph related keywords using the exact match domain approach.

An Exact Match Domain (EMD) is a domain name that precisely matches the main keyword or keyphrase for which a website wants to rank in search engines. The idea behind using an EMD is to have a domain name that mirrors the specific terms users are likely to use when searching for information, products, or services.

I had no idea that this simple project, which I started with a genuine desire to learn about SEO and SERP, would transform into a profitable side project.

Note: If you're into SEO, don't forget to check out Search Engine Journal.

Key Achievements

At the time of writing, there are around 44,000 monthly unique visitors with over 120,000 monthly page views.

All this taking into account I did zero marketing for the site — just focus on good UI/UX and let it spread organically.

Opengraph - Monthly Traffic

It ranks #1 for the following keywords and more:

  • open graph checker
  • open graph test
  • open graph tester
  • og checker
  • og image checker
  • open graph preview
Opengraph - Keyword Tracking

With this healthy traffic, it generates a passive income of around $120-$150 monthly via BuySellAds in addition to the revenue from selling sponsored ad slots.

What Helped Opengraph to Grow Organically?

If you don't have a huge online presence like a sizable following on social media, gaining attention and feedback on your projects gonna be challenging.

There are a few tools I've set up initially that proved instrumental in garnering early traction.

Consider incorporating these tools into your projects as well.

Capture Early Users' Feedback

Feedback Fish

I was lucky to come across Feedback Fish. It's a cool feedback widget you could integrate into your app in 2 lines of code.

With Feedback Fish, users could easily submit issues, ideas, or compliments to you. With its free plan, you could get up to 25 submissions monthly.

Some ideas submitted by the early users are to add LinkedIn and Discord previews.

Others helped to report bugs on the site such as icons not showing properly in the dark mode and critical issues with the URL format.

In overall, I captured 12 submitted ideas and 39 issues with Feedback Fish.

Note: Some submissions are pure noise, use your own judgment!

Display Social Proof

I'm a big fan of Damon and his Testimonial app. It's a big miss not to display testimonials from your users on your site and Testimonial makes it easy to do so.

I triggered a pop-up modal to collect testimonials on the result page before users exit the website. If they use it and like what they see, they are more likely to leave a testimonial.

I, then, displayed these testimonials on a wall of love on the homepage via the embed code provided for a certain period.

Testimonial - Wall of Love

Overall, I received 37 text testimonials.

Sign up with my referral link to get 15% off your first year.

How Much Is It Worth?

It's hard to put a value to your side project when you have $0 MRR no matter how much traffic it brings.

I have received offers to buy Opengraph occasionally, but most buyers never valued the amount of traffic my site has or the keywords it ranks for and focused too much on MRR (monthly recurring revenue) instead.

They ended with low offers to minimize their risk of monetizing the traffic.

Fast forward to 3 weeks ago, I received a simple DM on LinkedIn from Bob who showed interest in purchasing OpenGraph and offered USD 20,000.

We closed the transaction in 1.5 weeks.

The Decision to Sell

The pivotal question here is - Why did I choose to sell my beloved project?

Lack of Passion

While I have a bucket list of things I could do with the site given the massive amount of traffic it has, I always procrastinate and I would rather spend my time on other projects that I am working on.

Meeting the Right Buyer

Bob (the buyer) has been clear and concise with his communication. This is a first for me—to receive a fair offer that values my time and what I've built here!

Most notably, Bob has an impressive roadmap for Opengraph.xyz, and I'm eagerly anticipating the growth of this humble project.

Valuable Experience

I was eager to gain first-hand experience in the selling process—a valuable skill for any entrepreneur. Bob walked me through the process before we decided to go ahead with it so we could move fast and have this deal closed within a week!

How It Went Down

The selling process is surprisingly straightforward. Once the initial paperwork was completed, we followed the process defined by Escrow.

Paperwork

Bob prepared a sales contract via DocuSign that defines all the assets included in this sale plus the non-compete agreement.

Receiving a sales contract is new to me. Take the time to go through the list and verify the details.

As I'm not familiar with the sales contract, I loaded it up PDF.ai to summarize, explain, and highlight any key points from the contract.

Payment

Payment is being handled through Escrow. I started to transfer assets and accounts when the fund was secured.

Transfer Accounts Ownership

I used a couple of third-party services on Opengraph.xyz such as Airtable for the resource pages, Cloudinary for hosting images, and Prismic for the FAQs.

I had to tweak the code to move images to Airtable as there's no easy way to transfer images to another Cloudinary account.

Once everything has been transferred including domain and source code, it just waits for Bob to finish inspecting the assets before the fund is released.

Lessons Learned and Mistakes Made

Building and selling a side project isn’t a walk in the park, and I learned valuable lessons at each turn.

Stay Organized

I had not anticipated selling my project when I first started it. So, I wasn't the best at keeping all the codes, documents, and resources organized. This caused unnecessary headaches during the selling process as I used several unnecessary services.

Not Marketing Your Product Enough

Right from the beginning of my side project, I heavily leaned on SEO, assuming it would suffice, and consequently, I neglected active marketing efforts for the project.

Know Your Worth

In the early stages, the site was undervalued due to the lack of MRR. As time goes by, I'm able to project revenues from Ads and Sponsored posts that help with valuation.

What's Next

This journey was my first, but it certainly won't be my last. And, while the prospect of developing and then selling a project may be daunting, the rewards surpass the risks significantly.

Every step presents a chance to learn and grow as a developer and an entrepreneur.

If you're teetering on the edge of deciding to sell your side project, I hope my insights empower you to take the plunge with confidence.

If you have any further questions, hit me up on Twitter.

Happy Building and Selling!