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Choosing a topic or niche is often challenging for those wanting to start a blog or online business. For Kaleigh McMordie, it was an easy decision.
In 2015, Kaleigh was in graduate school, studying to become a dietician. She knew she “didn’t want to have a ‘real’ job in a health care setting” after graduation, so she started working on her own business. Thanks to her love of cooking and creating healthy recipes, combined with her education, starting a food blog was a logical choice.
The launch of Lively Table would prove to be the right choice for Kaleigh and her family. After plenty of hard work and dedication, the blog produced an income that allowed Kaleigh to earn a living without a traditional job, while also being able to stay home with her two kids.
And equally as inspiring, Kaleigh sold Lively Table in 2022 for more than $200,000. Her story is an excellent example of what can happen when entrepreneurial ambitions and real-world expertise come together.
As a teenager, Kaleigh McMordie planned to become a doctor. After graduating high school, she headed off to college to pursue that dream. But while in college, Kaleigh realized she didn’t want to spend another decade in school, so she switched tracks to become a dietician instead.
While studying to become a dietician, Kaleigh started her blog as a creative outlet that she hoped to also turn into a profitable business.
Although Lively Table didn’t start making money immediately, Kaleigh approached it like a business. She consistently worked on the site with hopes of growing an audience and making money.
When asked about her first year of blogging, Kaleigh said “I had no idea what I was doing. Things were slow, but I tried to post regularly. It was really a labor of love. I spent all my extra time working on the blog and Googling how to do things since I didn’t have the money to pay someone to do things for me. It wasn’t until I started working for another blogger as a virtual assistant that I started to understand the other things I needed to do besides hit ‘publish’ on a post to gain any sort of traffic.”
Kaleigh’s turning point came when she started networking with other bloggers and promoting her content via social media. That dedication started to pay off when she was paid $100 for her first sponsored post. This was the first money she made from the site, and it was about a year after launching.
The Growth of Lively Table
Although growth during the first year was slow, Kaleigh started to see much more progress in year number two. With that momentum, she gained the confidence to believe that the blog truly could produce a full-time income.
During the second year, the blog grew to about 50,000 visitors per month. This growth led Kaleigh to a major turning point, applying and getting approved to join Mediavine‘s ad network.
In 2018, about three years after starting the blog, Kaleigh made enough money to leave her part-time job as a dietician. Working on her blog allowed her to stay home with her newborn, which was just as valuable as the income the blog produced.
On top of the ad revenue Kaleigh was making with Mediavine, she started working directly with brands on partnerships and sponsored content. Eventually, Lively Table’s revenue would be split nearly 50/50 between ad revenue and sponsorships.
Selling the Blog
By early 2021, Kaleigh was starting to get burned out, and she’d lost interest in the social platforms that had been so important to the blog during its early days. Thankfully, she’d been focusing on SEO, so the increased search traffic offset any traffic she lost from social media.
Kaleigh had never considered selling the blog before this point. In fact, she didn’t even know that selling a blog was an option until she heard a podcast on the subject around this time.
With decreased interest in running the blog and a desire for more time with her family (she had two young children at this point), Kaleigh began to think about selling.
By this time, Kaleigh had stopped doing sponsored content, and the blog was only monetized through display ads. However, Lively Table had value based on roughly $6,000 average monthly income from ads and 200,000 pageviews per month.
Despite the success of the site, selling proved to be a challenge. Initially, Kaleigh worked with a broker who turned out to be a bad fit. The broker’s unfamiliarity with food blogging prevented any progress with selling the site.
After unsuccessfully listing the site for sale on a marketplace, Kaleigh made her way to a different broker who was able to sell the site in 2022 for more than $200,000, which was around 35x the average monthly revenue.
Kaleigh’s experience validates the importance of finding the right broker to sell an online business. Her frustration of getting no traction with the first broker and marketplace impacted the process. Although the second broker found a buyer quickly, Kaleigh says, “The whole process left me exhausted and willing to take a lower price than I thought the site was worth because I was just ready to be done.”
Kaleigh’s Keys to Success
Kaleigh worked on Lively Table from 2015-2022. The site produced steady income, allowed her to be home with her young kids, and ultimately produced a six-figure exit. Kaleigh attributes the site’s success to:
- Meticulously testing recipes
- Learning how to take high-quality food photos
- Building a social following
- Sticking to a posting schedule
- Search engine optimization
After selling Lively Table, Kaleigh started two other sites that she works on in her limited spare time. Both sites (Baby Led Bliss and The Clean Beauty Review) involve her personal interests. She also hopes to start another food blog and an aviation-themed site (she and her husband own and fly a small airplane).
Speaking about her experience running Lively Table, Kaleigh said, “I gained so much technical knowledge on how the online world works (though I know just a fraction!), as well as skills in photography, writing a good recipe, marketing, communication, and all that comes with running a content site. I was so lucky to have the freedom and flexibility to set my own schedule and stay home with my kids while they were babies. I learned a lot about myself and about building something from scratch, as well as what my values are and which ones I’m not willing to compromise on.”
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