Transparency Reports

Eco Warrior Princess First Ever Transparency Report (July 2016)

transparency report july 2016-2
Written by Jennifer Nini

Editor's note: This is a little different to my normal posts, but as a part of my full commitment to blog transparency expect to see these reports each month.

I had a crazy idea while in the shower a couple of days ago as I was listening to one of my favourite business podcasts (The Growth Show interview with Everlane founder, Michael Preysman). It was literally one of those forehead-smacking moments - "Yes I need to do that! Why didn't I think of this before?!"

The zany idea was this: to be fully transparent and disclose the money I make from this blog.

I value transparency from ethical brands, so surely readers will value transparency when they visit this ethical blog.

Blogging income reports aren't all that new in the blogosphere. Some people don't enjoy airing this kind of personal information, wanting to keep private about it. I understand, money is a very touchy subject. But I figured that these reports keep websites and especially bloggers honest.

Since Eco Warrior Princess is a website that is earning some money, as little as it is, I think it only fair that we are transparent with our readers. But I dislike the term "Income Report" so instead, I am calling it a Transparency Report.

It's a business, but a struggling one.

I didn't intentionally start this blog to make money with it. As a writer and activist, I wanted to change the conversation, stimulate critical thinking and encourage people to take action to make this world healthier, greener and a kinder place.

But over time, my audience started to grow. And grow it did.

Brands started to gain commercial benefit from my work and I decided that it was only fair that they should pay to access my audience.

So last year I began to treat the website more professionally. I hired some writers, I created a proper email signature, I started sending weekly newsletters, and I created my first media kit.

eco warrior princess media kit example

Eco Warrior Princess is fair trade.

I made the executive decision to pay my core team as I believe that people need to be paid for their efforts and the work they do. It's all about fair trade. (To learn how I feel about the subject of blogger compensation, read this post).

Some blogs and online publications don't pay their core staff. While I understand the reasons surrounding this (they basically don't make any money), this is just an example of how Eco Warrior Princess is different. Because I take it upon myself to pay the team. As Eco Warrior Princess is not a charity, I don't expect they volunteer their time either.

Now we have an editor, Amanda, who is not only a professional writer and editor, but is also a published author. I hired Amanda last year as she was referred by a cousin. She is our longest-serving team member and she is a blessing. I don't know how I'd cope without her.

There is Ted, our admin officer, who deals with the administrative burden of emails. He is also the editorial assistant; the first point of call for all contributors and guest writers. Ted also maintains the editorial calendar, and he is responsible for sending out media kits. If it weren't for Ted, I'd be pulling my hair out trying to keep on top of my email inboxes. It's no secret I despise emails. He works casually and is in the office three days a week.

Then student trainees (paid interns) Georgia, Steff and to a lesser extent Finn (he mostly works on my fiancé Ben's businesses) help out with social media research, planning and scheduling. I sometimes allocate them blog posts to complete but realise that they aren't seasoned writers so give them less-complex topics to write about. They all work one day a week: Thursday.

And then we have our contract writers: Myraine, Polly and Meg. Two of them had been recommended by writers within the team. One we found on Upwork. They bring extensive education and writing experience, as well as backgrounds in politics and development work.

Eco Warrior Princess Traffic Report July 2016

Now that you know the people that help keep Eco Warrior Princess ticking, it's time to disclose my website traffic. If you're a brand especially, this information may be pertinent to you.

Here is the Google Analytics report for last month:

Traffic Report July 2016

The data breakdown from the image is as follows:

  • Sessions: 8,757
  • Users: 6,880 (this used to be called unique visitors and measures how many individuals visited Eco Warrior Princess in the month)
  • Page Views: 15,386
  • Pages/Session: 1.76
  • Avg. Session Duration: 00:02:08 (the longer, the better, it means people are reading not skimming!)
  • Bounce Rate: 67.6%

Income Summary (July 2016)

Now if you're a fellow sustainable fashion or ethical lifestyle blogger, you're probably more interested in the income the website made.

So just how much income did the website earn in the month of July?

Drum roll please...

Income breakdown is:

  • Side bar advertising: $100.00

Total: A$100.00 

Yup. The big 1-0-0.

People think blogging is lucrative. As you can see, it definitely isn't.

So why do I continue doing what I do? 

Firstly, my mission with Eco Warrior Princess has always been to positively contribute to the world. I believe that writing and sharing thought-provoking content on topics that matter is essential to creating a world that is smarter, kinder, fairer, and greener.

Now although the website itself doesn't make much money, the platform has played a crucial role in driving client referrals to my content marketing agency, a business I created to help ethical brands use digital marketing and copywriting to reach more people.

Jennifer Nini mindful boss lady The Social Copywriter

And what's more, I take some of the profits I make from this business and use it to pay the staff and the contract writers. That's the only way to keep Eco Warrior Princess going, and more importantly, growing.

The M-word is a part of our future.

To write, research, publish, and coordinate an editorial calendar and team of paid writers and guest contributors requires tremendous effort. Eco Warrior Princess has been a true labour of love but it's high time that it pay its own way, which is why over the next few months you will see a monetisation push. In the quest for a better world, people who do good (like me for example), are often not paid what we're worth, if at all.

I want to change that.

I believe that we should be able to offer the world our skills and abilities and original creations, and still get paid for the work we do.

And while focussing on monetisation - in the form of affiliate marketing, banner advertising, sponsored posts, brand ambassadorships - has never been my goal, it is quickly becoming a necessity. Money is not a topic ethical bloggers and sustainable brands discuss and it often seems (and I absolutely blame social media for this) as though all ethical business owners are doing financially well... until I'm speaking to one and they're about to call it quits. Or I get an email from a reader to say that a website link isn't working anymore and I learn an eco-friendly brand has folded.

Given that our mission at Eco Warrior Princess is to change and bring depth to shallow conversations, consider the topic of money wide open. Let's not pretend that our businesses are highly profitable if they aren't. If we want genuine community, we have to be real. And that starts with admitting that making money doing what we love - not just on a casual or part time basis, but as full-time endeavour - is fucking hard!

Monetisation is not ideal, but I am left with no other options. I am working my ass off in my other business to support a team and sustain a blog that is producing very little return financially. And although I absolutely enjoy the impact it has on the way people view sustainability, politics, and ethical business; and of course I am grateful to give people meaningful work and feel fortunate that the website provides a satisfactory number of business leads, that in itself isn't enough.

The blog needs to be sustainable. So I find myself in the same pickle almost all publications around the world face:

How do we keep delivering value to our audience and keep the content free, while paying the team for their amazing work, and still make enough income for it to be financially viable and where I can start paying myself?

So there you have it. I've bared my soul and now I'd love to hear from you. What do you think about this Transparency Report? How do you feel about the push for monetisation? Do you think I should just focus on my digital agency The Social Copywriter and continue pouring the profits from that business to Eco Warrior Princess? Or do you think my strategy is justified? I value your opinion so please leave a comment below.

*** Update 2/9/2016 *** We've now created a Patreon page to help us with the running costs of Eco Warrior Princess. If you would like to make a pledge, even as little as US$1, we will be eternally grateful. Click here to make a pledge and help keep Eco Warrior Princess as ad-free as possible.

Enjoyed this post & want to show your gratitude? Then please support Eco Warrior Princess on Patreon!

About the author

Jennifer Nini

Jennifer Nini is a writer, activist and the founding editor of Eco Warrior Princess. In 2010, after studying Fashion Business, she began this blog to explore her interests in fashion, politics, social justice and sustainability. Jennifer is also the founder of The Social Copywriter, a digital agency harnessing the power of copywriting and content marketing to help mindful businesses reach more people. When she's not perfecting a sentence or coaching business clients, you will find her at her certified organic farm reconnecting with nature.

14 Comments

  • Hi,

    Valiant effort to be so transparent. Yes, if tou have organised yourself as a business, to be sustainable in the long term one needs to be profitable. Market economics rule.

    As CEO of Hessnatur, a sustainable clothing brand which now exists for 40 years we often have to remind ourselves as well – we are not a charity, yes we want to be fully transparent and we have to remain cash positive otherwise we cannot continue on our mission of 40 years – to make the world a better place with every piece of clothing we make.

    All the best in your efforts.

    Rgds,
    Vivek

    • Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, Vivek. You are right, market economics rule. I think many emerging designers and start-up ethical brands could learn so much from someone like you. Would you care if I sent you an email to explore further? I would love to tease our some more of your knowledge as I think so many small business owners would find value and learn from your experience.

  • I love your honesty! I make money from my blog/writing/social media, but right now, almost all of it I reinvest in learning and tools that help me be more efficient.

  • This is a great initiative. I also know a few businesses in the eco / ethical space who are scratching their heads wondering if it is worth continuing to put so much energy into something that isn’t financially rewarding (me included!). Compared to the margins in traditional business, ethical businesses generally have to reduce their margins so everyone gets fairly paid, but the end product or service isn’t priced out of the market. On the other hand they still have to spend the same amount as traditional businesses on marketing and operating costs. I think this is a great first step in helping everyone understand that we’re not running lucrative online businesses enjoying a 4 hour week with loads of cash rolling in!

    • Thank you so much Corryn for being open and for sharing your knowledge and experience too. You are right – we’re not trying to take over the world, we’re just trying to give value to our fellow humans and get paid reasonably too! The online marketplace is competitive indeed and it doesn’t help that the Amazon business model is so highly efficient and cost effective for so many people. I was hoping the internet would democratise business and even out the playing field; and while it has given mindful people an opportunity to start a business, it just means that there’s less of the ‘ethical pie’ to go around. So the only hope we have is to make the ‘pie’ bigger by trying to convert more mainstream people to shop consciously. But it is slow…

      I’ve been writing about this since 2010 and even now the industry is still very much considered ‘niche’. And then there are niches within this ‘ethical’ niche… Hmmm. Where abouts are you based? We might need to organise a networking event of mindful boss ladies where we can really collaborate and find a way through this. I live so far away from the city so this is probably already happening and I’m just oblivious. Anyway just thinking out loud so sorry if I’m getting off topic 🙂

    • Awww thanks sweet girl! You’re one to talk though, that IG post was out of this world human and real! You are up to some serious game hun and I’m rooting for you. Remember – you’ve got this! xx

  • Thank you for your honesty Jennifer. I love your blog and of course want it to continue, so as long as you keep your integrity as to what affiliate marketing / sponsored posts etc. you do then I see no problem in monetising on it. If your blog is to be truly sustainable, it has to fund itself!

    Keep up the great work.

    Katy.X

    • Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. It has been the struggle of all struggles. And many of us who write within this space seem to encounter this problem at some time or another in our journeys. I rarely do sponsored posts and have avoided affiliate marketing but the time has come for me to embrace the new strategy if Eco Warrior Princess is to be financially sustainable. And yes course, I fully disclose sponsored posts and affiliate marketing. In fact, that’s partially the point of the Transparency Reports too, so it’s all out in the open. Thank you so much for your support Katy! x

  • I loved this report, it taught me a thing or two about setting up and understanding the blog I have long procrastinated on for my business, but it was also a great read for a small business inspiration and reality check. It was actually the first full blog post I’ve read for a while as it caught my attention in my emails. Now time to review the Eco Lifestyle Guide. Thanks for sharing.

    • So glad I could shed some light on the blogging aspect as I think it’s important for people to be aware of just how much time is involved in it 🙂 You’ll also see the reports month on month as part of my commitment to transparency if you ever want to know how it’s all tracking from here. In fact, I will be posting the report for month of August this weekend. And enjoy the Eco Lifestyle Guide. I’m a big greenie as you probably deducted, but my hope is to give practical tips, not to daunt you! 🙂

  • Hi Jennifer! 🙂

    I just wanted to say that I commend you for doing this and all of the hard work you and your team put into this blog. It’s truly appreciated!

    Growing up, I wore uniforms and lacked my own sense of style, however, once I attended college, that changed. I was able to wear what I wanted and I was excited to venture into fashion. My roommate was a fashion major and would help me learn new brands, which was very interesting. Going into college, I was a Psychology major, but shortly after taking some courses, I knew that it wasn’t for me so I decided “Hey, I want to put on a fashion show! I want to see if I have what it takes to major in fashion”

    I held auditions for models, went to our Apparel & Textile department and spoke with classes (I was nervous because I didn’t know anyone in that major, but I wanted to see if anyone was interested in styling or designing for the show), and I spoke with several people, connecting with the president of our university, reaching out to local retailers to promote their business by using their products in the show and booking the venue.

    I was so happy that everything was coming together and the night of the show, more than 1,000 students and staff attended the show and I had 50 models and around 20 stylists and designers. That moment was it for me. That moment showed me that I had what it took to work in this industry as I found something I was truly passionate about (much as you are passionate about ethical, sustainable, fair trade, and eco-friendly living).

    Even though I didn’t earn any money for putting on the show, the simple fact that I was able to help people inspired me to pursue fashion. Before the end of the semester, a fashion instructor ran into me at the library and asked me to be apart of her fashion show production class! (boy, I was extremely excited). Because of that opportunity, I was able to travel to local organic farmers, Cotton Incorporated to see how the production of our clothes, sheets, etc were created, and I was able to visit denim factories. It was an eye-opening experience.

    Even with all of this, I proudly supported fast fashion brands (just like many of the students in our fashion department) simply because the clothes were cheap, disposable, and “chic”. Besides, we’re fashion majors, right? (lol)

    Fast forward to now, 3 years later after finishing school, I am just now learning about ethical fashion as it wasn’t taught at my college. We had one Globalization course, but we really didn’t go deep into the ethical or sustainable practice behind fashion. I knew about organic farmers, but didn’t know about the chemicals that are being put in our clothing. This is why life is an ongoing learning process.

    I initially went into fashion wanting to be a stylist and fashion show producer. I wanted to teach people how they can be chic for cheap by supporting fast fashion, but I am so thankful that something within me encouraged to look for fashion videos on Netflix because that’s when I saw The True Cost and began asking questions.

    During my search, I found your website and immediately signed up to your newsletter and I am happy that I did!

    Currently, I work from home in digital marketing, assisting e-commerce retailers with customer support and social media engagement/moderation. I also started my own business 9 Months of Chic (www.9monthsofchic.com), which is a social shopping website where I help expecting mothers find maternity, nursing, post-partum clothing via affiliate marketing (so it’s like a blog, but in an e-commerce format). I’ve paused the site as I manually enter each product and it takes a while to research all of the brands plus I’m expanding to include women clothing as well because I’ve found that a lot of the ethical and sustainable brands that I’ve been researching do not currently cater to maternity clothing. If you take a look at the website, just know it’s a work in progress 🙂

    Just like you are doing with your blog, I want to help by providing useful information about ethical, sustainable, eco-friendly, and fair trade fashion. Just as we want to know where our food comes from and want to choose healthy/organic food options, we can apply that same mindset to fashion. We can support businesses that strive to protect our environment while paying and treating their workers fairly. Some people say or think ethical and sustainable fashion can’t be stylish or affordable, but during my research, I know that’s not true.

    I encourage you and your team to keep going because you’ve really inspired me. I am forever grateful for what I’ve been learning. I’ll be going back to school next fall to focus on International Trade in the fashion industries and desire to be an Ethical Fashion, Fashion Show Production, and Digital Marketing professor this way I can help aspiring fashion stylists and designers learn more about ethical and sustainable fashion.

    I’m only 25 and when I speak about this subject, people are facinated that I have a desire to support ethical brands and sustainability opposed to ones that continue to exploit people and harm our enviornment, but I’m still learning and simply want to pass what I’ve learned to others.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this. I truly appreciate the hard work you all put in this blog!

    Have a blessed day!
    Tiffany McFarlane

    PS I’m a member of the Ethical Fashion Forum as well and sent you a friend request! 🙂

    • Wow Tiffany thank you so much for sharing your experience and for your support! So glad that ethical fashion had another vocal champion. And you know, your journey is not too dissimilar to my own. We ask questions, and then we dig up answers that lead us to asking more questions and finding out for ourselves. Sometimes there is a fork in the road and when you take that road, it leads you to places you didn’t expect to travel! And there are so many of these ‘forks’ in life! I am so thrilled that you watched The True Cost because that doco had an impact on so many people that I know too. Ultimately however, knowledge doesn’t mean a thing until one uses that knowledge and applies it in his/her life. And that is exactly what you’ve done. I will definitely jump on and connect on EFF. Great to meet another committed mindful boss lady! 🙂

Leave a Comment

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

/* ]]> */
Don't forget to follow Eco Warrior Princess on social media!