Transparency Reports

Eco Warrior Princess Transparency Report March 2017

transparency report eco warrior princess - march 2017
Written by Jennifer Nini

I was really excited to prepare and publish this report because March was our biggest month in terms of income since publicly announcing our goal to become financially sustainable. Yay!

But it wasn’t without difficulties and learning a huge business lesson that’s for sure. Read on to learn about our highs AND lows…

Website Traffic for March 2017

Here’s the snapshot of our Google Analytics ‘Audience Overview’ for March:

Eco Warrior Princess Google Analytics March 2017

Data breakdown looks like this:

  • Sessions: 28,251
  • Users: 22,771 (unique visitors)
  • Page Views: 44,276
  • Avg. Session Duration: 00:01:45
  • Bounce Rate: 76.19%

Traffic Analysis

The blog performed better in March compared with February across nearly all key metrics:

  • 27.65% increase in unique visitors from 17,839 to 22,771
  • 27.86% increase in page views from from 34,628 to 44,276
  • 29.25% increase in sessions from 21,858 to 28,251
  • 2.64% increase in session duration from 1:42 to 1:45

Now you’re probably wondering how we were able to produce these results. Did I hire more staff members? Did I spend money on Facebook or Google advertising? Nah, nada, nope.

Here’s what I think happened to help boost performance…

I made the toughest business decision in my entrepreneurial journey so far – letting my admin officer Ted go.

Ensopet Sponsored Ad Campaign

Ensopet Pet Waste Composting Sponsored Ad Campaign

So what does the situation with Ted have to do with our brilliant March performance?

Well that’s easy to explain.

This decision caused me so much pain and sadness. Particularly as Ted in some ways was my right hand person. He looked after the EWP email inbox and saved me so much time and many headaches. Unfortunately his wage was our biggest expense. I’m sure you can imagine the amount of pressure I was under to cover his wage when I don’t yet draw a wage from this website myself.

But I continued to work my ass off in my other business and fought to keep Ted on the team. It just wasn’t sustainable for me. I could see that my trajectory would be that I would crash and burn, again. 

As the blog had not achieved financial sustainability in the time he had been working here (almost a year), I had to face the cold hard truth: either keep Ted on which could have potentially caused the EWP ship to sink or cut out the admin expense (his wage represented EWP’s largest business expense).

So that’s what I did.

I was so devastated in having to lay off a team member that I made up my mind to work harder and smarter so that I would never ever find myself in this position again.

It’s I think why we performed so well in March. Strategically working 16 hour days so that I wouldn’t need to lay off any more people. Avoiding lay offs = huge motivator!

Letting Ted go is the hardest thing I’ve faced as a conscious entrepreneur but it provided Ben – my fiance and business partner – and I the opportunity to reassess the entire operation to ensure that we’re not in the red each month. A start-up business cannot afford to operate at a loss. Carried over each month, it weighs heavily and makes it harder for a business to break-even and will eventually lead to business suicide. We need to avoid this at all costs if we want the sustainability message to reach more people.

Anyway, we refocussed and developed a new business strategy for increasing income in order to make Eco Warrior Princess profitable.

I know it’s impossible for an entrepreneur to predict the future and the business decisions one will inevitably have to make, but I really hope that I don’t ever go through that again.

Bokashi Composting Australia - Giveaway Preparation & Sponsored Ad Campaign

Sponsored ad campaign for Bokashi Composting Australia.

Income

Now as I mentioned earlier, we had our best ever month in terms of traffic and income.

Last year I announced that I would be turning this sustainable lifestyle blog into a sustainable business. I’m impressed by my efforts. I may not have considered myself an entrepreneur before, but after reflecting on my persistence and work ethic, I am most definitely one now.

Anyway without further ado, here’s what our website earned (not necessarily paid) for the month of March (in $AUD):

  • Google Adsense: $67.78
  • Amazon Associates: $109.38
  • Skimlinks: $89.39
  • Linkshare: $26.24
  • Share-A-Sale: $67.05
  • Other Affiliate Programs: $15.00
  • Sponsored Post/Paid Guest Posts: $1638.59
  • Patreon Pledges/Reader Donations: $445.48

Total Income: $2,458.91

Note: There may be exchange rate discrepancies when I convert USD to AUD as I calculate what has been earned in the month rather than what has been paid in the month. Also, exchange rates used by each platform may vary.

Eco Warrior Princess Patreon account as of March 2016

Eco Warrior Princess on Patreon as at March 2016.

Expenses

This ‘Expenses’ section is a new addition to the transparency report. I didn’t think it was all that important to include these details because my focus was on being transparent with how Eco Warrior Princess made its money.

However the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to disclose this information as well. This way, the decision to lay off an employee would have been easier for me to explain had I provided you with the full P&L picture.

Anyway, here are the expenses and costs* we incurred for the month of March:

  • Software: $151.45
  • People: $1,159.89
  • Office: $409.01

Total Expenses: $1,720.35

*Note: Rough estimates as the operating costs are divided between our other businesses as well. Also there may be discrepancies due to daily exchange rate fluctuations when converting USD to AUD.

Income Analysis

We’ve finally settled into the year and as expected, ethical brands have finally come out of the woodwork, reaching out wanting to advertise on our green platform. After two slow months, it was wonderful to get some advertising interest, particularly as I’ve accepted that EWP will need advertising dollars if we are to continue to operate.

Our Patreon support has increased too and I am ever so thankful to our loyal readers who – through their financial donations – are helping to keep EWP alive.

Now considering income earned and expenses, our approximate net income for March is $738.56.

This is the first month we have been able to be ‘cash flow positive’ since our announcement to become a financially sustainable business some 10 months ago. EWP has been operating at a loss up until now.

10 months of operating at a loss. Ouch.

One Happy Leaf eco jewellery made in Australia

One Happy Leaf eco jewellery, one of our ad sponsors this month

Now can you see why I needed to lay off an employee?

Staff wages and contract writer costs represent our biggest business expense by far. It’s something I will continue to keep a close eye on, particularly if we are to remain cash flow positive.

Now some other good news: our affiliate partnerships are working! The income from affiliate marketing platforms such as SkimLinks and Share-A-Sale have contributed several hundred dollars to our bottom line. While it makes me wonder how much we could have earned over the last 10 months if I had just swallowed my pride and gone ahead with it, I don’t dwell on it. I chalk it up to another business lesson learned.

Email Subscriber Stats

Our total number of email subscribers for March:

  • New Subscribers: 11
  • Existing Subscribers: 3,340
  • Total Subscribers: 3,351

A measly performance it seems but there’s a reason we only added 11 new subscribers for the month.

The reason for the crappy result? We lost a heap of MailChimp email subscribers after running our giveaway with COSSAC as many of the ones that joined really just wanted to win the garment and weren’t committed or engaged followers. So basically we had to make up some ground to cover the email subscribers we lost.

COSSAC x Eco Warrior Princess giveaway

In fact, it’s one of the reasons I am careful not to run too many giveaways on EWP. Running giveaways just to increase email subscribers almost always means the community ends up being filled with people who don’t genuinely want to be there.

It’s the problem of quantity over quality. A problem I want to avoid having. Influence can only really be measured by how engaged your community is and how willing they are to share your work – without any incentive at all except that they find value in it. Influence cannot be measured by total followers alone. I’ve been in digital marketing for many years. I know how to spot a wannabe from the real thing.

So although I could easily increase my email subscribers by running giveaways every other week and month, I choose not to. Choosing quality over quantity is important to me, not just in the way I shop, but in how I do business too.

Slow steady growth over quick meaningless gains is important for me as a conscious business owner. Consider me a business tortoise, not a business hare LOL!

Overall thoughts

I am often described as a ‘workaholic’ by my closest friends and family, but even I admit that this month I took it to another level. I really dug deep. I had to. Forgoing a valued team member to save on costs and keep overheads low means that I am doing most of the work myself. This is the reality of business. I don’t complain about it. It is what it is. Luckily I love what I do and I’m driven by huge purpose – or I wouldn’t be putting in the hours that’s for damn sure!

Now we are still years away from becoming a fully-fledged sustainable business but at least this month marks a turning point. We finally made a profit after expenses. Of course any profits made will be put back into the business as it’s the only way to fund it’s growth – but at least there’s some light at the end of the long dark tunnel!

Want to follow along on my conscious business journey? Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog here (and you’ll get our 12-page Sustainable Lifestyle Guide too!).

Jennifer Nini Eco Warrior Princess

Now, I want to hear from you…

It’s not always easy to admit the inner workings of EWP particularly at such a sensitive time when I’m still processing my feelings around the lay-off of a trusted employee.

However valuing transparency as I do means that I have to be completely real – with myself, with you, and with the team. I’m not going to sugar coat business and entrepreneurial life. It’s friggin’ hard. Besides, if business transparency were easy, all businesses would be transparent, right?

I’d love to hear from you: How do you feel about this transparency report? What do you think about the decision to lay off an employee? Whatever you’re thinking, I’d love to know. Make sure to leave your thoughts in the comment section below. Let’s discuss sustainable business. It matters, particularly if we want to make a sustainable living doing what we care about.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and monies received from any sale made through a link helps us keep our content free and covers operating costs. You can read more about our disclosure policy here.

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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 launched Eco Warrior Princess 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.

12 Comments

  • I have never seen a transparency report before. Very good. I hope your success continues exponentially from here x

  • I think this report was a wonderful and honest read. Definetly enjoy reading it monthly because it is very interesting and I’ve not seen anyone do that before. Really refreshing. And about Ted. It seemed like it was clearly beginning to create negative vibes and you’ve learnt to never wanna go back to that place so maybe this was best for the both of you. Things happen for a reason after all. Regardless I have loved reading this blog so much and wish you nothing but good health and happiness.

    • Oh wow thanks Fatima for continuing to return to the site and read the reports. So wonderful to know you find it of value – I find writing the reports a valuable task myself as it forces me to reflect on EWP each month. And I appreciate your understanding about the decision too. I agree things happen for a reason and in this situation particularly I had to prioritise my health and sanity 🙂

  • I like these reports and someday when I’m more organized, I would like to start doing a version of one, too. I think the layoff makes sense, especially if it will help you become more efficient. Thanks for the thoroughness!

    • Thanks Leah! I’d love to see more bloggers write them as I think it will only help to strengthen relationships within our community. Plus for me it’s about being the change. So if I ask businesses and brands that I work with to be more transparent, I too must be transparent 🙂

  • Hi Jen! I love the candid nature in which you describe how highs and lows in a business aren’t just about numbers- but about your emotional environment as well. As ethical entrepreneurs, I find that we face challenges when trying to live our values while maintaining a positive, supportive environment for ourselves and others. However, sometimes to say yes to yourself, you need to say no to someone- as saying yes to both will be damaging to all. No can be one of the most sustainable words to be you going. I’m still learning that myself. I’m with Leah- I’d love to write a transparency report for my brand as well-discussing the ways I struggle designing and manufacturing every product myself while spending countless hours engaging on social media and other brand building exercises- how does one find a sustainable balance as we moonlight towards self sufficiency? There are parts of the journey that may not be relevant to my consumer, but there are definitely parts that are! 🙂

    • Such truth: “Sometimes to say yes to yourself, you need to say no to someone – as saying yes to both will be damaging to all”. As much as the decision pained me, in the end, that’s what it boiled down to – prioritising my health and sanity. As for finding a sustainable balance – there is so much work involved in small business isn’t there? Countless unseen hours that go into building our businesses that people don’t see. I too find it incredibly tough to engage on social media and do everything else. I’ve had to cut back substantially so I can put first things first. Now from my perspective, I think if you have the time, definitely share your personal journey/transparency info on a blog or even on Instagram stories. I think sharing this helps people understand that behind the brand, there is a human being that values integrity in business and that cares deeply in the process. Whether you think some parts of your story is relevant to your customer or not, I think let them decide. Share your story and see what happens? xx

  • hey Jen,

    have you guys as a band of ethical entrepreneurs ever thought about sharing resources? I bet there are a few start ups in your world that could do with support in admin, building social media presence and digital brand management. Imagine if 3 or 4 of you shared a resource that freed you up to do the work that only you can do in EWP. You could decide on the highest impact work you need covering and that would give you peace of mind, and ‘advertise’ in your community to share costs. This would be interesting and varied for the team member, they could work from anywhere, and you would be continuing to build community.

    The skill of an entrepreneur is also about making space for the genius.

    Just a thought 🙂

    Pippa

    • Hi Pippa! Great question – I’m not sure by what you mean by sharing resources? I already refer clients/brands to other people’s businesses/blogs etc if we don’t offer what they’re looking for OR if we don’t really like their product offering OR if it doesn’t fit in with our ethical values OR if their product isn’t something our readers will want to buy. As for our team members, some of our writers are contractors, and again, they have their own clients/projects going and don’t just work on ours. Further clarification would help in answering this question. I see this already happening in our Facebook groups (I administer a closed group called Mindful Boss Ladies) 🙂

  • Hi Jen,

    LOVE this post.

    It is so humbling and entertaining (good combo) to read posts such as these, because it gives a hard fact window into someone’s world. So thank you for sharing, it is very interesting.

    Best,
    Henrik S.

    • Awww thanks Henrik!! I can only speak my truth and give people a glimpse into our business life because people romanticise the work we’re doing and I’m like: it’s friggin’ hard, don’t be fooled by all the pretty pictures lol! We grind it out but that’s because we are led by purpose. If we weren’t, we would have given up a long time ago hahaha!

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