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:
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%
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!).
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.
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