An Entrepreneur’s Guide to the Essential Tools You’ll Need to Run Your Ethical Blog or Online Sustainable Media Business

An Entrepreneur’s Guide to the Essential Tools You’ll Need to Run Your Ethical Blog or Online Sustainable Media Business

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I founded Eco Warrior Princess back in 2010 and as one of the world’s leading platforms dedicated to exploring sustainability issues and promoting conscious products, I am often approached by new entrepreneurs, ethical bloggers and eco-friendly brands about what it takes to run a sustainability-focussed media business, and one that has been around for a decade.

Firstly, I want to highlight that EWP would not be possible if not for the support of my partner Ben aka @thefarmintheforest and my family who have encouraged, supported, volunteered their time and skills to nurturing the business that it is today. Without their belief and support in what I – we – do, none of what you see on the platform and socials would be possible since no business owner, no matter how smart or gifted, could do it alone. The sheer number of hours, effort and resources it takes to create the kind of content we produce at EWP – content that reaches hundreds of thousands of people across the globe and covers complex topics – simply cannot be done on one’s own.

Now given that EWP attracts nearly 1.4 million unique visitors each year, as a super busy founder (who also helps to run a 120-acre farm property), it’s important that I make use of the business tools available to me to help minimise time wastage and maximise productivity and efficiency. EWP is a sustainable business, but it’s still a business after all, and conscious businesses are still subject to the mercy and whim of the marketplace.

So if you’re looking to start your ethical blog or launch a sustainability-focussed online platform in the new year, here are the essential business tools that we at EWP use to help us achieve our business goals, streamline our operations and ensures we stay competitive in an ever-changing dynamic business environment:

1. Web hosting – WP Engine

WP Engine specialises in web hosting and specifically WordPress sites and EWP, being a WordPress designed site, is hosted through WP Engine. We were previously hosted with local Australian provider Crazy Domains but after numerous hosting issues and dealing with frustrating support staff, we decided to invest in a quality provider (recommended to us by our web developers Pixel Palace). For quality tech support, quick turnarounds, improved security and better website performance, I can’t recommend WP Engine enough. If you are willing to spend a little more on your web hosting, this is the business we stand by.

2. Email marketing – MailChimp

EWP currently has roughly 14,200 email subscribers and managing the relationship with our readers and followers is important. To help us connect with them, we use the email marketing platform MailChimp that enables us to design, schedule, send and analyse email newsletters and other campaigns. It’s commonly known in the world of business that you “can’t manage what you don’t measure” and this tool offers us transparency around the EDMs, or Electronic Direct Mail marketing campaigns, we send out.

MailChimp gives us visibility into how a particular newsletter campaign has performed in terms of key metrics such as open rates, click through rates, the rate of unsubscribes. It gives us an understanding of what articles and advertisements that our email readers have found most engaging or compelling, helping us to better refine our content and business offerings moving forward.

3. Monetisation platform – Skimlinks

As an online sustainable media business, we rely on affiliate and online monetisation platforms to help generate revenue that enables us to cover our operational costs and compensate our freelance writers fairly. Of all the affiliate platforms, Skimlinks is by far our most preferred affiliate platform as its technology automatically monetizes product links that helps us achieve some of our company’s financial goals. In the month of November, for example, EWP made roughly A$4,257.50. Considering that we shell out anywhere from $2k-$3k per month for our freelance writers, you can see why we consider this technology essential to running a financially sustainable sustainable business.

4. Accounting software – Xero

The accounting software we use is Xero, a cloud-based accounting platform that was recommended by my sister-in-law Sarah who is a seasoned bookkeeper. Xero helps us create and manage our invoices, gives us an overview of our income and expenses and helps us generate financial statements such as a P&L, or profit and loss statement.

5. Social media

In order to promote and amplify the content you create to reach the largest number of people possible, you will need to use social media platforms. The main platforms we use at EWP are Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. Pinterest is by far our biggest social media traffic referrer given our sustainable fashion and lifestyle content. Instagram is our most used social media platform, helping us share our ideas and content with almost 50,000 followers (at the time of writing) in a number of ways including photos, stories and IGTV videos and reels.

Related Post: How to Promote Your Eco-Friendly and Ethical Brand Online

6. Social scheduling tool – Tailwind

To help us create, schedule, amplify, monitor and measure Pinterest and Instagram posts, we use Tailwind. There is a free trial period but we have a business account because this app is beneficial to our business, particularly as it helps make Pinterest scheduling so much easier. It also provides an analytics tool that helps to determine the success of different pins in order to help us better refine our Pinterest strategy, since Pinterest is the biggest referrer of social media traffic.

7. CRM software – Pipedrive

At the heart of any business is its customers and how it generates sales from them, so you will need a robust sales pipeline and customer database tool to give you more transparency over these key business functions. The tool we use at EWP is Pipedrive, an easy-to-use cloud-based CRM and sales pipeline management tool that’s ideal for our small business. This helps us manage our advertiser relationships, store customer documents and vital emails and helps us track where we’re at in the pipeline. Currently we’ve had ongoing issues with syncing our emails with Pipedrive but we’re hoping it’ll be fixed shortly. We also trialled Salesforce but ended up choosing Pipedrive because it fit within our budget and was much easier to set-up.

8. Affiliate platform – Commission Factory

If you’re based in Australia, make sure to sign up to affiliate platform Commission Factory. Commission Factory is an Australian affiliate marketing network specialising in building win-win relationships with Australia-based businesses and content creators and publishers. The links aren’t automated like they are with Skimlinks, but Commission Factory is still a business tool that we rely on to help us generate affiliate revenue. For example, in the month of November, EWP generated A$549.67 in affiliate income so while not as lucrative as Skimlinks, still contributes to the business bottom line.

Related Post: 9 Reasons Why Sustainable, Eco and Ethical Fashion Businesses Close and Finish Up (AKA Fail)

9. Camera equipment – Canon PowerShot Digital Camera [G7 X Mark II]

For our YouTube videos and other films created specifically for our advertisers, we use the Canon PowerShot Digital Camera [G7 X Mark II] as it captures high quality images and videos, has a great auto focus so you can spend more time capturing a unique moment rather than fiddling around with camera settings. We also use a Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR camera for photo shoots so we felt it was important to purchase the same brand of digital camera so we had no issue with colour matching.

10. Film equipment – DJI Mavic Pro

To enhance our films, we use drone footage and for this we rely on the DJI Mavic Pro. We chose this brand because it comes highly recommended by popular vloggers and YouTubers such as Casey Neistat, it has a 4K camera and good battery life so you can fly the drone for up to 20 minutes in some cases. We also purchased drone filters that helps with improving image quality and minimises reflections, fingerprints and glare.

11. Graphics – Canva

You can either outsource graphic design and social media content creation or you can do it yourself and this is where Canva comes in. We use Canva’s range of graphics and templates to create almost every visual we use at EWP; from Pinterest pins, through to our media kit, through to Instagram posts and stories, Canva is our go-to for designing high-quality, easy-to-create fuss-free visually-appealing social media content. It saves us from having to hire a freelance graphic designer.

12. Photography – Shutterstock

Running a growing sustainable media business means having access to high-quality professional images stock photos and this is where Shutterstock comes in. If we are short on time because of deadline or cannot find a particular image using free-to-use image sites such as Unsplash, Pexels and Flickr, we will purchase a Shutterstock image that is relevant to the article or visual content we are creating.

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Cover image credit: Brooke Cagle.

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