November 8, 2008

Thank You: a community saves elephant journal dot com from the brink.

Photo by Mae Ryan. Waylon Lewis taps away at his favorite ‘third place,’ the historic, Buddhist-cowboy-owned Trident Café & Booksellers in downtown Boulder, Colorado.


After 6.5 years, our next move as a print magazine was to grow nationally into mainstream distribution channels. Given, however, that conventional distributors only sell 3 out of 10 magazines, the rest being recycled after being milled and shipped six times around the country–even printing on eco paper, it was not an eco-responsible option. So we went paperless, as most of our readers know from our last issue, the one with Obama and McCain on the cover pronouncing a New War Effort! On Climate Change!

So, over the last month, it’s been my task to transition our many wonderful longtime and some new advertisers to our web site, elephantjournal.com. But I’ve been burned out, as my accountant Samara and editor Heather and ad manager Lindsey have noticed, and I’ve had limited success in doing more than crashing, building our traffic, starting a column on Huffington Post’s GREEN & LIVING sections and blogging five times a day. And while a few advertisers came on board, most said “Sure, but let’s wait until after the election. The economy’s rocky.” *

Which makes sense—except that elephant has no investors, we’re independent media, so at the end of the month, having suddenly voluntarily given up 6.5 years of print-based advertising relationships (just as Steve Savage of Eco Products had to do when he saw an opportunity to expand his mission and business, but had to leave behind his original core business in order to do so), I was staring down the barrel of my home/office’s mortgage and our payroll and my print bills (I owe approximately $40K, if you must know). So, today, with two days left to bring in money and save my house, credit, and what’s left of my staff, I sent an appeal out to our community:

From: [email protected]

Subject: an appeal

Date: November 7, 2008 9:58:41 AM MST

Between you (our loyal advertisers and new friends) and me, in our transit from print to paperless I’m going from a steady revenue stream to a new revenue stream. Many folks have come forward and supported in the last month–but we have 20 spaces left to fill and today is last day before my month to transition is up. Basically, despite our rapid e-growth I’ll be forced to shut down–I’m out of options. None of this is your problem–it’s only to say that if you were wanting to continue to support elephant, today’s the time to consider reserving a clickable, cheap ad on every page of our site for $200/month, $150/month if you prepay a quarter or $100/month if you prepay a year.
This is the last day to prepay and help us stay alive and continue to grow (we already have four times the readership than our quarterly print mag did). After Monday, I face some tough options with my staff and mortgage.

Standard square ads are $100/month if you prepay a year – $1200 total (most of our print ads back in day were around $1200 just for three months). There are bigger and prime position ads available, but if you just did our smallest ad that would be a meaningful support–and we’ll support you right back with reviews, good and fast-growing readership (thanks to our weekly e-newsletter, my first Huffington Post and our facebook community, we had our biggest traffic week ever this week–on pace for 50,000 unique visitors this month, many of whom revisit and click on several pages each of course). By comparison, our print circulation was 30,000 over three months—and yet our web ads are 1/5 of the price, featured on every page, and clickable.


8 hours later, I’m happy, tired, relieved. Enough friends and community members and LOHAS advertisers came forward (let their names be encircled with golden halos):
Liz Benson, realtor & elephant blog columnist
Bryan Bowen; green architect
Bob Morehouse of Vermilion Design
Bikram Yoga on the Hill (Boulder, Colorado)
Herbal Roots 
Samaya Designs 
Jade Yoga Mats
Jeff Roth 
Piyara Kutta $200
…to save Hotelephant—giving us our biggest single advertising sales day in 6.5 years, ever, and putting elephantjournaldotcom firmly back in the driver’s seat of our own e-destiny. I still have much work to do to save my staff, who will otherwise be forced to shove off to greener shores, which would of course be horrible, they’re amazing, and more work to do to dig myself out of my print bills and taxes.
But the basic news: 
thank you. Today will help us continue our mission:
to bring together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society. To focus on ‘the mindful life’—yoga, organics, sustainability, non-new agey spirituality, conscious consumerism, ecofashion, the arts, adventure, wellness…anything that helps us to live a good life that also happens to be good for others, and our planet. To walk the eco-talk along the way. And to remain independent, that we might say what we think and never put our readership’s trust beneath considerations of the not-ultimately-so-Almighty Dollar.
Yours in the Vision of an Enlightened Society—
With thanks—


elephantjournal.com, elevision. 
*(I consistently found that our allies had confidence in me, and elephant, to pull it out—and therefore weren’t stepping forward when we needed them, preventing us from pulling it out).
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