March 25, 2010

elephant declines generous investment offers, remains independent media, takes loan, has 2.5 months. Reader Link model.

elephant has a three-month runway.

elephant “sticks to its guns”

we’d rather go broke or bust than lose independence

Rejects four offers for investment, including one awesome one

Takes 3-month loan

To launch new model for independent media and paying our writers in one week


Over the last few months we’ve received four offers of investment, one I was interested in. The offers were significant, and would have enabled me to become a nice upper-middle class boy overnight, save my house, buy one Tesla in a different color for each day of the week and snort organic coke ’til the cows come home. I decided against three of the offers easily, and against one of them two weeks ago (a week later, I heard from them that they, too, were going to invest elsewhere). They wanted more control than I was comfortable with.

So, two weeks ago, I accepted a generous if modest three-month loan from a mentor of mine. This gives elephant, literally, three months of life, and enables us to remain independent. At which point we will

1) have staffed up and continued our remarkable success editorially—our traffic is now at 175,000 unique readers a month, we won the national Shorty Award for twitter content in #green, and our Facebook Page is 33% bigger than, say, the awesome well-established and national Dwell Magazine. Also, I was nominated as one of four ambassadors for Treehugger’s Best of Green. Treehugger is the biggest green media co in the world.

2) well, you know.

My plan, at this point, is

1) to sell what ads we can to like-minded sponsors. Given the Great Recession, and our move to online (which is where all advertising dollars are flowing, but still for the first year we had next to no traffic, so we lost 115 / 120 of our steady advertisers), advertising is not yet fully supporting elephant. This has been the broke-est year of my life, and that’s saying something, given my momma’s income when I was a child.

2) to launch our reader-link-sponsor model. Links will appear on just about every page of our entire site in three tiers. First tier link sponsors will get their logo, link for $108/week. Second tier sponsors will get their name and link for $108/month in a smaller font, with more sponsors in their group. Third tier sponsors will be our readers—you will get your name and link in a standard 12 pt font on every page of the site for $108/year ($9/month).

This link-sponsor model may be the future of journalism: if you love independent media, you can show it, and get recognized for showing it. Links are good for your google results. If you don’t have a web site, you can donate your link to your favorite non-profit cause or business. Links will enable elephant to become free of dependence on our advertisers—making our editorial truly, fully independent and worthwhile. Reader Sponsors of elephant will have access to lots of eco/yoga/Buddhist etc goodies of your choice, including our organic cotton grocery/gym totes that read “I’m an investor in elephantjournal.com”

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, link sponsors will enable me to begin to pay our consistent writers based on performance, and raise our quality of editorial.

This model will launch in one week. If it works, elephant will walk on. If it doesn’t…well, we’ll focus on making it work.

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