Free Media vs. We the People.

Via on Sep 21, 2011

elephant is independent—and reader-supported, mostly. Ads do very little for us, and hopefully as we grow we’ll be able to work with only those advertisers who want what our readers want: a greener, fun, adventureful, ethical, uplifting, wakeful society.

But, for now, there’s some push and pull with advertisers. They want you. That’s right and fair. But we don’t want to use you. That’s not the way to have a long-term relationship. We’re fine to show you like-minded, useful offers from the kind of socially-responsible businesses we admire.

But it’s a point of pride, to me, that while we may be broke for now, we’re breaking even—and we’re doing so because of our astounding, voluntary reader subscriptions. Soon, that support might mean that we can pay some writers and (at least one or two) editors. We’re working it out, and having open-ended internal debates. But, for now, we are what we are: you. We’re not using you, we’re written by you, and volunteer edited by you, and shared by you.

And at the end of the day, and in 10 years’ time, our mission will be the same: to be of benefit. Yes, I and we want to make money, and be happily sustainable. “Abundance,” the yoga community calls it, is something to celebrate. “Poverty mentality,” as the Buddhists call it, isn’t a virtue. We can only change the world if we can show other businesses that ethics and be not only equally but more successful, because one’s customers or community will support your mission, and bottomline, both—avidly, actively, and longterm.

~

Mostly fascinating discussion re: the above image on Reddit, here.

About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | facebook.com/elephantjournal | twitter.com/elephantjournal | facebook.com/waylonhlewis | twitter.com/waylonlewis | Google+ For more: publisherelephantjournalcom

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17 Responses to “Free Media vs. We the People.”

  1. Debs Monaham says:

    Well if a site is making close to $100,000 a year and you don't have any costs or overheads e.g. no staff… when do you start to break even and start to make a healthy profit? But all power to the man. Elephant is still a business so all power to him for keeping it all running in his hard dark days!

    • elephantjournal says:

      We're doing much better since the paygate—we finally paid off debts we owed as a print magazine (we did well as a magazine, far better than online, but when I killed elephant because printing a national mag just couldn't be eco-responsible, after trying and failing to make it so for years, I lost staff, office, and allll advertisers—so we've been (diligently, I might add) paying off debt slowly since going online 3.5 years ago.

      Wow. This comment section has turned into a bit of an inquisition on elephant, which is open and, yes, broke, and, yes, doing better and, yes, will hopefully do very well down the line, grow and become a first-tier media outfit that brings an uplifted, trouble-making voice to the national and local and international discourse, just like Jon Stewart (who makes ka-millions, nothing wrong with that)…only far less funny and brilliant.

      Thank you for your kind and critical comments. ~ Waylon

  2. elephantjournal says:

    Same old tune because media, done in eco-responsible manner, is a dumb business—there's far easier ways to make money. Thanks.

  3. elephantjournal says:

    Via Lynn on http://www.facebook.com/elephantjournal :

    What is elephantjournal.com? "For now, we are what we are: you. We’re not using you, we’re written by you, and volunteer edited by you, and shared by you." ~ Waylon Lewis What is elephant to you? (intro/link via Lynn H.)

    Rebecca Apone A place to be elevated and humbled. Love the yogis. BE

  4. Pamala says:

    Oh wow, is it true according to the link above that you live in a $800,000 home? No wonder you can't afford to pay your writers and editors. Maybe you should move into cheaper digs if you are telling the truth about paying them. Just saying.

    • elephantjournal says:

      The average home in Boulder is above 550,000, or was a few years ago when I read the stat. I live in a house that I've fixed up, ecofied, it's solar powered, and it has appreciated. It's also our home office. I bought it for substantially less than the number you quote. Thanks for making my life your business!

      • elephantjournal says:

        My response to Nathan and Tammy's comments re "my wanting more and more money!"

        Nathan, Tammy, now you're just getting gossipy and personal. How would you like us to go through your finances?

        I bough my home, my first home, with no family money, after working on elephant and other jobs for 6 plus 5 years…I don't own a car, I bike everywhere, my house is solar offset (uses almost no electricity)…and my interns and Lindsey have worked out of my home, first floor, for years, saving me on expensive office space.\

        Oh, and Tammy—I regularly have about $500 – 2000 in my account, have never traveled (always worked), work 7 days a week and 10 hours or more a day (and enjoy it, for the most part), and am trying my mom (not neeearly enough). "Never enough money?" Hah. I do hope to do well by doing good, but I'm not there yet. I grew up with nothing—it's the American dream to start your own gig.

        Not that any of this is any of business, or worth responding to—but I've had some respect for Nathan, though he ignored my personal email when he last criticized me/elephant.

        Okay, back to work.

        • Mat says:

          Not sure if you will get this so CC my reply to jamie (below): This is not about grand ideas about "Free Media" or "The People". If you look at how the whole thing is legally structured I think the title of this post should be: "Waylon vs. the over-composed elite". Compare: http://yogawiki.co/Main/AYogaBook/WhyContribute. The model is broken. How to fix? If Elej wants to put money where its mouth is – Waylon Enterprises LLC should convert to an L3C company. Until then – the suspicion surrounding motives and outcomes will always be there – no matter how many solar panels you install at your private residence and no matter how many months you get behind with your mortgage payments. So Get To It. End Of.

  5. Jim says:

    Good luck!

  6. Brandon says:

    You profess to be open to dialogue and yet you delete the link above to an article critical of your blog. Sounds like you want to control information just like the main stream media. Just saying.

  7. Mat says:

    This is not about grand ideas about "Free Media" or "The People". If you look at how the whole thing is legally structured I think the title of this post should be: "Waylon vs. the over-composed elite". Compare: http://yogawiki.co/Main/AYogaBook/WhyContribute. The model is broken. How to fix? If Elej wants to put money where its mouth is – Waylon Enterprises LLC should convert to an L3C company. Until then – the suspicion surronding motive will always be there – no matter how many solar panel he installs at his private residence and no matter how many months he is behind wih the mortgage payments. So Get To It. End Of.

  8. elephantjournal says:

    Many of the ads are sponsorships or deeply discounted. Yoga Journal charges something like 30K for a single page. Ads usually bring in anywhere from 2K (bad) to 14K, our best, per month, depending on when we collect. We've actually cut down on ads by 50% and as we continue to grow will hopefully get to the point where we only feature a few select mindful sponsors…less is more.

  9. elephantjournal says:

    Thanks, anonymous. I was in foreclosure a year ago…no danger (yet) of me or anyone raking anything much in. We do plan on doing very well through/by doing lots of good—the two have to be conjoined. That said, we need staff–editors, web design. I pay my mortgage for my home (which the bank owns) barely each month—I was just behind two months in payments. You say you're tired of hearing about how we're poor, but think we're raking it in—so I have to tell you where we're at. Please don't continue to reward our transparency with doubt and "raking it in" and "tired of hearing you complain" comments—that's the kind of comment that encourages businesses to stop being transparent.

    Yours,

    non-anonymous Waylon

  10. elephantjournal says:

    I agree, sir. Thing is, I bought my home with nothing down, no family support. I don't own it, the bank does. I grew up in Boulder, and wanted to be able to invest in a home and start a family, some day. Getting a home downtown enabled me to work as a home office (instead of renting an office, saving me money) and get rid of my car (good for health, sanity, environment, saves me money). I kinda can't believe I'm defending this…I've been at this 50 + hours a week, 7 days a week for years, as anyone who knows me can attest. Like I said, there's far easier ways to make money.

    All that said, my mom's a teacher—she's never made good money—so hats off to you, it's the noblest of professions. Being able to support my mom is a great driver for my hard work and lack of travel since well before college. ~ W.

  11. Jim says:

    Hey, no need to defend yourself. At least not to me. Times are tough, people get sensitive about $$$. I wish you the best. You got rid of your car, that's more than I can say…

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