Waylon’s Year In Review.

Via on Dec 23, 2012

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CEO’s Year-end Report to the Board: (You).

We don’t have a board. We’re independent. We had a few tentative offers to sell out, and I (barely) refused them—indie media is a dying breed, and I cherish it.

denver post lifestyle waylon lewisLeft, Right, Above, Below: Some Photo Highlights of the year: a profile in the Denver Post focusing on elephant as a reader-supported new media success story. Waylon’s appearance at SXSW with Where is My Guru, hosts; Seane Corn, Vikram Gandhi. The resumption of our fun, informative Walk the Talk Show. The assembling of an inspired, caring, independent staff; and teams of apprentices from all over the world. Lindsey, Kate, Bri, Lynn, Bry, Bob, others…what’d I miss? ~ ed.

We were a print magazine for six years, growing & making good money toward the end, with a staff and an office and all that. We then jumped online when we failed to find a way to grow in an eco-responsible manner. Many of you have heard the story before.

This was our first year online when we made money. I’m reporting to you, because we don’t have a board, so you are in effect our board. While we became fully sustainable, this year, and are able to pay a strong, fun, caring staff, we’ve struggled where it counts most. In the past, we’ve grown 300% a year in online traffic, according to Google Analytics. This year, because of Facebook’s monetization changes, we couldn’t keep up with the big boys, so while we succeeded in growing overall we lost readership via our main Facebook Page, formerly 60% of our traffic.

So we were forced to get more accessible and fun, which I like, but at the expense of quality, nerdy editorial, the kind that our readers tend twaylon lewis shorty shortso ignore, but rightly complain about when they find it missing. And despite our increased accessibility (a good thing), and despite paying for a passionate, skilled, caring staff, we’re struggling to come out at 1,000,000 readers this month.

Photo: from Waylon’s 38th, Redford’s 5th, and elephant’s 10th, a benefit for New Era Colorado hosted by Congressman Jared Polis.

Too many times, this year, there were articles of juvenile spirituality by yoga newbies who sounded as if they’d gotten drunk surfing Rumi quotes on Pinterest. Too many times, this year, I blogged fun videos that I love (while connecting them to our mission, “the mindful life”) instead of doing an original interview, which takes energy. After 10 years, I’m exhausted. Too many times recently, we’ve blogged up sexual posts without enough of a point to them. I’m fine with sex—so are you—in fact, I’m a fan. But everything we touch we have to bring back to waking up, to compassion, to mindfulness, to some sense of humor about ourselves. What are we offering? What’s the point of all this? It better not just be noise. God knows there’s easier ways to make a right livelihood than new media, and god knows the world doesn’t need more blahblahblah. seane corn waylon lewis yoga

Waylon and one of his dearest elephriends, Seane Corn, at Tadasana, which was a total bust for us.

So, I’m disappointed. That said, we’re learning and adjusting. I’m reading mindful business books, trying to refind my entrepreneurial inspiration now that I’m no longer fired up merely by “making it big.” We’re going to be paying writers for quality and for sharing their posts, this year. We’re going to be featuring our quality posts up top on our home page, not just our Popular posts. For those writers who are consistent, even if they’re not Popular, we’re going to feature them in a new section on our front page. We’re training a new team of apprentices from all over the world to learn social and new media and journalism ethics. At a million readers a month, making decent money (though not 1/40th, I’ve calculated, as our less advertising-choosey peers—yes, we have a lot of ads, but they’re “mindful,” “indie” ads for the most part—not alcohol and auto ads). waylon lewis lindsey block wanderlust festival

Waylon & longtime elephant believer, leader and friend Lindsey Block at Wanderlust Festival, where Waylon led meditation and gave a talk about…I forget. Do we have the video?

So all this is to say: Dear Board, we took care of business this year. We now have a passionate team. We have rich history, and a well-known brand. This year will be about quality. About growing to 10 million, and beginning to reach beyond the choir. Help us to do so. Invite a friend to subscribe to our free weekly newsletter, with free articles (no paygate). Or write an article. Share a photo, or a video, or a poem. We may not have the kind of money that the many corporate “spiritual” or “yoga” or “green” brands do…but we have you. Because our readers are our writers, and I, the founder, am only giving my years to this in hopes that, together, we can be of benefit, and have some fun doing so.

Yours,

Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, editor-in-chief, host

Click here to follow @waylonlewis of elephant on instagram.

 

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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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8 Responses to “Waylon’s Year In Review.”

  1. Happy Holidays to you and Redford, Waylon! Thanks for letting me be part of the team – and for blogging those fun videos, that I would have been too lazy or uninformed to find on my own..! :D

  2. Linda V. Lewis says:

    Bravo Waylon. You've defied the odds and the doubters–with an amazingly successful, indie, on-line mag, which presents various views on so many topics! You also make hard work look fun! But I do hope you have a relaxing holiday! Your biggest fan-mom!

  3. Edie says:

    Great post, good to know all this, am honored to be a part of this. As I say again and again: I love the writing, the editing, the community, the learning…the whole thing. You provide an amazing opportunity for any who want to step up. A few of my friends/neightbors/students are now subscribing….Yay!!! Keep on keeping on….Sending a virtual hug and a quiet prayer your way.

  4. I think there's an important question you should ask yourself about your "sexual posts": is this post helping readers to be more peaceful, compassionate people? If the answer is no, you can ask yourself another question: is this effective beat-off material?

    • elephantjournal says:

      Agree on both points, as always, good sir! Left you a longer, but no more meaningful reply on my personal FB page, where you originally left something like the above. Good day to you sir! Love your articles and comments. I owe you another trip to Sherpa's!

  5. [...] And here’s to you. It’s been a good year for elephant—we’ve [click here for Waylon's Year in Review—boring-to-most, fun-for-some]. [...]

  6. [...] been a good year for elephant (read Waylon’s Year in Review) and, as a community-created, editor-curated site, we owe much of our newfound stability to our [...]

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