For more than a decade, CleanTechnica has been moving markets. Our mission since day one has been to accelerate the cleantech revolution. We do our best to bring you the news that you can share with your friends to show them how awesome cleantech is, stuff that will motivate people to make good decisions for themselves and for our world.
Maybe you know all that. But it’s time I share my personal story to shine a little light behind the scenes here at CleanTechnica. I’m the founder of CleanTechnica, and currently serving as its COO. I’m just past middle aged. I have an MBA and five climate-saving startups under my belt, and spent a year doing sustainability consulting work for several Fortune 500 companies. I’ve raised more than a million dollars for my other startups, created dozens of green jobs, and arguably have done my part to help save this beautiful Garden of Eden planet we live on.
And I made about $30,000 last year. To say the media business is a tough one is an understatement.
I have only been able to do this work because I have been financially stable since my early 20’s. But the only reason I am is because my parents passed away before they could spend their retirement money. My dad died unexpectedly when I was 24, and he had a life insurance policy. I got a chunk of money from it, invested it in my first home, and have lived below my means ever since. My original business partner at CleanTechnica wanted to fire everyone, including Zach, even though he’d promised Zach equity to help get the site growing. His plan was to let Google search continue to feed the site traffic each month, winding down to nothing eventually but harvesting the residual advertising money from Google ads (which, at the time, was about $11,000 per month) — and use it as his funds to start something else. Had I not had the resources to buy him out of his share of equity, and then dig in and work for peanuts for several years, CleanTechnica as you know it wouldn’t exist today.
Zach, my business partner for more than 10 years now and co-owner of CleanTechnica, has also spent more than a decade working well below what he’s worth. The man has worked tirelessly to publish stories to help companies and people move their purchasing decisions toward a cleantech future, and to counter fossil-funded hit jobs against cleantech, not taking a full day off of work (including weekends) for about 13 years. We do it because we feel the need. We do it because we love it. We do it because we know it is effective. We do it because it helps calm our climate anxiety — the only balm for stress is “do something about it.” And we have. And so have countless others along the way: writers, editors, SEO specialists, IT professionals … we all do this because we have to do something about climate change.
The media business, today
As this company’s “business guy” (Zach being the creative genius who I support with sales, project management, and such), I keep an eye on developments in our industry. Media is a tough industry, but it’s been getting tougher and tougher. Here’s some info from a recent NYTimes article by Lydia Polgreen that I thought summed it up well:
“Last week, The Los Angeles Times announced it will reduce its newsroom staff by 13 percent, a month after the paper celebrated winning two Pulitzer Prizes. Last month, Vice, a company that once seemed like the invincible future of media, sought bankruptcy protection. BuzzFeed shuttered its Pulitzer Prize-winning news division. Insider slashed its staff by 10 percent this year; its journalists are currently on strike. Hundreds of journalists from Gannett, the once mighty local news company, also staged a short strike last week after years of staffing and budget reductions. We’ve seen deep cuts at the major TV and cable news networks. MTV News closed its doors.
“And last week, the pain hit close to home for me: Many of my former colleagues at Gimlet, the ambitious podcast studio where I worked from 2020 to 2022, lost their jobs. The pink slips landed shortly after the team won a Pulitzer Prize for an investigative podcast.
“The loss of jobs in any industry, particularly one as central to protecting our democracy as journalism, is always worrying. But what makes these losses particularly troubling is what many of these news organizations have in common: They sought to make quality news for the masses that cost little to nothing to consume.”
For those media outlets with a paywall, like the NYTimes, and enough subscribers, it’s a wonderful development to see them now free from any conflict of interest that can potentially arise from the traditional media business model. Did you know the NYTimes received more than $30,000 a week for a piece funded by big oil? For more than a decade? I’m glad they’ve seen the light and have found a business model that gets rid of that temptation. But the NYTimes is not the norm. The norm is that media outlets that are friendly to a particular industry (e.g., big oil) get advertising dollars from that industry. They use that money to recruit new audiences, and the result is obvious: people who don’t pay for news don’t understand climate change.
Polgreen continues, in the NYTimes piece: “It bodes ill for our democracy that those who cannot pay — or choose not to — are left with whatever our broken information ecosystem manages to serve up, a crazy quilt that includes television news of diminishing ambition, social media, aggregation sites, partisan news and talk radio.”
Here’s how you can help CleanTechnica
If you value our work, I’m asking you directly to please pitch in. We would love to have $5 a month from you to help us sustain our efforts and continue to fight climate change by accelerating the cleantech revolution. If you can afford it, if you feel compelled, we’d love you for it. If you can’t, that’s 100% okay. You can also help us by sharing our site with others whenever you feel compelled to do so.
In order of magnitude (big to small), here’s a list of ways you can help us. We thank you!
- Spend your company’s marketing dollars with us. We prefer to earn money the old-fashioned way. If you know the person who buys ads for your company, send them this link.
- Pitch in monthly, either via Paypal or Patreon. $5 a month from even 1% of our audience would set us free from having to run any ads we don’t want to run (like the default ads you see on the site that are served up by third parties like Google based on your browsing history). It would help catapult us to growth, which could only do good for the world.
- Subscribe. Join our daily newsletter, weekly newsletter, YouTube Channel, or the CleanTech Talk podcast. You can find links to all of these here.
- Share. Send a friend an article. Tell them that CleanTechnica is legitimate journalism, independent, not corporate owned, that aims to inform, educate, and entertain, with the goal of accelerating the cleantech revolution.
Thank you for reading. We’ll keep doing our best. Help us fuel that, and our best becomes even better. I’m fond of saying that if we had a nickel for every time we heard, “I bought my first __________ (fill in the blank with a clean technology purchase) because of something I read on CleanTechnica…”, we wouldn’t need to ask for money. Wanna help accelerate that action? $5 a month is all it takes.
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