161 days into my media subscription startup

A look at revenues, subscribers & strategy.

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Investor Update #3

Dear investors,

I have multiple exciting updates to share about my personal life that relate in part to your subscription of The Hatchet; but first, let's dive into the numbers.

After a blowout quarter earlier in the year (revenue up 119%) I've had to come to terms with a rather underwhelming 5% increase in total revenue this quarter. After losing two paid subscribers and gaining a few more, I am now at an email list of 1064, with 54 paid subscribers, 1 content partnership deal and a combined gross annual revenue of €6.179.

I've identified the lack of new revenue to be a direct result of my 4 weeks away from the company to onboard a new employee into my family: Oliver Julius de Haan.

I am immensely grateful that your support has allowed me to take valuable time off.

Major changes ahead

When I started on this project 6 months ago my plan was to create a financially sustainable startup by sharing interesting advice that I had come across during my career as a tech startup manager. I decided to follow this path, in part, because of my desire to build a product from scratch and become an entrepreneur myself. 

So far, these 6 months have been extremely rewarding. I’ve been able to write 18 articles, help 8 people with business challenges as part of the mentorship program, while also being able to take valuable time off to spend with my newborn son.

I’ve also learned a lot about how to run The Hatchet effectively, and now that the majority of my operation is up and running I spend about 8 hours a week sourcing, preparing and writing my newsletters. 

My plan had been to use the rest of my week to take on consulting assignments, because — let’s face it — a monthly recurring revenue of €515 isn't going to cover for the expenses my two sons manage to rack up at their young age.

Last week I decided to throw that plan out of the window though, because one of my subscribers made me an offer I couldn't refuse and I've taken him up on it.

Starting next month I will be abandoning my consulting plans to add a new chapter to my entrepreneurial journey, by becoming part shareholder and the CEO of a company called Squares. Squares recently won the Dutch Governments’ Startup in Residence challenge by launching an event platform that is helping clients like Microsoft, Tommy Hilfiger, World Forum, Siemens and KPN host digital and hybrid events.

This is a huge decision — one I haven't taken lightly — but some opportunities only come by once in a lifetime and this has every feeling of belonging to that category.

My commitment to The Hatchet is unwavering, but I have decided I'll need to make some strategic changes to how I run it in order for me to continue forward. More about that next after we review the performance of the last quarter.

Reviewing Q2 goals

Clearly I underperformed on the goals previously set, but let's take a look at the results any way to remind myself I need to make some moves next quarter:

  • Reached 81 out of 300 followers on our Instagram account

  • Reached 104 out of 500 followers on our Linkedin account

  • Decided not to launch a sponsorship proposition

  • Grew total email list with 32 instead of 471 subscribers

  • Reached 54 out of intended 75 premium subscribers

  • Reached €6.179 of €12.000 goal in gross revenue

  • On the bright side: I did deliver 5 articles as part of my content partnership deal; some of these are saved in the backlog as future editions you'll receive

There was an opportunity for me to renew the content partnership deal of Q1 and add an additional €2.125 to the gross revenue total, but I've decided to do syndication of articles on a case-by-case basis going forward because the nature of this deal allows me to write only about topics related to hiring/getting hired at tech startups.

I have a backlog of articles on that topic now and want to make sure I balance the newsletters out between content that covers other areas of interest too.

If you're a frequent Instagram-user you'll have noticed Lana's done a great job at populating our account with shareable quotes from our previous articles. It's a long-game, but Google Analytics is already seeing signups originate from the platform.

Setting Q3 goals & strategic changes

I'm excited to get back to work, but my new role at Squares will mean I need to make some changes to how I operate The Hatchet going forward.

Some strategic decisions I've made:

  • I've closed the mentorship program for new applications; next year I might just focus entirely on subscriptions-only depending on how I manage my week;

  • I really enjoyed collaborating/co-writing with a guest author, which is why you'll see a few more of those in the future — they are also a great way for me to delegate part of the workload to people experienced in domains I am not;

  • I've decided not to roll out a partnership or advertising model, because I simply won't have the time myself to set this up anymore — maybe in the future I can bring someone onboard to help take this to the next level;

  • I've come to terms with the fact that active sales for new subscriptions is going to suffer as a result of my new adventure — this is a choice I'm willing to make, given The Hatchet will no longer need to provide my primary income;

  • As mentioned earlier, I've decided not to continue my Q1/Q2 content partnership deal but instead, to present articles I've published for syndication on a case-by-case basis. If I happen to write something that matches the content my client is looking for then it's a win-win if I can provide a version of it for them too.

New goals for Q3 — a bit more realistic given all of the changes:

  • Reach 150 followers on our Instagram account

  • Publish two new co-authored articles with a guest author

  • Grow to a total email list of 1300 subscribers

  • Reach €7.500 in gross revenue

  • I'm hosting a keynote at sTARTUp Day 2021 to see if I can generate a meaningful number of new subscribers from this experiment