Since I am in the process of switching production from our antiquated Adobe PageMaker computer page layout program to the current InDesign program that most of the newspaper industry uses these days, there is a learning curve that I am trying to master.
That being said, I really don’t have much to write about for today’s blog, so instead, I thought that I’d post a blog on frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the Gypsy Journal. We get some questions over and over about how we produce the paper, and why we do things the way we do. Here are some of our most often asked questions, and an explanation of the whys and wherefores of how we do what we do.
Q. How do I know when my subscription is due to expire?
A. We send out a renewal notice with your paper two issues before it is due to expire, and again with the last issue before expiration. For subscribers to our digital issue, we send an e-mail alerting them when it is time to renew. There is also a number on the top line of your address on the envelope the paper arrives in. That number is the issue your subscription expires with. The issue number is always in our masthead, at the bottom right of Page 2. For example, I am working on issue 67, so if the number on the top line of your address block is 70, you have three more issues to go before you are due to renew.
Q. What does the letter C, G or R after my expiration number mean?
A. The C is a code we use to tell us you have a courtesy subscription (usually given away as a door prize at a rally). G means you have a gift subscription. R means you are a customer that has renewed in the past. You may also see a series of letters after the expiration number. LOW means you first subscribed at Life on Wheels, OW means you came to us from the old Out West newspaper, and TLR means you were a subscriber to Two Lanes Roads before that publication shut down.
Q. Why do you use different printers and mail houses around the country, instead of just having one place you use to print and mail each issue?
A. Because we travel all of the time, and because we always print several thousand extra copies to pass out at rallies and RV parks, shipping those extra papers to wherever we may be would be both expensive, and cause travel delays that we can’t afford.
Q. Why don’t you just go to an all electronic format instead of a printed publication?
A. While we do have a digital issue available, the great majority of our readers tell us they want the printed format. I’m a dinosaur who loves the feel and smell of ink and newsprint. Besides, it’s too hard to carry your laptop computer to the bathroom.
Q. Why don’t you have very much outside advertising in the Gypsy Journal?
A. I have sold millions of dollars worth of advertising in my newspaper career, and even though I’m pretty good at it, I hate sales. I’d much rather spend my time searching out new things to write about. Also, when you have advertisers, they sometimes want to dictate what a publication can say. I’m too stubborn for that. If I think a particular product is junk, I say so. Not many companies want to spend their advertising dollars with a publication that may tell the truth about their products. If we could find an experienced, energetic salesperson, we would probably let them try to build up our ad count a bit, but we’re not trying to make a fortune, just get by, and our business model has worked so far for us.
Q. Why isn’t your telephone number included on your masthead on Page 2 so I can call you if I want to?
A. We do not have an established office; we run our business from the road. We check our e-mail several times a day, and we usually receive snail mail every week. Those are the best ways to reach us. At one time we did publish our telephone number, and it became a problem. We got calls at midnight when we were on the East coast from people on the West coast who were looking for a campground for the night and wanted recommendations. When we were on the West coast, we got calls at 6 a.m. from people on the East coast wanting to tell us about a funny sign they had seen and should include in the paper. It just became too much of a problem.
Q. Why do you have other websites, such as your Honor A Veteran or the Bad Nick Blog?
A. We have several websites, GypsyJournal.net, MotorcycleTravelOnline.com, Publishing4Profit.com, HonorAVeteran.com, and the Bad Nick Blog. I started them partly because they cover topics I am interested in and saw a need for, and partly for economic reasons. Each time someone clicks the ad links on our websites, we make a small commission. It all adds up to help us make a profit.
Q. What happened to your Today’s Hero Blog?
A. While I really enjoyed Today’s Hero, and it is still online, though I haven’t updated it in months. People just stopped sending in new nominations and I ran out of heroes to write about. I’d like to revive it someday if there is enough interest.
Q. Why is your main website GypsyJournal.net instead of .com?
A. The .com suffix was already taken when I started our Gypsy Journal website and the .net was the next best thing available.
Q. You seem to be going in a dozen different directions at once, between the paper, your rallies, speaking at RV events, and your websites. Where do you find the time for everything?
A. Everything in life takes some sacrifice, and one has to set priorities. In my case, I have given up dieting and exercise to squeeze in the extra time I need. Seriously, I’m pretty much a Type A person and I thrive on all of this. After a lifetime of publishing daily and weekly newspapers, having a deadline come around every two months is like a permanent vacation, and I need to fill the time.
Q. You do an Eastern and a Western rally every year. How about a third, floater rally, maybe in the Pacific Northwest one time, in the south another time?
A. This has come up before, and Miss Terry assures me that if I add one more event, she’ll be sitting under a palm tree on a beach somewhere when it happens. We can only stretch ourselves so far.
Q. I have all of your books. Are you going to bring out any more?
A. I have a couple written now that still need to be proofed and formatted. I hope to be able to announce them very soon. And there are several other writing projects I am also working on.
Q. What do you see in the future for the Gypsy Journal and for yourselves? Any long term plans to settle down someplace in the future?
A. Terry and I are both in agreement that we’ll continue to do just what we are doing for as long as we possibly can. We’re both in pretty good health, we’re having fun, and we’re happy. Why would we want to do anything else? As long as we can physically continue, and as long as our readers keep on wanting what we produce, we’ll be out here exploring America’s small towns and back roads, and writing about our travels.