It started raining early yesterday morning, and by about 4 a.m. it was really coming down hard. The storm lasted all day; sometimes the rain would ease up to just a sprinkle for a while, and then it would start pouring all over again. It was a good day to stay home and get caught up on paperwork.
I’d like to say that we’ve been so busy the last three months that I just haven’t had time to keep up, but the truth is that I’ve been lazy. And now I had a big stack of new and renewal subscriptions to put in our mailing list, as well as receivables to log in.
Since I couldn’t think of a good excuse to do anything else, and since I needed to send our updated mailing list to the mail service we’ll be using in Lexington for the new issue of the Gypsy Journal, I tackled that first. Like most tasks, once I got going, it actually went pretty fast, and I had the mailing list updated by early afternoon, then e-mailed it to Lexington.
I’ve noticed a couple of interesting trends in our subscription base. We have added new subscribers every year, but where and how they get their papers has changed.
A few years ago, we had a very large number of subscribers who used the Escapees Mail Forwarding Service in Livingston, Texas. In fact, more than all of the other mail forwarding services put together. Alternative Resources in Sioux Falls, South Dakota was a distant second, followed by other mail services such as FMCA in Ohio, Good Sam in Florida, and a few others.
Over the years, we have seen the numbers of our subscribers who use an Escapees address shrink by over 50%, yet many of those folks are still subscribers. Some changed their addresses to South Dakota (which we did a couple of years ago), some apparently no longer travel fulltime, because they now have a fixed address, and quite a few have switched to our digital edition. I don’t think that the Escapees membership is shrinking, and I have no idea what their mail service numbers are these days, but again, I don’t think they have gone down any.
Escapees isn’t the only mail service that we are sending fewer papers to these days. We used to have over 100 subscribers who used the FMCA, and now we’re down into the single digits. Many of those folks now use a fixed address, some have switched to other mail forwarding services, or subscribed to our digital edition. Our numbers with Alternative Resources, Good Sam, and other mail services haven’t changed all that much. I think Alternative Resources is up somewhat, and the others are about the same.
We introduced our digital edition about eighteen months ago, and it has been very well received. The numbers of digital subscribers is growing all the time, and now we actually have more digital subscribers than we do using all of the mail forwarding services combined. That makes sense, because they are mostly fulltimers who want to reduce the amount of printed matter they receive.
We do see a lot of folks subscribe with a mail forwarding service, try the fulltime RV lifestyle for a year or two, and then go back to a sticks and bricks address. Age, illness, and in a few cases finances, are sometimes factors in this decision. And from the start, many of these folks only planned to fulltime for a given amount of time before they settled down again. Others have found that fulltiming just wasn’t for them. A lot of them still travel by RV; some are snowbirds, and some tell us they are armchair travelers these days.
Of course, we have had quite a few subscribers who told us they only planned to travel for year or two, and five, ten years or more later, they’re still rolling down the highway, enjoying the gypsy lifestyle.
Gee, the things I learn about my own business if I stay home and work on a rainy day!
Thought For The Day – Remember at all times that “listening” isn’t the same as “waiting for your chance to speak.”