By Chuck Woodbury
Thanks for listening to me a little longer.
Although I always try to be honest, I avoid being blunt. But I will do so now. I have published the RVtravel.com newsletter for about 18 years. For all that time, I have basically given away my work for free — my writing and hard work as a publisher. I seldom put in less than 50-60 hours of work a week and it’s been that way for most of the last 18 years.
I have observed Greg Gerber’s battle with his advertisers for the past few years. It was no surprise to me that he lost their support by being critical of them (always when they deserved it, in my opinion). I realize the same sort of pressure is always coming my way.
When I first started soliciting donations — voluntary subscriptions — from readers I questioned whether they would consider it begging. It took me a full year of thinking about it before I ever requested a “voluntary subscription.” I finally realized that if people believe in what you do, they will want to help if asked. And, to date, 4,300 readers have done just that. Some gave us $5 once and that was it. Thankfully, others gave more, with probably a quarter of them setting up automatic monthly payments.
But over and over, some people write to call us beggars, or worse. It’s an angry world today, and that sometimes really gets me down. It wasn’t like that when I started the newsletter in 2001. Facebook changed everything. It provided a platform for angry people everywhere to amplify their messages (and ignorance most of the time).
I confess to you that I am worn out after a decade of reading their sometimes vile comments. I have been called every name in the book when I even touched on a sensitive subject. The four subjects we try to avoid at RVtravel.com are religion, guns, sex and politics. But heaven forbid we even casually mention one of those topics, which does happen.
I’m 72 now, with nearly 45 years of writing professionally behind me. And, frankly, I am tired of giving away my work for free, often to people who don’t even respect my efforts. It so profoundly disappoints me that so many people today are angry. I sometimes ask myself, “Who am I busting my ass for when so many of these people don’t give a damn about me, my staff, or what we are trying to do to make their RVing lives better?”
The fact is, our “voluntary subscribers” are kinder and more open-minded, and they appreciate what we do. Many of them have become my friends. I like them — not just for their money, but for their support, understanding and common sense.
SO, STARTING SOON, my efforts will be focused on serving those 4,300 member-readers, not the other 74,000 who tag along for free.
We’ll keep the ad-supported newsletter going, and it will remain a valuable resource. But I am not going to bust my aging butt much longer for people who don’t care about us or appreciate all the good that we do to help RVers.
We got a letter just the other day from a reader who said, “You saved my life.” He said what he learned from us about RV electricity may have saved his life on two occasions when his RV had dangerous “hot skin” conditions. (You don’t think this is a big deal? Read this story later to see how a hot-skin condition can kill, not just damage electronics).
Mike Sokol’s all-volunteer Stray Voltage Patrol is now 500 strong, and at this very moment roaming around America testing power pedestals in RV parks to see if they are safe, and if not, alerting the campground managers. Maybe one day you’ll plug into one of those we identified and not blow up your RV’s electronics in the process. What other website goes to that extreme to help RVers, all at our own expense?
Okay, now I have vented. And let me say that I know there are those of you who need every dollar at the end of the month. The last thing I want is your money. If you need to watch every dollar to get by, email me privately — email@example.com — and I’ll put you on our donor list. And to those of you who shop often through our Amazon affiliate link (available in the blue bar at the top of every page), tell me and I will put you on our donor newsletter list as well.
And if you want to enter a voluntary subscription, you can do so here.
June 6, 2019