By Emily Woodbury
f you only knew how many emails we receive in a day. Most are from readers—your questions, suggestions, requests for information, news tips, and article ideas. We love hearing from you. But we’re also inundated with annoying emails like the one below. The emails include lots of spam, lots of “sponsored guest post” requests (ugh) and lots of “Put a link to my website on RVtravel.com and we’ll send you money” bribes.
If only we wanted to “sell out.” If only! Renting our email list, for example, would bring us thousands of dollars for about 20 minutes of work.
We could make so much easy money! We could publish “sponsored guest posts” left and right all over our website (like so many other RVing and other websites do). Hucksters from around the world want to pay us to post their self-serving, terribly written, usually spammy articles (many written by artificial intelligence like our Johnny Robot).
Should we be honored?
I suppose, in one way, we might be honored: All the attention means we have such an impressive audience (that’s you!) that people around the world realize peddling their schemes would be good for their business.
But we’re not honored. It’s annoying. Leave us and our real, talented writers alone! We’re just a small group of humans here doing the best that we can, trying to deliver quality information to you. And guess what? We still put educating and entertaining you ahead of grubbing for easy money.
An email we don’t like!
Below is an email we received recently. We’ve removed some information about the company because it’s not important. It’s the message that matters. It’s like others we receive each day.
The email (unaltered) says…
My name is Michael _____, and I work for _____ as an Associate Consultant. We are conducting market research in the RV World, and would like some input from you.
We are looking for subscriber lists to send out surveys, and my questions about these surveys are below:
1. Do you have access to your subscriber lists? If so, how many subscribers would be on the list?
2. Is the list up-to-date?
3. Will you guys sell the lists? If so, how much would it cost?
4. If you guys sell, and we move forward with our project, how long would it take to process the list once purchased (i.e., if we purchased the list how long would it take for us to access it)?
Let me know if you have any questions, or if you wanted to call to discuss further, my number is below.
Why would we rent or sell our list?
Our database currently stands at about 100,000 active subscribers. Even though Michael is using the word “sell,” what he wants is to rent a third party’s email list (ours in this case) for one-time use. Some companies—and many, we should note, are totally legitimate—may ask to rent only part of our list, for example the subscribers to our Full-time RVer newsletter. Perhaps they have a product of special interest to full-timers: mailing to our readers would be a logical way for them to reach a good chunk of them instantly.
A typical ballpark, perhaps even lowball, email rental rate is about 15–30 cents per contact (subscriber in our case). That means if we were to rent our entire contact list to Michael, we might receive anywhere from $15,000 and $30,000. For ONE TIME! It takes a long time for us to earn that money other ways, and we work a whole lot harder doing so than simply exporting an email list and sending an invoice.
But here’s the thing. We made a pledge 21 years ago, when this newsletter began, that we would never sell or share our readers’ personal information with outsiders. And we never have and never will.
Which comes first … money or people?
So, no matter the pressures from the outside world, your email address and any other personal information you provide us is safe. I promise you that.
Why do I even spend time telling you this? I feel compelled, I suppose, to remind you that we are not just about making a buck by publishing marginal, even spammy content, just for money. As a business, you need to choose where your loyalty lies: people or money. So much of the Web today, it seems, is focused more on money than serving its audience in the best way it can. We’re proud to be among the latter.
Finally, a short pitch: We rely heavily on our donors (thank you!) and a relatively small amount of advertising too fund our business. So while earning $15,000 or more renting our email list can seem like an easy way to earn extra money, it isn’t even on our radar.
So sorry, Michael _____. We’re not interested.