Attention Plus Edition subscribers: I need to make some changes and would appreciate your input at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=FLpAmQgx6Ss1p7lFAL37yQ_3d_3d.
Here's the problem: the Plus Edition newsletters sent by e-mail every week have become too big.
The newsletter has grown! In fact, if printed, the latest weekly Plus Edition newsletter is 29 pages! That's a lot of pages for a weekly publication. I believe it is more than what any other genealogy publication produces PER MONTH.
Normally, I would suggest that having bigger newsletters is a good thing. However, the newsletter has grown so large that it is now creating complications.
The biggest problem is that the bulk mailing service I am using to send the Plus Edition newsletters to you in e-mail is now complaining that their e-mail servers cannot handle these large newsletters.
The bulk mail service I use assumes that most e-mail messages being sent by their customers are 10,000 bytes or less. That may be true for most e-mail messages, but not for this newsletter. This week's edition of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter was 288,000 bytes! Multiply that by the number of addressees, and you realize the problem. The bulk mail servers were never designed to handle messages of that size. It isn't the number of addressees that is a problem; it's the number of bytes being sent to each addressee.
I have already been paying some rather large fees assessed for being "oversized," but now the bulk mail service has notified me that my Plus Edition newsletters have been creating problems for their mail servers. Apparently, the mail servers crash with buffer overflow errors when I send the newsletter on Sunday evenings. In fact, the techs at the bulk mailing service suggest that I send shorter newsletters. Much shorter.
By the way, I presently pay more than $4,000 a year for the bulk mailing service. I have recently talked with a few other bulk mailing services to see if anyone else wants my business, but none are very keen on sending newsletters of this size.
I use a bulk mailing service because sending the newsletters directly from my desktop computer isn't practical. If I send them to a standard mail server such as my Internet provider's mail server, that server will crash from the load or else will block me after I send the first few hundred messages. Another mailer server, Gmail, limits its customers to 100 messages per day. Most other mail servers have restrictions as well. I have already been through that problem.
There is software available that sends directly to the receiving mail server, bypassing my ISP's mail server. However, that's the same software used by most spammers, and many mail servers have spam filters that will block all messages received from such software. If I used a tool like that, I expect that fewer than 50% of the newsletters would be delivered. Spammers may consider a 50% delivery rate to be acceptable, but I do not.
There are numerous side issues as well. Many of the receiving mail servers have spam filters that will not accept messages that are 288,000 bytes. As a result, some Plus Edition subscribers never receive their newsletters. Next, Gmail does not display the entire (long) message in the default e-mail viewer, and yet shorter messages display properly. Luckily, Gmail users can click on a link in Gmail to switch to a different viewer that does display everything. Finally, some AOL subscribers report that they cannot read the entire (long) newsletter even though shorter newsletters display properly. Yet other AOL subscribers report no problems. I am not sure what the differences are in AOL.
I am hoping to expand the Plus Edition newsletter even further: more authors, more articles, longer articles, etc. However, I cannot do any of that until I solve the immediate problem.
There are several possible ways to solve the problem. I don't like any of the solutions I have thought of and am hoping that a newsletter reader can suggest a better suggestion. Here are the solutions I have thought of so far:
- Write shorter newsletters, as suggested by the present bulk mailing service. I admit I don't like this "solution."
- Send DAILY Plus Edition newsletters. In effect, this takes the weekly Plus Edition newsletter and cuts it into seven pieces. Since each daily edition would be shorter, it avoids the problem with e-mail sizes. I don't like this for several reasons. First, I suspect that many people do not want a daily newsletter cluttering up their in-boxes. Second, it is more work for me. Third, the bulk mailing service charges by the number of e-mails sent and by message size. If I send seven times the number of messages, the prices I pay will go up and, of course, I would have to pass those expenses on to subscribers. I haven't done the math yet, but I am guessing that I would have to charge at least $29.95 for a one-year subscription, maybe more, in order to pay the increased mailing expenses. I'd rather find a solution that DECREASES expenses.
- The solution I am leaning to is to send a SHORT e-mail once a week that would simply list the titles and a short description of each new article published in the past seven days and then provide a link where the reader could read the entire newsletter online. The reader could double-click on this link, enter a user name and password, and read the full newsletter online in a web browser. Since I would be sending shorter e-mail messages, the problems with the bulk mail servers should disappear. If you would like to see how that would work, double-click right now on this: http://www.eogn.com/wp/thisweek.htm.
- I am open to any suggestions that YOU can offer.
Would you be willing to accept a shorter e-mail message that provides a link to the weekly online newsletter? Would you prefer daily email messages? Would you be willing to pay higher fees? (I think I already know the answer to that last question.)
I need your opinions and suggestions. I have created an online survey and would appreciate your taking a minute or two right now to offer your input. The survey I created also has text boxes for your input of new suggestions. To take the survey and to offer suggestions, go to: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=FLpAmQgx6Ss1p7lFAL37yQ_3d_3d.
Please note that the survey does not ask for your name, your e-mail address, or any other identifying information. Your answers will remain completely anonymous.
I will collect the responses eight days from now and then will make a decision as to how to proceed.
Thank you for your time and your thoughts.