Sunday, August 23, 2015

An Idea for the Dying Newspaper Delivery System in America

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Introduction to Post:

   Just a short intro here, this is an idea I shared with my District Manager for the delivery section of the Registered Guard Newspaper in Eugene, Oregon. August 2015.


No More Cheap Service or Product:


Here is an idea for Newspapers on how to deal with the declining market for the tangible product of the newspaper itself. This idea would increase money coming in and streamline the efforts the Newspapers are using to deliver the tangible paper to the customers in the areas they serve.

In general Newspapers are declining in their readership and in sales for the actual product. This means less money from advertisers. The competition obviously is the Internet, which is where people have gone instead of the tangible newspapers. Now, of course Newspapers have an on-line paper which they can ask for a subscription fee for- great, but what about this dying delivery system that is draining everyone involved and could prove the downfall of some Newspapers all-together? How do we fix this decline?

I have a simple idea which I will lay out as best as can here:

        • 1. Deliver the paper 6 days instead of 7
        • 2. 5 Major Holidays the carriers get off every year
        • 3. Monthly Subscriptions for 26 papers (four days aren't being delivered: Tuesdays let's say) would cost $40
        • 4. Carriers would be required to purchase a hat, shirt, a hoodie/sweater, and a windbreaker/coat. Carriers will wear one item to identify them as a Carrier, as well as every carrier will have three magnets on their car (both doors and back bumper).
        • 5. Every carrier would be advised to carry a taser for protection

Number 1.Deliver the paper 6 days instead of 7,

This is key for making this a decent job, the carriers simply have to have a day off a week in order to not suffer from burnout- or get paid well enough to hire a sub. This idea does both, which means they can either hire a sub or tough it out with only one day off a week.

I would suggest Tuesday is not delivered, but doesn't matter as long as it's not one of the weekend papers. The percentage of customers who would complain and not get paper would be less than 10% I believe, and when explained to them it's so carriers can have a day off then they will likely agree to it.

Number 2. 5 Major Holidays the carrier gets off every year

This is important too, who wants to deliver papers on Christmas morning? If this job is to become a decent job worth keeping then this has to change. Customers don't need their Holiday paper delivered, I would guess rather they would rather their carriers get the day off to spend with their families. If a customer wants the paper bad enough then they could go to an open market and get one.

Number 3. Monthly subscriptions for 26 papers (four days aren't being delivered: Tuesdays) would cost $40.

Now the break down of what this $40 goes to is as follows:

$30 Is the full fee for the Newspaper for 26 days

$ 9 Goes directly to the Carrier

$ 1 Goes to District Managers and Dock Crew as bonus every month divided evenly

So, that is the $40 package for full monthly Newspaper delivery. Also included in the subscription is the on-line subscription and a tube or clip.

Let me take a moment here to explain this part of the equation, because this is the key to the whole idea in the first place. I want to explain why charging more for the near daily delivery of the newspaper is well worth $40 to many people. Yes, there will be many people who decide it's too much and stop their subscription, but in my estimation about 60% of subscribers will continue and they will be the stalwart customers of which we can expect little variations. Really, the 40% of those customers who we lost are mostly those who don't appreciate the paper, are getting a near free paper they usually don't even read, weren't going to pay anyway. Basically, you retain the serious lovers of the Registered Guard Paper, which we should say is a special product of which one should be appreciative to get delivered to their front door 6 days a week.

That's the key, changing the mind set of customers and those who work at the Registered Guard, into thinking of the Paper they create and distribute as a special product of which people should be appreciative they have access to. In reality, the Registered Guard is a very important player in the area of which it covers which is a large part of Oregon. The Paper is not a cheap product everyone should get for free- instead it's a valuable product which provides valuable information to the area.

Also, customers should be told and understand the impact the Registered Guard has on the community. Let's give them the numbers of people it employees, how much it gives back to the community, how many subscribers, how many people reading, the benefits of subscribing and what people are supporting.

The point here is to sell people not only a product in the Newspaper only, but a pillar of the community of which treats it's employees very well and supports the local community around the customers in many ways! This is what will also add allure to the product itself. Them knowing all of this and that their carrier is going to be a very content worker who is treated well...this is going to make that $40/month seem like less and less – cause let's just admit it, people generally have $40/month in most cases to spare for something useful...

If we can get people to pay $40/month for their Newspaper delivery subscription, then everyone gets paid for their efforts, and the whole culture around the delivery system will become an asset instead of an liability.

There is another added benefit for a customer to subscribe to the Registered Guard with Home delivery for only $40/month. This being the carrier who is delivering papers to your neighborhood 6 nights a week, is also serving as a security watchman for your neighborhood. Although they're not trained security guards or licensed, their mere presence in your neighborhood at the very early dark morning hours serves as a deterrent for thieves and criminals in your neighborhood. We also, advise every carrier to carry a taser or pepper spray for protection, and to report any criminal activity they see. So, although they are not trained or purposed to intervene in any criminal action, they can inform proper channels to have the crime resolved by the police.

The Newspaper carriers are also serving as security watchman for almost every neighborhood across the city every night. And, unfortunately, they generally get paid under min. wage for their efforts at security and delivery. This needs to change for everyone's benefit, and it could if people simply paid a nice low $40/month for their monthly delivery of the special Registered Guard Tangible asset.

One more note on this topic, when a person becomes a subscriber, they will receive a packet with the marketing materials the Registered Guard needs to make and have available. This packet will contain material which explains what they are investing into and what they are getting in return for their membership with the Registered Guard and receiving special morning delivery. They will also get to choose between a Tube or a Clip. I said membership for a reason, customers want to be part of something that has meaning and that matches their values in the community they live in. This can be the major selling point the Registered Guard has to offer. Getting this packet when they subscribe will help them understand how to go about complaints or reporting a missed delivery and on and on. Also, they could be given a flier that has the carrier that will be working that area. This could have their picture on it with the Registered Guard clothes on and their phone number. The point is to make this an event worth noting for people.

Finally, I simply believe people will pay more for home delivery than they are now, when they are shown the things I'm suggesting, then $40 is nothing for most people to spend on 6 day delivery. Many people don't respect the paper anymore the way they used to, they think it's a cheap product that has little value. The whole dying delivery system everyone is suffering from, doesn't help this marketability problem. The delivery of the tangible product of the newspaper is the only real direct connection the RG is going to make with the people in the community at large, so why is it done in such an cheap dying way? Be bold, and stop fearing the loss of some subscribers with a raise on the price, with the suggestions I've given the subscribers will increase and the best part is most of them will continue on for a long time.

Not only will the subscribers last for a long time, but the carriers will stay for a long time, the managers will stay for a long time. Retention will be up, cost will be down, income will be up, and everyone will feel better knowing they are working to make a product that is worth the price people pay and no less.

Number 4. RG Clothing suggestion

Since this is now a good job, carriers can now afford to pay $150 to get their clothing when they start- clothes can be issued out in part on credit for a months time. This will allow people to know it's a RG carrier, which is a good thing all around, for cops, robbers, customers, and the people in the neighborhoods we visit.

Number 5. Taser or pepper spray

This has to be a suggestion, but should be suggested at least. The carriers are better of in the city at night to have some modest form of protection. They also should be told to report any crimes they see , to their manager or the police.


This idea involves two major changes to the delivery system: charging $40 for full Monthly delivery 6 days a week, and giving the carriers Tuesday off every week and 5 Holidays a year. Although these may seem unchangeable, the truth is something has to change with the delivery system in general with Newspapers around the country. Why not do something innovative and set the pace for the reinvigoration of the Newspapers in the modern era with Internet being so accessible.

Some people are always going to be willing to pay a decent amount for the tangible good. Newspapers are always going to have a fundamental base of customers even with the prevalence of the Internet. People also want to help the community they are in, and if they can believe they are helping their community in the ways we show them the RG does, then they will happily give over $40/month for home delivery of the paper.

When the carriers are getting paid better (200 customers $9/month each = $1800/month Gross before Gas/Taxes/Wear on Car/Clothing/Supplies) then they are going to do a better job in general which will lead to better customer satisfaction! This will lead to customer retention and carrier retention. The carrier will get tips now and this will truly be a bonus instead of a way to maybe average min. wage that month.

Everyone is happier, and if the RG is getting paid twice what they were, then they could loose half of their customer base and still have the same income, plus they will have half the cost of delivering the papers. The routes will expand, the carriers will lessen to the chosen best, the cost of delivering will be cut in half with the same amount of income coming in at least!

No longer is the RG barely making it, another giant Newspaper going into decline and utter obscurity. Rather, the RG is an important pillar of the community that sets the trends and uses innovative ideas to better adapt to the modern times.

In my humble opinion giving out all these free papers every week is a mistake. I believe most people find them to be a hassle to deal with, and in the end it doesn't make them think well of the Registered Guard if they can associate the paper with the RG. I would say to stop throwing the free papers all-together and not putting as many in the Sunday, and raise the price on the advertisers do have when they are shown the raised opinion of the RG in the area. Although a free paper could be made available, it has to be much more specific in it's application to be affective in gaining a loyal readership.

It' my belief that through this vision, the RG would grow and become relevant rather than decline and sputter out in frustration from it's stalwart inability to change with the times. There is a crisis the Newspapers are having delivering their papers to customer across the land of America, so what is anybody doing about it? Wouldn't this idea change this trend and begin to make RG something even more people would love to invest into and be part of? I think so...

Friday, August 21, 2015

Writing Kindle eBooks Review After a Year

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What I'll be talking about is: writing ebooks for Kindle Direct Publishing; where anyone who wants to can write an ebook with relative ease. And, the best part is Amazon will pay you a good royalty for every sale. This post isn't a how to, but a simple year long review- sharing my thoughts on the experience of writing 7 ebooks for Kindle Direct. 

Overall the experience for me has been a complete bonus, a very rewarding endeavor I'm grateful to have the opportunity to try. I have always loved to express myself through writing, yet the actual work of writing sometimes tones down my work ethic towards the craft itself. This bit of immaturity in my writing is being challenged by writing ebooks. Of course, the blogs and other writing revenue sharing sites are a challenge too, but ebooks is more of a challenge. Your bigger works would be written in an ebook, more in-depth and even more creative. Not to mention the bigger possibility of making money. Of course we can't value our blogging impact by money figures, and for some blogging is a better platform to make money- nevertheless, for me ebooks has more potential to make money than blogging. 

   I've been writing my ebooks now for a year, the first ebook was published 11 months ago, it is called RV Living. This was simply a longer article I couldn't find a home for, so I used it to try Kindle Direct out not thinking I would really be successful even to get it to go through for sale. It did go up for sale and it has actually been the best seller of all the 7 ebooks I've written now! Kind of funny, cause some of the ebooks I spent the most time on and wrote the most in are the ones that were almost complete duds. I'm not one to pander to any audience though, I write what I feel God is putting on my heart. That doesn't mean it's always directly about God, but it's glory to Jesus all the time anyway. 

   There is a two month delay in payment, which comes at the end of the month deposited in my bank account. So, I've been getting paid for 9 months now. The total amount I've made from all my Kindle ebooks in 9 months is:

Total: $215

$23.89/ month

$30.71/ ebook

That is great to me, the best month I had was $59. Really the work I put in to make these 5k-20k word ebooks wasn't that great considering the payout it brings over time. I mean every month for years I'll get paid something from these 7 books, if any sale that month. It's great residual income, and all the money I've made is from ebooks that have simple covers I made in Paint. So, if a person were to write about a popular topic and have a professional cover then they could do very well indeed writing ebooks. I'm talking full-time living type money. For me, I have a buy and sell business on Ebay and Amazon, so I don't want or have the time it would take to try and make a full-time income from writing ebooks. I still think it could be done within a couple years with a full-time effort. And I'm talking authentic ebooks really written by YOU, not a Odesk worker who you pay $20. To each their own, but I love writing too much to sell my name off under someone elses' words. 

  I would like to get to where I can make a couple hundred a month from my ebooks, so I'm going to put more of an effort into writing each work day. I'm always writing, but the key is to focus it and direct it to the right place with the right mindset to make an ebook that's worth reading (and not too many mistakes grammatically). 

 The cost of my ebooks to buy has almost always been .99 cents. One time I changed some of them to $2.99 to get the 70% royalty, but soon changed it back wanting to sell more books rather. The other way to make money is through enrolling (simply check a box when publishing your ebook) in the Kindle Select Program. This means your ebook can only be sold through Amazon, but you get paid when a Kindle Select member reader reads any pages of your ebook. Those members get the select books for free, and we get paid about a half a cent for every page they read. So they read 100 pages then we get paid about .50 cents. This money is added to the money you make when outright sell a book. For me at .99 cents generally I get paid .35 cents, which is 30% royalty. If you sell an ebook for 2.99 or higher it's 70% royalty. 

If your looking to write ebooks, check out Kindle Direct. Go through the process, read the directions and go to Youtube for instruction videos when you get lost or confused. When you need help watch a YouTube tutorial and you will be fine. The hardest part about writing an ebook is learning to format the document from Office or Word to Kindle Direct. This isn't that hard through if you are willing to take a couple hours and watch some videos.Writing ebooks on Kindle is a great opportunity for the writer who wants to be heard and even make some money. There are also options Kindle gives to make your books available through audio or even a hard copy of the book itself.

   Hopefully this review of my first year was helpful and interesting. I likely missed saying some things, but I'll write some more posts about ebooks in the future. Hopefully sales grow and I can write something worth being read. For now, goodbye and God bless. Subscribe to the blog or my Youtube channel for this blog called A Writer's Review.

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