Announcing: This Could Help

Today I’m launching a new subscription-based newsletter called This Could Help. I really think this could help you in some way. A way that will be useful, and valuable, and meaningful. Sign up today for only $5.00 a month. If you’d like to know more, you can read a bit about it here.

For the story on how it came to be, please read on…

It started, as many things do these days, with a simple post to a social network:

You see, I used to have a subscription based newsletter called Reflections that I really enjoyed doing. It not only helped me share sneak peeks and get feedback as I was writing my book, enough, but it also was a place where I felt obligated to deliver the most value to my readers. After all, they were paying me a small monthly fee for exactly that. Whenever money changes hands, no matter the amount, the obligation becomes higher. Even to this day, I feel like I can look back on that effort and be proud of both the work I did there and feel like my patrons saw the value too. I delivered.

Then Letter.ly, the service I was using to run the business and delivery end of the newsletter, abruptly shut down with very short notice. And, while there are certainly other services out there that I could have used, none were as easy to use — for either the publisher or subscriber. And, switching to something else meant a hassle for my patrons. So, I made the decision to end the newsletter completely. Not only was this an end to a way for people who value my work to support it directly, it was an end to work that they told me really helped them. It was heart breaking but seemed best at the time.

But I never forgot.

I would, occasionally, lament its closing and the lack of appropriate service to replace it. I did this hoping that someone, somewhere, would either point me to some other service I was not yet aware of or decide to build something like it themselves.

Well, just seven days ago, my friend Andy Parkinson answered that challenge. the new service is called HappyLetter and it’s perfect (at least for me and likely for others too). It does what no other newsletter service seems to do. It allows publishers to quickly set up, price, and launch a subscription-based newsletter. It allows subscribers to sign up easily and get billed monthly for that newsletter. It makes delivering that newsletter to those subscribers as easy as sending an email. It handles the business so the publisher can focus on delivering their best work and get paid for it. And, he built it all in a week and live blogged the whole process so that others could see and learn from the work.

I helped a fair bit with feedback during the development process but to go from nothing to private beta launch in only a week is an amazing feat that deserves a look all by itself. There is a lot there to learn about the choices one must make when building any web based service. It makes one wish all developers were so transparent about their choices.

So, here the plan. My new newsletter is called This Could Help. It is where I plan to deliver my best work. You cansign up today for only $5.00 a month. I will publish as frequently as I feel it is helpful (but will aim for at least once a week). My work here and in other places will become less frequent and often be an extension or replication of the work I am first doing there. Some of the work I do there will be part of the work I’m doing for my next book. My patrons there will get early access and opportunity to participate with feedback on that book. They also will get a free eBook copy of whatever future books I release as well as other rewards I can conjure up. They also will get priority attention from me via email. After all, money is being exchanged. The stakes and obligations are thus higher.

As always, I remain very appreciative of anyone who reads any of my work, paying or not. After all, as writers we are simply happy to be read. Anything else is a tremendous bonus. Thank you so much for being here and making me happy.

Of course, if you feel my work here has helped you, yet you do not wish to subscribe to the newsletter, you can support my work by a free will contribution of any amount. It is very much appreciated.

Unplanned

We plan our days. We set alarms to wake us, then hit the snooze. We show up to the job, then punch the clock. We make lists, then cross things off. We plan the work, then work the plan. We block out times on the calendar, then make the appointments. We look at the time, then punch out at the job. We pick up the kids, then get them to practice. We make the dinner, then get to the homework. We set the alarm, then turn out the light.

Even our vacations are driven by plans and itineraries. We get to the airport at one time so we can make the plane by another. We go to the city to see the sights or visit the person or do the thing.

But are any of these things the things we remember? Are these the things that stick with us or, ultimately, have meaning?

Or, is it the surprises? Is it the things that are not a part of the plan?

The day when the alarm did not go off and you did not wake on time. Or the meeting was cancelled and you now have an unexpected hour fully in your control. The day the kid got a broken arm at practice. Or the night you stayed up way past when you should have, talking and laughing with your partner. A night so fun you forget to set your alarm…

And what stands out from that last vacation? Was it making the plane on time or the one you missed? Was it making good drive time to the destination or getting lost? Is it that visit to the monument or that dance that seemingly broke out of nowhere in the middle of the square? Or that amazing meal you had in the cafe the local told you about that is not listed in some book?

My point being that the things that stay with us most are the things that are not part of the plan. Therefore, perhaps, we should leave as much room as possible for surprise. Plan the work, but leave space for the unplanned.

Items of Interest #8

Lot’s of stuff on my radar screen worth sharing…

If you have not seen the video of Mike Monterio’s barnburner of a speech How Designers Destroyed the World yet, you owe it to yourself to watch it. It is, perhaps, one of the most inspiring speeches about the power of design (and all creative work, really) to fundamentally change the world — and the responsibility that comes with this fact. Seriously, stop reading this and click that link right now.

Then, watch this video of Malala Yousafzai on the Daily show, the sixteen year old who was shot in the head by the Taliban for her fight to bring education to girls in Pakistan, give one of the most compelling argument for non-violence I’ve ever heard. So beautiful and wise coming from such a young person. Had me in tears.

Now that you have the inspiration you need, put some perspective on taking action at Live Consciously. Put in your birthdate and it will tell you how many months you have left to live your dreams (as well as to 50, 55, and 60 years old). There is also an option to receive this as an email reminder you can then get delivered into your inbox monthly. Life ends. Don’t wait to begin it.

I’ve really been enjoying reading with my little girl lately. The school she attends has a high focus on reading and, even in kindergarden, reading a book from the school library each night is part of her homework. Last night, we started reading Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman and Skottie Young. She enjoyed it so much she requested reading more of it this morning before heading off into her day. I’m enjoying it so much I gladly obliged. Smart, funny, and heartfelt. A fine addition to Neil’s growing canon.

I get lots of pitches in my inbox that are nice but, for one reason or another, don’t quite fit anywhere. Like…

These nice looking Leather Crochet Touchscreen Gloves by Mujjo.

… and Musio, a nice looking minimalist music player for iPhone.

That’s all for now. To the cloud!

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