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Written by Paul D. Race for Family Garden Trains

Why Start a Newsletter Now?

September 13

Since the early days of the Family Garden Trains web site I've been looking for better ways to keep in touch with our readers. I even published an e-mag for about a year. But I couldn't keep up with my own schedule and eventually dropped it when the "issues" kept getting further and further apart. (Most of the articles got incorporated into the Archives pages, in case you wondered.)

In April, 2006, we started a new Mailing List Signup page. A bunch of people have signed up to receive information about garden trains. In early August we started a "pilot" project, sending a few paragraphs of information to folks on our list to see what they thought. Response was good. So I sent out an expanded September issue a few weeks ago and response was even better. (In case you wonder, the October issue is queued up and ready to go when it is time).

The Family Garden TrainsTM newsletter is not an attempt to copy or replace anyone else's newsletter. As an example: unlike many newsletters for garden railroaders, we only discuss new products when we think they will change the direction of the hobby (and that's pretty rare). Instead, we focus on practical, hands-on ideas you can apply in your garden or workshop today to improve your enjoyment of your garden and railroad in the coming season. We are open to suggestions, of course. And if you wish to contribute any great ideas, we will pay you double what we get paid for writing this newsletter. :-) (Remind me again, what is zero times two?.)

Because the newsletter is much simpler than the e-mag we once attempted, I feel that we will be able to produce one good e-newsletter a month without putting ourselves on overload. So with the success of the second issue, we decided to go public and let some of the other folks who visit our site know about the newsletter so they could sign up too, if they wanted to.

That said, as soon as we went "public," we heard that another online garden railroading resource had decided to stop sending their newsletter free to non-paying customers. We understand that decision from a business standpoint, and those site-owners have every right to make that decision. On the other hand, we didn't want to come across as "opportunistic." After all, our newsletter was being circulated to our readers for weeks before we heard this news, and the purpose and content of the two newsletters is different, anyway.

So on my Mailing List Signup page, I added a very nice paragraph telling folks who are disappointed about being cut off of the other list to go ahead and pay the subscription fee so they can continue getting those updates as well as ours.

I have since taken that "verbage" off of the signup page, since it was just confusing most people. But I hope there isn't anything about the "free" aspect of our newsletter that confuses people.

By the way, some of our younger readers are wondering what the photograph at the top of the page has to do with newsletters and mailing lists. The doohicky at the right is a mail bag, strung up so that the folks on the mail car can grab it without slowing down. Many mail cars had a hook that you could extend as you approached the station (before that folks tried to grab it off with long, hooked poles, and that could get dangerous.) One of my children's strongest early memories of a model railroad was an elaborate Lionel railroad in the basement of the Masonic hall in Springfield, Ohio. On the day I took my children to visit, the operators kept trying to get the "automated" mail car to work. If it had worked consistently, I'm sure my kids would have got bored by the third or fourth time around the track. But there was a beautiful randomness to it all. Not only did you know whether or not it was going to work this time, but you had no idea how far or what direction the little plastic "mail bag" would fly if the doohicky didn't work. Sort of like writing even the most simple blog and waiting to see whose toes got inadvertently stepped on this week.

Back to the subject at hand, if you're curious about what the Family Garden Trains newsletter does and does not contain, why don't you sign up, too? I already have an "unsubscribe" page ready in case you decide you don't need to see it (so far that page has not been used).

Best of luck, all,

- Paul Race

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Return to Family Garden Trains Home page Return to Big Indoor Trains Home page Garden Railroading Primer Articles: All about getting a Garden Railroad up and running well Big Indoor Trains Primer Articles: All about setting up and displaying indoor display trains and towns. Garden Train Store: Index to train, track, and other products for Garden RailroadingBig Christmas Trains: Directory of Large Scale and O Scale trains with holiday themes
On30 and O Gauge trains to go with indoor display villages and railroads

Note: Family Garden TrainsTM, Garden Train StoreTM, Big Christmas TrainsTM, BIG Indoor TrainsTM, and BIG Train StoreTM are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications ( All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically forbidden.
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