It’s been a long time coming, people. I’ve searched the internet high and low and considered many suggestions from my lovely bead friends for a free, easy to use mailing list program, but I kept putting it off. All I knew for sure was that I needed to be doing something differently – with over 500 subscribers, keeping the mailing list in an MS Word document and sending 9 emails to smaller batches of the recipients through my email program was not only time consuming, but probably not exactly kosher with the internet powers that be. Here’s the story.
We finally (seriously) looked into phplist a couple of weeks ago. We thought it might work, so we installed it… and it would have been less confusing if it were written in Chinese characters. Phplist is incredibly jarring for the average computer user, because essentially, the language the program was written in is extremely visible to the user, and the user is expected to manipulate the program in that language. If you want to use phplist, you really need to be able to understand the language, or you’ll be clueless. Mr. Sarah made the joke that all of its guts were hanging out. Imagine picking through three city blocks of .exe intestine to find a morsel of English. Phplist made me want to shake my computer the same way surgeons do to get all the organs settled back in before they sew ’em up. I know that’s a strange and gross analogy, but it fits. And it absolutely wasn’t going to work for me.
So, we figured we might as well try Dada Mail because it came recommended through our web host, and after looking at it, it’s similar to phplist, but friendlier to the average computer user. I’ve been diddling with it for over a week, trying to get the hang of things. I finally decided yesterday that I knew enough about how it worked to send the invitation to (re)subscribe. Enter the confusion. First of all, I thought I had added the special message about what all this meant, why everyone was being invited, blah, blah, blah – I even signed it. I sent a test message to myself to see how it looked. It looked just as I expected it to. So, great, I can send the message to EVERYONE. Hooray. Look at me, gettin’ stuff done, doin’ stuff right. Well, folks, evidently a test message is just a test – it means nothing if you’re going to do anything for real. After getting the invite, most people were able to figure out what was going on. So I thought all was well until one of them replied and asked me to update their email address. That’s when I noticed that everyone received the vague, generic (basic template) invite, with no personal message or explanation – so no wonder a few people were left scritching their melons. Even Mom was confused, and she’s pretty sharp.
The reason I had to invite/re-subscribe everyone is because of spam laws. Apparently, you can’t just add a bunch of people to a mailing list program and go to town, buy a dog, come back, and then go to town again when you realized you forgot the dog food. (that’s one of my favorite recent Mr. Sarah-isms.) There are rules because the spammers and vandals have ruined the internet experience for us decent people. So you have to CONFIRM your desire to be on a mailing list, even after subscribing that very same day, or knowing you’ve subscribed previously in a different format or program. It’s how it is. On my end, it’s better to let the mailing list software handle most of this business because it does everything right, lawfully adds/removes/confirms subscribers for me, and sends the mass mailings in smaller batches. Therefore, keeping the Internet Police happy.
I’ve been putting this off for years because I knew it would be a THING. I don’t believe this could have been any more annoying. But now that I’ve got the ball rolling in the right direction, I’m relieved. I also figured that this would weed out abandoned email addresses and people who might not have wanted to hurt my feelings by unsubscribing, or people who just weren’t getting my messages for some reason. I’ve also gotten a few messages from people who didn’t get yesterday’s invite, after I sent an explanation the old fashioned way this morning. So, who knows. I guess we’re giving it a try, and if it’s just awful, I’ll figure out something else. If you think you’ve been missed, drop me an email and we’ll get it sorted out.
I also redesigned the front page of my website, where you can find everything of interest in one place, including a link to my Etsy shop. That makes me pretty glad, and wasn’t nearly the hassle this mailing list business has been. Ah, the costs of doing business.
Thanks for reading!