Today is a big day for me. It probably isn’t a big day for you, but it is a big day for me.
On this day, 40 years ago, the first issue of Remnant Review was mailed to subscribers. It was a technologically primitive newsletter. Most newsletters were, back in 1974. You can download it here.
I still publish it once a month, as you can see. Back then, I published it every other week. When it started, it had four pages. It grew to six pages. It grew to eight pages. Then, beginning early in this century, I ceased publishing it in paper form. From then on, it varied in length in terms of digits. There is no particular length for the issues.
I had left the Foundation for Economic Education in March 1973. I joined Ron Paul’s staff in June 1976. So these two years constituted my breakthrough. I began to escape the golden manacles of a salary. My escape came in the fall of 1979. After this, I was self-supported. I was a full-time entrepreneur. That began in the months leading up to May 1974.
A gold coin salesman and newsletter publisher named René Baxter persuaded me. I was attending an economics conference in early 1974. He asked me this: “Why don’t you start a newsletter?” There were lots of very good reasons, but I didn’t know them at the time. (Baxter soon joined the tax revolt movement, and he disappeared from public view.)
On May 15, 1974, my wife and I sat at a table in a rented house in Long Beach, California. She had typed names and addresses on sheets that served as masters for Avery peel-off labels. I got these photocopied at a local print shop. This was before Kinko’s.
I had about 300 free trial subscribers, as I recall. Then I converted about 20% of these to paid subscribers. But my memory is vague here. I may have had more than 300. I may have converted more than 20%.
I could not have guessed that, five and a half years later, I would have 22,000 subscribers at $60 a year.
I had begun writing for money nine years earlier. I wrote book reviews for the Riverside, California Press Enterprise. Less than two years later, my first nationally published article appeared in The Freeman. You can read it here.
I did not think about how long I would be publishing the newsletter. I just wanted it to be successful. Had I known about the trials and tribulations of newsletter publishing in 1974, I would not have launched the venture. But it has worked out, all things considered. In retrospect, I’m glad I did it. But it was a good thing that I did not see in advance what would be involved to keep the publication going for 40 years.
Over the next 25 years, I learned direct-mail marketing. I learned book production. I learned about typesetting on microcomputers. I learned the World Wide Web. I might not have done any of this, had I not started the newsletter.
40 YEARS LATER
I thought it would be appropriate to offer a few thoughts regarding the nature of the battles we face. I had been aware of some of this since 1956. It took almost 20 years for me to make the decision to sell my thoughts on such matters on a subscription basis. I did a lot of learning between 1956 and 1974.
I have seen a lot of shooting stars in this business. I have seen people come and go. I have seen causes come and go. I have seen organizations come and go. This is normal. Most people do not start out as stars when they are in their 20’s, and then maintain this position until they retire half a century later. Most start-up organizations do not survive for five years. Of those that do, a century later there will be no trace of most of them. There is a constant winnowing process. This is liberty at work. This is the free market at work. Most things fail.
(For the rest of my article, click the link.)