Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The perks of being a LEP-flower

Is it just us or does it seem as though there are a lot of penpal clubs popping up these days? This just means that more and more people are interested in letters and penpalling, which is awesome! Viva la snail mail, right? Each letter and postcard matters, especially when it unifies and connects people all over the world.

So, with all the penpal clubs out there, why be a member of the League of Extraordinary Penpals? What makes the League of Extraordinary Penpals unique?

The perks of a club with paid membership

Well, we may be biased here, but we think LEP is unique because it has the best group of snail mailers—bar none—on this planet. (Seriously, they're AWESOME.)

In addition, LEP is exclusive. We chose to make LEP a "club" in the traditional sense—membership fees and all—because we wanted LEP to be a closed-group of really passionate letter writers.

Ironically, LEP's exclusivity is why it's so inclusive; having a closed-group contributes to the open nature of the LEP group. Within the LEP community, members are supportive and inspirational and they don't have to worry about sharing private information about themselves—even their addresses—because they know that they're among friends.

The Internet is full of trolls—go on any free website and you'll find pages and pages of inane and complaining comments from people who happened to come across that page. There's none of that drama at LEP. Everyone there is happy to contribute, happy to share, and happy to support one another.

And why?

Well, because they're great. And also because they really want to be there and have such passion for snail mail. Do you remember being a kid and loving something so much that you paid money to be part of that thing's fanclub? Would you purchase membership to a club if you didn't love what that club represented? I mean, I joined the New Kids on the Block fanclub as a kid because I loved NKOTB and was going to marry Joey McIntyre (Super Sushi joined the Madonna fanclub, though she didn't intend to marry Madonna). I wouldn't have forked over my allowance back then if I wasn't a diehard NKOTB fan (unnecessary disclaimer: I never married Joey Mcintyre. The timing was just never right). Similarly, we really wanted members who loved snail mail as much as we do—and each of LEP's members more than qualifies. In fact, their passion for all things paper is a constant inspiration.

Why charge a membership?

Some people may believe that we choose to charge membership because we don't have passion for snail mail, that we're simply in it for the money. But I think the goal of any working adult is to love what they do for a living. Julie and I love snail mail. So much so that we want to do it as an occupation. It's misguided to think that people need to prove their passion and love for something by doing it for free. For example, are artists not passionate about art because they sell their paintings? Do singers not love singing if they get paid for it? No. People have bills to pay and obligations to meet and unfortunately, passion alone doesn't put food on the table. (In fact, if you take a look, many "free" websites and clubs accept donations/sponsors or charge for an "upgraded" membership, which is also another way to generate revenue. They likely do so because they also have associated costs that come with pursuing their passion and passion alone doesn't keep a roof over their heads.)

So yes, we do make some money from LEP. But the operative word there is some. Can we afford a house of 23 servants and gold statues of our likenesses? WE WISH! But sadly, no. In fact, we make considerably less per hour of work than the average minimum wage; but even if that wasn't the case, we don't think it's unreasonable to want to make a few dollars doing something we love to do. Everyone just wants to be paid for doing something that they love, don't they? I mean, if I got paid to drink tea, I'd be a MILLIONAIRE by now.

The not-so-perks of a club with paid membership

Unfortunately, the problem with setting LEP as a paid club is that members lose access to everything LEP offers when their membership lapses. This not only includes the newsletter, it also includes access to the Facebook Group and the LEP clubs.

We understand that some members like the newsletter and others only get value out of the Facebook Group. But like all clubs, you have to purchase the membership to get full access to everything. For example, gyms don't typically allow former members to hang out in the steam room once they stop paying their membership; similarly, it's unlikely that members are allowed to only pay 10% of the membership fee because they only use 10% of the services. Like other clubs, it's all or nothing.

However, we encourage members to share their comments if they have suggestions for improvement or don't like how things are done. LEP is a new project and we're trying to make LEP the best penpal club it can be and we're always looking for ways to improve. If you have constructive criticism, please share it with us! We would never ever kick any members out of the club simply for voicing their opinions or criticisms. You could even say things like our handwriting looks like chicken scratch, that we smell like pee, or that it looks like birds live in our hair. We wouldn't be overly pleased, but you're welcome to your opinion!

Sushi and the Squirrel may have started LEP, but the club is only as good as its members. We think we have the best members of any club anywhere and we're so appreciative that you've joined us on this snail mail adventure. We hope you all stick with us until the end because it's been a lot of fun so far, wouldn't you agree?!?

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