[I sent this note to all 21,000 subscribers to “Mandarin Weekly” last week, and am posting here on the blog now, as well.]
Hi there. This is a very difficult message for me to write.
More than four years ago, I started to learn Chinese. I travel to China for work several times each year (teaching courses in Python programming and data science to high-tech companies), and I soon realized that being able to communicate with people there, in their native language, made my trips more enjoyable and interesting. I find the language (and culture) of China to be beautiful and fascinating. My daily 5 a.m. hour-long lesson helps me to start the day with a smile. And on each trip to China, I find that I’m able to read, speak, and understand more than before, which only encourages me to continue my studies. I hope to eventually be able to teach programming classes (my day job) in Chinese; while that day might be in the far-off future, it keeps me motivated and reminds me that long-term goals are achieved via many small steps.
Soon after starting my lessons, I began to learn as much as I could about Chinese — from blogs to books to podcasts. We’re fortunate to be learning Chinese at a time when such resources are abundant. But with so much to choose from, how could I know what was good or bad?
I decided that perhaps I could help others to sort through this overwhelming number of resources. The result was Mandarin Weekly, which has been published nearly every week for several years.
While the newsletter was free for subscribers, the servers and software I used to create it weren’t. I thus tried to find ways to pay for my expenses. My aim wasn’t to become rich making Mandarin Weekly, but to cover my monthly costs.
I’m afraid that I haven’t successfully turned Mandarin Weekly into a business. And so, the time has come to end it.
This isn’t because I don’t enjoy writing it — I do! — but because the time and money involved in producing MW each week are far greater than the income I’ve managed to receive. Advertising, affiliate links, and MW+ subscriptions together cover less than 10% of my monthly publishing expenses. When you add my time into the mix, the financial calculation is even less compelling. Even when, several months ago, I offered lifetime MW+ subscriptions for $15, only a handful of people responded. I’m not angry or upset, but I also cannot continue to lose money at this rate.
I appreciate the feedback and notes of encouragement that I’ve received over the last few years, from people all over the world. And I especially appreciate the sponsors, affiliate partners, and MW+ subscribers who helped to offset my costs, as well as offer excellent materials to a community of Chinese learners. Via MW, I’ve also managed to make friends in China, whom I get to see when I visit Beijing and Shanghai. That will obviously continue, long beyond the publication of this newsletter.
I should note that I’m offering a full refund to any MW+ subscriber who joined in the last three months. Contact me privately (by replying to this message), and I’ll refund the appropriate amount.
Once again: Thank you for subscribing, for reading, and for the gracious notes you’ve sent to me over the last few years. Hearing from people around the world is a delight, and knowing that I was able to help people to improve their Chinese, if only a bit, gave me a great feeling of satisfaction.
I wish you the best of luck with your Chinese studies — and even if there’s no longer a Mandarin Weekly, you should always feel free to reach out to me, personally, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on WeChat (微信) as “ReuvenLerner”. And take it from me — it is possible to learn Chinese. It just takes effort, and a willingness to laugh at and learn from your mistakes.
All the best,
Also published on Medium.