It’s time for a new beginning

New beginnings

I love spring because it’s time for a new beginning.

Nothing shows that like a 22-hour drive from chilly Spokane, Wash. (where, by the way, it snowed last weekend) to balmy Prescott, Ariz. (where the mercury topped 80 degrees yesterday). You can watch the seasons change almost by the hour.

As it turns out, I have a lot of new beginnings to report. I didn’t publish a personal update last week, so we have some catching up to do, my friends.

A new chapter in your advocacy site

Your favorite consumer advocacy site is about to start an important new chapter. In the last few weeks, I’ve researched the process of turning into a nonprofit organization and have found an accountant who can help us get there. Next week, we are formally applying for 501(c)(3) status.

The timing is right. For March, we set several new records:

✓ Pageviews rose 16.39 percent to 844,644. Sessions increased 14.20 percent to 442,495 for the month. And our bounce rate declined 2.15 percent to 72.93 percent. Those are all monthly records.

✓ Daily newsletter subscribers increased by 380 to 21,776. That’s also a new record.

✓ We had 451 cases, up 34 percent from a year ago — a March record.

Taken together, these numbers mean we’re on a trajectory to becoming a force for good that will be around for a long time to come. I’m thankful that you’re a part of this adventure.

Time for a new beginning for content

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how the content I create supports the mission. Dorothy Tucker’s CBS piece on effective negotiation was an important reminder that there’s a bigger audience that I need to reach. I can’t hide online forever.

In the last few weeks, I’ve also launched a syndicated column that combines advice, family travel and adventure travel — which is what I do when I’m not advocating cases — and the content has resonated with media organizations.

The real wake up call came a few weeks ago when Ralph Nader (yes, that Ralph Nader) called me to talk about consumer advocacy. He shared with me his vision for a better world in which consumers are treated fairly. His words inspired me to keep pushing for positive change.

I’m developing new features that leverages the great content for which my advocacy team and I are known. There’s a growing sense that we need to make content that’s visual and practical. I hope to have something to show you soon.

And Ralph, I won’t let you down.

A new outlook on life

It’s been a long winter and an even longer year. I’ve made some important discoveries along the way.

✓ No matter how bad things look now, they’re never as bad as you think. And they’ll get better with time. I’m grateful for your support during the last, difficult year. Somehow, my kids and I made it through.

✓ If you can avoid long winters, you should. Our three months in Colorado, Utah, and Idaho were beautiful but very cold and dark. My kids, who grew up in Florida, have let me know in no uncertain terms that we should head south next winter. The birds know best.

✓ No one ever died from too much optimism. Even on the darkest days — both figuratively and literally — we always hoped for a better tomorrow. We were confident of it even when we had no reason to be confident. That hope for a new beginning sustained us.

Thank you for being there. Thank you for seeing a new beginning with me. It means more to me than words could ever express.

This week’s stories

Bad vacation start? Shake it off! (USA Today)

Need trip insurance with a preexisting condition? The options may surprise you. (Washington Post)

What to do if you miss your flight (USA Today)

File a police report over lost luggage? (Travel Troubleshooter via Philadelphia Inquirer)

See you next week!

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can’t. He’s the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, and the Washington Post. If you have a consumer problem you can’t solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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