Hello fellow practitioners,
I am a Dafa practitioner in France. I obtained the Fa in China in 1998. I would like to share with everyone some insights about the miraculous journey of the Chinese Epoch Times in France in the face of the CCP virus, relying on advertising revenue for the past 3 years.
I have been involved with the French Chinese Epoch Times for 13 years since 2010. From learning to write articles, photography, graphic design, website development, to sales, I've gone through a full circle and deeply felt that sales is the most challenging.
Based on my personal life and work experience, I am not naturally inclined towards sales. When I first started participating in this project, I had a profound impression of Master's "Fa Teaching Given at the Epoch Times Meeting". I realised that to do a good job with the newspaper, we must manage the business well. This notion drove me to continuously move towards the direction of sales. In the process, it can be said that it was a bit like the "blind man touching the elephant." I attempted to find advertising clients from various industries. Although I managed to attract some advertisements at times, I felt like I was exerting immense effort, putting in 80% of the work to gain only 20% of the return.
A Western practitioner had diligently cultivated relationships with clients for many years, and during the challenging times, advertisements automatically came in.
In 2017, the Western practitioner passed on to me the major advertising clients that she had worked hard with for many years. After the Chinese Epoch Times team in France was dissolved and under the difficulties of the CCP virus epidemic, these advertising clients still came to place advertisements. This is precisely because of the customer relationship foundation she laid. This resolved the printing expenses for the newspaper's distribution in France. When I received these advertising orders, it was also relatively easy: a client would inquire through email, I would provide a quotation, once the contract was confirmed, I would then communicate with the editorial department to fulfill the contract.
The process of advertising sales and interacting with clients is a journey of self-learning and cultivation. From the beginning of my sales work, I attended various sales trainings provided by the Epoch Times sales department. Additionally, I self-studied Western sales techniques. However, theoretical knowledge and practical experience often diverge, especially with the impact of digital marketing in this era, making print media advertising increasingly challenging.
For over a decade, the Chinese Epoch Times in Europe has relied on the voluntary efforts of practitioners, with Germany playing a leading role and France having the largest Chinese market. For a significant period, due to insufficient advertising revenue, the German newspaper took on a substantial portion of the printing costs. To reduce costs, the newspaper transitioned from being a weekly publication to a fortnightly one. Later, the finance department informed me that due to the heavy economic burden, France would need to cover all printing costs itself. This news was stressful, and I complained inside: Why was everything abandoned after the French team was dissolved? But upon reflection, I recalled Master's teachings that Falun Dafa disciples should do everything well. Since I was part of this project, I should put in my maximum effort. "Your practice will have a good chance of success if you can disregard any supposed Buddha, Daoist deity, divinity, or fiend that tries to tempt you." (Zhuan Falun, Lecture Six)
In the latter half of 2019, several previously contracted advertisements were postponed or canceled due to the outbreak of the CCP virus. Additionally, lockdowns posed challenges for newspaper distribution. I discussed with fellow practitioners responsible for French distribution, suggesting that we temporarily suspend the newspaper and wait until the pandemic subsides. However, a determined practitioner insisted that the newspaper should continue, as the evil would be pleased to see it halted. This practitioner even offered to cover the printing costs and control expenses. Thus, during the height of the pandemic, we maintained the newspaper's distribution in France.
In 2020, advertising revenue remained limited. Some practitioners generously donated newspaper funds. As 2021 began, France lifted its lockdown measures, and people gradually resumed normal social activities. Advertisements started coming in, and over the year, advertising revenue covered the printing costs. This positive cycle continued into 2022 and the current year.
These advertising clients are major companies. Through years of interaction, I observed that when a manager I had been in contact with at one company left, they would pass on my contact information to their colleagues. This trend extended to other companies as well. I realized that The Epoch Times' reputation had gained recognition from these corporations.
While conventional companies emphasize brand essence, our newspaper incorporates the core values of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance, a unique "brand essence." This realization strengthened my confidence in selling advertisements. I no longer felt the initial anxiety of whether the advertising's results would meet the clients' expectations.
Cooperation with the German Epoch Times Editing Team
Executing advertising contracts required close coordination with the Chinese editing team of the German Epoch Times. This included arranging layout positions, translating and formatting advertisements, determining print quantities, invoicing, and collecting payments from clients. Despite the busy project and the tense atmosphere of reporting on Shen Yun, they always provided close cooperation.
One graphic designer handled all layout work. Confirming layouts with clients often involved multiple revisions due to printing deadlines. Despite time constraints, the designer worked diligently to create appealing ad visuals.
Dealing with billing issues involved complex international tax considerations. The finance team diligently managed French client accounts and regularly provided detailed financial reports. Advertising clients often had delayed payments, with a standard two-month payment period, sometimes extending to four or five months. Chasing payments was a headache, yet the finance team patiently waited. Their selfless cooperation exuded the power of Dafa, setting them apart from conventional companies.
Overcoming Difficulties, Quietly Persisting in Newspaper Distribution
Newspaper distribution is a challenging endeavour. Over the years, French practitioners overcame numerous obstacles, pioneering a unique distribution model that deeply moved me.
As early as 2005-2006, I distributed newspapers outside the Greater Paris region. Practitioners would cover postage costs and send boxes of newspapers, which I would then distribute to places where Chinese people went. Although the environment seems less severe than the persecution in China, the newspaper's content, exposing truths and conveying facts, made the Chinese Communist Party fearful. Some Chinese businesses and community organizations would refuse to display the newspaper under pressure. Some misled Chinese people and students would even treat us with hostility. This phenomenon persists today, highlighting the challenging nature of front-line newspaper distribution.
For instance, a Vietnamese practitioner in southern France attempted newspaper distribution in her city. She placed newspapers in some Chinese stores, which initially accepted them. However, on her second attempt, she was inexplicably denied.
Also, stealing newspapers was a common issue. Practitioners designed locked newspaper boxes or employed face-to-face distribution methods, demanding more manpower. Coordination was needed to handle late newspaper deliveries, testing not only physical strength but also one's mindset. However, this practitioner never complained.
For years, a Paris practitioner diligently distributed newspapers to Chinese businesses 50 kilometers away. He shared heartwarming stories, such as employees in a restaurant passing newspapers among each other. One restaurant owner was so grateful that she insisted on treating him to coffee.
These years of effort by practitioners in France won the loyalty of readers. The editorial department frequently received letters from appreciative readers. During a conversation with a French client recently, he exclaimed, "The Epoch Times, I like it, a very good media." He is a lawyer who regularly visits the French Epoch Times website.
Overcoming Trials, Letting Go of Attachment to Money
Engaging in sales inadvertently made me value money more. Selling an advertisement often led me to calculate potential commissions. Especially in 2021, I earned a substantial sum from conventional work, the most I had earned in over 20 years in France. This made me exceptionally happy. Additionally, my busy work schedule led me to neglect Fa study or to study the Fa without being focused. Consequently, I faced a severe tribulation.
On social media, I started accepting friend requests from Chinese individuals. My initial thought was to seize the opportunity to clarify the truth and persuade them to quit the Chinese Communist Party. During this process, I successfully persuaded around ten people, all of whom were men. A common characteristic was that they all shared information about digital currency investments. They also sweet-talked and appeared handsome. Living overseas had gradually eradicated my Communist Party-influenced thoughts, and I had grown accustomed to the straightforward and sincere communication style of Westerners. I viewed these individuals as fellow compatriots and approached them with the intention of saving them, sharing my profound experiences from practicing Dafa, and discussing my stories and perspectives on marriage and life. Some even expressed interest in learning Falun Gong from me. However, I failed to realize that these individuals were all scammers with fabricated names, identities, and backgrounds.
Lacking righteous thoughts, I fell into their trap. I invested a small sum of money for the first time, only to find that my remittance was not received. Before investing, I informed my husband, who respects my personal freedom and does not interfere. In less than two months, I encountered another individual, even more handsome, who presented a high-quality investment opportunity involving gold. They recommended a reputable international trading platform with a professional website. I conducted careful research and found no red flags. Worse still, this time, I intentionally did not inform my husband, thinking that if I recouped my losses, I could prove that I hadn't made a mistake. During this period, I shared the situation with a fellow practitioner who reminded me from the standpoint of the Fa. However, I was tricked for the second time, losing thousands of euros.
This tribulation made me understand the seriousness of studying the Fa well. Master mentioned in the “Fa Teaching Given at the 2015 New York Fa Conference”: "With any project to save people, if you stray from cultivation you will find that you become more and more like a non-cultivator and tend to think about matters and do things in an increasingly ordinary way. But if you can stay on the Fa all the way through, and not let up in your personal cultivation at any point, you will find that everything you do is truly befitting a cultivator. That is simply essential if a Dafa disciple is to complete his mission, and what ensures it on a fundamental level. So you cannot stray from the Fa, and at no point can you let up in your own cultivation."
I also realized the importance of eradicating attachments to money and resisting the lure of lust. Now, whenever I encounter financial issues in my conventional work, I remind myself: "A practitioner will surely not be occupied by the wants that normally consume people, and will place little value in worldly things. What he will have in his life, however, are higher things that people ordinarily can’t have—even if they come to know about them and want them." (Zhuan Falun, Lecture Nine) When I diminish my attachment to money, and approach tasks with a non-attached mindset, I find that income from my conventional work comes naturally.
I began practicing Falun Dafa in China in 1998 and, under Master's compassionate care, have continued on this journey. In my personal cultivation, I have often been outside a group cultivation environment. This sometimes caused me to relax in my cultivation, but Master often guided me through dreams whenever I slackened, reminding me to study more Fa. I would dream of needing to take a maths exam or climb a steep and treacherous mountain with various obstacles. I realized that the path of cultivation is not smooth. I distinctly remember distributing Dafa materials in the town I live in, and afterward, I dreamed of flying high with ease, witnessing beautiful landscapes. Sometimes, despite flying, I couldn't ascend too high. I understood that Master encouraged me, yet my cultivation progress was slow.
Recently, due to issues with another project, I had a minor disagreement with a fellow practitioner. That night, I felt cold in bed and couldn't warm up even after covering myself. I dreamed of meeting with three ordinary people who quickly transformed into ugly demons. I used my righteous thoughts to eliminate them, but one of them had formidable power, and I felt unable to defeat it. As I struggled, a force lifted me up, and I stood above the demon... I woke up and the words "Triumphing Over Five Obstacles and Vanquishing Six Generals" appeared clearly in my mind. I checked the time, and it was exactly the time for sending forth righteous thoughts in the morning.
To conclude this sharing, I enlightened that as a cultivator, maintaining a positive attitude and treating each thought righteously are crucial. In daily life, clarifying the truth, and various projects, the key is to view oneself as a cultivator in all circumstances. Every challenge and conflict encountered is an opportunity for improvement. "Gods will look at the fundamental motives in everything you do." "Fa Teaching at the New York Fa Conference on the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of Dafa’s Introduction to the Public''
Above are my limited understandings, I warmly welcome compassionate corrections from fellow practitioners
Thank you fellow practitioners!
(Submitted to the European Fa-conference 2023 in Paris)
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