First impressions of Postful

Given our upcoming trip, I wanted to get the word out to my extended family (parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even some close second-cousins) that Stephanie and I would no longer be living at our current address. Instead they could reach us via email or follow along on our blogs.

I liked the idea of doing it by postcard—something memorable that they could put on the fridge—but I assumed there probably weren’t many container ship postcards to choose from out there. Which meant only one thing: I’d have to make my own.

Postful logoI’d recently stumbled upon Postful, a neat web-to-mail service that generates real physical mail and postcards from the web (for a nominal fee plus postage, of course). I was eager to have a reason to try out the service, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. They don’t do international postcards (yet), so this test was limited to my US-based family.

For the message on the back, I figured I’d just embellish my Big Adventure post with a few contact details and then be off to the races. However, once I’d crafted the perfect message, I got the following inscrutable error message: field text will overflow. Translation: too much text to fit on the back of a postcard. Ok… Unfortunately there was no indication of what a reasonable amount of text would be, or where the text was getting cut off. I made at least a dozen revisions, trimming a phrase here, a sentence there, and each time, the same error. It was a little frustrating.

Eventually I pared the message down to a mere three sentences plus contact info, and the text was accepted—115 words using 639 characters—at long last with a nicely rendered version of the back of the postcard. Now that I knew what I had to work with, I was able to further tweak the text to use the space more effectively.

Postful postcard text preview
My Grandmother might be confused by the concept of “Snail” mail

The final step was to enter or upload addresses. They offered a convenient CSV-upload option, which gave me a reason to get everyone’s contact info in one place. I uploaded the file, and voila, 16 households were about to get my “junk” mail (all for only $9.44). I also had one sent to myself just to see how long it took, and what the quality was like.

I placed my order on August 1, and it arrived in San Francisco roughly a week later, on August 10. The print quality was good, but the paper wasn’t exactly postcard-stock. It was lower-gloss and a bit thinner than your typical tourist fare. But still, it did the job, and looks mighty fine on our fridge (while we still have one).

Postful container ship postcard in hand
Our container ship postcard

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