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.
I’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.
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).