Sunday, November 03, 2013

How to Make Friends and Write to People, Part 2

So now that you have the background behind how I kind of stumbled into this penpalling thing, you know I am no expert.  Plenty of people have written more and better on this topic (and hopefully soon I will round some of that great info up for you), but here I give you my perspective (geared towards making pen friends through Instagram) in 6 simple steps.


Step 1:  Write a letter to someone you know.  

If you are interested in snail mail and pen palling, I suggest starting with those closest to you--write a letter to your grandmother, your mother, your sister, your brother, your best friend from high school . . . or send a thank-you letter to someone who has had you over for dinner or given you a gift (no matter how long ago).


Step 2:  Take a picture and tag it.

Before you send the letter off, take a picture--conceal the addresses for privacy--and post it to Instagram.  You don't have to say who it's for, and you might consider keeping it a secret, especially if the intended recipient is also on Instagram (don't want to spoil the surprise).  That said, you could also mention the recipient and create a little suspense/give them something to look forward to.  I have done a little of both, but I lean towards keeping it a secret.  Tag it with a mail-related hashtag (#sendmoremail, #stationery, #showandmail, and #snailmail are a few good ones).

Note:  You do not have to have a dedicated mail account on IG.  You can keep photographing what you've always enjoyed photographing, but adding snail mail pics to your account is a good way to meet others interested in snail mail as well.  It doesn't have to be all you post about--there are letter lovers who only occasionally take pictures of mail, those who focus exclusively on mail, and those like me who have a little of everything with a heavy emphasis on mail.  :)


Step 3:  Keep writing letters to family and friends.
Write your grandmother again.  Get back in touch with an out-of-state friend.  Send your cousin a birthday card.  Even if you aren't receiving mail in return, enjoy the process of giving to another, sending mail off to be enjoyed with no strings attached.  Writing a letter is like a good talk with an old friend.  You feel connected just by the act of writing, and you know that you are sending something that will likely brighten someone's day.  It's worth it for that alone.


Step 4:  Be sociable on Instagram.

If you're enjoying the Instagram thing and you want to keep meeting new IGers, keep taking and posting pics.  Pretty soon you will have a collection of happy mail pics in your gallery, and you might have already met some other snail mailers.  Follow the accounts of those who inspire you.  Comment on photos and say hello.

Always be sincere in your IG conversations--just enjoy interacting with others who share your interests, regardless of whether or not you will ever be penpals or they will ever follow you back.  Have fun making new friends, and eventually you may find that some of these friends would like to exchange letters.  Occasionally, someone will put a request out for new penpals.  Responding to a general request or responding to a request that someone makes of you through comments on a photo is a great way to get started writing.


Step 5:  Keep these tips in mind (just a few things I've learned by watching):
  • The person that introduces himself/herself or requests to exchange letters generally starts the process (if agreed to) by writing first.  
  • Use email, rather than the comments section on IG, to exchange addresses.  In this case, your email will be displayed publicly but your address won't.  I think there are varying levels of caution with this.  It doesn't worry me too much to have my email out there, but I do go ahead and use email to get the formalities taken care of.  That said . . . see below.  
  • A few of my IG friends (hello, @bevinblight, @carmsdubois, and @juliabump!) have also devised a stealthy "self-destructing message" system wherein information is left in a comment, written down by the intended recipient, and then deleted immediately after.  (This is a surefire way to add some intrigue to the whole process and is very appealing to me, as I did have my own detective agency as a kid and have a lot of experience with this kind of top-secret stuff.)  
  • Some avid snail mailers may have all the penpals that they can handle at the moment.  Be sure to check their profiles before requesting in case they have already specified that they are not looking for new pals at this time.
  • If a fellow Instagrammer replies that he or she is not taking on new penpals at the moment, do not take it personally.  That just means that this person is already full with real life responsibilities and current letter writing commitments.  Don't worry--there are lots of people out there who need a good letter and lots of people willing to write.  Give it time and be friendly and keep sending happy mail to everyone that's already in your address book.  
  • Your new penpals do not necessarily have to be established letter writing enthusiasts--any of your Instagram friends could be a future penpal.  If someone leaves a kind comment on one of your snail mail photos or if you have an IG friend you've interacted with frequently, ask if that person would like to share his or her address and start writing.  

Step 6:  Remember--your existing friends can be penpals too.


Keep in mind that you may have an offline friend who is just as interested in keeping in touch via snail mail as your Instagram friends are.  Ask around (in person, on Facebook, by email . . .).  If you find someone who is game, just start small by committing to one letter each and deciding who is going to write first.  It's always nice to build and strengthen current friendships in addition to making new ones!   

There is more to be said on this and lots of inspiring sites (and Instagram accounts!) to check out, but for now I will leave you with these 6 steps.  Let me know if you have any questions!  And if any of my more experienced letter writing friends are reading this, I'd love for you to chime in with your experience and wisdom!  How did you get started?

Time to write a letter.  :)

xo,
amber

P. S. I've been using my IG pics for these posts, so sorry for the repeats (and sub par quality).  Grainy IG pics are better than no pics, right?

P. P. S. To all fo my "real life" and Instagram friends--I am thankful for you!


21 comments:

  1. Wow, this is so great! I love that you broke it down into manageable steps. I love seeing other people's photos of pretty mail on IG, and hopefully I'll start sending some of my own! Looks like I've got some letters to write! :)

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    1. Sarah, glad you appreciated it, and thanks for the final push I needed to write some of this stuff down! Enjoy writing!! :)

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  2. Hello amber! come across your blog after following you in ig (how come i just come upon your blog). anyway this is a very nice post, especially for the (future) snailmailer in IG. i also love how you describe the background of your writing.
    So agree with step 6! I have a friend who now moves to Columbia and I am convincing her to exchange letters with me ^^

    Cheers!

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    1. Hi, Filicia! Thanks so much for saying hello! That is great that you can write to your friend now that she is moving away. I think letters deepen friendships!

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  3. I really enjoyed reading the two posts you put up on snail mailing and penpalling. These are very helpful tips and advice on your personal experiences. I've learnt a thing or two and am thankful for that!(:

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    1. Hi, Olive! I am so glad you enjoyed the posts. Thank you for letting me know--that is always encouraging! xo

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  4. This is fantastic my new friend!! You are very talented with words and I simply love the prettiness of your outgoing mail! And a HUGE thank you for featuring me in your blog, I'm so honored. I look forward to writing and hearing of your husbands South African experience! (Always good to know what foreigners think if our country ;)
    Hugs,
    Bevin xx

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    1. Thank you so much, Bevin! You're very kind. And I felt like I had to add that bit about self-destructing comments because it's just too clever and fun. :) I am excited to write as well and to make a connection with a country my husband already loves! <3

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  5. great post! i just love sharing the mail i decorate and the stationery i make. it's such a great way to connect with others

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    1. Thank you, Kaitlyn! I agree--it is a great way to connect! And it's so inspiring to see how others do it. I love looking at pics, including yours. :)

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  6. Hello there! Love your IG account :) I am not a creative person but would love to send attractive snail mail out. Any suggestions? Where can I get pretty paper and envelopes online?

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    1. Hi, Jessica! Thank you so much! I am glad you want to send mail you--it doesn't have to be creative or crafty--it's the words that matter! I really love the selection at Paper Source (www.paper-source.com). And Rifle Paper is one of my favorites (carried at a selection of stores but also online--www.riflepaperco.com). And Target usually has some fun and colorful options. Does this help? Let me know what you're looking for, and maybe I can help more. Happy writing!!

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    2. Also--Greer Chicago is amazing! They are located in Chicago, but they also have an online shop: www.greerchicago.com.

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    3. Thank you for your help :) I think there is a Paper Source in downtown Austin. I could take a little trip to check it out. The beauty of snail mailing is so overwhelming :0

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  7. I loved these posts, you did a great job of laying everything out. I'm also wordy, my motto is "make a long story longer."
    I got started letter writing when my sister went away to college. Back then we were on dial up internet, and I think then I checked my email about once a week. Letters were the best way for us to keep in touch. It was also how I kept in contact with my high school friends when I went away to college and I guess I've been at it pretty consistently ever since.

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    1. Ha, Margaret, I don't feel so bad knowing you're wordy as well. :) I like that motto. My writing teacher in college did not, however! Cutting out words was the hardest thing.

      It's so nice to hear your kind words and a little bit more about how you got started. I kind of miss the days when letter writing really was about the only way to keep in touch.

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  8. Great post! Btw, your photos look good :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Merissa! Glad to know you think so. I guess I just feel guilty posting phone pics on the blog instead of "real" pics. :) Just working with the time I have, I guess! It's lovely to hear from you. xo

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  9. thank you! your post is very useful and inspire me. recently, i started to write dairy and decorate it, it brings me so many fun. word is the best way to brighten our life and share our joyful. i decide to write a thank-you -letter to my love and friend.
    i follow your IG, your photos are just simple and beautiful, its what i like:)

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  10. These are such great tips! :)

    I'm going to have to show the girls of Campus Cursive this. Thanks for sharing!

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  11. Found your blog through Instagram - I love it. Your envelopes are so pretty. Thank you for the inspiration ♥

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blog comments are thoughtful . . . :)

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