Snail Mail Tips: How To Find Pen Pals

Advice, Snail Mail Tips

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I recently received a comment that asked, “How do you find pen pals?” so I thought I would address that here!

The internet is kind of a funny tool for people who love to write letters. Some like to blame it for the decline in letter writing, and I would argue that it is probably the easiest thing to use to find people to write to. All of my pen pal relationships have started because of the internet. My first pals were people that I would talk to on a daily basis online! I don’t know how we found things to write about in letters but we sure did; we would send each other 5+ page letters. Then I found mail friends through various websites. Here are a few that I have used or still use!


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Sendsomething

→ This website is my go-to for finding strangers to send mail to. Sendsomething has a great search feature, which I use whenever I have something random to mail out (like, a postcard for the band Aqua). I love searching for people’s interests to better find a way to make their day through the mail! Plus, they have a “random address” button that takes the thought out of who you should mail to. The majority of my pen pals have started through Sendsomething.

 

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Swap-bot

→ I’ve been a member on Swap-bot since 2007 although I’m not too active there anymore. They have great swaps specifically for finding pen pals but they are also a bit hit or miss. I really enjoy swaps that are more art-focused, zines, mail art, ATCs, etc. Those types of swaps seem to be in decline these days. This is a really great website for starting out in the snail mail world, I think! You see a variety of styles when participating in swaps, which is awesome.

 

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Postcrossing

→ Although I really wouldn’t suggest this website for finding pen pals, it is a great resource for sending, and receiving, postcards. I’ve heard tales of people finding great pen pals through Postcrossing but, in the 6 years that I’ve been using it, I’ve only found 1 person that I exchanged mail with on a semi-regular basis. This is a great website to get your toes wet in the snail mail world.


Of course, there are so many places on the internet to find like-minded folks. There are so many blogs that offer mail swaps, little organizations specifically for people who write letters, and plenty of people on Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr that are interested in finding new pen pals.

I think the most important advice I can give to anyone looking for new mail friends is, don’t get discouraged! Try not to expect a reply from every letter your send out. There will be plenty of occasions where you will send a letter to someone and never get a response, or it will take, what feels like, ages for them to get back to you. The most important part of being a letter writer is sending mail, but the best thing about sending mail is receiving it!

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A Brief History of TARAdactyl Mail

Mail, Personal

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Welcome to the new Dactyl Life blog. I was at my old blog for years and finally decided to move on up! I don’t think I ever properly introduced myself on my old blog so I thought I would take this as an opportunity to do so!

The basics can be found on my about page, so I won’t bore you with those details. I created Dactyl Life this year, with the intention to spread my mail art throughout the world. I’ve been involved with mail art and sending letters since 2000.

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My first mail adventures started out when I was 12 years old. I had a ton of friends online, back in the days of AOL. I would have trusted my life with these people and we were always looking for new ways to communicate. Even as a kid, I always enjoyed checking the mail and being the first one to open, and read, the letters my grandmother sent us. My AOL friends and I decided to start writing each other letters, in addition to the hours we talked to each other online.

The letters were strange and lovely at the same time. I mainly exchanged silly thoughts and frustrations with two friends, Krissy and Jen. Even as kids, we always found ways to decorate our mail, or thought to include something nice for the other person. A big perk for us was that we could send each other pictures through the mail. Back in my day, it was incredibly cumbersome and expensive to send pictures to people online.

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Jen was the one that unofficially introduced me to mail art. She was constantly covering her plain, white envelopes with pictures and doodles. I attempted to step my mail game up but failed miserably because I didn’t know what to do or where to start.

Shortly after that, I found out about zines and that led me to sign up on postcardx.net. This was the start of my official mail art adventures. I honestly have no idea how I first heard about postcardx, but it really changed my life. It was such a fascinating place for me. I loved the idea of sending and receiving mail from strangers. Especially because most of them seemed interested in sending more than letters. I wanted to

receive (and send) mix cds, secrets, to do lists, ephemera, and anything in between. Since I was still a kid in the mail art world, I mostly imitated the art of the people sent me. I remember receiving a letter written on a piece of paper that was cut into the shape of a star. That blew my young mind! In responding to that letter, I cut my own stationery into different shapes.

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Eventually postcardx just stopped existing. Sendsomething.net came in to take its place, in a way. By that point, I pretty much stopped sending mail. I started my first relationship, had real life friends, and was working full-time. It wasn’t until I didn’t have a mailing address did I get fully involved in sending letters again.

In 2010, I left Las Vegas for three months to road trip around the Southwest with my then-boyfriend and his best friend. I spent my nights on the road looking at mail blogs and longing for the day when I would be able to have an address again.

Eventually I came home and jumped into mail head first. I sent as many things as I could to strangers on sendsomething, hoping to make a connection with anyone who would respond. For the first time, I had my own style for decorating envelopes. Since then, it’s just been growing and growing. My ideas and style change on the daily, although the things I use to collage with (typically) stay the same.

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Now I’m here. I have my own stationery shop and pen pals all over the world. I don’t know if I could ask for much more!

What’s your mail story? Were you active on postcardx? Who did you send your first letter to?