Snail Mail Resource: Spreadsheets

Advice, Freebies, Snail Mail Tips

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In addition to my post on logging mail, I thought I would share my spreadsheets with you!

So, download away! Please do not redistribute these without permission, and they are only for personal use. You are welcome to alter these in any way! Add columns, delete columns, whatever you need. I was just thinking that adding a “Replied To?” column for incoming mail would be pretty helpful!

Click on the below link to download the files. Shoot me an email if you have any questions!
http://www.mediafire.com/download/4grf336zkw8yif5/Spreadsheets.zip

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Snail Mail Tips: Logging Mail

Advice, Snail Mail Tips

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For an active snail mailer, one of the most important things to keep track of is all incoming and outgoing mail. Keeping track of your mail is the easiest way to make sure you’re replying to letters promptly and not forgetting to do so! If you love making lists, you should definitely be logging your mail. It just takes a few minutes to do!

Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to keeping track of their mail. I know a lot of people keep paper logs or journals. I used to do that but I found that I didn’t have a very uniform system and I was often forgetting some information for every entry I made. I quickly switched to logging everything in a spreadsheet. I could have a header of all the information I was looking to log and I wouldn’t be able to forget that information.

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I created four spreadsheets; two for incoming and two for outgoing. Each set, incoming and outgoing, is separated into domestic and international mail. As I don’t receive a lot of international mail, I add countries to the spreadsheet as I receive them. No way am I going to look up every country in the world and add them to my spreadsheet! Although I don’t receive mail from every state in the US, I do list every state in my domestic spreadsheets.

For my logs, I like to track what was sent or received in a letter. This is helpful so I don’t end up sending the same stuff to the same people. I also write a brief description of a postcard’s image. I also love noting how I “met” the snail mailer. It’s nothing crucial but it’s fun to track!

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One thing I recently started doing is keeping a space where I can put incoming mail during the different stages of receiving it. I have a “To Reply” spot for all letters that I have received and logged but still need to reply to (obviously). Once a letter has been replied to, I place it in the “To Photograph” spot. In addition to logging mail on my spreadsheets, I also photograph all incoming and outgoing mail. It’s a bit excessive but I like doing it! After everything is said and done, the piece of mail goes to the “To File” spot. Right now, filing my mail means putting it in a reusable shopping bag. One day I will have a more official mail storing system!

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Here are a few tips to get you started logging your mail!

Figure out what you want to log

If you’re looking for something super simple, I suggest logging a name, date, and what was sent. If you’re looking for something a bit more, log a name, date, what was sent, postmark (incoming), when it was sent (outgoing), when you wrote it (outgoing), when you received it (incoming), when it was written (incoming), and how you know the person.

Use a system that works for you

If you know you love writing things down and keeping journals, opt for a paper log. If you’re looking for convenience and something that is easily searchable, create your log on the computer.

Log ’em as you get ’em

I should probably take this advice! If you don’t log your mail as soon as you send it, or receive it, it’s likely you’ll forget to do so. Plus, if you log the date of when you send or receive something, you’ll end up forgetting those dates if you don’t log it right away!

Incoming

Incoming, Mail

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Hooray for incoming mail! I kinda felt like I was drowning in mail this week, even though I only received a few letters. I didn’t have any motivation to reply to letters. I’m pretty sure my goal to reply to letters within a week of receiving them got thrown out the window. It’s not a huge thing, of course, because I am still replying in a fairly timely matter!

As of today, I am caught up on all replies! Although I haven’t checked the mail yet, so that could be a different story in a few hours. I hope to paint and collage few envelopes before I have any more letters to write! I always have a hard time being motivated to write a letter when I know I don’t have anything to send it off in. I have a pretty bad habit of writing letters and then not sending them for weeks. Oops!

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Let’s Talk About Postage

Mail, Personal

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I’m down to my last 5 first-class postage stamps. Don’t get me wrong, I have a TON of low-denominational stamps but it’s annoying to stick five 10 cent stamps on an envelope. Who has room for that nonsense?! Plus, I love using a variety of stamps on envelopes so that is basically out of the question. If we’re being honest, I pretty much use the low-denominational stamps as envelope decoration.

Luckily, it’s almost February. Which means I have $100 at my disposal to use on whatever I want; and that usually means postage. You see, I budget every cent of my money. It’s almost necessary but it’s also just super helpful. I don’t have a lot of money left over once the bills are paid (one day I’ll pay off that credit card!) but that’s okay! I really dislike shopping anyway.

I went online and ordered a selection of stamps that looked the prettiest, to me. The stamps in the image above are on pre-order and I am so excited to get them. Aren’t they beautiful? I think these will be my favorite for 2015. Can I just say, though, that the designs for anything other than first-class rate are seriously lacking. They are just boring. I’m really hoping 2015 throws some cool postcard rate stamps in our face. Or even some new designs for the 1, 5, and 10-centers. How do we just have one design for postcard rate? What is this? I have a lot of feelings about the USPS.

Have you ordered any of the new designs? The other new one I’m aware of is the “Forever Hearts” design. It’s pretty enough but it doesn’t tickle my fancy like these vintage flowers.

Mail Artist Spotlight: Courtney C

Mail, Mail Artist Spotlight

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I receive a lot of amazing things in my mailbox almost daily. I thought it would be nice to feature some beautiful mail art here and there.

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Courtney is a really nice lady from Australia. I’m not sure how we started writing each other; all I remember is receiving a really lovely letter from Courtney a few years ago. She has really pretty, cursive-like handwriting. She signs her letters “yours in writing” which I always thought was really wonderful.

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We had been estranged pen pals for a couple of years but recently reunited via Twitter! She found my Twitter account and added me. I couldn’t believe it! That is a great way the internet aides us letter writers.

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Courtney has an Etsy shop where she sells her handmade envelopes. She has a really awesome selection, check it out!

Portland Correspondence Co-op

Letter Writing Socials, Mail

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On Tuesday, January 20th, I went to the first meeting of PDXCC, or Portland Correspondence Co-op. The meeting was held at the IPRC, and it was basically a letter writing social. It was so much fun! I was completely surprised to see how many people were there; there had to be at least 30 people! To be fair, I haven’t been to a lot of letter writing socials (okay, I’ve been to one) but I never imagined more than 10 people to show up to one. I guess it’s not that surprising, Portland is a city full of creative folks!

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The meeting started out with a little speech by Niko, who started the PDXCC. It was a great introduction for the people who weren’t too familiar with mail art, and he also passed around some great examples of mail art and mail art books. After that, it was a free for all! I did more socializing than letter writing. I grabbed one of the passports to get my first official PDXCC artistamp, as well as a few other artistamps made by some of the attendees.

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I shared a table with several people, most were collaging postcards. I ended up talking to a nice woman named Samantha for most of the evening. She is an avid letter writing but didn’t know much about mail art. I told her about my experience with mail art, and about the kind of things people send along in letters. I showed her the stationery I made, and gave her some suggestions on how to find some cool pen pals.

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I’m so happy I went! I had a really hard time leaving my apartment (I always do) but knew that I was going to have some fun so I forced myself to get on my bike and head down. These will be monthly meetings, and the next one will be on February 17th. I’m hopefully going to have some time to make an artistamp for the event! One of the conditions of taking a passport is a the promise to make a stamp to distribute at a future event.

Outgoing

Mail, Mail Art, Outgoing

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I have been having so much fun putting together mail lately. I’ve made a point to take more time to dedicate to the whole process, and not just taking the time to write a letter or make a collage. I think it’s been super helpful using paints to create my envelopes and stationery because I can get a lot done at once and it leaves me more time to find bits and pieces I think the recipient might enjoy!

Another really lovely thing about including all sorts of ephemera in the envelope is getting rid of my stash. I tried organizing my paper bits last weekend and it was such a disaster. I just have too much stuff and most of it has been in my stash for over 3 years. It’s absurd! How long can you hold on to something until you realize you need to give it away?

In other news, I’m slowly falling behind in replies! (and I keep getting more pen pals because I can’t stop) 🙂

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Mail Artist Spotlight: Cara G

Mail, Mail Artist Spotlight

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I receive a lot of amazing things in my mailbox almost daily. I thought it would be nice to feature some beautiful mail art here and there.

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Cara is a cool lady from New Jersey. I think we met through the blogsphere. If I recall correctly, she sent me the first letter (because I’m really bad at randomly sending letters to people these days). However we met, I’m happy that I get letter from her in my mailbox!

She has a funky style that I love! Cara’s address labels never fail to cheer me up – look at the hipster kitty cat face. There are always fun doodles on the outside of the envelope, and even better ones in the letter.

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Cara has a fun blog and an Etsy shop! You should check them out.

What I’m Working On

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This weekend seemed busier than usual for me! Although most of it was spent indoors, I felt like I was constantly creating or organizing. Did you have a productive weekend?

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One super fun thing I worked on this weekend was a zine! The amazingly awesome company I work for puts out a zine for the employees every quarter. I’ve submitted pages to the zine but, this quarter, I’m lucky enough to be part of the team! Everyone in the company are welcome to submit whatever they want to the zine, and the zine team makes the submissions pretty and puts the entire zine together. I had 4 submissions to work on! This is one of them. I decided to do all the pages digitally, as I have my entire collection of images scanned into the computer, and it’s so much easier to work that way. I had a ton of fun doing each page. It inspired me to get started on another zine!

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Envelopes, envelopes, envelopes! I learned a new trick that makes my lift 1000 times easier when it comes to making envelopes: getting the larger sized envelopes, painting/collaging the entire front, and then folding it in half to make a normal-sized envelope. It’s a bit of a waste but I’ve always had so much trouble coming up with something to put on the back of an envelope. Now they are more cohesive and it saves me so much time!

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ATCs! When I’m waiting for paint to dry on envelopes, I typically start making an ATC. I switch back and forth while I’m waiting for things to dry. Stephanie inspired me to start doing these little guys. When I was active on Swap-bot, I always wanted to make one but, for whatever reason, they always intimidated me. Anything other than an envelope intimidates me, really. I’m starting to branch out a bit! I have a bunch of little images that are perfectly sized for ATCs.

Outgoing

Mail, Outgoing

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I put together some nice little envelopes for some great pen pals! In addition to making some mixed media stationery, I also painted and collaged some envelopes! These are probably my favorite envelopes. I’m so happy with how they turned out. It’s so great to be inspired by my envelopes to include all sorts of goodies for the recipients. I’m diggin’ these painted backgrounds so much!

I love going through my stash to find the perfect things to send out. It’s also great for making room for new things! I have so much stuff saved for the day I think I am going to use it, and then I just don’t use it for years and years. Time to send it off to someone else! I’ve bought a lot of little baggies to put small paper bits in, and they are so perfect to send along with letters. Nothing too big or spectacular but nice enough, I think!

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