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Wish You Were Here

February 7, 2011 by Barry & Monique Zander · 31 Comments  
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 By Monique & Barry Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

 You’re probably wondering how we can afford the costs involved in staying on the road year-in and year-out.  The answer:  “e-Postcards.”  Sounds like cyberspace talk, right?   Don’t feel too threatened by the term “e-Postcard.”  Monique not only came up with the idea, she coined the name.

The Zander e-Postcards are our way of keeping in touch with friends and family, without expecting them to spend their valuable time reading about our adventures.  I “attach” them to e-mails, with no text or little text in the e-mail itself.  More on that below.

Before explaining more about them, let’s take a look at a few recent e-Postcards (you may recognize some of the photos from our recent RV.net blogs). 

 2-Postcard Combo

 There are three tough parts involved in this

 1)  Most important, we don’t necessarily send the best picture from a photographic sense or the one we like the best.  It’s all about sending a picture our readers will find interesting.  

2)  The next tough part is keeping the postcard’s text to about five sentences.  It’s what is known as “a quick read.”  Our recipients aren’t afraid to open the mailing, because they know it’s going to be brief.

And 3), it requires some photo editing and preparation.  If you’re not adept at that, this may be your impetus to learn.

BY WAY OF EXPLANATION:

1)  When we were in Quartzsite two weeks ago, I took hundreds of pictures, recording crowd scenes, what it was like inside the Big Tent and outside (remember I take photos primarily for our own memories); desert scenes, and attractions.  From all these, which one did I select for the e-Postcard?  A shot of a customer looking at bookseller Paul Winer. 

We don’t expect our e-Postcard recipients to comment on our mailings, but this one got lots of attention – all favorable.  Had we sent a landscape or picture of some of the weird items on sale at the RV Show and surrounding booths, it might have been appreciated but not enough to get that kind of reaction.

And we rarely select photos of us.  Folks on our mailing list know what we look like, but they’ve probably never seen a perfect sand dune or a kit fox in the wild.

I also try to keep the picture horizontal (landscape) rather than vertical (portrait).  It’s more pleasing to the reader. But a few times, it’s been worth it to break that rule.

2)  Text in the body of the card varies.  We primarily try to say where we are and a very quick note about the photo.  That changes with the situation.

We travel extensively.  In the early days of e-Postcards, we would get e-mail replies asking more information about where we are and where we are going.  In most cases, I don’t include that in the message.  Instead, in the e-mail itself (as opposed to the attachment), I write something like, “Now in Quartzsite, AZ, heading west Thursday.”  That’s usually all, unless there’s some bit of news that I think all recipients would be interested in knowing.

Two other important things.  I won’t reveal how many people are on our lists of contacts that get the mailings, but it’s quite a few.  When I sent our first e-Postcard, I included a statement in the e-mail portion to let them know they could opt out of receiving them anytime – NO QUESTIONS ASKED!”  (No one has yet to take us up on that offer, I’m happy to say.)

I put the names of recipients in the Bcc block of the mailing.  In other words, I skip the “TO” and the “Cc” blocks and enter the names in the “Bcc” (blind carbon copy)  section.  That eliminates that huge list of names at the top of the e-mail and keeps the names and addresses of recipients confidential.

3)  I use Photoshop to edit pictures, augmented by other programs at times, but your photo editing software is really all you need.  I reduce the photo to 8” wide (or 8” high, if vertical) and I set the resolution at 72 dpi.  If you’re not familiar with how to do that, it’s time you learned.  That makes it small enough to be opened easily and the entire attachment can be seen on most monitors/screens, including cellphones. 

I designed the “back” or reverse side of the e-Postcard, which is saved in my e-Postcard folder, along with all the mailings.  You should be able to do the same – but in case you don’t know where to start, I’ll make an offer to you below. 

But first, a little how-to on putting it all together the two parts of the e-Postcard format.

My process is:

1)     Select the photo, size it to 8” and save it under the name you want to use (e.g. “Quartzsite 1”)

2)     With the photo still on the desktop – and this is in Photoshop, but other programs will have the same features — go to Image, click on Canvas Size and in the height section, add about 5-1/2”, and remember to click on the top-center box of the 9 boxes shown.  That will place a white background below the photo.  This is the time to “save as” a different name, like “e-Postcard Quartzsite” so that you don’t mess up like I have and send the wrong version.

3)     Open your e-Postcard backside, already sized to 8”, and drag it over to the Quartzsite e-Postcard white area.  Close the backside without saving.

4)     Once everything is lined up, merge or flatten the image, and save again as the name you chose for your e-Postcard.

It’s done, and ready to attach to your e-Postcard e-mail.

The special offer:  I invite you to e-mail me at neverboredrvers@gmail.com, and I’ll send you an 8”-wide version.  All I ask is that you continue to post your comments on this blog site, so that others can share your questions or comments, and so that other readers may provide other ideas and ways to achieve your goals.

And now back to the money-saving aspect of all this.  Since we started this a year ago, we haven’t bought or mailed a postcard.  Think of all the money we have saved.”

 Now for a few more samples:

 4-Postcard Combo

One more thing.  Monique, who is not a computer person, said this blog is boring.   Let me know what you think.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

All Photos by Barry Zander © All Rights Reserved

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Comments

31 Responses to “Wish You Were Here”

  1. Din on February 8th, 2011 5:33 pm

    NO, your blog is not boring. I followed you all over Alaska, just like the trip we did 2 years before. And, some day I will get to Quartzsite!

  2. Doris on February 8th, 2011 5:36 pm

    Not boring at all….This was a very timely blog….i was just thinking I should send a regular email to a list of friends and have been kind of thinking how to do it in the back of my mind…and here you are! Great! Exactly what I need to do. I’m not a blogger, so this is perfect for us.
    Thank you!

  3. Fred Van Assen on February 8th, 2011 5:38 pm

    I liked this article. I did not find it boring but very informative. But, I too, am geek oriented so might not be the best judge of something like this. Good job.

    But you left out the most important part – how can you afford to travel year round? I see the postcard savings but that hardly covers the cost of camping. Of course I do not want to know the source or amount of your bank accounts but some additional tips on frugal camping and travel would be appreciated.

    Thanks and Happy Camping. God Bless all.

  4. Lorraine Hainsworth on February 8th, 2011 5:38 pm

    Thanks so much, what a great idea

  5. G Finley on February 8th, 2011 6:11 pm

    Loved the idea of how to keep in touch with family and friends. Hope I can learn how to do the photos like you do. And by the way – I do not think the blog is boring. I truly enjoy the information presented. By the way, we have been to Death Valley 2 times, never saw it like you have presented it in your photo. Thanks so much for sharing your trip and pics. Look forward to seeing/reading them.

  6. Suzanne McWhirter on February 8th, 2011 6:23 pm

    Your blog is never boring. Keep up the good work. I love reading about your travels because you are exactly where my husband and I are planning on being in the near future. Keep posting your wonderful travels. Stay safe!!!

  7. John on February 8th, 2011 6:36 pm

    I enjoy reading the blog. It is not boring.

  8. Barbara Palmer on February 8th, 2011 6:52 pm

    No, your blog is not boring.

    I’m not as adept as you are in the tech department – my husband also takes hundreds of photos, edits the subset he likes, then gives me folders with up to 50 photos each – I then select the ones I like best, annotate them using Picasa, then upload to a Picasa web album. I then send the link to that album to our list of correspondents (always with the note that if they don’t wish to receive these, just to let us know – so far no one has opted out). I think people who are still desk-bound really enjoy vicariously experiencing the wonderful places we’ve been. I do try to keep the album at 30 photos or less, so it doesn’t take all day to page through them. We did receive comments that people wanted more pictures with us in them, so we try to include a few in each album.

  9. Don Loftis on February 8th, 2011 8:03 pm

    Read you comment about your Postcards. But I failed to see where that would save much in the way of postage compared to the price of Gasoline and other expenses that you occur as full time RV”S. I have tried it in the past, not full time, spent the winters in South Texas and I have found the extra expense was more that I could bear. Have fun…
    Don Loftis
    Arkansas

  10. Kerry Liliedahl on February 8th, 2011 8:16 pm

    I love Monique’s idea – I love the e postcard idea. I’m supposed to be blogging – but, um, I never get to it! Don’t know if this will be any better but nothing ventured, nothing gained!

    It’s not boring – but then I have been to a lot of places you are, or have been, and I use the blog to remind me of wonderful times and places. Until you asked for comments the other day, I never would have thought to. Although – there are actually not one, but TWO, count them TWO places to get medical attention in Quartzsite! The only problem is that in order to be seen you have to be an existing patient. They won’t do labs for you if you aren’t on record either. Last year I needed to rule out an ear infection as the cause of my ongoing vertigo and spent $600 (AFTER insurance!) at the ED in Blythe on Super Bowl Sunday being told, nope, you’re fine. Literally was over $100 a minute. Needless to say when I got here this year I marched right into the clinic at the North end of town, took the first available appointment, and did the drill. I’ve never been to the bookstore, although I go to the library a lot! Thanks for the picture of Paul – I know a number of people who actually KNOW him, but if I’ve seen him, I didn’t know it!

    At any rate, I’ve digressed – keep on keepin’ on. I, for one, am grateful. And maybe my ‘readers’ will soon be treated to e cards! It’s the keep it short part I’ll have trouble with!

  11. Paul Gross on February 8th, 2011 8:26 pm

    Not boring at all! I read more that 2 dozen RV blogs – some are more regularly written than others – and your articles are some of the best. Stuff we can all appreciate, understand and hopefully use when we get to the places you are writing about. There are some destination articles – even like in Motorhome Magazine – that give no indication an RV was even involved. Yours are clearly very real. We love that.
    As anyone who has taken 300 pictures of a trip and captured nothing will agree: Your pictures are amazing! I try not to take them for granted but slowly enjoy each one. Maybe you could teach us 20+ years of photography in a few sentences? :-)
    Thank you for making the effort.

  12. Daniel & Shula on February 9th, 2011 1:49 am

    I love the idea of these cards and will try to send some to friends and family.
    Thank you for sharing.

  13. Craig Dresser on February 9th, 2011 6:54 am

    I don’t find your blog boring at all and I look forward to the updates. I think you provide just the right mix of information and interesting pictures and if I want to know more about a subject or location I then do my own research. My wife and I hope to travel the country in our Class A in about 5 years and you have provided me with many ideas and intriguing places I want to visit. I doubt we will ever be full time timers though because we both like the idea of having a home base. Thanks and keep up the good fun (I can’t bring myself to call what you do “work”, ha, ha).

  14. Jon on February 9th, 2011 7:46 am

    Sounds like a great idea to me and not boring!

  15. Pat and Ray Holmes on February 9th, 2011 8:08 am

    Your e-postcards are wonderful to look at what a wonderful idea to stay in touch while you enjoy your travels

  16. Curtis McRee on February 9th, 2011 9:04 am

    Your articles are not boring at all.You do a great job of making me feel like I am there with you. I am 76 and I am still traveling over America enjoying all of it.I have seen a lot and been to a lot of this great U.S.A. Keep sending your blog out to us.
    I Love reading them.

  17. ROBERT WILCOX on February 9th, 2011 9:55 am

    love the idea of e-cards thanks

  18. Brian Morris on February 9th, 2011 10:50 am

    Your blog is never boring but full of ideas. As the one gentleman said, some of us (for a variety of reasons), can only live vicariously when it comes to visiting some of the places Monique and you have been.

    Like others I wonder some times how you manage to do what you do from a financial point of view, but at ther end of the day that is your business not ours. One thing for sure if we ever win the lottery the first stop after picking up the cheque will be to our local RV Center for a “Class A” motor home.

    The E-card is a great idea and I am sure will be of benefit to many people myself included. Keep safe and happy trails!

  19. Marshall on February 9th, 2011 11:15 am

    I really like the ePostcard thing. Never new you could just use the bcc by itself, so I learned something, too.

  20. Fred Brandeberry on February 9th, 2011 12:20 pm

    Hi guys & gals:
    We preserve bandwidth while sharing a Hot Spot.

    Our family and friends post their pix on Facebook, and they send us an e-mail telling us to go look.

    If g’ma wants a copy, I wend it to Walgreen’s(or Walmart) and pick the photos on a move day.

    Pictures eat bandwidth and slow down the web experience.

    Happy Camping,
    Fred b.

  21. glenn on February 9th, 2011 2:02 pm

    If the boss says it’s boring, well I guess it must be, but I sure like it! We are about to head out for 5 months, hopefully the money planning part is right!

  22. KHart on February 9th, 2011 3:55 pm

    Boring???? Monique doesn’t know what boring means. No, your blog is great…entertaining, informative, and amusing. Sadly, Monique has just found herself in a venue that is not of interest to her. I would find a sports’ blog boring because I’m not that interested in sports. She just needs to find her own nitch.

    Keep up the good work and thank you.

  23. GaryM on February 10th, 2011 6:00 pm

    Excellent and thanks for telling me how to do it. By the way, I have the very first picture on your ecard hanging on the wall in my house. It is beautiful.

  24. marianj on February 18th, 2011 4:18 pm

    I loved your blog about your trip to Alaska. It is never boring to read your blog. Marianj

  25. Neveah on May 15th, 2011 3:57 pm

    That’s a mold-breaker. Great thniking!

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