Wish You Were Here
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).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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:
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