How to write a Postcrossing postcard!

5 01 2010

As a rookie I’m still finding out myself what sort of thing I should write on my postcards so this is by no means definitive. Can I just say that “should” doesn’t  even apply because there’s really no right or wrong! It comes down to personal choice and whatever you want to write.

However, if that piece of non-advice still doesn’t satisfy, I would say one of the best things to do before putting pen to postcard is to carefully read the recipient’s profile which will usually give you some idea of the person involved.  Most profiles have something to respond to or interact with in some way – so if they say they like horse-riding, you could recount a funny story about the time you fell off  a horse. Or if they say they like The Beatles, you could write: “I’m a big Beatles fan too, my favourite song is Let It Be…” and so on. Just finding something you have in common and writing about it creates a friendly little bond – friendliness among all men is how I see the project – and is perfect for a short postcard message.

I also try my best to fulfill the wishes of the recipient if they specially request that you write something. They might wish to know your favourite quote or food or film, or something specific about your country. “Write me something in your own language,” is a common one.

It’s a bit disappointing when a postcard just says “Greetings from _____” That’s a huge no-no for me, because my primary drive for Postcrossing, and why I like it so much, is my love of other cultures so I want to hear little things about them! It’s also just not fun. Half the joy of a postcard is the writing so do write something, however lame or silly you might think it. I guarentee the recipient will enjoy it infinitely more than a one-line bore.

I remember when I first wrote my profile and I included a huge list of things I wanted people to write to me. But I soon realised that the space on a postcard is so very small that there just isn’t room to write masses of things. It has to be quite pithy and to the point so don’t flannel!

Be inventive with what you write. One of the best postcards I received recently described walking around Stolkholm at Christmas. It was wonderful because a) it took me a while to read and b) it really gave me a flavour of the sender’s life and culture.

My overall tip is to write as though you are writing to a friend – not a close one but one you can chat to quite cheerfully. Be polite and write with a bit of affection. They are probably Postcrossing for exactly the same reasons as you – because it’s amazing to have someone in a foreign country writing to you! Postcrossers are curious people, curious about the world, so tell them about your corner of it.

This is an example of what I might write on a postcard to send today [if you think it’s lame, give me some advice, please!]:

Dear _____

I hope you are well! It’s so cold here in Britain at the moment: -5 last night and everything is covered in snow! I live in a little English village with my lovely family. I just read the new Dan Brown book – it was rubbish, but fun! In 2010 I want to continue learning French – it’s a beautiful language. I can’t believe the new decade is here!

I wish you all the best. Jenny

If you still feel clueless about how the back of your postcard might look, here’s one that arrived recently from India:


Here’s some other ideas:

♥  Arty types could do little drawings or doodles!

A haiku or poem [not really my thing, but some people like them]

Your favourite song lyric

Why you chose that postcard

A little description of yourself, where you live or your country

♥ What you did today

♥ A nice recipe [hope you can write small!]

♥ Your favourite things – song, film, book etc.

Something funny or sweet

Your thoughts on the recipient’s country – nothing insulting, obviously

And of course the Postcrossing ID!

Always remember that you could be writing to a child.

By the way, the first postcard I ever sent through Postcrossing was destined for Belarus. With no idea what to write, I found about ten other “firsts” from history and wrote them on the postcard to celebrate my debut, adorned it with an English penny, sealed it in an envelope, and off it went. It has never been seen again. Naive stupidity gone, never again will I so ridiculously think that the temptation of a coin could pass unscathed through an Eastern European mail room. So remember that your creativity and thoughtfulness might not make it!

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13 responses

5 01 2010
Futbolowa

Hello :)
I’m really happy, that You like my cards.

PS. You have a great blog. It’s fantastic, that You interested in Postcrossing :)
Best wishes!

6 01 2010
Jenny

thanks for visiting! your blog is really great too!

yes, I adore postcrossing and this blog increases my love for it :)

all the best

6 01 2010
annienz

Great idea for a post!

I’m one who tries to squeeze about as much writing onto the back of the card as possible – if I feel that the recipient’s English may not be quite so good, I do tend to write a bit less and try to make my writing easier to read than my normal scrawl though!
I always bear in mind that the person who only writes a short message may not have much English, and could be using the only sentence or two that they know.

Annie

6 01 2010
Jenny

thanks, i meant to do it a while ago!

i try to write as much as possible too, but my handwriting’s a bit too…”flamboyant” to allow much :D

6 01 2010
PostMuse

Wonderful blog! Hope your love of PostCrossing continues. My words of advise… don’t stress about the eventual expired cards :)

I’m very conscious about what I write on outgoing PostCrossing mail. If I can tell the recipient’s English is not great, I am very careful not to use idioms or slang and keep the message simple so it can be easily translated. And when I do receive postcards with only a “Greetings from….” I accept that it might just be that the sender isn’t fluent in English. It is easier to translate English into your own language than it is to translate your language into English.

I’m Postmuse and Zmrzlina on PostCrossing

7 01 2010
Jenny

Hey thanks for dropping by! Yeah I keep mine quite simple too. I don’t mind at all if they aren’t fluent in English but some of them must be when they have a full profile in perfect English!! And one of the stipulations of PCing is that you need to have basic English… But anyway, I forgive them and love their postcard no matter what!

I checked out your site – it’s great! I love the links to all the other mail projects – so tempting… But I think I’ll stick to PCing as I love the clever system of it so much!

7 01 2010
Jenny

I also wouldn’t mind if they wrote in their own language – I could just type it into Google Translator….hmmm maybe I’ll amend my profile!!

7 01 2010
Lay Hoon

Thanks for these great tips.
I try to write more if possible.

9 01 2010
Sheila

That’s a great list of things to write. It’s handy to have a check list when short of ideas. I most often give some background to the card I’m sending and why I chose it, or why I was in that part of the world. I’m not terribly creative, but I’m rarely short of things to say. I particularly like the idea of a short walk around town. I think I’ll make use of that! :)

27 04 2010
citysoliloquy

Superb post for fledgling Postcrossers.

I never write the same thing on each card because then it because boring for me to write too! I try a mix it up a bit – maybe something about my weekend if it was interesting, our ever-fluctuating weather system here in Calgary, facts about Canada or my city, facts about me, maybe a series of favorite quotes or my favorite things. My main thing is keep it creative and keep it interesting.

I recently went to a craft shop and found the most wonderful stamp and purple inkpad on the bigger postcards I buy I let my artsy side out and stamp down the left hand side as I think it adds a personal touch.

I always, 100% make sure I’ve read the profile for postcard requests, both image and word-wise. Making sure i write the date on the postcard if that’s what the receiver wants. Because like you write above, it’s great if you can make some connection with the reader through similarities between you and them and if you admire their country, say so! I’ve been really flattered when people have read my profile, for example two lovely ladies sent postcards wishing me good luck in my new country and sending greetings from dear old Europe to the New World. I was speechless! :)

18 04 2011
Maxine

Hello there

I just recently got onto postcrossing and am utterly enjoying it!
The only problem is that where I live there are absolutely NO shops that sell postcards! I have to travel 2 hours by car to get some, and then its from a completely different area than what I live in! so my question is on sending photographs of my area??? Is that accepted???
I have the most amazing pictures from where I live! (In the middle of african bush)
So would that be bad, if I get some printed professionally?? Or is it a taboo in the postcrossing world?

Lovies to all

19 04 2011
Jenny

Hi Maxine, many thanks for visiting and commenting. I would say that there are no restrictions on what postcards you send, it’s up to you entirely! There’s no problem with the postcards from your nearest town; you can always explain that you are in the African bush so it’s hard to find cards – I’m sure people would be very impressed! And no, there’s no taboo that I know of about self-printed cards, they sound like they would be fantastic. There is a bit of a taboo about hand-made cards which is why a lot of people say in their bios that they do not want them. But your idea sounds great.

Hope that helps!

21 06 2011
Elma

Hello Jenny

What an incredible blog.
And Maxine,
It would be great to get postcards which are professionally printed rather than those small cards (usually used on (gift ) wrappers) – I do received few cards which are not actual postcards and I get very disappointed as they don’t fall under the category of postcards, and furthermore I do laminate all postcards received and keep going through them when I’m bored or have nothing to do.

Cheers to all
Elma

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