Friday, July 24, 2009

Missive Maven

The Missive Maven is one of my favorite blogs on letter writing. She sends and receives the coolest mail and she includes photos that show you her fun cool mail. And, I've found that if you send her something, she will most likely post about it and send something back to you! How cool is that?

She's also got a ton of cool links on her site that will take you to all kinds of other interesting blogs, mostly on letter writing, stationery, postcards, stamps. I love it!

Miss Maven also did a blog on my letter writing and journal surveys and I got a lot of people saying they found the surveys through her blog. Thanks, Ilona!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More Survey Results for Letters & Journals

The results from the Journal portion of the survey show a propensity for voyeurism as many people responded that they would like to see articles on how other people journal. I confess that I'm fascinated with that too.

Here are some of the highlights of the Journal Survey:

75.6% would like to see new/different ways of keeping a journal

74.4% would like to see how other people experience journaling

66.3% would like to read about different products in the journal market

66.3% would like to see different types of journals (art, nature, parenting, treasure maps, travel, idea).

People have been very generous with their time and ideas in sharing this information and offering suggestions and comments for things they would like to see in the magazine Letters & Journals. Thank you! (If you haven't taken this quick 3 minute survey, there is still time and I would encourage you to do so.)

Finally, as an added bonus for those who are interested, Becky Higgins is offering two printable PDFs (one for adults and one for teens) on her blog. This is to help you write your life story. If you've been meaning to do it but don't know where to start, this is a good place.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Some Survey Results for Letters & Journals

I've been watching the surveys come in for the letter writing and journal writing surveys that I've been conducting. I'm trying to gather additional information of what types of articles people want to see in the Letters & Journals magazine. I've gotten some great feedback and am taking copious notes for future articles and potential advertisers.

In this post I will focus on the letter writing survey. In my next post I will look at the results from the journaling survey.

Letter Writing
For the letter writing survey 50% of the 100+ respondents said that they write between 1-3 letters per month. 17% said they wrote over ten letters a month (I would be in this group) and 16% said they wrote 4-6 letters per month. I realize that the survey is skewed because most of the people taking the survey are letter writers, which drives the number up. It's not like surveying the general public of which many would say they write 0 letters a month.

Some of the articles that people said they would like to see in Letters & Journals include:

58.7% Product Reviews of Pen & Stationery items
57.9% Art of Mail Art
51.6% Pen Pal Corner
50.8% Letters in the Attic (Genealogy)
49.2% Desks of Famous Letter Writers (and Readers)

Some interesting suggestions that readers offered include these great ideas:

History of letter delivery (in the US and other places)
Letter writing protocol over the ages
Postcards (web sites that promote them, collections, etc)
Stamps (like an intro to stamp collecting)
Letter writing campaigns- Do they work?

If you haven't taken either of the two surveys, you can visit them here. They take less than 3 minutes to complete (unless you're in the mood to offer lots of suggestions, which are very welcome). Please forward this link on to others who may be interested. Thanks!

A special thanks to my friends who took the surveys even though they don't write letters or keep a journal. Thank you!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Letters & Journals Magazine Update

The Letters & Journals magazine is starting to take shape. Kathy at Daisy Mae Design has been busy creating the magazine flag. After 3 weeks of submissions and tweaking, we believe we have found the design of the flag, mistakenly, but commonly, called the masthead. Next is cover and feature design. Can you feel the excitement building?

While Kathy has been designing, I have been in the planning stages of creating the web site for launch in 2010. My plan is to start small with a basic web site and grow as the magazine grows. If there is one piece of advice I have received from the various magazine publishers I spoke with, the common theme has been start small.

Where to Start When Building a Web Site
I'm lucky enough to be employed at iProduction, a company that builds and hosts web sites for mid-size B2B publishers, so I've learned A LOT over the years as to what goes into making a great web site.

My education started in 2006 with the Mequoda Method. Following their own practice of offering lots of free content to registered users, the Mequoda web site is a wealth of knowledge on where to start and what to do when creating or updating your web site. And if you want to follow Amanda MacArthur, Editor and Publisher at Mequoda, on Twitter, she is a hoot and updates a lot (@amaaanda on Twitter and @mequoda on Twitter)

Here is a starting point for building a web site (NOTE: This is just a starting point):

1. Decide the purpose of the web site (How will success be measured)

2. Find web site designs that you like (Design, Function, Artwork, Whatever)

3. Create your taxonomy (Define your departments and how information will be organized)

4. Hire somebody to bring it altogether

There is much more than this, but as I mentioned earlier, this is a starting point. At some point you'll need to consider how to handle site registrations, newsletter frequency, advertising, order placement, fulfillment, etc. But if you think of EVERYTHING that needs to be done, you will get overwhelmed. Much better to break it into chunks and manage them as you go.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Pens & Notebooks

I love the internet! How else can a person so easily find others who share their same interest? I love pens and notebooks. The feel of a generously inked fine point pen over smooth paper...heaven. Pictured here is a stack of my current notebook/day planner stash.

And here are some blogs I've recently discovered who pontificate splendidly on the pleasures of ink and paper.

Future: Nostalgic, a pen lover from the UK, writes about a great pen find in this particular post. I found him on Twitter (@futurenostalgic).

Unposted was also found on Twitter (@nrepose) and also writes about pens, notebooks and other miscellany. Both of these blogs have wonderful links to many other like-minded blogs, some of which are listed below.

Pen Chronicles
Pen Addict
Pen Archives
Everyday Correspondence
Viva Snailmail

What's wonderful is that each of these blogs list other blogs of likemindedness (is that a word? Well, I think it should be if it's not).

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Letter Writing in the News

There is a new service that will print your emails and send them to your parents, grandparents or whomever you would for a fee of $9.95/month. The service is called Sunnygram and this article was recently featured in Time magazine. Sunnygram is trying to bridge the gap between those who only want to communicate in their computer generated environment and those who don't have or use a computer.

At first, I thought that was silly, and although I can't imagine ever having need of it, you have to admire someone finding a niche product to fill the communication gap. And if this is the only way for some of these people to get the emails and photos from friends and family, then it is worth the fee- especially considering that once the account is set up for the recipient you can have as many people as you want to send them email and photos for the price of just the one account.

One Husband, Two Kids, Three Deployments
On the other hand, an article more dear to my heart - letter writing. In this article the letter once again enriches lives of those it touches as written in this op-ed piece of the NY times. I actually came across this beautifully written piece while visiting the Green Paper Company blog.
Melissa Seligman talks about each of her husband's deployments and how the couple started with webcams and then found, eventually, that letters were more intimate. I won't say any more. You must read the article.