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Thread: HOW TO: Pack & Mail your Cards for Swaps

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    Thumbs up HOW TO: Pack & Mail your Cards for Swaps

    HOW TO: Pack and Mail your ATCs for Swaps
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    original article by Sarah Zamora, first posted here. August, 20, 2007. updated Feb 2008. all rights reserved.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    You've found ATCs, woohoo! Now that you've made the art, what next?
    Here are some tips about shipping them off, so they'll reach their new homes safely and swiftly.



    First: What goes on the back?
    There are lots of variety of opinions on this.

    Here are a variety of examples of card backs:


    At a MINIMUM, make sure you put:
    --First and Last Name
    --USERNAME (mine is OriginalYouth)

    I highly recommend also adding:

    --Title of the card
    --Title of the swap it was for (if it is a group swap)
    --Date the card was created
    --Contact information (address or email address, etc.)
    --Signature

    Other things people sometimes put:
    --City, State, Country (We like to know where our cards are from!)
    --Number of series/edition/ATC you've ever made
    --Who the card was made for (if it's a personal swap)
    --Materials/media used.
    --Cute sticker, stamp, drawing or other decoration. (If you want it to look pretty!)


    HOW to put it on the back?
    --Use an ATC sized piece of paper, write it out.
    --Print sheets with your information on them
    --Use an address label and date stamp
    --Purchase a specialised ATC back rubber stamp

    There isn't a right or wrong way, just do them the best you see fit!

    Next. How to Package them for mailing?
    --First, get clear plastic sleeves for your cards.
    They are not mandatory for all swaps, but they help protect your cards; from each other, transfer of glue, pencil, ink, etc, and moisture. Here are places to buy them: Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby, Comic stores, Baseball/Sports cards stores, Ebay, and other online sources. The cheap ones are just fine, and can be found for approximately 1 cent each. (packs of 100)
    --Next, secure the cards TO EACH OTHER. This way they are not rattling around in the envelope while in transit, which can cause the envelope to rip as it shifts weight in the machines.

    Overlapped taping method:


    Side-by-side taping method:


    Both of these use a piece of cardstock behind, to secure them and keep the envelope stiff. I use clean postcards from my church (leftovers from events) and shiny junk mail.

    -FreidaQuilter uses the 9-pocket pages, cut to size. Read more here.

    WHAT ELSE DO I INCLUDE?
    --For a group swap, check the guidelines. Usually you'll need a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope (for your returns).
    --Make sure to read carefully for instructions about anything else the host wants done.

    2 Things that are almost ALWAYS appreciated:
    --A quick note! Nothing in depth, just a 'thanks for the swap'
    --Extra postage. New stamps help a host pay for International returns.

    --*If you want to add more, here are some ideas. Please read the host's swap instructions to see what their preferences are; there are a few hosts that do not want to receive ANY extras.
    -Extra ATC as a Host/Hostess card
    -ATC blanks (most of us always want to make more cards!)
    -Pretty papers, stickers, fibers, embellishments (for COLLAGE artists only, a hand-drawn or digital artist might have no use for these!)
    -Ephemera (papers in another language, postcards, tickets, maps, travel info)
    -Stickers for the host's kids to play with (always fun!)

    NOTE: This is completely optional, and are just little gifts to say thanks!
    You can always check the host's 'WISH LIST' in the bottom of their profile for more ideas.

    NOW, HOW TO I ADDRESS MY ENVELOPE?
    I know we all learned the basics of this when we were in 3rd grade, but there are some finer tips that will help our mail get to it's new home safely and swiftly.

    First, what NOT to do:



    Next, best things TO do:


    Summary:
    --Keep it Simple.
    --Print, clearly, in good ink
    --Don't over-decorate the front, it just confuses things!
    --Automated machines read from the bottom up
    - so if you're going to write anything on the envelope or decorate it
    - don't put it on the very bottom or even with the last line of your address, put
    it higher up.
    --For INTERNATIONAL requirements, check the Universal Postal Union website for more information about your country.
    --Here is the DETAILED Tutorial on everthing-you-might-possibly-ever-want-to-know-about-how-to-address-your-envelopes and what everything means (in PDF form)

    POSTAGE!
    --From US: check here for current postal prices: http://www.usps.com/prices/welcome.htm
    --Is your envie thick or heavy and you want to see how much it will cost? Check out this USPS postage calculator.
    --Want to pay for your own postage when the host is in another country? Check out information about IRCs (International Reply Coupons), or contact the host to see if they have a Paypal account.

    Lastly, it's always safer to HAND deliver your envelopes to the local post office, or post office box. It's not possible for everyone, but highly recommended.

    Once again, I just want to reiterate that this article is just MY OPINION of what I have found works best. I've hosted bunches of ATC swaps in 2 years, and participated in 50+ group swaps, and 100's of personal swaps. I've probably sent and received at least 800 envelopes at my home in the past year (yes, my mailman hates me) and I rarely have any problems, and this is the system I use.


    Happy swapping!

    Any questions?
    Last edited by OriginalYouth; 05-18-2010 at 09:31 AM.

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    I'm so glad this awesome advice made it to the new site! But I think you have some images missing...

  3. #3
    ArtzyLady Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Kathyy View Post
    The USPS postage rates are changing May 12, 2008.
    http://www.usps.com/prices/
    UHG! Again???? Sheesh, why don't they just raise it more than 1 cent at a time and get it over with instead of doing an increase every year or so! I will never understand the working of the USPS.....

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    LadyLanda Guest
    Thanks for the helpful tips OriginalYouth!

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    I always send my ATCs in the 9 ATC pages available for 3 ring binders, cut to size, so 6 pockets, 3 or 4 whatever the swap is for. That way they are nice and flat and don't wobble about inside the envelope. The hostess can use the same page to mail my swaps back to me. Here in the U.K. we have to pay more for bulky envelopes, which concentrates the mind!

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    Quote Originally Posted by friedaquilter View Post
    I always send my ATCs in the 9 ATC pages available for 3 ring binders, cut to size, so 6 pockets, 3 or 4 whatever the swap is for. That way they are nice and flat and don't wobble about inside the envelope. The hostess can use the same page to mail my swaps back to me. Here in the U.K. we have to pay more for bulky envelopes, which concentrates the mind!
    GREAT tip, Frieda!

    I've been searching for my pics to update this thread but haven't found them yet. I promise I will update when I find them!
    facebook | youtube | etsy | flickr | wists | OYart | twitter | ***new blog!*** Artful Mayhem Studio - my NEW real life public creative arts center!

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    Okay guys! Links and Images added, whew! I found them via Google Archive!

    Let me know if it is missing any holes.

    Thanks!
    facebook | youtube | etsy | flickr | wists | OYart | twitter | ***new blog!*** Artful Mayhem Studio - my NEW real life public creative arts center!

  8. #8
    bluehills Guest

    Very helpful info--thanks so much

    OY--thanks for this detailed info. The pictures really add a lot, so I especially appreciate you taking the troubled to dig them up.

    Best,

    Anne (bluehills)

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    Excellent tutorial OY.

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    Exellent directions, I hope everyone reads and follows! It makes hosting so much easier!

  11. #11
    Bunnie Guest
    I would like to add that if your envelope is more than 1/4 thick - it will require more postage - even if it weighs less than an ounce.

    This just happened to me. A one on one card swap, but the card was thick - however lightweight.

    I had the girl in my company's mail rooml weigh it for me, she said 41 cents was plenty. However when it was received - (3 weeks later) it came with postage due, because it was over the allowed 1/4 inch thickness.

    Just an FYI

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    joyrip0 Guest
    Very helpful. Thank you.

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    I would be interested to hear what hosts feel about using the ATC pages, as described by friedaquilter?

    I have only done a few swaps, and I have followed this advice, but I think so far I have only once received the swap cards back in the page. I was wondering if it was too much hassle.

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    I was curious if the added weight of the heavier plastic raises the weight and postage costs.

    When I mail swaps, my postal worker is always concerned with how rigid the package is, and often adds the extra charge because they are concerned that it is too stiff to be machined. I generally tape my cards to a backing page (regular bond folded like a letter) with just a slight overlap (most times I send 4 cards side by side).

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    Sorry, I didn't read the rest before I answered SATT, so my mail is about cardboard and not the ATC page.

    It adds weight, which costs extra. I read this thread soon after I joined and was sending out my cards stuck to cardboard, sometimes between two pieces of card to be safe. Until I noticed that the hosts were not complying with the same guidelines. Since then I have changed my packaging and save myself at least 40p per time.
    Last edited by Ibus; 06-27-2008 at 09:19 PM.
    Elizabeth

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bright-Spark View Post
    I would be interested to hear what hosts feel about using the ATC pages, as described by friedaquilter?

    I have only done a few swaps, and I have followed this advice, but I think so far I have only once received the swap cards back in the page. I was wondering if it was too much hassle.
    When I queried why my card was not being used for returns, I was told I would have to request it. Maybe the same applies to your packaging.
    Elizabeth

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    Kynara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OriginalYouth View Post
    Once again, I just want to reiterate that this article is just MY OPINION of what I have found works best.
    You know... the example of the envie with all the whoo-haa all over it IS a no-no in the usps rules so it's not just an opinion

    so to everyone out there that sends sase's with all that on it... please don't!! It might not make it back to you!!

    (sorry. those envies are teensy pet peeve of mine. lol i'll get of my soap box)

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    whoo-haa?
    Elizabeth

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    gobblygoop?

    Quote Originally Posted by kynara View Post
    well? what else would you call all the extra unnecessary stuff around the address hehehe
    Last edited by kristinized; 06-29-2008 at 10:58 AM.

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