Hosting a Swap is fun and timeconsuming

The DIY Postcard Swap 2010 is closed for signups and most postcards have been sent out, some already received around the globe. Thank you! I’m breathing a bit easier over here, thinking that this was a great experience and trial for me.

Sending 2

I have been wanting to host a swap for a few years, inspired by 10 for 10 handmade postcards on a theme that Myra set up a few years back. I just didn’t know when I would have the time and energy to do it… It was quite by accident it finally happened, as I mentioned it on #craftsocial gathering at twitter. That idea, simply thrown out there, were encouraged by a few women who twittered their interested back to me. In the spur of the moment I promised to set it up on my blog, and a few days later I did. I too needed a little push.

And then the storm was set in motion. I’m not writing this to complain, or to get sympathy or more thanks. I’ve been thanked enough, you are all very generous with your praise and by sending me kind words. I simply want to write about my experience and about what I’ve learned from arranging this swap, up until now. It’s true that you learn from everything, and organizing a big event is a great teacher, even if it’s just a virtual one.

Post Office after hours (Copyright Hanna Andersson)

From the beginning I knew I had to be organized, so I set up a spreadsheet in Excel with three fields for information. Email, home address and URL for bloggers. And every time I got an e-mail I copied the information to the “database” and e-mailed back to inform about the rules and that they were signed up for the swap. I was thinking that if I did that it would also be a reminder that you should start making 10 handmade postcards. I know myself, I sometimes visit blogs, sign up for interesting stuff and then forget about it because there is so much going on inside my head…

It is quite funny that many US citizens didn’t add their country to their address in this international swap, while all other nations did. I’m not going to speculate on what that means, but I have an idea… hehe. In the swap there were people from Sweden, New Zealand, Wales, UK, Germany, France, Norway, Lithuania, Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Canada, Singapore, Italy, Poland and Finland. As one person is in Cape Verde it’s safe to say all continents were represented.

I got just a little bit irritated some days with folks sending requests saying Is there room left in the swap? and Fun! I want to sign up! etc etc. to which I had to reply that 1) there is not a head limit but 2) you do have to send your home address to sign up! It sounds so easy… How did so many find out about the swap if they didn’t read the simple rules? I know they couldn’t know I’d already gotten five of the same question that day… hehe. I’m most grateful for everyone who helped spread the word about the swap on blogs and twitter. A big thank you to everyone who helped! Many came from well visited Alice of Futuregirl that was kind enough to link to the swap, along with many other great people!

Sending, sooon (Photo by iHanna - Hanna Andersson)

Maybe the rules were too easy or written in a confusing way for some of you? But I wanted to leave most things open for interpretation. I guess those that needs guidelines find that hard. Some people have painted both sides of their postcards, others sent them anonymous without a word of hello, others have written encouragement and kind regards. I got a cute one with a hidden surprise sewn in on the side! Handmade postcards are comfortable in envelopes but awesome when they travel lighter. I think it’s all good, and up to you!

It was totally my bad that I did not look in my calendar when I decided on an end date for the sign-up period. I had to close the signup a few days early, so some of you where left out, so sorry about that. Some if you were disappointed by not signing up earlier, but please know that there will be plenty of opportunities to swap in the future. I’ll get to that part in a bit. I got a bit stressed as I sat there, sending out 160 e-mails just before leaving for a few days of skiing. I went cross eyed a few times, but I think the few mistakes I did are taken care of by now! Everyone has got their 10 swap addresses along with the e-mail I wrote. Phew!

I got help with a specially-made-for-me Excel programmed script that creates a copy-paste field with everything I want to include – in each e-mail! All 10 addresses are included, along with a blog link (if existing) and my e-mail text in the right order. All this is exported with just one click. Without that there would’ve been many (more) mistakes from my side in this swap. I’m so lucky to know a geek who thought it was fun to write a script like that for me. :-)

Postal Bike NOT in use right now (Photo by iHanna, Copyright Hanna Andersson)

In a way we are all geeks, right? Creative geeks, yes. Mail art obsessed geeks even. Getting a kick out of making messy postcards, putting together collages, drawing and writing messages to strangers. As I wrote my own postcards I was thinking about how the postcard is like a IRL web of connections, and that was before I had even seen Diana’s video! I feel like I’ve spread my creativity into the world with these postcards, and I’m very very grateful to all of you for signing up, participating, being creative, parting with your beautiful creations and following through on your end of the swap deal.

In conclusion. I could do a swap again, but I’m not making any promises! Another swap will probably be a year from now if it happens. I need to do other things too! I need to get back to my Art Journal now!

Be organized

If you decide to host a postcard swap, or any swap, this is my advice: be organized from the beginning. File away answered emails in a special swap folder for reference. Write back to everyone, take time to answer questions, make sure you have time for organizing a swap, because it does take some time from your day. If you’ve got a well visited blog and don’t want lots of work, have a shorter sign up period! If you don’t have many visitors coming to your blog each day, expect less work but put some time into market your swap by telling your friends via email and twitter etc.

Some of the very first people to sign up to this swap were my BFF, my cousin, me, my mom and my moms co-workers! :-) My cousin came here for a crafternoon, working with papers and collage while I cut up my own cards and sorted through papers. Mom’s postcards are sewn roses, they are just amazingly beautiful. Lucky me, I got to pick one too!

On the roof (Photo by iHanna, Copyright Hanna Andersson)

I got three postcards in the mail box today. How many did you get?

Join the DIY Postcard Swap

If you want to join my Do it Yourself Postcard Swap, you can and you’d be most welcome! The more the merrier. The best way is to subscribe to my Newsletter and I’ll let you know when the next one is. It’s easy to join the newsletter and I don’t send it out very often, so join now!

Cool DIY Postcard Videos

* Diana Trout made a beautiful video about how she painted her cool postcards for the swap, it’s called Connected – check it out!

* Yolie has made several video’s about her postcards, check out her first at youtube: Postcard video where she says: If I can do it, you can do it!

I ♥ that!

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31 Responses to Hosting a Swap is fun and timeconsuming

  1. Toni Brown says:

    I’m certain I sent my address when you first announced this idea.
    I’m certain I’ve sent you 2 emails asking WHERE DO I FIND MY ASSIGNED ADDRESSEES?
    I’m certain yesterday I received 4 mail art pieces.
    I’m certain there will be individuals who will NOT receive mail because I still haven’t heard from you, still can’t find any links to where I can discover who I’m to mail to, etc.
    I’m certain I feel badly, but I no longer have a window of time to create the art to send to these individuals.
    I’m certain it sucks getting lost in the cracks.
    To everyone who sent ME mail art, I love them, and I honestly appreciate it.

  2. iHanna says:

    Hi Toni, I’ve sent you your addresses several times. Maybe they are in your spam folder if you’re not getting them? Please check there,. or try to contact me from another email address. The cards should already be finished, so I don’t understand what you mean that you don’t have time to create them? I hope we can solve this!? I’ll resend them again right now!

  3. U2kitteh says:

    Hi Hanna! I asked to join, but then didn’t send my information because I chickened out! Silly me, cluck cluck! Maybe next time I will not be so shy. ;)
    I am not surprised at how big your swap got…we all love you so much out here in internetland!…and it seems everyone wanted a chance to play with you!
    I have totally been enjoying all the beautiful art everyone has been posting on the Flickr group.
    I’d say, for hositing first swap and for one of this giant magnitude…WELL DONE! =cD ::clap::clap::clap::

  4. Jeannine says:

    This is such a great post … organizing a swap is hard work and I think you’ve explored the process (pros and cons) with honesty and tact. I’m sorry I couldn’t participate in your postcard swap, but do look forward to seeing the artwork!

  5. April Harvey says:

    Hi there Hanna! Thanks again for hosting such a wonderful swap, I had a great time making my postcards and I can’t wait to receive whatever people have sent.

    We don’t know each other but I was wondering if I could ask for a favour? I’m currently trying to help my 6 year old niece earn her “Cool Collecting” Brownie badge. She thought postcards would be nice to collect so I’ve been asking on my LJ and various other places if people would be willing/interested in sending her an age appropriate postcard, handmade/bought doesn’t matter. Since you were able to reach so many people on your blog I was wondering if you would mind posting about this.

    People can email visit my blog to contact me about this. I still had a great time participating in your swap and I’d love to do it again in the future. Thanks for taking the time to read this :)


  6. Robin says:

    Hi Hanna! I really enjoyed participating and I got my first post card in the mail today! I’m sure it was a huge logistical nightmare for you but think about all the art flying across the globe because of your wonderful idea! My cards got out a little late because the addresses were in my spam folder but they were sitting waiting to be mailed! I LOVED this swap and THANK YOU THANK YOU!

  7. Paula says:

    Hanna, I have had such a good time watching all the postcards wing their way about! Thanks for the links in this post…so much fun to watch others create!

  8. MissKoolAid says:

    Dear Hanna,
    You did a wonderful job of organizing and hosting this swap. I applaud you. I was thinking of hosting a swap myself but I’m not sure anymore! Maybe during summer when I have more time to myself.

  9. Amanda says:

    Dear Hanna,

    Oh dear, where to start. I was imagining how difficult it was going to be to organize so many people. And I KNOW for a fact I was one of those annoying people! I am sorry!
    As for Americans not including USA in their address…well.. many Americans forget that there are actually many interesting and different countries around this beautiful globe… and it does not cross their minds often. heh, I use to be more that way.. Partially it is because our country is so very big and we tend to get a little absorbed sometimes… Like I was just thinking about the Olympics and how I live so close to Canada, yet I forget all the time that they speak French there! Sooo bad. Serious.
    Anyway enough about that.
    I appreciate all that you did, I had so much fun with it and I have been feeling extremely inspired lately to DO more, and to meet more creative people no matter which planet they come from :)
    That inspiration would not exist without your idea for this swap.

    That said, hope you get to unwind from it all! Take care :)


  10. Stephanie says:

    Oh! I just looked at your blog YESTERDAY and I so wish I had seen the swap in time to sign up! I really, really enjoy sending postcards and letters right now, and this would have been a fun challenge for me. I’m considering hosting my own now, a small one, since I didn’t get to participate in yours. ;) Thanks for the wrap-up post!

  11. Janet says:

    Thank you so much for organizing this wonderful swap. I’m sure it takes a lot of time and energy to keep everything straightened out and running smoothly. There will always be problems but for me, I had a great time.

    I do have to apologize to the people who received my postcards as I forgot to put my personal information on them! I was in such a hurry to mail them out that I forgot!

  12. GIna Lee Kim says:

    Dear Hanna,
    I am extremely grateful for all your efforts. Thank you for organizing this postcard swap. I can’t imagine how much time it took out of you! Please take heart–your rules were extremely easy. Please also know that it was a wonderful experience & a joyful pleasure to participate in. It couldn’t have come at a more perfect time in my life; my creative soul needed it. The postcards are trickling in my mailbox & bring a smile to my face. I’ve gotten 4 so far and thanked each person by visiting their blog/flickr.
    Again, I am so honored & blessed by what you single-handedly did. Thank you, Hanna.
    p.s. I am grateful to have married an Englishman because when I write to my mother-in-law in the U.K., I always include “U.S.A” in the return address. (I shall lovingly remind my fellow Americans to do the same :)

  13. I didn’t realize how many people were in the swap! Kudos to you- you are far braver than I! Thank you so much for hosting, I have received 2 beautiful postcards already and had a lot of fun! I’ll be posting the photos soon =)

  14. katie says:

    Hanna – this swap was a real joy to take part in and now that the postcards are coming in it is exciting too! I remember I wrote to ask you about organising a swap myself and i really appreciate this post and the details of how you found this. I really admire the approach you took and the skill you have in managing the IT part! I have decided i simply don’t have the time at present – and for this I really want to thank you – because i might have launched in without this honest feedback!
    so – well done Hanna! and thank you to all my postcard makers!

  15. Amy says:

    I’m certainly not organized enough to do something like this, which is why I’m glad you are! I have received five postcards so far, and I’m looking forward to the next five!

  16. Toni Brown says:

    I didn’t mean to sound so SNOTTY and ARROGANT on that comment up top!!! Oh my GAWD! It was frustration and disappointment coming through. I apologize for that, for my tone, all of it!!

  17. Carol says:

    Thanks for all your efforts. This has touched a lot of lives and pushed people to be creative and share their creativity!! That is quite a feat.
    I am sure this was a ton of work.

  18. Marie English says:

    Hi Hanna, This was the first time I’ve ever tried anything like your postcard swap, and I had a blast. It was a total challenge to create something, but I sent them out happily. I have now received two fabulous cards, and can’t wait to see what comes along.
    Thank you for hosting such a fun event.

  19. Tammy says:

    Hanna, My first swap *ever* has been a lovely experience. You’ve done a fab job organizing, providing creative ideas, communication and positive feedback. I especially like that you stayed involved and added ways for us to get involved… and of course, Mr. Linky. ~ Tammy

  20. Britten says:

    Thanks a lot for the swap, my first ever. I really liked it and will join anotherone. A really good work. Thank you!

  21. Robin says:

    It’s me again! I got your beautiful postcard in the mail! I’m so incredibly honored to have received one from YOU! I love the texture and colors are just so “me!” Thank you Thank you!
    (mine was the beautiful one with the two flowers sewn into it) I will post pictures soon!

  22. Deb says:

    Hanna, you did a great job hosting this swap. I enjoyed making and receiving, I have received 6 out of the 10 so far. It had been a long time since I had last participated in a swap and this one was easy…the rules were very clear and the timeline was generous. Thank you for taking on this huge responsibility. You inspired me to join SwapBot and now I am looking forward to doing more. Thanks again!

  23. Chris says:

    oh, my heavens. Hanna, you can’t seriously think you made mistakes, can you?! Your swap was SO organized and easy to understand, and you were SO attentive, the swap almost did itself!! You were fabulous.

    I have gotten five of the postcards I’m waiting for, and sorry to say, one seems to have gotten destroyed, judging by the information given by the sender, but I’m holding out hope that it gets to me. But every time I’ve gotten one of my postcards it brings a BIG smile to my face! It’s a joy, and it gives more joy when I add it to my gifties through the last few years and plan how I am going to organize and display them. It’s a simple but complex thing! Love it.

    Thanks for all your hard work. I have been going through Mr. Linky bit by bit when I have time to visit everyone. We are all geeks, but we’re unique geeks! Hey! There’s a title for your next book!!

  24. Chris says:

    These are really fun photos, by the way.

  25. JaPRA says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of the hard work you put into this fun swap! Every day or so my postie delivers another beautiful work of art in my mailbox. It certainly has brightened up my dreary winter days!

  26. surfbunny says:

    Hanna, you did a wonderful job and just thinking about keeping track of all those people is enough to drive one nuts. I’m happy that I got to participate. It was fun making the postcards and challenging our small town post office to figure out how to mail to more than USA and Mexico. I have received 9 postcards and feel blessed to have communicated with so many people. I wish a couple of them had put email or someother return type address on their cards so I could tell them they arrived.

    Thanx again

  27. iHanna says:

    Thanks for commenting and giving feedback on the swap!

    Surfbunny, I too wish everyone would’ve put their e-mail address on their card, it’s nice to get back to people and say thank you. I’m going to emphasize that if I do another swap! :-)

  28. Pingback: iHanna’s Blog » Blog Archive » Celebrating 2010 - My Creative Achivements List

  29. Janice Sturm says:

    I was so happy to open my mail today and find there was to be another iHanna post card trade! I applaud you for hosting these postcard swaps, it must be terrible time consuming.
    I missed the Fall swap by just a couple of days do to illness and was very disappointed .
    Hospitals are so weird…not allowing patients to do art work from their beds 😃
    Thanks again for all your work.

  30. Darlene Porter says:

    Love the swaps❤️

    • iHanna says:

      Thank you so much.
      You don’t know how much that means to me, especially today when I got a very strange e-mail from a person who signed up writing: “I don’t know how this work, can someone call me?” OMG, this corporation is closed for people who doesn’t read the rules or what they’re signing up to! ;-) Will deal tomorrow.

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