HOW TO GET STARTED WITH YOUR VERY FIRST PENPAL
About a week ago I shared a Pin that briefly showed how to get started with your first penpal. This post is a deeper dive into where to begin. Let me know if you have any questions or want to add anything in the comments!
DECIDE ON YOUR STYLE
Think about what sort of letters you want to send and receive, before you do anything else. (Do not start buying all sorts of supplies yet! 🙄) Think about all the different ways you could penpal. Do you want traditional snail mail? Post cards only? Email? There are endless possibilities here so lock this part down first, so that you can work your way through the next steps.
If you’re only interested in swapping supplies with a penpal you want to know that upfront. Maybe you don’t want to exchange anything physically at all. What sort of aesthetic are you looking for? Answering these sorts of questions will help narrow down where you find a penpal, and how to go about it.
My first suggestion (which I overlooked) is to consider starting off with someone you already know. Do you have friends who might enjoy this as much as you? Maybe a long lost friend who has moved away, or a friend of a friend you know of, might share some of your interests. Ask around a little bit, you might be surprised to find that someone fairly close is willing to exchange with you!
There are a bunch of online forums, websites, and Facebook groups to help pen friends find one another. Instagram is also a great place to search because you can sometimes see the pretty things your potential penpal has already shared with others. Check out (or follow) hashtags like #penpalswanted or #penpalsearch to see who is currently in the market for a new penpal. I have even used an app (Slowly) to exchange with new friends, and eventually send snail mail.
Now that you’ve found someone you feel may be a good fit, it’s time to get to know them a little. Introduce yourself to them individually if you can. Tell your potential penpal a bit about yourself, and your penpal style (discovered above in the first step), and see if you mesh well. You want to keep your introduction pretty brief, but informative. You can always expand in your first few letters.
Tell them what sort of exchanging you would prefer, and what you are comfortable with. Talk about the things you have in common. Decide who will write first. As you message each other before writing you may think of things to write about later on, so take some mental notes.Some may want to jump straight into the letters, if that’s ok with you too, go for it.
DECORATE THE ENVELOPE
Of course this one only applies to snail mail but even for email/apps there are little photos you can include or colors you can apply. For those of you sending traditional snail mail, give the receiver a little something extra to smile at when they check the mail! It’s fun to get something pretty in the mail once in a while but this can also serve as a little teaser for what’s inside the envelope.Show off your style, just remember to keep in mind the postal service you are using. The postal person/machine must still be able to read your penpal’s address in order to get the letter to them.
Also just as a heads up, different sized/shaped letters can sometimes have additional charges for postage. Check with your postal service to confirm before you get started.
WRITE YOUR LETTER
Unbelievable, we’re already to the fifth step and only now do you finally get to write your letter! You may want to switch up the order here but personally, decorating the envelope gets my creative juices flowing for the letter I’m about to write.
This is likely a good time to reintroduce yourself, now that you have the space to go a little more into detail. Tell your new pen friend a little more about you. You don’t need to draw out a diagram and give them a full history, remember that you two have forever to get to know one another, one letter at a time. It may even be a good idea to leave some things open-ended, so that the two of you can discuss the topic(s).
Share your hobbies, thoughts, artwork, the weather, whatever you feel comfortable with. You two will eventually get to know each other and your letter styles. I’ll be sharing a follow-up post to this one on what to include along with your letter, if you’re not subscribed you can here, so you don’t miss it.
I just want to take a sec to remind you to check with the postal service where you are and where the letter is going. Some may not allow you to mail certain things and you don’t want your letter to arrive mangled by a stranger. Stay safe. Depending upon the situation you may want to receive your penpal letters at a P.O. Box instead of at your home address. Be careful with what you send as well.
I hope you all enjoyed this post! I have only recently joined the penpal community but have really thoroughly enjoyed myself thus far. I got a little too excited and ended up with more penpals than intended, which led to my learning a few tips I wanted to pass on here. There was a sense of panic that washed over me initially but nothing I can’t handle, turns out it was misplaced anxiety anyway. It’s been so cool “meeting” people from different places and learning different cultures. I look forward to continuing to correspond with each of them, and share what I pick up with all of you!
You can find my P.O. Box info here.
CONTINUE THE SERIES: WHAT TO SEND TO YOUR PENPAL