As a small business owner—yes, writing books is a small business!—I’m always looking for interesting ways to get myself and my books in front of new readers. So when Paperless Post approached me, I thought “Why not?”
I’d recently released Any Other Love and thought Paperless Post’s cards would be a fun way to announce the book to my readers. I have to admit, at first I misunderstood and thought they were sending me 800 free coins for physical cards. I had visions of swag postcards dancing in my head. So I was a little bummed when I discovered I was “only” getting digital cards. My first thought was “Who sends e-cards anymore? It’s not the ’90s!” My second thought was “I can make this work.”
In the meantime, I’d set up giveaways via Goodreads for Just One More Minute and Any Other Love paperbacks. I decided that using Paperless Post would be a fun way to let my email list know about the giveaways, and started off by browsing their Business Launch and Event cards.
Figuring out the Paperless Post site came with a bit of a learning curve. I’d expected an interface more like Vistaprint’s, where I can edit text boxes with just one click, and place them wherever I want. Paperless Press is sort of like that; I could edit the text, but I couldn’t move it around on the card. I found myself a bit limited with what I could do. I could also start with a blank card and add my own image, but I only got a single large text box superimposed over the image. Since the image I planned to use was a book cover with its own text, that wouldn’t work.
I thought I’d just use a teaser, then, but I couldn’t resize the image; when I uploaded it, Paperless Post dropped it onto the card at an odd size. It took some playing around, but I ultimately found a card that matched the cover of Just One More Minute. (I’d really wanted to use Any Other Love‘s cover, but beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose.)
The design just so happened to have an envelope liner option that exactly matched Just One More Minute, which was cool but there wasn’t a way to choose an exact color. If I’d stuck with the Any Other Love cover, I would’ve ended up with a card that clashed.
I also wasn’t sure why an e-card needed an envelope, but what do I know?
Paperless Post’s behind-the-scenes magic automatically addresses each envelope for you. (Their physical cards have a similar option, and you can have Paperless Post mail them out for you.) I could’ve chosen a fancy stamp, but I stuck with the default one because it would’ve been at least one more coin per email address. Each card starts off costing two coins per email, and I have almost 400 subscribers, so I had to be careful.
Here’s where I spent an embarrassing amount of time being confused. On the next screen, you can pick a reply card option. Since I was just letting people know about the giveaways, not inviting them to an event where they’d have to RSVP, I didn’t need the default “yes or no” reply card. It took me a bit of playing around to figure out how to change it to a simple call to action with a linked button.
I could’ve changed the reply card’s design and its backdrop, but I decided to keep them simple. I wanted the book to be the focus.
I also couldn’t figure out how to change the text on the reply card. Hoping I could figure it out later, I clicked “done.” I didn’t have to wait long, because on the next screen, I could customize the text itself.
Finally, it was time to add my recipients. I could add them one by one, or I could import contacts under the “email list” option. I initially thought the email list option actually connected my MailChimp account, for example, and then imported my subscribers. That would be cool. Instead, I got a downloadable spreadsheet and had to manually add 300+ people to it. Thank goodness for copy and paste; I exported my MailChimp list as a .csv, then copied the names and emails.
To be fair, my use of the card was a bit unorthodox; Paperless Post is intended for things like birthday parties and weddings. The average person would’ve just imported their contacts from their address book.
Before sending my card, I previewed it in my browser and emailed myself a test.
Then I sent the card off! I sent it to myself, as well, so I was able to open up the actual email and make sure everything worked properly.
The animation is actually pretty cool. I saw right away why I needed an envelope. The flap opens and the card slides out. That’s not the coolest part, though.
Once my cards were sent, I could see who opened them in real time. My readers could even send me private messages.
If this were an event requiring RSVPs, recipients could click yes or no, and I’d see right away which they’d chosen. For my purposes, though, I could see as soon as someone opened it. I didn’t know whether they clicked my link, though—at least not through Paperless Post’s interface. (Instead, I used my website traffic stats to get a general idea of how many people clicked.)
I got a few messages thanking me for the giveaway, which was pretty cool. When I send regular newsletters, it’s rare that I get replies. (Does my aunt count? No? Damn.) It’s totally okay, because my email list has a higher than industry open rate, so I know my readers care. (Seriously—experts say to feel lucky if 18% of subscribers open; my average is something like 30%.)
All told, sending these e-cards would’ve cost me about $75 out of pocket. (I used 755 coins; 600 coins cost $60 USD and an additional 200 coins are $28—or I could’ve purchased 1,000 coins for $90.) Also, you can’t use coins to send paper cards. Though it’s an interesting concept, I’m not sure that I would spend $75 on e-cards. On the other hand, their RSVP response and private message system for paper cards would’ve come in handy when I got married. Their prices for print cards are comparable to, say, Vistaprint, so check them out!
When was the last time you sent an e-card? Let me know in the comments!
Disclaimer: Paperless Post provided me with 800 free coins in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.