Sending Invitations with Paperless Post (Sponsored)

Launching Books with Paperless Post

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.)

Choose a card from Paperless Post’s designs.
Use the card’s included stock image, or upload your own.

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?

Pick your envelope’s liner.

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.

Customize the stamp on your card’s envelope.

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.

Choose a reply card.

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.

Fill in the details for your reply card.

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.

Add your recipients.
Download the sample spreadsheet, then upload the spreadsheet with your recipients’ names and email addresses.

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.

Preview your card before sending.

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 final product.

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.

View responses and receive private messages in real time.

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.

Review: Give Yourself the “Guts” to Fight (+ Giveaway!)

Schwartz Bioresearch Probiotic
Schwartz Bioresearch Probiotic

Those of you who have been with me for the past 10 years know I’ve been fighting a pesky autoimmune disease that is maybe Lupus. One of my main symptoms is debilitating joint pain, which I combat with a wide toolbox. My greatest ally has been the painkiller Tramadol, which knocks 10/10 pain down to a more bearable 7 or 8. The only downside to taking an opioid like Tramadol is that it can mess with your GI system.

One of my other main concerns about my autoimmune disease is my immune system itself. Since my immune system is confused and attacking my body, it gets even more confused when I come down with something like the common cold. Most people don’t even miss work when they’re sick, but I get knocked on my ass for several days and it almost always leads to a flareup of my autoimmune disease. This means lots of joint pain on top of an already annoying cold, so I try really hard not to get sick in the first place.

I’ve wanted to try a probiotic for a while now, but honestly the ones I’ve seen in stores are expensive. We’re talking like $15 to $20, which is way out of budget when you’re already struggling. I’d basically given up on trying one, until Schwartz Bioresearch contacted me and asked if I’d like to review one of their supplements and host a giveaway. Um, yes please!

Lucky for me, they offer a probiotic. They sent me a free bottle in exchange for my honest review. I don’t get paid for this review, but I do have some goodies for you!

The package itself came fast. Maybe it was expedited since I’m a reviewer, but it arrived three business days after I agreed to participate. I also really liked the packaging itself. The box was super easy to open; I didn’t have to fight with any glue like you do with most things on the market these days. My hands and wrists really appreciated that. However, the plastic around the cap was a pain to get open. It wasn’t perforated like most OTC medicine bottles are, and I don’t have the strength to rip it myself. So I gave up and used scissors. Still, no big deal! The peel-off protective thingy underneath the cap came off super easily.

Speaking of packaging, they were also kind enough to print a coupon for my next order right on the bottle. I thought that was really cool because I’m a busy author and I can easily lose a paper coupon in my various piles of papers, but there’s no way I can lose a whole bottle.

Being a spoonie, I take a lot of pills. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate taking pills. Any time I have to add another one to my pillbox, part of me dies inside. But these capsules go down easy with just a sip of water, and they play nice with my other medication. (Have you ever had a lump of meds get stuck in your throat? It’s not a fun thing.)

From what I understand, it can take a few weeks to get the full effect of probiotics. I take mine twice a day, as recommended on the bottle, and I’ve been taking them for over two weeks now. When I first started them—and sorry if this is TMI—I was not at all regular, thanks to my Tramadol. I try to eat a balanced diet with lots of fiber, but that’s not always enough. I really do think the probiotic supplement has made a difference; I’m still not as regular as I’d like to be, but I no longer have awful stomach pains, and I now “go” much more frequently than before. I consider that a win.

I also think they had something to do with keeping me germ-free while Mike died for weeks with a super cold. The poor guy never gets sick, but this thing knocked him on his ass. He missed like five days of work, which if you know him is unbelievable. And it was a mean cold, complete with stomach bug -esque symptoms and bronchitis. I never got sick, though. Now, I’m sure that washing our hands and not kissing had a lot to do with with that, but I also sleep next to the guy and I have a crap immune system. I once got the flu twice in a row, and I’m autoimmune. He’s finally feeling better, and I never caught it. Another win!

The bottle I received is a month’s supply, so I’ll know even better when the month is over whether it’s made a difference for me. The retail price is $18.90*, so it’s comparable to similar products in stores. Plus there’s that coupon. 😉

Even better, Schwartz Bioresearch offered a $100 Amazon gift card giveaway to my readers! Who can’t use a $100 Amazon gift card? I know I can think of a few things I’d like! All you have to do is enter your email address below (they’ll also send you a free smoothie recipe book).

Giveaway November 2016

So there you have it—my first time using a probiotic. I think I’ve finally got the “guts” to fight like the spoonie warrior I am!

Save 10% off on all Schwartz Bioresearch products! Use code 10SAVE17 on their website, http://schwartzbioresearch.com. My contact has assured me this code will not expire and can be used again and again, so start shopping now!

Have you ever tried a probiotic? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!


Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Schwartz Bioresearch. I received a free bottle of their probiotic supplement in exchange for my honest review. My opinion is my own.


ED, 11/21/2016: My original post linked to the wrong product; the product I received to review was the 40 Billion CFU probiotic, not the 20 Billion. I’ve updated the link and retail price. Also, Schwarzt Bioresearch’s social media manager read my post and very kindly sent me their turmeric and curcumin blend for my joint pain! I’ll be reviewing that product soon.

Win a $100 Amazon Gift Card!

via Unsplash
via Unsplash

It’s November, which means two things: the election is coming up (eep), and the holidays are, too. While I can’t help you decide who to vote for, I can totally help you with your holiday shopping.

Schwartz Bioresearch recently reached out to me and offered to send me one of their products and open up their $100 Amazon gift card giveaway to my readers! I’ll be reviewing their probiotic in a couple weeks, but in the meantime, all you have to do to enter the giveaway is click here.

You can also enter below.

Giveaway November 2016

Who doesn’t love a free gift card? I mean, really.

The $100 Amazon gift card giveaway ends November 30th, so enter now!


Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Schwartz Bioresearch. I received a free bottle of their probiotic supplement in exchange for my honest review. My opinion is my own.