Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Your Own Pics on Postcards from Hazel Mail

How many times have you rummaged through the postcard rack in some tourist town and thought, "My own pictures are better than these." And have you dropped into the post office in say, Cusco, and been flabbergasted at how much it costs to send off those postcards you just bought?

I've been testing out a pretty cool solution from Hazel Mail that brings postcard mailing into the digital age. Here's how it works: first, you log into their site and upload your photo. Hi-res ones straight from the camera are fine. Then you format the image, with the ability to stretch it, crop it, or put a border around it. Then you enter your message and the address, picking out a font that you like. You pay $1.50 per card to addresses in the U.S., $2 for those in Europe, varying rates elsewhere.



Then you go about your travels, knowing that even if your e-mails get filtered and nobody really looks at all those pics you painstakingly uploaded to your Facebook page, your friends and relatives will know you are thinking about them. After all, a piece of mail stands out far more these days than another few megabytes in the digital firehose we're all drinking from.

There are a few little quirks. The website is very coy about giving out any info when you visit. You actually have to go through the whole uploading process to find out anything about fees and payment methods. Then they send a confirmation after the order, which is nice, but in mine the graphics covered up all the text so it just looked like an ad in HTML mode. I assume they'll work out the glitches soon though and add more info for prospective users up front in time. Apart from that, the site is dead easy to use and once you've registered it's easy to send new cards in the future. It'll store the address of Mom and Sis, for instance, so you don't have to retype them later. You can even upload a whole bunch of addresses from a contact list or spreadsheet.

I sent one of the Mexico City postcards to my own house to test the outcome and the result was nice. The photo looked almost as good as what you would get from a photo processing place and it had a real canceled stamp on it. The printed message doesn't have quite the same charm as a scribbled note with road dirt and spilled coffee on it, but still more personal than an e-mail. All this and you can avoid paying rapacious international postage costs.

Several writers have wondered if the sending of postcards is a dying art, but Hazel Mail seems like a good compromise in keeping this more personal communication method alive. Highly recommended.

11 comments:

Wanderluster said...

Is it stamped in the U.S.? Would be great if it was from any country but I imagine this would be too difficult. Still I like the idea.

I proudly send (and still receive) postcards. It gives me a mission when I'm on the road and it's always fun to go through the process of buying stamps in other countries.

Tim said...

It has a stamp from the destination country, not the originating country. That's why the service is priced consistently and in some cases (like Peru) it comes out cheaper this way than buying a stamp at the local post office.

Eileen said...

Wow! this looks great. I was wondering how it was better than other services that make your photo into a postcard, and then I saw you never even tough it. Very interesting. I'll give it a try sometime!

Anonymous said...

also available on http://www.pokamax.de

more pictures available, several options when you want to send the postcard, also worldwide. and you can even choose large postcards

marco said...

Seems great! Thanks for the idea :)

Janet said...

I've used Hazel Mail in the past. I've since had a problem with a forgotten password and I can not get a response from customer service. I've tried to reset it online without any success as well. It's too bad since I used it for over 60 postcards and had intended to keep using it. Also, although the site says that all postcards are $1.50 that's a little misleading. The ones I sent to Europe cost $2.00.

Janet said...

I am happy to report that my password has been reset. I also received a note of apology; somehow my problem had not gotten through to customer service.

I really do like the product and have used it for get well cards, Christmas cards, thank you notes and plain old vacation postcards. Give it a try.

jamie said...

I love the HM concept. Haven't used it for travel, but did use it for thank you notes from the kids to their gift-giving relatives.

jamie said...

I love the HM concept. Haven't used it for travel, but did use it for thank you notes from the kids to their gift-giving relatives.

Anonymous said...

This is an amazing idea and the founder, Michael Lato,is a genius he was behind fotolog as well. Great Work!!!

Anonymous said...

Tried this recently on vacation. Using the iPhone app tt would not fill in the zip code even though we had previously added addresses online. Cards never received without zip code.

Fail.