Oliver here!! Since we just finished up mailing all the school IDs and stickers to support our special offer and first milestone goal that all came about after our big Patreon relaunch two months ago, I thought it’d be a nice opportunity to show you our relatively chaotic but effective methods in fulfilling something like this!
We ended up with about 230 people, and to keep it simple we made sure everybody got both a sticker and a card. This meant Vero had a lot of drawing to do, but I had a lot of envelopes to prepare, too!
The first step was ensuring we had all the stuff required. Because of our regular Bittersweet Club International gift mailouts, we generally have a lot of mailing supplies on hand, but we didn’t want to exhaust everything. So it was off to eBay to find mailing supplies and stamps!
Yeah, standard 55-cent stamps, from eBay. (And international stamps which cost about a dollar.) I believe there ARE ways to print super cheap postage for letters, but I’ve never quite worked it out, and I’m very used to buying stamps in bulk for BCI and similar small mailouts.
My thrifty strategy is to buy stamps from the USPS Store on eBay, who charge a small amount of shipping BUT can be timed to align with a cashback app (Ibotta) and an eBay Bucks bonus offer for 11% cash back total. It can make a difference when you end up having to spend…
Whoa! It was more than I expected, but the rebates help. (Also, those $71.70 in gift cards were various leftovers from credit card rewards tomfoolery. So that helped too.)
What did we order? 250x white 6x9 envelopes, 200 pieces of chipboard (to keep the stickers rigid and safe but not too rigid to require a second stamp), and enough stamps to put on every envelope. And what lovely stamps we got:
I normally like the little 100x rolls of American flag stamps for easy storage, but when I know I’m about to blow a bunch of postage all at once I can indulge in the less-practical but more fun themed stamps, which in this case were for Sesame Street. Cute!
Next up: labels. This one is REALLY boring and I can’t easily photograph due to the personal information, but I’ll try to be quick: I had to go through the survey (we used Google Forms which is free and mostly easy), download a .CSV, clean up the data by fixing addresses that looked wrong or were missing info, compare the list of emails to our list of patrons (in case the survey leaked to non-patrons), de-duplicate (I think two dupes slipped through) and finally, remove all drawing requests for Kizuna.
Then it was time to print — and while we do have one of those nifty thermal label printers, with 230 labels to do, the easiest way was to use regular-size sheets of Avery address labels, same way I do with every BCI mailout.
I ended up using these, which are TOO SMALL and weird and CLEAR, but I had them left over from some earlier aborted experiment to put our address on our custom Molly padded mailers, and this would use them all up, so.. I used them all up! A few paper jams and then.. the labels were ready.
The only issue was no room on such a tiny label for a return address. OK. Out came the stamp:
Thump thump thump, 230 times over.
Next up, the labour of putting the stickers and matching stamps on each and every envelope. This was a boring task, so I saved it for our draw stream, during which my brain is working but my hands are not.
Finally, done! Empty envelopes, ready to go. It’s always a relief when you’re out of that kind of processing and sorting mode, and it becomes a purely physical job. We now had to fill the envelopes with:
- A Roseville High School ID
- An Emma sticker
- The protective chipboard
And then they’d be ready to seal and send. Well, let’s get on that!
The day after the stream, Veronica buckled down, pulled out a big bag of sharpies and got drawing.
One by one! She had her own little assembly line going for a whole work day. I had printed the requested character on the top corner of each address label (and sorted them per character), so she took stacks of envelopes, drew batches of characters, and slipped in the cards.
While she did that, I thought that it might be nice to include a thank you note. Something to tell everyone that we really appreciated their contribution, and that explains the contents of the envelope to anyone who gets thoroughly confused by it.
I wrote the text, set up a page in InDesign with some light guidance marks, and pulled out Le Guillotine:
You may notice it’s a metric guillotine. It’s from Australia! My dad stole it when he quit his last job. Or when they were moving office or something. Maybe ten years ago? Either way, it’s ours now and it’s great and we use it a lot for stuff like this! 🔪 Would recommend.
Mia noticed me on the floor and helped out by rolling around and demanding attention. No fear of the guillotine. She just wanted to sit on it, I think.
After a lot of chopping, it was done!
Oh! And Veronica and I each scribbled hearts on them. Hopefully it’s a nice personal touch, we want you to know we did these by hand! 230 envelopes like these may be an exhausting job to fill, but we know every one represents someone who really loves and supports us. So the big number is good :)
Finally, we had to… wait. We didn’t have everything yet.
I shopped around for various places to get the Emma sticker made. We don’t usually make stickers like this, so I’m a bit clueless. We ended up with StickerGiant, who did some good stickers for our books in the past. They did the Emma stickers for about $135. After a bit of back and forth getting the margins just right, they put the sticker into production and mailed it out.
We also had to wait for the chipboard! For some damn reason it took a long time for the eBay seller to ship. But then it came.
Finally, it was time:
And after a few hours of slipping paper into paper and peeling-and-sealing (no licking, thank god!) we reached the final form of a big mailout:
A BCB canvas bag filled with filled, sealed and stamped letters.
And now? It was time for the superstitious part.
Some BCI gifts, particularly the lapel pins, stretch the boundaries of what’s acceptable to mail with a single stamp. Over time I’ve narrowed down the right way to get things through.
However, after a particularly bad experience where I asked Veronica to visit a post office and deposit a bunch of letters at the counter, only for them to hold and measure and weigh and adjust the postage on every single one, we have sworn off human contact for stamped mail drops, and just find a mailbox to drop them in.
Here’s the mailbox. It is my lucky mailbox. It’s not the closest, but it’s the one that works.
(Yeah, I dropped them off at 1 AM.)
And here’s the end of the story. A few days’ work, about $400, and (we hope!) a whole bunch of happy new patrons!!
We hope it’s a delightful surprise, getting a nice little physical memento or two! It’ll forever be your little reminder that YOU helped us with our Patreon’s big relaunch, and how grateful we are that you joined us! We really look forward to posting more and more fun things as time goes on, so please stick around, and once again.. thank you for being here with us! :D