Sunday, 17 June 2012

How do you find penpals?

So, how did I find penpals?

Well, in school, I filled out a form for a youth penpal service, though I can't remember which organisation it was. I paid for some penpals and received some letters. However, as a teenager, I found myself busy with other things, such as homework and being with friends. So, unfortunately, penfriendship dwindled.

Then, as after leaving university, I wanted penpals again. I bought a free ads paper and saw that there was a form to place an ad internationally through their sister papers. I placed an ad in 10 international papers and received some letters. I still write to one of them.

Then, when I got my first computer, I wanted some penpals, but only found people who wanted email friendship. One even got worried if I did not write daily. I gave up for a few years.

Then, in 2008, I decided to try again for snailmail penpals. First port of call was PenPal International and had  found a few people to write to. However, the letters stopped (maybe lost in the post, or they stopped writing). I also tried Interpals and found more people that way. However, it was the same old story, the letters stopped. Also, some who said they would write the first letter, never did (or it was lost in the mail). One thing good about Interpals was that I discovered Postcrossing and this satisfied my hunger for nice mail, with postcards to and from all over the world. I discovered their forums (fora?) and found penpals through that, although not everyone continued their correspondence with me. I have tried other penpal websites but ...

Some penfriends started sending me Friendship Books (FBs). These are little booklets, sent with letters for people to write their name and address in, perhaps a bit about themselves and abbreviations such as NPW (new penpals welcome), NNSP (no new swap pals). I haven't received any letters via this route. I had started to make my own, first sending them around Spring 2009, but none have made their way back home.
These are ones I haven't sent on their way. I sew the paper into the cover, rather than using staples. I haven't sent many new ones recently, maybe I shall send some out this week or next when I reply to some letters.

Another site I found for penpalling, well, is mainly a craft and swap site called Swap-Bot. Almost anyone, over the age of 18, can create a swap, people then join and when the deadline for joining is over, the host of the swap checks through the profiles of the people, and if all is well, tells the computer to assign partners. I have joined postcard, letter and Christmas card swaps. I haven't hosted my own swap (I would automatically join the swap). As I write this blog entry, popular swaps include various ones for Artistic Trading Cards (ATC), and new swaps for "Zentangle" (zen doodle) ATC, postcard swaps and a long letter swap.

Earlier this year, there was The Month of Letters Challenge for the month of February. The challenge was to send an item of post (postcard, letter, ...) every "postal" day, so this was 24 days for USA. I had mail ready to go out every day, but missed the last postal collection on one Saturday, so instead of letting the item be lonely in the postbox, I kept it at home until Monday. I wrote to new people who were doing this challenge, and have developed a penfriendship with some of them.

There are a few blogs out there that post penpal ads. One site I like is Penpal of the Week. I have found one penpal via this site so far. To place an ad with that site, you send via the post, your advert to Julie in Canada. She'll put the advert on the website.


  1. Just found your blog from your recent comment on mine, and linked it from my own - and featured this post in my blog post for today as well as tweeted about it. Charmed to discover your mail blog, and wish you the best of luck with it!

  2. Having a mail blog will bring lots of new penfriends because one person will tell their friends and their friends will tell their friends ... and then we have viral. I found you via MissiveMaven :)

    I have a few other suggestions and a caution.

    The Letter Exchange (LEX) is subscription-based magazine that publishes three times a year. The magazine has listing for all sorts of mail enthusiasts, and you never have to give out your address if you don't want to ... they have a forwarding system. It does mean that it costs you more to send a letter because you have to stamp your letter, then put it in an envelope to send to LEX, which will require another stamp. You can send as many letters/postcards as you like in one envelope to LEX, which is what I do. I've been a member for many, many years.

    Also, SendSomething is wonderful for finding random letter/note/postcard writers. The site has been recently updated so there is very little chance you will come upon the address of someone who hasn't been active. Inactive accounts are removed regularly now. You do have to list your address on the site so that might be uncomfortable for some, but it isn't much different from putting your address in a FB, which can be seen by most anyone.

    And that leads to my caution. FBs sometimes end up in the hands of people who really aren't all that interested in your specific interests ... just your address. FBs sometimes get sold to prisoners ... and some folk don't have any trouble with writing to prisoners, but I don't think it's for everyone. I have a post office box, and I am somewhat cavalier about letting my address get seen all over the place, but I still don't add my contact info to FBs. When I find them in letters to me, I do send them along to folk who enjoy that sort of thing, though. I wouldn't toss them. My caution is not everyone's caution.