One reason I wrote Minority Tech was to share my experiences helping people with their technology issues. I dedicated an entire section of the book to the tech questions I received from friends, family, and acquaintances and the answers I provided in return.
So, I was happy to receive a timely question from a friend of mine about gathering mailing addresses to send out holiday cards. Thanksgiving is around the corner, and I had a similar need to get updated addresses from my social network. Below is the question (in italics) and my answer (in bold).
Q. Hi Anjuan - I'd like to tap into your expertise. I've always used Plaxo for maintaining addresses, but they were wiped out. As I prepare to send holiday cards to my huge family, I need a tool/app. But I don't want to have to enter every address myself. Is there a good tool/app that I can use to send to my family and ask them to upload their info for me to have?
A. Hi, I like this question because it is a problem I need to solve myself! I've searched for online solutions, but I think the best one is free and easy to use: Google Forms.
You probably don't use GMail, but you can create a Google account which gives you access to Google Drive (Google Forms is a service in Google Drive). You can create a form with fields like "First Name", "Last Name", "Address Line 1", "Address Line 2", "City", "State/Province", "Country", etc. You can then email a link to the form to your friends and family and ask them to fill it out.
Their responses will be recorded in a Google Drive spreadsheet which you can download in Excel format. You can then use this Excel spreadsheet for your holiday card list.
Also, you can go to the next level and use third party sites like Amazingmail and cardstore that let you create greeting cards from templates or custom photo cards. Some of them will even scan your spreadsheet of addresses and do a mail merge which will automatically address and stamp the envelopes. You'll just need to stuff, seal, and mail them out. I think some may even mail them for you to their target addresses.
I hope this helps!
You can see a form I created to gather information to update my holiday card mailing address spreadsheet here.
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