When you declare free agency, it’s smart to do just that: make a declaration. And perhaps the most effective method is to send a simple postcard that announces your decision to anyone and everyone who might be a source of future work.
That’s what I did when I went solo in 1997. The results were terrific, but I nearly went postal producing nine dozen separately addressed cards.
Fortunately, today’s free agents may have an easier option. I’ve found a way to handle to dirty work of designing, addressing, and even mailing those postcards from Free Agent Nation: AmazingMail. This web-based service isn’t amazing (not yet at least), but it is quite useful.
Begin the process on the front of your glorious card. With AmazingMail, you can design the “picture side” of the postcard by selecting one of AmazingMail’s stock images or importing your own digital photo. AmazingMail makes this part of your task amazingly easy: I’m no digital photography maven, but I managed to plop a digital photo of my kids onto a postcard in about two minutes.
For the “words side” of the postcard, type your message into one of those little on-screen boxes familiar to anyone who’s filled out an online form. Then address the postcard by assembling your own Amazing Mail address book. (Horrified at the thought of retyping all those contacts? Fear not. You can import your existing address book from applications like Outlook.)
Re-check both sides of your postcards, click, and you’re done. Amazing Mail actually mails the postcard for you, and a real live U.S. postal employee delivers it your intended recipient.
And you can get all this for the low, low price of . . . less than 99 cents per card, depending on how many you buy at once. Not a bad deal considering you never have to leave your comfy Aeron chair. No more nasty trips to the post office. No more “stamp tongue” from licking 20-centers. And you can crank out dozens in one sitting.
The service does have some minor flaws. You can’t change the font on your message — and the current font is something like Blandface 10-point. The resolution on the photo postcards wasn’t fantastic (but it wasn’t horrible either.) And delivery times varied considerably, although this may have less to do with Amazing Mail than with the U.S. Mail.
In all, though, Amazing Mail is a valuable service for declaring your independence. Just don’t let the fancy technology overshadow the larger purpose of this exercise. Remember that your goal with these postcards is threefold:
1) to spread the word that you’re free-and that you’re looking for gigs
2) to provide everybody your new coordinates
3) and to leave people with something both unique and tangible.
After all, when a former colleague is racking her brain, desperately seeking a free agent to take on some urgent project, it’d be great to have your postcard tacked to her wall. Check that. It’d be amazing.
by Dan Pink