Tuesday, January 1, 2008

#25 Newsletters in a Pop!

It may be today's heat in Melbourne, but I can't get very enthused over LetterPop. LetterPop is an email newsletter site that provides templates and enables you to store and distribute your newsletters and announcements by email. There are charging versions that are focused towards business as well as personal or community. The free, basic version allows for the publication of up to 10 newsletters and the uploading of 25 photographs/images. Images can be uploaded from your own hard-drive or you can make a very easy link to your Flickr account - you can't upload from any other Flickr account. You can keep up to 25 email contacts and use this address book to create individual mailing lists. This doesn't seem a very large number of contacts even if you just want to invite people to social events. And 25 images would leave you with a total of 2.5 per newsletter/announcement.

I created a one-pager announcing the 150th birthday of library services in Boroondara in 2010, called Hawthorn Library Turns 150! I wasn't particularly attracted by the templates, but I chose a fairly simple template with only one photo and various columns of text. I easily uploaded a photo of Hawthorn Library from my hard drive and checked the Flickr link which looked like it would have worked if I had a relevant photo there. Once I had uploaded the photo and saved it, I couldn't work out any way to manipulate the photo or indeed to delete it. Maybe I was missing something, but the only option seemed to be to trash the whole thing and start again! That's one of the reasons I didn't explore the Flickr option fully.

When typing the text columns, I was constantly irritated when starting a new paragraph as all previous formatting fell off. There did appear to be an option to upload from Word but I didn't try that. I edited and saved the document a couple of times and finally "published" it. I then listed a few contacts in the address book and created a mailing list for my announcement. This was all very straight-forward. I mailed the announcement at 12.33 pm and was told it was queued for sending. The site warned that the sending may not be immediate but the email link arrived about ten minutes later.

The main advantage of LetterPop is that it combines provision of a range of fairly easily-usable templates for various occasions with the facility to keep an address book and create focussed mailing lists. I can imagine that it might be useful to individuals who want to circulate things to family and friends and maybe for small business. It could also be useful for people who use public access PCs and, therefore, can't store their own address books. And, of course, because the email provides a link to a url rather than an attachment, the tool does obviate the necessity of adding attachments which are the bane of some firewalls.

In terms of my own use, I think that I will stick to Word which now provides most of what one once had to buy Publisher for and to Outlook which allows me to set up mailing groups for specific purposes. But in terms of Boroondara there could be some use because of the firewalls and for public access PCs.

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