Everyone loves receiving postcards, especially those with you on it. In this article I will show you two easy ways that you can turn a memorable digital photo into a custom postcard. The first method requires less equipment by using an online service. The second method requires a digital photo printer and supplies.

Create Custom Postcards Online

Save time and get the most design options by creating your postcards online. Recently I reviewed the postcard offerings at three popular online developing services: Kodak EasyShare Gallery, Photoworks and Snapfish. I found that Snapfish offers the most design and handling options for postcards.

The process is very simple: Start by selecting your favorite digital photo and upload it to Snapfish. Once the photo is in your online album, start the postcard creation process by going to the "Store" section of the Snapfish website. Select "cards & stationery", then "postcards" and the service walks you through the entire process. Here is a summary of the available options:

  • Photo can take up the entire front of the postcard or you may add one of several attractive borders.
  • Choose the standard 4.25x6" or the larger 5x7" size.
  • Leave the back side blank and fill it in by hand later or type your message and have it printed for you in a variety of fonts.
  • The finished postcards can be mailed to you or directly to the recipients of your choice.

Having the option for Snapfish to mail the postcards directly to the recipients is handy when you are traveling and don't have the equipment or the time to hand-write postcards. All you need is access to the Internet and you can send postcards to your loved ones, featuring your best picture of the day.

I sampled the Snapfish service by having my message printed and the postcard delivered directly to me as the recipient. This is how it arrived:

Back of postcard created by Snapfish

Postal Requirements

If you are planning on producing your own postcards, you need to be aware of the US Postal Service (USPS) requirements. Follow these guidelines to ensure proper and timely delivery:

  • Printed on cardstock.
  • Length must be between 5 and 6 inches.
  • Width must be between 3.5 and 4.25 inches.
  • Divide the back approximately in half. The right half can contain only the postage and recipient address.
  • Leave the bottom 5/8" of the back empty for postal markings and barcode.

In other words, a quality 4x6" photo paper will meet the USPS requirements as a postcard.

Print Custom Postcards at Home

Printing postcards at home requires basic equipment that most digital photographers already have: a digital photo printer, digital photo editing or printing software, and the thickest photo paper you can find.

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To produce the front of the postcard, follow the appropriate steps for your specific software and printer to create a 4x6" print of your photo. Using a felt tip pen, draw a line down the middle of the back side and you are done. Write your message on the left side and recipient address on the right, place postage in the top right corner and mail.

Here is a postcard I printed on 10 mil thick premium photo paper and mailed to myself as a test. Notice that the back does not contain any printing—the line was drawn manually.

Back of postcard printed at home

A note of caution: Use either a felt tip pen or press very lightly with a standard pen when writing on the postcard. If you press too hard, it will mark through the card and damage the image on the front.

You might agree that this is one of the easiest digital photo projects around. So go ahead and surprise someone with your very own custom postcards.