Thursday, October 31, 2013

Designing Magnets...

Here at Chalk Line, we’re happy to help design your magnet. If you’ve never designed anything with Chalk Line before, here’s how it works:  

Submit your order information, along with your picture you’d like to use for the magnet and your text on the order form. For the text, most folks will include their name, ministry, ministry logo, a short tagline, and their contact information, but you’re welcome to include more or less – it’s up to you!

Give us 1-2 days to put together a proof – we’ll send a PDF proof back to you for you to review, and you can make as many changes as you need before we print. Send your changes via e-mail, and we’ll reply back with the corrected pdf proof as soon as we’re able.

Once you’ve got a design that’s ready to print, let us know you’re ready to put the magnet order in line to print. We’ll have your order details from the order page, and we’ll get started as soon as possible.

If you’re ready to try your hand at designing your own magnet, remember that we’ve got some design requirements that need to be met when putting the magnet together. The two most important requirements are these:
  1. Use a high resolution photo (300 dpi or higher) for your magnet
  2. Make sure to create your magnet with the correct “bleed” room – we require .125” bleed room from the edge and an additional .25” safe zone to ensure that nothing important is cut off when we create the magnets.
You can use our “how-to” guide available here to help guide you through the magnet set-up process. If you’re in doubt, send the magnet proof to and we’ll let you know if your magnet is print-ready. J

If you have any questions about the design process, just let us know. We're excited to see what you put together! 

Friday, October 25, 2013

That Special Time of Year: More about End of Year Asks

So here we are, about to go into the busiest time of year… the End of Year/Christmas mailing season. We know that your time is precious, and so we’ve developed a quick guide to putting together your end of year ask. You may remember that we gave a few suggestions about end of year asks back in April, which can be read here: “Standing Out in the Crowd: A Quick Guide to Special Asks”.

Now, as we go into the holidays, we know there is more to putting together an ask than just the color of the envelope! There are a lot of details and special requests, and we want to make sure you know about how best to request those.

Timing is everything…

The first question I get asked a lot is this: “I want my letter to arrive the day after Thanksgiving/right around Christmas, etc.… When should I send my letter in so that it will go out and arrive by then?

Since we send all letters via USPS first-class mail, all letters usually arrive after sending within 3 business days in most cases. However, during the holiday season, not only do the post office get a little overwhelmed, but Chalk Line does too. This is why we always recommend getting your ask in early! One suggestion we give often is to send in your order a week or so early, and specify what date you’d like it to mail. If you include the instructions in the comment box on the order form, we will mark it for mailing on the date you specify.

Also, as we enumerated in our previous blog post, we want to encourage all folks to follow this handy guide to mailing:

  • For end of year mailings to arrive around the Thanksgiving holidays (November 28-29, 2013), please send all items to Chalk Line by November 20.
  • For mailings that need to be sent before Christmas (December 25, 2013), we are recommending them be sent to Chalk Line by December 20, 2013.

Because this is a busy season, please allow a few extra days for your mailing to go out. Your patience is appreciated and we are so thankful to be able to help you in your busy time!

Also, we will be out of the office for the Thanksgiving Holiday on November 28-Dec 1,  and the Christmas Holiday (dates TBD), and we will respond to any requests/orders received over those days as soon as we are able.

Keep it Simple, sir…

Everyone has a way that they like to send an ask letter… We know everyone is unique, and there are as many ways to send an ask as there are creatures in God’s creation. However, there are a few combinations that I see often, and I like to break them down into categories.
  1. A simple ask. This has a letter and a response envelope included, which can sometimes be a pre-printed envelope sent to us by the customer or the ministry headquarters.
  2. An ask with a commitment card. This will usually include a commitment card along with the letter and response envelope. With Chalk Line’s perforated legal paper, our customers have the option to include the commitment card on the perforated part of their letter.
  3. A Combination Ask & Christmas gift – this will include a commitment card, response envelope, and a little special something extra they want to give to their supporters as a thank you for their support. Often, this will be a magnet or photo card printed by Chalk Line, or a pre-printed photo sent to us from a company like Snapfish or Shutterfly, or a small paper item picked up in their country of ministry. (We’ve seen bookmarks from East Asia, paper crafts from Southeast Asia, Chai tea from the Middle East, Christmas ornaments from Eastern European countries like Russia and Ukraine… the list goes on!) 
Obviously, the thing all of these have in common is the addition of extra inserts, which can sometimes complicate an order. We are using each day to refine the order process on our order form, but hopefully, you’ll find whatever you need there. You'll also notice that each of these has a response envelope of some type included. If you have indicated in your letter or instructions that this is an ask and you aren't including an envelope, we may ask if you'd like to include one, as they are the item most commonly requested with an ask letter. 

Here’s a handy guide for pricing on some of the items that are often included:

Response Envelopes:

  • Pre-printed ministry giving envelope …  Free to Insert
  • Pre-printed CRU giving envelope with Cru address … Free to Insert (see image above)
  • Pre-Printed CRU giving envelope with YOUR address printed by Chalk Line … $0.05 (see image above)
  • Response envelope printed by Chalk Line without postage … $0.20
  • Response envelope printed by Chalk Line WITH postage … $0.69

Commitment Cards:
  • Response card printed by Chalk Line - $0.15-$0.18, depending on size
  • ½ page insert on paper - $0.35
  • Additional letter-size insert 1-sided in color … $0.45
  • Additional letter-size insert 2-sided in color … $0.45
  • Additional letter-size insert, 1-sided in b/w… $0.30
  • Additional letter-size insert, 2-sided in b/w … $0.35

Special paper/envelopes
  • Special perforated legal-size paper - $0.10
  • 28lb semi-gloss paper - $0.10
  • Pastel colored special paper - $0.03
  • Pastel colored envelopes - $0.10
  • Astrobright colored special paper  - $0.03
  • Astrobright colored special paper - $0.10
  • 6 x 9 envelope - $0.17 
  • There are many other items that folks will ask for and include in their letters, but they are not as common and may not be on the order form. If you have a special request for your mailing that you do not know the price for, let us know, and we will do our best to send an estimate for you to review. 

Less is more…

As you can see, there are a lot of different choices, not just in additional items that can be included, but also the colors and types of paper and envelopes that can be used.  As you may imagine, whenever you add items to an order, it does require a little more special attention. That’s why you may see a “hand-labor” charge on your order. Many unusual items which may not go through our machine or may not fit in a normal size envelope will require one or more of the following hand labor charges:
  • Hand insert
  • Hand fold
  • Hand stamp
  • Hand seal

Each of these hand labors will incur an additional $0.10 per recipient, and so if you have a combination ask, where you’ve got a letter, a response card, a response envelope, and a family photo, that might have two hand-insert fees, as our machine will only insert a letter and one additional piece per recipient.  Or, if you were sending something bulky, or something magnetic along with your letter, you would see a hand-insert and a hand-seal, because the addition of the letter would cause the letter to not be able to be sealed by the machine – the magnet gets stuck in the metal machinery.

Also, remember that if you have enough items in your mailing, your mailing may go over 1 oz. in weight, which will require additional postage. In this case, not only will there be additional postage costs (usually $0.20), but also a hand-stamp fee, since it will need to have a non-machineable stamp.

We want to make sure that your mailing stands out in the crowd, but we also want to make sure your money is spent wisely. Sometimes, a mailing that can sound like a good idea can actually be more than you bargained for.  If you have a special idea for a mailing and want a price quote, ask ahead of time so that we can send an estimate without delaying your mailing.

Make it personal…

And the best way to do that is to make your supporter feel special. And sometimes, the best way to do that is to give it some extra TLC. A lot of folks, because of their busy schedules, can’t do the whole shebang, but they do want to write a little note or slip a little something extra into the letters to their close friends and family. That’s why we are happy to do as much of the work as we can, and then ship the order back for you to finish… That way, if you want to write a note to cousin Emma, or put a special something in the envelope to your Mom and Dad, you can do so! Just let us know in the comment box of the order form, and we’ll be happy to do as much or as little of the printing/stuffing/stamping, and when we’re done, we’ll ship it back to you for you to finish up.

Remember the reason for the season

The holidays are busy, with lots of hustle, bustle, business, parties, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and everything in between. When putting together your mailings, remember that it’s not just about an appeal or a magnet or a thank you card… it’s about celebrating the gift of Jesus Christ and sharing that gift with your supporters. We are here to do our best to make you look your best, and we hope that our service to you at this special time of year helps not just you, but also your supporters, friends, and family, have a joyous holiday season.

We’re excited to see what this season has in store for you and for us – may this season bring you many blessings! 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fall News from Chalk Line - October 2013

October is here, and with it comes the busiest time of year! As many of you may know, the upcoming holiday season brings a unique opportunity to connect with your supporters, and Chalk Line is here to help you make those connections in any way we can. As this busy season starts, we just wanted to let you know about a few things that are new or helpful at Chalk Line!

Meet the new, improved Order Form

As you may be aware, Chalk Line has been in the process of updating our order form to make your ordering process faster and more efficient. We are encouraging everyone to use this form to submit their orders, and we are adding new features and functionality to it as we listen to your feedback.

Starting January 1, 2014, we will no longer be accepting orders via e-mail/attachments. All orders must be placed via the order form.

Many features we've added to the order form are helping everyday customers such as yourself make their order process go more smoothly. It has everything you need in one place!

  • Update your return address, billing information, and other account information
  • Use the multiple upload spots to upload your letter, mailing list, and return envelope graphic
  • Upload all file types, including PDF, Word, Excel, CSV, Pages, Publisher, Numbers, etc.
  • Estimate your total cost and choose your exact order details
  • Include special instructions in the comment box
  • Submit promotional codes for special offers
And there are many more features available - The order form is easy to use and there are less complications and confusion. We hope that this order form will make your experience with Chalk Line even better!

End of Year Appeals & Christmas Mailings

You may think it's too early to think about your special End of Year appeal letter. We know from experience that the holidays can leave many last-minute mailers in the lurch. We're committed to start giving you details now so that you can think about your mailing before it's too late.

Many folks ask, “Can Chalk Line help with my end of year ask?” and the answer is YES! We can include many special inserts, such as response cards, response envelopes, or pre-printed inserts that you provide to us.
  • 1/3 or 1/4 commitment cards printed by Chalk Line
  • Response envelopes (stamped or unstamped) that will return to your address printed by Chalk Line
  • Pre-printed response envelopes that will return to your ministry headquarters
  • Prayer magnets, prayer cards, or photo cards printed by Chalk Line
  • Family photos, prayer cards, or magnets printed and send to Chalk Line
  • Various irregular items supplied by creative customers and many other items we haven’t even seen yet!
At Chalk Line, we want to do our best to accommodate your end of year mailing needs – most importantly, we want you to start thinking about the process now. Because of the late holiday schedule this year (Thanksgiving is November 28), we want to make sure you know when the best time to submit your mailing is.
  • We are recommending end of year mailings that are being mailed to arrive around the Thanksgiving holiday be sent to Chalk Line by November 20 so that we can prepare them for mailing by November 25.
  • Also, we recommend any mailings that need to be sent before Christmas we are recommending be sent to Chalk Line before December 16 so they can be prepared for mailing by December 20.
Look for a follow-up e-mail from Chalk Line with all this information about the End of Year mailing process, pricing, and more coming in the following weeks.

More details on Magnets!

As we discovered at the 2013 Cru All-Staff Conference this year, many of our customers were excited that Chalk Line prints magnets! We are excited too – We've been printing magnets for a year, and we are so thrilled at the great response our customers have had!

If you are interested in printing magnets this Fall, here are the details for our magnets:
  • Standard Size (4.75” x 3.25”) - $0.85 per magnet. Must be ordered in quantities of 10. Rounded corners.
  • Business Card Size (3.5” x 2”) - $0.55 per magnet. Must be ordered in quantities of 20. Square corners.
Use our order form to submit your magnet order, where you can choose your magnet size, quantity and shipping method!

If you are designing and submitting your own magnet, please be aware that all magnets must be submitted with a .125” bleed zone on all sides, so the submitted magnet must be 5” x 3.5” or 3.75” x 2.25”. We also recommend your magnet photo be 300 dpi or higher. Find out more about designing your own magnet using our how-to guide, available to download here.

Chalk Line will also design your magnet for no additional cost. You will need to submit your picture through the order form, choosing magnet design in the services section, and include what you’d like the magnet to say in the “comments or instructions” box at the end of the order. We will put a draft together and send a PDF proof for you to review. Make as many changes as needed, and once we have your final approval, we’ll put the print order in.

We look forward to seeing the beautiful magnets that we'll print for you!