Weeknotes 009 - Friend retention funnel

My life advice tip for the week: if you've ever thought about learning to play a musical instrument, or have already started to learn but don't practice as much as you probably should, then think about squeezing in just a few minutes each day. You never know what musical opportunities may arise. Besides that, being able to make noise is good for calming the brain.

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Sending out post, letters & cards has calmed down after the Christmastime crunch. It's once more at a gentle pace of keeping up with correspondence slotted in between upcoming birthdays.

For over a year now, I've been using my own "correspondence tracker." A private online website/app that I can put names, addresses, birthdays, notes and other important dates in. Which I know, sounds like an online address book, but isn't because those didn't do quite what I needed.

In an attempt to explain...

A long while ago, when I decided to get into the letter-writing game, I hunted down what few resources I could find about the topic, that weren't about CV cover letter writing or love letters. One of those was an Art Of Manliness podcast where they were chatting to a guy about the art of correspondence.

FWIW, I'm not at correspondence level yet, just level 1 notes and short letters.

Anyway, he went to great lengths to explain that while he wasn't a monster, a terrible person or a complete git, he ended up having to use business software geared towards networking and lead generation.

The type of thing where you can put a note in, to "circle back" and "reach out" to someone, while being sure to ask how Karen and the kids are doing.

I think he may even have cried a bit while confessing this, as setting yourself reminders to say hi to a friend, or getting notifications that "Quick, follow up with Dave, they are slipping away" seems crass.

Yet, at the same time, it is handy to be able to make quick notes when you see something interesting pop up on Facebook or Twitter and check to see when you last sent a postcard to someone.

So because I couldn't bring myself to apply "network growth hacking" tools to letter writing, I set about building my own solution. Obvs.

One centred around paper-based letter-writing correspondence (no bits for recording email addresses or phone numbers). One that feels like it's there to support and help me be better at something I want to do well. Rather than one sending me notifications about what I ought to be doing to make sure my friend/letter retention & conversion rates stay above a certain ratio, yuck!

At some point, I'll make screenshots that don't have everyone's names and birthdays in, write a proper blog post and probably make the Github repo public.

But for now, I'm enjoying the return to the gentle ebb and flow of post coming in and going out.


I made a short video about one of my pen plots. If you're reading this via RSS you've most likely already seen the video, it's the one over here on Instagram:

It was interesting seeing the likes pop-up, it's probably the most popular post I've made. The notifications came in pretty quickly, then slowed down to a steady pace before dying off throughout the next day.

Until some point mid-afternoon when the notifications kicked off again.

From previous web experience that often means someone somewhere has linked to it. But unlike previous web experience, I have no way of knowing where, who, when and how they've linked to it, which felt a bit, well, weird.

Sometimes I look through the referral logs on my website and think about how I'd like to get some form of "trackbacks" back into the site.

Which brings me back to the same Indie Web place.

If I hosted that video on my own site, then I'd be able to see where people were coming from. But then I have to go to all the effort of transcoding the video into several different formats for different reader's bandwidth, have a streaming server and all that stuff that's already been solved by YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook etc. Hardly anyone would see the video anyway, even less link to it from their own website.

Like most things then, if I do add trackbacks, it'll be out of sheer stubborness.

Perhaps if I stay out of fashion long enough, I'll come back into fashion.

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