Letter Journal Love – 5. Joining a swap

How do you join a swap?


The first swap you join will be a beginner’s swap. It will include either Sue or myself and we will step you through the process and let you know if you’ve missed anything. It’s a chance to swap without any pressure and a chance to apply what you’re learning here. Please DO NOT join any other swaps before you have completed this one.


After you’ve completed your beginners swap you are ready to join a swap with other members of the group. Yah! Let them know it’s your first ‘proper’ swap and let them know that you might make mistakes or ask questions. They will be kind to you! To join a swap simple say ‘yes please I’d like to join’ on a post you see in the group asking for people to join. Then check your message box (including your filtered message or message request folders). Tell people if you can’t find the group message.

We ask that you stick with just one swap at a time while you complete your second swap.


Once you’ve completed two full swaps you are welcome to start to join more than one at a time. But be careful! DO NOT OVERCOMMIT!! It is a commitment to three other people when you join a swap and if you know life is a bit unpredictable or you won’t be around for a few weeks you need to not overcommit by joining multiple swaps. Many people find ramping it up to two at a time enough of a stretch to begin with. So by all means if you want to try doing more than one at a time you might like do your third swap and your fourth swap at the same time. If you have any doubts at all about your ability to keep track or do a quick turnaround on journals stick to one swap at a time. DO NOT get overexcited and sign up to more than two at this stage or you may find you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.


After you’ve completed (that is, everyone in the swap group has their journal back) three swaps you can ‘call a swap’. That means that you can be the one asking if anyone wants to play with you! If you do this you are responsible for setting up the group swap message. For now don’t worry about that – you are still learning how to do your very first swap!


Even before you start your beginners swap, I suggest you think now about how you plan to keep records about your swaps. Some members:

  • use a spreadsheet or word document
  • some use a lined notebook
  • some use a folder

It doesn’t matter exactly how you do it, but the absolute minimum details you should be writing down somewhere for EACH SWAP are:

  • the names of the people in your swap (in the correct swap order)
  • you might like to do a quick sketch of what your cover looked like next to the swap order (I do – it helps me remember)
  • you might like to number each swap
  • I also note whether it’s an international or national swap
  • each time you send a journal away write down the date next to the name of the person whose journal it is

Please please please go set that up now. I’m not kidding. Don’t leave it until later. Don’t leave it until you’re half way through your first swap, and please please please use whatever system you’ve set up. It might seem like pointless record keeping now but once a group members says ‘hey did you get my journal’ or ‘hey guys did I ever post my journal – who’s seen it’ it’s great to have this info at your fingertips.


When you join a swap it’s important to keep your group informed about what’s happening. A quick message in your swap group message saying ‘hey Billy I got your journal today – looks great’ is all it takes to keep people in the loop. Later in the week you might also say ‘I put Billy’s journal in the mail box today – onwards to Vanessa!’.

If you have time by all means please ALSO take a photo and share it in the Letter Journal Love Facebook group, saying something like ‘wow this great envelope arrived from Billy today in our USA swap with Katie and Jill. Can’t wait to open it’ or ‘Look at this great page in Billy’s journal by Katie! I’ll be doing my pages in it later today’. By sharing it in the general Facebook group as well you get to inspire others with the swaps you are in.

If you are experiencing a delay due to unforeseen circumstances (life stuff) please please please write to your group and tell them whose journals you have and when you will be posting them. Don’t just leave them in the dark wondering if their journal ever arrived. Most people would rather hear that you are busy/sick/moving house and that you are still planning to send their journal soon then hear nothing. After all it’s their little wonderful creation and it’s far from home – they want to know how it’s going!



♥ Do you know that your first swap will be a beginners swap that we will organise for you (AFTER you’ve finished these modules)

♥ Is it clear that in the swap after that you may also be learning and need to be open to friendly feedback and ideas from your swap members?

♥ Do you understand that taking on multiple swaps is not for the fainthearted and needs to happen only after you’ve completed two full swaps so we know you can handle it?

♥ Do you understand that later you can start ‘calling’ swaps?


Next step in your induction and training is to read about in Module 6 – Posting your journalPlease don’t join your first swap before you’ve completed every module.

Looking forward to seeing your lovely work, swapping with you and having fun.