i've found the trickiest part about doing a mailer is getting everything you need. after comparing prices on several different postcard companies and weighing the option of buying a new high-quality printer and the paper required to do it myself, i decided the economical decision for the time being was to do at least the first few rounds of mailers myself. this involved shopping for printers, buying good paper, ordering custom envelopes, buying postage, and making lots of labels. it's been a bit of an undertaking (and i'm not done yet) and it ends up being alot to think about. but this is, after all, work. it needs to be done to reach the end goal. it just sucks that i missed the UPS guy today and i'm probably going to have to pick up the envelope package at their offices.
so a little advise, in my research i came across several services i really thought were useful. i'm making a little list in case anyone reading this could use the info as well...
postcards: modernpostcard.com does an impeccable job. their paper is outstanding and their color calibration is spot on. you get what you pay for, however, and they don't come cheap. i'll be using them down the line but the budget doesn't allow for that at the moment. rough price: $145 for 300 plus tax and shipping.
printers: after trying out a bunch at local stores, i really came to love canon. i've always been loyal to their equipment and their printers seem (so far) to hold up to the same standard of quality i've come to appreciate from their cameras. check out staples, best buy, target, and wal-mart for some good back to school sales on homeoffice stuff like this. you can find a deal this time of year.
paper: believe it or not, staples does indeed make some nice paper. my test prints came out crisp and clear and looked great on their 4x6 photo paper and their matte 8.5x11 photo stock. no color loss, no tint to the paper, just good solid results.
i'm going to try this first round on a budget and so far the results are good. hopefully the recipients will agree. and as i come across more useful info i'll gladly be passing it along. until then.