Jul 16, 2010

Using Flickr with MailChimp

I’m preparing to send the next MailChimp Newsletter. As usual, I run around the office with my iPhone and snap pictures of new staff members to announce and interesting stuff, like these illustrations from DesignLab:


Now I’ve got 4 or 5 photos on my phone, each one of them about 1.1 Megs, to somehow crop, resize, and compress before using in MailChimp…

In the past, I would email each photo to myself, one by one:


and then resize them in Photoshop or Fireworks.

But if I’m working on my laptop from home (I usually do all my writing as soon as I wake up around 5am), I don’t have those fancy-schmancy image-editing apps. So I would have to email the photos from my iPhone to my laptop, then use Aviary or Picnik to resize and crop (after using their password reminder tools of course, because I *always* forget), then save those photos back to my laptop, then upload them to MailChimp. By the time I have all that done, and am finally ready to start writing, my 2-yr-old son would wake up and then it’s breakfast time. If I’m in a rush to get the newsletter done, the boy gets a pop-tart and a handful of M&Ms (what? It doesn’t happen that often). If I’m not pressed for time, the boy gets a proper breakfast.

But thanks to MailChimp’s new-ish flickr integration (we announced it back in February) my workflow is totally different now:

1. Email to Flickr

As I take my photos, I email them to my flickr account (they’ve got a handy upload-by-email feature). I literally do all this while roaming around the office snapping pics. It’s so convenient, because there’s no need to sit down, sync the photos to my computer, then batch upload. Snap and send, chat with somebody, then snap and send some more.

No doubt there’s probably some iPhone or Android app that makes all this even easier.

2. Crop & Resize in Flickr

By the time I get back to my computer, the photos are waiting for me in flickr.

Click the edit button above the photo:


Flickr has integrated with Picnik to handle all their image editing, cropping, and resizing. MailChimp also has a picnik integration in our header designer, which I’ve blogged about in the past.

Here’s what it looks like when flickr passes the photo over to picnik:


Cute loading screen. It makes the (very short) wait fun.

Anyway, Picnik opens up and lets you crop and resize all you want:


it’s super fast and easy. Since I’m using this in my email template, I already know that it needs to be no more than 400 pixels wide (if it’s going in my side column, I know to make it around 125 pixels wide). So in the screenshot above, you can see that I’ve constrained the proportions to "square" and 400 x 400 pixels.

My image above started as a 1536 x 2048 pixel, 1.2 MB JPEG, and Picnik got it down to under 40k.

That’s a much more email-friendly image size.


When you save the picture in picnik, it takes you back to your flickr account. But first, it lets you rename the picture, tag it, and store it in another photo set if you want:


Tip: I had about 4 photos, and in Flickr, I tagged them all with the keyword "July." This’ll make searching in the next step easier.

I basically just do all the steps above for each photo that I want in my newsletter.

3. Flickr to MailChimp

When I’m editing my campaign in MailChimp, and it’s time to insert my photos, I open up the image gallery, and click on the flickr button:


And do a search on flickr for my "July" newsletter photos:


Just double-click the photo, and it’s inserted into your campaign.

Two Birds with One Stone

Chances are you already know all this flickr and picnik stuff, but it’s the way you can incorporate all this into your monthly MailChimp newsletter writing that’s so cool. For me, this is just so natural. My newsletters are usually one or 1.5 months in the making. I snap photos and save them on my phone "for the next newsletter," all the time, but too often forget about them when it’s time to actually sit down and write the newsletter. Now, they’re uploaded as I take them, and are waiting for me no matter where I work. Even better, my flickr site is getting updated with new photos, which always helps with the ole findability, and is just good marketing.

Oh, by the way.

You can do more than crop and resize. Picnik has a ton of nifty editing tools, under their "create" tab: