How To Get Pen Pals

The question people ask me when they first find out I pen pal is “…wait, so how do you meet these people?” I joke around and say through a prison pen pal match up site (which, I am sure, is a real thing). After the look of shock and worry strain their faces for a minimum of ten seconds, I break the news that it is a simpler, more boring answer.

It involves hashtags and Instagram.

Can you get more 21st century than that?!


Jokes aside, it works. It is as easy as looking up hashtags, scouring all the results, and “creeping” on their Instagram seeing whether they’d be a good match. I find myself attracted to those who showcase each letter they write individually. The creativity some of these ladies (and few men) display is so inspiring! They can take a plain, white envelope and turn it into a masterpiece. You would be surprised to see that there is a whole community out there! This community is filled with sweet, like-hearted souls who just want to reach out and learn more about other people and parts of the world. They even have their resident “popular” crowd! Women who have made their Instagram into almost an art museum. They showcase each and every one of their letters, both incoming and outcoming, for the world to enjoy.

When I first started, to get some traffic and interest going, I even went as far as making an advertisement for myself and tagging the picture with some hotspot tags. Here is my first one. Laugh all you want, but it got some good responses.


topshelfmischief penpal advertisement

It says this was posted about 42 weeks ago. What a journey it has been since then! I have made 15+ new friends and exchanged probably over 50 letters. Each one differently decorated; adorned with various return addresses and styles of creativity. My favorites are the ones that have a slew of international stamps stuck to the top right corner. Other countries have such beautiful, original stamps! I feel a little disappointed sending off some of my international letters; it’s either a round stamp with the global sea temperatures on it, or simply a boring white sticker with the price of postage. What a disgrace! How boring!


  • Bring back the early 2000’s with a/s/l (age, sex, location)
  • State who you’d like to write with: just females? What age range? (There are kids as young as 12 starting!) Do you want international pen pals? Or do you want to stay within your own territory?
  • Make sure your Instagram is not on private. These people are going to want to check out your page and see what you’re up to! Do you have any #outgoing letters? What is your style like? If you are like me, you probably don’t want randoms looking at your personal Instagram/photos. That is exactly why I made a totally separate one just for my pen pal business!


  • #penpal
  • #penpals
  • #penpalswanted
  • #penpalsneeded
  • #snailmailrevolution
  • #snailmail
  • #penpalsaroundtheworld
  • #writemoreletters
  • #sendmoreletters

Comment below with your pen pal instagrams! I would love to see your endeavors. Also, post any questions you might have about the pen pal-ing process. I would be happy to answer any!



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