Thursday, February 28, 2013

FAQs Volume 2: Shipping

Oh shipping.  How I hate hate hate shipping.  Maybe you hate it too.  Maybe we should all move to one central location, like a compound.  That way we could just hand things to each other instead of sending things through the mail.  Well, until that's possible I suppose we just have to stick to shipping.

I don't know all there is to know about shipping things, but I have been shipping using the United States Postal Service (USPS) almost daily for a year and a half so I for sure have learned a thing or two.  It's my hope that this post will help you in your shipping endeavors as well.

Shipping Scale

If you want to ship from home like I do, the first thing you need to do is get yourself a shipping scale.  Let me just say shipping from home is way better.  You don't have to run to the post office every time you want to ship something, and you can just put whatever it is in your mailbox or schedule a pickup (more on that later) and never spend the money on gas or even get dressed.  Score.

They sell postal scales at Walmart and Staples and places like that, but unless you can find a good deal on one I say avoid those stores.  The scales are upwards of $30.00 and I got mine for way less.  This is the exact scale that I use.  (Click on the picture to go to Amazon).

This one is a Weighmax scale that can weigh things up to 35 pounds.  I can weigh Rylea and Dieter both on it if I want to.  I like it because it runs on batteries or you can plug it into the wall and use it that way.  I'm cheap, I don't want to spend extra money on batteries so I just plug it in.  I got this one for less than $20 and if you have Amazon Prime it'll ship free.  Bam.  Done.

Domestic Shipping Rates

Ok, now that you've got the scale taken care of, you need to know your options when it comes to shipping services.  The follow information applies to domestic shipping only.  International shipping is a whole different ball of wax.

  • First Class Shipping: Anything weighing under 13 ounces will ship USPS First Class Mail.  This class of mail usually ships within 3-5 business days.  Depending on where you are in the country it takes about 3 days on average.  This is the cheapest way to ship using the USPS and if you can stay under 13 ounces you won't get charged an arm and a leg to ship something.  For this reason, you want to keep your shipping containers as lightweight as you can so you're adding extra bulk.
  • Priority Shipping: Anything that weighs 13.1 ounces or more will need to be shipped priority mail.  Priority mail is usually shipped within 2-3 business days.  There are a few different options here.  The USPS has a product called Priority Mail Flat Rate Shipping.  This means you pay one flat rate no matter what your package weighs and they will ship it for that price. So you can ship a 10 pound bowling ball or a stack of feathers and if you're using the same kind of box then they'll both ship for the same price.  You can get flat rate shipping supplies for FREE on the USPS website here.  There are several options on package sizes for flat rate shipping.  It's best to weigh your package and then use this Postage Price Calculator to decide which shipping method is going to be the cheapest for you.  It might be cheaper to skip the flat rate boxes and just ship your package priority based on the weight.
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  • Express Shipping:  Express shipping is used when you're in a hurry.  This is overnight shipping and it's the most expensive option.  There are also flat rate options for Express mail, and you can still get Express shipping supplies for free as well.

Information taken from
When using Priority or Express mailing options you can still avoid that trip to the post office.  Just sign on to and schedule a pick up the night before.  You can write in there directions on where your mailman or mailwoman can find your package and they'll come and pick it all up for you.  You can also have them pick up your first class packages as long as at least one of your packages is going Priority or Express.  Most of the time, I can fit all my first class packages in the mailbox and lift the flag and I'm good to go.

First Class Shipping Supplies

If you have ever purchased anything from SPC then you know what my shipping supplies look like.  I use cello bags to wrap my clothing and then I put those inside a poly mailer.  I slap a postage sticker on the outside of the bag that I print from my computer and voila.  Ready to ship.

Here's a picture of some of my clothes all wrapped up in the clear cello bags.  I use those bags to keep the clothes extra clean and protected.  Say my mailer gets a hole in it and it rains, these bags protect the clothes from getting wet or even smelling like smoke if your mail carrier is a smoker.  In my opinion, well worth the money, and it helps step up your professional game.

I buy my cello bags online and I usually get about 200 at a time in size 9 x 12 or somewhere around there.  I check the prices between Ebay and Amazon and buy whatever has the best deal.  Usually, I get them from Amazon because I can get free shipping.

Here's a picture of a poly mailer.  I also get these on Ebay or Amazon depending on the price and I get a bunch all at once to keep me stocked up.  I buy them every couple of months depending on how busy I've been and how many orders I've filled.  I've never had a problem with these being ripped or torn when they're delivered to my customers (or at least no one has told me so).  They hold up well and if you're careful when you open them up, you can turn them inside out and use them to ship something else again.
I do all my invoicing and taking payments through PayPal, so it makes the most sense for me to ship through PayPal as well.  If you aren't shipping through a paid PayPal invoice you can still use paypal to ship using  You can ship directly from the USPS website also, just depends on what works best for you.  I print my postage directly from PayPal onto self adhesive shipping labels (also from Ebay), like these.  It really cuts down the cost on what I've spent on computer paper and packing tape and they hold up well in the mail also.  You'll still need to buy black printer ink more frequently depending on how much you ship, but at least you're not buying all the other stuff too!

I think that sums up how I use the USPS to ship stuff in my business.  If you have any other questions or any suggestions on stuff I can add just leave it in the comments!  I'd be happy to help you out wherever I can!!

1 comment:

  1. Oh shipping is the bane of my existance. I have actually started hiring my 13 year old neighbor to come over once a week. She packs everything up, weighs the packages, and prints out labels for me. I pay her $20 a week, and she thinks it's awesome for the hour or two it takes her. If it takes her longer than an hour or so, I'll throw an extra $5 or $10 to her or buy her an ice cream at the farm market across the street. Another good idea for a scale- I use a meat scale. No batteries, no plug, it's like a bathroom scale, but it only goes up to 8 pounds, and it calculates ounces too. It's never been off!!! :)


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