{Handmade Business in 31 Days — Day 12, Shipping madness.}

Day 11// Running a handmade business takes an insane amount of energy, organization + daily/weekly upkeep that if you don’t feel confident in your workflow processes you will probably feel like a crazy lady. Snort.

Today let’s talk about shipping product. When we had an apartment in Minneapolis I would ship product every day of the week. My concentration jumped around the various projects we were working on and I was not efficient with our shipping process. I also had to pull out all materials needed to ship, then put them away — only to need them again the next day! Then we moved to a house {still in Minneapolis} and I was able to have a more-defined shipping workspace. Zack built a table that had cubbies below for bubble mailers, business cards, tape, ribbon, scissors. Made me fall in love with him all over again, watching him build that so effortless for me ;) Suddenly all the the necessary tools/materials we needed were within reach! It was glorious and was a sure end to the shipping madness we had been experiencing.

Shortly before we moved to said house I realized the Post Office does package pick up. I know. LIGHT BULB. Wanna know what I did on move-in day? Stalked our postman and ask him if he would mind picking up “a few packages” a couple of times a week… pretty please? Since he parked his mail truck near our house it was super easy for him to do this for us. Now I probably should have scheduled a formal pick-up {link above}, but… this worked just as well. Our postman was awesome and I do miss him… Brian, how’s California sound?

But anyhoooo, we’re back in an apartment and this time in Los Angeles, just a couple of miles from the ocean — yeow!, but this means we are working on a new process. No need to backtrack and have shipping become a madness, right? Shipping is a huge part of running a handmade business so I’m happy to take the time and figure out the perfect solution. Right now all products are shipping from Minneapolis so I have some time.

A FEW THINGS I’VE LEARNED:

  • buy in bulk. Ordering larger quantities of materials {example: ribbon from your local craft store vs. here} not only gets you the best price but you’ll always be prepared for that flux in orders
  • build a shipping process that is easy to maintain. There came a time when we were forced to ask ourselves if shipping every day was REALLY necessary? And it’s not. Even if you condense shipping to 2x/week customers will remain happy + so will your schedule/list of to-dos
  • incorporate your brand into your packaging. Think stamps, thank-you cards, stickers, ribbon, envelopes/bags, confetti, tissue paper, business cards, a small trinket with every order, washi tape — anything that allows your customers experience your brand up to the end :)
  • work efficiently. When you package orders twice a week you’re able to keep your focus on other, equally important tasks for longer. Your attention span is cut off. You accomplish more. Your dreams turn into plans into crossed off items from your to-dos. Working efficiently could also mean stuffing business cards into all product >> placing said product into cute brown bags >> sealing the bags with a sticker >> placing inside a bubble mailer + applying the shipping labels >> stamping the outside of all mailers with a quirky stamp. You work through one step until all orders are finished with that step, then you move on to the next. See how efficient that was? Now go put your feet up, I’ll bring you some hot cider to sip on and we’ll watch the leaves change color outside :)

Homework// How would you rate your shipping process? Would you give yourself an A+? If not, take some time to think about your trouble areas. Map out a quick plan of action, do some research, and quit when it’s perfected.


Need some advice in this area? Leave a comment below with your questions {so we can help}, and please reply to other comments if you have a tip to offer as well.

want even more tips for your handmade business? you know what to do ;)

Comments

  1. 2

    says

    This post is great (thank you)! I’ve always wondered if the post office will do pick-ups at apartments.. do you know?

    Also, thanks for all of the links! I’ll be checking those out. I like my packaging process and style but I have been thinking that a cute sticker of some sort would help brighten up the outside of the packages. Thanks for the inspiration :)

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    @Megan, I’m not sure, but you should definitely call to find out! It’d be so amazing if they did!!!

    [Reply]

  2. 3

    says

    Oh, P.S. Have you seen that Target has some washi tapes now? They are in the office supply area by the paperclips and such. I havn’t tried them yet but am tempted :)

    [Reply]

  3. 4

    Donna says

    You gave me several things to think about personalizing my packaging. I am learning so much from this series and I thank you very sincerely.
    For those that will send by post office (USPS) you can go to that web site and order free boxes and labels. They will delivered to your home, again for free. I think pick ups can be done in an apt. because YOU go online and schedule the date and time for the pick up. That is a great question. I hope this helps someone. :)

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    @Donna, Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your insights!!! :)

    [Reply]

  4. 5

    says

    I SOOOO struggle with shipping because I go crazy if I am not shipping items daily and I know I am making myself even more crazy since I am in an apartment again myself and the post office isn’t exactly next door. What are the two best days to ship?

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    @Erin @ Isaboo Designs, What about Tuesday + Friday? That way you have Monday to catch up from the weekend {ya know, since you were offline ;) } and then on Friday orders go out over the weekend. Those are our two favorite days to ship. XO

    [Reply]

    Erin @ Isaboo Designs Reply:

    @Gussy Sews, That sounds good and makes sense! Thanks!

    [Reply]

  5. 6

    says

    A great place for inexpensive shipping materials is esupplystore.com – bubble mailers are $35 for 250! Their supplies are at an amazing price and they ship quickly (provided you have room for all of that shipping material). They also have sticky labels that fit in the printer, cutting down shipping time considerably!

    [Reply]

    Katy (lil' alice) Reply:

    @amy cornwell, Amy, thanks for the website. I will be checking them out! I am always looking for packaging….. on the cheap!

    My graphic designer made me stickers & I also ordered a rubber stamp from etsy to stamp packages & thank you cards. I am a sucker for office supplies, ever since I was a kid!

    [Reply]

    Melissa @ A Time for Everything Reply:

    Their prices for the mailers themselves are decent, but I just put a pack of 250 #0 in my cart to check their shipping cost, and it’s steep–$15.63 for $30.00 worth of mailers! I get my on Amazon and always pay less than $35 for 250 shipped.

    [Reply]

    Katy lil' alice Reply:

    @Melissa @ A Time for Everything, thanks. That’s great to know.

    [Reply]

  6. 7

    says

    I used to be a crazy (crazed?) daily shipper as well, but as my shop has grown, I’ve had to reduce to 2-3 times per week and streamline the process. One of my favorite changes was buying a thermal label printer. (I have a Brother QL-700.) It saves so much time! Since it’s thermal, it uses no ink, and I purchase non-OEM rolls of tape for it which are very inexpensive. I’ve also revised my product packaging, keeping it pretty but reducing the steps it takes.

    One clarification about USPS pick-up: It’s only for Priority Mail and “higher.” You can’t schedule it for First Class packages. However, we have a fairly large mailbox and my (bubble mailer) packages are relatively compact. I use PayPal multi-order shipping, print a scan form to save our mail lady the headache of scanning each package, and can fit up to 20 or so packages in there at a time!

    [Reply]

  7. 8

    says

    The best place to get packing supplies, ribbon, WHATEVER, especially in Southern California, is papermart.com :) I am in Orange County and I can order one evening and the items will be AT my house the next day. It’s so awesome- and cheeeeeeap! :) Check it out for sure now that you are in Cali!
    xoxox Holly

    [Reply]

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