8 Things I Use to Package and Ship Products

8 Things I Use to Package My Products

If there’s one thing that I’m constantly trying to improve about my Etsy shop, it’s got to be my packaging. Seriously, my shop has been open since 2014 and I’m STILL constantly changing up the way that I package my orders. However, I think I’ve finally found a happy medium so I decided to sit down and write about the things that I’m currently using to package my products.

In case you’re wondering what I sell, I sell printed invitations. You’ll see that I don’t have the most fancy packaging, and in my opinion, packaging shouldn’t be over the top anyway. At the end of the day it’s just packaging and most likely it’s going to be thrown away. Keeping packaging costs low keeps your prices low, and I like to save my customers money any way that I can.

If you’re just starting out selling online and you aren’t comfortable buying packaging supplies in bulk just yet, you can certainly find most of these shipping supplies in a department store such as Target or Walmart. But, if you find that your sales are starting to pick up you’ll save a ton of money by ordering these supplies online in bulk. I’ve found that my Amazon Prime membership is worth it’s weight in gold because I order from there so much.

Anyways, let’s hop to it. Here are the products that I’m currently using to ship my packages.

DYMO 4XL Thermal Label Printer

The DYMO 4XL Thermal Label printer is hands down my absolute favorite thing to use to ship my products. Before getting this little nifty machine I used to print labels out on my home printer, cut them down to size and tape them on with packaging tape. And don’t get me wrong, that’s totally fine. But, when you start shipping more than 5 orders a day that process is tedious. This machine changed my life. You simply connect the machine to your computer via USB and you can print labels instantly through Etsy. Just peel off the packer and stick the label to the package! So easy. No cutting, no taping. Best of all there’s no ink required! It uses thermal technology to print labels, it’s like magic.

You can learn all about the reasons why I highly recommend this machine, just check out the 5 reasons why you need a DYMO printer for your online business.

Cello Bags

These 8×10 clear cello bags are perfect for keeping my paper products nice and snug. I feel as if they’re a step up from using ziplock baggies. They also keep the invitations safe from any water damage just in case anything were to happen to my package. I love the fact that they have an easy peel and seal strip.

 

Tissue Paper

After I seal the invitations and envelopes in a clear cello bag, I wrap the whole bag in tissue paper. Luckily I found navy tissue paper to match my branding off of Amazon as well (like I said, the Prime membership is worth it’s weight in gold!!). The tissue paper is a great way to add some padding inside of the box so the invitations don’t bend in the corners while in transit.

 

Review Stickers

Once I wrap my invitations in the tissue paper, I seal the tissue paper together with a sticker. But not just any old sticker, I actually designed these stickers specifically to remind my customers to leave a review. Each sticker says, “We love what we do and we hope you will too. Please come back and leave a review!”. Since I’ve started using this sticker I’ve noticed a significant increase in my reviews. 
 
At first I purchased the 2″ Round Avery stickers from Staples, but I found them to be much more affordable on Amazon.
 

Thank You Cards

I also include a 4×6 thank you card with each of my orders. I make sure that I thank my customer for their support and I include a coupon code on the thank you card. If you’re interested I’ve created a FREE thank you card template that you can download along with the 2″ stickers mentioned above. I designed this card specifically so that it does not use up much ink if you’re printing at home. Simply print these 4×6 thank you cards out on cardstock and cut them out by using the black guidelines that I’ve included on the PDF. You will need to have Adobe Reader (this is free) or Acrobat in order to open and edit the thank you card.

*Also, you will receive the files in .ZIP format because there are 2 different files attached. You will need to unzip the folder in order to open both files. If you’re already signed up on my email list you can access these files via the free resource library!

 

White Shipping Boxes

I place the invitations wrapped in tissue paper into a white 9x6x2 box. The cheapest place that I could find to purchase these was Staples. They come in packs of 25 and I get free shipping (not sure if it’s because my order is over $50 or because I’m a rewards member). I specifically use this size because it fits perfectly into a USPS Flat Rate padded envelope (which I will discuss next).
 

USPS Flat Rate Priority Mail Padded Envelopes

I’m going to let you in on a big secret of mine. I’ve noticed that if my package weighs over 1 pound it’s actually cheaper to ship it via USPS Priority Mail than it is to ship it via ground service. And, I’ve noticed that I can save even MORE money by shipping my packages with USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate padded envelopes. 

How do I do this? I stuff my white boxes into the padded envelopes (I keep my invitations in the white box for extra protection). You can request free padded envelopes from the USPS website, they ship to your location for free too!

 

Kraft Packaging Paper

When I have to use a bigger box than the 9x6x2 I have to use packaging paper to pad the invitations so they’re not flopping around in the larger box while in transit. I found a large roll of kraft packaging paper off of Amazon along with this paper cutter that I can attach it to and use to easily roll out and cut. The roll is over 1,000 feet long so it lasts a long time!

 

What are some things that you use to package your products? I’d love to know! I’m all about discovering new ideas for packaging. Let me know in the comments below!

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How to Network Your Handmade Business

10 Networking Tips for Your Handmade Business

 

Networking. Ugh. I cringe when I hear that word. When I think about “networking” I think about my previous corporate career graphic design job that required us to gather together in our lunch break room every Friday for a “happy hour” (aka a networking event where we are required to ‘fish’ for work from clients). It was awful. I hated “networking”.

But, when you become a business owner sometimes networking is a nessesary evil. There are many benefits of getting yourself out there. You never know who’s path you may cross while networking or what opportunities you’ll be presented with. With that in mind, networking should be a part of your marketing plan.

When you think about it, networking is the least expensive and often times most effective way to promote your handmade business.

And, trust me, there’s more options to networking than showing up to a corporate event with a stack of business cards in hand. You can even network with other business owners online if you’re more comfortable doing so.

Here are 10 networking tips for a handmade business owner.

Network with Facebook Groups

Facebook groups are an amazing way to get yourself and your business out there. Many people are not aware of the many benefits there are in joining a Facebook group.

If you join a group that is related to your niche you will see that there are other inspiring entrepreneurs just like yourself in the group. If you have a question related to your business you can usually ask on a group board and chances are that someone will have an answer for you. I’ve learned so much from Facebook groups.

I’ve even created my own group for creative business owners. Click here to request to join the CreativeCEO Facebook group.

Other groups that I would highly recommend for creative entrepreneurs are:
* The Joyful Entrepreneur
* The Handmade Seller Community
* Handmade Journey

 

Network on Other Social Media

When it comes to networking, don’t just limit yourself to doing it with Facebook groups. You can also network on other social media platforms as well. Comment on Instagram photos or Pinterest pins. You just might find a new business bestie!

 

Do an Online Coffee Meeting

Another popular option for networking in the handmade community is to have an online coffee meeting. I’ve seen many people requesting coffee meetings on Facebook groups. Request to have a coffee meeting so you can chat it up about owning a handmade business, juggling personal life and business, etc. 

 

Participate in Online Forums

Forums are another particular favorite of mine. I’m usually active on the Etsy subreddit on Reddit and I also participate in the forums on Etsy. Make it a habit to check these forums daily. There’s always tons of networking opportunities in online forums.

 

Join a Chamber of Commerce

If you’re looking to get yourself out there in the real world, you can join a local chamber of commerce. Sure, there may not be many handmade business owners that belong to a chamber of commerce, but that’s what will set you apart from the crowd! Search Google for a local chamber of commerce. There’s usually a website available with information available on how to join. Look for a list of events that are hosted by that chamber of commerce and see if it’s worth giving it a shot.

 

Check Out Eventbrite

If you don’t want to take the leap of joining a local chamber of commerce you can always checkout Eventbrite.  Eventbrite is the worlds largest event technology platform. You can search for events that are happening in your area. There are usually plenty of networking events that are available to choose from. Just select “business” from the dropdown menu list to see all of the available events that are business related.

 

Plan Out Ice Breakers in Advanced

Whether you’re networking online or you’re attending a networking event in person, you should try to plan out some “ice breaker” questions in advanced. This is especially important for introverts such as myself. Ask them what motivated them to attend that networking event, or ask if they have any great business tips that they can offer.

 

Be Yourself

If there’s one tip that I could give anyone about networking, it would be to be yourself. I know that networking can seem intimidating. You may even feel the need to dress up in a corporate looking suit. But, just be yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or share personal stories. Be authentic!

 

Don’t Forget a Business Card

If you plan on going to an in person networking event then make sure you don’t forget your business card!  You’d be surprised at how many people actually forget their business card. If you don’t currently have a business card you could create one with VistaPrint.com or Moo.com. Your business card should at the very least have your name, title, business name, business website and a form of contact (either a phone number or an email address).

 

Ditch The Sales Pitch

It’s important to remember that networking is about connecting with other people and building relationships, it’s not just about getting your business out there. Don’t push the sales pitch. If someone happens to ask you what you do simply give a quick description of your business and hand them your card. Done! Keep the rest of the conversation casual. People are more likely to work with you if you’re not constantly trying to sell them something.

 

Hopefully these tips will help you when it comes to networking your handmade business. Is there something that you struggle with when it comes to networking? Let me know in a comment below! I’d love to help 🙂

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