Shipping 101: How a Small Business can Ship from Home for Cheap

Why Ship from Home?

I’m self-employed. I personally receive all my products, process them, take pictures, list them for sale, pack them, and ship them out by hand. Being a one-manned business brings on many hassles, but one of the more prominent ones is lack of time. Lack of time to accomplish everything I need/want to in a given day. Any little way that I can save some time and money sounds great to me, and an easy way of accomplishing this is by shipping the orders from home! No more going to the post office and waiting in line, no more retail-priced shipping rates, no more hassle. Everything comes and goes directly from my home with ease. 

In the community of self-employed creators that I work around, I see many of them are not taking advantage of shipping from home, so I figured I would make this article to show you exactly how I ship from home, and how you can too!

What Supplies are Needed to Ship from Home?

100% essential for shipping products. This is a small scale, but with the display on a cord, you can fit larger packages and still read the weight. It can be set to oz, lb, kg, g, or any combination of two of those. Can run on batteries or be plugged in. Remember, when entering in weights online, always round up. 13.2oz equals 14oz. Rounding up is always safer than rounding down. 

These cost a little more than other boxes, but these require NO TAPE! They simply fold to make the box, and you can put your sticky shipping label right over the seam to seal it up. These save you so much time compared to boxes that you have to tape to close. I linked 6x4x4 boxes (what I mostly use), but feel free to shop around and find the size that you need. Remember, try to not buy boxes larger than you need, as extra space equals extra weight, and extra weight makes postage cost more.

If you’re cheap like I was for a long time and wanted to save $0.30 per box, you can get these and tape them up yourself. Takes an extra minute or two, and you have to buy tape, but in the end it will likely save you a few dollars. Just like the folding boxes, I linked 6x4x4 boxes, but shop around to find the size you need. These are just great, light boxes that work perfectly for first-class (less than 1lb) packages.

I use these for non-breakables. Small things that can’t easily be crushed or broken. These bubble mailers are the perfect size to slap a shipping label on, they weigh less than an ounce, the inside is coated in bubblewrap, and they have a sticky strip so you don’t have to use tape! 

If you’re not using the folding boxes or the shipping labels I have linked on this page, then you’ll need tape. No need to get expensive name brand tape (Scotch)…. just use this cheaper stuff. Tape is tape. This paired with the tape gun that I linked next speed up the process!

This thing looks terrifying, but once you figure it out it speeds up the taping process so so much. The tape slides right on, no buttons, no cutting…. it goes fast. You can also adjust the tension to your liking. Oh, and don’t touch the serrated part…. it’s sharp.

If you currently buy bubble wrap from somewhere local…. stop. Buying online is SOOOOOO much cheaper. You get SEVEN HUNDRED FEEEET of bubble wrap for literally 3 pennies per foot. This particular listing sends you four 175′ rolls in case you don’t have room for a ginormous 700′ roll like I use. This is also perforated every foot, so no cutting needed, just rip it.

If you have boxes that are too big, you’ll need to fill in the excess space so your product doesn’t shift around. Most people use crumpled paper…. that extra weight adds up. Know what weighs less than paper? Air! I love these little bags of air. They fit perfectly in the 6x4x4 boxes I use, and I’ve never had any pop during shipment and the product arrive damaged. Of course still wrap your product in bubble wrap, but use these to fill in the extra space in the box.

If you’re shipping anything fragile, use this. Works SOOOOOOO much better than bubble wrap. This allows plenty of shifting room inside the box, yet keeps the item perfectly safe in the middle of this fluffy cloud material. Heck, if you have left over, go make a teddy bear or something with it. This stuff is great. It’s also incredibly light, which keeps shipping charges low.

This is absolutely my favorite thing ever. I got it back in December after thinking “ah, it’ll be cheaper if I just cut out the labels and tape them on myself” for years. The company is called Rollo, and I love them. You can use any labels (doesn’t have to be Rollo brand), no need for ink, it synces to Paypal and ShippingEasy (which I address later in this article), and IT PRINTS A LABEL PER SECOND! That’s fast!! It’s fun just to watch it spit them out! Only con I have about it is that it’s not bluetooth. You have to plug the USB into your computer.

Some kind of 6×4 labels are needed for the Rollo printer listed previously. Rollo brand labels are NOT required (unlike most other brands of label printer), but the fact that they’re NOT required is why I buy Rollo brand labels. They’re sticky. They’re water proof. They print dark/readable. Love them. I just peel them off and stick them directly on the box. No need to cut anything out, no need to secure it with tape. Takes 2 seconds.

This isn’t absolutely needed, but I think it looks good, and it keeps your labels nice and orderly. The labels sit in the holder and the Rollo Printer pulls them through the printer as you print them. Just to clarify, it’s only the black plastic holder on the left, you’ll need to buy the actual Rollo label printer and the labels separately (linked previously)

How to Purchase Shipping Labels at Home

Stop buying labels from the post office. Those are full price. If you’re reading this article, you obviously want to learn how to save money on shipping. Don’t use USPS’s website. Those labels are also full price. I use PayPal and ShippingEasy to buy and print my labels at home. If the buyer pays via PayPal, I use their built-in system to buy labels. They’re discounted, and as long as you have a scale, tape measure, and a printer, you can buy and print your labels from home. Just type in the weight and dimensions, then print the labels. If you’re using the label printer I linked above, simply peel the label off and slap it on the box. If you’re using a traditional printer, then print out the label, cut it to size, and carefully tape it on the box while avoiding wrinkles in the tape.

If your customer didn’t pay via PayPal, then you’ll love the company I use for labels, ShippingEasy. 

ShippingEasy

This website is fantastic. They get discounted shipping rates through Stamps.com (previously through a company called Endicia). Below is an example of the savings on USPS’s flat rate services you’ll receive by using ShippingEasy
 

So as you can see, you save 5-13% on flat rate boxes/envelopes, which are completely FREE to order HERE. These free shipping boxes are great if you are shipping flat rate Priority, but I need to warn you that the boxes are not sturdy. They are single layer corrugated cardboard, and they get beat up pretty easily. If you bundle these savings with a PayPal Business Debit Card, you’ll be saving upwards of 14% on shipping charges!

You’re also able to buy labels from FedEx and UPS if you use those instead of USPS, but you’ll need to link your FedEx/UPS account to ShippingEasy so it charges your account appropriately.

If you’re shipping small/light products, then you do not want to use flat rate Priority boxes, you want to use First-Class shipping. To qualify for first class, the package must be under 16oz, which is why I use small boxes and packing materials that do not weigh much. ShippingEasy also has great discounts on First-Class shipping labels, but I couldn’t find a fancy little chart to show you exactly how much you’ll save. I know packages under 4oz start at as low as $2.66 as of 2019 (shipping rates go up each year.) Below I’m showing you a picture of the view inside ShippingEasy and how easy and user friendly it is to use.

ShippingEasy syncs with your online store (I use WooCommerce through my website, but it also syncs to EBay, Amazon, Shopify, BigCommerce, and numerous others) and imports new orders automatically. You can print shipping labels, packing slips, and ShippingEasy automatically marks the order as shipped on your website AND emails the tracking number to the buyer! If you don’t have an online store, you can still copy/paste addresses and package dimensions directly to ShippingEasy via the “Add Manual Order” at the top left and buy your label that way. You can also buy shipping insurance through them, and they offer an array of other services including email marketing, inventory management, and a ton of other stuff. You can purchase the label simply by clicking the button on the left, then print the label directly through your Rollo Label Printer in literally 1 second.

ShippingEasy has a few different shipping plans depending on how many packages you ship out each month, and they even offer a completely free plan if you ship less than 50 orders per month! You can sign up and take advantage of a free month of reduced shipping rates by clicking this link!

How to Ship out Packages without Leaving Home

I hate waiting in line at the Post Office. I don’t know anyone that likes waiting in that long line full of impatient people. When you print labels from home, you now have some new options!

The first option is to have the mail carrier pick the packages up from your home. You can schedule a pickup via the USPS website, or you can do what I do and simply put a note in the mailbox with the flag up that says “I have packages for you, please beep your horn. Thank you!” and then when she gets here and beeps I bring the packages out to her and she scans them.

If you’re not home during the day, you can either leave the packages outside for the carrier to pick up (if you don’t worry about stolen mail), or drop the packages off at the post office. Yes this involves leaving your house, but you don’t have to wait in the line. Most post offices have a place to drop in small packages, and the bigger ones you can simply skip the line and drop it off on the counter. The employees will understand what you’re doing, and the people waiting in the long line won’t be mad because you’re not taking up any time because you’re not having to pay for the label. The employee simply needs to scan the label.

If you Found This Page Helpful

I’ve been working on this page for the past several hours, so I really hope someone finds this useful. If you found it helpful, feel free to leave a comment down below or share it with your friends! I don’t get anything directly from making these articles, but it saves me time answering questions and helps you all so I’ll continue to do it! I don’t ask for/accept donations, but feel free to grab something small from my Shop, buy anything from this page (or literally anything from Amazon after clicking one of my links- go buy a TV or some new socks, I’ll get a tiny cut from the affiliate links), or follow me on my social media (InstagramFacebook, or Tumblr) if you’d like to support my work!

If you noticed any typos while reading this, any links don’t work, or have any suggestions or questions that weren’t covered in this article or the other articles on my Blog, please leave a comment below or Contact Me.

6 Responses to “Shipping 101: How a Small Business can Ship from Home for Cheap

  • This was very helpful! Thanks for taking your time to share.

  • Awesome. I wish I’d found this when I had my businesses. Great info. Does shipping easy calculate media mail for shipping books?

  • Michelle
    2 months ago

    Thank uuuuuuuuuuuu!!!!!!!!!

  • Mark, you ve been super helpful. I have one question though We have Nexus (in our case, brick and mortar stores) in several states, and in CA we have multiple stores. We usually ship our eCommerce sales from one state. It looks like we should be charging tax based on the destination in all cases, and not the source for some states, like Missouri. How can I get TaxJar to give me destination based rates for all states?

    • My name is Dalton, but thanks! That would be a question that you should discuss with your accountant, as tax law varies state to state.

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