Sunday, January 18, 2009

Shipping your Crafts

The most economical way to ship the crafts or art that you sell is through USPS - the United States Postal Service. The rates for small parcels are far lower than rates at U.P.S. and Federal Express. If you are shipping furniture-size items you will want to check the rates and requirements of a transporter such as UPS that is equipped to better handle large items.

Many craft artists starting to sell thief crafts though the Internet or by catalog are confused about how to know what an item is going to cost to ship. Many just estimate what they think the item should ship at by looking at a chart and eyeballing the item. These craftspeople are always shocked when they get to the post office and find out that their item ships for twice the cost that they had estimated and have collected.

There is no reason to lose money shipping an item if you know exactly what to do. You can know the EXACT SHIPPING COST before you list your item for sale.

First, buy a good, digital postal scale. They are available in every chain office discount store. You will not pay a lot for one and without one you cannot know what your item will cost to ship. Trips to the post office to weigh your package in advance is going to annoy your post office clerks. I knew one person who would take parcels to the supermarket to weigh on the produce scale. This all can be avoided by spending $50 or less. You can even buy one at the post office.

Next, go to the USPS website and find the rate charts for both domestic and international mail. These charts are easy to print out to keep as a reference. When you get to these charts on the website you will input your home zip code so that you will get charts from your ZONE to all other ZONES. These vary, so be sure you are looking at the correct chart for your zone. Print out all of the charts and put them in a folder to refer to when you are determining shipping costs. Priority Mail over one pound changes per zone. All international mail changes by country zone. First Class mail - letter or parcel is one price across the US varying only by weight , thickness, and size.

Next, take the item that you intend to sell, take the box or envelope that you will ship it in, take all of the packaging that will go into the box or envelope along with the item, and take as many sheets of letter paper that you will use to create packing lists or invoices, and put all of this together. Weigh EVERYTHING together. Write down that exact weight. If you are between two whole ounces you must go UP to the next whole ounce. Make a note for yourself and keep it someplace where you will find it detailing exactly how this particular item will be packed and shipped.

Now, take out those charts and decide how you are shipping - First Class, First Class Parcel, Priority Mail, Express Mail, or International - which also has different classes just like Domestic. When you have the correct chart look at the weight of the package and the rate on the chart - THIS is you EXACT cost of postage. To decide how you are shipping you must know a few other things. If your envelope is larger than 6" x 9" or is over one quarter inch thick, you are shipping First Class Large Envelope. You cannot add Delivery Confirmation service to any First Class envelope rate. The only way to add Delivery Confirmation to First Class is to make the package thicker than three quarters of an inch or make it totally rigid and unable to bend - and you are now shipping First Class Parcel. If your package weighs 13 ounces or more you must ship by Priority Mail (and, by law, you may not put the package in any mailbox - it must be handed to a postal clerk or carrier). IMPORTANT TO NOTE - Priority Mail is NOT faster delivery than First Class. Priority Mail is for heavier First Class packages. If you look at the USPS statement about Priority Mail it says "Arrives in 2 -3 days*" Look at that * and you will see that it says AVERAGE. There is no guarantee and in fact it travels along with First Class and will be delivered at exactly the same time. I have this on the authority of several postal clerks. The post office will be happy to take your money for the additional postage for Priority for light packages, but your package WILL NOT get there any sooner. The only way to guarantee (well, maybe guarantee) a set delivery time is by using Express Mail. This arrives in one or two days - if the person is there to receive it when the mail carrier arrives at their door. If they are not there a notice is left and the package goes back to the post office. If the receiver does not call the post office for re-delivery or go in person to the post office to pick up the package, that package will be SENT BACK to you in five days. Express mail costs a minimum of $16.00. That is a lot of money to pay and have the package sent back. If you are listing an item that must travel by Priority Mail because of weight you must be aware of what the furthermost zone is from you that this might possibly ship to (the same holds true for any International destination). You must look up that zone on the chart and use that zone to determine your total shipping cost - you can always refund money to your customer if they live in a closer zone, but it is bad form to ask for more money to ship - and on some craft sale sites (like Etsy) you are not permitted to do that.

International mail is done in the same way. The weight and the zone and the way you will ship. The charts are just as easy to follow. More about International Shipping later.

Now that you know the exact cost of the postage, what do you want to add in postal services. Delivery Confirmation is a way to track the delivery of your package, but it only really can be relied upon to tell you when the package is actually delivered. If you are using Paypal to handle your transaction Delivery Confirmation is required to be able to use their Seller Protection plan. If you print your postage labels at Paypal you will save a lot on the cost of Delivery Confirmation. At the post office it costs 75 cents. On Paypal it costs only 18 cents - and only on Paypal (and not on USPS Click and Ship) can you add Delivery Confirmation to a First Class Parcel package. Another feature that you can add is Postal Insurance. This starts at over $1.5o for up to $50 insurance and then increases from there. Insurance is the ONLY way you or your buyer is going to get the cost of the item back if the package is lost or damaged. If this is a one of a kind item - always include insurance in the rate that you calculate. Express mail automatically includes insurance in the rates listed. No other mailing rate does. If you want to guarantee getting your money back if something goes wrong in transit, include the insurance. Add these the rates for these features into the total cost of shipping the package.

At this point you have the exact cost that your item will ship for and you know exactly what to list as your shipping cost for the buyer to pay for your item. Remember - if there is any uncertainty add a little more to the cost that the buyer will pay. It is easy to issue a refund for excess postage paid. You cannot ask for more money from the buyer later if you miscalculated too low.

Follow this method and you wil never pay anything out of your pocket to ship an item to your buyer.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Allow me to introduce you to a photographer who presents her photos not only to hang and display, but also to wear. As are the other photographers that I have interviewed, this one is also a member of P.O.E. - Photographers of Etsy. Come and meet

Here is our interview with Jessica -

Briefly describe what you make?

I take photographs, both digital and film, and then sell prints of my favorites in my shop. I have also expanded into some accessories, such as greeting cards, necklaces and key chains, all made from my photos.

What mediums do you enjoy working in most?

Digital photography is great for instant gratification and learning and improving on the spot since I can immediately check my photos and make adjustments. But I love 35mm film, especially black and white, and would like to devote more time and effort to taking more film photos in the future. Outside of my etsy shop, I'm a novice crafter and enjoying knitting, embroidery, and making things with felt.

How long have you been creating craft?

I've been into arts and crafts as long as I can remember, always making home-made gifts or ornaments for my family. But I didn't really get started with photography until 2 years ago. It had always been a passing interest for me, but it wasn't until I bought my first SLR camera in 2007 that I really fell in love with it.

How did you get started?

After experimenting with taking photos, I took the plunge and purchased a digital SLR camera. Shooting digitally sped up the process of how quickly I could review and edit my photos, and that made the possibility of opening an Etsy shop a lot more realistic. Though I have been a buyer for a long time, I only started selling my photographs on Etsy in July of 2008.

Where does the name of your shop come from?

My day job is a film and television editor. "Flash frame" is a film term for a single frame that shows up for a fraction of a second. I liked that the term was connected to my film-making background, but also sounded like a photography term since both flashes and frames are relevant to still photography as well. It seemed like a good name to bridge those two interests of mine.

What would you most want people to know about your work?

Every photo in my shop is something that I would hang in my home, and I'm truly flattered and humbled when others feel the same way.

What words of advice do you have for other artists?

My advice would be to make time for art. I think a lot of times when life is hectic, creating art can become less of a priority. But making something with your hands or capturing something beautiful can be its own reward by making you slow down and appreciate what's happening around you. That alone is worth making time for. Of course, I'm guilty of forgetting this too, and need to get better about taking my own advice.


Wonderful! You have got to see the photography for your self. Come right now to Jessica's shop!


Would you like to see yourself on this page. You can be interviewed too! Just contact me through my shop at Etsy - Past Perfect.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Another wonderful member of POE - Photographers Of Etsy is here to to tell us about her work. Please come and meet

Here is our interview with the photographer, Racquel -

Tell us what you make?

Fine Art Photography and Soldered Chainmaille

What mediums do you enjoy working in most?

For my jewelry I love working in silver, gold, gemstones and artist made lampwork beads

How long have you been creating craft and how did you get started?

I have always made crafts of some variety ever since I can remember. As a child I was into painting and cartooning. At age 10 I submitted my portfolio to an art college in NY. I conveniently left off my age and won 1 out of 5 art scholarships they hand out each year. Of course when they found out my age (thanks mom!) I of course could not accept the offer. I stopped painting in High School when my AP art teacher decided to break me down and discourage me from pursuing my dreams. This was my 3rd year in the program. Every year at the end of the year we submitted our portfolios to Princeton where you would get a rating of 1-5. If you received 3 ratings of 5 you received a full art scholarship. The 2 years prior I received both 5s and was on my way to my 3rd. Everything I painted or drew in my 3rd year was ripped apart by my teacher and I could not find the will to create any more. I eventually dropped from the class as I could not create anymore. From time to time I will pick up a pencil and do a cartoon but the passion is still not there.

For years I could not create then about 10 years ago while struggling through a horrible divorce I need something to keep my mind occupied. I tried a few different crafts but nothing that I was passionate about. 7 years ago I stumbled upon a bead show and I was hooked. I tried different types of designs but found that I did not like strung designs so I started exploring silver. This is when I discovered the world of maille. After mastering weaves I decided I needed to learn soldering so I set off on that adventure. After many hours and many months (really almost a year) of wasted silver I perfected my craft and it was ready for sale but that was not to last.

With the economy being down and silver being up I had to pack things up for a while. I was going crazy as I need to create to survive. But wait a minute what about that nice camera I used to take pictures of my jewelry? Why could I not create with that? Well I was on a quest to now learn a whole new skill. I bought a ton of books, read many online articles and joined online groups that helped push me to keep growing. After 2 years of practicing and practicing (then upgrading my camera form an XTi to a 40D) I thought it was time that I would try selling my art.

Where does the name of your shop come from?

SM Gemstones comes from Sacramento Mountains which is what I get to look upon every day. Sirius Imagery came from my husband and I combining businesses. His business name is Sirius Group. Yeah, nothing exciting and creative there..

What would you most want people to know about your work?

I take pride in my work and I don’t start selling it until I have mastered the skill. With my photography (while I do not claim to be an expert) I do take pride in letting me alone determine how the image will come out. Even though I have a Canon 40D with all the nice auto features I still shoot the old fashion way in manual, leaving me in full control of the images produced. Most my macro shots are also manually focused allowing me to get closer to the subject than the lens in auto would normally allow.

What words of advice do you have for other artists?

Learn your trade before trying to sell it. I see too many people who will buy jewelry supplies or a nice camera and immediately start selling their work before mastering it. This hurts all artists especially if you customer is disappointed in the craftsmanship as they will think this is the way it is with all artists. Also once you have mastered your craft charge a fair wage for your skill. Again selling something cheap hurts everyone as customers will learn that our time is not valuable.


You must visit Racquel's photography shop at Etsy, her nature work is fabulous. Please also take a look at her jewelry shop - she does great work.