CS Quarantine #2: Printing Postage and Shipping from Home

Alright... so in the second installment of these quarantine blog posts I will be covering how one may go about fulfilling shipping from home (in the United States). What I am about to share should be beneficial DIYers of all kinds (artists, bands, labels, your mom, whatever).

Alright so this is the first destination I came to when I searched something like "print shipping at home." It wasn't really the move for me because there's a decent subscription fee and that does not vibe with us being a  s m a l l  operation, $17 dollars a month on top of cost of shipping items...  yuck.  However, I will say that this is a pretty robust solution that has great integrations with a bunch of stores and software If you already have a ton going on as a business/artist, this solution may be for you. They have a 60-day trial where you can test it out. This comes with a promotion to get a discounted sale for the cost of shipping (lol $9.99 is too much... they lying lmaoo), which is nice depending on what you need. Check it out here.

Many people use PayPal for their online shops. Turns out that they already have functionality built in on their site to buy and print individual shipping labels. Super simple. Works great. Definitely look into it. They also have media mail options, which is great for music (vinyl, cd, cassette, zines, other print media). Access their shipping label page right here.

Pirate Ship
Alright the good ol' Twitter-net came through again. Ian from Howardian (peep their music video on the blog) and Japanther suggested I check out Pirate Ship. I headed over to their site, and it was love at first sight. This service is completely FREE (besides paying for postage of course).  Below I will run through some shipping label creation, printing, and scheduling mail pickup. In addition to manual label creation, you can also upload a spreadsheet and indicate what fields you want to import. It's incredibly user friendly.

Go to Pirate Ship, make an account, and configure your payment information. After selecting "Create a Single Label" you will be directed to a page where you can insert ship from/to addresses, specify package dimensions, and indicate any special handling. This page allows users to create both domestic + international labels! (Haven't tried out international yet, but I have to do so soon!) The coolest part about this is that you can just copy/paste an address and it will automatically fill out individual fields!

Alright Priority Shipping boxes and such are a joke. Do not pay for those rates! Use your own boxes and envelopes instead. However, if you do not ship often, I get if you are just going with Post Office materials. You can get mailers in bulk for vinyl, tapes, and CD as well.

After selecting your packaging and specifying it's size, you can select media mail at the bottom of the screen before calculating rates. If you do not have a scale to weigh packages, I'd recommend this one I got this weekend. This is crucial, and will save you some cashhhh over time. Here is a guide for what USPS considers to be media mail.

Say you are shipping many of the same thing over time... be sure to "Save Package" so you have a shipping profile of this type of order that you can quickly repeat over time.

Alright... after hitting "Get Rates" you'll be brought to a page where you can select from a bunch of different shipping options. It's awesome. A tracking code is then made available after purchase, which is then activated when it is picked up or dropped off at your local post office location. You can send that to your customers

Before printing right away. I'd make sure that you have at least 2 labels created so that you can fit 2 on a page. Shoutout if you have one of those special label printers. I do not haha. Go back to the home page, select your orders, and print away.

So once you have the labels and your packages all ready to go, you can either drop off at your post office or schedule a pickup. I did not know that you could even schedule pickup until now. To do that, select all the packages you want to send (like you were printing labels again), and then hit "Schedule Pickup."

With the number that is generated, you can go over to the USPS site (CLICK HERE) and add more information with what to do when they come to pick up your orders. Be sure to select "Modify an Existing Pickup." You can also change the day of the pickup and more. All you have to do is put in your confirmation number from Pirate Ship and a phone number/email.

Okay. That is all I really have to share about shipping. I think many of you can take it from here, but before I go on my way, I want to shed light on the fact that there are many existing integrations that may work with your ecommerce site (Big Cartel, Etsy, Shopify, Discogs, etc.). Definitely look into that if you work with any of those store platforms. Maybe one day we can have a Bandcamp integration ;) 

Although this just skims the surface of shipping and such, I hope this is still helpful to many of you. Be safe. Cheers.

- Connor

 P.S. Are you looking for some new music to spin during your quarantine??? Check out some Crafted Sounds artists on Bandcamp and Spotify. Here are some of our recent releases: