06 June 2012

behind the scenes: all wrapped up + etsy seller tips

I really do love selling on Etsy.

The whole process taps into many of my creative loves:

  • Crafts :: I play with felt + paper!
  • Photography :: I photograph my items for Etsy and my blog. And sometimes I have my fave models help me out.
  • Graphic Design :: I design Etsy banners, blog banners, blog buttons etc. to market my brand.
  • Writing :: I write item descriptions, blog posts, DIY tutorials etc.
  • Packaging :: I  carefully and prettily wrap my hand-made items and send them off to their new homes.

Today, I want to share a few behind-the-scenes peeks of how I package my handmade crafts and ship them off and how all these creatives loves of mine are put to work. I will use my latest custom order as an example.

As a long-time Etsy buyer, I've always appreciated the extra care that some Etsy sellers give to their packaging. And I knew when I became a seller, I wanted to do the same. This is a process that has evolved from my first customer to my most recent customer. I've tweaked it along the way and tried to streamline where I can. There are definitely things that I could do to make it even faster (which I'll share at the end of post).

Some of my packaging + shipping supplies.

Being an avid scrapbooker/paper-crafter, I have lots of tools that the average Etsy seller may not have. These come in handy when I create packaging, business cards or tags for my shop. Other items like cardboard boxes and tissue paper, I purchase from shipping companies like Uline or PaperMart.  Here's a quick run-down of my supplies and how I use each item.

  • Yarn. I love using yarn to wrap my items and use to hang my tags off my hoops. Because I sell yarn-wrapped wreaths in my shop, it ties in nicely to my shop! I usually pick up yarn when it's on sale at Joann's or Michaels or other craft store.
I love chunky yarn to tie my kraft tags onto my hoops. I design the tags in Photoshop, print on kraft paper then use a paper punch to cut them out.

  • Kraft paper. I always have kraft paper on hand. I use it to print my own product tags, backing for my flowers, notecards and even business cards. It's a must-have.
A typical goodie bag include a felt flower, a note from me (I used to write a quick note on a printed invoice, but I think the note card is more personal.), a coupon code card for a future purchase, and a business card or two. (I am in the process of ordering Moo Cards to use as business cards. For now, I make my own ticket/tags listing my shop URL).

  • Kraft tissue paper. I used to use white tissue paper (which I got on sale at one of the big box crafts stores). But when I started running out, I decided to switch to kraft. Just love the natural, rustic look of it, and it goes with everything!

  • Paper punches. I have dozens of paper punches that I have collected over the years to feed my scrapbooking obsession. Border punches to give a scalloped edge. Corner rounders to give a finished look to a card. Shaped punches to make hearts, butterflies, doilies etc. But one of my most favorite and most used punch is the one pictured in the very first photo above. It's called "Photo Labels" but it reminds me of tickets. Three different sizes in one punch. So versatile. And perfect for making item tags.

  • Hole punch. Unless you're scrapbooker, you may not be familiar with this tool. It's called the Cropadile. It's a pretty substantial tool (pink color notwithstanding). It can punch holes (in two sizes) through pretty much anything - from paper to chipboard to leather! Another one of my most used tools. A must-have.
  • Glassine bags. I have two sizes. One to package my hand-made felt flowers and leaves. And a smaller size for the little goody bags I give to each customer. I love the look of them!
  • Washi tape. This Japanese decorative tape come in various colors and patterns. I love to use it in place of transparent tape. After I wrap my item in tissue paper like a present, I tape it shut with washi. Washi tape is so popular right now. It's a big trend in scrapbooking as well.

  • Stapler. I picked up this kelly green stapler (made in Japan) at Goodwill a few weeks ago. I love it! Of course, the customer doesn't know that I'm using a cool vintage stapler, but if it makes my job a bit more fun, why not? I staple my glassine bags closed with a tag or coupon on top.

  • Shipping boxes.  At first, I recycled my shipping boxes from my own mail-order purchases. But I eventually ran out. So I now order them from Uline in just the right size for my products: 8 x 8 x 3.

  • Shipping tape. I pick up rolls when they're on sale or with a coupon. I like the transparent kind, but I still have the opaque (brown) rolls from when we moved to new house a few years ago.

  • Butcher paper, crumpled up tissue paper, bubble wrap, etc.  I use butcher paper, crumpled up tissue paper, bubble wrap or whatever I have on hand to cushion the  items during shipping. I tend to hang onto all the packaging material I get from my own mail-order purchases just for this purpose.

  • Vintage postal scale. Before I got this baby, I used my kitchen scale to weigh my packages. But when I spotted this gorgeous blue scale at my local church thrift store, I knew I had to have it. Not only is it eye candy on my desk, but it's functional too!
I love this scale! It's functional and pretty.

And this is what it looks like all- wrapped up.

And here it is ready to be sealed up and weighed for postage.


Now that you  have seen a little behind-the-scenes action, I'd love to share some tips that will will make the shipping process even easier.

1. Keep your supplies in one place.

I struggle with this one because I am constantly moving around - i.e. sometimes I work in the living room, but my computer and printer is in my office. And because I use some of these tools for things other than shipping orders, it gets mixed up with other crafting supplies. I've toyed with the idea of having a large basket of shipping supplies so I can tote it around from room to room as needed.

2. Keep your supplies in stock so you don't have to run around buying or making things last minute.

For me, I like to keep a stock of my tags, coupon cards, note cards and flower backings on hand. As well as the essentials: tape, boxes, tissue paper. For mailing internationally, I also like to have extra customs forms so I can have them filled out before I go to the post office. Being able to grab these items as needed is a good thing. When I have some downtime or between orders, I like to re-stock my essentials.

3. Use Paypal.com to purchase postage online and print your postage at home.

I do this all the time. You even get a small discount if you do it online. Not to mention saving time at the post office. Then simply request a carrier pick-up if you are mailing via Priority Mail or drop in the closest mailbox. The only time I have to go to the post office is when I have to ship an item via International First Class.

4. Make it pretty.  When I first started Catshy Crafts, "make it pretty" was on the back of my hand-made business cards and on the little freebies I gave away. And I think it applies to packaging and shipping as well.  With a little extra effort, you can make your hand-made items stand out even more when they arrive in the hands of your customers. Make the experience enjoyable for the customer when she receives your hand-made item. Use materials that tie in with her shop's aesthetic. For me, it's kraft paper and yarn, all the way!

Whether you are a Catshy Crafts customer or have an Etsy shop of your own,  I hope you liked this behind-the-scenes look of Catshy Crafts. If you enjoyed the post or found it informative, I'd love to hear from you!

As always, thanks for stopping by today!

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RiNNE said...

and all your finishing touches make a very nice gesture. love your packaging. i even up cycled a tag a few posts back :).

Cathy Pascual said...

Hi Corinne! That's so awesome! Great idea to re-use the tag! I love your cards!

Meghann said...

So lovingly packaged. Off to check out your shop now!

Cathy Pascual said...

Thanks Meghann!

Karen said...

Lovely to see your behind-the-scenes packaging!

Cathy Pascual said...

Thanks Karen!
I love to show a peek inside the studio.

Holly Knitlightly said...

I LOVE this post!! Posts like these are my very favourite. I love getting to get a peek into someone's shop. & one about shipping and packaging? AMAZING. I just LOVE the way that you package your items.

Those tips are really helpful! Thanks so much, Cathy!

Jewellery By Jora said...

Your packaging is gorgeous - thanks for sharing!

Luise Pagett said...

Thanks for your wonderful and creative shipping tips, Cathy! It's a good idea to pack each item separately and then place everything in a box, but secure all your items. It's important to consider the size of the box, not too big and not too small for the product. May I ask how do you price your shipping cost?

-Luise Pagett @ FTA.co.uk

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