Shipping a package is something that a lot of us dread doing. You have to stand in long lines, pay high fees, and of course, deal with the occasional unintelligent or rude postal counter worker.
But the truth is, you don’t have to deal with any of that. If you have a computer and a printer with black ink, along with some other household materials, you can buy postage and print shipping labels right from your own home, without waiting in any lines or dealing with postal workers. It’s also worth mentioning that you get a little discount, along with free Delivery Confirmation on most packages, for purchasing postage on the web.
Here’s how to put a post office in your own home!
Open a PayPal account (chances are you already have one)
If you’ve ever conducted a transaction, either buying or selling, on eBay recently, you most likely have a PayPal account, especially due to eBay’s bans on other payment methods.
If you don’t have an account, you will need to make one. It’s simple and free. All you need to do is go to PayPal and register. For an account type, I recommend Premier – it gives you some advanced features while maintaining the simplicity of a Personal account.
After making your account, add your payment methods, including credit cards and bank accounts that you would like linked to your PayPal account. Also confirm your address. You will be using this PayPal account for purchasing your postage. Not to mention, you can also shop on eBay and easily pay for items on many other sites without giving your personal information.
Purchase a Shipping Scale and Shipping Labels
Now here’s where you will have to make a little bit of an investment. To weigh your package, you will need a shipping scale.
If you take a look at USPS’s online store, they have some scales for sale. However, these scales are overpriced – apparently, the USPS brand name has a huge price tag that goes along with it. Instead, Amazon has a scale by Weighmax that is just as accurate, yet it cost less than the USPS scale – it also supports 65 lbs. more weight.
Shipping labels are also a necessity. They just make printing labels easier, and you also don’t have to deal with cutting out labels or taping them onto your package. After all, if you do a bad job taping your labels or tape over the barcode, you could face some problems – including having your package possibly returned. With shipping labels, you just peel and stick! No mess and you save lots of tape!
The USPS online store sells labels. But, just like the scales, these labels are overpriced. Why pay $9.00 for 25 label sheets, when you can get these labels from Amazon, $10.58 for 100 sheets? These labels work great in my old laser printer from the 1990s, yet cost a lot less than the USPS ones.
3. Get Some Free USPS Stuff!
Believe it or not, there are some things on the USPS online store that are actually free of charge. They’re also essential for shipping.
A lot of the packages you’ll be sending will be by Priority Mail. Besides your shipping label, it’s also a good idea to identify your packages as Priority Mail shipments by placing some stickers on them. You can get up to 3 rolls of 1000 stickers at a time at absolutely no charge. They will be sent in the mail to you, and you can use them on your packages. If you don’t want a roll of 1000, rolls of 250 are also available.
USPS also offers free shipping boxes. There’s plenty of boxes on USPS’s online store, including flat-rate boxes and envelopes. These boxes have the USPS name on them, but hey, they’re free. Of course, there is a limit on the number of boxes you may order in one transaction, but you can reorder at any time.
Now you’re ready to start shipping! Here’s how to purchase and print postage right from your computer!
Prepare Your Package
Pack your shipment up! Be sure to use protective materials when packing, like Styrofoam pellets and/or bubble wrap. Tape your package securely using shipping tape (you cannot use Scotch tape on your packages).
Don’t put an address label on or write any addresses on the package – they will be printed on your label.
Weigh Your Package
Weighing your package with a shipping scale is simple. With the Weighmax scale mentioned above, simply turn it on, wait a few seconds for it to warm up, and place your package on the scale. It will beep when it has captured your package’s weight, and you will be able to see this weight for 10 seconds after taking the package off of the scale. Write this weight down somewhere – I put the weight on a sticky note affixed to the package.
Purchase and Print Postage
If you’ve conducted a PayPal transaction with someone (including eBay sales), the transaction will show up on your Account Overview, along with a button (or an option on the drop down menu) that says “Ship” or “Print Shipping Label”.
If you didn’t conduct a PayPal transaction, you can still ship your packages via PayPal. This option is hidden in the website, though, but may be accessed by clicking here.
Simply fill out the form and follow the directions to print your shipping label. Note you will need a ruler to measure the length, width, and height of your package. You’ll also need the package’s weight handy. The process is very easy, and you will be prompted to print your labels after you are finished.
TIP: Before printing your labels, be sure to remove your browser’s printing header and footer. Otherwise, you’ll have to cut them off your final label. Here’s a great guide on how to remove them in most popular browsers.
Print off your postage using your labels. Peel and stick your label onto the package, along with your Priority Mail stickers if shipping by Priority Mail.
The shipping cost will be deducted off of your PayPal account, and if you’re printing a label for an eBay listing, it will automatically be updated with the package’s tracking number (provided free with Priority and Express mail).
Drop Off Your Package
There are two ways to send your package. The first one is to simply hand it to your mail carrier when he comes to deliver your mail. He or she will take your package to the post office to be shipped. You can also arrange a package pickup online.
The second way is to drop it off at your post office. There should be a large bin by your post office’s APC (Automated Postal Center) where you can deposit your package (see this image – it looks like this). You can also take it up to the counter. Note, however, that if you do take it to a counter, you may have to wait in line, and the counter worker may verify your package’s weight.
That’s it! Shipping packages from your home is easy and simple, with only a few tools required!