The bottom line in this hobby is very important. You try to squeeze out every dollar you can. The hard part is that when you start out, you don’t have the ability to scale. As your eBay hobby (business?) grows, you can start to buy larger quantities of routine shipping materials – think mailers, bags, and tape. When you buy more, the price gets closer to $0. But this requires a larger initial investment which most new sellers don’t have! It’s definitely a catch 22.
To help you get out of this space, I recommend two things.
First, get free boxes anyway you can. Amazon shipment came? FREE BOX! Talk to the secretary at work, and let them know that you’re on the lookout. FREE BOXES. Set up an RSS feed on Craigslist for boxes in the free section. Tell your friends and family that you want any bubble wrap they get their hands on! I’m telling you, sometimes you get that Christmas morning feeling when you get a free box!
The second thing you can do to minimize your costs is to check in with the USPS!
USPS – You are AWESOME
I’m not going to talk about how great the USPS is here. It really blows my mind how they can re-locate items from my blue box to wherever I tell them to. They do this within a week in most cases. It’s just ridiculous.
On top of the USPS quickly shipping huge amounts of items all over the US, they also offer a service which I use all the time.
The USPS literally gives boxes away. Delivered right to your door FOR FREE.
There’s a caveat here: all the boxes are either Priority or Priority Express. If you’re shipping light things like t-shirts or video games, you’ll be overpaying for shipping by using these boxes. But, if you were like me when I started out and just needed ANYTHING to put an item in, these can be a life saver!
Here’s the link to the USPS store with all of the free office supplies.
My go to is the Padded Flat Rate Mailer. This thing lets me stuff in almost any piece of clothing and ship it coast to coast for $5.35 ($5.70 if you don’t have TRS).
The other ones that I like are the Regional A and B boxes. There’s two sizes of each, but they give you a cheaper rate than just straight Priority.
Finally, there’s the Priority Shoebox. This is NOT A FLAT RATE BOX! You pay regular Priority prices, but a free box is still really nice!
Pro-Tip: I ship most shoes without a box, even if they’re NWT. I make this clear in the listing, and it cuts down on the weight. The only exception or this would be a collector’s pair (think vintage Air Jordans).
So, for any of you readers who are getting started and trying to pinch pennies, try out the USPS website, and order some free boxes to help alleviate any start up costs! They usually come in about 1-2 weeks.
And remember, if it doesn’t fit in that flat rate mailer, you’re just not trying hard enough! Seriously though, sometimes all it takes is an extra set of hands from an annoyed spouse to get a bulky sweater squished into one of these babies.