So, I have not quite made it to the end of my first year selling on etsy. It has been an incredible, wonderful learning experience and I have met some really great people, and purchased some AWESOME items.
One thing that I have found to be an invaluable lesson, that has also managed to save me quite a bit of money over time, is HOW TO SHIP USPS, and that you can ship FROM HOME through paypal. That is pretty awesome.
I know I am sure there are other things I should know about shipping that I have not learned yet, but I really think USPS offers a truly superior service. It is VERY inexpensive, and packages seem to arrive at their destination much faster than with other shipping services, which surprised me the most! I also didn't figure out until a few months ago that we could ship things directly through Paypal! How wonderful! Next to each payment you will receive that has cleared there will be a Little button you can click that says "Print shipping label". All you need to do is weigh your items on a very accurate scale (make sure that you include the label (or an extra sheet of paper) and all of the packaging materials in the measurement. I use a kitchen scale that I bought specifically for this purpose because it was less expensive and could handle a heavier item than the postal scales. You also need to make sure both your address and the recipients addresses are correct. Make sure you read the definitions of things like "large" package before you choose it, it will save you money.
It is also easier, and MUCH less expensive-obviously- if you buy envelopes in groups of 10 or so from stores instead of buying them one at a time at the post office. I don't have a Costco or Sam's club membership but I bet they have great shipping supplies there. Also, if you want to ship directly through USPS from home you can bypass paypal by going to usps.com. I use paypal because I don't keep any credit (or even atm cards) in my possession, so the only money I usually have access to if my husband isn't around is our paypal account. (and of course cash, but the computer doesn't recognize that).
One tip for usps ONLY use flat rate boxes to ship very heavy items, and find out your shipping rate through USPS first class mail before going with the flat rate box. I have not had a situation arise yet where I didn't save a few dollars by packaging and shipping first class mail or parcel post. I received a package recently from an etsian that weighed less than 2 oz and was in a $5.95 flat rate box. I was kinda sad because I knew she would have saved a few dollars if she had shipped first class. The items, by the way, were remarkable. I will share them with you all later.
I also got another AMAZING product that was shipped UPS. It seemed like it took forever to get to me, and I am sure it cost more to ship it too.
If you are worried about tracking and such, if you ship through USPS, or paypal you can track your packages online, AND you can even buy signature confirmation on your packages!
I always thought USPS was cheap, but not a very good service. My experiences through etsy has taught me that while USPS is very inexpensive, they also offer an exemplary service.
I can't believe it is Christmas eve already! December came and went so fast! Our first Christmas on etsy has really been a blast! Happy Holidays, Everyone.