Thursday, March 15, 2012

Etsy Tips: Paypal shipping (part #1)

Another how-to for U.S.-based Etsy sellers and other online small business owners: using Paypal shipping! It's an enormous time and money saver, and I'm continually astonished by the number of people who don't know how to use it or haven't heard about it at all. Other options include Endicia and, but those programs require monthly fees, whereas using Paypal shipping is free! Have questions? Leave them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them!


Here's the quick and dirty rundown of my shipping setup for my Etsy shop :)

  • Buy supplies in bulk! I bought a box of 500 #000 envelopes (4x6 inches) from Ebay for $30 including shipping.
  • Get a postal scale. You can find a digital postal scale for about $20-$25 at Walmart or any office supply store.
  • Print labels via Paypal. I print all my USPS shipping labels via Paypal, which is cheaper than going to the post office, even with delivery confirmation included!
  • Labelwriter = lifesaver! I use a Dymo 450 Turbo labelwriter to print all my shipping labels, which saves me time, printer ink, tape, and paper.


Paypal shipping is very easy to use! If you're running an Etsy shop, you probably already use Paypal to accept payments from your customers, which makes this doubly easy: login to Paypal, go to the transaction, and click on the Print Shipping Label link!

Quick tip #1: You can still print out a shipping label via Paypal even if you didn't receive payment for the transaction through Paypal. Just use the link to print a shipping label for any package! 

I do almost all of my shipping labels through Paypal. You are still shipping through USPS, but you get the commercial base rate online, which is cheaper than the retail prices at the post office. The only things you can't print out shipping labels via Paypal for right now are first-class letters, postcards, and first-class international mail (but I still have time-saving tips about that later!)

To use Paypal shipping, you'll need to know the weight of each package. I have a digital postal scale that I bought from Walmart two years for $20, and it's definitely a worthy investment. You always round up; if the package weighs 1.4 oz, you'll input 2 oz for the weight. Always double-check the shipping address before you print! Keep in mind that you are only protected through Paypal as a seller if you ship to the address connected to the buyer's Paypal account. Sometimes buyers will ask you to ship to a different address as a gift for someone; I've never had a problem with that before, but you'll have to make a judgment call about whether or not you're comfortable with that.

I shrink my Paypal labels to 85% in size before printing since I mostly use #000 (4x6) envelopes for my buttons, and I've never had a problem with a package not arriving before *knocks on wood* I just print on the back of used paper (recycle!) and use clear tape over the label to protect it from smudging. Be sure not to cover the barcode, since that's what the post office will use to scan for delivery confirmation! You can also find sticky-backed labels on Ebay or Royal Mailers if you don't want to mess around with tape.

Quick tip #2: Save paper and don't print the receipt! To print just the shipping label on half of the paper, here's the steps: 
Paypal: Profile > Selling Tools > Shipping Preferences > U.S. Postal Service Preference > Edit Printer Settings > Laser/Inkjet Printer > uncheck Print Receipt

As of today (3/13/12), first-class mail via Paypal costs $1.64 including delivery confirmation for packages that weigh between 1-3 oz, and the prices go up from there. That's a lot cheaper than at the post office, which is $1.95 + $0.85 for delivery confirmation (DC). Delivery confirmation is always good to have in case of a Paypal dispute; Paypal will not take USPS receipts as proof of shipping.

You have 48 hours after you print a label on Paypal to void it. There's a link to void the label by going back to the transaction details in Paypal. Just keep in mind it takes about 2 weeks for you to get a refund for the postage. After you void the label, you can print the new one with the correct info.

If you have a priority mail package, you can schedule a carrier pickup at so you don't even have to leave your house! You can also drive by the post office, but I usually drop off my packages in the slot in my post office's lobby since I've heard too many horror stories about theft from the blue boxes. It's still definitely a time saver since I don't have to stand in line at all. I've also noticed that when my carrier picks up the packages, it takes them a day longer to be sent off to the sort facility versus me dropping them off at my post office. I think it might be because the mailpeople drive around all day with the packages they've picked up and so they don't enter the mail flow until that evening or the next day.


Phew, that was so long, I feel like I just wrote a novel! Stay tuned for part #2 about shipping with Paypal! I'll share more tips about using a labelwriter, shipping supplies, and how to deal with international packages. Lots of people are scared initially about selling and shipping internationally but you don't have to be, it's super easy once you get the hang of it :)

Part #2:

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