I’m starting to like this whole tutorial thing. I enjoy sharing my process with others especially to those who are eager to learn. I don’t know if there is really a manual for how to be an artreprenuer so don't panic if this is all new. I’m all about trial and error and doing it the ways that work best for me. Most of the time convenience works better than conventional. If it’s one thing my parents instilled me at an early age is being self sufficient. In May 2016, I decided to pick up an intern. I create an artist assistant internship position with VCU Internships. Answering 100 repetitive questions about my business, what I do and what I need from an intern I finally got accepted to post a position. I did find a lovely student who was happy to be my intern for free for a few months. Great thing about VCU’s program it gave me an opportunity to learn about being someone else’s boss and she was able to get class credit.The internship didn’t last long and I ended up letting her go in August. It wasn’t anything she did wrong, I just came to the conclusion I love being hands on with Art & Ambition and wasn’t quite ready to trust someone with my baby.
After publishing my Painting to Prints blog I got a lot of questions on how to ship out prints. It’s probably my less favor process because it’s pretty time consuming and does require my undivided attention. As you may know I use Etsy as my shop platform and have found it useful with my shipping processes. There are pros & cons to Etsy but it’s the only platform I’ve tried and don’t really plan on steering away from it. (I just really wish they get guest checkout soon). I am not certified by Etsy and everything I’m sharing is from my own learning. Get ready, get set - let’s go ship some artwork!
Once you get the point where you’re shipping 20 orders plus a month I suggest buying shipping material in bulks. When I first started out I use to go to Office Depot, Staples or Target to grab what I needed, but doing that weekly can really hurt your pockets. Here’s a list of what’s in my shipping containers: Click the links to purchase directly from the websites I use.
Before posting a listing I suggest to create shipping profiles for the items in your shop. You can create as many as you like and edit them as things change. In Your Shop tab under Listings is a Shipping Setting option. This when the materials start to come into play. Under Package Preferences you can create different options that you'll be packing your items in. If you're shipping 8x10 or smaller prints you're going to want to mail them in Mailer Envelopes which are cardboard mailers used mostly for photos. (I use 9x12 photo mailers) For prints larger than 8x10 Mailing Tubes are going to be your best friends. (I use 18x2x18 "2 is the inner width" tubes).
When you're in the shipping profile Calculated Shipping is recommended because it calculate pricing based on item weight and size and also where it's being shipped to. This is perfect for International shipping because you don't have to memorize pricing for every country. Processing time is important to me because a lot of my items are from manufactures and can take about 1 week to get to me before I can mail them out. Taking that into consideration along with just life I do give myself a 2-3 weeks processing time for majority of my orders. I also add handling to some shipping to cover the cost of shipping material, this isn't a calculated cost but a set price. If you use USPS priority mail tubes or boxes they're free and already included in the price of shipping.
When it comes to creating your listing I say more is better. I try to tell almost everything I can think of about the piece. The size of the product, the type of paper, the finishing and if it includes a frame. This allows your customers to know exactly what they're getting so there are no surprises. Of course customers can get overwhelmed with too much info so I also have a FAQ page in my shop. Make sure for each listing you connect a shipping and package profile that you create.
After you've racked up a few orders it's time to ship them to their new owners. This is the part Etsy gets the trophy! In the order tab select the orders you're shipping and click on Shipping Labels. I just recently started buying Avery Label paper which are sticker labels that you load into your printer and predesigned for 2 labels per page. Your customers info is going to be pre-filled along with your return address, package type and shipping method. Insurance is very important for you and your customers. I've filed over 20 claims with USPS in the past 3 years. Packages get lost/damaged in transit and if you have insurance you can file a claim and USPS will send you a check to cover shipping and the product. (If you have questions on how to file a claim you can email me). Once everything is filled out accordingly confirm and purchase your labels. If you're doing international shipping you want to make sure you file out the customs form that comes with the label. You'll see it once you go to print your labels. Since you created your labels through Etsy your customers will automatically get a notification with a tracking number once you've shipped the product.
With all of my packages I include a handwritten thank you notes. This allows me to show each and every one of my customers how much I truly appreciate them. You can buy thank you cards from almost anywhere or create your owns! Tissue paper, bubble wrap and wrapping paper I normally use for box packages that I use for my mugs, tumblers and shirts. Get creative! Purchase tissue paper in your signature colors or metallic envelops. There are no limits to how pretty your package can look. Good luck & no paper cuts!