Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Happy Spring! Video of How To Plant Flowers in Bottomless Rusty Buckets

Happy Spring!!! The countdown to spring is finally over and it has been a glorious week here in East Texas! I celebrated winters exit by going plant shopping. I couldn't put it off any longer! I know some of you are still battling winter weather and snow and I hope that spring shows up to your neck of the woods soon.

Some of you may remember me planting this rusty bucket of flowers a few years ago. (If not, you can find that blog post here.) It remains my most popular how to post to date and always a favorite of gardeners and junkers every spring.

I decided to do a Live Facebook Video and show how I planted in another rusty bottomless bucket and you can watch it below. 

So the next time someone tries to throw away an old junk bucket, be sure to grab it up and give it new life as a flower container! 

As one of my favorite shirts says
 "For the Love of Junk 
Reuse ~Repurpose ~ Rescue" 

I am planning to do a few more videos in the coming weeks, as I decorate the yard and gazebo for spring, so stay tuned! 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Chapter 3

My Instagram feed is full of baby goats. Facebook = even more cute goat pictures. Open Pinterest and there’s sweet baby goats running around everywhere. It makes me REALLY want goats and it’s the same way at the feed store with the baby chicks and ducks. 

Then I remember we have sweet baby calves and this sweet this little face makes me smile, as well.

baby calf picture

Somehow all this makes me realize sometimes we need to stop the comparison game. Oftentimes we see what others have and want that or become jealous and don’t realize we already have something good going on. Sometimes we walk in on their chapter 42, while we are only writing chapter 3 of our own story...

It doesn’t have to just be about baby goats. It may be houses, clothes, vehicles, jobs, etc. Maybe our highlight reel isn’t as fancy, but it’s just as special. It’s ours and we need to find peace and happiness in the place we are in now. Be proud of the book you are writing and the journey you are on. Maybe I’ll have goats in chapter 42, or maybe not. We have to see how the story develops. 

Honestly, I know nothing about caring for goats other than I know we don't have the proper fences or facilities to care for them, so we would have to learn and build, before we could bring home goats. Growing up, we did have one billy goat named Fred and he wasn't cute. He was mean and we couldn't catch him for years. You definitely would not have got an Instagram worthy picture with Fred... 

So y’all keep posting those cute baby animal pics for me and I’ll keep sharing my baby calves for you and lets all enjoy the chapter that we are currently on. Deal?

Friday, February 23, 2018

Career Day

Today was Career Day at Harmony Elementary School. The school contacted me a few weeks ago and at first, I was reluctant to participate. What could I demonstrate in 10-15 minutes, that PreK - third graders would like? I can't make any of my wedding bouquets in that time period...hmm.

I almost said no, then two of my friends who work at the school convinced me to do it. 

So I decided to make bud vases and each teacher / class would get to keep it at the end of the presentation. The students would rotate around to the different presenters and I would talk to 9 different groups, with 2 classes per group. 

I was nervous leading up to the event. Public speaking can be intimidating for someone who can identify as an introvert. 

Of course, trying to decide "what to wear" was another issue to overcome. I'm mostly a t shirt and jeans kinda girl, it was too warm for a sweater over my t shirt... Maybe a flannel shirt, but I really wasn't excited about that... What would represent me and my brand? What would show these kids to be an original and not be scared of being yourself or expressing your creativity? (Maybe I was overthinking at this point.) I was to be there as a florist, but my career and life is so much more than just that. 

Still torn on what to wear, I took a shower. That's were some of the best ideas come from! I would add lace to the bottom of a flannel shirt and dress it up. I have a basket of freshly laundered shirts awaiting transformations and I could shop the basket to find a shirt. Only thing was, there wasn't a flannel in my size. Oh, but there was a vintage pearl snap western shirt that fit me!! And it was brown (which I love) and I had a piece of my favorite ivory vintage lace already cut and waiting to be added to shirts! I ruffled and sewed the lace to the bottom and tried it on. I liked it, but it seemed a little plain.

 It was two hours till I was suppose to be there. No makeup on, hair not fixed, half of the bud vases needed to be made (since I would only have time to make one and give two out per session), I had to load everything up, and grab a quick bite to eat. Thank goodness the school is just a couple of miles away. So what did I do? I dug my baskets of doilies and pulled out one that I liked. Then I dug through my drawer that had some already printed patches and found one with a turquoise truck on it. Look in the mirror, arrange the items and head back to the sewing machine! Then the other side needed something and I went for another basket of vintage linens and pulled out an old hankie, that I had previously dyed. Back to the mirror with the shirt on and placing the handkerchief. What if I made a pocket that would hold my phone? Ah yes, that would do it! Wind the bobbin, re-thread the machine and sew a pocket. Now we were ready to carry on with additional preparations! 

I drove to the school and got my table set up in time for the first group and let me tell you, they were the sweetest group if kindergartners ever and made my nerves disappear! The second grade group commented on my shirt and said they loved it! I didn't even tell them I sewed or made my shirt, before they ask! One sweet girl from that same group said my presentation was her favorite so far and that made me happy and it all worth while! Several classmates agreed with her and I hope they grow up to be creative entrepreneurs! 

Part of my talk discussed my wedding bouquets ad how with an online shop we can work from anywhere - that it didn't matter if we live in a small town, big city, fancy house or little house, we can do big things and serve people all over the world. They liked looking at the burlap bouquet and boutonniere I had on hand. 

Then we talked about how to make a bud vase and how math skills are very important in a florist.

This surprised a few students and a teacher or two! In school, we all ask "when will I ever use math?" Everyday, all day long is my answer. I kept it pretty simple for them, but the reality is I had to figure out how many flowers I needed for the job today. Most flowers are ordered by the bunch (10, 15, or 25) not individual stems, so I had to determine how many bunches to order, without running out and not having too many extras that would go to waste. 

Then we discussed how you have to know the numbers of flowers on hand, so you don't over sell and not have enough flowers to fill the orders. 

 I ask them how much ribbon they thought it took to make a bow? Guesses were all over the place and I then would unwire a bow and get the teacher to help stretch out the ribbon. My bow was 14 feet long! Most adults don't even realize that the average bow has about 5 yards of ribbon in it! So this allowed another math point about how I have to calculate the amount of ribbon required for a job and making sure I ordered / purchased enough ribbon.

This picture was taken by the school superintendent and his aunt shared it to my Facebook page.

Each class had a few questions and everyone was super nice. I had a photo album with pictures of some past work and showed them, if the time permitted. Several ask how big of arrangements I had made before? I passed this picture around of an arrangement in front of an 18 wheel truck and especially the boys liked that! It's not the biggest ever, but it showed something that allowed them to compare sizes. 

The bell would ring, I would present the flowers to each teacher, at the kids delight and they would be off to the next stop. It was a fast paced afternoon and I was glad I was able to be there. I hope I inspired someone today...

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

What I've Been Working On...

Where has February gone and why haven't I posted anything lately??? Good question! 

Virginia, Kansas City, Columbus, Ohio, 
Duluth, Minnesota, Midland, Texas, Tennessee, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Las Angeles...  

It's wedding planning season and we've been busy making burlap wedding bouquets that have been shipped all across the country! 

When I tell people I make burlap wedding bouquets, most think its just for country / western weddings, but here's the thing - Philadelphia and L.A. are big cities (that's just about as for from the country as you can get!) 

I've had customers submit their photos and some are very rustic elegant, without the country feel to it, while others are very rustic country. (Check out the featured wedding tab to see customer submitted pictures.)

Recently, there's been several new color combination request. This dark purple and jade (light turquoise) is very springy and makes me happy! This order shows small and medium size bridesmaid bouquets.
rustic wedding bouquets made with burlap and lace flowers

This navy burlap wedding order has two toss / junior bridesmaid bouquets (top) and a small bridesmaid bouquet. 
rustic wedding bouquets with navy burlap flowers
 A medium size jade bouquet. I get questions regarding the different sizes of the bouquets, so these pictures show the different options. The medium size bouquet is similar to the bridal bouquet, since it has the lace collar (does not come standard on the small and toss bouquets) although it is not near as full as the bridal bouquet. Budget conscious brides have been ordering the medium size for themselves recently.

rustic wedding flowers with turquoise
 This is a turquoise toss bouquet and boutonniere.

burlap and lace fabric wedding flowers
 Navy bridal bouquet, toss (bottom left) and small bridesmaid bouquet.
navy fabric wedding flowers
 So February has been very gloomy and rainy. It forced me to take pictures indoors and unfortunately, I don't have great indoor lighting or space to spread out 10 bouquets... Anyways, this order was completed with navy, gold, tan, and white burlap roses and extra white lace.
gold and navy burlap bouquets

 Two toss / junior bridesmaid bouquets, one small and medium bouquet, along with two turquoise boutonnieres.
rustic turquoise burlap wedding flowers

 Have I mentioned turquoise goes with just about any color? This was a new request for hunter green with turquoise!
Again, I had to get creative with the pictures, because of the rain and gloom, so I went to the farm and took pictures in the hay barn, while Jeff was feeding the animals. wedding corsage
 Wristlet corsages accompanied this ordered. I imagine these are going to be worn by the mothers of the bride and groom.
mothers corsage

rustic wedding flowers
This order was different, where the bridal bouquet was jade and the attendants bouquets (medium for maid of honor, 3 small for bridesmaids) had turquoise. Kind of an ombre effect with shades of turquoise and I like that idea! I would love to see pictures from any and all of my wonderful customers and feature your wedding pictures here! 
shades of turquoise
 On a happy note, the daffodils started blooming this week, reminding us that spring is coming soon! I meant to get outside and pick me a big bouquet yesterday, but didn't get home before it started raining again. We are dealing with flash flooding and heavy rains this week, so they are droopy at the today. This girl is ready for some sunshine and yard working time!
We also had our first baby calf recently! I had told the girls (cows) at the farm that it was TIME to start having babies. The very next day, this sweet little thing was born! 
So that just about sums up what's been happening lately - head down working on helping all of you with wedding flowers, checking on the critters at the farm, and trying to stay warm, dry, and waiting on sunshine.

I better get back to work now, I've got to get all our stuff ready to go to Uniques and Antiques tomorrow, work on a few more bouquets, answer several emails, and Friday is Career Day at the school and have to do a presentation (9 times) to elementary age students. I'm a little nervous about all that and got to get all my supplies ready... Wish me luck and hope they don't find me too boring!

Friday, February 2, 2018

GypsyFarmGirl Seven Year Anniversary with Highlights from My Favorite Projects

7... Seven years ago today, I did something
big, crazy, and scary
all while 
sitting on my couch.

So what exactly did I do? 

 I listened to the encouragement from Jeff and the friends who always said "you need your own store". That night, I opened an Etsy store, established an email account, and this blog with the name GypsyFarmGirl, but I didn't tell anyone but Jeff. Quite frankly, I didn't think it would ever work. My goal was to use my creative passions to make a little extra income on the side. 

I only went by Janice from Texas, because I didn't want anyone to know, in case I failed (or for it to interfere with my day job). I started using Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram because all my friends were on Facebook. True story- I didn't create a Facebook page for a long time! 

 Honestly, the first year was super slow and it would have been easy to give up, but I kept blogging and occasionally sharing what I was making. I got featured on some blogs, with some of my projects that weren't necessarily related to the things in my etsy shop, but it brought some exposure to my blog and in return my shop, so I continued on. 

Here are a few of my favorite projects and features from way back then.

This little vignette in our bathroom was featured by
gypsy farm girl vignette

Burlap and Belt Buckles Chair Covers  - this was inspired by The Junk Gypsies and Miranda Lambert's wedding. I still remember how I excited I was when the Gypsies tweeted me and then Tip Junkie picked this project as a Top 10 Crafts to Make This Week and claimed them perfect for a western themed party. 

GypsyFarmGirl Burlap Chair Covers
It looks like I have a thing with chairs! 
Jeff and I toured the Ennis Bluebonnet Trails a couple of times and my pictures and story were included in FOLK Magazine.
Texas Bluebonnets with Windmill
 A bucket list item was to be featured in a magazine! 

The week before my one year shop anniversary, I made a burlap bouquet and things started to pick up and you started asking me for custom wedding bouquets! I found my niche and I've not quit making fabric bouquets since then! Six years ago, there was less than 10 fabric bouquets with burlap flowers in them on Etsy, so I guess you can say I'm a pioneer in the burlap and lace bouquet business! 
Burlap Wedding Bouquet
The Original Burlap Bouquet in my Shop! 
A few other highlights from the past seven years.
 Funky Junk Interiors, once again featured a project and y'all went crazy over my rusty bucket of flowers. My post on how to plant in a bottomless bucket is my most popular blog post ever! 
flowers planted in old bucket
Of course, our gazebo makeover and the reveal of our "junk yard" was another fun project, a reader favorite, and featured on many Facebook pages and blogs! 

rustic gazebo with spring flowers

One day, I received an inquiry for turquoise burlap in a bouquet. I had no idea such colors of burlap existed, but I found the fabric, completed the order, and shipped it out for a wedding in Canada. Now I have over 40 colors of burlap in stock and have shipped to over 47 states (at last count) and several countries! Turquoise has remained one of the most popular wedding colors, along with navy.
turquoise burlap and lace bridal bouquet
Along the way, I found an ugly camper and turned her into 
"Miss Gussie the Glamper" and I quit my day job! 
GypsyFarmGirl Spring photo shoot

 For years, I just knew a camper would be a part of my future. Knew it deep down in my soul and would be so upset when I couldn't find one or couldn't afford the one I found. One day, I deposited my Valentine's overtime check into my savings account (for a florist, that was the very best pay check of the entire year and I do miss that bonus.) The very next day, I withdrew it and bought a 1959 Arrowhead Camper! That was in February 2014. Little did I know at the time, I would be quitting that job before the end of the year and GypsyFarmGirl would be my full time business. Miss Gussie has found herself the backdrop for many product shoots, gone to fairs and vintage markets and even got her picture in Mary Jane's Farm Magazine!
Gypsy Farm Girl glamper mobile boutique

In October 2015, Angea Howell and I teamed up to do a show together and it has led to us having a blast junkin', more shows, and now we have a year round booth in Uniques and Antiques in Mineola, Texas. 
camper used for vintage market booth
 We went big with our first show setup! See Miss Gussie hiding back there?
mobile boutique with camper
From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for all allowing us to be a part of your special events over the last seven years! I love helping all of you and you've all been amazing to work with! I never dreamed all of this would ever happened or that I would be celebrating 7 years with this business. I look forward to helping you for many years to come! 

Some of my friends think we won the lottery and didn't tell anyone. We did not. We hustle, we work hard, and we have faith that everything will work out some how, some way. (We may be known to stress about a few things as well, but we won't go there...)

I hope along this journey, I can be an encouragement to you to
  dream big and follow your passion!
 Warning: Some days require more strength and patience than others.
Dream Catcher by GypsyFarmGirl

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

How to Create a Faux Ship Lap Wall and a Unique Clothing Rack

Last week, Angea and I gave our booth space at Uniques and Antiques a mini makeover! We had  been pondering painting the walls (yes, again) and we wanted a new clothing rack.

Our goals for the makeover:
  • transform the appearance of our wall
  • not disrupt our space for a long period of time, since the store still had shoppers
  • use items we already had to create an eye-catching and creative display
  • create a better clothing rack, allowing better access to shop our one of a kind pieces
So what did we do?
  • A faux ship lap wall
  • A clothing rack and shelf  made with old porch columns, a tree limb, and a board. 

Vintage style booth
You might recall that we painted our walls a whitish - grey color, when we moved into this space last June. You can see that makeover here. We had picked out a light grey paint, but it looked much whiter on the walls in our booth. The two side walls of our booth are made of thin paneling and it makes hanging things on the wall a little more difficult, so we decided the clothing rack would be set in front of the paneling wall, giving us more access to hang things on the back wall (that is much sturdier and we can drill or hammer into it.)
Project by GypsyFarmGirl and Rooster Tails
"Junking isn’t just about finding or selling something for us. It’s the adventures we have, the friends we make along the journey, and being able to take something we found and creating something new and different." - Janice

English Ivy garden style decor
So how did we create a ship lap wall for pennies? Painters tape and some grey paint! 
Angea measured off 8 inch marks and I taped the lines. 
Painting a Ship Lap Wall
She then took cheap acrylic grey paint (that she already had) and thinned it with a little water.
Booth by GypsyFarmGirl and Rooster Tails
Then we both went to town painting a thin line, right above our tape marks, to give it the appearance of board planks. 
booth makeover by Gypsy Farm Girl and Rooster Tails
My lines weren't perfectly straight, but neither are old boards 😉😉
We dabbed our previous nail holes with paint and then I used an envelope as a guide to create the vertical lines. We were just winging it at this point and I found an envelope in my planner, that made it easy to draw the lines, without needing additional tape.
booth makeover by Gypsy Farm Girl and Rooster Tails
Easy peasy and then it was time to create our clothes rack and put everything back in our booth! 

Ship lap painted wall by Gypsy Farm Girl and Rooster Tails
"You gotta crack a few eggs to make an omelet" - Angea

There's a mess, before its going to be pretty...
Gypsy Farm Girl and Rooster Tails Booth Makeover
We previously had two chairs hanging on the walls, to hang our clothes on, although we decided we needed something with more hanging space and easier to browse through the clothing. I saw a suspended branch clothes rack on pinterest that we both really liked, but we didn't want to have to deal with hanging things from the ceiling or involving our guys having to go help us. We got to brainstorming ideas a few weeks back and decided to take columns to build a display!

A little back story on the columns-
Angea called me one morning last year, that she had found two porch columns at a garage sale for FREE and ask could I come pick them up in my truck! I got dressed and went to rescue them for her! Later on, she found feet for them at Canton Trades Days and we hauled them home with us last spring. Trust me when I say the ornate feet weren't cheap and Angea says it would tale a "pretty penny" if someone wanted them! 😉

A board attached on top of the columns anchored it all together, give us a display shelf , and support for us to hang our tree branch and clothes.
Vintage style booth by GypsyFarmGirl and Rooster Tails
We took some grapevine, greenery, and lace and wrapped around the arch, then started filling her up! 
Faux Ship Lap Wall and Unique Clothing Rack

We must say, we are excited about the outcome and spent very little out of pocket to make it happen! Win-Win, especially when you rent the space and want to make an easy makeover.  

You can catch more of the booth and reveal in our Facebook Live video below. I really like the ship lap look on the one wall, so we may go ahead and do the other two walls soon. What do you think???

Friday, January 26, 2018

A Guide to Shipping Packages

 Let's talk shipping today! I personally love shipping orders all over the world and often get questions from friends or family about how to ship, so I thought I would share some of the things I've learned over the years.

Years ago, back when we still had super-slow dial up Internet service, I started selling on eBay to make some extra income. I taught myself and followed the on screen prompts to list and sell my items. I would then print my shipping label from my home computer and ship out the package the next day. Fast forward a few years and I started an etsy shop and now I ship on a daily or weekly basis. Do not let shipping scare you into not starting your online business! 

Start your own home based business and ship packages from home

I try very hard to ship all my packages in a prompt fashion and my sweet customers often comment about my fast shipping, when leaving shop reviews. If the item is ready to ship, it usually ships the same or next business day. I ship Monday-Friday and occasionally on Saturdays (if I'm home and/or its a rush order). Most of the time, we ship from home, although sometimes I do drop off my packages at the post office.
Shipping reviews for Gypsy Farm Girl

always print and purchase my labels online.
  • commercial base pricing online is a little less than the post office counter price. Pennies and dollars add up folks! 
  •  my customers automatically get a notification with tracking info emailed to them.
  • for priority mail packages, I get double the amount of insurance online ($100 opposed to $50 for free) opposed to the post office.
  • additional insurance can be purchased
  • signature confirmation can be added for a fee (for PayPal purchases over a certain price, signature confirmation is one way a seller can protect themselves from charge backs or non-delivery claims. Refer to your account for details.)
Tips and Resources for Selling and Shipping Packages  from Home

A little pet peeve to add in here - it aggravates me to get a shipping notification and then the package is not handed over to the shipping service for a few days. What this means is someone purchased the label and marked it shipped that day, but didn't actually get it mailed off. Don't do that... just don't! With etsy shipping labels, you can schedule the post for today, tomorrow, or the third day. So if I am actually printing labels on a Sunday to mail on Monday, I will clicked that Monday is the day I'm shipping, not Sunday. Make sense? The customer will not receive shipping notification till Monday and I will hand it over to the post office that day. 

Boxes and shipping supplies
A guide to shipping online

My shipping assistant occasionally checks out the boxes and sometimes claims one for her new bed! She particularly likes to check out all incoming boxes and would never be happy if we purchased her a store bought bed and expected her to sleep in one place! 

I get my boxes and shipping supplies from a variety of places.
  • Free boxes from - These are marked for priority or express delivery. There is more size options available online, than at the post office. I personally do not use the flat rate boxes or regional rate boxes. My experience is that overall, I can ship more economically by avoiding those two options. My favorite sizes from the USPS are 12x12x8, 15x12x3, and 7x7x6.
  • WalMart - I get some standard brown boxes locally in assorted sizes such as 6x6x6, 12x12x10, 14x14x14, 16x16x15, and 18x18x18. These work good for shipping items First Class Mail (under 16 ounces online), Parcel Select Ground, and can be used for larger items that will not fit in the USPS provided boxes. 
  • Local Shipping Store - for me, this is in Longview (about 30 miles away from home.) I stock up on supplies when I am in Longview on other business, so I never make a trip just for a box. I get the large wreath boxes there, along with packing peanuts and any other unique boxes I need. The wreath boxes I use are 24x24x12 (which can be cut down- more on that later.) I previously ordered the big boxes from Uline in bundles of 10, along with packing peanuts. The boxes were cheaper there, but shipping a large bundle of boxes in not cheap, so they wound up costing me $7-12 a piece. The local store buys in bulk and I can buy single boxes at a more affordable rate. Same goes for peanuts - they are light weight, although they are bulky on a UPS truck, so they cost a lot to ship. The local store has a bigger bag for less! You can check your local stores or always order online at Uline. 
  • For envelopes, I can get them in small quantities at Walmart, although I've recently been ordering on eBay or Amazon and getting a better quantity price. My preferred sizes are 9x6, or 15x10. I'm currently liking the poly bubble mailers for some added protection and water proof. I need to reorder these myself, as I'm getting very low.
  • I only use the EZ Start Duck brand tape. Strong, sturdy, and has never let me down. I tape three stripes on the bottom and top of the box, where the flaps meet and one over each end, so that all edges are covered. Some boxes or envelope are self sealing, although I generally add one reinforcement piece over them.

  • Tissue paper - I get this at a variety of different places. Before Christmas, I was in SAMs Club and saw a package of 400 sheets for less than $10 (I think it was closer to $5, but I can't remember for sure.) After Christmas sales are a good place to stock up as well. I've also purchased or been given large boxes of old sewing patterns. You would be surprised by how many patterns have never been cut up and have big sheets of tissue paper in them! One thing I strongly encourage is to NOT use colored tissue paper! I used to, but after some pretty purple tissue rubbed off on some white fabric flowers and I had to replace them, I decided no more colored paper! 
  • This my friends, is well worth the money and will save you tremendously over the long run! Get yourself a box sizer. Let's talk about shipping wreaths here. I get the 24x24x12 inch box. I try my hardest to keep my wreaths under 6 inches deep, because if that box is 24x24x8 or bigger, its going to cost you a whole lot more to ship it. At that size, it is the balloon rate and cost goes way up, so you cut that box down to save on shipping. The customer pays shipping (unless you offer it for free, but we know that really just comes out of the cost of the item and nothing really ships for free,). If I estimate the size and weight as one figure and its actually larger, then the extra comes out of my pocket. Trust me, it occasionally happens. One time, it cost me almost $40 to ship a wreath and I had only charged $15. I had specified that I would ship Priority Mail and the customer lived in the upper west coast region and Priority was so expensive. I was accustom to that size shipping for $7-15 to most locations.  Live and learn, although the shipping calculator on etsy surely helps now, if I put in the correct sizes ahead of time!

  • A digital postal scale. This is the scale I use for weighing all my packages. For First Class Mail, the price is figured by ounces. For all other classes of mail, it is by the pound. For example: a package weighing 2 pounds 1 ounce ships for the same price as a package weighing 2 pounds 15 ounces. That would be considered the 3 pound category.
  • A couple of other random supplies to have on hand - zip ties, wire, or pipe cleaners and an ice pick. You can wire/tie your wreath in the box to keep it from moving around and reduce the need for packing supplies. For most wreaths, I will use two wires, zip ties, or pipe cleaners to tie the wreath to the bottom of the box. I use an old ice pick to poke a hole on each side of the wreath and run my wire under the box and tie inside the box. Make sure you run a couple of pieces of tape over the exposed wire on the bottom of the box. (Think of how all the toys are tied into a box, when you are opening them up at Christmas!) Once I learned this tip, it certainly cut back my packing peanut use and made it much easier to ship wreaths.
  • Occasionally we get the air filled bubbles or bubble wrap on incoming shipments and my family saves them out of theirs. We will reuse them, only if they are clean and in good condition. I occasionally buy bubble wrap, if I know I have some fragile items that will need extra protection while shipping. I seldom reuse boxes, as I prefer my items to be presented in new, sturdy, and clean boxes.

You've got your supplies and your item has sold, now what?

I sell predominately on Etsy, although I can (and have) purchased shipping labels through PayPal (if the customer paid with Paypal) or on 
A guide to shipping online
  • On etsy, I can purchase First Class Mail Postage for items less than one pound. I believe at the post office, this option is only up to 13 ounces. It can not be purchased through This is great for most clothing, hair bows, and tumbler wraps in my shop. Average is 2-5 business days. First Class International is good up to 4 pounds and I believe, with box measuring less than 12 inches. 
  • Priority Mail is 2-3 business days to most locations. I ship with this option the most. As mentioned earlier, through Etsy shipping labels, I get $100 worth of insurance instead of $50 and I can get some free boxes. For items shipping in the general area and nearby states, I find that priority mail can often ship for the same price or within pennies of the Ground (standard) shipping price and I get the added insurance and sometimes the box. It always pays to compare prices, as it will surprise (and puzzle) you sometimes. I will often upgrade the shipping to priority, even if ground was selected. Everyone likes getting their package quickly.
  • USPS Ground or Parcel Select Ground is 2 to 9 business day expected delivery and best for large boxes that are going the distance, such as big wreath boxes or custom wedding orders over 12 inch box size. I must use my own box, insurance is extra, although it is more affordable, especially when going west or east coast directions from here in Texas. Ground shipping can not be purchased directly through and it seems to change names from time to time, as it was formally Parcel Post. 
  • Priority Mail Express - while most people assume this is overnight delivery, it is not guaranteed and the post office says 1 to 2 day delivery time and it cost much more. In a pinch, this method has been used a few times for rush orders, at the customers request. 
If you need a shipping estimate, you can use the customer's zip code and figure the shipping through the USPS app or website. I personally use the app on my phone, all the time.

On the form above, I have some preset box sizes and info, so all I have to do is add the actual weight and it figures the cost of shipping immediately. The names and addresses are pre-filled in as well. You can compare prices with the drop down menu for the different classes of mail. Click "confirm and buy" and you are ready to download and print your label. As a home-based, small business, I print all my labels on white printer paper. I know that you can get special adhesive label paper or printers, but lets be honest, I don't have room for another gadget to set on the desk or the additional cost of paper. I print my label, cut it out and tape it on with the same tape I use to seal my boxes. Do not tape over the bar code though! That helps the post office scan it and track it better. I tape all edges and a swipe through the middle to protect names and addresses from getting smudged or messed up. 

I also print a receipt for the customer and leave a hand written thank you note and a business card inside the package. I read a tip one time that said if the outside of the box or shipping label was ever damaged, a receipt with contact info inside would allow someone to get in contact with you or the customer, so the package could get where its going. I don't know if its ever saved one of my packages, but it can't hurt and my receipts have ways to connect with me on social media, etc. and they can remember where an item came from. 

If shipping Internationally, the custom forms are usually prefilled and you just have to sign and date them and use a special sleeve (clear envelope, so the form can be removed) on the front of the box. Order at USPS online or pick up some at your post office. Not hard on etsy, although through PayPal, I had to fill out more of the forms and it took a few minutes longer.

Packaged up, now its time to SHIP the goods to the customer! 

I love, love, love my rural route mail lady! She has been a blessing to this business and I can't sing her praises enough. She maintains the thought that the rural carriers are to be able to do anything that you would go to the post office for. We live about 12 miles from the post office, so I don't need the added time or expense of going to the post office daily. You can schedule a pick up, although Sharon tells me just to put a note in the box, leave the flag up and open the gate. She pulls in the gate, honks and I run out to meet her with packages. She scans the package into the system as we chit chat a second and then the packages are in route. 

If I have business in town or won't be home when she comes, I take my prepaid packages and drop off at the post office. 

package pickup

Now this may sound like a lot of work, but it really isn't. It's second nature to me now and I much prefer shipping items opposed to selling on Craigslist or Facebook marketplace and having to meet strangers.
  • Shipping is safer than meeting strangers somewhere and we do not allow customers to come to our home.
  • It's more time efficient as I can still be working instead of driving.
  • It allows me more flexibility and convenience. If I have local events I am working on or we have farm work to attend to that takes me away from home, I can package my orders late at night or early mornings and have them ready to go out in the mail, instead of having to meet at a particular time. It allows me to serve my customers worldwide and still be available for some local work.
  • I regularly see the complaints on the Facebook garage sale sites that customers didn't show up or were late and never let the seller know. I do not want to deal with that. Plus, I feel as if I have quality, handmade items I am selling and to me the garage sale sites are for selling discounted or used items. 
  • Many times, it's more cost effective than driving to meet someone. Some items ship for as little as $3 and I can't drive to town for that price. I've had others want to drive 3-5 hours to meet to pick up a single bouquet. Trust me, the shipping price will be cheaper than the gasoline for that trip.
  • We can offer our products to customers all over the world, creating a larger marketplace. No matter the size of your town or your friends list, you can deliver to customers almost anywhere. That, my friends, is amazing! 
On occasion, I will meet friends in town or deliver locally. It has to be someone I know and trust. Also, I try to schedule my time where this coincides with other business I have going on, whether it be going to the bank, grocery shopping, going to the feed store, etc, because the bottom line is that for self-employed small business, we must be wise and frugal with our time and efforts, if we are to be profitable. We must control our business, instead of letting it control us.

In all my years of online selling, I've only had to file an insurance claim twice for damages. One of those was a box marked FRAGILE all over it and it looked like it literally got run over by a truck. Seems like that ask for the box to get damaged and I don't mark anything fragile anymore! Only one package went missing and was never found. Fortunately, we had time to work with the customer and make new items for her wedding, at a reduced cost. The only times I've had trouble with orders is when a customer didn't provide the correct address. Even with a forwarding address on file, there have been a couple of occasions were it didn't get properly forwarded, such as the case with the one missing package. It was left at the old address and the new tenants said they left it out for the mail to pick up, since it wasn't theirs, and it was never seen again. Through online tracking, the other customer noticed the package was not forwarded correctly and we caught it in time. Inquire or report any issues immediately! A few times a package seemed to sit for a few days and after inquiring, it seemed to get moving again.

The USPS has a relatively new program called "Informed Delivery." I get a daily email or you can check through the USPS app or website and see all of the packages or letters that will be delivered to you that day. It has been beneficial to me and you can report if something wasn't delivered. You can also sign up for text messages to get alerts with shipping details. 

I hope this information can be helpful to you and you will fill confident to start shipping your packages out!

*For your convenience, this post does contain affiliate links to purchase some shipping supplies. I make a few cents, at no additional cost to you, if you purchase through my link. These are all items that I use for my shipping business.