Category: Thrifty Business Tips

Ready to Launch an Etsy Business? First Learn All About Etsy Shipping (The Easy and Cheap Way)

Did you know that 62% of billionaires in the United States are self-made? That’s grand and all, but what does this have to do with you?

Well, if you’re one of the 15 million Americans who are currently self-employed full-time, this statistic means a lot. Most business owners start their businesses from scratch. One day, you could be one of those billionaires.

So let’s start at the beginning. 

Are you running an Etsy shop, selling goods and products you make and love? Are you familiar with all the rules, regulations, and processes of Etsy shipping?

Being as informed as possible about this aspect of your business ensures you’re not losing money. And that you’re holding up a good reputation to your buyers.

If you want to work from the comfort of your home, you’ve got to do things right. You can’t afford to make excessive (or expensive) errors.

Here’s how to be a savvy shipper!

First, Why Etsy?

If you’re selling crafty, homemade, or vintage items, Etsy is the platform for you. This e-commerce site specializes in selling personalized goods, ranging from jewelry and furniture to artwork and clothing.

As of 2018, Etsy’s inventory reached over 60 million items! They had a hand in connecting 2.1 million sellers with 39.4 million buyers. This kind of reach is essential for entrepreneurs to be successful. 

Remember those billionaires we were talking about earlier?

Etsy’s Gross Merchandise Sales for the year of 2018 were $3.9 billion. If you want to dip your toes into that pool of money, Etsy is one way to do it.

With your business launched online, how can you hone in the details? Let’s look at Etsy’s shipping procedures next.

A Look at Etsy Shipping

Why would you use Etsy’s shipping rather than calculating and doing it yourself? There are many benefits to using Etsy to ship your products:

  • It saves you money (more on this later)
  • It’s convenient as Etsy has a shipping feature built into its platform
  • It offers start-to-finish tracking so you can ensure your package’s arrival
  • It can calculate the costs of shipping for you (less manual labor!)

When it comes to shipping, Etsy’s thought of everything. Their program is navigable, easy to read, and not a headache for Etsy sellers. Many a retailer has raved about their convenience. 

One way Etsy does this is through their “Print Shipping Label” button.

Clicking this leads you to enter details about your package: its shipping type, package type, dimensions and weight, and insurance. Once these get entered, you can calculate your shipping costs.

This gets done through either Calculated shipping or Manual shipping. 

Calculated shipping is what it sounds like. Taking all the info you entered about your package, Etsy will calculate a shipping cost for you. Since they’ve negotiated shipping rates with the Post Office, Etsy’s rates tend to be lower than if you went through a service other than Etsy.

Calculated shipping costs get determined by the size of the packaged item, not the thing itself.

Manual shipping works well for different businesses depending on circumstance. It takes more work on your part, but for certain situations, this could save you money (as opposed to Etsy’s pre-calculations). 

Should You Ship Internationally?

This isn’t that difficult of a question for you to answer! International shipping won’t affect your business as much as not offering it would. It only requires one more simple step.

Etsy has provided four customs forms that you would print, sign, and date. Place these forms in a USPS-appropriate envelope (available from their site). Stick this envelope on the top of your package and—voila!—that’s it.

A Look at Shipping Services

Your buyer can choose from a few different options when they decide on their shipping. If you wish, you can even offer extended options such as Priority mail. To get an idea of the quotes given, you can see for yourself—these UPS carrier partners offer free UPS shipping quotes.

Etsy generally offers the following six shipping services on their page:

  • USPS Priority Mail (1-3 days)
  • USPS Priority Mail Express (1-2 days)
  • USPS First Class Package Services (2-5 days)
  • USPS Priority Mail International (6-10 days)
  • USPS Priority Mail Express International (3-5 days)
  • USPS First Class International Package Service (Can vary)

Once your customer has made their order, the rest is up to you!

Ensure that all looks good—do the addresses match up? Are the dimensions and weights accurate? Is everything good to go?

Then print that shipping label!

Shipping Supplies Checklist

Of course, you’re packaging everything yourself. You’ll need to have the supplies necessary, from envelopes and boxes to tape and bubble wrap.

Your supplies checklist will vary based on the product you’re selling. Is it fragile? Is it incredibly tiny or pretty darn huge? Alter this list to your business’s products.

In general, here are some items that you’ll likely need to ensure a quality, safe, and insured shipment:

  • Boxes (small, large, corrugated, etc.)
  • Envelopes (padded and not)
  • Long boxes or mailing tubes
  • Poly bags (to group miscellaneous items)
  • Bubble wrap
  • Air pillows

And you could need more, depending on your operation. This list isn’t all-inclusive!

Another tip from one consumer to another—don’t hesitate to get creative or unique with your packaging. This can really make yours stand out from the bland beige. 

If you’re selling something lightweight like a T-shirt, consider mailing it in a cute, printed envelope. Hand-stamp all your boxes with your label. Or throw some free stickers in with every order over $50.

One Last Tip Before We Go

Did you know that you can schedule a USPS pick-up to come to your front door?

This is great if you’re mailing a lot of packages at once (or if you don’t have the time to make it to the post office that day). You can schedule a totally free—and convenient!—pick-up, as long as you do so before 2 a.m. on the same day.

Now that’s a great tip. Don’t forget to tap into services like these to save yourself time and money!

That’s what being a thrifty business owner is all about.

Etsy Is Thrifty

Working from home is a gift in itself.

To ensure the longevity of your freelancing career, try to save money here and there by using quick, affordable options like Etsy shipping.

We know you’re busy. After all, you’re your #1 employee! That’s why we put together 10 more awesome tips for running a successful home business.

This Idea Prints Money, Literally: How to Start a Print on Demand Business

The print industry doesn’t sleep.

If you’re thinking of starting a home-based print business, there are a few things you’ll need to know. Namely, how the print industry works. It’s an on-demand industry that won’t tolerate long waits and low quality. There are hundreds of good online print companies that can easily take the place of another.

So, how do you set your print on demand business apart from all the others?

In this post, we’ll tell you how to get your print business off the ground and do it from the comfort of your home on a limited budget. There are steps you need to take and investments you need to make, but keep reading and you’ll learn how to turn a profit in no time.

Figure Out Your Niche

If you try to do too much, it’ll be harder for you to get your business off the ground. If you’re working from home, you’ll be limited to one or two kinds of printing.

Besides, narrowing your focus is always helpful when you’re starting a new business. It makes it easier to appeal to a specific market and master one thing instead of doing multiple things satisfactorily, but not great.

There are many subsets of the print industry; t-shirts, custom logo stickers, brochures, and art printing, to name a few. Choose one that you think you can do well and that you’ll be passionate about, then you can start setting up your web store and buying equipment.

Research and Buy Equipment (Or Don’t)

Once you’ve made a decision on the type of print on demand business to move forward with, you can look into your equipment options.

Large-scale print shops have heavy-duty printers, cutters, and other machinery that streamline things and allow them to produce a lot of product quickly. Since you’ll be working from home, you don’t need the same level of equipment.

Look into the types of equipment that smaller operations recommend and shop around to find the right machinery for your business. Another option is to act more as a middle-man and outsource all of your printing to larger print companies.

Set Up Your Print On Demand Web Store

Once you know how you’re going to produce your materials, you can start to set up your web store. Find a good web host and start building your website.

There are lots of great website builders out there; most people use WordPress because it’s free and easy to use, but there are lots of them that will offer hosting and site building services.

Promote!

When you’ve got a site that you’re happy with, go live and start promoting your business. There are so many ways to promote a printing business online. Learning about SEO, social media marketing, and offline marketing tactics will help you get ahead in the beginning.

A lot of small businesses use blogs to bring new users to their page. Drawing people in with SEO and keeping them there with creative and interesting content is how business is done nowadays. Once you’ve got them hooked, use a good call to action to bring them to your products page. It’s as simple as that!

Why Wait Any Longer?

Now that you know the first steps in starting a print on demand business at home, you can get started with finding your niche. There are a lot of small and big-time printing businesses out there so you’ll have to find a way to stick out of the crowd.

If you focus on marketing and quick production, you’ll be able to put yourself on the map and grow your business from your bedroom to wherever you want to take it. There are no limits.

To read more great articles with helpful DIY tips and work from home advice, check out our blog.

5 Life-Changing Health Habits to Help You Stay on Track When You Work From Home

Do your friends all think you’re living the dream?

“You, work from home?”, they exclaim. “That must be amazing!”.

Approximately 8 million Americans work from home, and the numbers are continuing to rise. While working remotely comes with a ton of perks, it also comes with a world of distractions. 

Family members, adorable pets, and the internet are always there, waiting to pull you away. In order to be successful, you have to become a master at staying on task.

Unfortunately, in the process of staying in the zone, many health habits go out the window. Do you want to find the perfect healthy balance between work and life?

Read on to learn 5 life-changing tips for working at home, healthy style.

1. Nutritional Health Habits

Does this sound like you? You wake up, don’t feel hungry, and get right to work. Lunch rolls around, and you eat a small snack. Finally by dinner time you’re famished, ready to eat everything in sight?

Prevent overeating by doing a meal prep the night before. Make sure your diet still includes the foods you like to eat. If you love cheese, or other fatty foods, allow yourself to include them in moderation.

2. Posture Yourself

Maintaining proper posture helps prevent your body from any strains or overuse issues. Here are a few tips for how to sit correctly.

  • Sit up with a straight back
  • Shoulders back
  • Buttocks are able to touch the chair’s back

Finally, move your body around in your chair every 30 minutes. Slightly repositions how you’re sitting so you don’t fatigue the muscles.

3. Create Zones

Ever have trouble turning your brain off after a long day of work? How about trouble turning it on? Your mind works best when it has designated zones for certain activities.

The American Sleep Association, or ASA, states you shouldn’t read or eat in bed. Your brain creates associations to the activity of eating, or reading, and decides beds aren’t for sleeping anymore.

If your bedroom is your home office, make sure you’re working somewhere away from the bed. Even if you’re facing away from the bed, it’ll help your brain associate the designated area with work time.

4. Schedule Some You Time

Create a morning routine where you’ll have some you time. Ladies, if you like putting on makeup, take the time to put on the things you like.

Guys, if you enjoy wearing a business casual attire, go ahead and put it on. Just because you’re not going into the office, doesn’t mean you can’t dress the part.

5. Learn to Microbreak

As counterintuitive as it may sound, planned distractions can help you focus. Set an alarm to take a micro break every hour.

The micro break only has to be a couple of minutes long. Create motion, move your body around, and step away from the computer screen. When you return to work you’ll have an enhanced level of focus.

Work-Life Balance

Try to think of some health habits that only pertain to you personally. Do you want to find ways to be happier throughout the day? One of the healthy habits you incorporate could be saying positive affirmations.

Also, make sure you’re investing in your relationships outside of work. If you have a family, find time during the week to do fun things with them. Don’t worry, you won’t have to spend an arm and a leg to have a good time.

Thrifty Momma Ramblings loves to help our readers find the best deals out there. We have coupons, sweepstakes, giveaways, and more!

Feel like treating yourself to something free? Check out our delicious freebie for an entree at Carrabba’s Italian Grill.

Ready to Try Your Hand at Passive Income? Here’s How to Find Great Real Estate Deals

“Money for nothin’ and chicks for free.” 

We’re not too sure about free chicks, but most people are pretty excited about getting money without working for it. “Passive income” sounds like earning money for little to no effort. The reality, however, is that you put in the work up front. 

Real estate investing is a common way to build up assets that can pay you over time. Buying property has always been a solid investment.

When you talk to owners or realtors, remember that you aren’t the only one in your area looking for a good deal. You will have to have a few tricks to get in on those extra special properties before anyone else.

How will you find the real estate deals of your dreams?

Like this.

Drive Around

Knowing an area well will help you with your investment strategy. You also don’t want to drive three hours away if something happens with your property. 

When you drive around, look for houses that could use a little love. Look for the telltale signs.

  • Overgrown grass
  • Tarps on the roof
  • Old mail in the mailbox
  • Worsening condition over time

These signs indicate that the place could be empty or that the owner cannot afford to fix the place up. 

Write down the address, do some digging, and reach out to the owner. See if they want to sell.

Check Eviction Records

Most counties will have some public record of evictions that are being processed. Evictions are terrible for landlords. If you can be the answer to their property woes, you could get a great deal.

Once you find out where evictions are happening, you can find the landlord’s information. Then it is a matter of calling or sending a letter to show your interest.

Search Craigslist

Look at the rentals. Keep an eye out for landlords that seem like they could be your average Joe/Jane. They will typically have their phone number in the ad.

Your expressed interest to buy may not be right for them, but hold on. Landlords may have another property they are looking to sell. Being the first offer puts you in the winner’s position.

Collect a Lot of Real Estate Deals

You want to look at a lot of potential deals. Don’t jump at the first property that seems nice.

There are many types of properties to consider. Your next deal could be a single family home, small storefront, or multi-family real estate. You can be smart by creating a funnel for finding bargains.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Search properties with the three tips above (you can also get listings from wholesalers and real estate agents)
  2. Collect 50-100 properties (Not so passive anymore, is it?)
  3. Get down to 10-30 properties to go look at
  4. Make offers on 5-20 of those listings

Get Ready for Business

Once you show up, get ready to pitch your deal and negotiate. Be considerate and honest. Remember that you are dealing with people who also need to feed their families.

Knowing about the many areas involved in real estate will help you be confident in your dealings. If you are not that savvy, bring along someone who is. 

It’s Getting Good for Buyers

After coming through the housing bubble of 2008, the market has become increasingly competitive. More buyers are confident enough to make an offer.

Now, things are looking good for buyers in the future. Signs suggest we’re entering a buyer’s market. Real estate deals will be easier to find. Let’s hope you find one of these gems in your area. 

Want to learn more to help you in your real estate investing? We’ve got more for you here!

Should You Pay by Check or Direct Deposit? What Employees Prefer

pay by check

With many companies paying as much as $50 per employee per month, payroll costs are through the roof in just about every industry. If you’re trying to decide whether to pay by check or to give your employees direct deposit, you could be talking about a big difference in fees. Deciding between the two requires balancing your own pay sheets as well as considering what would be good for your employees.

Here is everything you need to know about how you should be paying your employees.

Why Use Direct Deposit

Thanks to contemporary banking technology, direct deposit has become safer than ever. When you use direct deposit, your employees will benefit from quick payment at the same time every week. You’ll also benefit from being able to save on costs to print up checks on a regular basis.

Employees love the ability to never worry about a stolen check ever again. Even one that gets misplaced or goes through the laundry can be a serious headache that no one wants to deal with.

Trips to the bank can be cut way down for both you and your employees when their money is deposited directly into their account. And without having to wait in long lines or go way out of their way to find an ATM, they’ll have more time free to relax after work. Even if they were to normally get paid on a holiday, direct deposit will usually allow employees to get paid on time or even early.

If payday falls on their day off, your employees won’t have to worry about whether or not they can have access to their money. It’ll arrive overnight and be ready to pay bills or go on vacation the next day.

Direct deposit also allows for split deposits, so money can be automatically put into a savings account or paid to a bill, like a department store credit cards. Rather than having to make all kinds of complex transactions or having to shift money around online or over the phone, it can all be done automatically.

Why Direct Deposit Might Not Be Right

In order to get direct deposit, your employees will need to give you their banking information. Some people don’t like giving that much personal information to their employer without being able to keep track of it. Additionally, many people might not qualify for a bank account, which could keep them from using direct deposit.

If employees have a complicated immigration status, they will be required to pay state and federal taxes on their income, even if they can’t get a bank account. Rather than limit your payment only to direct deposit, if you anticipate employing people who might have hurdles, direct deposit might hurt their ability to get paid.

In recent years, banks have created payroll cards that automatically fill up once paychecks are sent. The downside to these is that there is usually a fee attached that can come down hard on people with limited means. Rather than dealing with bank charges that could cut into paychecks in a big way, employees might want another option.

People who struggle to manage their funds or work part-time might also have trouble with direct deposit. If an employee miscalculates their funds, they could get hit will fee after fee until they spend their whole next check just to get back to zero.

What’s Good About Paper Checks

Paper checks might seem outdated but they have their upsides. They allow employees to keep their banking information private, which is valuable to people with privacy concerns. When they have their paychecks in their hand, they can manage when they’ll have money in their pocket.

Without a bank account, there’s never any worry about surprise bank fees.

If your employees don’t want friends or family knowing how much they are earning, having a paper check leaves no trail behind. Checks can be cashed before going to a bank and no receipts will be found.

If an employee has a joint checking account with a loved one, they won’t have to deposit their entire check. Since they are the only person who can manage their check or cash it, they have 100% control over who knows about their finances.

Downsides of a Paper Check

WIth a paper check, you might have to worry about having it stolen or it getting damaged. Paper checks that are difficult to read or hard for bank machines to scan due to age or wear could give your employees issues.

Replacing a paper check is a pain and could take weeks, if not months.

If a holiday comes up, paper checks can be a headache. Finding a place to cash one on a Sunday could be hard enough, let alone during the holidays when you need money the most.

If you’re sick or out of town during payday, employees will struggle with a tight budget until they get back into town to cash their checks. Multiple trips to work and to the bank mean a loss of time and a loss of money.

On top of everything, employees might only be able to cash their checks at the financial institution they’re issued from. If there isn’t one nearby, the other option is a currency exchange, which can take a massive bite out of their earnings.

Whether You Pay By Check or Not, Always Pay On Time

Even if you choose not to pay by check, you need to give your employees a hard date for when they’ll be paid and stick to it. When you break up your payroll schedule, you can break up their spirit and make it hard for employees to have faith in their workplace. When they lose their morale, they won’t perform as well and could mistrust you as an employer.

If you need help calculating your payroll each month, check out the tools that we have to offer.

5 Tips for Starting a Clothing Line with Very Little Money

starting a clothing line

Do you have a ton of ideas for clothing designs but can’t spend a lot of money to start up a business? Well, you don’t have to. Spending money is a necessity to open a clothing line, but you don’t have to be rich to make it happen. With the right business sense and a love for the industry, you can be successful.

Here are five tips for starting a clothing line with very little money in your pocket.

1. You Don’t Have to be Rich to Do it

Contrary to popular belief you don’t have to be a millionaire to start your own clothing business. Shopify is one cost-effective way to go.

Photoshoots can cost a bit of money but you can do even that cheaply if you don’t need models or an expensive photographer.

If you want to sell t-shirts, get quotes from several different printers to make sure you’re getting the best deal you can.

2. Be Experienced In Business

It can be helpful to have a business background. You need to be able to see things from a customer perspective so you can better serve your target audience.

You also need to be able to look at your numbers every day to see what is selling well and what isn’t so you can adjust accordingly.

One important aspect to any business is making your brand known, you can do this by making yourself experienced in business.

If you need a guideline for branding, check out Super Saucy Brand for a few examples.

3. Find a Factory You Can Trust, and Visit

Start with a manufacturer that is near you that way you can visit it on a regular basis. This is an important step because sometimes fabric might not come as you expect it, or when they do the grading they could mess up the size.

If the size gets messed up, that could affect a lot of your pieces which is a loss of time supplies, and money. It pays to keep up with the factory you go through.

4. Identify A Market Need

If you create a product without a market need, then you won’t be able to create a demand for it.

Check different clothing blogs before you get started and pay attention to the comments. Make a list of products that pop up often, look for trending needs.

This will be the best way to make sure that you’re able to sell your products and don’t end up with a room full of backstock merchandise.

5. Love What You Do

When you’re passionate about what you do, that will reflect on your business. If you’re only doing it to make money, that will also show.

The more fun you have, the more it will make your brand image shine.

Starting a Clothing Line

Using these five tips, you’ll be well on your way to starting a clothing line. You can promote your brand and start up your clothing line for less than you think. Go into it with passion, and determination in your heart and that 20,000 that you have to work with will turn into a million.

With clothes comes accessories. If you’re crafty and want to start a jewelry business to go along with your clothing line we have a few tips for you to follow.

How to Take the Stress Out of Your Next Work Trip

work tripAs more than 1 billion workers are virtual, dispersed, or non-traditional, the average employee spends more time in transit than ever before. Even while you’re on the go, your employer might expect that you get some work done or be prepared to hit the ground running. By preparing for your work trip the right way, you can be sure that it doesn’t disrupt your productivity or comfort.

Depending on how often you travel, the 3-5 days you spend recovering from jet lag might not be an option. You might need to be alert and aware every step of the way. That’s why you need a strategy for your next trip.

If you want to be happy, comfortable, productive, and well-rested before, during, and after your next work trip, follow these 3 tips.

1. Disrupt Your Sleep Schedule Now

As you move from one time zone to the next, your body will be stuck in the place you most recently slept. Even if the clock reads 1 AM, if your body thinks it’s only 4 PM, you could be in for a rough night of sleep.

Get to know the time difference you’ll be facing when you take your trip. Start adjusting your sleep little by little now. If you’re going from the US to Europe, stay up as late as you can so that you’ll be exhausted once you get on your flight.

If you can remain asleep during a flight, you should be good. If you have trouble sleeping, try a little bit of liquid melatonin to help you get to sleep.

2. Book Everything Now

Take the time to start sending out emails to the people you want to meet with. Book a full schedule so that you know what you’re doing at what time each day. This can prepare you in multiple ways.

You can be aware of when your hardest days are, so you’ll be well rested. You’ll know who you’re meeting for cocktails and who you’re meeting for business and know what to pack. You can also prepare mentally for the flow of events to come.

Try out http://www.contracthire.tv/ for booking your car from the airport in advance.

3. Take Some Vitamins

It’s important to load up on Vitamin C before you head to the airport. The number of doorknobs, armrests, and recycled air that you’ll encounter will contain lots of opportunities for you to get sick. Eat as healthy as possible for 3 days before your trip.

Make sure you’ve also packed your bag with plenty of medication. If you’re heading to a foreign country, you might have trouble getting what you need. You’re better off carrying extra.

Prepping For Your Work Trip Will Relax You

If you don’t know what you’re expecting from day to day, you could be on edge during your entire trip. This could lead to poor work output and leaves open the potential for making lots of mistakes. Taking the time to prepare will allow you to give your best performance while on your work trip.

If your work trip has you itching to take a vacation, check out our guide to choosing your next family destination.