Ok, so you have your pretty little package all packed up, now what? The labeling part of this process has evolved over time as well with my growth. I started just like you, handwriting labels and taping them on. No problem with that, it works well, gets the job done. You then take all your boxed down to the post office and wait in line (which can take minutes, day or weeks depending on the crowd ;) You send your creations into the world and hope for the best!! I did this for my first few updates where I was shipping maybe a handful of items out. Once I got my first large-ish (over 15 orders give or take) I decided that handwriting labels was taking up a bulk of the packing time, as well as waiting in line at the post.
I upgraded from handwritten labels fairly quickly. Once orders start rolling I realized that there has to be a quicker way, streamlining was necessary for efficiency. This was a 2 step process in the addition of a shipping app as well as adhesive labels. I host my website via Weebly which has a shipping app integrated into it called Shippo. All orders placed through my site and even my square sync with the Shippo app. So all that I have to do is check which labels I want printed, purchase, download and print. This allowed multiple orders or a batch to be done at once!!! When you have been doing them on at a time this is a welcome feature. Once I got on board with Shippo I was still printing labels onto paper and taping them onto my box. This also saved time at the post office as I could just drop them off and not wait in line. Read that again, No. Waiting. In. Line! They were all paid and ready, USPS also offers pick up from your house (our driveway is too long and they won't pick up for me, but maybe for you!). All my shipping is done via USPS priority. Shippo offers shipping through many major carries as well. The paper labels were working but I was still having to cut the paper in half which I felt was a time suck. On Amazon I found full sheet adhesive labels, 2 per page and they measured 4x6. Perfect for a #4 cube USPS box (If you haven't read my box post you can find it here). This was great, no cutting involved, no tape involved! I would just print and stick them on the boxes. I did this for about a year but promised myself that when I ran out of adhesive sheets I'd be ready to invest in a thermal label printer.
The time had come to investigate which label printer would be best for me. I had heard about thermal printers and so I went down the rabbit hole checking them out. Ended up landing on the DYMO 4XL thermal label printer. Now right after I bought this one a wireless one came out, but I have heard mixed reviews on that model. The printer was very straight forward and there isn't much to it. You put the 4x6 labels in, plug it in, hook to your computer and there ya go. The only thing I ran into with set up is that I operate off of a Chromebook. It does not have a driver for Chromebook, so I have to use my old Laptop as a sync between my Chromebook and the printer. Kind of a pain at first but I figured it out. If you have a laptop it should be fine, you can always check the specs. So I was rolling right along now, printing batches from Shippo to my Dymo Thermal printer (when I become so legit) I wondered!! I love efficiency and things were finally starting to flow.
My most recent upgrade has been gum tape. You may notice that I love stickers!! I cover my boxes inside and out with stickers. I also include a variety of stickers with each order. All stickers and my tape come from StickerMule, funny name, great product. The gum tape allows my packing to be 100% paper based. The backside of the tape is adhesive when wet and the front can be printed with any artwork you send to Stickermule. It's a great way to brand as well as hold your box together. So far I have enjoyed using it, there is a learning curve but it really holds well. I really dig the whole cohesive look of my packaging now and won't forget the years it took to get here. Let me know if you found any of this info useful and I really hope you enjoyed reading about my process. As makers we all start at the beginning and my hope is that by sharing my process, you can start yours :)