When trading with someone who you don’t see in person, you will have to rely on the postal service to deliver the items. This seems simple enough. However without the proper planning, you could wind up overpaying, or sticking your partner with outstanding charges. Neither scenario is ideal, so be proactive when it comes to postage and preparation for sending your items. Here are some ideas for keeping mailing costs down.
Overseas and international mailings have their own requirements, so let’s stick to U.S. mailing in this case. The rules generally apply across the country, but do consider potential differences for states like Alaska and Hawaii, as well as other U.S. territories outside the mainland.
Know Your Rates
Mailing rates can fluctuate and postage costs change yearly. You can get the most up-to-date information online at USPS.com. Be aware that not every postal clerk is up to date with all requirements so do your own research. Be prepared with a screen shot or printed page.
Some people tend to slap on extra postage to ensure they’re covered, but that is unnecessary and wasteful. On the other hand, being short on postage will result in a returned mailing or payment due upon receipt. You can go to the post office to get your package weighed and stamped, or simply find out how much postage you need by measuring yourself at home and using the USPS postage calculator.
First Class Letters
You’ll likely want to ship your goods first class, for the efficiency and care. You can visit USPS.com Postal Explorer to get the sizing information that will help you understand the letter sizes, including height, length, and thickness. If your mailing is too thick, it won’t fit in the mailing slot and won’t ship. Or worse, it could get crammed into the slot, crushing your prized item. Consider the flexibility of what you are sending too, as you don’t want your item to become damaged in transit.
There is a minimum and maximum in terms of dimensions, so be careful that your mailing fits the bill. These numbers can be found at the above USPS link. If you fall outside the zone, your item may be undeliverable. You don’t want to make your trading partner to have wait extra-long to receive your trade. If your item does not fit within the first class letter requirements, you may have to pay extra or find alternative means for mailing. The postal office can assist you with finding the proper process.
Also note that if your envelope has an uneven thickness or odd shape, it may be non-machinable and cost a little extra to ship.
Ease With Etsy
Those who use Etsy know that the site’s contributors are quite crafty. This postal slot guide and cropping guide is an at-home solution that will ensure your mailing is the proper size for sending. It is also a great tool to create backgrounds on ATC cards, adding extra appeal to your mailing, something your trading partner is sure to appreciate.
Best of luck with your trades, and mail smartly. You’ll save money and make sure your mailing gets to your trading partner in perfect condition.