10 Ways Artists Can Save Money on Shipping Costs

Artists and craftspeople can take proactive steps to reduce hefty shipping costs that take a bite out of profits.

Here are 8 ways to save:


1. Compare the options. It’s always a good idea to compare rates between USPS, Fedex and UPS or other shippers until you get a good idea of the best rates for the typical packages that your business is shipping. You may find that a combination of providers works well.

2. Priority Mail. USPS Parcel Post rates and Priority Mail rates can be very close in price, so that sometimes it’s more sensible to offer Priority shipping only. You get free boxes, and flat rate shipping.

3. First Class. Small packages weighing under 13 ounces should go First Class mail. This saves over the Priority parcel rate.

4. Get a discount. Services such as Siriani offer freight savings plans for groups and associations (including artists). Visit their website to find out whether you can get a great deal on your shipping needs.

5. Don’t ship your booth. Planning to do a trade show like the Buyers Market every year? If you have heavy display equipment that isn’t used at other shows, storing your booth near the show location may actually save you money. Share your rented storage space with another exhibitor to cut costs further.

6. Keep your booth lightweight. Cardboard, fabric, and rolled pop-up banners are just a few ways to make an impact in your booth display without a lot of weight. Check out the article “Lightweight Booth Ideas” for more.

7. Save on packing material. Reuse boxes, bubble wrap and styrofoam peanuts. If you have a paper shredder, you can shred newspapers and junk mail, and place the shred inside sealable plastic bags to provide padding (this also prevents a mess when the box is opened.)

8. Drop ship. Do you offer displays to wholesale customers for merchandising your work? Arrange for the display or rack manufacturer to drop-ship directly to the customer, saving on shipping costs.

9. Get more efficient. Are you always searching for the right size box? Short on bubble wrap? Stock up and organize all your shipping supplies so that you can quickly get those orders packed and out the door. Your postman can deliver free priority boxes to your door, and Fedex provides free packaging also. Take advantage of it. When you waste time due to disorganization, you are wasting money.

10. Ask for recommendations. Quite often, other artists have figured out which shippers take the best care of their work and provide great service and rates, and can offer you a referral.

Have you found other ways to save on your shipping costs? Please share!

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  1. You also save on the actual USPS shipping charges when you use online self printing of postage at usps.com. I only use that service so I don’t know if it is true with others. It really adds up!

    And the article didn’t specify another time waster: standing in line at any shipping facility is time that should be used in the studio, so make sure you have your packages picked up – whatever shipping services you use.

  2. Some really good tips, here. It is important for emerging artists to try to minimize their costs as much as possible.
    I ship most of my artwork via Canada Post. Their ‘ Venture One’ program grants discounts on shipping rates for small businesses. I also use the shipping rate calculator on their website; I like to know exactly how much I should charge my customers for shipping. They also have a shipping label printing service on their website. For larger sculptures that need to be crated, I use private shipping companies.
    Whether I am shipping a small gemstone carving, or a hundred lb + sculpture, I try to minimize the dimensions of the box or crate, to save on shipping costs. I make it as small and light as possible, without risking damage to the contents. Many of my sculptures are somewhat delicate, so, I like to pack them in tight with custom-cut pieces of Styrofoam, so that there can be no movement within the box or crate.
    I usually buy new shipping boxes from an office supply store, rather than re-use boxes that originally had some other product in them; this may cost a little more, but, I think it looks more professional.
    I try to remember to put a few business cards in the package so that my customer will have something to pass on to any friends that might be interested in my work.
    Shipping insurance? I usually buy it, but, thankfully all my packages have made it to there destinations safe & sound and I haven’t had to make a claim.

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