I am finally coming up for air with GTWB shipping. To say it's been intense would be an understatement. To say I don't love every second of it would be a lie. This sort of stuff - organizing, spreadsheeting, list-making, high-lighting, cranking it all out - is absolutely my jam. I signed up for this. Getting to (finally) turn my Big Idea into something real is great.
I wanted to talk a bit today about all the packaging pieces that go into getting each book out the door. Partly because this stuff is interesting to me and partly because I know there are a lot of folks who read the blog that are looking for small biz resources like this. I think most of what I'm going to mention has been linked before in this post but this will cover specifics.
Packaging is so interesting because function must come first. Who cares if your boxes are the perfect shade of "kraft" if they fall apart on arrival? Or who wants fun pattered tape that DOESN'T STICK? (No one.) So of course, the priority is that everything you buy works. But the next most important thing is that everything is on brand. If you're going to pay for it anyway (and believe me, you are), you might as well have it add to the customer experience.
I went with kraft box mailers from Uline to pack the boxes. I found these after a lot of pouring over the Uline catalog. What I love about Uline is that they'll send samples. So I would call up, request a few various sizes and types of boxes and then the next day, they arrived for me to try out and wrap around my books to be sure they were a good fit. I did this at least three times until I settled on my final mailers. Obviously there are price advantages to buying in bulk and so I crossed my fingers that our garage was big enough and went for it. (Sidenote : when all this stuff started arriving someone on IG asked if Paul was okay with me filling our garage with GTWB and I had to laugh. After all this time, Paul is completely on board with my small business adventures - he honestly doesn't bat an eye.)
Each book is wrapped in 24 inches of 12 inch tall bubble wrap. Uline sells huge rolls that were thankfully for me cut to the right height and perforated ever 12 inches which made it easy. I went WAY overboard on bubble wrap (1500 yards or 15 football fields worth) but slowly (slowly) I'm getting through it. At this point about 700 books have landed at their destinations and so far I have only heard from 2 folks that had books damaged in shipping. Obviously no packaging issues is the goal, but so far, so good. (Though PLEASE email me - firstname.lastname@example.org - and give me a chance to make it right if you have any problems at all.)
The bubble wrap is held in place with a simple circle sticker from Sticker Giant. These came on a roll and feature the ever over-used (by me) check mark. The sturdiness and sticky factor is perfect. I've used Sticker Giant for years and always recommend them.
Into the box, on top of the book goes a thank you card and business card. My thank you cards this time around are 4x6 postcards from Overnightprints.com who I use all the time. EDIT from October 2015: I have recently had issues with Overnightprints.com and my most recent order of business cards from them was printed poorly. The backside features all the illustrated graphics from the book (that were created by Jolby & Friends). The front is a simple thank you note. All of these paper pieces were designed by me using Photoshop Elements.
I've said this a million times, but my goal is to create a paper promo that resonates and you want to keep. The patterned backside of the thank you note is something I would want to tuck onto my bulletin board and so hopefully at least some folks will too. Like always, I ordered the 15pt satin matte card stock.
I went with UPrinting.com for my business cards this time because I wanted a square card and that was considered a custom size with overnightprints.com. Again, I am thrilled with the quality and highly recommend if you're looking for a square business card. They are 3x3 and on the back share the important info but on the front have a graphic that ideally you'll want to hang or save. These were the 14pt cardstock gloss but really don't feel that much different than the thank you cards.
The box is secured shut with custom packing tape that (to me) was probably the most important part of the whole thing. It took a long time to get this order and then thanks to some confusion on my end, it was delivered without a shipping notification while we were in Hawaii and then was (very sadly) stolen off our doorstep. I ended up finding it thrown away (tossed, literally) on the side of the road by a park near our house. It had rained that week and it was totally destroyed. Getting it stolen sucked. Finding it just tossed (but really why would they need it?) somehow sucked worse. But thankfully, Uline delivered wonderful customer service and got me a new supply very quickly so I was able to use it for the boxes. I wondered if all the hassle would be worth it and so far, I think so.
If you're looking for custom tape, these are the specifics... I went with 2.5 MIL polypropane tape with black ink on white. The minimum order was 36 rolls. This tape is not the thickest tape I have ever worked with but it's thick enough that it doesn't tear or act annoying. It's also opaque enough and sticks really well. I'd recommend it. I would also recommend this tape gun. It's a necessity with the rolls!
Last, a label with shipping info and paid postage goes on each box (remember these are the best priced labels I have found). Labels are printed through paypal or stamps.com depending on if your domestic or international and when in the cycle you ordered. I've printed all the labels on my go-to office and photo printer, a Canon Pixma MG7520.
The only thing I have yet to order are a few custom stamps (the checkmark for sure and then something big that says "GET TO WORK BOOK"). Sometimes I have to include a note or message and I wish I had a cool way to do that. Stamps are my favorite inexpensive branding trick.
And that's it! I hope if you're looking to grow your business and needed some packaging resources this is helpful! I hope if you've ordered a book, it arrived (or will soon arrive!) safely and packed up well. (If not, remember to email me - email@example.com - and I'll get you sorted quickly.) If you'd like a book, you can order here and yes, yes, yes, there will be a 2016 version (and a 2016-2017, and a 2017, and etc.).
*some links are affiliate but not the uline stuff.