What hardware and software do I need to print postage for a lot of envelopes?
October 11, 2010 6:39 AM   Subscribe

What hardware and software do I need to print postage for a lot of envelopes?

Every couple of weeks I send out ~30 envelopes with stickers and business cards to people. The thickness and weight of the envelopes varies depending on the number of stickers and cards.

Instead of taking 30+ envelopes to the post office, I'd prefer to just weigh and print postage right here from my computer.

What's the cheapest way to pull that off as far as hardware and software goes?

I assume I need a USB scale and then something to print the postage (which would vary depending on envelope weight).

FWIW, I'm running a Mac.
posted by JPigford to Work & Money (7 answers total)
Back when I was selling a lot of things on-line, I used Endicia and was very happy with it. I used my Mac, my electronic kitchen scale and my normal printer. (I should disclose that a friend started Endicia, but I don't think he's involved any more.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:25 AM on October 11, 2010

This USPS page gives info and a number of vendors for postage meters.
posted by TedW at 7:33 AM on October 11, 2010

We use stamps.com at work. The package we bought came with a usb scale. We can print postage directly on (empty) envelopes - including printing addresses - of various sizes or we can print stamp stickers in whatever denomination we want.
posted by magnetsphere at 8:35 AM on October 11, 2010

stamps.com only works with windows, one of the reasons I keep XP running on a dual-boot iMac.
posted by Tacodog at 9:19 AM on October 11, 2010

Seconding Endicia, it could hardly be easier and it simply worked with my Mac.
posted by Invoke at 12:11 PM on October 11, 2010

The problem is that these things cost a monthly/annual subscription rate, if I understand correctly, which - unless you print a really huge volume - doesn't make it cost effective (correct me if I'm missing something).

I'm in the same boat as you. Currently I just stock up on sheets & books of 44-cent and 10-cent stamps. All my parcels are the same size/weight (requiring 1x 44-cent stamp and 2x 10-cent stamps). In your case, though, you could buy a cheap postage scale and just measure the weight of each unit and apply the appropriate postage for each letter.

For example, this USPS page shows tables of pricing for First Class mail. So assuming the weight of your first parcel was 1oz (44 cents), you would just put 1x 44-cent stamp on it. If the next one was 3oz (78 cents), you could either put a 44-cent stamp and 4x 10-cent stamps, or 2x 44-cent stamps.

Or to be more efficient you could buy stamps in the denominations of whatever postage rate you're likely to fall into - 1, 2, 3, 3.5oz. See here for misc denomination stamps.

This won't be as convenient as printing it out but it's better than taking all the letters to the post office to be weighed/posted every time you mail them.
posted by sprocket87 at 6:27 AM on October 12, 2010

Well, "cost effective" really needs to include your hourly rate, doesn't it?

If Endicia costs $15/month (don't remember, guessing high), at my hourly rate of $150, it only needs to save me 6 minutes a month to be worthwhile.

If you are paid less, still you should add up the time it takes to do it "manually". You may be surprised at how worthwhile it is to pay a fee for easy convenient postage.
posted by Invoke at 9:10 PM on October 12, 2010

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