Freight Shipping 101: 5 Steps to Get Started with Shipping Freight

5 ways to get started with freight shipping

Freight Shipping 101

Do you want to sell your large items online, but freight shipping seems completely overwhelming and undoable?

Good news – it doesn’t have to be!

I have been flipping items and selling on eBay for over twenty years now. Two years ago I took a leap of faith and decided to go full-time, right before our third baby was born. I quickly realized what I was doing was not enough to provide for our growing family; I needed to increase my profits to allow my wife to stay home with our kids.

After brainstorming and researching how I could increase my profits, I noticed that the large items listed on eBay were almost always listed for local pickup and if something was listed with freight shipping it usually sold quicker.

At the time I was digging into freight shipping, I had a dining set listed on eBay for local pickup only.

I decided I would figure out the process of shipping something that large and listed the dining set on eBay with freight shipping.

It sold within a month for $2,200 (I paid $350 for it). I also had it cross posted on Craigslist and OfferUp for $750 with no bites during that month – that was a big light bulb moment for me!

freight shipping

The combination of exposure on eBay and being able to use freight shipping to ship across the country is huge!

Did you know that on average Craigslist only reaches 85,000 people in an area, where eBay’s reach is 171 MILLION active users!

More users = More potential buyers = Quicker sales and higher profits

Before we get into the beginning steps of freight shipping, let’s debunk a few common myths when it comes to shipping large items.

Myth #1 – The buyer will not want to pay for shipping

This is untrue if you are posting your item on eBay. Most people using eBay know that they will have to pay for shipping to get something they want. They are looking on eBay because their local sites don’t have enough selection, and they can’t find what they are looking for – which could be YOUR item!

They know they will have to pay for shipping, so they expect the added cost. If they find what they are looking for, it’s worth it to them.

Myth #2 – I will lose money on shipping

Most people are afraid of using eBay because they are afraid to lose money on shipping. This doesn’t have to be the case at all. Especially when dealing with large items! We typically make an extra $50-$200 from shipping charges on large items – which compensates for our time and materials used.

In the past two years of using freight shipping, we have never lost money on shipping.

Freight shipping prices are very reasonable right now and you can ship most large items across the United States for $100-$300, and the buyer pays for it.

And don’t worry, if you make a mistake and misquote a shipping cost, you just communicate with your buyer and they will either pay the difference or you can cancel the transaction and re-list it properly.

Myth #3 – I don’t have the means to package/pallet my furniture. I don’t own a forklift.

If you have the means to lift up your piece and move it into your garage, then you can pallet it up and ship it off. You don’t need a forklift if you already can move the piece around.

All you need to do is set it onto a pallet and tie it down (and we wrap with cellophane). Then either deliver it to a freight hub or have a freight company come and pick it up.

Now that we have established that people will pay for your item to be shipped, you won’t lose money on shipping, and you don’t need a forklift to get started, let’s jump in to some of the how-to!

Steps to get started with freight shipping

1. Determine if your item is eligible for a large box to be shipped with FedEx or UPS, or if it needs to be shipped freight.

Some large items don’t need to be shipped freight, they can be shipped using Fed Ex or UPS. We ship out large boxes all the time.

To ship a large item with FedEx* and UPS**, it can’t exceed 150lbs, 119″ in length, and 165″ in length and girth combined.

The length and girth formula is simple. Here’s what you do:

• Measure the length, height, and width of the package.

• Length and girth equals length plus twice the width and twice the height.

Girth = (2 x width) + (2 x height)

You can ship a large item up to 165″ in length and girth, but both these companies charge a large package surcharge for any package over 130″ in length and girth. Most of the time anything over the 130″ is going to be cheaper using a freight shipping.

2. Gather your shipping materials.

Once you have determined if you are going to use large package shipping or freight shipping, you need to gather your packaging materials.

If you are using a large box for shipping, you will need to locate a large enough box, or build it by combining two boxes together.

Here is a short video on cutting down boxes and putting them together. This one uses smaller boxes, but the idea is still the same.

You will also need whatever padding you are using. Foam, bubble wrap, or packaging peanuts all work great. (Don’t use peanuts on something to heavy or fragile. They aren’t as secure as the foam or bubble wrap).

If you are using freight shipping there are three main materials you will need:

– Pallet

Straps/Tie Downs

– Cellophane wrap

You will first need to find a pallet or build one. They are pretty easy to find — a lot of businesses just throw them away. I never pay for mine, I just go to a couple local businesses to grab one when I need it.

The next thing you need is straps/tie downs. This allows you to secure the item to the pallet so it can’t move anywhere.

After the straps, you will need cellophane. This helps to wrap the item and help prevent damage.

3. Secure the item to the pallet or in the box.

Once you have your packaging materials together, it’s time to package the item.

If using a large box, be sure to use 2″ of padding between the box wall and the item. Use 3″ if it’s a fragile item. On a big heavy item, I prefer to use foam as the padding.

If palleting the item, you will first need to think about how you are going to move it once it’s securely attached to the pallet. You can get some companies to pick it up from your house. uShip is a great resource to find freight companies who will pick it up from your house or business and their prices are usually pretty competitive.

Your cheapest option is going to be dropping the pallet off at your local freight terminal. If you are going to do this you can build the pallet directly in the bed of your truck or trailer and the freight company will unload it for you when you drop it off.

To pallet your item take your pallet and place it where you want to package up your item. Then place the item on top of the pallet and secure it with the straps. Once it is secured, wrap the whole item in cellophane. If it’s multiple pieces you can also wrap them individually and then secure them all together. Here is a crib I shipped out. I packaged it up right in my truck bed so I could deliver it to the freight terminal.

freight shipping

I used to think that I had to crate everything that I shipped freight, but that isn’t the case. Cellophane works well for most items. If an item is fragile I might build a wood crate for it, like I did recently for this carousel horse.

I wanted to be sure I could give it good padding since it was more fragile than some of the other stuff we ship out.

4. Measure and print label.

Once you have your item packaged, then you need to do the final measurements and print out your label. You need to measure the height, length and width then put it into the shipping calculator. It will automatically calculate your length and girth {Girth = (2 x width) + (2 x height)}, and determine if you get the surcharge for over 130″ and makes sure you are under the 165″ limit.

To determine the weight of a box, I like to use a flat parcel scale with a detachable reader. It makes it easier to see the weight if it is a large item.

Or if your only option is a house scale, you can use the old fashioned method. 😉

If your item is palleted, it obviously isn’t easy to weigh, and you really don’t have to have an exact weight. When you are printing your label, over estimate what you believe the weight to be and you will be fine. As long as you are over, you will not get charged more. If you underestimate, they can come back and bill you more once they weigh it and ship it.

5. Drop off the item, or schedule a pickup.

Once your item is packaged or palleted with a label on it, all that is left is to drop it off at the shipping provider you are using.

If your freight company is picking it up, you have to arrange a time together.

If it’s a large box and you are using FedEx or UPS, you can have them come pick it up from your doorstep at an extra cost as well.

Want to keep this post for later? You can download this post in PDF form. It will be sent to your e-mail address. This will also add you to our flea market flips and eBay tip updates, you can unsubscribe anytime you want.

Looking to dig into large item shipping even more? Grab our e-book The Art of Shipping: How to Package and Ship Large Items.

Ready to take your existing business to the next level and ship out your large items? Check our FREE Workshop here! 

We want to hear from you!

What intimidates you most about freight shipping? Comment below!

Related posts

Freight Shipping Course

FREE Flipping Workshop – Register Here

The Art of Shipping: How to package and ship large items for eBay

3 Ways to Save Money on Shipping eBay Items 

Double or Triple Your Furniture Flipping Profits

***Packaging Guideline Sources:

Freight Shipping 101

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Robert Stephenson

I grew up in Central Florida and have lived here my whole life. I first got into buying and selling items when I was 16 years old, and have been hooked ever since. It has mostly been a hobby that makes some extra cash, but sometimes it serves as my main income as well. I don't plan on stopping any time soon. I find too many fun toys for my family (or myself), and just love the whole process.

14 thoughts on “Freight Shipping 101: 5 Steps to Get Started with Shipping Freight”

  1. It is good to know that you will want to purchase the label you use for shipping. Also, it seems like a good thing to consider to get a professional to help with freight shipping. It might be best to make sure that the label is filled out properly and clearly.

  2. My uncle has a couple of large items that he is wanting to ship. I’ll be sure to tell him that he should see if it needs to be shipped by freight. It would be really helpful if he could get a company to help him.

  3. I shipped an ebay item once, just ONCE, via freight. A large Plasma TV. UPS said they’d ship it, dragged it into the store after we called, then said they wouldn’t ship it.
    So we used a freight service. It was horrible.
    This was in Las Vegas, they had no idea what they were doing. Finally get the TV out across the country to the buyer, a week later get a very angry email from him, the freight people came to his door with the actual TV, then refused to actually give it to him unless he paid them $80! This was the same amount we had already paid for freight shipping.
    The company said they Undercharged us, but really? When it arrives for the buyer it’s now DOUBLE what I had been quoted by them? Their supposed “mistake” in price was very unlikely.
    I never even found out what the real freight shipping should have been, the company played dumb with me. Never again. I’m glad it’s working out for others, but I used only once, and got robbed by them.

    1. Sorry you had a bad experience. It was a learning curve for us too. But now we’ve been able to cut through the extra fees and learn what companies are the best to work with. Once you do it a few times it gets easier. It has completely changed our business over the past few years by offering freight shipping. Let us know if you ever want to try again. 😉

  4. It was interesting to read that if you can pick up your piece and move it into a place like a garage, then you can put it on a pallet and ship it off, even if you don’t own a jack or forklift. I would imagine that most people who need to ship or move larger items would want to use a pallet for easy storage and handling. Finding a company who can either deliver them or re-use them also seems like a great way to recycle.

  5. It is good to know that you can ship things internationally without losing money on the transaction. It is good to know that shipping can be as low as 50 dollars. That is good to know when you want to start shipping things overseas.

  6. Hi Robert,
    Very informative article! Second time reading your post!
    You are absolutely right that to going to use large package shipping or freight shipping we need to gather our packaging materials. and for a large box for shipping need to locate a large enough box, or build it by combining two boxes together. Thank you so much for such useful words!

    1. I’m sure the information is basic to someone who is a professional freight shipper like yourself. 🙂 There are many people who don’t know where to begin when it comes to shipping pallets, and we are here to help them.

  7. Love this post! I have found some great larger items but I had no clue how to ship them. This definitely gives me the confidence to at least try it. The most intimidating part would be making sure the item was protected enough. Thanks so much!

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