1) Check out the Chinese Embassy Visa information and figure out what type of Visa you need.
I’m a tourist visiting for less than 30 days and needing a single entry into the country. So I’m Type L single entry.
2) Get a passport photo taken at the local CVS/Walgreen/photo place.
3) Since I don’t have time to go in person to the embassy to drop off and pick up my paperwork, I enlisted the aid of an visa agent that was listed on the embassy’s website. For a $40 fee they make sure your paperwork is in order and handle the drop off and pick up for you. Then they send your visa to you.
4) I checked out the websites and chose US-China Business & Culture Exchange Center, Inc.
5) On their website, I followed their instructions and downloaded and filled out the required forms.
6) I went to the U.S. Post Office to buy the money order (cost $1.50)
7) I assembled all my paperwork, passport photo, money order, and passport and sent it priority mail with delivery confirmation.
About 10 days later, I received my passport and visa from the visa agent.