Etsy How-to Etsy Jam

9 Mistakes to AVOID When Selling on Etsy During the Holidays

The biggest season for selling on Etsy during the holidays comes around once a year. And if your Etsy shop is prepared, you can make more money in three months than during the entire rest of the year combined. But time and time again we see sellers make mistakes that make their holiday season a bust.

Don’t set yourself up for failure. Avoid these 9 mistakes at all cost.

We’ve talked about everything you should do leading up to the holidays. Now let’s talk about what you shouldn’t do.

Let’s jump right in.

Mistake #1. Starting late when selling on Etsy during the holidays

Selling on Etsy During the Holidays - Woman looking at watch.

If you haven’t started preparing your Etsy shop for the holidays, you’re already behind.

It’s not too late, that’s for sure.

But the earlier your shop is ready for holiday orders, the smoother your holiday season will run. Because the last thing you want is orders to start flooding in while your inventory is low.

Or forget to update your holiday keywords and customers can’t find your listings like they did last year.

Or your promotional details haven’t been ironed out so you hastily slap some bundles together and begin selling your products at a loss.

Selling on Etsy during the holidays is NOT a time for scrambling

The bottom line is you don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you’re scrambling. Scrambling to fulfill orders. Scrambling to bring more traffic to your shop. Scrambling to market your products poorly though out TikTok videos. You get the picture.

Now here’s the thing that some of you may already be thinking: Yes, procrastination can be a great motivator, especially for creatives.

Procrastination can be a great motivator, especially for creatives.

How many times have you waited until the last minute only to come up with some of your best ideas. Sometimes that’s just how our brains work.

Creative people usually have tons of ideas firing off in their heads in every direction, which is why it can be difficult to focus on your to-do list, and get things done early.

But trust us, you’ll feel a lot better this holiday season if you prepare yourself as early as you can.

If you’re one to stress yourself out about the what-ifs of any given scenario, then having a plan and sticking to it will take a huge weight off your shoulders.

Because procrastination can lead to missed opportunities, mistakes with orders, missed deadlines, and upset customers.

Stick to this holiday schedule

Calendar of events for holiday schedule.

Here’s the schedule you should keep in mind leading up to the holidays:

For any given holiday you want to target, you should make sure your listing photos, descriptions, keywords, and holiday marketing details are ready at least 4-weeks ahead of when sales start to pickup. That’s just a good rule of thumb.

To put things into perspective, Etsy started sharing Fall themed products to their customer-base by mid-August. So if these are the types of products you sell, you want to make sure your fall line-up is ready and listed in your shop by the end of July. This gives Etsy’s marketing team an opportunity to find your listings and promote them on social media and in their emails to customers.

And the same goes for every holiday.

Etsy started promoting Christmas products at the beginning of October, so at the very latest you need to make sure your products are ready and listed by the beginning of September.

Here’s some more dates to help you plan your holiday season:

Etsy has shared specific date ranges when sales on the marketplace start to pickup. Like we said, plan to have your listings ready about 4-weeks in advance:

Halloween: Picks up Aug 1, peaks Oct 3, tapers off Oct 31.

Have your Halloween/Fall products ready by the start of September.

Woman carving pumpkins in sun room.

Advent: Picks up Sep 15, peaks Oct 15, tapers off Dec 25.

One way people celebrate Advent is by counting down the days with an advent calendar. Now this type of product is actually pretty underrepresented on Etsy, so if you can come up with some trendy ideas for a new style of advent calendar, there’s a pretty good chance you could gain some traction selling them on Etsy. Just based off these numbers alone.

Have your Advent products ready by mid-August.

Selling on Etsy During the Holidays - Snapshot of "Advent" keywords inside Marmalead.

Thanksgiving: Picks up Sept 1, peaks Nov 4, tapers off Nov 28.

Have your Thanksgiving decor, knick-knacks, printable recipes, whatever, ready by the beginning of August.

Group of friends celebrating Thanksgiving.

Christmas: Picks up Sept 1, peaks Nov 28, tapers off Jan 2.

It feels like Christmas comes earlier and earlier every year. With Amazon Prime Day and Amazon’s Christmas catalogue launching in October, consumers are starting to get used to seeing Santa Claus before Halloween.

Have your products that target the Christmas season ready by the beginning of August.

Woman holiday Christmas gifts by Christmas tree.

Hanukkah: Picks up Oct 10, peaks Nov 9, tapers off Dec 10.

Have your products that target Hanukkah ready by early September.

Family unwrapping Hanukkah presents.

Remember, 4-weeks ahead of when sales are expected to pickup is a good rule of thumb. This should allow you time to increase your inventory and finalize your fullfilment process for your upcoming orders.

Mistake #2. Using the wrong keywords when selling on Etsy during the holidays

One of the best ways to get your products in front of more holiday shoppers is through the use of effective keywords. But what makes an effective keyword?

It’s one that helps boost the authority of your Etsy listing for any given search term you want to target. In other words, effective keywords actually bring traffic to your listings.

Mistakes that we see sellers make include using highly competitive keywords that, for the most part, just take up space in your tag slots.

Keywords like “Christmas Gift” or “Holiday Gift.”

We know what you’re thinking: “Why should I avoid using these keywords? These are exactly the search terms I want buyers to find my listings under.”

Well, we hate to break it to you but these keywords probably won’t help your product stand out any more than the other 50,000+ listings targeting the same search terms. There’s just too many Etsy sellers using these them!

What you should do instead is check your listings to see which search terms buyers are using to find your products. Then create holiday variations based on those keywords. If you’re not sure how to find the search terms that buyers are currently using to find your listings, we put together a short tutorial.

This brings us to our next mistake:

Mistake #3. Not understanding buyer intent

Selling on Etsy During the Holidays - Etsy shoppers browsing products to buy on Etsy.

There are thousands and thousands of listings using the keyword “Christmas gift.”

But when a shopper types that search phrase in Etsy, how many listings do you think they click through until they find something they want to buy? 

For that matter, if you go to Etsy right now and type in “Christmas gift,” your results are going to look different than ours.

Why? Because Etsy’s algorithm takes into account your previous search and engagement history to show you listings it thinks you’d be interested in.

Understanding Etsy search results

In other words, someone searching the first page for Christmas gifts will scroll through until they find a product that interests them. They’ll click on that listing. Scroll through the photos. Read some reviews. And then they’ll probably move on to the next listing.

If they like the type of product they clicked on (but they don’t think that this first one is the one they want to buy) then they’ll shop around. Which means they’ll most likely start to look through the “You May Also Like” section. Or they’ll start searching for different variations of that product on Etsy search.

And with every new listing they click on and engage with, Etsy’s keeping tabs on ‘em. They’re gonna start to show this buyer popular listings that are related to what they’re searching for. Because Etsy wants to make a sale. They don’t want this buyer to leave the marketplace without buying something.

Here’s the catch with Etsy search

The listings that are now being put in front of this buyer no longer have tags that have anything to do with “Christmas gift” or “holiday gift” or anything seasonal.

These listings have their own set of keywords that, more often than not, are super specific to the product they’re selling. Because these sellers have built up their own credibility with Etsy’s algorithm over time. They’ve identified keywords that work for their listings. They’ve set them. They’ve left them. They’re making sales.

And Etsy knows that people searching for these products would be interested in these listings.

So all this to say, holiday keywords don’t always matter.

If you’ve got a listing that’s performing well throughout the year, don’t mess it up by trying to change out holiday keywords.

Which brings us to our next mistake:

Mistake #4. Changing all your keywords when selling on Etsy during the holidays

Selling on Etsy During the Holidays - Overhead view of keyword research inside journal.

Don’t even think about touching the keywords on a listing that’s performing well. 

Leave well enough alone. 

You’ve probably heard that saying before and it’s true. Any change you think you’re making for the betterment of your listing will probably do more harm than good. Especially if that listing is already bringing a steady flow of sales.

Don’t touch it. Let it do it’s thing.

And for your other listings that aren’t performing well, you might be tempted to go into your tags and trash the place. We’re talking major overhaul.

Get rid of these keywords. Get rid of that keyword. You’re going to target a whole new set of keywords because you think it’ll help you move more products this holiday season.

And maybe it will, if you give it enough time. But 4-weeks isn’t really enough time.

You’ve basically just told Etsy to forget everything they thought they knew about that listing.

“Those old keywords, they don’t matter anymore. These new keywords, this is what my product is actually about!”

But you’re effectively starting from scratch. And Etsy’s all-knowing algorithm will need some time to catch-up. See who engages with that listing. See who buys it. See who favorites it.

Maybe all the new keywords will work out for you… next year. But probably not in time for this holiday season.

Mistake #5. Not having a handle on your inventory

Selling on Etsy During the Holidays - Woman creating more inventory for her Etsy shop.
Young online business owner looking at laptop while preparing deliveries for clients

How fast can you make your product? If you get an influx of sales, can you create more products, respond to messages, and fulfill orders all at the same time?

We’ve seen this before but if you’re not actively keeping up with your shipping and tracking updates on the backend of your Etsy shop, then Etsy could prevent you from accepting new orders.

So during the holiday season, you need to make sure you’ve got all your ducks in a row. This includes keeping an appropriate inventory for what you expect to sell.

If you’re a new shop you might not have historical data to look back on. But if you can afford to keep more inventory on hand and your not just selling a seasonal product, then make more leading up to the holidays. You can always sell them throught the year if you don’t sell out by the end of December.

But if you’re an established shop that’s been through the holidays before, then take a look at last years numbers. How many orders did you receive? Which listing was your most popular? Which listings didn’t really sell? Maybe it’s worth focusing your efforts on your most popular listings, and not worrying too much about creating more stock for the unpopular ones.

Sales trends during economic uncertainty

Look at your sales numbers through the year. Are they trending higher or lower than they were last year? Inflation is hitting everyone hard. Do your orders reflect that?

If your year-to-date sales are trending higher than previous years then you might expect a busier holiday season than normal. And you’ll want more inventory on hand to keep up with the potential demand.

But if your sales are trending lower, you might not see as many holiday sales as you’re used to. If you’ve got stock to unload, maybe it’s time to consider putting your products on sale or bundling them up.

Which leads to our next mistake:

Mistake #6. Not running a promo when selling on Etsy during the holidays

Consumer’s wallets are hurting.

They don’t want to spend any more money this year than they have to. They’ll be wheeling and dealing. Looking for the best bargains they can find to cross off their holiday shopping list.

If you’re not running any promos in your shop, then these bargain hunters won’t pay your shop a visit.

Which is fine if your products are already priced appropriately. After all, you can only go so low to compete with Amazon and before you stop making a profit entirely.

But, there’s a right way and a wrong way to run promos for your Etsy listings. And it all comes down to your profit margins. If you know your margins and you can afford to offload some inventory at a discounted price, go for it. This holiday season, that might just be the answer.

To learn more about running effective promos check out this video where we go into more detail:

Mistake #7. Not joining Etsy’s holiday sales

Etsy wants you to sell more products this holiday season. They know their sellers rely on sales this time of year, and they know that buyers come to Etsy for all their holiday shopping needs.

And one of the ways Etsy tries to make the shopping experience easier for both parties is through curated lists, gift guides, The Holiday Shop, and promo pages.

For Etsy shoppers that use the app, Etsy will be promoting holiday deals, cyber monday deals, etc.

And to get your listings featured on some of these lists, the only way to do that is by discounting your products up to a certain amount during the sale period. If you don’t take part in the sale, Etsy won’t promote your products. And you’ll be missing out on a decent chance at more exposure.

So if you want to learn more about taking part in these Etsy sales events and when and how to join, then make sure you sure sign up for our weekly newsletter. It’s the best way to keep up with everything new and changing with Etsy and the overall world of eCommerce.

Mistake #8. Not promoting your shop enough when selling on Etsy during the holidays

Selling on Etsy During the Holidays - Woman standing in front of holiday sales banners.

We see too many sellers fall into this trap.

They think Etsy will handle all of their promotions for them. They’re keywords will bring all the traffic they need. They’re forced into using off-site ads, so they’re won’t put any more effort into promoting their business on their end.

That’s a mistake you don’t want to make.

Honestly, it has never been easier to create content and get it in front of your target demographic. Social media is slowly moving towards giving everyday people the opportunity to display their unique talents, products, and individuality.

So whether you post your own content on Instagram or TikTok, or you run targeted ads, you can get your content in front of more consumers than ever before.

In our newsletter we just talked about a 20-year-old who sold over $1M of cosmetic products on Shopify in under 8-minutes. And she did this by using social media.

Now there are tons videos and blog posts out there about using social media to promote your small business so we won’t go into detail here.

We’ll leave it at this: You need to start on social media. Pick one or two platforms that you like and you’re familiar with. Create fun content that people want to see. And be consistent.

Mistake #9. Closing early

"Sorry we're closed" sign.

This is the last one on our list. Because if you do it, then you’re done for the season.

If you close your shop early then a few things probably happened:

You ran out of inventory. If you planned your inventory accordingly, and you still sold out, then props to you. You had a great year.

You’re probably pretty happy which is honestly what matters most. And this is a good problem to have.

But if you had more inventory, you probably could’ve squeezed out a couple more weeks of sales.

You’re too burnt out. Maybe you were hit with an influx of sales and you weren’t prepared. Or maybe Etsy stopped letting you take more sales and all you can do now is fulfill the ones you have.

Again, not the worst problem to have but if you were more prepared you could’ve kept up with your orders,. You wouldn’t feel as stressed out as you do now. And your customers would have a better chance of getting their order on time. Maybe next year.

Your shop is pretty much dead. Meaning, there’s no sales coming through. And you’re tired of checking you Etsy stats everyday to find little to no movement.

If this sounds like you, then you’ve got some bigger things to work on in your Etsy shop. Sure, inflation is taking it’s tole but you should be seeing some movement during the biggest season of the year. Take a step back and really analyze your shop. Are you selling the right product, using the best keywords, taking amazing product photos, promoting your products effectively? There’s a kink in the chain somewhere, maybe multiple kinks.

If sales are slow and you’re not sure what to do, think about your shop objectively. Take your mindset back to square one. We’ve got a series of 101 articles that will help put you in the right frame of mind.

Give those a read and see if you can find areas of improvement in your own shop. 

If you’re still not sure where you can improve then join our Facebook group.

There are tons of sellers in there just like you that have received advice and help from our community. You’re not alone.

Over to you

These are 9 mistakes to avoid when selling on Etsy during the holidays.

If you know of some other mistakes you’ve seen sellers make, go ahead and post them down in the comments below.

If you’ve found yourself falling into one of these traps, how did you correct yourself? We’d love to hear your story!

As always, thanks for reading and have a nice day!

Grow your online business, develop your SEO, and launch your sales into the stratosphere.

Read The Squeeze each week to see what’s new with Etsy and the growing industry of eCommerce. There’s a lot of noise out there getting in the way of your success. Cut to the chase with tips and tricks you can implement in your business right now. Let The Squeeze be your guide.


Need help getting your products found on Etsy?

Improve your Etsy SEO with free Marmalead tools, designed to take your handmade business to the next level.

Get the FREE Tools

Leave a Reply