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9 Mistakes to AVOID When Selling on Etsy During the Holidays

The holiday season is a significant sales opportunity for Etsy shop owners. With proper preparation, the revenue generated during this time can exceed the entire year’s earnings. However, many sellers fall into common pitfalls.

To ensure a profitable holiday season, avoid the following 9 mistakes:

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

Mistake #1. Starting late

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

Preparation is key. You’re behind schedule if you haven’t begun setting up your shop for the holidays. While it’s not too late to start, early preparations ensure smooth operations, especially as orders pour in.

Stay ahead by:

  • Updating your inventory as soon as possible.
  • Refreshing your listings with holiday keywords.
  • Planning your promotions before sales events begin.

Above all, ensure you avoid last-minute decisions that may lead to compromised profits or rushed marketing tactics.

For significant holidays, ensure your listing photos, descriptions, and keywords are ready at least four weeks prior to the sales rush.

Stick to this holiday schedule

Calendar of events for holiday schedule.

Etsy started sharing Fall-themed products to their customer base by mid-August. So, if these are the products you sell, you want to ensure your fall line-up is ready and listed in your shop by the end of July. This allows Etsy’s marketing team to find and promote your listings on social media and in their customer emails.

And the same goes for every holiday.

Etsy started promoting Christmas products at the beginning of October. So, at the very latest, you should ensure your products are ready and listed by the beginning of September.

Here are some more dates to help plan your holiday season:

  • Halloween: Picks up Aug 1, peaks Oct 3, tapers off Oct 31.
  • Advent: Picks up Sep 15, peaks Oct 15, tapers off Dec 25.
  • Thanksgiving: Picks up Sept 1, peaks Nov 4, tapers off Nov 28.
  • Christmas: Picks up Sept 1, peaks Nov 28, tapers off Jan 2.
  • Hanukkah: Picks up Oct 10, peaks Nov 9, tapers off Dec 10.

Four weeks ahead of when sales are expected to pick up is a good time to start your holiday prep. This should allow you time to increase inventory and finalize your fulfillment process for the holidays.

Woman holiday Christmas gifts by Christmas tree.

Mistake #2. Using the wrong keywords

Broad keywords like “Christmas Gift” may seem ideal, but they’re highly competitive. Instead of using these saturated terms, focus on specific search terms that buyers use to find your products.

Effective keywords are one of the best ways to get your products in front of more holiday shoppers. They help boost the authority of your Etsy listing for specific search terms and bring traffic to your shop.

However, sellers often make the mistake of using highly competitive keywords like “Christmas Gift” or “Holiday Gift.”

Competitive keywords won’t help your product stand out any more than the other 34 million listings targeting the same search terms!

Instead, check your Etsy stats to see which search terms buyers use to find your products. Then, create holiday variations based on those keywords. If you’re unsure how to find the search terms that buyers currently use to find your listings, we put together a short tutorial.

This brings us to our next mistake:

Mistake #3. Ignoring buyer intent

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

Etsy’s algorithm personalizes search results based on user engagement. So, rather than emphasizing seasonal keywords, focus on those that accurately describe your product.

Millions of Etsy listings target 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? 

If you go to Etsy right now and type in “Christmas Gift,” your results will look different than ours.

That’s because Etsy’s algorithm considers your previous search and engagement history to show you listings it thinks you’d be interested in. This means shoppers may find your listings even if they’re only “holiday adjacent.”

Mistake #4. Overhauling all keywords

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

For products that sell consistently, don’t tamper with their keywords. Instead, focus on updating listings that aren’t performing well.

If your listing already brings a steady flow of sales, don’t mess with it.

For your other listings that aren’t performing well, you might be tempted to go in and totally overhaul your target keywords. And while this could be a good idea during the off-season, don’t try this right before the holidays.

You’re basically telling Etsy to forget everything it knows about that listing. And four weeks isn’t enough time for the algorithm to re-learn where to place your listing in search for maximum results with shoppers.

For underperforming listings, gradual keyword changes are more effective than a complete overhaul.

Mistake #5. Not having a handle on your inventory

Selling on Etsy During the Holidays - Woman creating more inventory for her Etsy shop.

Ensure you can meet the demands of the holiday rush. This includes timely production, communication, and order fulfillment.

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 simultaneously?

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, ensure you’ve got all your ducks in a row. This includes keeping an appropriate inventory for what you expect to sell.

Managing inventory for new Etsy shops

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 not just sell a seasonal product, make more leading up to the holidays.

You can always sell them throughout the year if you don’t sell out by the end of December.

Managing inventory for established Etsy shops

If you’re an established shop that’s been through the holidays before, look at last year’s numbers. How many orders did you receive? Which listing was your most popular? Which listings didn’t really sell?

Maybe it’s worth focusing on your most popular listings and not worrying too much about creating more stock for the unpopular ones.

Mistake #6. Forgoing promotions

Promotions attract budget-conscious consumers. Ensure your deals are enticing but also sustainable.

Around the holidays, consumers don’t want to spend any more money than they have to. They’ll look for the best bargains to cross off their holiday shopping list. But they won’t find your listings if you’re not running promos in your shop.

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 and wrong way to run promos for your Etsy listings. And it all comes down to your profit margins. If you know your margins and can afford to offload some inventory at a discounted price, go for it.

To learn more about running effective promos, we go into more detail in the video below:

Mistake #7. Skipping Etsy’s holiday sales events

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

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.

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. Etsy won’t promote your products if you don’t participate in the sale. 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 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.

The Bottom Line: Participate in Etsy’s curated lists and gift guides by offering discounts during their specified sale periods.

Mistake #8. Insufficient shop promotion

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 won’t put any more effort into promoting their business.

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

Creating content and getting it in front of your target demographic has never been easier. Whether you post your own content on Instagram or TikTok or run targeted ads, you can get your content in front of more consumers than ever before.

Relying solely on Etsy for promotions is limiting. Utilize external platforms to maximize reach.

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.

Closing shop early could mean lost sales opportunities.

If you do find yourself closing early, it’s probably due to one of these reasons:

  • You ran out of inventory
  • You’re too burnt out
  • No sales are coming through

Some of these reasons for closing early are good problems to have. If you planned your inventory accordingly and still sold out, then you probably had a great year.

But if you find yourself running on steam, you may burn out. You might be underprepared if you’re pulling your hair out to keep up with orders. This isn’t the end of the world — but it’s a good sign that you’ll need to prepare more for next year.

What to do when Etsy sales are slow

If all of your sales stop, you have some more significant things to work on in your Etsy shop.

Take a step back and really analyze your shop. Are you selling the right product, using the best keywords, taking fantastic product photos, and promoting your products effectively?

There’s a kink in the chain somewhere, maybe multiple kinks.

If sales are slow and you’re unsure what to do, our 101 articles can help put you in the right frame of mind.

Over to you

Maximizing your holiday sales on Etsy requires a blend of preparation, strategy, and adaptability. While it’s easy to get caught up in the festive rush, being proactive and sidestepping these common mistakes will set your shop up for a successful selling season.

If you know of some other mistakes you’ve seen sellers make, post them in the comments below. How did you correct yourself if you fell into one of these traps? We’d love to hear your story!

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

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