The first day of Autumn in the U.S. was just a couple of days ago! Bring on the plethora of PSL’s and in general, all things pumpkin! Also, how’d we arrive here so quickly?! I know I can’t be the only one who thinks it’s crazy we’re only three months out from the Holiday season. WHAT?! Last month on the blog, we chatted about strategizing for the holidays and planning any collections you might want to release in your shop.
Hopefully, you began that process and are feeling like you’re on top of your holiday game and ready to tackle even more. Now, it’s time to begin your actual holiday prep. As usual, we want to give you some helpful tips to get you started so that together we can be prepared for the holidays to roll around with less stress and more assurance. Continue reading to find out how you can find more Etsy shop success during your holiday season this year!
Hear ye, hear ye!
If you haven’t optimized your listings with holiday keywords, now is the time to get on that! We chatted about that in our Holiday Collection post, so for a refresh head back there to read more about it. So, I’m going to assume that’s done and you’re feeling confident about those listing keywords. Your ideal shopper has found you (cause, keywords!) and they are now nosing around your shop.
What’s the first thing they’ll see?? Your header/shop banner! Making an announcement in your shop header/banner about what date your customers should place their holiday order by is a GREAT way to keep them informed up front. This also ensures they (hopefully) won’t miss your “order by” date and will help you to have happy customers who aren’t upset because Great Aunt Gertrude won’t receive that perfect gift on time.
Start creating now
Do you have a particular item in your shop that is wicked popular? If so, start creating extra of that item now. Don’t wait. If you sold a ton of this item in previous holiday seasons, it’s a good guess that the same will hold true this year. Make a reasonable guesstimate on how many you might possibly sell this year based on past years, and stock up now. Maybe you won’t sell out of this item and that’s ok! If you create it and package it now versus waiting until the holiday season is in full swing, it only helps to make the job of getting that item shipped even easier. Being prepared is never going to hurt. But being unprepared will.
Copy, paste, send, repeat
Another great time saver is to create canned messages for your most commonly asked questions. Receiving the same shipping question over and over? Got twenty messages concerning a particular color choice? Wondering about a custom order? There’s a message you’ve created for that! You can always personalize your messages with a sentence or two, but having the bulk of those commonly asked questions already written out and ready to go will save you a TON of time you can use for more productive things.
And again, don’t ever be afraid to just say no to high maintenance customers. If you can have 30 low maintenance customers and receive sales from them, don’t let them go to have your time eaten away with responses to one high maintenance customer whom you may not even get a sale from. Make smart choices for your shop while being kind and honest up front.
How much can ya handle?
Something you need to decide right now is how many custom orders you can handle. Or, maybe you want to halt some or all of your custom orders for the holiday season. If your time is eaten up with difficult custom orders, this is not going to make for a lucrative season. You may decide that you want to only produce items that aren’t too difficult and that you can do over and over again, knowing they will come out right every time.
Once you think this through and decide what’s right for you, stick to that. You might also want to add a different “custom order date” to your header if it’s going to take you a bit longer to create and ship a custom piece. Again, having a number for yourself and a date for your customers will ensure that you have peace of mind knowing the workload you’ve placed on your shoulders. This also allows your customers to know up front what they can expect from you as a seller.
Would you like that gift wrapped?
As your holiday orders start to come in, you’ll probably find that your buyers want to have these items sent directly to their recipients. Adding an option to have their purchase wrapped and arriving in a beautiful package will give your customers peace of mind that this gift looks meaningful to the recipient. The last thing a buyer wants is a gift arriving that looks like it was drop shipped from Amazon and wasn’t thought through. Remember, your buyers are coming to Etsy because they want that handmade experience. Giving them the option of having a beautiful item arrive in an awesome package will only build rapport and assure you get some great reviews in the process.
I would like to return this!
So, this is bound to happen because….people. If you have a strict return policy or if you don’t offer returns at all, make SURE you let your customers know this in your listing descriptions. Seriously. Write it out and paste it into each listing. Also, putting your return policy in your shop policies (and possibly your header section) will again ensure that it’s really hard to miss. If you do offer a return policy, you might consider extending it a bit as well, just to give some breathing room for your customers and their recipients. It’s unlikely that a ton of people will go through the trouble of returning their purchases, but having the extra time to do so will give some peace of mind to those purchasing.
Be honest up front
You’ve decided up front what you can handle, you’re sticking to that, you’ve got your return policy and date to order by posted everywhere. Literally. Then comes the customers who reach out ten days before Christmas wanting “just a small change” to an item. Or maybe, they want a stocked item. Now, you have to decide at this point what you’re going to do. Will you try to fulfill the request? Or will you stick to what you’ve decided? Whichever you choose, be upfront and honest with your customers either way.
If they’ve waited this long to try to purchase a gift, let them know there’s a high possibility their gift may not arrive on time. It’s better to lose that one sale than to over promise and under deliver your services. Being honest and open will help to build trust with your buyers. One of the worst things you can do as a seller is to make promises you can’t follow through with, even if it’s no fault of your own.
If you remember one thing, remember this
I really hope you can remember this through the hectic holiday season. You can absolutely work your butt off with 12+ hour days and completely burn yourself out by the end of it all. You might make a killing and have a lucrative holiday season, but at what cost? The beautiful thing about having your own shop on Etsy is you get to decide how much work you’re willing to take on. You do NOT have to kill yourself in the process. Self-care during this time is SO incredibly important. And this is also YOUR holiday season with your family. Don’t sacrifice all of your time running yourself into the ground and missing those valuable moments.
A schedule and goals
Instead, sit down right now and really think through a holiday schedule for yourself. Do not be afraid to say no in order to keep your sanity. If you have certain goals in mind that you’d like to reach, great! Decide what those are now and how you want to go about attaining them. Then, once you’ve thought it through and made a plan, stick to that. If you’ve decided you’re going to work 9-5, that’s awesome. When 5 o’clock rolls around, shut the doors to your office, close your laptop, put your phone down and breathe. Allowing yourself that downtime will ensure that you are not completely burnt out and hating life by the end of all this.
It can wait
Allow yourself to truly enjoy your family once you’re “off work” and don’t sacrifice those moments with them because you’ve got messages that really can wait until tomorrow morning at 9am. Honestly, your customers truly can wait to hear back from you for a few hours. It will be ok. And in the long run, if you give yourself the break, you will be refreshed to answers messages and fulfill orders in a timely fashion instead of feeling so worn out that the quality of your work and messages decreases.
Decide what’s right for you, your shop and your family now. Step into the upcoming holiday season knowing you are prepared and will work hard but have boundaries in place. Stay positive and healthy in all the choices you make! And above all else, enjoy each moment as much as you can.
From all of us at Marmalead, we’re cheering you on and hope you have the best holiday season ever!
Happy selling, everyone!