Etsy has been offering a Holiday Boot Camp with some great guidelines and ideas for shop owners to consider in readying their shops, and I think many shop owners (especially new ones) can really benefit from getting everything in order if they haven't already. With only 53 shopping days left until Christmas, time will begin to fly, and many shoppers choose to beat the rush and make sure that they have plenty of time for online purchases to be received for holiday gift-giving.
The Holiday Boot Camp addresses a variety of issues - all of which I think it's important to consider, and I've added a few tidbits of my own:
- Take stock of supplies to make sure that you won't run out of materials - both for creating your items and for shipping them.
- Assess your resources - financial budgeting, time budgeting, additional help if needed.
- Create a timeline for releasing holiday listing, announcing sales or special promotions.
- Take a good hard look at your product listings - especially those all important photos and product descriptions to make sure that they are presenting potential customers with accurate and comprehensive information about your products. After all, they are buying them sight unseen in most cases and your listing is all they have to base their decisions on!
- Consider offering e-gift certificates for last minute shoppers and shoppers who are having trouble deciding which one of your awesome items they should buy for someone.
- Connect with potential customers - and help them understand why they should buy YOUR product. Don't be afraid to share the efforts and techniques that went into making something, or to "set the mood" with the story behind the creation or how you would imagine it being used. Portray your items as the unique and special works of artistry that they are!
- Make sure your listings are SEO friendly - being found by the search algorithms both on Etsy and the major search engines is dependent on it!
- Take advantage of social networking opportunities by creating a Facebook page or twitter account, or perking up one you already have by being more active on it. Getting the word out about your shop is not something you can be passive about - you have to be passionate about it!
- Offer holiday packaging that your customers will love, both for its appearance and its ability to get their purchases to them in perfect condition.
- Consider some holiday packaging for your shop too! Maybe a holiday banner - even if it's just adding a poinsettia, wreath, or tree to your existing banner. Don't forget to add "Happy holidays" or a similar greeting to your announcement, as well as your convos. Add a link to your shop to your personal e-mail signature, along with a tagline asking the recipients if they've finished their holiday shopping yet. Include a coupon code to spur interest.
- Make sure your customers know your holiday shipping deadlines for local deliveries, as well as an estimate of shipping times for international shipping. Offer the option of expedited shipping or other enhanced shipping options if you're able to.
- If you're willing to ship gifts to a different address, let your shoppers know. But also make them aware that doing so negates any PayPal Buyer's protection, so have alternative solutions and policies outlined as well.
- Doublecheck the shipping address on your PayPal transaction notice against the address given on the Etsy notification. This is NOT a time of year you want items shipped to the wrong address. If you need to verify an address, it's probably wise to convo the buyer as well as e-mailing them to ensure the probability of a quick response.
- Revisit your pricing practices, especially if you'll be creating made to order or customized items during the holiday season. If you need extra supplies, will you be able to get the same smokin' hot deal on them that you got them for earlier in the year? Will you need to pay more for getting the supplies to you in a timely manner to meet your own production deadlines?
- Decide on a profit margin - giving your work away will not allow you to reinvest your profits in growing your business, taking classes to stay on top of new techniques, and seriously, your time and skills are worth something!
- If you offer wholesale options, will your pricing allow you room to negotiate and still come out a little bit ahead of the game?
- Reach out to the handmade community for suggestions, ideas, and help. There's a lot of artisans, crafters, and shopowners who are ready to offer everything from advice to a laugh to brighten your day. Get to know them and become friends with them :)
- Take advantage of other blogs that do linky's or hops for listing sales and promotions. Facebook also has many pages devoted to free promotion and they're fun and effective. The more places you can have a presence the better. There really is something to the whole "viral" thing when it comes to social networking.
- Take care of yourself - eat a proper diet, get enough rest, exercise or stretch to prevent the sore muscles that are inevitable with long hours of crafting, and have fun along the way. While life balance isn't always possible, it's important to try to maintain some sanity in your life even when things get hectic.