Planning Ahead to Maximize Fall and Winter Profits
When there is a heat index of 115, the last thing I want to do is crochet dog hats to sell at Christmas time. However, that is just what I’m doing this week. I have three holiday seasons on Etsy under my belt, and I’ve learned that the holidays are the best opportunity to make almost half my shop’s yearly income. Since retail sales fluctuate, taking advantage of this time is crucial to staying afloat the rest of the year. In my experience, fall and winter are the times when there are the most shoppers on Etsy that are not just looking but willing to spend money. Here are a few tips for preparing for the holidays now. While all shops vary in their specific needs, hopefully a few of these tips will help you prepare yourself for the best (lots of sales in your Etsy shop this holiday season!).
Give Your Shop a Polish
If you feel like revamping your banner or shop photos, now is a great time to finalize any changes you’d like to make to your storefront. Strive for consistency throughout the fall and winter so people will recognize your products. The holiday season is still a good time to introduce new inventory, but keeping the look of your shop cohesive will make you more memorable to shoppers. If you haven’t already analyzed your target market, this is a good time to evaluate who is looking at your shop and who you would like to look at your shop.
Summer is a great time to create hang tags, gift packaging and additional materials that are included with holiday (or all) orders. For example, I include a discount code for our website on the back of my business card. That’s something I can do in advance, leaving me more time for custom orders during the fall and winter. Designing packaging ahead of time also allows you a nice consistent presentation throughout the hectic fall and winter months, when things can slip a bit. Order items like tissue, envelopes, and baker’s twine in bulk now to save time and money later.
Prepare Your Assembly Line
If there is any prep work you can do ahead of time to make product assembly faster, summer is a great time to do it. I crochet individual components and make pom poms in advance, and then assemble the order when a customer chooses their custom colors. Not only does this make turnaround time faster when things get busy, it also allows you to create items more efficiently. Working in multiples often leads to faster production time and higher quality pieces since the more pom poms you make, the better you get at making pom poms! Read my article here about increasing productivity in the studio.
Develop a Month by Month Strategy
If you have been in business awhile, going back through a past year or two of holiday sales is really worthwhile to identify popular products and styles. The reality of what sells is almost always different than the way I remember it. Identify what sells each month from August to December. These are usually very different for me. Going back to last December I realized if I had more ready to ship items I could have had a lot more sales. Pushing custom orders early in the season and holding on to ready to ship inventory for later in the season makes sense for many handmade sellers. Developing a month by month business plan can help you to have available what customers need when they need it. Even if this is your first holiday season, developing a strategy to have ready to ship inventory available through late November and early December is a good way to maximize holiday traffic to your shop.
Tailor Your Tags to the Season
Not every shop needs to create seasonal items, but you may be able to incorporate seasonal themes into your marketing strategy. Think about the search terms shoppers use while looking for back to school items, Halloween costumes and holiday gifts. If some of these might apply to your items, gear your tags towards what shoppers are looking for that month.
Attract New Buyers
Fall is a great time to try out paid advertising if you can swing it. Research some options now since many sites have deadlines as much as eight weeks before your ads with run. Here are a few sites to check out:
Come September it’s also a good time to spend a little more relisting items in your Etsy shop to keep them high in search results.
Be Kind to Your Future Self
You know that little voice inside of you that says, “I can do that later, best not to worry about it now”? Maybe this year is a good time to be kinder to your future self by planning ahead and spreading work out over several months. The worst thing that could happen is you will have products left over at the end of the holiday season, and I have found that as long as you operate within your budget this is never a bad thing. A big sale in spring to clear out holiday leftovers is a great way to keep folks shopping with you and generate an extra bit of income to cure your holiday season hangover!