Wednesday , 22 November 2017

Preparation H – H is for “Holidays”!

BELLE the PIXIE ELF 5x5 fine art photographic print lustre

BELLE the PIXIE ELF 5x5 fine art photographic print lustre | by: mistflowerphoto

Ah, the leaves are changing! The air smells crisp and clean in the morning. Just a calming time of the year!

Yeah, right!

Have you noticed the frantic and harried appearance of several people at your local craft store? They are the ones covered in speckles of glitter, dried glue all over their hands and random bits of thread stuck to their clothing (this includes me). When you see this phenom combined with nearing the last quarter of the year, it means the Holiday “Rush” is about to spill forth.
Now when I say “rush” with the quotations around it it is subjective. “Rush” is different for everyone who sells their handiwork. It depends on your customer base, how long you have been selling, how you promote, where you are selling, and your advertising.

I am generalizing for this article for ease of explanation.  The following information is put together from my personal experience (or inexperience at the time) and how to be prepared for this upcoming season.

We will start at the beginning because that’s a very nice place to start.

Supplies. Without supplies you cannot make product to sell. If you have a long lead time because you need dinglybobs from someplace in Australia, be sure you order well in advance. Like yesterday.
Have plenty on hand. Always expect that what you need will be out of stock. Order in larger quantities for discounts if you know you will use it eventually. The nice thing about some supplies is they don’t expire. If you don’t use them, you can always resell them.  If you have items that are perishable for your craft, be sure you call ahead to your suppliers to see when they will be expecting shipments throughout the season. Ask if you can coordinate a placeholder order for your reorder time so they can get those items in for you in that scheduled shipment. Think ahead. Plan ahead.

Budgeting. Well this also makes ordering far in advance a sticky situation. If you haven’t budgeted it you are at the mercy of what your suppliers may or may not have in stock. Always order a couple more than you think you need throughout the year and then stockpile. By the time you get to the Holiday season you have spread out the cost of the stocking up in supplies. Plus, you already have it on hand and don’t need to worry about running out!  This is also the time where I tell you to plan realistically. If you have very few sales on Etsy you may not need to order a gross of dinglybobs. Plan for what works for your business. Let it grow and morph. You may not need 144 dinglybobs for next years stock so be realistic.

Packing Materials. I had never realized recycling saves me so much money in the packing materials department. This is easy to collect over the year. Find good boxes that have only been used once at local businesses that throw them away. Recycle the packing materials. Make sure they are CLEAN. Nothing smelly, wet, moldy was in the box.  Now, if you have no way of recycling packing materials or you prefer not to, then there are many locations for inexpensive boxes and packing materials. Uline.com, Papermart.com, The dollar store (for tissue paper, tape and ties) are a few I have used. Get creative. Also at the end of the season places have tissue paper and some festive packing materials on deep discounts. Serious. Tissue paper for a quarter? Yes, please! Also if you utilize free flat rate boxes from USPS to ship your product then order them in advance online. They run out of stock just like other suppliers do.  Like I said, Plan ahead!

The Post Office/UPS/ Mail Carrier of your choice. Oh boy. This one is difficult. It is their biggest time of the year. They get backlogged like nobodys business. Things get lost. Forms get filled out wrong. Slow down. Really pay attention to each package and how you are packing it. Make sure the label is printed clearly or hand written with your bestest chicken scratch. Make sure the order is going to the right place. Is it “one of a kind” and needs insurance?
Have you ever stood in line with your packages all nicely wrapped and ready to go and watch the person in front of you frantically filling out forms, you breathe a sigh of relief, don’t you? Be prepared. Don’t waste their time and yours. Package it up before you go with all of the correct forms/dimensions/materials. They will thank you.

You (and your family). One word. Crockpot. I have no time to cook between a full time Etsy shop and a full time day job. None. Mr. Red Marionette is lucky if I can muster opening a can of soup to warm. Yeah. Plan ahead with crockpot meals you can throw in the freezer. Stay healthy and take care of yourself at this time. You being sick negates all of the work you have done for this season. Ask your husband or kids to pitch in a little more with housework and errands. Find out who goes closest to the post office and have them drop off the packages on their way to wherever. Combine trips to save time.

Stop. Lastly, Know your limits. Is it no longer fun and you HATE having to stitch every single little thing together and you have just had enough! Then stop. Take a break. Step away.  Go for a jog. Eat a cookie. Play hungry hungry hippos with the kids. Seriously. You are the reason this little business works and if you are burnt out you need to address it immediately. Don’t let it get out of hand. You made this happen with your passions, talent and desires. Dont ruin it for yourself.

Do you have other suggestions for sellers to be prepared? Id love to hear more cause I know this isn’t everything!

~Kelli


 

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26 comments

  1. Great article! Last year I wasn’t prepared for the holiday “rush”, and have been adding slowly the past few weeks to my Etsy shop. I recycle my family’s shoe boxes for packaging, with 5 kids someone always needs shoes and the different sizes are perfect for what I sell. Also the Dollar Store here in NJ sell jewelry boxes, 5 different shapes for a buck. Love them for sending smaller items.
    :)
    Kim
    1022seashellave.etsy.com

  2. I pray I have this problem this year.

  3. This was so not a problem last year, LOL. I’m hoping for a much busier season this time around.

  4. I’m in the hoping boat this year too. I opened my shop in the fall of last year and was not prepared enough for the holidays and therefore didn’t have any sales, but I’m hoping to get in gear this year! I’m targeting to have new products created and posted by mid-October at the very latest to give 2 whole months before Christmas. Hope it works out!

  5. Thanks for the post, Kelli!
    Last year I was caught unaware of all the details and spent a LOT of time making sure my 200+ holiday sales got packaged correctly and sent to the right customers. I only messed up twice – four customers got the wrong item…and they were super nice and understanding about it – I was lucky!

    One of my great finds for this year are small, padded mailing boxes that I found on freecycle last spring -the manager of the local outlet for a big cell phone company hated throwing the boxes away and I scored big time. Not only are they really sturdy, but they are completely clean and label free.

    I also found myself glazing ornaments at midnight to send them out the next day…that won’t happen this time…she says! I’ve totally organized my Etsy item stock and shipping areas and will post photos on my blog soon.

    I use Endicia for all my shipping and it really helps to have such a reliable, organized mailing log, and it prints a lovely label with my logo – I add a festive ink stamp to it!

    Great punch list…thanks!!

  6. This will be our first holiday season on Etsy and we can’t wait :) So exciting!!

    Thanks for sharing all these great tips!!

  7. Wonderful hints. I too hope that I will have a Holiday Rush at my sight, even though it scares me a little. Thank you.

  8. extremely helpful! Thanks so much

  9. Great advice…I look forward to busy holiday sales between Etsy and Art shows.

  10. Great article. Thank you for sharing. I was going crazy last year and definitely will try to do better at planning this year.

  11. Wonderful advice, I am going to try to practice it all!
    Thank you.

  12. I don’t think “yesterday” is totally right for us here in New Zealand and Australia, but I would recommend before the end of November. This is our latest ‘official’ post office cut off date by which we can guarantee delivery. I can’t believe that – in this age of jet planes and international travel. But, whatever – at least you know you have another two months.

    I think, planning ahead for your international purchases just takes a bit of thought and effort.

  13. Here’s hoping for a holiday rush! I’ve got lots of opportunities to sell with a pop up shop and craft stalls so fingers crossed that the sales fairy visits me on Etsy too. Being in the UK I find sales are so high even though I regularly buy things from the US on Etsy.

    Wishing us all good luck!

  14. This list is excellent….in fact the tip about the ‘crock-pot’ is Top-o-the-List for me!!! Thank you!!! I wrote all about your post on http://hideaheart.wordpress.com because I thought it was so good!
    Thanks!!!
    MCatherine

  15. Other tips:
    1. I pre cut tissue, ribbon and paper for wrapping orders (all listed orders are wrapped and ready to ship)
    2. I use USPS to ship orders so every time I ship an order I pick up more USPS shipping boxes and assemble them along with Delivery Confirmation Forms…I also use USPS.com for creating shipping labels, but sometimes, when I’m out-of-town I have to use the Delivery Confirmation forms because I don’t have access to a printer!
    3. I make sure to have enough biz cards and thank you message cards printed
    4. I’m obsessed with keeping enough double-sided tape for wrapping on hand
    5. I’ve taught my son how to wrap orders and ship them…what a life saver!

  16. Great advice! I plan to launch just in time for the holiday rush, so I don’t expect insane sells, but I’d rather be prepared

  17. That last tip was the best ever stepping away every now and then is a must do. http://Www.sibrinacreations.com sibrina creations on etsy

  18. It will be my first holiday season and I’m definitely a bit nervous. I think the first thing I need to do is to organize my shipping materials better. I couldn’t even tell you how many padded envelopes I have on hand right now, that is not good!
    Thanks for all the other tips too. :)

  19. Love your last tip! I do this constantly and it works wonders :)

    p.s. I’ve been trying to take a few extra Priority Mail envelopes and boxes when at the PO and have already noticed they’re being grabbed up quickly!

  20. Seem like it got here so fast!!! Scrambling trying to finish some designs I hope I have to scramble all the way through the holidays. I would rather that than not be busy. Lord, please let me be busy. LOL It’s exciting though, I love it!

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