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!