Friday, August 21, 2009

Preparing for the holidays.

The Etsy forums are full of posts asking about the holidays. When do you start to list Christmas items? What should I do to prepare for the holidays? What can I do now to prevent stress during the holiday rush?

This blog entry is a list of advice that answers all of these questions and more. I may not have spent a Christmas on Etsy, but I’ve been selling elsewhere for years. I’ve also gathered some of this advice from just hanging out in the Etsy forums.

If you have more to add to the list, please leave a comment on the blog or Convo me on Etsy. You can also Convo me to ask questions or suggest future “Etsy Advice Blog” topics. Etsy seller name is BeadingByBawissa .

---Start early! How early you start is up to you and depends on your particular product and schedule. Personally, I try to really get started in July or August, but I work on making snowflakes and other Christmas items on and off through the whole year.

---Promote year-round. Just because you don’t get any sells from running an ad, that doesn’t mean that people aren’t checking out your store. I know a lot of people that will bookmark it for later. I’ve just recently gone through my favorite sellers to buy Christmas gifts, and many of those sellers have shops that I haven’t looked at since last April!

---Get your Christmas shopping done as early as possible. It may seem irrelevant, but you can’t go shopping and get you orders out at the same time.

---GET THINGS SHIPPED FAST! This is important year-round, and I cannot stress it enough. If you make your customers wait, they are likely to hesitate before ordering from you again. For example: My mom ordered some Christmas gifts from one seller. It has been more than two weeks, and they haven’t arrived. Mom wants to order a few other things from the same shop, but she doesn’t want to wait and worry that they won’t get here on time or at all.

---Prepare to get things shipped fast. Put return address labels on packages. If you send promo packs, free samples, etc with your packages, get them put together and in the boxes/envelopes you plan to ship future orders in.

---Schedule trips to the post office. As the holidays approach, your schedule will likely get cramped. Take time now to schedule two or three post office trips every week up until the end of December. Most of the time, you won’t need to go that often, but if you have three scheduled, you can cancel one or two if something comes up.

---SLEEP! Getting enough sleep is crucial to reduce stress. It is also important because your brain and body don’t function on the same level when they are sleep-deprived. This can cause your workmanship to get poor. It can even lead you to packing a package and forgetting to put the item in it. (Been there. Done that. It is a very good thing that I noticed the item sitting on my desk before I shipped a package with everything except the purchased item in it!)

---Stock up on supplies. I don’t know anyone that wants to go out in the holiday traffic just because they ran out of a particular bead or something, especially if it is something they knew they might need. Worried about leftover supplies? Sell them on Etsy or save them for new projects or next year’s holiday madness.

---Build up back stock. If you know what sold best last year, make multiples of that. You can also try to guess what people will want more of. I make a ton of my snowflakes because I tend to sell out pretty fast around Christmas time. It is also helpful to have a large inventory if you plan to sell at craft fairs, etc next year. You can always sell the leftovers next year (if they are geared specifically towards Christmas) or just list them in your shop.

---List things steadily leading up to the holidays. It keeps you on top of searches which mean more exposure for your shop.

---Send free gifts to previous customers. Include coupons to your store. IMPORTANT NOTE: Etsy does not allow spamming. What I’m referring to here is sending to buyers that you may know personally such as friends and family. You can also ask buyers to convo you to sign up to receive free offers and coupon promotions.

---Get comfortable selling to friends and family. I’ve never had a problem with this, but I know a lot of people do. If someone asks what you’ve been up to, tell them about your business and give them a business card or coupon. (It is great if your business card doubles as both.) Just remember to not be too pushy. Also, it is a great advertisement to brag about your most recent project or even give them as gifts so your friends and family can do the bragging for you.

---Facebook Fan Pages are fantastic! I’ve only had my fan page for a short while, but it is a great way to keep in touch with customers and potential customers. You can offer special sales for just Facebook fans as well as using it to promote new items in your shop or current deals. This has to be done manually. The Facebook Connect thing connects to your personal Facebook page, not the fan page.

---Offer special deals (such as free shipping for the month of October) leading up to the holidays. Promote these deals by listing them on your Facebook page, in your blog, on the Etsy forums, and anywhere else that you can think of. Just writing it in your shop announcement isn’t going to get you anywhere. However, it still needs to be there too.

---Organize your workspace. It is so hard to work in a messy area. Clean up and organize now and periodically throughout the holiday rush. If you have to schedule an appointment every week or so to clean your workspace, do that. I love to schedule things. It makes them seem even more important so they get done.

---If you create Christmas items, create something new every year. My snowflakes may be my best seller now, but what if I can come up with something better. Last year, I started to make Santa Claus earrings. They are quite popular. Look for them to be listed in my shop very soon.

---Extra holiday cash is always great, but don’t allow yourself to get too swamped. If you know that you can’t handle any more custom orders because of your workload, decline custom order requests by politely explaining your situation. Also include that you can complete it after Christmas if it isn’t needed right away. The worst thing you can do is take on so much that you can’t get the orders out in time for Christmas. If the item is too late for the occasion it was intended for, the buyer will likely never buy from you again. This goes back to how important it is to ship as fast as possible.

---Allow time for the unexpected. If you think you can get an order out in about a week, tell the customer that it will take two weeks at most, but possibly sooner.

---Hang out on the forums as much as you can, but don’t get so absorbed in it that you forget to work on your orders. Why should you hang out in the forums? There are many great people and advice to be found there. They also have many promotion opportunities in the promotions forum. A good way to promote your shop in every forum is to have an interesting avatar, something that people are likely to click on.

---Remember to breathe. Do not panic or get overstressed. “You can’t finish orders if you are in the hospital or an asylum.” I have to tell myself that all holiday season. Take a few minutes to breathe if you feel panicked or stressed.

---For other great ideas, search “Christmas” in the forums. People are always asking for and giving advice there.


  1. Wow! Great tips! Thanks for posting this!

  2. That was an amazing post. A lot of us newbies to etsy have been wondering what to expect and you covered it all. :) I'm very grateful - thank you sweetie!