Top 10 tips for a successful holiday Etsy season without going insane

Posted By on Sep 17, 2012 in Creative Business, Self-care

I know it’s only mid-September, but all you Etsy sellers and makers out there know: now begins the holiday scramble. There are craft fairs and holiday rushes to prepare for. Not to mention your own holiday travel plans, meal preparations, gift buying. I’m exhausted just thinking about it; how about you?

Take a deep breath, count to ten, and let’s make a plan.

The most important thing about this time of year is to start preparing as early as possible. Make a plan and stick with it. There will be may be life things or new opportunities that come up. That’s all well and good, but you can’t do everything. Try to stick to your plan OR if you need to add in something else, make sure you take something out.

Here’s what you need to do:

Make small, inexpensive, and impersonal products for gifts.
Most pre-holiday gift buying is people looking for gifts. Give the people what they want! If your items are on the higher end, brainstorm pared-down, cheaper versions of your existing items. Here are a few ideas:

  • Handbags: mini-pouches, key fobs, wristlets
  • Jewelry: pared down versions (less baubles, charms, etc) of your usual necklaces, rings, or earrings, key chains, bookmarks
  • Paper goods: digital printable cards, blank cards/stationery sets, pocket mirrors, bottle openers, post card
  • Apparel: scarves, bracelets, hats & mittens, belts, pouches, tote bags, organizers

The other important element of this item is to make sure that the items are (relatively) universally appealing. Let’s face it: we all have people we just don’t know what to get. You want to appeal to these people. Keep it simple and useful.

Plan your needed inventory NOW! … and how you’ll make it without going insane.
You need a game plan on creating your inventory. Here’s how;

  1. Make a guess at how much you’ll need and add in a bit of a cushion.
  2. List out the date of events you’ll be attending and upcoming, gift-giving holidays.
  3. List out all of your holiday events
  4. Make a plan of how much you’ll need to make each week to have enough for each event. Give yourself some cushion too.
  5. Plan to make higher-priced at the beginning and towards the end. Focus on smaller, less expensive items in the middle (or when you have a fair coming up.)
  6. If you make custom items, decide how much lead time you need for each item. Add extra cushion for this time of year and take into account your weekly making goals. Create a cut-off date for items for each holiday AND a total number of custom orders you can reasonably take on.
Prepare pre-holiday promotions to attract gift-givers.
People like a bargain. Give ’em what they want. But first, know what a reasonable sale is for you — make sure you are making a profit. Here are a few ideas:

  • BOGO: Buy one, get one half off.
  • Free shipping
  • Discounts on orders of $X or more
  • Sets of items that are a bit cheaper when purchased together
  • Discounts on bulk items — this is especially great for stocking stuffers.
Prepare post-holiday promotions to attract money-receivers.
Somebody will always give money as a gift … or a crappy gift that needs to be returned. Prepare for buyers with money burning a hole in their pocket. Black Friday and post-Christmas sales are for crafters too!
Stick with what you do best!

I know I said you should make smaller, cheaper items … and you should! But don’t go crazy and try to offer a million new products or customize everything for the holidays. You are who you are and who you are is awesome.
Don’t completely neglect higher priced items

Early on in the holiday season, you want to get on people’s “wish lists.” If fact, you want to market and promote so you get on those wish-lists. Later on in the holiday season, you want to be on their mind for those money gifts.
Offer gift-wrapping and other gift-specific extras.
People are lazy … especially me and especially when it comes to gift-wrapping. Particularly, for online sellers, offering to gift wrap and mail the item to the recipient (especially for last-minute orders) can be a huge selling point. Here are some ideas:

  • Plan out your wrapping paper — do you want to go plain Kraft paper? Holiday specific? If your going for holiday, pick a few designs for each and stick to them?
  • Show them what it’ll look like — not everyone will care, but some people will.
  • Can you team up with a Stationary seller to include their gift cards for extra charge? This can be a great cross-promotional strategy.
  • Offer to handwrite a note with a gift-message. People love personalization! If you don’t have great hand-writing, find someone who does.
  • Are there any little gifty extras you can add in? Stock stuffers? Useful, promotional items?
  • Any other cross-promotions you can do? Kitchen items + Baked goods or recipes. Jewelry + Scarves or make-up. Soap dish + soap. Stationary + pens, pouches, or containers. Remember: you have to ask … and eventually someone will say yes.
  • Can you create gift baskets with your things + another sellers or some bulk items from Amazon and wrap it up really pretty? Do it.
Offer holiday specific packaging.
Whatever your usual, beautiful packaging, offer a Christmas or Hanukkah or New Years version. Or just add some sparkle. Either way, spruce it up and shout about it.
Update your inventory regularly
Make sure your shop stays fresh so holiday shoppers who have you on your list have more to see each time they come back. It also inspires confidence that you can get the job done at this special, frantic time of year.
Take a break. You can’t do it all and trying will drive you crazy.
Things will get hectic and crazy. You need to take care of yourself and only take on what you can handle. The key to doing that is to know what you can handle. You’re taking that first step now. Make a plan. Stick with it. Take out stuff if you need to add other things. If you get overwhelmed, ask yourself “What is the one thing I can right now, for 5 minutes to move me forward?” then do that thing.

What are you doing to prepare for the holiday rush?

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