by Lynn S. Schwebach
For those of us who spent the last few months of summer creating, designing and building, we now must prepare for the roller coaster of upcoming holiday sales and promotions.
This is the point—early September—where we shine our shops, polish our sale skills, and attractively merchandise our products. I know. I can hear the moans. Why now? Summer isn’t quite over. Christmas merchandise invades our consciousness way too early.
Relax. I’m not talking about putting up your Christmas tree, or turning on the Christmas music. I’m suggesting you start preparing, so that when it’s time—in about one to two months, your well planned holiday organizing spares you a panic attack.
Here are the top 5 things I have been doing to get my shop ready for the holidays.
- Research keywords you use for search engine optimization (SEO), and keep track of what holiday keywords you need to change for what items. Thanks to the program Marmalead, which I wrote about in two previous articles, (“Inside Advice for Powerful Keywords” and “Three Great Tools for Etsy Sellers”)this just got a whole lot easier. This program gets better by the day. Marmalead now offers a fantastic, intuitive tool within its program called Seasonal Keywords with Marmalead Forecasting. When you open up the Search function and type in a keyword, a beautiful graph appears showing you how that term has performed over the past year, and its forecast performance for the next few months. And it’s a graph that you don’t need advanced statistics to understand. Check your keywords today and see if there are any that might need to change to pull in more holiday traffic. (If you sell over 100 items, you might need to start changing some of those keywords soon!) Christmas gifts is an obvious, well used keyword. But what about elf, snowman, discounts, holiday promotion, or holiday cards? What about garland, clip art, or boyfriend? The point is that there are some keywords you won’t use all year but you need to use for this season.
- Clean your office, studio, and storage space. This might seem ridiculous, and I haven’t seen it on any other “advice for online holiday selling” websites, but for me, cleaning my studio last week took a lot of clutter out of my brain. And that clutter has created space for everything else that needs to get done. After a summer in the studio painting, my art space turned into a mass of uncontrollable crap. I could not find a single thing. It made creating difficult. That’s when I knew it was time to clean and organize. I started a “to do” list and having organized myself, that list now didn’t seem unmanageable. I still have to tackle the storage space, but getting the studio in order motivated me to do the next clean up chore.
- Look at your Etsy photos, and decide if they make YOU want to buy YOUR product. Keywords will get customers to a product in your shop, but the photograph will motivate customers to buy. If it doesn’t look good, you need to redo the photo. Remember that this is an ongoing task. I have retaken photos so many times, and tried different angles, lighting schemes, and compositions. Sometimes as I’m shopping or browsing online, I’ll see ideas for product shots I hadn’t thought of—the ones that made me stop and pay attention—and want to buy. Use those ideas in your own product photos! Marmalead’s articles on photographing products are excellent. See “6 Tips for Photographing Large Items on Etsy,” and “7 Tips for Taking Great Etsy Photos.”
- Give to a charity. The holidays are all about giving, so this a perfect time of year to partner with a charity. Start looking now and contacting the nonprofits that fit with your business or which you feel passionate about. Do not do this for public relations. Do this because you feel a commitment to whatever cause you feel needs help, support, and attention. It usually takes several weeks to get the paperwork established to support a charity through a percentage of business sales, so start now!
- Create a Christmas-themed site. Just as brick and mortar stores decorate to add a festive feeling, so can Etsy sellers. I have not done this before but I am considering it this year by adding a festive banner to my site. For more details about holidayizing (yes, I made up that word) your site, along with more great ideas, see “6 Ways to Get Your Website Ready for Holiday Traffic.” The article discusses websites in general, but much of it also applies to Etsy shops. So start creating that Christmas banner to upload as the season approaches!
Now take a few breaths and relax. Planning is the way to sail through the months ahead. Start another “to do” list for October, and one for early November. Stay organized and not only will your store benefit, but you and your psyche will benefit. And you will enjoy the holidays with your friends and family as well—which is the true meaning of the season ahead.
For some fun “out-of-the-box” gift wrapping ideas (that also recycle items from your studio and craft bin) see my article “Gift Wrapping Ideas.”
To visit my Etsy shop, go to Schwebach Arts on Etsy.
To visit my fine art website, go to Schwebach Arts.