Yeah yeah, I know. It's only August. And before you know it, it will be September, Halloween, turkey coma time, and then BOOM. I don't know about you, but some of my best product ideas always seem to come to me when it's too late, and I have to shelve them until the next year. That's just one of the reasons I always recommend starting earlier than you think you need to.
The process takes longer than you think.
Let's be honest. It can take a long time from concept to reality, especially with brand new offerings. From visualization to prototype to finished product to taking photos, editing photos, writing descriptions, titles, and tags, promotion, marketing, etc. All of that takes time, which brings me to my next point.
It takes a little while to get positioned in search.
The earlier you publish a listing, the better. Views, favorites, and renewals make an incredible impact on where you rank in search, so you need to give your items time to be seen. Not ready to ship quite yet? That's totally okay.. whenever possible, offer a presale. Just make sure you're clearly communicating to your customers that it may take longer to ship that particular item than some of the others in your shop. An all caps sentence in the first line of the description is my personal fave method. Something like this: "PRESALE ALERT! PLEASE NOTE: THIS ITEM WILL BEGIN SHIPPING THE WEEK OF DECEMBER 1ST."
Don't rely on past hits.
I learned this the hard way a few years ago. I had these adorable little embroidery hoop ornaments that sold like hotcakes one year. Seriously.. I could barely keep up with the demand. The next year, I was all set to rinse and repeat.. and I think I sold three. People aren't always going to want the same things year after year. Trends change. And we have to change with them. Sure, you can absolutely offer the same things you always have, but try to expand as much as possible, too. If your customers happen to come back to see what fun, new offerings you have in store for them this season, and there aren't any, they'll quickly find a new place to shop.
You need plenty of shipping time.
Holiday mail is crazypants. The amount of packages being shipped around Christmas increases exponentially, which unfortunately means that there is a greater chance of your items taking longer than normal to get to their destinations. Combine that with the possibility of unpredictable weather and you've got yourself a hot (cold?) mess of a situation. The USPS always lists their recommended deadlines for all methods of mailing, which is a good thing to know, but keep in mind that they're not all guaranteed. I recommend setting your own deadlines a few days before theirs, giving yourself a little wiggle room while taking into consideration the amount of time it takes you to process your orders. And on that note, be sure to have those processing times clearly listed in all the right places, plus your shipping options set up to include First Class, Priority, and Express. You may also want to remind your international buyers that shipments can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks to arrive, so they'll need to plan accordingly as well.
Black Friday / Small Business Saturday / Cyber Monday are a full month before Christmas.
This is the busiest shopping weekend of the year. And by this point, Christmas decorations have been in stores for literally like 5 years already, your local easy listening radio station has switched over to the same 8 Christmas songs on repeat, and people are OFFICIALLY IN THE MOOD. If you don't have your Christmas listings in your shop by this point, you're missing a massive opportunity. Actual brick + mortar stores aren't seeing nearly the amount of foot traffic they used to, which means that online retailers are getting more and more business. Take full advantage of this.
So, have YOU started thinking about Christmas yet? What have been some of your best seasonal sellers, and what kinds of new things are you excited about listing?
Ready to get your Etsy shop in tip-top shape for the holidays? Check out my personalized shop critiques and let's make this your best Christmas ever.