Holiday Season Prep: How to Prepare Your Business for the Holiday Season
With fall just around the corner, it’s time to get the business and shop into holiday season prep mode. As an online shop owner this is the time of the year when things can definitely get busier. I was in business over the holiday season last year, however I was just starting out. Last year I only had a few digital items in my shop plus I attended one local holiday bazaar where I sold only cards and prints. So while I have a little bit of experience over the holidays I am looking forward to how this year will be different. And since I’m hoping to be a lot busier I am getting all my ducks in a row now by planning everything I can.
Here is the holiday season prep plan I am going to follow this year. Hopefully this will also help you out whether you might be entering the holiday season as a newbie or would just like a few extra tips to be ready this year!
First off you need to plan ahead for holiday season prep, this is a no brainer. If you wait until the season hits then you’re already behind. You should really be planning your new products and designs months in advance that way you have time to launch them properly. This is especially important with Etsy and SEO since it can take time for your new items to be found by searching. I have the full breakdown I plan to follow at the end of this post after the rest of the tips.
As you start to plan for the new season you should do some research and take a look at trends. This is a good way to see what will most like sell and be popular. There are a ton of ways to research and it really depends on your target audience and what type of product you sell. However there are a few sites that are good overall markers, including a brand new feature from Marmalead that is super fun to explore.
Marmalead is what I use to really amp up my Etsy SEO and is a trial-and-error process of testing and tweaking. However, they did just add a brand new feature on seasonality and forecasting which shows a keyword’s trend over time and future trajectory. This is really helpful since a lot of the items I have in my shop I didn’t have last holiday season and therefore do not have my own previous data to compare.
Google trends is a great tool plus it’s free! Currently my favorite feature is being able to see the 5 year chart so I can really see what trajectory an item is on. For example I can look at a keyword and see if it spikes seasonally or if it’s something that was trendy for a hot minute and is now on a downward trend.
The last general trend research page I tend to give a glance is on Etsy itself. It’s a bit more broad and not a search tool but it does give some good information and at least gives me something to think about for upcoming product designs even if it’s not completely holiday related.
This is also a good time of the year to see what you have in stock if you have inventory. If you don't then you can still use this time to review your shop closely and see what is selling and what is not. This will give you a nudge in the right direction for adding new items to your shop. Also if you need to make space for new products you can always do an end of the season flash sale to clear out existing products before the start of a new season.
So the saying goes “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” or something like that. It is the same with new products. Advertising is a must since you don’t want all of you holiday season prep and new products to go unnoticed. There are a few ways to go about this. I tend to focus on making sure my email tribe knows what’s going on with my shop while also updating my social media accounts. I like to start early with teasers and sneak peaks to get others interested in what’s coming. I also do behind the scenes blog posts on the designs and holiday shopping round ups. One other big way to get noticed is to really step up your Pinterest game! I use Tailwind (referral link) and am still exploring tribes and group boards to help more people find new products and designs as they become available.
This is really a whole separate post in itself, so I will keep this section short and go more in depth at a later time. But if you are attending local markets, craft fairs, holiday bazaars, etc. then you definitely need to prepare for them ahead of time. I have sold at a holiday bazaar in the past and did a lot of research and prep work which paid off, plus I learned a lot to help with future ones I attend. Here are the main things to think about if you have one of these on the calendar:
- Display setup
- Email list sign up
- Business Cards
- Inventory list plus product catalog incase you run out of anything
- The way you take money and give receipts
Lastly while you are knee deep in holiday season prep, just breathe through it all and make sure to take care of yourself! It can be stressful enough at the holiday times with your personal life, let alone adding on the extra stress of running a small business that you want (need) to succeed. So make sure to not get too overwhelmed by continuing your routine, planning ahead, taking breaks, and anything else you need to enjoy the process. Also don’t be afraid to ask for help, if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that you don’t have to do it all all by yourself!
Here is a breakdown of how to space out your holiday season prep, which you can customize based on how much time you actually have and how long it takes you to complete each part. I have it broke down into 30 day chunks but I know some people will start the holiday work a year in advance, so it really is what works best for you and it will take time and multiple selling seasons to really get down a routine that is best, so just keep going and tweak as needed!
120 Days in Advance:
- Researching new product ideas and trends
- Poll your audience for ideas
- Decide on what new products
- Design like crazy, this is the fun part!
90 Days in Advance:
- Finalize new designs
- Start writing the online listings
- Research SEO and keywords
- Order inventory if you keep it stocked
- Create social media graphics
- Start dropping hints of new designs
- Photograph samples for the listings and advertising
60 Days in Advance:
- Make sure you have all of your inventory ready to go
- Add new listings to online shop
- Start posting on social media
- Email your people and let them know your holiday shop is now open!
30 Days in Advance:
- Check in with inventory levels and order more if necessary
- Continue to post in various social media accounts about your holiday line
- Inform audience about shipping deadlines
- Send reminder emails to your tribe
- Blog about your items
- Create a holiday round up with your new products plus other products you think your readers will also love!
- Watch the sales roll in!