Step one: Have a plan
Whether you are Type A or Type Z, planning can be daunting.
Sometimes we are afraid that if we make a plan that we will just disappoint ourselves. Other times the planning seems so overwhelming that we just decide to skip it. If we don’t set our sights high, we won’t fail, right? Wrong. It’s that exact lack of planning that causes our ultimate dissatisfaction. Making a plan doesn’t have to be hard; it just needs to be done.
First step in making a plan is finding a little free time. We know what it’s like to have toddlers running around and demanding things while you are trying to get something done. It’s not the best creative environment. We also know that you don’t always have the luxury to get away. Your getaway might be a day at a coffee shop, or a nap time on the couch, don’t overcomplicate it.
Get It All Out
One of our favorite ways to dream is to just “idea vomit” onto paper. Every idea that comes to mind (good, bad, doesn’t matter!) put it down. Write it, draw it, whatever way you’d like; just get it out of your head. You will be surprised at what you can come up with.
Too many times we have seen shops overload their holiday schedules and end up having to work during their family vacations or apologize for late shipments because they didn’t account for being out of town. Thanksgiving and Christmas come every year, so don’t let them sneak up on you. Your family should never be put second. Plan those days now and avoid missing pumpkin pie because you were stuck sewing in your basement.
Yes, right now. It’s never too early. The holiday season is a handmade shop’s busiest and most exciting time of the year. Start designing that new t-shirt, creating that perfect holiday scent, or sewing that Christmas garland. Get excited about it, and your customers will, too!
Start at your deadlines and work backwards. Example: Your product needs to be shipped no later than Dec 14. It takes 4 days to make your product; so Christmas order cut off is Dec 10. You want to take pre-orders for 3 weeks; so pre-order release is Nov 19th. You want to advertise the pre-order for a week before it opens; Nov 12. You need photographs of your products ready for advertising; so take photographs Nov 6. You need to make the product for photographs; Nov 1. You need to order supplies 2 weeks before that; Oct 18th. You can see from this example how easily you could get overwhelmed and behind schedule without a plan. A single Christmas product needs to be started at least 2 months out, and that’s not even including any dreaming time!
STEP TWO: PROMOTE, promote, promote
“If you have something important to say or sell, you need a platform.” - Michael Hyatt
The handmade world has room for everyone. This is great news, but also means that surely there is someone else out there doing what you do. And that’s okay! But, before you can start yelling off of the rooftops, you need to make sure you are in the right city. Advertising your handmade baby products on a wedding blog, or promoting your dog collars to a kids clothing audience probably isn’t going to get you a great return. You need to be intentional and know your target shopper. Here are a few easy ways to get your shop noticed:
Share For Share
You aren’t in this alone. The handmade community, as a whole, is a really loving and supportive community. Contact a fellow shop owner who has around the same number of followers as you (remember, you want it to be someone that is targeting the same audience) and ask if you can swap shout outs. This is super simple and most shops will jump at the opportunity for free, win-win advertising. Advanced Hint: Make sure to tell the shop you are sharing with what you would like them to share. Even giving them a text write up can be helpful for both shops!
Loops are a great way to get a lot of new followers to your Instagram account. You can host one yourself, or join up with someone who is hosting. Shoppers will have to follow your account and like your photo to enter. This also is a big plus with Instagram’s new algorithm! The more likes/comments on your photos, the more they will be seen! Insider Access: If we didn't believe that what we offered was really helping others, we wouldn't keep doing it! That said, we host 2-3 loop give aways each month that bring our participating shops hundreds of new followers. Planning one of our loops around the time of your holiday launch is a GREAT idea! We will fill up quick though, so don't wait! Sign up here >>
Holiday Gift Guides
Some people want to shop handmade, but don’t know where to start. Bloggers and different popular Instagram accounts do a great job creating holiday gift guides which will highlight different products for different recipients and link to where you can buy those items! Paying for a feature in a gift guide can really help boost exposure to audiences ready to buy!
Another great, easy way to get exposure is to send out free product to popular accounts and ask them to share the product on their social media accounts in return for the item. All you have to do is ask. Sure, some may say no…but some will say yes! Getting your product featured on a popular blog or Instagram account can be huge for handmade shops. Also, make sure to plan WAY ahead for this one. You will want to give the recipient time to receive, use, photograph and promote your product. Advanced Hint: Let them know when you are going to be releasing your product and ask them to post their photo/review on a specific date to correspond with your release.
STEP THREE: FINISH STRONG
Don’t stop short.
You have created an amazing product, styled it, marketed it AND sold it! Now it’s time to follow through to the end. Don’t underestimate the power of finishing strong.
Packaging is a great way to wow your customer. Especially during the holidays! If the gift they ordered from your shop comes wrapped and ready to put under the tree, you just earned a lot of brownie points! Another great way to wow is to include a freebie! Send a couple fun temporary tattoos with your kids products. Send a sample of your newest lotion with your all natural bath and body products. Even a piece of candy can put a smile on someone’s face and help them remember your shop the next time they are shopping for a gift.
Go The Extra Mile
Include a discount for their next purchase. This is a must. They already love your product, so adding in an exclusive discount is the extra push they need to ensure they coming back for more! Go shopping! Find some packaging that compliments your product and will wow your customer. Have fun and remember to keep it holiday appropriate!
Video Lesson With Kim Gallagher
Grab a notebook, a comfy chair, and a cup of coffee while you watch this month's video lesson from holiday sales expert, Kim Gallagher! Don't forget to say hello to Kim over at @galladoodle. Love her prints as much as we do? One lucky HelloLoveHandmade member will win a CUSTOM print from Kim next week in our challenge. Stay tuned for more details. :)
It's Homework Time!
1. (If you haven't already) Watch Kim's Video on how she prepares for and plans out the holiday season for her shop, @galladoodle.
2. Grab some paper and a pen (or chalkboard. whiteboard, construction paper. (MUST be physical, writing things down with your hands is shown to use the creative side of your brain!) and write down your shop's holiday plan.
Take a quick snapshot of your plan and post it in the comments below the pinned video we posted on Facebook.