Shalana, the Funky Felter, offered to share this article with us here at Fiber Focus. It is also running in her blog, The Funky Felters News and Tips. Shalana is a seller on Etsy and a member of our Fiber Focus ning group where many of us are sellers on Etsy, eBay or through other venues. The photos in the article are her felt products, most of which are available in her Etsy store. Click on the image and it will take you to the listing. Thank you for sharing these great tips with us, Shalana!
"Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the . . ." Wait a minute! Does it seem a little too early to be singing a Holiday song. Considering that the weather where I live is still frightfully hot, I'd say "YES!" - but if you're the owner of a small arts and crafts business, you know that it is prime time to start preparing for the Holiday selling season. If you haven't already been hurriedly creating new things and getting ready for those Holiday shoppers, then you should be. It is not too late though! Below you'll find a few of my personal tips on how to get ready for a (hopefully) big Holiday rush of shoppers.
Ready, Get Set, GO!
1. Spiffy up Your Etsy Shop and Other Online Venues
Make sure that your overall shop is looking its very best! If you need to, invest in a new banner and avatar for your Etsy shop. Check out my previous article post to find some free banners or buy one from an Etsy seller. You might even get festive and have a special Holiday banner and avatar. And, let your product photos speak for themselves and be at their absolute best because that is going to be your potential buyer's first impression. Also, be sure to have clearly defined shop policies and a nice, friendly profile. It is all those little details that add up to make your shop be as professional and welcoming as possible.
2. Stock Your Shop! And have more inventory on hand . . .
Because you just never know! Not only do you not know how many potential sales you might make, but you also don't know what kind of Holiday busyness will get in the way so that you don't have time to create new things. Stocking your shop and preparing item photos and descriptions early will make it easy to list new items when you're busy with other things this Fall/Winter. Now is the time to stock your online shop as well as stash some inventory away. Personally, I like to have 100+ items listed in my Etsy shop and some waiting in the wings to replace those that sell. It may seem like a lot to some, but the more items that you have, the more chances there are for you to be found in the pile of listings that are added each day on Etsy.
3. Organize Your Shipping and Packaging
This is perhaps what caught me by surprise last year, but this year, I'm going to be prepared! If you print your labels via PayPal and use Priority Mail boxes and envelopes provided by the US Post Office, that can make things a bit easier when it comes to mailing. Also, if you are a large volume seller (or a small one who doesn't like hassle), you might consider paying for a mail service like Endicia or Stamps, but I've heard mixed reviews about both of them so do a little research before you invest in such a service. Personally, I'm an old-fashioned girl when it comes to mailing. I like to print my own return address labels and write or print my shipping labels too. I also trek down to the local post office (yes, in person) and mail off my orders. Since I am so hands on about it all, I try to keep my packing/shipping area organized. I print several return labels at once to have on hand as well as keep my mailing envelopes and boxes in open face plastic bins for easy access. I also have my jewelry boxes, organza bags, and pretty gift wrapping supplies in similar easy access bins. I just finished ordering some mailers from my current favorite place to buy, Upaknship. You can also find good packaging supply deals on Ebay - yep, you heard me right - Ebay! And, don't forget to recycle! I always recycle whatever packing supplies that I can. It is an all-around good thing when you recycle! By the way, here's a great little article by The Worsted Witch on eco-friendly mailers so check it out for ideas.
4. Advertise, Market, and Publicize! Get the word out people!
Buy some online and print advertising on blogs/sites and in magazines that pertain to your target market. Also indie shopping guides are a great thing to take part in to boost your exposure. You can find good advertising space in all price ranges. Read more about all of this in my Online Advertising post. Also, tell your friends, family, and coworkers about your shop, and tell them to tell others! If you don't already, post in forums regularly as well as keep up with your social networking sites because there will be a lot more people trolling the internet for presents this Fall/Winter. There are many, many ways to promote so take advantage of every avenue that is available to you!
5. Pursue off-line selling too! Craft fairs and local events!
I must admit that I'm so much more comfortable sitting in my pj's and selling online from the luxuries of my own home, but it does pay to get out and do some fairs, festivals, and events. Often times, I have seen sellers make more at one show than they would make in a month or more selling online - especially during Holiday shopping season. It is not too late to seek out local venues in your area. Try checking these sites to see what's going on in your area: Indie Craft Fair Guide, Festival Network, Indie Craft Shows, Craft Lister, and Luna Craft. And, even if you aren't planning on selling at a local event, visit a few to buy your own Holiday gifts and support local area artists and crafters.
Finally, I just want to remind you to continue to create and do things as usual - don't get lost in all the hubbub of the Holiday selling season. After all, hopefully you have a shop and sell your creations because you love what you make first, then the sales and money that come along with it.
Original article by Shalana, the funky felter. Please take a minute to visit her blog and Etsy shop. Shalana is a fiber artist specializing in traditional feltmaking who also writes about her endeavors as an independent craft business owner.