Sunday, September 27, 2009

Online Sellers, Start Your Engines: Are You Ready?

It is hard to believe that October is knocking at our door this week! Although I plan ahead for the holidays, it always creeps up on me! Are you ready? For artists and crafters who are online sellers, it is especially important to be organized.

Many of us work day jobs and work our online business in the extra hours. Others of us have children and families that need our time, over and above our shops. Therefore, we must be organized. Here is a checklist to help you. See if you are ready for the holiday rush!

First, take a deep breath. Think about what you want to accomplish this holiday, both for business and family. Write all of it down on paper. Then, start crossing off some things. Be realistic with your time. The holidays are the busiest for your shop AND for your family. Don't shortchange both by taking on too much! Here is your list for your business!


For a printable copy of IndieCEO's Holiday Checklist for download - click here.


Product

  • Determine the designs you need to start to create or finish before Oct. 30
  • Plan to expand your inventory in numbers - 50 to 100 items is a good start, more is better
  • Add a "stocking stuffer" product line that is lower priced - create many and promote them heavily for increasing visitor traffic to your shop
  • Order all supplies needed for these designs (mailing times and availability may be limited during the holidays for urgent orders later)
  • If you exhibit and sell at craft shows this time of year - take that into consideration for product inventory volume for your online shops - don't be caught short with your online inventory
  • Schedule on your calendar, "appointments" to create and finish your designs, photography, and listing - help family to understand that these are real business appointments - even if it is 1 hour a day

Shipping

  • Order shipping materials - bubble mailers, boxes
  • Obtain the Priority shipping boxes from your post office NOW (if you use them) - availability will be limited later
  • Obtain a stack custom forms from your post office now - may not be available later
  • Check your label paper or sticky paper stock for printing out PayPal shipping labels
  • Check your shipping tape stock
  • Design and order or print/cut the components for your product's finished presentation - jewelry boxes, organza gift bags, earring cards, ribbons, stickers, etc...

Packaging

  • Will you add a free gift or sample in your orders? If so, plan now to make or buy
  • Will you be offering holiday wrapping? Figure that process out - pricing, how to list, etc...

Online Shop

  • If you sell on multiple venues, decide strategically where you will post your product lines - you may want some of each type of product on all venues or you may want to keep the venue shops more specialized - just know what you are doing
  • Create your shop announcement now while your head is clear and not rushed - keep until you are ready to post
  • Tweak your shop's policies. Be sure they are clear, especially return/exchange policies
  • Tweak your shop's "About Me" page - update it for fresh content
  • Tweak your shipping profiles - at least check them out for accuracy
  • Determine a "buy by date" for receipt of items by December 22nd or earlier and add to your shop announcement, policy page, and all your listing
  • Retake photos that are gray-ish or not so good - re-stage older product - it will make them look like new listings

Marketing, Advertising, Promotion

  • Order business cards, post cards, thank you cards, etc... now (to include in your packages and to hand out)
  • Design, print, and cut anything you need, such as earring cards, backing for cello bags, etc…
  • Decide on any sale incentives - sales, discounts, incentives (BOGO, etc...), free shipping
  • Do you send customers holiday cards? If so, organize now, address envelopes, or if ecards, gather email addresses
  • Do you send out holiday newsletters? If so, organize now by writing the content, getting the format design completed, and gather email addresses
  • Write up your holiday sale incentives marketing blurbs and decide where and how you will post or distribute (blogs, Ning, shop announcements, twitter, Facebook, ProjectWonderful, advertising, etc...)
  • If advertising online, create your graphics especially for the holidays
  • Prepare fliers or post cards with these incentives - to drop off around town locally
  • If you are on a venue like Etsy, determine your relist budget for November and December - you may want to bump up the number of times during the holidays
  • On the venues where you sell - look into in-house holiday promotional opportunities offered - make decisions on budget
  • Always have business cards with your online URL with you and hand them out freely during the holidays - these could have your incentive on the back if you wish
  • Give business cards to friends to hand out during the holidays

The Most Important of All!

  • Put on your Santa hat, grab a cigar, and have a hot toddy and holiday cookies!


Wishing you the very best selling season - ever!

~Linda




17 comments:

  1. thank you, thank you, thank you for this list! I'm still breaking into my new job, planning a wedding and getting Etsy ready for holiday business. This will help me ease into it! THANKS!!

    - Maria
    www.mariaracines.com

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  2. This is a terrific checklist! Thanks for sharing it!

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  3. I think your check list is quite wonderful so thank you! I'm printing it now in order to customize and prioritize....really appreciate your organization skills here!

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  4. You're brilliant. THANK YOU for saving my sanity this season, I like this list a lot.

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  5. Wow. What a fabulous list. I may have to link to it.

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  6. Awesome check list, thank you so much! I posted about this on my blog, spreading the word.
    baralitten.blogspot.com

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  7. What a great great article. Thanks so much for that!

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  8. Thank you. I am sharing the list with my etsy friends.

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  9. Thanks for thinking ahead for us and reminding us to get our butts in gear!

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  10. Thank you so much. That information was extremely helpful. I am new to etsy and this will be my first holiday posting. This information is exactly what I needed. Thanks Again.
    Shelley:)

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  11. Terrific list! Thank you for sharing it with us :)
    Merry Christmas to all!
    Cheers,
    Nathalie

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  12. A lot to think about... Thanks for the little nudge to get things in order now!!

    Love the list!

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  13. Great, great, great information. I am working on my cuff design as I visit blogs... Now after reading your info I'm going to make a holiday ring as well....for those stockings!

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  14. You all are busy elves right now. Thanks for the comments!

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  15. I feel lucky to have randomly stumbled upon your blog. This list is fantastic, especially to someone like me, opening my first shop just in time for this busy season. Any extra tips for newbies?

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  16. Have I already said I love this list? I think it will also customize well for the big craft fairs season coming up.

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