I know it's hard to think about the holiday selling season when you are enjoying the lazy days of summer, but now is actually the perfect time to get started. Getting ready for the holidays may seem like a big nebulous goal and you aren't sure where to start - aside from pulling out snowflake beads. I'm going to offer some tips for coming up with a plan to help reduce stress and increase sales when October finally arrives and people are starting their holiday shopping. Here are some tasks to add to your to-do list over these last few weeks of summer.
Start with the end in mind. Set a sales goal for yourself. It can be monthly or for the entire holiday season. It can be scary, it's okay to think big. Look at your sales from last year and set a realistic goal, but one that stretches your ambition. Break your goal down into weekly sales and decide how many pieces you need to have in your inventory to reach that goal.
Create Your Collections
Even if you only make one of a kind pieces you can start now by building up your inventory. I would encourage you to make collections of jewelry, just like a fashion designer would. Make designs that you can easily replicate, change out the focal bead or color scheme if you don't want to make exactly the same thing. Spend a day sketching out your ideas.
Take a look at fashion trends for Fall and Winter to find some timely inspiration. Look in current magazines and catalogs for upcoming trends as a starting point.
Pantone's Fall Color Report
Start stocking up on basic supplies when things go on sale. Make sure you subscribe to your favorite shops' newsletters to take advantage of their sales. Or consider buying wholesale as much as possible to help improve your bottom line.
Where to Sell
Decide where to sell. If you don't have an online shop and sell mostly at shows, consider opening a shop now and add items weekly. Don't wait until October to set up shop online, start now and build your customer base so when the holidays roll around you'll have people who have already had a great shopping experience with you. You won't feel like you are learning all the ins and outs of selling online when you are busy with the holiday rush.
I would also suggest finding a holiday art show or two and apply for them. Do this today, as deadlines may be fast approaching. If you have missed a deadline, give the show promoter a call and see if you can be put on a wait list. You never know until you ask.
Make plans now to host a holiday open house. You might consider pairing up with a few other artists or indie biz owners and plan a group show together. Start now by collecting names and emails at local shows to invite your customers to this event.
Approach new shops and galleries now to carry your work. Don't wait until the holidays, they will have already purchased their inventory. Also if you are in a few shops already, set up a time to show them your fall and holiday collection before the end of the summer.
If you aren't collecting emails for a newsletter, start that today. You can use free services like MailChimp or a paid service like Vertical Response. Schedule to send out a newsletter monthly or bi-monthly.
Set up social media accounts if you don't have them already - Twitter, a Facebook page for your business and a blog are the three big ones. Have a neglected blog? Take steps now to spruce it up and build up your readership. Learn these three basics and build up your following slowly over the next few months. You'll be glad you did! If that seems overwhelming then pick one and learn the basics. Read articles online on how to use these sites to promote your business in a non-spammy way. There is a right and wrong way to use social media. I recommend the blog ebooks from Crafty Pod. I took a blog class with Diane last year and it's really worth the investment.
Research your advertising options on popular blogs. Contact blogs to introduce yourself. Set up cross promotions with other blogs, like interviewing each other or doing giveaways.
Read the archives on Modish Biz Tips for helpful advice for any of these areas. Subscribe to Handmadeology for great tips on selling on Etsy. And for great business tips subscribe to Crafting an MBA and check out the resources on the website.
Come up with a holiday sales plan and work it now so that when the holidays are actually here you can enjoy the festivities instead of feeling like you are spinning your wheels trying to catch up!
-Heather Powers is the editor of the Art Bead Scene and the creative force behind Humblebeads.com.