Let's talk about how to get your Etsy shop or handmade business ready for the holiday season...
and no, it's never too early!
People LOVE to start shopping and browsing holiday offers early on (hello PSL season, anyone?)
Keep reading our tips on how to get ready for the holidays in your Etsy shop or you can listen to both full episodes of the podcast here:
When should you start posting holiday items?
Late October if you’re normally the girl who rushes to get anywhere on time, and right now, as early as possible if you’re the person who shows up 10 minutes early to coffee.
Seriously though, you need time to rank your keywords in the Etsy algorithm and shoppers tend to look around early and come back and buy later so it can only benefit you to start putting up your holiday gift and decoration listings and prepping for the holiday rush now.
Okay also, if you’re new to Etsy and this will be your first holiday season, buckle up.
Sales on Etsy are notoriously crazy during the time from Black Friday to Christmas. It can get overwhelming and you could run into some issues with shipping if you aren’t prepared, but we’ll share our best tips to avoid any problems this holiday season.
What should you do about gift wrapping??
You NEED to offer gift wrapping for a fee.
Pro tip: Do not offer gift wrapping for free and here’s why...it costs you money and it costs you extra time. This should not be a freebie. If you want to offer a freebie like a sticker or a small piece of jewelry in orders, that’s fine, but gift wrapping is surprisingly not as easy as it sounds and it takes up so much time.
If you’re thinking “uh, no it doesn’t, that’s easy,” and you’re laughing at us for saying that, think about the time it would add to your work day if you had to gift wrap 50 packages every single day. That time adds up quickly right?
So, charge somewhere between $2-5 for gift wrapping.
Also, it’s not enough to just post that you offer it or make it an option your Etsy customers can select. Your customers will want to see what your gift wrap looks like, what they’d be paying for if they purchased this upgrade.
You can do this by posting a picture of what your product looks like all wrapped up in paper, tissue, a box, or whatever you want to use. Put this in your 10 images and putting text on that photo that says something like “We offer gift wrap for $3!”
Or, you could make a 15 second sped up video of the gift wrapping process, which we always love.
What should you know about shipping & the holidays?? (this is a BIG one!)
Here is our best advice as top 1%-ranked Etsy sellers about shipping...
ALWAYS include tracking. Your customers should be paying for shipping with tracking. Do not just take a hit on this and lose money on it. Charge for shipping and make sure there is tracking.
Use Etsy’s integrated shipping labels to get postage discounts for your customers but also - more importantly - Etsy will automatically provide the tracking info to your customers, so it will cut out a whole step for you.
Set a holiday shipping cut off date that is the last day you will ship prior to Christmas.
So, the USPS’s postal cutoff date for delivery before Christmas is usually like Dec. 21 but it changes year to year. Just an FYI, this is not guaranteed.
So, some Etsy sellers will make their cut off dates like 1 day before the USPS date.
(I personally think this is asking for customers to hate you because you absolutely will have packages that won’t arrive on time and even though it won’t be your fault, customers will be asking you to deal with it and they may even try to get a refund if it’s lost in the mail...which you don’t have to do btw as long as you provided tracking.)
4. Put your holiday shipping cutoff date and policy in your shop announcement, your message to buyers, and we even put it in the bottom of every single product description. (You can bulk edit this and do it all at once). That way, customers can’t really say, “I didn’t know about that.”
What should you know about running sales, discounts, and promos?
The holiday season is a great time to run sales. We mentioned this in our podcast episode, “When should you run sales in your small business” so if you want a deep, deep dive into sales and promos, go listen to that episode, and we’ll link that in the show notes.
Obviously Black Friday is a great time for sales, so plan out your black friday sale in advance. Research what you want to offer, and start advertising for that sale now. You want to talk about your sale on your social media at least 5-7 times before it begins and more is better than that.
What should you do with photos for the holiday season?
If you’ve got listings with less than 10 photos, you need to maximize this with 10 high quality photos per listing.
Here’s what we recommend. Go through your shop listings and make a list of any product listings that have less than the maximum number of photos. Make yourself a checklist and then you can batchwork through that list of photos to get all of your listings up to being fully optimized.
Do you need to make sales graphics & marketing materials?
Now is a great time to create graphics for your shop on Canva.
It’s free, you can make them in your brand colors, and use them to promote your shop’s sales and products during the holiday shopping season.
Pro tip: highly recommend that you take a little bit of time to customize the template to fit your branding style, even if that's just changing the colors to match your hex color codes of your brand, rather than just literally choosing a template, editing the text, and using it as is. If you do that, it can come across as a mass-produced graphic, instead of something that matches you and your style.
All of that being said, Canva is your small biz BFF, and I would encourage you to make some graphics for the holiday season.
What do you need to know about SEO + the holidays??
It takes anywhere from 30-90, usually 60ish days, to rank keywords in the Etsy algorithm from the time you add a new product or make changes to an existing product.
So that means if you want to rank on page 1 or 2 of a search on Black Friday that means you need to get those keywords ready as soon as possible.
Remember, be niched down and specific.
It is too hard to rank for generic tags like “christmas gift” alone or “stocking” so think about how you can be more specific like “Christmas gift for police officer” or “rustic buffalo check stocking.”
Again, you also need to validate these keywords to make sure they’re something that’s actually being searched for.
If you’re wondering how to validate and find good keywords, one great software is Sale Samurai. We use this every day in our Etsy shop. Sale Samurai is an online Etsy Keyword tool that helps you:
Find good keywords
Research the price points, shipping costs, pictures, and keywords of best-selling products on Etsy. You can compare competitors shops or even individual listings to look at how your products are doing in the search algorithm compared to your competitors. There are other Etsy research tools out there but this one is hands down my favorite and, to be honest, I wish we’d had it a year ago when we started our Etsy shop.
They also have a Chrome extension, which is huge, because you can use it directly in Etsy to look at the search volume and competition for keywords.
You don’t have to brainstorm your keywords all on your own and feel overwhelmed because Sale Samurai gives you these really great keyword suggestions with things that you might not even have thought about. So, it’s super awesome. This tool is $9.99/month, which is less than most of us spend on lunch out somewhere just one time, so it’s really affordable and a smart investment in your business.
We’re sharing a special discount for our Studio Sisters audience - because you all are amazing!!!
How to not go insane during the busy holiday season??
It is easy to get stressed, tired, and overwhelmed in a busy Etsy season. We’ve had times where we had to work 14 or 16 hour days in our shop. We’ve had times where customers’ messages just felt overwhelming.
So, here are some ideas for setting boundaries:
Set your holiday cutoff date. Take a break, extend out your processing times on your shop to ship after Christmas (don’t use vacation mode) and go enjoy the holidays with the people you care about.
Take personal days. Take a day or two off each week where you don’t work in your shop. Maybe it’s both Sat-Sun or just Saturdays, but you are not obligated to answer customer messages on the weekends or ship Etsy orders on Saturdays.
Set a stopping time at the end of the day. Maybe that’s 5 pm or 10 pm, whatever it is, don’t go past that time.
Work ahead now. Schedule out social media posts, make extra inventory of products that you know are best sellers.
What else can you do to have the BEST possible holiday small business season?
Support other small businesses!
One of the greatest things you could do right now to show gratitude for your own business’s sales and successes is to take the time to support other small and handmade businesses online this holiday season.
We try to make it a point to shop small wherever we can when shopping for gifts.
As an artist, I know what it can mean to get that sale, and I want to spread the cheer and make another creators day by purchasing from them when I can instead of a big box store.
I also think it can make the gift you’re giving to your friend or camily member that much more meaningful.
And - we truly believe...the more you support other makers, the more you are manifesting those sales for your shop as well.
Ready for the next step?