I hope that you all had a profitable Christmas time, despite the awful postage issues in many places. 2020 was a very strange time for many people. A lot of people started new craft selling businesses – and others closed theirs due to lack of sales or difficulty in fulfilling orders and posting.
As we start 2021, here is a list of 10 things you can do to give your craft selling business a little boost and help get the new year off to a flying start.
1 – Do supplies, stock and packaging audits
It is not always easy to keep up to date on inventory when one is busy making and packaging lots of Christmas orders. Take the chance now to properly audit your supplies, ready made stock and packaging materials.
Restock what you will need, and make notes in your planner/diary if there are supplies that you will need to order in plenty of time for next year.
Be sure your supplies and stock are safely stored and that you can find them quickly and easily when needed.
2 – Look at what sold well etc and make notes for next year
Have a good look at your stats over the Christsmas period. What were your best sellers?
Did you receive any useful feedback about your Christmas lines? Look at it now to see what you can do more of, or improve on, next year.
Were certain times of the week, or day, busier for sales than others? This could be useful info for timing social media and new listings.
When did your sales start increasing… and decreasing? Whilst every year is a little different, and some years, like 2020, were affected by unusual situations, noting this sort of information now may help you be better prepared next year.
3 – Take time to record what else you have learnt
Thinking back on what you have learnt over the busy period can really help you in the future, and is well worth spending a little time on it now.
What did you struggle with? Looking back, is there anything you could have done to improve the situation?
Do you think you may have missed some opportunities that you can now, with hindsight, see?
For example, if you listed your Christmas baubles in mid September, and immediately started getting sales, it may be worth listing them a bit earlier next year.
Did potential customers ask for anything you couldn’t offer, but may be able to in future years? For example, if you had created lots of Christmas themed hats in red and green, but you had requests for blue and white versions.
Were there things that you could have prepared for in advance to make life easier? For example, if you had a lot of people wanting their purchases in your optional gift box, would making up some gift boxes in advance speed up things later on?
Did you learn any little tricks that it would be worth noting down? You can refresh your mind with these in the run up to next year’s holiday season.
4 – Be sure you have saved the stats you will need next year
Recording stats such as income, sales of particular lines, number of visitors, favourites and so on can be very useful for comparing with other years.
This info becomes more and more useful as the years go by.
Many sellers like to set themselves targets of beating the previous years sales or revenue (see more on this in number 9).
If you don’t already use Google Analytics on your store or website, consider linking it now so you can benefit from the significant amount of data it offers next year. This includes demographics such as the average age and interests of shoppers.
5 – Make sure left-over stock and supplies are safely stored away
If you are not going to be selling Christmas lines throughout the year, make sure they are stored safely.
Also be sure they are stored somewhere you can find them again next year. I have more than once read posts in the Etsy forums from sellers who know that last year they put away some particular Christmassy products – and now they can’t find them again!
Make a note in your planner or notebook of where they are – and definitely label any boxes or bags!
If you have Christmas related materials and packaging supplies these should also be carefully stored and labelled.
6 – Reassess
The New Year is a traditional time to reassess things so you can move forward in the best possible way.
There are many tools and products that we use day in, day out and never stop to assess whether they are still the best solutions for our needs.
Here are some examples of things you may want to check on.
If you sell on a marketplace site or use a shop-builder site such as Shopify or Wix:
- Are there any new features that you could take advantage of?
- Has anything changed that may change the way you run your shop – such as a service you previously used having stopped?
- Are the fees still what you think they are? Double check now
- Does your shop still look fresh and attractive – especially compared to your main competition?
- Are you up to date on their terms and conditions? It can be worth a quick glance once a year.
- Are you aware of new changes to SEO and other important aspects of the site?
- Check out the “Seller Handbook” and whatever educational resources the site offers.
- Are there new marketplace sites that might be perfect for your products and business model?
If you have a standalone shop or a blog on WordPress (or similar):
- Are you still happy with your theme? Is it worth looking around for alternatives?
- Are there any new plugins that would work really well for your shop? Search online for something like “best wordpress ecommerce plugins 2021” or “best woocommerce plugins” etc
- Are you up to date on current SEO best practices? Search for guides or check out a site like Yoast.com.
If you use social media:
- Are your visitors, likes and interactions still going up? If they are dropping off, would moving to another social media platform be worth considering? Or creating a new plan for using this one to improve it?
- Are there any new social media options that could be worth checking out?
- Are you using the best social media options for your target market? If you have changed the focus of your product lines over the past year this may be very relevant.
- Which of last year’s posts worked very well.. And which didn’t? What can you learn from this for moving forwards.
- Look back over the year and make notes to help you develop a better social media plan for 2021 and onwards.
You may want to check out my article (and podcast) – Social Media for Craft Sellers 101 – Ep 008 Craft Seller Success Podcast
Your suppliers and materials:
- Are you still getting the best prices for packaging supplies and materials? Have a look around and see if you could be saving money.
- If your business has grown significantly in the past year, you may want to look at buying materials, packaging etc in larger quantities than before, which can often work out cheaper per unit.
- Were there any materials you didn’t like using or felt weren’t quite up to scratch? Make a note to source and replace these this year.
- Take a few minutes to reflect on potential new products and other opportunities.
- Are there products you have considered adding, but haven’t yet? Make a note of them.
- Do you have a list of potential future products? If not, create one now to use throughout the year.
- Check out a website such as Yoast to learn more about the latest in SEO.
- Look for new podcasts and blogs to follow for new educational information to help your business.
- Check out the forums at Etsy, Folksy, eBay, Shopify and so on to see what people are talking about (if you don’t do this regularly anyway).
Ask in forums or a relevant sub-reddit etc for advice on new things that may be of use to you…
- “Which marketplace site do you recommend for someone selling handmade pottery?”
- “Is Shopify still the best value for money?”
- “How can I save money on Etsy fees?”
- “SEO in 2021 – Any Tricks and Tips for a Craft Seller?”
There are loads of useful videos on YouTube too, on every aspect of selling online in general, and selling crafts in particular. Check some of the most recent ones to see if there are new things worth learning.
You may want to check out – The Organized Craft Seller – Craft Seller Success Podcast Episode 28
7 – Did anything not sell or sell badly?
Did you have any Christmas lines that didn’t sell, or didn’t sell as well as you had anticipated?
Could they still sell throughout the year? Many craft sellers leave some Christmas products up all year, and do get sales of them – a surprisingly high number of people do Christmas shopping VERY early.
If you are selling on Etsy, and the listing has not yet reached the end of its 4 month listing duration, I would recommend just leaving it for sale, and making sure it is not set to auto-renew. You have already paid for the full 4 months, and might still sell it.
Think about what you could do to make non or poor sellers more saleable next year.
Some things to consider are:
- Adding something to the item to increase its perceived value. For example, adding a matching keychain to a purse, adding a couple of extra graphics to a clip art set, adding an extra charm to a bracelet, adding a pretty gift box and so on. Check out my article (and podcast) – 9 Ways to Add Value to your Craft Products for lots of other ideas (more than 9!)
- Grouping two or more items and selling them as a bundle
- For low priced items, using them as free gifts for regular customers next year, or including them “free” with a higher priced item
- Reducing the price a little – or, maybe even raising the price. For more on this, see the article (and podcast) Setting a Product Price for Craft Sellers
- Could you turn it into a non-Christmas specific item? For example, a red Christmas gnome could perhaps be turned into a Valentine’s Day gnome by adding a felt heart for him to hold.
If you are pretty convinced it is not going to sell in the future, can you repurpose some, or all of the components to make other items, to minimize your loss?
8 – Remember to change any holiday messages in your shop, social media etc And posting times in your shop.
It is amazing how often I have visited an Etsy or other online shop, well into the New Year, and seen a message wishing me a Merry Christmas, or details of the last minute shipping dates for the holidays etc.
This can make the shop look unloved and unattended to, so it is important to check your shops and other online locations such as social media as soon after Christmas as you can.
Handy hint – Whenever I change anything to a seasonal or time-limited version, I also make a note in my planner on the date I need to change it back again.
There may be some things that are dated 2020, which you will 2021
9 – Have goals for the New Year
Regular readers of the Tin Teddy Blog will know that I am a big fan of goals. I initially hesitated to try goal setting – it all seems so “airy fairy”. But when I finally did, wow! Now I use goal setting in my personal life as well as my business, and it really has helped me in so many ways.
If you haven’t already, think about what you would like to achieve in 2021. Write these down, and think about what you need to do to reach your goals.
Remember, goals are things you have control over. So “List 10 new items by February 1st” is a goal. Or “Open my standalone shop by 1 August”.
Targets are things you can’t directly control, but are aiming for. So something like “Hit 1000 sales in my Etsy shop” or “Reach an average of 3 orders a day per month”.
Goals are the things you do to reach your targets.
Check out these two Tin Teddy blog posts for lots more on goals and targets:
Smashing Targets – Motivational Ideas for Craft Sellers
Goal Setting For Craft Sellers
10 – Take a little time for you if needed. Refresh yourself
If you didn’t get the chance to rest over Christmas, now may be a good time to do so. Consider putting your shop in vacation mode for a few days so you can relax properly.
Take the time to catch up on some of the personal things you may have had to put off doing in the busy time before Christmas.
A couple of days of chilling and unwinding can help you start the New Year refreshed and raring to go.
I also find I get all sorts of good ideas and new product designs when I am really relaxed – so keep a notebook on hand just in case – but only use it to jot down an idea, then put it away… or you will be back working before you should be!
A Happy , Healthy and Prosperous New Year to you all!