During the summer months there is generally a lull of sales activity, both online and in retail stores, but things start to pick up (especially online) in October. Shortly after, things get crazy and everything is sold out. That doesn't just happen at Toys R Us or the Apple store. It happens on Etsy and I'm sure it will on Artfire and other handmade venues. Things will pick up and for some, things will get crazy.
A lot of you may be thinking, "Holiday sales were slow last year", "I didn't do as well as I expected to", "It was probably the recession" ... Part of it may have been tough financial times but sales did NOT stop. Part of it may have been you were not as prepared as you may have thought. Having items to sell is only one step towards success. Having customers find your shop and products is another.
Here are a few things you can begin working on now to prepare for the holiday shopping season:
1. Update your listings and tags - I briefly discussed this topic in my last post on SEO and have a few more important items to add. Make sure your items are tagged for the holidays. That means, if an item is appropriate for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, etc., note it. Add the holiday(s) to your tags, titles and description. Let customers know why it is a great gift choice and who it would be appropriate for. Not everyone knows what to get as gifts. Online holiday shoppers often search for gift ideas and enter questions or phrases such "gift idea for middle-aged animal lover"... The more detailed your description is, the more keywords you use and the more appropriate tags you have, the more likely you will turn up in relevant searches (or at least not as the 342,984 result).
A useful tool for researching commonly searched terms is Google Adwords' Keyword Tool. The keyword tool allows you to find out how many times a month a particular word, phrase, question, etc. was searched. This lets you know how competitive a phrase it and may give you ideas for similar and alternative search terms. Find out more about the Google Adwords keyword tool - you can also read more about it on Artfire.
2. Create items with holiday themes and put them in a seperate holiday shop category so they can be easily located.
3. Chat in the handmade forums - The forums, especially Etsy's can sometimes get overwhelming but pick an ongoing thread or two to participate in everyday. Get to know the regulars. Remember, handmade sellers also shop handmade! If you are on Artfire,stop by the Item of the Day and Card of the Day threads in the Group Worktable section of the Chatterbox!
4. If you blog, post more often; add Handmade Holiday badges to your site (Artfire has a bunch); start a gift guide
5. Hand out business cards as much as possible - Place them in local shops, restaurants, participate in business card exchanges, ...
6. Advertise - Many blogs and Web sites offer different advertising opportunities. If you are new to advertising and want to try out a few different sites, Project Wonderful (PW) is a great place to start. You can search by target sites, site ad prices and more; monitor how many hits your ad gets; terminate an ad whenever you want. Many handmade blogs have PW ad space available - check the side bars!
For more helpful tips, read Artfire's new Holiday SEO guide.
If you have any additional tips and advice, please share them in the comments section.
Register on ArtFire.com