Preparing Your Etsy Shop for the Holidays

Part 2 of the Christmas in July Mini-Series

While there are some things in this post that can be utilized for other e-commerce platforms, this post is specifically geared toward Etsy. Check back next week for a post about other e-commerce platform holiday prep!

At the time of writing (July 19, 2019) there are 159 days until Christmas. Sound too early to start prepping your Etsy shop for the holiday rush?

It’s definitely not too early. In fact, this is the best time to do it!

Last holiday season, I had just started selling shirts on Etsy. I was still hand-pressing all of my shirts and ordering them on an as-needed basis, which cost a ton in shipping. I was very easily overwhelmed and took a lot of trips to the local craft store to get more heat-transfer vinyl (which was WAY more expensive than buying it online) and was always overwhelmed with the amount of work that needed to be done.

Not this year, friend!

Preparing your shop in advance can ensure that, when November rolls around and those who haven’t shopped yet begin browsing the internet for that perfect gift, your shop is one of the ones that catches their interest!

Here are a few ways you can begin preparing your Etsy store to make sure you’re ready for the holiday rush before it begins!

Get Your Policies and Pages in Order

Now is the time to get your shipping and return policies in order! There is nothing worse than a customer being upset with an unclear policy; for example, if your shop doesn’t specify that you do not accept returns and a customer wants to return an item that they purchased, you really have no leverage against them and risk a bad review for which you have no defense.

Make sure you provide your customers with a shipping cutoff date and advertise it clearly and often!

Take this time to make sure that everything is spelled out for each item so that your customers know exactly what to expect if they choose to purchase from you. If you don’t accept cancellations of custom items, make sure to spell it out in both the listing and the policies.

For example, I can’t even begin to tell you how many angry messages I used to get with my digital downloads. Somehow, people seemed to think that I would be sending them an 8×10 physical print in the mail for less than $5 (the fact that they never had to put in a shipping address or pay for shipping never seemed to occur to them).

Take this example: the fact that this item was a digital download was clearly listed in the item’s description as well as the policies (and it was marked by Etsy as a digital listing), but this unhappy customer didn’t seem to notice any of it.

I honestly got pretty tired of messages like this, so I finally whipped something up in Canva explaining that no item would be shipped with the purchase and put it into the photos section of my listings. I haven’t gotten any confused, “where is my package?!” messages since!

You are free to borrow this idea and use it for anything shop-related!

While you’re at it, make sure that your shop’s About page is up-to-date and engaging! It should have accurate information about you and your shop, have photographs, and be fun to look at! Etsy shoppers know that they’re supporting a small business and love to know who they’re buying from, so give them a chance to get to know you.

Update your Shop Images

When people search for listings on Etsy, the photo is typically what draws them in first. If your pictures are dark, blurry, or not seasonally appropriate, shoppers might just pass by your items without giving them a second glance.

So, how do you fix it?

For dark or blurry photos, the best solution is to just re-shoot them. I know it’s a pain, but pictures are one of the most important (if not the most important) things that can sell your items.

So, you’re going to bulk shoot: get out all the items you need to photograph, all the props you’ll use, and all your photography equipment (if you have any). Look up similar items on Etsy and note how the pictures are taken: the angle, the lighting, the props used… you certainly don’t want to copy anyone else’s pictures, but you’re gathering ideas and inspiration to use when you take your own pictures.

Next, find a place where you can shoot the photos. Indoors or outdoors doesn’t necessarily matter, as long as you have access to indirect sunlight. When the sun shines directly on things, they become really hard to photograph; instead, pick a shady spot outside or near a window indoors, where the light is natural and bright but the sun is not shining directly down. (Overcast days are perfect for this!)

Then, you’re going to take a couple of hours and shoot your photos. Use different props for the different items if you can, but don’t sweat it if you only have a few things to work with. Take as many pictures as you can from as many different angles as you can, making sure that the item is in focus and that you’re highlighting all the different selling points.

In regard to seasonally appropriate photographs, what I mean is this: right now, it’s summertime and my own Etsy shop listings look like this.

The colors are bright and clean and perfect for summer! But, if someone were looking for a teacher t-shirt in December, these images may not be appealing because fall and winter colors are so different from spring and summer colors. In the winter, my shirt designs will be placed on mockups with darker and richer colors that are more appropriate for winter. I love the look of these mockups from Carolina Mama Bear on Etsy and will definitely be returning to her shop soon to buy my winter mockups!

If you don’t use mockups, it’s easy to add seasonal touches to your photos. Add in a pine sprig, some garland, maybe place your item against a buffalo plaid scarf or blanket, add in some deep red, green, and blue touches… there are lots of options!

When adding props into your pictures, it’s always a good idea to clearly spell out in the item description that the only item for sale is XYZ that you’re selling. Something like, “This listing is for the teacher t-shirt only. Props (the scarf, boots, and mittens) are not included with the purchase of this item.”

And, as an extra tip, make sure you’re taking photos both with and without these holiday touches! You’ll want to remove the holiday mockups after the holidays are over, but you don’t want to have to reshoot the photos. Just make sure some of them are seasonally neutral and you’ll be good to go once January rolls around.

Update Your Shop Banner

This is something that is fairly easy to do but can have a big impact! Your Etsy shop banner is (duh) the big banner that spans the top of your Etsy shop.

The large image that shows “Rebecca Fletcher Designs” across the top of the page is my banner.

And, here’s a secret for ya: customers don’t always read the fine print, but they do always look at pictures! If you’re getting question after question about something in your shop (or have customers complaining that soomething wasn’t clear), put it in an image and add it to your listing.

Adding in some holiday touches to your banner shows potential customers that you’re geared up and ready for the holidays! For my fall and winter banners, I will probably use some photographs from my brand reps and add in some holiday touches. Banners are so fun because you can honestly use whatever images you have- product images, logos, a themed backdrop with your shop name… the possibilities are endless!

PS- matching your shop banner and Facebook business page banner is a great idea!

Organize your Sales in Advance

Decide on sale dates and kinds (free shipping, percentage off, etc.) in advance so that you can advertise and launch the sales well!

If a coupon will be used, be sure to create and test it in advance. (I tend to sign out of Etsy, go to my own shop and put an item in my cart, check out as a guest, and enter the coupon just to double check that it’s active and working.)

Also- please, please, please be sure that you budget for all promoted listings, whether they be on Etsy, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest… if you need to pay to advertise your sales, have the budget set in advance. Don’t count on your sales profits to cover your advertising budget because, in my experience, it won’t work as well as you want it to.

Speaking of sales- make your sales images now, when things are slower, so that when the time comes and you need to set up those advertisements, you can just reach into your files and pull out those images and plug them in to the advertisement.

Stock Up on Materials

If you make and sell a product that uses very specific supplies (such as jewelry or crochet items), you want to consider stocking up on supplies in advance.

There’s a good chance that tons of other people use the same supplies as you, and you definitely don’t want to be in a position where your products are on backorder because the supplies you use are on backorder.

Don’t know how much to have on hand? Look at your sales from the past couple of years and take an estimation of how much you think you’ll sell this year. As a general rule, it’s better to have too much supplies than not enough; if you order too much, you’ll still be able to use it eventually, but it you don’t order enough, you run the risk of falling behind and potentially having to cancel orders.

The same goes for packaging materials! Boxes, ribbons, holiday tags, tissue paper, holiday gift tags… whatever you use to package and ship your product should be ordered well in advance so you have it on-hand when the orders start rolling in.

Team Up with Other Makers

One of the most popular holiday trends I’ve seen in the past couple of years is holiday gift guides! If you’ve read last week’s post, you already know all about holiday gift guides and how to make them (I won’t make you read it again, but if you haven’t read it yet- check it out here!).

Teaming up with other makers whose items would pair well with yours allows you to advertise your item for free to someone else’s audience, who are probably already warmed up to the idea of purchasing an item like yours and would love to support you!

So, there you have it! Following these tips will help you ensure that you are ready for the holiday rush with your Etsy shop and will hopefully earn you even more sales and raving fans!

If you loved this post, share it with an Etsy friend! And if you have any tips that I missed, let me know and I’ll add them with credit to you.