Your 6-step Christmas checklist
When it comes to Christmas selling, it pays to be prepared. To get as much promotion and be seen by as many shoppers as possible, your products need to be designed, made, photographed and listed early. Plus if you start planning your products and your marketing now, you’ll be able to tick everything off your to-do list, leaving you time to sit back, drink tea and dream about gingerbread ice-cream.
Just follow our six-step countdown to Christmas…
1. Plan your product range
Begin your prep by deciding on your Christmas range. Not everything needs to be festive or new – your range could comprise a couple of new products, your bestsellers and some stocking fillers. Try to cover a variety of price ranges, so there’s something for shoppers looking for Secret Santa presents as well as more expensive, one-of-a-kind gifts.
“I think making Christmas-themed products is quite hard to do with jewellery,” explains jeweller Mica Peet. “I find not many people want to wear Christmas-themed jewellery and it’s harder to buy as a gift because it can only be worn at Christmas, so it really limits your customer base. But for me, something like robin earrings could work, as my normal bird and hummingbirds earrings are my best sellers, and as all my pieces are under £20 they’re good secret Santa stocking fillers.”
If you want to create Christmas-themed products, make sure they work well with your usual range and that they have your signature style. Jeweller and designer/maker Gwin Kerry has had a lot of success with her Christmas-themed enamel keepsakes. “I usually develop some work specifically for seasonal events like Christmas,” she explains. “Small, themed keepsakes are always popular, especially if they can be personalised – people like to buy nice things for the people they love.”
You could start by looking at which of your other products sell well and how you could adapt those – could you tweak the colours to make them more festive, add a Christmas detail or create a Christmas decoration from one of your designs? Rather than going all out and making loads (and potentially being left with lots of unsold stock), test the market with a few different ideas, see which works and then make more.
“I make four specific Christmas items,” adds Clare Gordon from Clare Gets Crafty. “I make baubles, little trees, elves and wreaths then supplement with my other other year-round products. People always like to buy a new bauble or tree decoration for themselves or their family.”
A2 festive jewellery is a big flop, but baubles have always been a top seller for us! #folksyhour
— designosaur (@designosaurYEAH) September 20, 2016
2. Make, make, make
Once you have your product range sketched out, make as much as you can in advance. The Christmas shopping season normally kicks off at the end of October – so if you have most of your products made and ready to go before then, you’ll be free to focus your efforts on promoting, packing and posting.
“I think it’s all in the preparation,” explains potter Jessica Catherine. “I start my Christmas prep in the summer. I batch-make big quantities of stock so I can spend the festive season selling, not making.”
“I made six robins last year and sold all six – four were in my Folksy shop and two were in a local retail shop,” says Elizabeth Norwood Clark from Big Bird, Little Bird. “I’m going to make a few more this year and experiment with some Christmas scent for them too – star anise, cinnamon, cloves… Once I’ve made the robins I’ll run a couple of promotions – I know October was busy for me last year, so I need to get making!”
Carve out more time for making by following our time-management tips
Get 25% off all your craft supplies at Fred Aldous with our special discount for Folksy sellers
Read our Shop Talk interview with Jessica Catherine
3. Create a marketing strategy – plan any offers and promotions
Sit down with a calendar and work out if and when to run any Christmas promotions. Discounts and offers can be a great way to get people into your shop and spread your orders over a timeframe that suits you. For example, if you make to order or offer personalised products, you’ll need extra time to create them, so you could run an Early Bird Christmas discount to encourage shoppers to order earlier in the season. How about Black Friday on the 25 November – do you want to join in?
Other ideas include creating festive graphics to share on social media, a Christmas countdown with offers (for example, free shipping one day, a little sticker the next), gift wrapping all orders over £50. Schedule as much as possible, send out a festive newsletter, and if you have a blog, plan your posts and how you’ll share them.
“I’ve run a few promotions involving discounts or free shipping,” says Marieanne Cavaciuti of Damson Tree Pottery. “These have worked especially well when I’ve joined together with other online sellers or as part of an organised promotion around particular calendar dates. I love it best when we all promote each other!”
Learn how to use discount codes effectively
Read our tips for running a successful competition
Find out which is the right social media channel for you
Read our Shop Talk interview with Marieanne from Damson Tree Pottery
How to build your mailing list and why you should
4. Festive-up your photos
How are your product photos? Are they a little summery? Could you style and photograph your products to make them look more festive – a mince pie, a wrapped present, a holly leaf or a bauble might be all that’s needed. Your products might be more appealing to bloggers and Pinterest users if they look more seasonal.
If you don’t want to update all the product shots in your shop, you could always just style a few products with festive props and share them on social, like Samantha from Ava Kitsch. “Although I don’t change the photos I use for listings, I update all my photos for Instagram and Twitter with festive frames and stickers,” she explains.
“I’m already introducing glitter and shiny things,” adds Nikomi Marshall from byNikomi, who makes prints, cards and papercuts.
5. SEO review your shop – check titles, tags and descriptions
With so many shoppers online looking for Christmas gifts, it’s worth checking your products and shop are coming up in searches on Google. Can you make your titles and descriptions more relevant for the Christmas period? Think about how how people will be searching for gift ideas, and how you can help your product show up in their searches by tweaking your listings. For example, lots of people will be looking for stocking fillers, so add that to the title and description or even create a new Stocking Filler collection.
“Make sure your descriptions and titles include the words ‘Christmas gift’ or even ‘last-minute Christmas gifts’ and other relevant keywords, so they can be found quickly when people are searching online,” recommends Marieanne from Damson Tree Pottery.
6. Check your postage
Shoppers won’t order from you unless they’re sure their order will be delivered before Christmas. So be clear about the shipping times on each listing and state your last shipping dates for different countries. If you can post something the same day, do! You can also grab late sales by offering last-minute delivery too.
“I have a swift system for packing and posting orders – customers love quick postage,” says Jessica Catherine.
Check that your postage rate for additional items is set at the right amount and bear in mind that expensive shipping is one of the main reasons shoppers don’t go through with transactions, so try to keep all postage costs as low as possible – while making sure you’re still going to make a profit!
Join in with #folksyhour every Tuesday night from 8-9pm UK time on Twitter for more tips and to share your experiences with other sellers. Find out more about #folksyhour and how you can join in here.
You can also find this article in Homemaker magazine, alongside more more tips, tutorials, how-tos, sewing patterns, baking recipes and inspiration. It’s really very good :)
Image credits: Goldilocks Baubles by KraftyK, Stag Jewellery by Mica Peet, Textile Robin by Big Bird, Little Bird, Ceramics Holly Earrings by Damson Tree Pottery, Hand-painted Bear Bauble by KraftyK, Wooden Mitten Christmas Tree Decorations by Frilly Industries, Ceramic Snowflake Decoration by Jessica Catherine Ceramics