How to make time for marketing, social media and YOU in the Christmas selling season
Christmas is a super busy and important time for many makers. If you’re also juggling other responsibilities, then it’s even harder. So no surprise then that many makers feel overwhelmed and stressed out at this time of the year. So how can you make time for the important things right now? We asked award-winning creative business adviser and trainer Patricia van den Akker of The Design Trust to share her advice on making time during the busy Christmas period.
1. Make time to plan – especially if you’re busy
It might sound contradictory but actually making time to plan will save you time. Friday afternoons, Sunday evenings or Monday mornings are perfect to review your previous week and plan ahead for the next week.
Focus on what’s important and what’s urgent. Group together similar jobs (eg packing orders, emails, social media) and allocate them to specific days or times of the day (see tip 4) and put them in your diary as ‘Marketing – write newsletter’.
Planning will save you time. Friday afternoons, Sunday evenings or Monday mornings are perfect to plan ahead for the next week.
2. All I want for Christmas is…
Imagine it’s Christmas Day and you’ve just had a really good time in the run-up to Christmas. What happened? What does ‘a successful Christmas’ look like to you? Loads of sales? Calm days? Happy clients? How do you want to feel about your business and work in the next few weeks?
Take your time to identify your goals and what you want, and what you need to do to achieve that – and what you need to stop doing!
If you want more sales, then plan to send out two or three lovely visual emails to your contact list with a clear link to your website, send a handwritten invite in the mail about your Open Studios or post events on Facebook for friends and family. Get in touch with previous clients to share this year’s best sellers or upgrade them to free or speedier post.
A bit of preparation and planning can go a long way right now. Organise your workspace and packing table better, order stationery in bulk and group and send out orders only three days a week to waste less time in post office queues. How can you avoid any problems with clients or mistakes (adding more stress and time wasting)? Who can help you in your business or help you get ready for your own Christmas festivities? Ordering a weekly delivery of food will keep you and your family happy and healthy too. Make your life easier where ever you can!
What does ‘a successful Christmas’ look like to you? Loads of sales? Calm days? Happy clients? Take time to identify your goals and what you need to do – and not do – to achieve them!
3. How much time are you wasting on social media?
Social media is great to promote your business but it can also be a real time sucker! What often starts as ‘oh just a few minutes on Instagram’ turns into much more! And, especially if you are feeling a little low, it can drag you and your confidence down even more.
Do you know how much time you spend on social media? It’s easy to install a tracker or put a restriction on your phone. Knowing exactly how much time goes to Instagram will wake you up. Although I am a productive person, I need help too to stay off social media. Now when I have a busy day, I leave my mobile under my bedroom pillow on the top floor. Sounds silly, but it really works. Rather than just picking up my phone by default and start scrolling I would need to go up three flights of stairs – an effective reminder that there is more important work to be done.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, then taking a digital detox (at least between 9pm and 9am or in the weekend) can really help your brain to calm down too.
Don’t plan anything in your diary for Fridays. Leave them free, so you can catch up with all the loose ends from the week.
4. Match the job to your energy level
It’s a fact that in the morning your energy levels are at their best – even if you are an evening person! So do the tasks that need your brain and concentration between breakfast and lunch, do more repetitive jobs in the afternoon (when your sugar levels are going down) and let other jobs wait till the evening.
I feel more productive and sleep better because I do a good chunk of uninterrupted ‘deep’ work in the morning (eg planning, writing blog posts or emails). Your willpower is stronger in the morning too, so you’re less likely to be distracted, which is another bonus. Most of my phone calls, meetings, packing orders I do in the afternoon and most social media in the evening. Your clients are also more likely to be on social media in evening rather than during the day.
Many people start their day by default with opening their inbox or social media, wasting their best energy. See how it works for you to get some ‘big jobs’ out of the way first. This ‘energy trick’ also works throughout the week: so on a Monday morning (if you had a good weekend!) you’ll feel fresher than on a Friday afternoon.
Many people start their day by default with opening their inbox or social media, wasting their best energy. See how it works for you to get some ‘big jobs’ out of the way first.
5. Leave some white space
Are you constantly busy and work long hours? Being temporarily busy for Christmas is one thing but if this is always the case, then something else is going on. Are you over optimistic with how long jobs take? Do you have loads of small jobs that are too small for your ‘to do list’ but take up time nevertheless?
Last year I read about the concept of ‘Pretend Fridays don’t exist’. The idea is that you don’t plan anything in your diary for Fridays, so you can catch up with all the loose ends from the week. I now regularly put in ‘white space’ in my diary throughout the week or after meetings to simply catch up. It doesn’t necessarily make me do more, but it makes me feel calmer and on top of things. And if I have 10 minutes spare (eg before the school run or travelling on the London underground), then I use this time now to breathe and be mindful, rather than grab my phone. These little moments of calm in my busy life are making a big difference.
If I have 10 minutes spare, I use this time to breathe and be mindful, rather than grab my phone. These little moments of calm in my busy life are making a big difference.
6. Looking after yourself is not a luxury
When you’re stressed out, tired and hungry, you’ll get grumpy (with yourself, your kids, your clients, the world…), but also less confident, harsher, more likely to make mistakes, slower and you’ll get ill quicker. That’s a fact.
Good sleeping is so important. Take some time before going to bed to calm down, away from screens. Read a nice book, have a bath. Take more rests throughout the day too. Go for a walk. Keep going to your yoga or dance class. Decide to meet up with a good friend. I strongly believe that most problems can be solved with a good night’s sleep, some nourishing food and a good laugh. If you are struggling with low confidence or feeling overwhelmed, then do make some time for yourself. It will save you time.
If you’re not marketing and promoting your business right now when your potential and previous clients are looking for gifts, then you’ll miss out.
7. Marketing is a top priority in December
I hear too many times creatives saying that they don’t have time for marketing. But if you’re not marketing and promoting your business right now (when your potential and previous clients are looking for gifts), then your sales will be lower than they could be.
It’s simple: no marketing = no business.
December is a crucial time for creative handmade businesses. If you don’t marketing your business now, then you’ll miss out. So, what’s the kind of marketing activities that you need to focus on right now?
- Stay in touch, be friendly, be useful: Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your site – much more effective than social media! I know that many creatives worry about emails… but I’m not asking you to send out boring salesy emails! Decide to send out at least 2–3 wonderful and useful emails to your contacts* this December. Keep them short and visual, with a clear link to the specific product page. Use an enticing, lovely or humorous subject line to make them click through and read your email. Write about one of your favourite items or bestsellers and include a gorgeous image. Send your email around lunch time when they are most likely to open them. That’s the kind of email people love to receive!
- Make your marketing more personal & memorable. I love social media, but the reality is that most people scroll down timelines, rarely remembering what they looked at, rarely clicking through to a website. Instead handpick 20 of your best clients from the previous year and send them a lovely postcard in the post to remind them of your existence. Invite them to a Christmas event, to visit your website and even to talk to you about a last-minute commission.
- People are very careful with their money this year so make sure that they fall in love with you and your work. Beautiful images online on social media and in newsletters will get them interested. Tell them your story and background, share your creative process and where you work and live. People love to buy from people, especially when they are handmade products. Share that little extra magic, and give wonderful customer care this year. It’s not just about selling your products, it’s about building relationships with your dream clients.
* make sure any emails you send out comply with GDPR regulations. You can read more about how they apply to you as a Folksy seller here – https://blog.folksy.com/2018/04/17/gdpr-need-independent-designer-maker
Did you find these tips useful to make more time for the things that matter? If you want to get more organised in 2020, or you want to make sure that you focus more and procrastinate less, then check out The Design Trust’s brand new business planner diary for creatives like you.
It’s much more than a diary! It’s a time management tool that will help you to identify your business goals for the year, to make time for planning your marketing and finances, and to move your business forward.
It comes with 50+ pages to plan your year in detail, with monthly expert tips from Patricia on what to focus on that month, creative exercises to identify your ideal clients and research your competitors, weekly action questions and much more.
PLUS this diary planner comes with a lively Facebook group and five online workshops in 2020 – 2 x 90min online workshops in January and February to make the most of the planner, plus quarterly goal setting sessions and Q&As with Patricia. All included in the price!
Get your diary planner here now: https://www.dream-plan-do.com/shop/the-design-trust-creative-business-diary-planner-2020 As a Folksy maker you will get 10% off with promo code HURRAY till 31 December 2019.