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What is Christmas in July? A guide for artists, makers and small creative businesses

Christmas in July: a guide for artists, makers and small creative businesses

by Folksy

Christmas In July – what is it and how can it help your Folksy shop

Schools might not even have broken up for summer, but for artists, makers and small creative businesses, July is the perfect time to click into Christmas mode. Wait, what – why so early? Read on to learn why it’s a good idea to launch your Christmas collection in the summer and how getting in early is the key to press coverage. There’s also a timeline to help you plan, as well as ideas for extra ‘Christmas in July’ promotions that could help create a buzz around your handmade products.

What is Christmas in July? 

As you probably already know, magazines have a long lead time and journalists at the glossies usually work three to four months in advance. What you might not know is that work on their Christmas issues can start even earlier. That’s why, going back a few years before everything went online, big brands would often invite editors and journalists to preview events in the summer showcasing their festive ranges, in the hope of securing coverage in their Christmas gift guides. While the champagne and schmoozing might be missing now, the idea of pitching Christmas gifts to journalists in July has stuck around.

Is Christmas in July just about press coverage?

Good question! Although it is mainly a PR opportunity, consumers are also getting more used to the idea of ‘Christmas in July’ and you now see quite a few businesses, big and small, launching their Christmas products early, clearing out old stock, offering early bird discounts and trying to generate a buzz long before the December rush.

Great! So what should I be doing?

Before you read this list, we know you’re probably juggling a million things and that checking off everything here might feel optimistic at best. But bear with us, because even if you can’t do it all, there might be a few things that feel doable. And as most small businesses make the majority of their sales at Christmas, it could be worth building your year around this event, so you’ll be ready for Christmas in July next time. Planning well and being prepared can help everything feel more manageable, and the results should be worth it.

  1. Plan your Christmas collection as early as possible: Begin by planning your Christmas collection in spring, or even earlier if that works for you. Decide on the products you’ll offer, the themes you’ll use and any special editions or bundles. If you don’t want to make a whole new range, think about how you could tweak existing products or your best-sellers to give them a Christmas spin. Looking at what sold well last year could be a good place to start.
  2. Photograph your Christmas products: Commission a photographer to take cracking photos of your Christmas collection or take your own. You don’t need photos of everything at this point: just the stand-out products you really want to push, or the ones you think will catch a journalist’s eye. For press, you’ll need high-resolution, white background, cut-out shots that they can slot easily into their pages. Look at getting some group shots of your collection together too.
    Tip: Find a list of recommended product photographers in our Trusted Suppliers Directory and read our Photography Tips on the Folksy blog.
  3. Build your Press Contacts / Media List: Compile a list of relevant journalists, bloggers and influencers who cover holiday gift guides and features. Focus on those who have previously shown interest in handmade products or small creative businesses. Your contact list needs to be up to date, so consider using a PR service like Untld Project or PR Dispatch who can help give you the leads you need, or put together your own list by going through magazines and identifying the right person to contact.
    Tip: Look through last year’s festive issues to see who compiled those gift guides and check if they’re still at that publication – Readly usually offer a free trial subscription that can help here.
  4. List your Christmas products in your shop. Create a Christmas Collection in your Folksy shop and add your Christmas products. Make sure your titles, descriptions and tags are full of relevant keywords so they show up in search results.
    Tip: Learn how to get your items seen in search results – https://blog.folksy.com/2017/02/23/how-search-works
  5. Craft a compelling press release: Write a compelling press release announcing your Christmas collection in July event. Highlight what makes your products unique, who they are for and why they’re perfect for holiday gifting. Tip: Read these Top Pitch Tips from PR Dispatch – https://blog.folksy.com/2019/08/28/how-to-get-featured-in-christmas-gift-guides
  6. Send personalised pitches: Send your Press Release to your press contacts with a personalised pitch. Mention why your products would be a great fit for their audience, reference past features they’ve written that are relevant, and embed low-res images of your products in the email. Make sure you include the title and price for each product you are pitching, as well as a link to buy. Include a link to a Dropbox or folder with high-res images or make it clear that you have high-res images ready to send them. Include easily searchable keywords in your subject line for editors to refer back to.
  7. Use PR platforms: Use PR platforms like Press Loft to get your images in front of journalists. For the best results, focus on high-resolution, white-background images, as these tend to do best, but also include a few high-quality styled shots. Fill your titles, descriptions and tags with keywords. Respond promptly to any enquiries.
  8. Get active on social media: Engage with journalists and bloggers on social media – particularly Instagram and Twitter. Share your Christmas in July content and tag relevant media outlets to increase visibility. Keep an eye on the #journorequest hashtag for any relevant call-outs that you can jump on.

Any other Christmas in July ideas?

To really get into the Christmas in July spirit, you could host an Instagram Live or a YouTube live stream to launch your Christmas collection. Send out a press release in advance to journalists and influencers, and/or invite customers on your mailing list. As an extra incentive, combine your live launch with an early bird discount, so customers get a special reward for shopping early. As well as securing you some nice early sales, this gives you an idea about which products are going to be the most popular this year, so you know which ones to focus your promotions on as it gets closer to Christmas.

July has been and gone. Have I missed my chance?

No! Monthly magazines will still be looking for Christmas gift ideas into August, but glossies and supplements aren’t the only ones to target. Once the long-lead deadlines are over, shift your focus to weekly magazines, newspapers, online editions, as well as bloggers. Lots of those are still scouting for new festive products to feature right into December, and if you’ve got a Folksy shop, online titles (like Stylist, Glamour Magazine and Creative Boom) can be the perfect fit as customers are just a click away.

Read our tips for maximising last-minute Christmas sales >

Conclusion

Launching your Christmas promotions in July is a smart strategy for artists, makers and all small creative businesses. It gives you the best chance of getting featured in the Christmas gift guides, but it can also bring structure to your year while also bringing in some nice early sales. By making the most of the quieter summer months, you can get yourself on track for a successful festive season, and then you’ll be sparkling all the way into Christmas.

What is Christmas in July? A guide for artists, makers and small creative businesses

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