If you don't make items to sell, it probably sounds ridiculous to start thinking about Christmas now.
But I've already had customers ask me when I'll have new Christmas items available. And I've actually sold a few Christmas items already this year, including some Christmas cards that I just sent to Australia this week.
Plus, I'm trying to do a better job planning for the holiday season. Last year I ran out of so many supplies that I closed up shop the week before Christmas, the busiest week of the entire season. A good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless!
So this week I'm starting to think about Christmas even though I'm sneezing like crazy from summer allergies and drinking gallons of ice tea.
By the Numbers
If you're on Etsy, you can pull your sales numbers by looking under "Shop Settings" / "Options" / "Download Data." I pull the CSV data and import it into Excel so that I can do some sorting. I like to look at data for October through December, since those tend to be my busiest months. Here's what I'm looking for:
- What items sold best?
I look at not only the number of items but also how much they cost. I can sell ten $10 items or one $100 item and make the same amount of money, but it will take so much less time to package and ship that one more item. I want to look at specific items, but also categories. What type of jewelry sells best for me? Are items with snowmen more popular than holly? I'm trying to get a general idea of my strengths as a handmade shop, knowing that trends come and go.
- What didn't?
And why not? I try to determine whether it's something I should continue making or if there's something I should change to help it sell such as retaking the photos. This part doesn't seem entirely scientific to me; it feels like more of a gut reaction. This is a little harder for me because I like to make such a wide variety of items. But I am working on trying to go deeper in a few areas rather than being so diverse in my offerings.
- What new items do I want to try?
Oh, this list is so long! This is where the joy of selling handmade items is, so I definitely don't want to skimp on this part. I'm already playing with some new ideas for ornaments. One of my goals this year is to offer at least a few high-end, very special items that will be one-of-a-kind or extremely limited edition. I'm doing a lot of sketching and dreaming.
- What items can be duplicated?
If you can make (and don't mind making) duplicate items, you'll have an easier time keeping up with holiday orders. The advantage of repeats is that I don't need to take photos and write descriptions each time. At the same time, it's dull to remake the same thing over and over, so I may think in terms of "limited edition" duplicates.
- How much packaging supplies will I need? Other basic supplies?
Ideally, I'm going to try and have everything ordered by September this year. I've already ordered some Priority Mail boxes from the post office, since my post office seems to run out of them often. I'm also trying to do an inventory of very basic jewelry supplies like jump rings.
That's what's on my mind this week. It's more fun than it sounds, really! My goal with all this planning is to reduce some of the holiday stress and to make sure I have enough time to do the fun things like create new stuff!