THE CHRISTMAS SURPRISE
As I said in the last couple of paragraphs in part 1 of this article, I decided at the last minute, to try some listings for Black Friday. I photographed my items, wrote the listings, researched my tags and titles, etc. What I didn’t do was realize that it can take up to 60 days for Etsy’s algorithms to pick up your items in search! Luckily, I knew I had to promote my shop in the meantime. The only people that really knew about my business were friends and family and those few who followed me on Facebook. So I got to work posting about Black Friday, promoting my upcoming sale.
The entire week of Black Friday and through the Cyber Monday sales dates I heard nothing but crickets and was starting to get discouraged again. I should probably preface here by saying that I am a very impatient person in some regards. I can wait all day for a great bowl of soup but when it comes to sales I want instant results. That’s a problem. I know. I’m working on it.
The rest of the week following Black Friday I was getting blue again. I kept writing and taking photos and staying engaged on social and told myself I’d given it a valiant effort but if nothing happened by New Years’, I’d be shutting the current shop down and trying to figure something else out. Like a different style of jewelry or different products. Maybe I’d just go back to print on demand? I had no idea, I just knew I had to earn a living.
Then, the end of the 1st week of December came and I woke up to a sale! I was secretly so disappointed that I hadn’t heard the Cha-ching sound of the Sell on Etsy app, but my enthusiasm picked up when I realized that I had actually sold a product! Only… It wasn’t jewelry! I’d sold one of my cannabis wax tools. My heart sank for a moment, but I thought to myself, ‘Hey, it’s a start! The hardest sale to get is the 1st one!’ And wouldn’t let myself be upset.
I took the time to carefully package the product and included a note on how to care for the tool, how to clean it, and a discount code for another purchase as well as an invitation to my mailing list. I beamed with pride as I looked down at the rose-gold envelope laying on my desk, ready to go into the mail. I felt accomplished and optimistic but was trying not to let myself get too excited.
I was convinced the sale had been a fluke. I mean, after all, these tools weren’t my primary products. I began making them as an experiment, and because I myself used the product and wanted something a bit more comfortable in my hand due to carpal tunnel, and neuropathy. And of course, my personality won’t let me make anything if I can’t make it pretty. I only started making others when friends of mine commented on my own tool and wanted one for themselves and put the listing online as a test to see if it would sell. LOL. Little did I know!
“If I only make one or two sales for Christmas, at least I’ll know my products can sell and I’ll work harder on design and marketing!” I kept telling myself.
A few days later, I got another sale – another tool! And then, another… and another! By the end of December, I’d made 16 sales and $200+ and was over the moon! It bothered me a bit that I’d only sold 1 jewelry item, but I’d take whatever sales I could get. I was encouraged that for the first time in a year I didn’t have to dip into family funds to cover my business expenses. My profit was only about 45% but it was more than I’d hoped for and gave me the encouragement and drive I’d been afraid was gone.
ADAPTING TO AFTERMATH OF A SELL OUT PRODUCT & LIMITED SUPPLIES
It wasn’t until my tools – also called dabbers or pokers – sold out for the second time that I realized I’d need more of my supplies to make a new batch, but when I went to order them, the clay that I normally used was sold out. At first, I didn’t think anything of it. I waited a few days and went back to the supplier’s site. Still sold out, and not only were those particular clays sold out, so were most of the others with the same formula. By mid-January, it was obvious that the clay was going to remain sold out until after the Pandemic was well in check.
Out of desperation, I started making other types of designs and continued creating jewelry thinking of launching Valentine’s line. You know that old saying, “If you want to know if God has a sense of humor, just make plans.” ? Yah. That.
Because of my health issues, my immune system is trash. I mean, I can catch a cold in February and milk it for all it’s worth until June. Hand to God I can. And of course, when I’m working on a project I don’t know how to just put it down and walk away until I feel better. Honestly, I don’t know an artist that can.
So since I was so sick, I didn’t get all of my Valentine’s pieces listed in time. In fact, I barely got any of them up and ready. But, I decided I wasn’t going to stress. I knew, logically, that it takes about 5 years of being in business to truly become profitable and build a strong repeat customer base.
By the end of January, I knew my Valentine’s collection wasn’t going to launch on time to have a true sale and expect my customers to get their packages in time for the celebration. So, I sat down and watched a lot of videos from Starla Moore and other Etsy personalities about marketing your business. I built a new social media calendar and wrote a new marketing plan. This time, I decided I wanted to offer jewelry, home decor items, and dabbers but all with one central theme. I also decided exactly how many of each I wanted to create in accordance with the supplies I still had on hand and I gave myself a long window of time to accomplish the launch.
As I looked realistically at the current economic environment, and our production situation with supplies being in zero supply, I also decided that from now on, Bespoke will only run three big sales per year:
- THE YEAR END CLEARANCE SALE which will run from the end of February through the end of March every year, to sell off old inventory and make way for new products. The discounts will start at 10% and increase incrementally to 50% by the last week of the sale.
- THE CHRISTMAS IN JULY SALE – I loved Christmas as a kid, and really loved Christmas in July as I got older because a lot of times we couldn’t afford a lot right at Christmas time and the bonus check always came at the very end of the shopping season when the choices for things like decorations and last-minute purchases were already gone. When Christmas in July began, it gave me the opportunity to buy new decorations, stocking stuffers, and other small gifts without blowing the entire Christmas budget so I could use our bonus on actual gifts for my kids. So in order to help revive that tradition, we’ll be running our Christmas in July sale from June 25th to July 25th and the entire Christmas section will have the same incremental discounts as the Year-End sale.
- THE BLACK FRIDAY EVENT – Of course I think any seller who doesn’t take advantage of the already-fever-pitched shopping season is nuts and rather than have a weekend sale, I’ll be having a Black Friday event that runs from 6 AM on Black Friday through Dember 10th at Midnight. Hopefully, the postal issues will be much, much better by the end of this year.
I’ll also be doing two to three collection launches during the year with a Pre-launch sale for my list members before each public launch.
Now that I have my plan in place, I’m daily working towards meeting each goal, but rather than do one thing all at once until it’s done, unless it is a project that demands that sort of thing, I bready my days and weeks down into creative chunks and allow myself plenty of time for rest.
It’s very hard to let go of that “if I’m not constantly working I’m a failure” attitude, but I’m getting there.
Whatever comes of the new year, I’ll be working towards my goals in a sustainable, achievable way, whether news clays come or not. I’ll be adding more products with different kinds of materials, am going to be looking into new techniques and developing my skills further, and it is my fervent hope that by December I’ll be able to enroll in the Handmade Alpha’s Academy.
In the meantime, I’m hoping to get to know my Lilies better, have better interactions with them and help build a community of strong, like-minded women who are interested in making the world a better place.
A LITTLE NOTE:
You’ll notice me say this a lot, but it bears repeating. If you’re not on y list yet, I strongly encourage it. You can read more about my list and sign up, here. (opens in a new tab)