Hoboken, NJ

Cashing in on the Holidays: 12 Ways to Boost Your Etsy Store Sales This Holiday Season

All across the country, Christmas trees are going up, stockings are being hung by chimneys with care, chestnuts are roasting on open fires, halls are being decked, and holiday shoppers are out in droves. In fact, Black Friday sales were the strongest they’ve been since the beginning of the recession, with ShopperTrak reporting that in-store sales for the day were up 6.6 percent over last year’s amount. And according to the New York Times, shoppers spent 26 percent more online on Black Friday than they did last year.

If you’re an Etsy shop owner, this news should have visions of sugar plums and dollar signs dancing in your head. If you haven’t already, says Allison Strine, now is the time to amp up your marketing efforts so that you can sell big this holiday season.

“There are many advantages to going heavy on your marketing right now,” says Strine, co-author along with Kate Shoup of Starting an Etsy Business For Dummies® (Wiley, Sept. 2011, ISBN: 978-0-470-93067-0, $19.99), and owner of her own Etsy shop, www.allisonstrine.etsy.com. “Number One, for most Americans, the holiday season means bumping into other shoppers, long lines at big box stores, and a less than holiday-cheerful experience.

“Number Two, there is a real movement going on right now against the homogenous nature of mass-produced items. More frequently, people want to go local and/or buy handmade. Doing so results in an economy that’s more sustainable, more environmentally responsible and more socially responsible, and your Etsy shop is a great way for people to support this movement. You just have to make sure holiday shoppers perusing Etsy know about you!”

Starting an Etsy Business For Dummies offers expert advice for artists and entrepreneurs looking to build an online craft business from scratch. Readers get invaluable information on setting up an online shop, writing compelling item descriptions, photographing their work, engaging the Etsy community, understanding fees, and finding their muse when it takes a holiday. If DIY is your domain, the book gives you the skills, knowledge, and know-how to create a successful business that pays.

Read on to learn how you can boost the marketing efforts for your Etsy store and cash in on the holiday season’s buying frenzy. 

Offer tiered pricing. If all you had to offer were $25 gumball machines, you’d really be limiting your customer base. “By offering $5 items—great for stocking stuffers—as well as $100 items, you open your shop to buyers with different-sized pocketbooks,” says Strine.

Understand that giving begets giving. “Build trust and develop relationships with your customers by offering something for nothing, whether it’s advice on your blog or a gift with purchase,” notes Strine. “Because it’s the holiday season, great freebies to offer your customers are free gift wrapping or free shipping. You might also offer coupons for discounts if customers come back to buy more from you after the beginning of the year. Whatever you offer just make sure that you offer only good-quality stuff.”

Use your items in the real world. One of the simplest ways to promote your work is to use or wear your pieces in everyday life, and to always have a business card handy. “If you make necklaces and earrings, wear them to every holiday party you go to,” says Strine. “That way, when someone compliments you on your beautiful feathered and bedazzled bracelet, you can hand her your business card and tell her where to get one for those on her holiday shopping list.”

Network, network, network. Networking is a wonderful way to grow your Etsy business and the holiday season is a great time to network. “Whether you’re at a holiday party, doing your own holiday shopping around town or interacting with others in the Etsy community, make it a point to connect with people,” says Strine.

Help your community. Get your craft business some publicity by doing something to benefit your community. Strine recommends that you “hold a special sale to help a needy family in your area or offer to donate a portion of the proceeds you earn from sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas to a local charity. Make sure you let the local paper know what you’re up to!”

Provide a guarantee. No doubt about it, you can engender a lot of trust by offering to replace or refund an item if the customer isn’t happy for any reason. “Buying online can be a scary proposition,” says Strine. “Especially during the holiday season when your customers are pressed for time and stressed about getting all their shopping done, you can break down a barrier by letting shoppers know that you’re willing to work with them. We guarantee it!”

Consider a loyalty program. Loyalty programs, or frequent-customer cards, can be a great way to bring back return customers. “Your loyalty program may offer prizes, future discounts, and other incentives designed to keep customers doing repeat business with you,” advises Strine.

Impose a deadline. “Overcome the customer’s natural tendency to put things off by offering a sale with a deadline,” says Strine. “Remind customers that they might have 20 shopping days before Christmas but only 10 shopping days before your great holiday sale offer expires. Add a sense of urgency to your marketing message, and customers will respond.”

Connect with social media. It’s really easy to get so caught up in sharing our own stories online that we forget to listen to others. “Instead of using Facebook and Twitter as one big opportunity for you to advertise your wares, use them to reach out to others,” says Strine. “Read and comment on others’ posts. Congratulate a fellow seller on her successful sale or cheer up a Twitter buddy who’s down in the dumps. It’s karma, baby!”

Keep a blog. “Blogging is a great way to share tips and ideas, and provide further promotion of holiday contests and giveaways for your store. Plus, a blog is easier to maintain than a newsletter, and you can add to it anytime. Popular blog-hosting sites include Blogger.com, Typepad (www.typepad.com), and WordPress (www.wordpress.com).”

Make Google your best friend. “Don’t be afraid to turn to Google as you grow your Etsy shop or if you need some help thinking of some creative marketing options for the holiday season and beyond,” says Strine. “You’ll find everything from tips on developing a logo to the best marketing strategy for your craft business.”

Create a great e-mail signature. Most e-mail programs enable you to create an e-mail signature—a bit of text or an image that appears at the bottom of every e-mail message that you send. “Take advantage of this feature!” stresses Strine.

“The holiday season offers a great opportunity to get the word out about what you’re selling at your Etsy shop,” says Strine. “And remember, it’s also a great opportunity to create some loyal customers. With the right marketing efforts, not only will you make a pretty penny from the holiday season’s buying boost but you’ll also create relationships that bring steady business to your shop throughout the rest of the year. So put your Santa hat on and start selling!”