The summer is coming to an end but I get people messaging me or talking about slow sales. So let’s take a few minutes to talk about what to do when your things are going slow in your handmade business, or when sales stop.
Why do you have slow sales?
- It’s a slow buying time. In the summer people are on vacation, they are off with their kids, outside doing stuff. Slow sales could be because they are not at their computers much or even at all. This affects all online businesses because you need people to be online to sell, otherwise slow sales. Or no sales. After Christmas not as many people are buying (after gift cards are spent that is!) so things slow down. As tax season approaches things slow down a bit because people are worried about taxes. Sales go up and down for everyone depending on the season.
- There are not many buying holidays. You know, Christmas, Valentines Day, Mothers Day…. people aren’t buying as many gifts for others.
- It could be your products. People selling wedding products do very well in the summer but knitters might not because how many people are buying wool scarves in the heat? (Solution: take some time to develop more product and product lines that can be sold during other seasons or year round)
What NOT to do when you have slow sales
- Don’t panic. Stay calm – this is all part of the normal sales cycle. Seriously, it happens to almost everyone, there are peaks and valleys in all businesses no matter what field you’re in. Just remember you’re not alone and many are right there with you dealing with slow sales for the season.
- Don’t get too down on yourself and think ‘woe is me’. Keep a positive mindset. Sometimes people get depressed about the slow sales and stay stuck in that mindset. Stop. It is not you, things will get better. When I first began my business whenever this happened I freaked out and I thought there something that I was doing terribly wrong. I stressed over my photography, my SEO, my social media, my products and just plain me because I was my business. It was depressing. But with 6 years under my belt, I’ve realized it’s ok, it’s part of sales and to not take it personally. No one has consistent sales all year round. So take a deep breath and realize it’s all going to be ok.
- Don’t give up. Remember this is normal and EVERYONE goes through it. Many times the depression from low sales causes people to give up on their business entirely or not do anything with it until sales pick up. Don’t fall into this trap! Businesses who succeed and thrive are the ones who understand that slow sales times happen which means getting to work and continuing to improve. This can better position your business for when things do pick up.
So what should you do? Sit back. Relax, get caught up on Netflix. Kidding. Get to work!
Take this time when things are slow to get things done that you normally don’t get to and prepare for when you are busy. Keep working, it will pick up. That doesn’t mean you can’t take a break because hey, it’s summer and everyone needs a break but keep things moving and improving. Take some of that time to get to things you normally don’t have time to.
Ideas of what to do when things slow down
If you sell seasonable products find other products and product lines you can sell year round. If you specialize in Christmas ornaments think about and begin developing products and product lines that can be sold during other seasons all year round which will help you have more steady sales throughout the year.
Check up and follow up with past clients or inquiries. Maybe there was someone asking a few months ago if you sell wholesale or if you could do a custom order. Go through and see if there are any leads you could follow up with.
Rephotograph bad photos. We all have them. Product photos that you aren’t exactly where you want them to be but you just haven’t had time to redo them during the busier seasons. Now is your time to take them to the next level! (check out all these posts on product photography)
Make sure your announcements and policies are up to date. During the holiday’s things can get busy so you want to make sure all your store policies are in line to avoid any confusion down the road.
Work on collaborations with other business. Maybe there’s a giveaway you wanted to do with another small business but didn’t have time to get all the details in order. Now’s your chance! You can also take this time to approach influencers to review products, feature your items, host a giveaway. These can either be arranged for the summer or later on down the road during the holidays but at least you can have the connections made and the details in order.
Purge your items and clear out products that aren’t selling well. Hold a quick summer sale to make room for new products and other items that sell better. It’s hard to let go of some pieces, especially ones you love and worked hard on. Be honest with yourself and think if there are things you can do to improve your listing (SEO, photography, description, pricing). If not, let those non-selling items go to allow other, better-performing pieces to sell.
Adjust your SEO. Do some keyword research and make sure you’re optimizing your product listings. SEO is very time-consuming and takes a lot of trial and error, so use this time to do some more research and get your SEO in tip top shape before the holidays. Here are some top myths and facts about Etsy SEO.
Make sure that your product listings are up to date. Sometimes people tag things or have descriptions related to a holiday but forget to change them out. For Etsy, that means check your tags and switch them with something more related to the season.
Get started on that email list! During slow times you can take advantage of your email list and sell to them. Haven’t started an email list? Time to get started on one. A great easy program to use is Mailchimp; it’s a great free resource for those just starting out.
Start planning and writing out your emails. If you do have an email list and plan to use it to advertise to during the holidays, begin writing your emails now. This way, while you’re in the thick of it, you won’t have to think about them and can just click a few buttons and they’re ready to send.
Train assistants. If you’ve done the holidays before and it was all too much for you to handle, find someone who can help you during the busy season and get them trained. Even if it’s someone who can help you package and ship your items or a virtual assistant who can answer messages. You don’t have to do it all yourself!
Clear out that inbox! Get rid of the junk. Decide what ones you need to take action on and take action. It’s so refreshing getting it all taken care of.
Create new products. Sometimes it’s hard during the busy seasons to sit down and make new things. This is your chance! And guess what, while it’s probably the most fun part of owning a handmade business it can be constantly put on the “back burner” when your filling orders and answering emails during the busy season. This doesn’t mean you have to release them right now, but you can make them, photograph them and get them ready for when you do want to release them. (Social Media Tip: Share sneak peeks!)
Edit product listings. Make sure all the information someone needs to order is there. Check the variations. Edit descriptions.
Stock up on your more popular products. I have a couple of pieces I know will sell when the holidays roll around so I’m making sure I’m prepped and ready. My friend Candy over at Candy Argyle Designs makes beautiful Christmas stockings which sell out fast but she can only make so many during the holidays so she is working on stockings all throughout the year so she’s stocked up for the busy season.
Find new suppliers. It can take hours and hours of research to find a new supplier. Maybe you want to find a supplier that has a lower price than what you currently buy them at. Maybe your looking for new ideas for product packaging or a new printer for business cards. Now is the time to get searching for them.
Make holiday gifts for friends and family. I love making gifts for people for the holidays but while I’m mid-season it is the last thing on my mind because I’m furiously working filling orders. So I try to get started early on and have their gifts ready to go. For acquaintances, friends, and neighbors we make lots of fresh jam from local berries in the summer time. Everyone loves it and it is the perfect summer project.
Tweak your branding. Is there anything in your branding that needs adjusting? Get your free branding resource guide to see if there is anything you can be doing to take your businesses branding to the next level!
Decide on your holiday promotions and schedule. Make the graphics and get it ready to go. What are you going to do for Black Friday? What is your sale going to be?
For all you MAMA MAKERS out there:
Set up a system for meal plans, they make life so much easier.
Make a chore chart for your kiddos. This will help them establish a homework/chore routine so that when you are busier they’ll know what to do without you.
Organize the house a bit. When it’s organized then it’s easier to deal with when the busy times hit.
Teach your children a new skill. Teaching takes patience and for me during my busy times is not the best time to teach my kids how to properly clean a mirror or how to make pancakes on their own. When it’s slow teach them so they can learn how to do it on their own.
So, what’s your plan for when you have slow sales? Share your thoughts below.