Crickets to Cha-Chings Episode 007
Planning for the summer with your Etsy shop
Hey there and welcome back to another episode of Crickets to Cha-Chings. My name is Lauren, and I am just so thankful that you are back today to listen in on another week of Etsy learning.
Today we are going to talk all about planning for the summer - how to get your shop ready to go for the summer months. This episode is particularly geared for you if you have children whose schedule changed dramatically for the summer months when they get out of school, but even if you don’t have children there will be some nuggets of advice on how to get your shop ready for seasons when you have less time to work or you want to take a break or what have you.
That is what we’ll be covering today, but before we get started I want to read the spotlight review for today.
This is something that I’m hoping I can do every week, although I need y’alls help to have enough reviews that I can do it every week, and if you leave your Etsy shop name in the comments or as your username I’d love to check it out and highlight you in the podcast.
Maybe it can help to drive some traffic to your shop and bring in some buyers. Today’s review comes from Nicks_Future_Girlfriend who unfortunately did not leave her Etsy shop name, and it says “Lauren is so knowledgeable about all things Etsy! She really helps to direct you to narrowing down your shop while still being flexible to make changes once it launches. I love the personal stories she shares that back up her instructions. Awesome podcast!”
Thank you so much to Nick’s Future Girlfriend, I appreciate you listening and leaving a review!
So let’s jump right into to our episode.
The first point I want to make before we really get into how to manage your time and potentially cut back for the summer, is that it might not be feasible for you.
Now stay with me for a second, because you’re probably wondering why I would say that when I’m about to talk all about the very same thing for this whole episode and if you’re wasting your time listening to the episode. Of course, I never think you’re wasting your time in learning because you can always glean a few little nuggets of info or make the ideas work for you, even if the topic isn’t directly relevant to your situation, but if you have not been in business for long enough to know the cycles of your shop, I would not take the summer off or take this time as the time to cut back on your orders.
The reason for this is because although summer CAN be a slow season for some shops in some industries and niches, it can also be a historically very busy time for other niches.
If you aren’t sure which one your shop falls into, I would highly recommend that you have an entire year where you dive headfirst into your shop and let the sales fall how they fall before you spend any time stepping back in a season, because otherwise you will not know what the seasonal trends are for your shop and your niche.
I talked about it in the previous episode, but the summer is one of my busiest times of the year for my shop.
Over the past 7 years, August has been my absolute busiest month out of the entire year, every single year. It could be for a variety of reasons, such as August being the statistically busiest month for births, or it could be that people are coming back from vacation and finally getting their lives back into a groove so they are thinking about buying gifts or whatnot. I’m not exactly sure, but I do know that it has happened year after year, so I know to plan around that.
If you are in a niche such as babies like I am, or weddings, or back to school gifts, summer may be a very busy time for you and unless you are consciously deciding to step back from your busy season, you don’t want to miss out on the sales just because you didn’t plan ahead and think it through.
So that’s my caveat that this, like so many other things about running a business, may or may not work for you and your goals for your business, but let’s talk about how to cut back and balance life and family and work during these summer months if that is something that you end up deciding that you want to do.
This summer is the first summer that I’ve made the decision to take a major step back from my shop in order to spend more time with my kids while they are out of school. And I do NOT say that in a mom-shaming way, so please don’t hear that. I’ve been doing this for 7 summers, and this is the first time I’ve cut back at all, so I’m definitely not one to guilt you about NOT making that decision or not being a place where that is something you can do or WANT to do.
There are also a few other things at play in my life that may or may not be true in yours, such as the fact that my kids are in a school that has what is called a flex schedule, so they get out of school the second week of June and go back to school right after the fourth of July. This makes it exponentially easier for me to plan for their time off, because they are only off for about a month rather than the two and a half or three months that a lot of kids get off in the summer. I will probably still be working about one day a week in my shop, but that is a huge change for me from my normal five days a week during the school year, so I am looking forward to seeing how it works!
So how does this work and how do you get started or plan for some time away if you want to step back a little bit over the next few months? My first tip would be to cut back on orders that take a long time to make. If you are limited in time because your kids are out of school, or they are going to part day preschool or vacation bible school or something like that, then cutting back on orders that are disproportionately time consuming is a good place to start.
Whether you have 10 listings or 100, I am confident that there are some that take longer to make than others, or have more details or concentration needed in them, and these are good ones to deactivate while you get through the summer.
But what if these are your best selling items, or the ones that are the most visited? Then maybe a better idea would be to limit the number available. I used to have a listing in my shop that was super time consuming to make, but it sold REALLY well. I didn’t want to deactivate it, because it was such a good seller and it had a pretty high profit margin, so it seemed like a good listing to keep up. However, it was just so time consuming that I also didn’t want to log into my Etsy shop one morning and see that I had like 10 of them in my order queue that I had to do, because I knew that would overwhelm me.
In order to limit the sales and not be overwhelmed, I limited the number of them available to only 1. That way, when it sold, it would show up as sold out. I would leave it showing as sold out until I finished the listing that was in the queue, and then I would renew it until it sold again. I never had more than one of these in my outstanding orders, so I knew I wasn’t going to be swamped with this same item being sold over and over, but it allowed me to still offer it to customers who wanted it.
So if you have an item that sells well and draws people into your shop, but it isn’t your favorite item to make or it takes a long time, limiting the number of them available is a good place to start to make sure you aren’t going to be swamped with really time consuming orders.
Another way to use your time most effectively is to temporarily pause custom orders or to dramatically limit the amount of custom changes that someone can make. I’ve talked before about how I think accepting custom orders is a great strategy when you are starting out and building your shop direction and inventory...and I totally do think that.
In fact, I accepted totally custom orders up until about 8 or 9 months ago. I’d let people pick the design, and the colors, and the patterns, and the fonts...everything! The order was 100% custom, and they could change every little detail of the order that they wanted.
But here is what I’ve found after doing this for so many years -- those custom orders are incredibly time consuming. And there were SO many times that what I was making for someone was NOT something that was ever going to sell again, so it didn’t benefit my shop beyond the one off sale that I was working on.
Custom orders are a great way to get feedback from your buyers about what they are wanting, the trends or designs that are current and popular, and to give you a niche that you really specialize in, but if you are pressed for time and don’t have a ton of creative energy to expend because you are up to your neck in kids being home all summer, they may not be something that you really want to focus on for a few months.
If you do want to continue to take custom orders even while you are more limited in time, I’d watch out for a few things that can send red flags up -- the first is people who email back and forth a LOT.
I’ve had custom orders before that have taken days or weeks to hammer out all the details. I actually went back and looked at my convos from when I was super deep in custom orders, and I think the longest running convo thread that I had for a custom order was FORTY FIVE convos for a $32 order. FORTY FIVE EMAILS.
Now, you could say that maybe that was partly my fault because if we had to go back and forth that many times I apparently was not being very clear about what I needed from her in order to make the set, but there are also times that the customer is just very specific, very needy, or very chatty. And that’s all fine and dandy, except when you are pressed for time. I do not have time to email someone forty five times for an order. I need them to tell me what they want, I can make it, and we can all move on with our day.
Another thing to look out for when you’re dealing with custom orders and time management is very, very specific orders which depart from your normal designs. This can be really difficult, because what I’ve found is those orders slow me down so much. Rather than being able to just glance at the notes or glance at the picture of the order I’ve created before, I have to carefully read every single note that I’ve made in the custom order and go back through all the convos where we’ve talked about details in order to get it right.
And if you’re in a working groove of making the same things over and over again like I get when I’m working, having to stop, read, mentally process what we’re talking about, and then carefully do every single part of the order which is all changed up and new can totally kill that groove and slow you down so much.
My next tip for managing your time over the summer is to cut down on your listing offerings so that you can better batch your items. If you have collections that all fall into the same category, like your entire shop is candles, this wouldn’t be as applicable.
But if you have things that are related but not all the same, say you make water bottles with vinyl lettering, and you make baby bodysuits, and tshirts, and tote bags with the same vinyl lettering, it may be a good idea to cut back on some of the listings and only focus on one or two categories for the summer.
Just like with custom orders, when you have to stop what you’re doing, totally switch gears, and do something different it is going to be more time consuming. It will always be the most efficient to do the same thing over and over again, hence the whole idea of and creation of assembly lines. If every time Ford made a car they did one car from start to finish before starting the next car, it would take FOREVER to make cars and we’d have to pay a bajillion dollars because they would be so expensive to make.
But that’s not how they do it. They do all the like items at the same time, and then move on to the next group of like items. And you can do this too on a smaller scale. By eliminating a HUGE amount of choices in your shop and just focusing on a few, you can up your productivity and increase your efficiency in creating your products.
Lastly, I want to make a point that if you are thinking about taking a step back over the summer or reducing your workload for a few months while your kids are out of school or you want to take some vacation time and enjoy your summer, I would really think about using that time to make sure that your shop is super optimized and ready to go for the fall so that you can hit the ground running.
Even if you want to step back for June and July, you probably are going to want your shop to be ready to jump back in come August and the holiday shopping season, so this is a great time to work on the back end of your shop. Don’t let the whole summer go by with your shop just being stagnant and not doing anything -- this can be a really good time to play around with things, work on your SEO, and figure out how this shop is going to work for you and your family, even if you don’t want to be inundated with orders for the next several weeks.
The fall is a busy season for most shops and niches, because buyers are finally back home from summer break, ready to shop, and beginning to gear up for the holidays, so you want to make sure that come late summer you are not scrambling to get everything in gear.
Along those lines, I want to let you all know that the doors to my signature course, Etsy Roadmap to Success are opening on June 11. This course will walk you through all the ins and outs of having your shop set up and ready to hit the ground running, and we’ll be working together with group coaching and live Q&As through June and July.
If you’re interested in hearing more about the course or being on the VIP waiting list when the doors open for extra bonuses, head over to https://www.creativemomboss.com/roadmaptosuccess to sign up for the waiting list.
I hope this episode has helped you to think about what your goals are for your shop for the summer, and if you want to dive headfirst into busy summer months or take a step back and...not.
There really is not a right or wrong answer for that, and again I don’t ever want you to feel like I’m telling you what will work best for your family. I don’t think that the myth of having everything all at the same time - the job, and the business, and the family, and sitting by the beach rolling in the money without ever working like we see on social really exists. It is not possible to have this amazing money flow where you just don’t even have to work and you’re rolling in dough...it takes prioritization and time management, and I think that it is ok to have different seasons where different things are prioritized.
And I do NOT mean that that has to always be your family, although it sounds bad to say that you are not prioritizing your family and of course I don’t mean that your family should totally suffer or you just ignore them, but I also DO think it is ok to have seasons of your life where you are prioritizing your business.
There were and still are certainly seasons of my life where our family time took a back seat to work, and although I do not think that is healthy for the long term or for your whole life, it’s a season of life and putting in that work allowed us to have other seasons where we weren’t working as much.
So anyway, I just don’t want to play into that myth or sort of culture of mom guilt or job shaming where we see so many things projected onto us of how we can be the perfect mom and business person and wife and friend and daughter and everything all at once.
I’ll step off my soapbox now, and wrap this up. Remember to head over to creativemomboss.com/roadmaptosuccess if you want to join that VIP waiting list, and I will see you back here next week, same time, same place. Bye for now!