Yes, it’s Fall. Time for bats & cats, scary movies, and pumpkin spice everything. But while everyone else basks in the glow of harvest gold and orange – ignore that and go straight for the red and green.
“Darnit, why can’t I enjoy Autumn like a normal pumpkin spice-loving person?” I hear you say. Realistically, however, you the artist/maker need to consider the holidays, which are just around the corner.
HOWEVER…There is a lot you can do to get ready now! (Even if you don’t do festivals and shows, in which case you’re probably already packing your car and driving down the road…)
- Holiday-ize your offerings. Consider adding seasonal decorations to your displays or graphics. It can be as simple as placing your items in little gift boxes with the top open, or adding a bit of sparkle to a product photo. If you sell larger wall art, add a note about wrapping/shipping under your existing description card, showing that you’re willing to ship. A little reminder can help admirers become customers.
- Do a run-through for potential purchases: test your links and payment systems by pretending you are a customer. Have a friend try it on a different platform, or on their phone. Fix any broken links.
- Now might be a good time to run a Facebook ad for more likes, if you’re into budgeting for that type of marketing. Particularly notice if you’re just about to hit a milestone, say 500 likes or 1000 likes. After all, you’re about to post a lot of cool things, so it’s good to have an audience! (Later, after November 1, you can run direct holiday gift-related ads then.)
- If you love getting holiday cards in the mail, why not send them? If you send art cards, you do what most other artists no longer do. This is a good thing and a bad thing. The good part is that you stand out, with a beautiful visual keepsake featuring your art that people can save, put on fridges, hang in cubicles, and generally be reminded of you and your awesome stuff through the new year. The bad part is, it’s a bit of a hassle – time and money are usually at a premium right about now and you may not have either to spare. It might be worth a small investment, though. I’ve spent anywhere from $100 to $250 to print cards. I’m a big fan of both PS Print and Moo.com for different reasons. Moo.com is faster; PS Print is slower but cheaper. (Feel free to suggest other print vendors in the comments!) The bottom line: remember to factor in the time it takes to print and mail.
- You can write and send a holiday email as a marketing tool, too. Luckily, since its online, you have more time to get this together. However, everyone else is using holiday email marketing. Your email might disappear in people’s overstuffed inboxes. So consider which kind of personal contact works best in your case.
- Get set up to offer holiday sales. Offer 10 – 20% off using coupon codes in your online store. If you sell in a physical shop, make signage and tag some of your more “giftable” items with a holiday-themed discount.
- When adding to your online content, don’t forget to remind people of gifting. This is not pushy! You’re here to solve their gift-giving problems with your one of a kind, unique item. An anecdote or testimonial from someone who received or gave your creation would be perfect timing right now. If you can, post photos of your work in someone’s hand, or in their home, so people can imagine giving it as a gift themselves.
- Don’t forget shipping and stamps. Get to a post office now, before things get busy. If you plan to send any cards, invitations or small things, now is a great time to order or buy stamps. Pick up priority mail boxes (free, if they’re still in stock). They come in three basic sizes, small, medium and large. Shipping for these is the same – if it fits, it ships:
Small Flat Rate Box – $6.80
Medium Flat Rate Box – $13.45
Large Flat Rate Box – $18.75
USPS Priority Mail fixed price boxes take 1, 2, or 3 days to arrive at the shipping destination according to the USPS website – based on the distance travelled. Whatever carrier you choose, keep in mind that shipping takes time. If someone orders an item and chooses UPS ground, depending on where they live their package may take up to a month to arrive. Being up front about your shipping times can help customers know if they still have time to order.
How early is too early? How late is too late? It’s not too late, if you start now! Online, you can post things and add to your shop throughout November and even into early December. (If you need things printed or made for you, though, that’s another story.) Believe it or not, I would advise against posting direct holiday sales before November 1. October is a bit too early for people to remember and be in the gifting mood… Remember, immediacy is key. Personally, I prepare in October and actually start in November.
In brief: make a checklist, get ready now, and be present and available during the Holiday Season, which is already upon us. So… on your mark, get set, go!
Leah Jay (Jakusovszky) has been an artist and illustrator in San Jose for 25 years. She creates using a variety of media including watercolor, acrylic, pastel, ink, and collage. Her illustrative work has been featured in many books, and highlights from her career include directing 2001’s WTC Memorial Art Project to facilitate artist’s responses to 9/11 and successfully crowdfunding her artbook “Amphibian Love” to benefit Save the Frogs in 2015.