There will be a natural ebb and flow to retail sales for all of us and it can feel desperately hard to take when your Etsy sales, or craft website’s sales starts to slow down, and you aren’t sure how to breathe life back into things.
Slow down and be calm for a moment, because today on the podcast I am going to talk in more detail about exactly what you can do to boost sales when things are slow, as well as looking at why things get slow in the first place and how you can combat stunted sales over the long-term.
I know, right? This is exactly what you have been asking for and just can’t find anywhere else!
Why are my Etsy sales so slow right now?
Many of my coaching clients ask me why their sales are slow, expecting a simple answer. The truth is that sales can slow for several reasons. Let’s take a look…
Seasonal, or Monthly slumps – Seasonal slumps are perfectly natural, but can vary widely from business to business, depending on what you trade in and your customer base. Usually sales can slump in January for most people (although my own craft business was very much the exception to this rule!), and during the month I have always found that the third week, just before pay day is a real drag.
Finding out when your seasonal slumps are is usually something you can only do when you have been trading for a year or more. This is because the data you will have collected from your annual sales will be able to tell you things like; what day of the week is your busiest, or weeks of the month and even which months of the year are your busiest. It will also show you your slow Etsy sales months too. Understanding when this happens for you can be found out by setting up a simple inventory management system – check out more about that here and how to set it up here. If you Multi-channel retail (i.e. have an Etsy shop and a website), then check out my advice here and here.
Economics and Politics – Truly linked in every sense socio-economics are dominated by political happenings. An obvious example here in the UK at the moment is Brexit and as the UK started its journey into the Brexit negotiations the pound weakened, as did investment and overseas confidence, which resulted in slowing our economy. Since the Brexit referendum the economic impact has been reported to ‘represent a £24bn hit to the economy, amounting to a “Brexit cost” of £450m a week or £870 a household per year’ (Financial Times, June 2018). As I talk with my coaching clients and craft business buddies, I hear the outcome of this in terms of show takings, website takings and customer feedback… people are being cautious with their money right now.
In both instances there is little you can do in terms of your core handmade products, except hang tight and work on a business ‘refresh’. I’ll talk more about this later.
This next set of problems is something that you are directly responsible for;
A problem with your product – in rare situations there is an issue with your product that is holding you back. It might be as simple as a design tweak, or an upgrade that you need to perform in terms of better product quality (usually something that speaks to you from your feedback, or customer reviews).
Secondly it could be that your product has become out-dated. We normally think of tech products becoming out-dated, but the same is true of all products and bears a direct significance to what your competitors or the market leaders are producing right now. If you need help with market research, read this, ‘15 common mistakes Etsy shop owners make in their market research’.
A problem with your Etsy shop or website – There are two reasons here; either your Etsy shop, or website isn’t working properly, or it isn’t helping you convert your potential customer to a purchasing buyer.
I have a video course called ‘Why your Etsy sales suck’ that is going to help you out in understanding what’s wrong! Once you have this in mind you can scroll down and put some of 54 actions into place to correct that.
A problem with your social media and, or marketing - Social media marketing must be a consistent train of fresh content. The moment your campaigns get stale, or you miss a day because you feel sick then your marketing traction will fall off and you will stop appearing in your customer’s feeds. This might feel like a little thing but can have a massive impact. Social media schedulers can really help you out with keeping up consistency… check out my resources page for ideas on which to use!
Here’s some advice on why social media might not be working for you currently, even if you are posting content regularly - ‘10 Reasons why no-one is following your social media account’.
Marketing is more than just social media though, it’s; newsletters, appearing as a featured artist on other blogs and in magazines, it’s mentions and word-of-mouth lead generation. I’ll mention a whole host of these in my list below!
A problem with who you are targeting – When we first start out as craft business owners, we have a preconceived idea of who our customer is. The problem is that most of us don’t understand that our customers will constantly evolve. It’s not a case of; as one customer leaves you will automatically replace them with someone who is like-minded and wants the same thing, no! Your customer constantly evolves. Their thoughts and opinions evolve not just as an individual’s life ages, but as a collective of a social segment – their thoughts and their values will change. This means that as a producer making and selling a product to solve a problem, which essentially is what we do in business, we need to evolve with them and recognise and act on change as it happens, so that we can continue to provide the product that answers their problem.
Recognising where we think our Etsy sales problem stems from goes a long way to putting the right strategy for change into place.
54 simple things that will boost your Etsy sales when it's slow
I’ve listed 54 things I think you could do today that will help you do two things; tackle your immediate sales problems and help you to avoid stunned sales patterns in the future.
Check your inventory management system for natural ebbs in sales at this time of year and use this time to refresh your sales strategy.
Check your website, or Etsy sales data to tell you where sales are coming from, so that you can retarget your marketing efforts going forward
Check on socio-economic and political factors – are these having an affect on sales? Form a strategy for extra marketing that might help your offer reach more people online
Check your product still answers your customer’s needs
Check to see if your product needs a ‘quality’ update.
Check to see if your product needs a packaging or brand update.
Design a new product for your customer
Run the numbers and consider wholesale
Check your product pricing alongside your latest market research
Check your Etsy shop and/or website to see if it is working properly, fixing any problems with cart issues immediately.
Refresh your website and/or Etsy shop’s home page
Renew older listings to your Etsy shop’s front page, or website’s home page, so your customers have something new to see – even if it isn’t new!
Check the customer path, or flow from landing on your home page to the cart checkout. Is the process easy? Can it be streamlined?
Work on your Etsy shop and/or website search engine optimisation (SEO)
Re-photograph your products
Make sure you have enough product photos to show all aspects of your product
Improve item descriptions with more relevant keywords and a clear ‘call to action’
Maximise your descriptions SEO tags
Refresh your website pages; about page, press page, terms and conditions page and FAQ page
Update your announcement bar on Etsy, or your home page banner on your website.
Spend regular intervals reviewing and implementing lessons learned from market research
Research and consider other selling platforms – Here’s my advice
Research and consider selling at Craft Shows - check out my advice here
Research and consider upsell products (watch out for Issue 4 of My Craft Biz magazine!)
Research and consider passive income streams – check out my advice here.
Research and consider gift card, or e-cards
Research and consider monthly subscription boxes
Research and consider monthly ‘clubs’
Research and consider add-on services
Research and consider collaborations with a fellow handmade artist who serves the same niche
Social media profile refresh
Develop a more consistent social media strategy
Photograph your products in use for social media
Share your Etsy and/or website reviews on social media
Post content more regularly to social media
Ask your friends to share your social content
Use forums, or Facebook groups to reach more people
Pin your products to Pinterest – you can join my board here!
Work on a more focused, engaging and regular newsletter strategy with clearer calls to action
Add an incentive call to action to each email
Create a newsletter special offer coupon code as part of a flash sale
Start a blog on your website
Create a budget and use Etsy’s promoted listings tool
Create a budget and try a Facebook, or Instagram ad
Run a sale on old stock lines, so you can make way for something new
Offer a give away
Run a competition where someone must post pictures of your product in use on social media linking to you
Collaborate with a niche blogger/podcaster to promote your items
Collaborate with a niche blogger/podcaster to host a competition for one of your items
Get an interview with a niche blogger/podcaster to show off your products
Offer a loyalty scheme
Take the time to make a more positive mindset – you can do this, you can sell that
Learn a new business skill – Join the Craft Biz Incubator wait list here and I’ll help you build a more sustainable business!
Read a retail sales book
If all else fails, use this time to think ahead and start planning for your busier times!
I believe that all craft businesses can be built in a sustainable way and that by concentrating and refocusing on building more sales, instead of hiding away when sales get slow and panicking, that you can truly take your business full-time. This is exactly the approach I took to my own craft business and in particular to slower website and/or Etsy sales.
Join the Craft Biz Incubator here and learn how to build a truly sustainable craft business - https://my-indie-life-academy.teachable.com/p/craft-biz-incubator