We’re heading into the biggest shopping season of the year. No matter how big or small your creative business might be you can take some steps now to make the most of it. Here are a few things I’m working on now to get ready.
1.Build your mailing list.
In November of last year I had about 4,500 people on my mailing list. My goal for 2015 was to double it and I’m almost there.
Growing a mailing list requires ongoing effort and lots of creativity and nurturing all year-long, but October and November are great months to give that extra push.
In mid-October I made a pattern for a bird and posted it here on my blog for free. Creating a pattern and tutorial for a project is incredibly time-consuming and it probably took me six hours to create that Circle Bird post. Giving it away might seem like a waste of time, but it’s part of a larger strategy. That free pattern worked really hard for me.
Let’s look at the stats from my MailChimp app on my phone:
I submitted the post to several aggregators and it got picked up by CraftGawker, CraftGossip and AllFreeSewing within the first few days. When all of those new readers come in for the first time it’s so important to give them something they can quickly and easily do to stay in touch with you. For me, that’s the HelloBar popup and it works really nicely. That’s the first bump you see.
Then, later in the month it got picked up by SewCanShe. Caroline’s mailing list is enormous and over 100 people signed up for my list on they day she featured my tutorial. Without the pop up most of these new visitors would look at the tutorial, maybe pin it for later, and then click away.
Another approach would be to offer the pattern as a lead magnet to attract new subscribers. Although I like that idea, too, you’re on the hook for advertising the post and you lose out on work that large aggregators can do for you.
Making a free pattern isn’t the only way to build your list. Now’s a great time to:
- Guest post on a blog that’s widely read by your target customers
- Cross promote your list to your social media followers
- Ask your current subscribers to forward your email newsletter to their friends
2. Stock up on everything.
Besides PDF patterns I sell specialty supplies for people who sew. Last year I ran out of hemostats on the first day of my 3-day Black Friday sale which was really frustrating. This year I’ve looked carefully at my inventory and reordered well in advance. I’ve contacted my publishers to get copies of each of my books, ordered shipping supplies from Uline and ink for the printer and stickers for the bags and thank you postcards. Lots of boxes have been arriving here lately!
3. Freshen up your look.
Just like you might buy a new top for a holiday party so that you look your best, now is a good time to freshen up your online presence. Be sure your branding is consistent across all platforms and maybe create a new avatar or banner image. I just freshened my Etsy shop banner and shop icon.
4. Plan something new, surprising, and sharable.
I remember last year when designer Ashley Goldberg did a daily Instagram post throughout December showing a creative way to wrap a gift. It was beautiful and brilliant and definitely took planning. I don’t have something like that planned (yet!) but I’m putting the finishing touches on a new product that I’m getting ready to release soon, plus I have a few new supplies waiting to be photographed and listed.
Shopping is often an emotionally driven decision so when you do release your new product or campaign, remember to think about the story you’re going to tell about it.
5. Send out a holiday card.
Last year I got a really lovely card from Cheryl Arkison. It wasn’t her family’s holiday card. It was Cheryl’s professional holiday card featuring a picture of her outside with one of her quilts and a holiday greeting inside. I loved it!
The holidays are an ideal time to send warm wishes to all of your professional contacts. I’ve really been striving to get snail mail addresses for everyone this year and I have a holiday card all designed and ready to go. I’m not expecting anything in return. It’s just a way to say, “Thank you for being part of my business family this year.” It’s really not very expensive to get them printed and mailed and I really think it’s nice.
I’m interested to hear your ideas for getting your business ready for the holiday season. I’m sure there are lots of other creative and smart ways to go about this. Please share!