The first thing you are going to want to do is clean up your shop and your shops appearance. Great photos, nice banner, etc. I'm desperately still trying to work on this! I bought a new camera and it feels like I am starting all over again. Grrrr... I'm getting there though. Hopefully. Aren't I? haha
Make sure you don't change your avatar or your online shop banner too often. People remember these things and they're important! They "brand" you.
You're going to want to have fresh new items in addition to relisting the "favorites" - The items that consistently sell. If you sell ooak items, this obviously doesn't apply to you. You need to always have fresh items, because what if a repeat buyer comes back and you have nothing new? They've already purchased what they want from you. They're coming back to check out new things. Don't miss a sale. They are there because they like your work.
Make sure you have a variety of items, with different prices. Especially with the way the economy is now. Make sure you have "lower" priced items along with higher priced items. That way you have something for everyone, and this will help your sales. And alot of times, people will buy the big item and pick up a few small things as add ons.
If you have supplies that you consistently use, make sure you have them on hand before the custom orders come through. You don't want to be half way shipping out orders, rip off the piece of tape and realize it's only 3 inches long. Yah..... I did that the other day! LOL. I bought 2 rolls today! But at least I'm not in the middle of a holiday rush!
Make sure that your shop is divided into sections. Most people already know what they're looking for and they won't stay if they can't find it. Do the best you can with this! If you only sell one type of item, maybe separate into colors, themes, etc. Whatever applies to what your work is.
**People typically start shopping online 2 months in advance.**
Check with your post office about cut off dates for shipping, so your items can make it to them by Christmas, or whatever their purpose may be. This is especially important for international orders. Have these up in your policy section, so people can see them.
People are going to be too busy this time of year. Last minute rushing around, family, events, etc. They will NOT contact you about shipping rates, questions, etc. They will pass you and go onto the next one. Make sure they know eveything.
Add a little bit about how you made the item. You want to connect with them.
Make sure your descriptions are clear and easy to understand.
Make sure your items are relevant to the season. Christmas time has snowmen, santa, trees, etc. If you can’t do this with your items, then incorporate Christmas colors. Red, green, silver & gold. Noone is buying Easter tags at Christmas. Unless they're really prepared and ahead. Yah, I don't know anyone like that either, haha.
Get involved with social media now! Build your reputation now before it’s too late. Don't start 1 week before Christmas. If you read this post too late, don't worry. Still go ahead with it. It might help a little bit! :D
Remember, holiday season gives you usually 2 people to connect to! The buyer and the person they are buying for! Make sure you represent yourself well!
Make sure you have plenty of shipping supplies on hand. However you ship your items, make sure you're prepared. For me, I use rigid cardboard, packing tape, tissue paper and my handmade thank you tags and other little things (That's another subject too!). If you ship internationally (which you really should! You're losing sales if you aren't) then make sure you have those lovely customs forms. Everytime I go in, I always ask for a few. You will see them "venting" about it in the etsy forums. Every year.
Be unique in your shipping. You can google for inspiration, or you can even follow my pinterest board for pretty packaging ideas! http://pinterest.com/emilydugan7/pretty-packaging/
I keep all my shipping supplies in a divided little caddy. Labels, tape, customs forms, business cards (I stick them in with the orders), my thank you tags (that I attach to thank them for their order. They could've bought from someone else).
Are you going to offer gift wrapping for your customers? Are you willing to ship to the gift recipient directly? State these in your policies and get ready for those questions. You WILL get them :)
Try to get as much as you can done now, that way during that time when it's busy, you'll have nothing to worry about. Because remember, not only do you have this, but you have your own family too! :D
I keep a binder, and I print out every order. If I need to make notes, I do. Did I contact the buyer to let them know that I have received their order? Did I let them know that their package is on it's way? GREAT customer service is key.
Okay, that's enough for now. Here's a printable for you! Click on it to open it in a new window, then right click and choose save as. For some reason, this one was a pain in the butt to turn into a jpeg. Blogger kept rejecting it saying it wasn't PNG when it was, lol. SO this one is a jpeg, can't promise that it's as "crisp" as I'd like it to be. But I already printed it out and it's fine :)