This post starts a series of post about getting our business 200% ready for holiday season (I’ll call it HS). This gonna be a big challenge for both of us, but I have a really strong feeling that all hard work will pay off . If your business is somewhat similar, maybe you can hop on and give yourself a little kick to get out as much as you can from HS.
What kind of business I’m talking about?
My hubby Tytus (<3) and I are running few stores on print on demand platforms – here I wrote about this topic. It’s going ok but not awesome and we’re about to change this this year. This series will be mostly about Zazzle, partly about Redbubble, Spreadshirt and Cafepress and while some of our moves will apply only to POD stores there will be some marketing-y stuff, which you can use if you selling your art in any form, directly to the customers (in opposite to selling to companies or taking commissions)
As most of retail business, all our stores are doing best around holiday season – no surprise here, but we didn’t really take full advantage of this opportunity yet. Frankly, I think that we were never REALLY ready for this season but ha!
What does ready for holiday season mean?
In general that means to give buyers opportunity to pick our products as a gifts or seasonal decoration and this could be possible only if 1) those products exists 2) people know about it 3) and they like those. Sounds like Capitan Obvious strikes again, but I kind of need to remind myself about it all the time! Like “hey girl! how one can buy 10 different t-shirt with Holiday panda, if you only have one and not even that good” (ok my own hurtful opinion – maybe it is ok but I could do so much better oh). But seriously, you can’t sell anything if you don’t have this in your store so what I have to do is create appropriate designs in excessive amount. This is true – during HS everything gets more sales (well ok except for occasional things form other part of the year like Valentine’s Day or Easter gifts), because people need gifts for all those crazy ladies in their families or stubborn teens who only accept “anti-everything” designs but there are some group of design that are more popular from and based on my observation, this year I will concentrate mostly on
Subject matter which sells the best through holiday season
1) Halloween and Dia de los Muertos (Day of the dead) – while designs with skulls are getting love and sells whole year, October is a big month for them. We have some range of those type of products but it can be better, and since Dia de Los Muertos illustrations got us most money so far, there’s a big chance that more things like that = more sells. (obviously it might not but we’ll never know until we try).
This is amazing how terrible* Holiday designs we sold – I bet it’s because people general go wild if it come to all things Christmas-y. Not that great cat will be more likely to be purchase if it wears Santa’s hat. This kind of illustration is not exactly my cup of tea and our offer in this section is oh well kind of embarrassingly small, but I know that I just have to change it! Luckily, I already get somewhat in the mood preparing some sample for my agent, illustrating one short story which partly happens during Christmas time and I have a contract signed for whole book about Holiday which I will start illustrate in a few weeks. Crazy.
Terrible not intentionally of course! It’s not that I do crappy work for any weird reason. It’s just that those designs I’m talking about are old and few years back that was “my best” but over the years I build up my skills noticeable and now when I see those oldies I’m ashamed (sigh) that’s why recently we did great cleaning – deleted or hide many items. Now I’m more (but still not that much I’d like to) proud of how those shops look like – maybe that will make more easy for me to promote them? Which leads to next point
Marketing aka our Achilles whole leg
For some mysterious reason marketing is NOT what we both do great. Ok, I have some wins – my Facebook fan page is doing well and this very blog turned to be an unexpected success from the very begging(even though I abandoned it for a more than a month – ups never again!). But generally work/bragging about said work ratio is out of proportion. Back in a 70s and 80s my Mom was decorating storefronts. That was a tough time for our country and there was very little to buy in a shops (not that people had money or something), but my super creative mom and other artists like her was creating miracles with just handful of merchandise they ware given. You know – you have something and you get creative to make best of it.
I believe that what I tend to do is an opposite ;(
For example: my main occupation, picture books – what most of fellow illustrators do when book with their illustrations came out? They do little campaign about it – show pictures of package from publishing house, many pictures of book itself, maybe with some little reader (product in action), share some reviews, news form publisher etc. What I do? Oh, this is so horrible – I do nothing or next to nothing. I have illustrated over 30 books and few other stuff and you could not guess that judging from my online presence. (Time to change that). Why? Is not that I’m not excited because trust me I am. I keep telling myself that is just a lack of time, but truth is that I could spare this maybe 2 or 3 hours a month without a problem but I have something stupid (no idea what) inside which blocks me.
With Zazzle and other on line stores I do same and Tytus is not better at all. It looks like I do designs and Tytus concentrates “only” on adding them with a good descriptions and tags. Meaning we stay in our comfort zone all the time. But hey! time to change and get serious!
How we’re planning to promote our store?
My first impression when I think about it is this : marketing Zazzle shops is difficult. Why? Well, there are not many role models to follow – eg. all Facebook fan pages of Zazzle stores are not that great with fallowing range 200-500 likes which is very little (this sort of range means that you invite your friends to like your page and some of them did it + few random people get on board too – is a start but not a success) I don’t know why, but most of those fan pages mostly post new products links and that’s it. What we both would love to avoid is to sounds like ” Hey, here we have a new products. Buy it! Buy it!, and btw. Did you hear that we have a products to buy?” I guess we have to get creative and figure it out by ourself.
What we have so far is:
1) my previously mentioned Facebook fan page with maybe not huge(4526 today), but quite loyal following which I value enormously.
2) I pin from time to time some products into some board on Pintrest. I have about 900 followers so nut much
and that’s it ;(
So, good thing is that whatever we will do will make a difference, but there will be a lots of work as we have to starts from very basics so:
1) Create a web page which will gather info about all of our POD shops in one place. This way we will have one url to put on business cards, on other pages we create, on small stickers we’ll handing over to people who ask us what we do for living etc. On that page will go some kind of manual for using POD stores as for some people is still kind of new idea. Maybe something about our process? Like behind a scene situation. We’re brain storming.
2) Obviously put this address as mentioned above.
3) I want to get back to posting on Instagram and build following there. I need a new phone for that, pfff.
4) We need to order some items and make a awesome photo shoot for them – virtual mock ups are ok but real time pictures are 10 times better.
5) Facebook + Pintrest – I should keep doing what I’m doing only better 😉
6) As so far Dia de los Muertos designs are sort of our 20% which brings 80% of results, not only I create more of those, but also blog/page about it. With my Day of the Dead art and some things connected, my inspirations, other great artists work maybe? This is also in brainstorm phase.
Is that all? Well, that’s a start and I’m sure that as soon as we get into this more ideas will come to us in a process.
What’s our goal?
*obviously we would love to increase revenue from our shops rather spectacular, but this is more of a wish not a goal as it not depends only on us. We can only take control of our action, work hard and hope for the best
1) Increase good designs number – we have about 5 months before a) Holiday Season starts (ok for Halloween and Dia de los Muertos even less) and b) to our flight to Australia which will start another travelling season when we have to rely on hotel Internet which is usually way worse that our home one – so adding new products takes more. 150 new designs (one a day) would be doable but giving my other work engagement and 3 weeks of holiday in June (yet paper for sketches will be packed) that might be too ambitious. 100 sounds still like a lot but I’ll go with this number. That’s gonna be my challenge
2) our main goal is t learn how to promote our stores – what’s working, what’s not.
3) …and as cheesy as it might sounds (whatever), have tons of fun with a process because as wise woman said “People buy your joy” 🙂