Lets talk about the quiet months. Now, this is a subject that may make a lot of small business owners uncomfortable discussing. It is not a topic that you readily want to admit to suffering from, the post Christmas tumbleweed affect. But, I'm putting it out there. You are NOT alone! All businesses big or small will certainly have their lulls around February, but for us small creative businesses when every sale counts, it is all too easy to go into full panic mode.
Sound familiar? Yep, it happens to me every year. It can be pretty darn scary. The flurry from your January sales has stopped and your staring at your phone waiting impatiently for that infamous Etsy cha ching. Well, I'm here to tell you that there is light at the end of the foggy February tunnel and things will get better.
Don't panic. We really are in the same inflatable dingy, travelling downstream at what seems like an alarming rate. In reality, this lull will only last a few more weeks and before you know it, Valentine's day, Mother's Day and Easter will be just around the corner. Take this as an opportunity to think about how you can push these calendar events to your advantage e.g. A new product launch or perhaps it's time to get creative with some new instagram posts. After all, new followers are potentially new customers.
Now, this is an important one which I imagine we are all guilty of doing. Comparing ourselves and our businesses to other small creative businesses. You know the ones I mean. The ones that have 100k followers and constantly pop up with their shit load of parcels they are about to send out. Yep, good for them. I really do champion all businesses, but I can't deny that it makes me feel pretty crappy about my lack of sales. So my advice to you is to take it all with a big pinch of Cornish seasalt. Instagram has a nasty habit of skewing reality and sugar coating it. Well, I'm pleased to say I have come out the other side. I am now self aware of how social media had affected me and how it had distorted my perceptions of the 'norm'. So, focus on yourself. Set your own goals, no matter how tiny. Make your own reality.
It's time to pick yourself up out of the winter blues and set some serious goals! I think it is safe to say we all love a good to do list, so get cracking. It could be the perfect time to give your Etsy shop the Spring clean it has been crying out for. There is no better time to work on your SEO than now, by the way how are your tags and titles? Perhaps you've been meaning to improve your product photography, so get snap happy! Get designing and brainstorming all those new ideas that you've had up your sleeve for yonks.
Sometimes distraction is the key to creativity!
Don't put all you eggs in one basket! This is something that I learned very early on in my business and I can honestly say, this could be one of the best tips for surviving the quieter months. Having a handful of reliable and consistent stockists is invaluable, because they too will need to come out of hibernation and start stocking their shelves for Spring. The odd order here and there can really keep you afloat during the winter silence.
Caution *Minor whinge coming up*...
As much as I love my Etsy shop and I really do ( I certainly wouldn't be where I am today without it), when Etsy decide to alter the algorithms and carry out 'tests' it can really bugger up your SEO. Combine that with February and you've got yourself a big old heap of major radio silence. It can take weeks to recover and see your traffic increase. This is why I am grateful for my other online outlets such as my NOTHS store and my own eCommerce site (this website). This can keep the cash flow steady until Etsy picks up again and with a bit of love and attention, hold tight, it most certainly will.
You may just have to ride out the Etsy storm.
This leads me to my final tip and I think the best one! Whilst reminding yourself that you are not alone and it's nothing personal, simply enjoy it. Enjoy your moments of freedom. I know this doesn't come naturally to small creative business owners as we NEVER entirely switch off. All the more reason to take some time off to spend it with our family and friends. Immerse yourself in that novel that you've been meaning to read or binge on that boxset that you've been desperate to see on Netflix. Grab your wellies and go for a hike.
Because I promise, with a few goals, some fresh air and some Spring perspective you will learn to embrace the quieter months. We will survive.