September 24, 2018

Calendar Planning for Q4

Can you believe it's almost October?! That means we are embarking on Q4, which is the most wonderful time of year, but for artists and makers, it's also often the busiest time of year. Chances are you've already applied to the big end of year events, and you've gotten your acceptances, so now it's time to start planning. You'll need to account for inventory, special holiday collections, marketing, and more. The sooner you get yourself organized, the more smoothly these three months will go. Let's talk through the key considerations so you can map out your Q4 for success!

  • Start thinking about how much product you need for the various shows you will be participating in. No one likes to stay up the night before an event to be sure their booth is full. Moreover, if you have several events back to back, know that you may not have time to make more in-between. Use numbers from previous years to estimate. Some recommend having at least twice as much as you expect to sell so your displays are well stocked.
  • If you don't already have a system for tracking what you make and sell, you'll be much better off if you start now before you have too much else going on. I will talk in the coming weeks about different ways to track inventory whether you are a fine artist or a crafter, so stay tuned for tips. This is where spreadsheets can be your best friend. Once you get a system in place, all you have to do is update regularly.

  • Depending on which holidays your work suits, from Halloween to New Year's, you will need to let people know about shipping dates so they can get their orders in time. As we approach the holidays, most shipping companies will share their final ship dates, but you will want to run the numbers with your production time in mind as well.
  • You should also remind your customers about your window for custom orders. People expect their gifts in time, and you will want to be mindful of how many orders you can produce in time to ship for specific holidays to avoid stress and unhappy buyers. 

  • Plan your marketing calendar around the events you will be participating in and any special sales. This will impact what you prioritize across all of the channels you use, from email to social. The nice thing is that you can quickly fill up a promotional calendar if you plan ahead.
  • For events, I highly recommend announcing your participation at least 2 weeks in advance, more if it's a big show. Then remind your fans and subscribers the week of. At the event, be sure to share updates throughout to entice visitors on the go.
  • If you're doing any flash sales or promotions, you'll need to get the word out in a similar fashion as events. Announce beforehand, remind right before and then let people know as it's going on. While you don't want to spam your audience, you will need to remind them. 
  • It's up to you which major holidays you speak to; the most common gift giving occasions are likely to benefit your business. There are of course other holidays you might want to mention as they apply to your work. These can help with relevance and timeliness of content. I recommend Holiday Insights for a list of these more offbeat occasions.
  • As we've talked about in past posts, you'll save time if you sit down and come up with email blast ideas and social media once every few weeks. 

Time Off
  • Don't forget to make time for yourself during this busy season so you don't burnout. Maybe it's a day off every time you reach a certain goal of inventory production or perhaps you block off the day after a big event to recuperate. You are more likely to be able to take the break if you plan ahead and let people know you are off the clock.
  • Running your own business requires sacrifices, but you still deserve time with friends and family. Mark off time for celebrating whichever holidays are most important to you.