It's that time of the year for you when sales have come to a halt.
You might be freaking out and thinking that your business is broken.
For most of us, we sell products that are seasonal.
Gift products sell best in the fourth quarter with Christmas funding most of our sales.
Wedding products do best in the spring and summer.
Planner and organizational products are great for the start of the year.
That's just the nature of doing business.
You might feel better about this if you kept busy (doing things that matter, not doing busy work!)
Here are 9 Powerful Things You Can Do When Business is Slow to get your business in shape for when you do get busy!
1. Create social media systems
Most of us creative types are on at least one social media platform.
If you have a solid social media strategy in place, you'll know that publishing new posts in a consistent and frequent manner is super duper important.
Not just for being present (“Hey! I'm alive!”) but also to give your existing audience something to engage with and consume.
Whether you're posting once a day on Instagram, four times a day on Facebook or 50 pins a day on Pinterest, you know how time consuming it is to take photos and find content that's relevant to your audience!
When times are slow, here's a great tip:
Stock up on content! If you're posting once daily, see how you might create 30 posts within the next few days.
Working in batches saves you time and doing this during a slow month will help take the social media load off your plate when your busy months come around.
Also consider taking the time to set up social media automation apps and software.
Even if it'll only take you 15 minutes to get something set up, I know a lot of creatives procrastinate on this.
Once it's done, it's done. Stop waiting!
Here's a list of my favorite social media automation tools that I use personally in both of my businesses:
- Instagram: Onlypult and Instagress
- Facebook (groups and pages) and Twitter: MeetEdgar
- Pinterest: BoardBooster
2. Create an email autoresponder
Have you heard of the saying, “the money is in the list”?
No? Well, you heard it from me first ;)
But truly, your income grows as your email list grows – assuming you use your email list with the goal to make sales.
Email subscribers have specifically signed up to your list because they want to hear from you, your business and learn more about your products.
While you may already have a small list of subscribers, most email list beginners don't know how to use or set up an email autoresponder.
An autoresponder is a series of emails that get sent automagically to your subscriber.
You can use your autoresponder to strategically get your subscriber to know, like and trust you. This is imperative to getting them to buy from you!
Once you set it up, you can forget about it and let it do the work for you!
Create your email autoresponder today and outsource a big part of your business.
3. Educate yourself
Robert Kiyosaki, the author of Rich Dad Poor Dad (great book for small business owners, by the way!) emphasizes the importance of investing in your education.
To me, that means learning in depth about the different ways you can market your business or how to make it better.
Not enough people spend the time or money doing this, and I feel this is the number 1 reason why most creative businesses fail.
It's not because you're not talented.
It's not because you don't make awesome products.
It's mostly because you don't know how to get the word out there about your business. And how to attract your ideal customers.
Whether it's learning from me and through my experiences building a multiple six figure business, or if it's with someone else, just make sure you're setting time aside to educate yourself. Learn from someone who's done what you want to do. Always do your homework and research your teacher, because there are so many without any real life experience!
While you absolutely don't need formal training or a background in the arts, success will come to you if you take the time to learn about marketing AND if you implement what you've learned in a strategic way.
4. Polish up your site
Your website is your hub for making sales.
Your site's aesthetic and style are equally as important as the purchasing experience your customers go through.
Your website or Etsy shop is a forever work in progress.
There are always things to change, edit, optimize, test.
You can use this downtime to improve on your website's appearance and checkout process.
Make sure there aren't any bugs or barriers that might cause a prospect to change their mind with their purchase.
50% of shoppers use their mobile devices to buy things online. Is your website mobile optimized?
Is your site's layout appealing, or does it make your customer want to poke their eyeballs out?
Now's a great time to work on your new WordPress site or flesh out your product descriptions.
5. Take lifestyle photos
Amazing, drool-worthy photos are a necessity to selling lots of products online.
If your customer can't see your product, or doesn't have a really good idea for what it looks like, I guarantee you they won't buy.
Product photos on white backgrounds are a must-have.
If you already have them, then consider using this slow sales month to work on taking lifestyle photos!
Lifestyle photos that showcase your product in a real life setting, either on a model or on a distressed dining table do wonders for creating desirability for your product.
These types of photos are great for evoking emotion and people buy based on feelings and emotions.
A prospect might subconsciously think – “I could look this happy.”
“I could look this good.”
“I could feel this loved.”
“I could live a picture perfect life like this.”
It's not about logic.
It's about how you make your customers feel.
It can be a time consuming project, considering you'll have to research people to work with, locations to shoot at and plan for how you'll ultimately want to photoshoot to look like.
Start the process now, especially when you don't have as many orders to make and ship out. It'll be a great investment for your business!
6. Schedule your blogging in advance
If blogging is part of your marketing strategy, you can most definitely schedule your blog posts out in advance.
The best blog posts are the ones that are evergreen, meaning that it's a topic that people are always searching for no matter the time of the year.
Your blog posts should really be about your customer and how you can help them (and strategically tie in your products). Your blog should not be like a diary, because unless you're Kim Kardashian, no one cares where you went or what you ate last night.
Blogging, in that way, is different from social media.
While I highly encourage my clients to share more of their personal life on social media, that's because social works at such a high speed. A post from a week ago is old news. Social media is less “sticky”. People connect and relate better to shop owners when they are more human.
Blogging, on the other hand, is far more sticky – and it should be if you want to make the most of your blog posts.
Research topics that you might write about and plan your editorial calendar, which basically spells out which topic you'll write and when.
Then you can take your slow days to write those blog posts out in advance and schedule them to publish on specific dates.
7. Plan your product and marketing calendar for the rest of the year
If you run a business that launches product collections following the seasons (Fall/Winter, Spring/Summer) then you'll definitely want to be working ahead of time on your product calendar!
Designing new products can take a lot of time.
It's best to do so when you're not busy trying to do a million other things at once.
So even if you're not launching a new line in the next few months, you can definitely start putting together your collection now so you can focus on marketing when launch date is closer.
The same can be said about your marketing calendar.
You can schedule out when you want to do your giveaways, work on collaborative projects with other makers and/or influencers and the media, when you're having sales and so on.
This way, you're not double booking yourself and each “event” has your focused time and energy to be promoted. (Yes, even sales and giveaways need to be promoted!)
8. Research stores and media to pitch
Getting in front of other people's existing audiences is a highly effective way to put your business growth on hyperdrive.
That's how I built my multiple six figure business.
In order to get seen by other people's audiences, fans and readers, you need to pitch to them!
This process of outreach – whether it's to stores to sell wholesale or media to feature your work – can be time consuming.
Mostly because you should be researching suitable stores, sites or people for your own unique brand.
The more research you do, the better your pitches will be and the higher your conversion rates.
When business is slow, build up your spreadsheets to include:
- Bloggers and websites
- Social media influencers and celebrities
- TV shows
- Stores to sell wholesale to
- Daily deal sites
The pitching step itself isn't all too hard, so if you've already got a huge list of people and sites to work with, more than half the battle has been won!
If you need the extra help, sign up for my free email course on doing your own PR and Publicity. It will teach you how to pitch in general, which will be useful for pitching to anyone!
9. Create production and shipping systems
I mentioned in point 2 above on the topic of autoresponders that outsourcing doesn't have to be to human beings.
I know you're probably scared and think you're not even ready to hire out production and shipping.
If you're not making consistent sales now, how could you even afford to hire help?
The saying “start before you're ready” cannot be any more perfect for this.
When I started the process of hiring help for my jewelry business, I wasn't making consistent sales either.
But I knew I couldn't make the income I wanted while still making or shipping every single necklace and doing marketing at the same time.
Because my jewelry is made to order and my assistants get paid on a per piece rate, I didn't need to have a pile of cash sitting under my bed to make outsourcing possible.
Here are a few quick tips on starting this process:
- Set the right expectations with your helpers – make sure to only pay them for what you know you can sell
- Pay them by per piece rate, so you're not paying for stuff you can't work with and this will keep your assistants highly motivated
- Start hiring and training them now, because it will take you months if not years to find the right people you want on your team
- Set up a made-to-order policy or a slightly longer turnaround time in your store so you have the funds from the sale to pay your assistants.
What are some of the things you do when business is slow?
I hope this article was helpful! Now you don't have excuses for what to do when things are slow for you ;)
If you have other things you like to do when business is slow, please share in the comments below!