Holiday Selling on Etsy: 5 Things to Do Now!

Reading time: 11 minutes

Ready for the rush of holiday selling on Etsy? I’m Etsy Coach Starla Moore, here with five things to do now to get your Etsy shop into peak shape. Next week, I’ll be back with five more. Doing these well ahead of the crush will save you stress, fend off crises, and keep your customers happy and coming back.

1: Shoot any missing photos! 10 images per Etsy shop listing

You know those listings with super blurry unedited pics uploaded to your Etsy listing straight off your camera? Replace them with crisp clean photos. Fill all 10 photo slots. Or as close to that as you can; I know that this can be hard for some industries. So I’m going to give you a couple tips.

For those of you who sell a tangible product, let’s say it’s a mug. Take photos from every angle. Is it printed on two sides of the mug? Include a shot from an angle that shows that. If it’s not, include one of the blank side. Take close-ups of how it’s printed. Photos of the inside of the mug empty, and some with it full. Maybe photos of someone drinking from it. Include a shot of the mug in the dishwasher to show it’s dishwasher-safe. If it isn’t, take photos of somebody handwashing the mug. Have one of it in the microwave if it’s microwave-safe.

The shopper needs to be able to see every feature. Just yesterday we were looking at some mugs, and we were confused. Why there was only one little loop near the bottom edge of the mug? Then, because we were shopping in person, we could pick it up and figure it out. To hold it, you’re meant to wrap your whole hand around it. That loop is to slip your pinky through to help secure your hold.

But an online shopper can’t pick things up to figure stuff out. What if an Etsy shopper doesn’t want that style of mug? Far better to make sure that buyers can grasp every detail about the product.

Even if it’s something that you wouldn’t mind yourself. Say, you sell jewelry pendants. What the back of the pendant looks like can matter. Some people don’t like when a molded pendant is hollowed-out on the back. But some people do!

 “Wow there are too many pictures of this thing!” said no shopper ever.

  • More ideas for filling those last listing photo slots:
  • Any card you include with your product
  • Info about materials or care instructions or cleaning tips
  • Print out your shipping deadlines and photograph that
  • Do the same with your return policies
  • And one showing the link to your email list
  • Also one that says follow us here that lists your social media accounts
  • Make one with a QR code to claim a coupon code

With so many ways you can use those photo slots, don’t leave them blank. Those are all different opportunities that you can use to form a positive impression.

For those selling Print on Demand (POD)

I know that filling all 10 Etsy listing photo slots can be especially challenging for you guys. You only get a limited, set number of mock-ups. For your products, where possible try to order one of each of the things you offer. And I know that you list a million variations of t-shirts, that’s not possible but try to take some of your own photos. I also recommend using an array of mock-ups. In other words, don’t stick to just the ones that Printful/whatever gives you.

What I do is take the ones that have the backgrounds. Then go into Canva and remove the backgrounds from them. Then I style my own mock-ups with my own backgrounds. If you want some ideas, look at our mugs in AlphAdapt. (That’s our Alpha Etsy shop; I’ll link it here at the end, under Resources.) I took the mug mock-up and made one pic where it’s sitting inside a microwave. By the way, we just threw these together using open-source stock photos! And I have one that shows the mug floating into a dishwasher. There’s one showing it next to a laptop with our Friday Bean screen on it. And if that’s all stock, it’s already mocked up.

So, don’t just settle for what your POD service gives you. Aim to have fun with this; be creative with the mock-ups they provide. You may not be able to get photos every time. And if you’re one of the POD shops that can’t get product photos in there? Then especially during times like the holidays you can have your disclaimer stuff. You can have holiday shipping information. There’s a host of things that aren’t the actual product itself if you need to fill a slot.

2: Gain a competitive edge ahead of holiday selling on Etsy with listing videos

All your photos already done? Then make sure to get some listing videos in there. Obviously, if you’re doing mock-ups that’s hard. But you guys could do a slide show instead. For Printful you get those t-shirt mock-ups with a transparent background. You could have them piled on top of each other; it almost looks like an actual stop-motion video.

Or you can use the motion leap app to add animated effects to a still photo. While I rarely recommend paid features to my Alphas, this is one exception. With their paid membership, you can do lots of cool things. Put an owl on your shoulder that rotates its head. Have sparkles wafting off your product. I saw one top-down shot of coffee spinning in a mug that you could put into whatever mug you’re photographing.

While you get some fun graphics with their free version, the paid plan is pretty cheap. You could even get it just for your holiday marketing, then cancel afterwards. So, get some listing videos in there! Because here’s the thing. It’s true that listing videos do not directly factor into SEO. That is, they don’t affect how well you place in Etsy search. Nevertheless, catching a shopper’s eye with a listing video could be what converts a shopper into a buyer. And making sales absolutely does figure prominently in how Etsy determines rank and listing quality.

And note too: Etsy is beginning to show listing videos in search result pages. When you type into Etsy’s search bar and get shown a page of listings? These days, those videos play right there on that search page. Those little thumbnails are moving. It’s similar to hovering your mouse over a video on YouTube. You know how it plays a little preview of that video?

On Etsy, it really makes your product stand out on a crowded search page. And that is a significant advantage for those of you in saturated categories.

3: Review your Etsy shop listings for typos and errors

Yes, this is time-consuming. But believe me, it is so freaking important. Go through all of your listings well before Etsy’s holiday rush. Reread all of your descriptions. Even if you created it with some type of copy-paste template.

For example, we just noticed in one of our AlphAdapt shop listings that I had a color wrong. To create the listing quickly, I’d used the copy-listing feature rather than start from scratch. Both were tops, just different styles. And I just copied and pasted the description. I was sure I’d gone through and updated the details. Until a keen-eyed Alpha messaged me, “Hey, you have this listed as the red one, but it’s the blue one.” Oops! No big deal – until you get an order and find out you can’t fill it because you don’t stock it. Embarrassing. And possibly worse, depending on how your customer handles disappointment in these challenging times.

So, take the time to go through and reread your descriptions. And review your other customer-facing text, too. Shop announcement, About section, policies: all of it. Online shoppers tend to place more trust in sellers whose copy has no errors. Even the odd typo, spelling or grammar error matters. These can give a cautious customer pause.

Tip! I recently added the Grammarly extension to my desktop. Grammarly’s free, and it should come in handy as you review your shop’s written material and listing descriptions. You know how when you’re texting and make a typo, it autocorrects? Grammarly does that but it’s more advanced. For instance, if your sentence structure is wonky? Grammarly will underline it and offer suggestions to correct it. No idea what comes with their paid membership, but the free plan has been insanely great for email. I recommend everybody run and grab that. Including native English speakers: we could all use a bit of help. Even trained pros have problems proofing their own work.

4: Inventory! Well ahead of holiday selling on Etsy, re-count your stock

More than once, we’ve thought we had X many of something and one’s just vanished into the ether. So, everyone who sells a physical product, take heed. The next thing to do well ahead of holiday selling on Etsy is to inventory all of it. Please. Count your stock. Make sure the quantities per listing match what you have on hand.

And if you’re an established Etsy shop and you’ve got 500 listings? If you are anything other than a POD seller, you need to go through it all. Do it by sections. Divide the task into manageable parts. But do it. Meticulously.

I know going through that many items is daunting. It’s tedious, time-consuming, and a chore. But consider. What if a product sells out overnight because somebody shared it on TikTok? You wake up to find 50 people bought it and yikes, you only have two. The closer to the holidays something like that happens, the worse it will be. Telling 48 customers you can’t send them the only gift they’re convinced can make their loved one’s Christmas complete. Stressful!

Believe me, it is easier to just count them now, well ahead of time. And here’s another tip. Be sure to write stuff down as you go. Especially if you have a lot of items to get through. Don’t just keep a running tally in your head. Because you’ll be in the middle of a count when your kid runs in bleeding or your dog pees on the carpet. That’s going to distract you and you’re going to lose track.

Smack in the midst of 4th quarter, I swear it happens every year. The worst thing that could possibly go wrong is going to go wrong exactly at the worst possible time. That’s just how holiday selling on Etsy works. The best thing you can do is prepare. And prioritize that recount of your stock.

Because it’s not just unexpected stockouts. We’ve probably had more instances of believing we’ve sold out of something. And had a bunch of people messaging asking whether we have any more. And we’ve had to say, sorry it sold out. Only to find once we ship everything out, there are three left. Did we mess up? Not send somebody their item? Or did we miscount? If it’s the latter, we could have made three more sales. Had three more happy customers. So it is so worth it to verify what you’ve got, well before the madness starts!

5. Over-order supplies; do packaging prep-work ahead

The next thing to do ahead of holiday selling on Etsy is over-order supplies. These could to be harder to come by. Last year, a bunch of people were reporting that. Suppliers of gift boxes, bubble wrap and mailers, shipping cartons were selling out. It began as early as October.

Therefore, this year don’t wait to buy that stuff. Buy it right now. Because there are ongoing shortages. Factories everywhere have been understaffed due to Covid. Most will run short before the holidays. While there might be a few boosting now and holding inventory, most will still need more time to recover.

So, don’t count on what you need being there by the time you need it. Get stuff ahead of time. Buy now whatever you use for packaging your products. Gift wrapping, packaging, shipping. You want to make sure you have all that in surplus quantities.

Then when you have all of your supplies, do any packaging prep that you can ahead of time. For example, I have to hand-cut bubble wrap, so I would do that ahead. Hand-cut tissue paper for gift wrapping. If you ribbon, cut your strips of ribbon. Tape a ruler to your table. Get something to hold your spool. Pull it, cut it, pull it, cut it. I used to use this little stamp that said, “Handmade by,” and then I would sign it on every package. So, to prep, I would just sit and stamp all those.

Find some good audiobooks, or turn on whatever you use for binge-watching. That really helps. Get the monotonous work out of the way well ahead. That way, it’s one less task on your plate if your shop does blow up during the frenzy of holiday selling on Etsy.

Now, we’re not telling everybody that their shops are going to blow up. Depending on what you sell, your busy season may be another time of year. Otherwise, prepare your shop just in case. Especially well ahead of that Black Friday three-day weekend. For many, that’s the No.1 time to get good sales.

However! The holiday selling period is also the No.1 time to get bad reviews. Because people get cranky when they don’t get their holiday stuff on time! So yes, start now on all the painstaking and monotonous work. Stock up on supplies. Prep stuff ahead of time. Worst case, you have extra stuff you won’t have to prep ahead of holiday selling on Etsy next year!

So, get busy! And I’ll be back here next week with another five things that are smart to do now. Meanwhile, see you around!

Photograph of Etsy Coach and author Starla Moore, CEO of Handmade Alpha Academy

Starla Moore

CEO, Handmade Alpha Academy


Here’s our Friday Bean live stream on which this article is based

Tools and websites mentioned, in order of appearance:

  • Motionleap to animate still photos (download it free wherever you get your apps)
  • Canva for removing backgrounds and making mockups; for examples of how we use these, look around our Alpha Etsy shop AlphAdapt
  • Grammarly free online writing assistant

Here’s a recent blog post I did for eRank on 10 free online tools we use to help get stuff done