Christmas is coming! I know, I know...it's only the 4th October, but I've been planning and making for Christmas since July so this doesn't feel weird for me, but I do appreciate that it may be a tad early for some. Now that my Christmas collection is on the website for all to enjoy, with further products to follow over the next couple of months, I thought I would briefly share with you how I have gone about planning for the festive period.
As this is my first year as a fully fledged retail business owner, the thought of starting my planning for Christmas in July seemed a bit daft, especially as I was sat here in shorts and t shirt whilst doing it (very difficult to get into the right mindset of snowflakes and silly jumpers when its over 24 degrees!) but I was so glad I did. The retail world really does start to think about the festive season in January, and in a way I wish I had too and I will be doing just that for 2017.
However, having said that, the past year or so has been a massive learning curve and my ideas, goals and plans have evolved and changed constantly over that time, so any Christmas ideas would most likely have changed too.
So, not having the faintest idea where to start I stumbled upon a course run by the lovely Jenny Hyde, called Christmas Support (www.thejennyhyde.com). Run over the month of August with five live webinars, a Facebook group and the chance to ask daft questions to Jenny too, it was money well spent. Not only was I able to have my questions answered by someone who didn't think I was an idiot, it was great to know that I was not alone in needing the support for this coming festive time, that Jenny was able to give clear guidance on all the different aspects; financial, social media planning, designing, making and creating that I should be thinking about. We were encouraged to visualise what our ideal Christmas would look like and how our products would be used and what feelings they would provoke.
I had a vision of what I wanted my Christmas plan to look like, what images I would need and the feel I wanted to create. I've tried really hard to achieve this. Not being an expert, I'm fairly happy so far, with plenty more to do, but my skills don't quite live up to the results I wanted and neither does my budget! However, by the end of this month I hope that I will have created something festive, cosy, nostalgic and warming, evoking that feel of a traditional Christmas that I love and that I hope my customers (you!) do too!
So along with making and creating new products, ordering festive products from my suppliers (candles and candle holders) and making decisions on what to stock when, I also had what seemed like the mammoth task of deciding what my social media strategy and images would look like. Wow. I put this off for about two weeks, not really understanding how to go about it. I already plan a lot of my blog posts, newsletters and social media posts in advance but doing it for a theme like Christmas that would pretty much cover two whole months or more left me feeling a bit overwhelmed - where do you start?!
Well, the answer to that is wine...no, not really...instead I made the decision to set aside an afternoon to plan. So armed with about 20 sheets of A3 paper, notebooks and lots of lovely colour pens, I sat on the living room floor and basically didn't move until I have a plan laid out in front of me!
I had a list of images I wanted to post on each platform, for Instagram I now have a list of images for every day in November and December, which is a first for me, as it means I'm not winging it for a change! Twitter and Facebook and my website all have a plan with topics and images mapped out. Still some gaps to fill and I haven't tackled Pinterest yet (LOVE Pinterest!), but I have blog posts planned and some drafted, and now as I write this, the Christmas collection is live too.
After two days of photography and editing and a whole 8 hours of uploading and writing listings, it's there! Phew. Still more lovely gifts to come but I'm so pleased that I've managed so much this early in October. You can see it here
It does mean that the office wall is covered in wall planners and sheets of A3 but I can go into the Christmas season feeling so much more confident and hopefully, ready!
I now promise that I won't mention the C word again until next month!
Until next time...