This is my third holiday season as a handmade seller, and as I prepare my shop(s), myself, and my stock for the holidays, I'm also reflecting on things I've learned since I started down my own personal handmade highway. They might help you as well.
1. Much of your success as a seller and community member in the handmade world is all about perspective. Take time to consider the perspective of your customer as you decide what products to make, what sales to have and when, etc. Maybe half of Etsy is having a 25% off sale for some reason, but that if that doesn't work for you, that's okay. No need to run a crowd of customers screaming, "SALE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" when you're time is better spent getting to know those customers. A targeted sale to your mailing list, blog followers, or Twitter/Facebook followers/fans will almost always bring better results. That, and staying 'present.' Hang out in the forums a few minutes each day.
2. Take a cue of the big bad world of retail when you stock and arrange your shop. Customers are often more likely to buy if they feel like they're 'walking' into a store with a nice inventory. Use your store announcement (and listings) to your advantage. If you're inventory is low because you just did a huge craft fair, then let your customer know. If you'll have new items listed in 2 days, then say so. Offer a tease of the new product on your blog.
3. Remember that your product listings can contain more than just your info about product X. Take a peek at one of my listings: Winter Sugar Necklace. There's more in that listing than just info pertaining to that necklace. Your customers don't all come through the 'front door', so having that info in each listing is very helpful.
All of your listings, your shop announcement, and your shop policies should read like they were written by someone who's been in business for awhile. Try to anticipate any questions your customers might have and answer them. 90% of being successful is acting successful.
4. Offer enhanced value at no cost to your customer whenever possible. Do you gift wrap for free? Say so! What about stating that you offer free delivery confirmation with each U.S. order. I saw a seller touting this the other day, and I thought, 'That's pretty ingenius.' Delivery confirmation is basically built in when you ship through PayPal or any other online service, but why NOT emphasize it? Do you offer personalization, customization, expedited shipping, free gift with purchase, % off coupon with next purchase... the list goes on.
5. When you're going to have a sale, remember these important things (that I've learned):
a. Lots of people will visit and heart your shop when you're having a sale even if they don't buy. Sometimes the exposure itself is worth it.
b. No sale has to kill your profits. If you believe or know that you'll make a killing if you do a buy 1 get 1 free, for example, then limit the time span of the sale. You can always extend it later if you want to. Remember, your sales are customer appreciation events. Treat them that way, and if they appreciate you a little too much the first time, then re-calibrate the next time!
c. Be sure to be specific about what is and isn't included in your sale. Maybe your sale doesn't apply to necklaces or to gift sets. Make that clear in your sale verbage.
d. Offer your mailing list customers an extra incentive. My mailing list customers get advanced notice of any sale and therefore first pick! Let folks know the benefits of being on your list!
e. One big sale/order does not a trend make. When I first started out, each time I got a substantial order or a certain pair of earrings was selling quickly, I'd immediately go stock up (like crazy) thinking that the onslaught of demand was coming at any moment, and OMG, what if I wasn't ready? But here this... OMG, that almost never happened. If a customer loves a design that you've sold out of, they're usually more than happy to wait while you procure the supplies you need.
6. Finally, LOVE your product- to death. Make sure it shows in your pictures, banner, announcement, listings...everywhere. Happiness and excitement are contagious. Make your customers feel happy in your shop. Happiness sells. If you don't believe me, ask her:
Pictured above are: Money Mask by SpalenkaArt, Light Blue Abacus Necklace by Mrs. Dazo, Cash Money Print Gold on Tan by orangebeautiful, Shopping Shelly Clothespin Doll by Creating From the Heart, all from Etsy.
Hope this helped!