I Made You A Christmas Plan
Here's what to do, month by month
If you want to sell your work to shops, the best time of year is coming up. I want you to have the most profitable Christmas in wholesale you’ve ever had, so I made a month-by-month plan for you.
Here’s how it goes:
You’ll ask yourself “how much money would I like to make from selling my work to shops this Christmas?”
When you’ve written that figure down, you’ll work out how many wholesale orders you need from stores to make that much money.
Then you might stare at the wall for a bit, because snagging that many orders seems HARD and you’re not totally sure you can do it.
Then you’ll remind yourself of all the hard things you do on a daily basis, and all the hard things you’ve done in your life so far, and you’ll go “You know what? I learned Mandarin / drive in rush hour / negotiated a discount on my phone bill last week. I’m not going to bet against myself on this one.”
At that point, you’ll have clarity. When you’ve written down a simple, concrete goal for the Christmas period, you’ll have an incredibly straightforward way to decide what you should be working on over the next few months.
When you’re choosing a task, you can say “Will ticking this off my to-do list get me closer to my Christmas goal, or not?”
If it does, you can steam ahead. If it doesn’t, maybe it can wait.
You’ll make your wholesale catalogue as persuasive as it can be.
You know that retailers are spending a lot of money on stock right now, and Christmas is getting closer with every passing day. That motivation and urgency is already on your side.
Providing your catalogue is firing on all cylinders, this is the time of year when stores are most likely to say “We love your stuff. Here’s our first (or next) order.”
So you’ll spruce up your product photos or take some new ones.
You’ll make your existing products more giftable and pull together a starter pack.
You’ll freshen up your existing layout or create a brand new document.
And you’ll make certain your catalogue not only tells retailers HOW to buy your products, but WHY THEY SHOULD. And you’ll do that using your own style and voice, so those shopkeepers like and trust you.
Then you’ll send your wholesale catalogue out to stores, along with a personalised pitch email or letter, making your lead times and last order date very clear indeed.
You’ll hopefully have Christmas orders coming in by now. Ideally, you’ll be able to say “Great, I’m a third of the way towards my goal” or “I’m already 50% of the way there,” and take yourself out for a pumpkin spice latte.
But handling those wholesale orders won’t be your first job.
Instead, you’ll take half an hour to plan out all the other stuff you have to do between now and the end of the year.
Christmas parties. Making an aubergine costume for your kid’s school play. Choosing, buying and wrapping presents for what feels like everyone you know.
All of that goes into your calendar now, so when December comes you don’t end up making an aubergine costume, shopping for scented drawer liners for your Aunt Annie and finishing a 500-item wholesale order in the same 24 hours.
You’ll also follow up with stores as needed, you’ll think of upsells and add-ons and you’ll consider whether a free shipping offer (or another type of incentive) might help you reach your goal.
You’ll give yourself full permission to feel scared about reaching out to stores more often than usual. Then you’ll think:
“I’m this retailer’s partner (or I’d like to be.) She wants and needs her store to be a roaring success this Christmas. To do that she needs great products on her shelves. I make a great product, so I’m going to get in touch and let her know how I can help.”
Then you’ll take another look at your incredibly persuasive catalogue, and hit send or pick up the phone.
November and December
You’ll take very good care of your customers.
Apart from the odd panicky email, the majority of stores will have finished buying. Depending on how close you are to your goal you might still run a last-minute, limited-time offer, but your main job now is making sure your stockists have what they need, when they need it.
You’ll dispatch orders on time.
You’ll stay on top of the tracking information for your parcels in case there’s a delay.
You’ll be immediately reachable when stockists have a problem or a question, and you’ll be calm and helpful when you respond.
As your final order date approaches, maybe you’ll ring round your stockists to ask how they are and check if they need a final top-up.
You’ll show you understand how important the festive season is for indie stores, and how exhausting and stressful it can be for retailers, and that you’re rooting for them.
Then you’ll wrap things up for another year.
Christmas is a great big opportunity. You can grab it or you can let it pass by.
There will be other chances. If this isn’t the year where you finally sell your work to shops in the way you know you can, that’s okay. Your time will come.
But if you want this to be the Christmas that changes things for you, it can be.
Get started today.
Hello, I'm Clare Holliday. I'm a shopkeeper who's helped thousands of creative people sell their work to stores, galleries and regular customers all over the world. Now it's your turn.