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Hi! I’m Lucy. Chardonnay and vintage finds lover, founder of the handmade jewelry brand bel monili *and* your new guide to making your handmade business WORK online.
Oh how I wish I could just make things, post them on Instagram, and get a bunch of sales! Life would certainly be easier, wouldn’t it?
As creatives, the “business” side of a handmade business can make us want to run and hide. But planning for your handmade business is a must if you want to make more money in 2022.
We love what we do, but we also need to make a living, right?
Your business plan will be specific to your business and where you are in the process. A brand new business will likely have different plans than one that’s established.
But within those specific details there are general “buckets” of processes and organizing that will be the same, no matter what kind of business you run, or how old your business is. It’s the perfect time to take a look at each of these areas and make plans for the new year that will help you meet your business goals.
Okay! Take out your planner – here are some tips to help with your planning and make this year your best year yet!
Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Some business owners like to plan for the entire year at once. Others will plan for a quarter at a time, or even a month. You can decide which time frame works best for you. Having goals already set for both the short term and long term will help you with your planning, as you can build tasks for your goals into your plans.
If you decide to plan out the year, be ready to make changes. Your plans may be “looser” so that you can pivot if your situation changes as the year progresses.
If you are planning on a monthly basis, then you will be checking in more often, and should plan at least a month in advance. If you’re just starting now, get January and February planned and then keep planning at least 1 month in advance for the rest of the year.
Quarterly planning looks at 3 months at a time. If you haven’t started yet, then you could start planning January, February and March right now. Sit down to plan your next quarter at the end of February.
Again, how far in advance you plan is up to you, just as long as you have something ready to go!
It’s time to crunch some numbers!
If you’re just starting your business, first of all – congratulations! You won’t have any data from last year to compare or use for planning. In this case, make an educated guess on how you would like your business to go. Think about how many sales you’d like to make, and then use that information to plan out materials and a production schedule.
If you have data from 2021, you can use that to plan out the coming year. Take a look at your sales by month – which months saw the most and least sales? Which items sold the most and the least? What venue brought the most sales – was it Etsy, your own website, or another online sales platform?
Using this information you can make sales goals for each month, and then plan how to achieve those goals.
If you have a budget for marketing, that’s great! Decide how much you’ll spend each month on your marketing efforts, and where you want to spend this money. If you paid for marketing last year, take a look at the results to help you plan for the new year.
If you don’t have a marketing budget, then you’ll rely on free social media and email marketing. Come up with a schedule that you can stick with, since consistency is very important when it comes to using social media and email for your marketing efforts.
While you don’t need to plan out each post just yet, having an idea of what you’ll post about each month will help you when it comes time to create. Take a look at monthly calendars to see what holidays are coming up, or “special days” that might be line with your products. Then you can start filling in your content calendar with some ideas.
Use a scheduling tool like Later if you can, so you can plan out your posts in advance. Batching your work when it comes to social media makes it much easier to keep on top of it, and will help you consistently post.
The same applies to your email marketing. Using an email service provider like Flodesk can help you plan out emails in advance. Batch your work with email marketing and you can create a consistent communication line with your biggest fans.
Now that the year is over, take a look at what you made this past year.
What products did well? How much did they make you in profit? Which products did not sell well? And which ones had low profit margins?
Sometimes we make something that goes over well with our customers, but might cost us more in materials or time. This is a good time to see if there are any ways you can reduce your out of pocket costs for these products, or if you can reduce your production time, so these items can work better for you.
Once you have a good sense of what worked and what didn’t work in the past year, you can plan out your product line for the coming year.
Can you create new products that you think your customers would enjoy? How can you put a new spin on current favorites?
Think about seasonal products and when you should introduce them to your customers.
Put together a rough timeline for the year on when you’ll need to order materials, and then when you’ll start production in order to meet your release dates. Also think about the types of photos you’ll need to take for your new products, and schedule those photo sessions as well.
Planning is the mark of a seasoned professional. The time it takes you to plan out your business will be well worth it.
Having a clear vision for your business, knowing what you want to do and how you’re going to do it, this all relieves stress and insecurity. I hope you’ll take the time to plan out the new year so you can go into it with confidence and excitement!
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After running bel monili (my handmade jewelry business) for 10 years, I launched Bloom in 2019 to create a community where handmade business owners could learn, grow, and support each other in this wild venture of small business ownership. Welcome to Bloom!