Like many moms this time of year, summer camp has ended for my two boys and I find myself home with them for three more weeks until classes begin in September. So what's a crafty girl with a creative business to do during this time? Close up shop? No! Here are eight tips to help crafty moms stay creatively active, sustain an online presence, and continue making sales while caring for their children during summer break, or any break for that matter.
1. Renew, renew, renew.
When the kids are home, I am busy planning outings and playdates for them so I don't have time to create and add new listings to my shop. However, low and behold, Etsy has this amazing "renew" feature that allows you to refresh your listings. When you renew an item, it moves to the top of your shop and appears on your site just like a brand new listing. Etsy charges 20 cents per renewal but it is well worth it. It keeps your shop looking fresh and not abandoned which is a turn off to customers. If you have an Etsy shop, this is the way to go. If your shop is not on Etsy, there might be other ways to work on SEO during this time so your shop can be found by potential clients.
|Night time sewing|
2. Engage in night time crafting.
I have items in my shop that I offer on a custom order basis and sometimes they are ordered when the kids are off so I need the sewing time.
After a long day at the swimming pool, the zoo, or the museum, the kids are usually tuckered out (hopefully) which means early bed time, and mama can get that order out! I engage in nighttime crafting a lot during the summer. It's also a great time to experiment with new ideas as the kids doze off to lala land.
|Spring Break 2014|
3. If you are a blogger, blog about your activities with the kids.
I've done this a couple of times, you can see one such post here. I blog about our vacations, our outings to the park, the library, whatever. It makes you a real person to your readers/customers. You have a life, you are not a machine. I like sharing this part of myself with the world. I want people to know the context I create in. My attempt at authenticity has brought me into community with other moms and if I can inspire anyone along the way, even better...and don't forget to insert a link to your shop somewhere in the post. That's the whole idea!
4. If you don't already have one, create a kids version of your craft.
Why not? They are there so they can act as a focus group. Ask them what they think about a particular material, style, pattern, whatever. Make something for them, have them serve as models, put them to work, lol.
From time to time, I do make clothes for my boys and have been toying with the idea of a kids line. The idea actually started last year while they were home during winter break. I made this color block sweatshirt for my younger son and many people became interested in buying one for their kids. I got busy with my museum job and wasn't able to bring it to fruition at that time, but it is something that will happen, eventually, when the timing is right. The point here is that the idea was sparked during a school break.
5. Comment on blogs, post pictures of "ready to ship" items on your social media platforms.
If you have "ready to ship" items, by all means, call attention to them on your social media platforms. This is a great way to continue making sales during school breaks. All you have to do is package the item and take a trip to the post office which might turn into a fun outing with your kids.
Also, when you comment on blogs, you can add a link to your shop, if it is allowed and appropriate. This also helps bring traffic to your shop.
6. Create WITH your kids.
Break times are great times to do some crafting with your kids. I whip out my printing supplies and other craft materials and go to town. I usually have to coax my older son to join me in this but the little one loves it. He has autism and these kinds of activities are great for his sensory issues.
Crafting with the kids allows them to see what you do, be part of it, and inspire them in the process. Let's face it, at the end of the day, the people you want to impress most is your family...and once again, take a photo, post it on social media and don't forget to link to your shop!
7. Be transparent.
If you're overwhelmed with the kids and you sense that you can't get your orders out in a speedy fashion, please, state this in your shop announcement section and social media platforms. A simple message saying that your kids are home for break and it might take longer to make and ship your items will due. Most people understand and this might even start a conversation with other crafty moms about work/life balance, I know it has for me. I have never had a problem with a customer when I am open and upfront about my current situation.
|My son continues to be proud of me and that makes all the difference.|
8. Show "behind the scenes" images with your kids.
Since I am not creating new items and listing them in my shop during school breaks, I like to, at least, update my photos or take new ones during this time. Since the kids are around, they inevitably make their way in a couple of the shots. In the past, I would delete these but, in recent years, I have included some of them in my shop or blog. You can see some of these kinds of photos in this post.
I like sharing this part of my creative operation for the same reason as no.3, it makes me a real person, relatable, especially to other moms. You are a mom and you have a creative business. This is a great way to show how you balance the two. I love seeing social media posts like these in my feed and, I assure you, I am not the only one, and once again, insert your shop link in your post, I can't say this enough, or maybe I can and I'm beginning to sound annoying :)
So there you have it. You don't have to close up shop and hang a "Gone Fishing" sign when the kids are off from school (although sometimes you do, that's for another post). You can have the best of both worlds and enjoy them while still maintaining an online presence. I have realized, in recent years, that these school breaks fuel my business, not hinder it. My boys are the reason I do what I do and I am reminded of that every summer.
When you have time, check out my shop at www.nelesc.etsy.com