I have always tried to offer enough different things so that when brides are not thinking about wedding stationery and invitations, I have something to offer a different customer: greeting cards. Some cards are year-round steady performers, and other times, such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day, greeting cards become my primary source of sales.
Starting in mid-August, I found myself in a sales slump. I am still trending over last year’s sales, however, I am not experiencing the same sales rate per number of views. As August progressed, I even began seeing decreasing views. To combat this downtrend, I updated my SEO in about half of my products, seeing what search terms might have a better impact. This helped immensely as my views and favorites are now (mid-Sepemtber) almost double what they were in August. I am slowly taking those highest-performing terms and editing my remaining listings.
Using the downtime to work on the ideas I’ve had for the past, well, year or two, I realized one of the reasons my sales may be down is that I have had nothing significantly new or different to offer in over a year. Being busy with sales is wonderful, but being too busy can keep you from moving forward. Hence, we have two new greeting card lines about to go live this month.
Another way to be diverse, is to sell stationery supplies and vintage items. Almost from the start of theBird+theBeard, we have sold various extra supplies and have done a modest, steady business. As September continues, our stationery supplies have been our best sellers. Are more people trying to DIY? Perhaps. I have had more than a few brides contact me for invitations and escort cards after failed attempts at DIY. (Are you familiar with the “Nailed It” meme?)
So what’s a small business owner to do? Be versatile. In addition to increasing our supply offerings, we have DIY kits in the works, and have taken our love of searching estate sales for treasures and turned it into an opportunity to sell vintage paper ephemera. Our best seller this month is computer punch cards.
We are also taking that versatility to mean going after the local market by selling at craft shows and forming relationships with local wedding vendors. We are also researching selling on other sites, such as Square Market, and hope to launch our own website sometime next year.
What are some things you have done to combat a decline in sales? What are some other challenges you have overcome?Jessica Schaefer is a graduate of Edinboro University with a degree in graphic design. She rekindled her love for design by creating, printing, and binding her wedding save-the-dates, invitations, and programs. She is a member of Pittsburgh Center for the Arts where she continues to study paper making and printmaking. Jessica started her Etsy business with designs from her own wedding before expanding to new ideas. This year her business, theBird+theBeard, also began selling cards in independent shops in several states. When not working on new ideas for theBird+theBeard, she enjoys camping and spending time with her husband and stepson. You can review her work at thebirdandthebeard.com.