Podcast Episode 3: Will using Etsy's Vacation Mode hurt my shop?Aug 19, 2021
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Hey guys! Today I want to talk to you about a question I receive a lot and also see often in the Etsy seller forums. It’s a big concern for lots of Etsy sellers both new and old. So today I’m tackling the question:
Will using vacation mode on Etsy hurt my shop?
I think it’s such a legitimate question and I completely understand why there is concern about it because Etsy is a search engine after all. And when you take your listings out of the algorithm, it affects the search engine. So I’m excited to talk about this in a little more detail today.
First off, I’m going to give you the quick answer, and then I’m going to delve into a little more of the “why” behind it. I think it’s important for you to begin to chew on how the search engine and algorithm work for the success of your shop and your sanity as you navigate the different seasons of being an Etsy seller.
The short answer is no. It does not hurt your shop to use vacation mode. This feature is there for a reason and it’s one of the most amazing perks of the Etsy platform. It’s very user friendly and super practical for small business owners.
The caveat is you just have to understand what that will do with the algorithm and how to reengage once you come back from Etsy’s vacation mode. You do have to have the proper expectations
To explain this further, let me tell you how I use vacation mode. I actually use vacation mode for several different purposes to help me with my shop. I have had my shop since 2015 and it is a full-time income just to give you the perspective.
-During busy seasons, I sometimes use vacation mode to pull back on some sales so I can keep a work-life balance. I’ll put the shop on pause to catch my breath and get a load of orders out.
-I personally sell painted signs and my hands can get tired and sore so I’ll use it to take health breaks periodically.
-I regularly use vacation mode around holidays—particularly Christmas and Mother’s Day. What I do ahead of time is decide what is the last day that I can ship my product and feel pretty confident that it will arrive in time for the holiday. I do that in order to help my customer meet their deadline but it also helps me prevent complaints later on. This method definitely helps my sanity because I know there’s a cut off date coming up and I leave myself more than enough time to get the product done, shipped, and arrive by the holiday date. This reduces time spent answering the messages of nervous customers, it improves my reviews, and it keeps my customers happy. And bonus—it reduces my stress because I know I’ll get a mental and physical break.
From there, I usually wait to turn my shop back on the day of the holiday or even after so that shoppers don’t try to order last minute thinking I can still possibly get it them in time. My goal is always to set the customer’s expectation from the time they order and set us both up to win.
This works so well at Christmastime because I generally turn the shop off between December 10-15 and it gives me enough time to get the remaining orders made and shipped out priority mail by the 20th so they arrive before the 25th. Then I get time off to enjoy my family and the holiday.
In this case, I know I’m making a trade-off—because if I kept my shop open I could capture even more of those holiday sales so I choose to leave some money on the table. However our holiday sales start to pick up in September and we are so busy—especially in September and November—that by the time December 10 rolls around I’m tired and very ready for a break. At that point I don’t mind leaving some sales on the table to improve the customer experience and reduce my own stress. It’s worth it in exchange for a rest and a fun holiday. This is what works best for me.
I use a similar model around Mother’s Day as well. Many customers order from me for their mom, or their wife, or other women in their life they want to celebrate. So again, I stop taking orders and put the shop on vacation mode about 10 days out from the holiday. That gives me just enough time to make them, ship them, and be done. And then have a little break myself so I can enjoy my own Mother’s Day.
This whole vacation mode strategy just works really well for me. It reduces stress, and I will also say there’s an added benefit that this creates some positive scarcity in my shop. My customers know (because I’ll put any deadlines in the announcements) that they need to make a quicker buying decision because my shop isn’t always open. I think this does drive sales to some extent—it creates some scarcity and motivates a sale. This has affected the culture in my shop so that when people see (or receive an email) that my shop is back open, I’ll often get sales right away from people who have been waiting because they’re not sure when I’ll be closed again.
Just a side note here—I don’t do this to manipulate my customers—I use vacation mode because it’s what I need to do to keep my hands healthy and strong and maintain balance in my life. And I’m very respectful and friendly in my wording when I’m letting customers know about a deadline. But there is, what I perceive to be, the added benefit of some healthy scarcity that comes with this strategy.
-I also utilize vacation mode every summer. Typically for my product line, summers are pretty slow for Etsy anyway. This can be true for a lot of niches, although there would certainly be some that would experience summer as a busy season. It’s definitely slow for us--- so I take advantage of that and enjoy an extended break in the summers.
One of the beautiful things that Etsy has created for my family is the income and work flexibility to take time off and travel in the summers--- so we leave steamy San Antonio, Texas and head to Wisconsin to enjoy time with family for the summer. I put the shop on vacation mode for about 10 weeks and we hit the road. The rest of the year, and particularly the holidays absolutely make up for it and are very lucrative.
I’ve been using Etsy’s vacation mode in all of these ways for several years now and have not had any serious negative impact. Do I lose sales during those times? Yes—absolutely I do lose sales that I would capture if I were open 24/7. But I still earn more than enough and have plenty of flexibility to make it all worth it.
Here’s what you need to expect when you use vacation mode:
When you put your Etsy shop on vacation mode, the longer you keep your shop closed, the further out of the algorithm you fall. This is why people get really worried about using vacation mode and think it’s going to hurt their shop—because when you do turn it back on, it takes a while to get back in the algorithm.
I have a story from my own shop to share that wasn’t that long ago—back in the summer of 2020—where I experienced this on steroids. So in June of 2020 the pandemic was raging and we still left for our summer in Wisconsin planning to be away for 6 weeks or so and return in time for the start of the new school year.
We bought a new Ford Explorer with a tow hitch and a small travel trailer so that our pets could come with us and we set off on our 30 hour trek. On our way about 6 hours from our final destination, the transmission to our new car completely failed and we were stranded on a Sunday night in the middle of covid at it’s worst. The one silver lining is the car broke down at my favorite restaurant--- Portillos--- and I call this divine intervention. LOL! We couldn’t get any help with towing or a rental car or anything until the next morning. It was WILD.
But we ended up getting a truck to pull us the rest of the way north and the local Ford dealer did some kind of a fix on the car which we got back a few days later. Not long after, though, the car started acting up again and when we took it back in, they said we would need a totally new transmission. Usually, no big deal. New car so it’s their problem and we go on our merry way. Since it was covid though, all bets were off. LOL. Our car was the most recent model year with an engine and transmission redesign--- so they couldn’t source parts from another vehicle--- and all the factories were shut down for months to make ventilators. We were not able to get a new transmission for FOUR months. We literally couldn’t leave to home until October. And we went from expecting to be away on vacation mode for 6 weeks and that literally turned into 4 months. (It was actually such a precious and memorable time with family and school ended up being distance learning so it completely worked out…. But wow. It was a mess.)
The point is--- my Etsy shop was on vacation for 4 months instead of 6 weeks and I had no idea what to expect. I knew one way or another the outcome would be fascinating.
The good news—I kept my attitude that everything is figuroutable. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll figure it out. If it doesn’t work the first time, I’ll try again. (Thank you Marie Forleo for the best line and book “Everything is Figuroutable.” I run my business by this mantra.)
So we turned the shop back on and it was really slow for at least two weeks. It was a little bit nerve-wracking because I’d never had it off that long and didn’t know what would happen. And there you have it—I have done the testing for you, my friend! Ha!
The most critical thing about Etsy’s vacation mode is having the right expectations. You just need to know that it’s going to take you a little while to get going again and factor that time in. (Side note: sometimes on previous trips I would even turn the shop back on a week before heading home--- keeping a 2 week turn around time on my pieces—so that some momentum built before I even got back. Now I really prefer just leaving it until I get home and enjoying the ability to ease back into it.) For me, again, after 4 months on vacation mode, it took about 2 weeks to start getting the regular sales again.
It does not tank your shop. It does not permanently kill your sales. You just have to “prime the pump” again to get your listings back into the search results and start getting regular sales again. But it was truly no problem. After 2 weeks back online, my sales were back to where they had been before we went on vacation and all was well.
If you need to learn how to “prime the pump” I have a couple of tools and resources for you. You can actually go back to Episode 2 of my podcast. It’s called “How to get your Etsy Listings seen by more shoppers today” and that will give you some tips on how to boost yourself in the algorithm and get more visibility. And the other tool I have for you over on my site is a free pdf download called “4 Strategies I used to grow my Etsy shop from $25 to $6000+/month" which will show you the main strategies that helped me build my shop to a full time income from nothing. These should both really help you out as a new or emerging shop as you try to grow to that next level. And when I had that long 4 month vacation, again, these were the same strategies I used to prime the pump and get back in business. So those tools are there for you! Please feel free to grab them.
Just to wrap all of this up--- Etsy’s vacation mode is a great resource. Don’t work yourself into the ground. Don’t stress about it. I would say if you are a brand new shop, I would wait a bit to use vacation mode if you can. Don’t stress about it if you need to use the feature, truly, but ideally if you can have 100 sales under your belt and get some 5 star reviews, that will help you with momentum when you turn off vacation mode. I do not think it’s the end all be all. I think if you’re newer and you use vacation mode, you’ll ultimately just be starting off as a new shop again. You haven’t hurt anything--- you’re just at that same place. So—no need for anxiety over this. Vacation mode is an awesome resource.
If you’re new or stuck. It will be ok! We’ve got plenty of things over on my website HowtoSellYourStuff.com in free resources, on the blog, in the courses, I can do Etsy consulting with you to help get you to that next level. Don’t stress. Take a much deserved break. Don’t forget about self care. Love yourself. Love your family. Don’t be afraid to use the amazing tool that is Etsy’s vacation mode.
Have an awesome day! Let me know what questions you have and we’ll keep serving up great content and resources for you to learn How to sell your stuff on Etsy.
Listen in to find out about my experience with Etsy's Vacation Mode feature. Learn my suggestions for when and how to use vacation mode and how to plan ahead and have the right expectations.
**“How to Sell Your Stuff on Etsy” is not affiliated with or endorsed by Etsy.com
Resources I mentioned:
Phenomenal business book: “Everything is Figureoutable” by Marie Forleo: https://amzn.to/2ZSEPJl
Podcast episode #2: How to get your Etsy Listings seen by more shoppers today
Free PDF Download: “4 Strategies I used to grow my Etsy shop from $25 to $6000+/month”
HOW TO SELL YOUR STUFF WEBSITE: https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/
HOW TO SELL YOUR STUFF INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/howtosellyourstuff/
HOW TO SELL YOUR STUFF SHOWNOTES: https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/blog/podcast-episode-3-will-using-etsy-s-vacation-mode-hurt-my-shop
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