#098 - In this week's episode of Subscription Box Basics, we are talking about how to prep for the holidays for less overwhelm.
Julie shares five things you can do right now to prepare for the holiday rush so that you're not overwhelmed when you might want to take some time off, spend some time with the family, or just have some downtime.
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So you want to launch a subscription box and don't know where to start? Girl, you are in the right place. I'm Julie Ball, a subscription box coach and your host here at Subscription Box Basics, a podcast for new and aspiring subscription box entrepreneurs that want to avoid overwhelm. So grab a coffee, some pen and paper, and let's have some fun!
Hey, everybody, welcome back to subscription box basics with Julie Ball. That's me and I am here today, November 1st to let you know that there's a lot of things you can do to prepare for the holidays so that you have less overwhelm and that's what we're going to cover today. But before we do that, I just wanted to share that I'm really, really excited. This is episode number 98. It is the day after Halloween. That means it is November 1st. It is officially holiday season in my eyes, at least.
And our hundredth episode is coming up in two weeks on November 15th. I'm so, so excited. So here's a little bit of housekeeping. You have an opportunity to win a ring light setup. Now with the ring light, it's not just about doing video or, you know, doing a Facebook live. You can also use these ring lights for great product photos. And I know that so many of you are DIY-ing things bootstrapping, especially your photography. So this ring light set up, it's going to be really, really helpful. So how can you win it? You can earn an entry by leaving a review for this podcast. So you leave a review for a chance to win the ring light setup. And I'll announce the winner on the podcast on the hundredth episode on November 15th. Now you can earn multiple entries because you can listen to this podcast on most of the major podcast players, and I'll be checking all of them for your reviews. So make sure you do that before the 15th because I will be announcing the winner on the 15th. So hundredth episode coming up in two weeks, leave a review and you might win that ring light setup.
The other thing I am really excited about for the hundredth episode is it's going to be an ask me anything. So what I want you to do is let me know what your questions are. And I will answer them on the hundredth episode, just shoot them over via Instagram. Our handle is @SubscriptionBoxBootcamp. You can either do it as a text question in the DMS, or you can leave me a audio message in the DMS, and I will take your question and answer it on the hundredth episode. I'm so excited. I hope that you'll participate and that you will join me. So let's dive into today's topic.
I am going to give you five things to do right now this week to prepare for the holiday rush so that you're not overwhelmed when you might want to take some time off, spend some time with the family, or just have some downtime. Now I realized that there are hundreds of podcasts that are going to be talking about how to market in Q4 or how to sell more of your product during the holidays. That's not what we're talking about today. We're talking about things that are really practical that, yeah they can help you sell more some of them, but also they're going to keep your sanity during the holidays. So let's dive in.
So the first one is to plan and communicate your holiday hours. Yes, people you can and should take time off for the holidays that are important to you and your family.
So how can you plan and communicate those holiday hours? Well, first of all, get your planner, get your calendar out and identify what days you want to just be offline. So for example, is that Thanksgiving day? Do you want to run a special on Thanksgiving day or do you want to take the day off and spend it with your family? That's your choice, whatever you decide, you need to communicate that with your customers and with your website visitors. So a few ways that we do that is we preschedule a social media post that says out of office, we have it in emails. So for example, you might want to announce that to your customers, maybe in your Facebook group or via email, you can also set up an auto reply for your support inbox and your personal inbox. This is one of my favorite ones.
Just list all of the holidays in there and say, thank you for contacting me. I'm so excited to get back to you and hope to answer your email as soon as possible, please see below for our holiday operating hours. And it's just a way for you to be able to relax and take that weight off your shoulders so that you don't feel like you have to immediately respond to every email.
We also like to put a little bar at the top of our website with any closures. For example, maybe you have limited shipping operations during Christmas or New Year's holidays. You can communicate that on your website and you should, because you want to make sure that you're setting the expectation that if someone tries to buy a gift on the 23rd, that it might not go out until after Christmas, that's up to you. This is your business. You get to make those decisions.
So there's a couple of ways that you can do that. We use a company called Opt-in Monster, and that's how we do any of our pop-ups any of our email forms and any of these little bars at the top of the website, I'll make sure that we put our referral link in the show notes.
So the second thing that you need to do is understand the shipping deadlines. And this is going to help you decide on potentially, you know, when you might be out of office, but also when is the last day for someone to order something. I never guarantee arrival before Christmas or Christmas Eve, because once the box is out of my hands, it's legitimately out of my hands. Anything can happen.
There's so many shipping delays just because of the increased volume during Q4, but also there's so many shipping delays because of logistical nightmares. There's a shortage of delivery trucks and things are getting backed up in all the DCS, the distribution centers. So I really don't guarantee that except for our digital gift cards. So for our digital gift cards, they get emailed immediately where the gift buyer can then print it out and hand it over to their gift recipient, or they can forward it on to them. So that would be the way to get an immediate gift.
So as you guys know between Black Friday and say Christmas Eve, it is cool Raisy so I think it's important to know some of these holiday shipping deadlines in the United States here, where I'm based out of just to get a grip on, you know, if you're trying to get those gifts in your gift recipient hands by Christmas Eve or Christmas day, these are the deadlines you need to know. All right, for USPS United States Postal Service cutoff date for retail ground is Wednesday, December 15th, cutoff date for first class mail is Friday, December 17th, cutoff for priority mail, which is what we use. That's kind of that cubic rate shipping. It typically arrives in two to three business days during non-peak times, but your priority mail shipping deadline would be Saturday, December 18th. To me, that's still kind of pushing it, but that's what they have published. And then priority mail express, the deadline is December 23rd. I wouldn't bet on that one. Love USPS, but I mean, let's be real. That's really pushing it.
All right. For those of you who use FedEx, FedEx SmartPost deadline is Thursday, December 9th. FedEx ground is Wednesday, December 15th. FedEx home delivery is Wednesday, December 15th as well. The express saver is December 21st. The holiday shipping deadline for their FedEx 2-Days Services is Wednesday, December 22nd, and then their overnight services again, 23rd. I wouldn't, I wouldn't push it. I wouldn't make any promises. And finally, the third that I wanted to cover is a lot of you use UPS, especially now that our favorite shipping software provider Pirateship has integrated UPS.
Yay. I'm really excited. We've been using that on a lot of our larger packages. Here are the ups holiday shipping deadlines in the U S. So for ground, you have to go to their website because I think what they're doing is updating it on the fly. And the website is ups.com/CTC. The shipping deadline for three-day select is Tuesday, December 21st shipping deadline for second day air services by ups is Wednesday, December 22nd. And then their next day air services Thursday, December 23rd. Got to say it again. Wouldn't bank on it, super high volume right then. And I know that all the delivery drivers shout out to the delivery drivers are, they're all working super hard. A lot of them are working overtime.
Guys, I'm sure you've seen this online before, but if you have a chance, put out some drinks like water bottles, Gatorade, or some snacks, like little individual granola bars or bags of chips, put that out for those guys and gals, they are working their tails off during this peak season.
Okay. So I hope that's helpful. We will make sure that we put all of those shipping deadlines in our show notes, knowing that they may change as the volume increases. If you're specifically using USBs or ups or FedEx, you might want to go to their websites closer to the peak holiday season towards the end of December, middle to end of December to see if they have any updates. So that's the second thing I want you to do is to understand your shipping deadlines. The third thing I want you to do right now to prepare for this holiday rush is to communicate those shipping deadlines to your customers and website visitors. You can either use those deadlines and continue to ship through all the peak volume days, or you might decide to take a week off at Christmas time, or you might even decide to take just a few days off around New Years.
For example, you need to communicate that again, send that information to your customers on email and your website, social media, make sure not only you're communicating your holiday hours like support hours, but also those shipping deadlines.
The fourth thing I want you to do is update your home page header with something that has a holiday feel. And this is a great opportunity to encourage gift giving. So we recently changed ours just a couple of days ago, where if you go to SparkleHustleGrow.com. Now the header has a more holiday feel. The colors have been updated a little bit. There's a picture of me with a Santa hat and a box in my hand. And instead of just the subscribe button at the top, which is what we usually do, because when a website visitor comes there, we want them to subscribe. During this time of year in November, December, and even through January, we typically keep that holiday header up there.
It has a second button that says, give a gift. So if you want an example, go ahead over to SparkleHustleGrow.com. If you're wondering, we use Cratejoy as our backend, we use WordPress with the Divy theme on as our front end. But I think now is a great time to update your homepage header, maybe even some, um, snowflakes somewhere. It doesn't have to be straight up Christmas or New Year's or anything complex. Just something that gives people that holiday feel encourages them to want to gift, give and subscribe.
And then the last thing I want you to do is plan and schedule your social media posts for the upcoming holidays. So you don't have to post on the fly. You don't have to stop what you're doing in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner and say, "Oh no, I forgot to post something today".
Look at the calendar in advance, figure out which days you want to post something fun and relevant to the holiday. And that can even be those out of office hours. Use this time now to plan ahead. So that one, you don't forget about it. And two that you don't have to post on the fly. And I have a little freebie for you to make this way easier. I have got some social media templates for you that cover the November and December through the New Year's holidays so that you can just grab a template, edit it to have your URL or your logo or your color scheme. And they're free for you on Canva. Just go to SubscriptionBoxBootcamp.com/holiday, and you can get those free Canva templates that you can customize and use with yourself. I hope they make your life easier.
This holiday season real quickly. I'm going to recap these five things I want you to do right now to prepare for the holiday rush. Number one plan, and communicate your holiday hours. Now, this is all about your support inbox. This is about when your office is closed. Number two, understand the shipping deadlines. Number three, communicate those shipping deadlines to your customers and website visitors. Number four, update your homepage header with a holiday field and encourage gifts subscriptions, and gift giving. Whether that might be shipping a past box, giving a gift subscription or giving digital gift cards and number five plan and schedule your social media posts for upcoming holidays so you don't have to post on the fly. And again, I've got those free templates for you. Just go over to SubscriptionBoxBootcamp.com/holiday to get your free templates. I hope they're super helpful for you, and I hope they reduce the overwhelm.
I know as a small business owner, this time of year, it is game on and we definitely need to plan for some downtime. So do that. All right, guys, that's it for me today. Remember in two weeks, the hundredth episode is coming up and if you want a chance to win that ring light setup, leave a review on any of the major podcast players and you will be entered to win. Send me your questions so I can answer them on the hundredth episode. The ask me anything episode and guys, thank you so much for all your support throughout these last two years of this podcast. I hope I've been super helpful and I cannot wait to answer all your questions and celebrate the hundredth episode with you. We'll see you then.