How to take a vacation as a handmade entrepreneur

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The amount of work it takes to prepare for a vacation from your handmade skin care business can be overwhelming (especially when you are the only one running the ship). A break is often a great way to recharge, but it’s not the easiest to handle on a whim for entrepreneurs.

Creating enough skin care products in advance, scheduling out social media posts, templating customer communication, and setting up automations are just a dent in the planning to-do list.

However, if you methodically plan all aspects of your business operations before leaving, then taking some time away won’t mean missing out on any potential orders or receiving negative reviews. 

The tips below will help you to prepare your skin care business for a much-deserved vacation. When you return, your customers will still be there waiting for you!

Tips for taking a vacation as a handmade skin care business owner

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links (at no cost to you). Please read the disclosure for more information.

First things first.

Before you start sifting through your ‘vacation prep to-do list’, you need to understand the HUGE difference between putting your e-commerce skin care shop on ‘vacation mode’ or simply extending your processing times.

Option 1: Put your shop on vacation mode

There are settings on most marketplaces and website builders that allow you to put your shop on ‘vacation mode’ or ‘temporarily close’ your storefront.

During this time, your shop itself won’t show up in search, your individual items won’t appear when searched for, and orders cannot be placed.

Putting your shop in either vacation mode or setting as ‘temporarily closed’ is NOT recommended.

When you take yourself on and off vacay mode (or temporarily close), you are creating an SEO nightmare for yourself. There have been stories of shops not showing up again in search for 6 weeks (for marketplaces) to 6 months (for website builders).

Clearly, you should be driving your own traffic to your sites, but this lack of searchability can put a real dent in annual sales numbers.

Now imagine those poor souls that don’t know this information and put their shops in vacation mode TWO times a year (or more) – and they wonder why the online algorithms are out to get them.

Don’t be your own worst enemy.

It is highly, highly recommended that you just ignore those ‘vacation’ settings and get into the habit of simply adjusting your processing times instead.

Option 2: Extend order processing times

When creating a listing for your online skin care shop, you are in control of assigning processing times for your products.

This means the amount of time it takes from when a customer purchases your item to the time it is placed in the mail for delivery.

What a processing time means on ecommerce sites

As you prepare to go on vacation, you can simply change your typical processing times from the average 1-3 business days to a longer range, such as 7-10 business days.

This update will allow you to continue receiving orders while you’re on vacation without being ‘behind’ on shipments before you even return.

***All of the tips below assume that you are extending your processing times and NOT temporarily closing your shop or putting it on ‘vacation mode’!***

10 Tips for Taking a Vacation from Your Handmade Skin Care Business

Tip #1: Start planning early

To successfully plan a vacation as a handmade solopreneur, you do have to know plenty in advance…IF you are wanting to:

  • Retain customers
  • Keep your shop searchable
  • Continue receiving orders
  • Stay top-of-mind

For a one-week vacation, it is a good estimate to start planning one month in advance (since you’ll be adding extra tasks to your ‘regular’ work schedule).

If you’ll be gone for two weeks, plan on needing two months to prepare everything.

This is assuming you are a full-time business without any extra helping hands (and also assuming you’re extremely ‘Type A’ like myself…I may or may not already be planning for a trip that is a year away...).

You also will need to know if you’ll have access to the internet and which types of technology (if any) you’ll be bringing.

Deciding if you will be ‘online’ at all during your time away will change your approach to some of the automation suggestions further down on this list.

Tip #2: Consider if you’ll be making products in advance

Planning for anticipated orders is the trickiest part of being a handmade skin care maker.

You can’t make too much in advance (especially if you create preservative-free products) due to shelf-life considerations.

But if you have a seasoned, successful shop, you can’t make everything when you return from vacation and still keep an acceptable processing time.

The best educated guess you can make is to look at your last year’s sales of the same week you’ll be gone:

  • Check your sales analytics from last year and take note of every item sold and the quantity during that time.
  • Look at your typical annual increases in traffic and sales.
  • Make the same quantity you did last year, plus the increase.

If last year during the same week as your vacation you sold 10 Honey Oatmeal CP Soaps and you’ve had a 20% annual increase, be sure to have 12 bars cured and labeled before you leave.

Rinse and repeat this math and prep work for every product you carry.

*Note of caution: It is always possible that Google could give your shop an unexpected boost or that Etsy (or similar marketplace) could feature you in one of their newsletters or ‘Top Picks’.

This is the risk (and benefit!) of not putting your shop on vacation mode – make sure that you set your inventory quantities accurately to the amount of product you make so that you don’t end up with orders beyond your capabilities.

Tip #3: Extend processing times

After you know how long you’ll be gone and how much product you should plan to make in advance, it’s time to decide on your extended processing times.

Think about your experience with past trips.

Do you need one full day of prep time to feel fully prepared before you leave? Two?

We’re not talking about your business prep time.

We’re talking: packing your bags, putting puppy into a boarding place, getting bills paid, setting up a rental car, writing instructions for a house sitter, etc.

What about time to get ‘resettled’ upon your return so that your life isn’t instant chaos after a rejuvenating retreat?

We’re talking: vacation laundry, picking up puppy, returning missed messages, restocking your fridge, taking a breath before diving back into work.

Assuming you made some of your skin care products in advance of your trip, how long will it take you to get orders packaged up and to the post office once you’re back in the studio?

Add all of these together and you have the processing time that you need to post on your website:

vacation prep time + vacation length + vacation decompression time + order packaging time = temporary processing time

Screenshot of editing vacation processing times for your skin care business on Etsy

Tip #4: Update your customer-facing information

These temporarily extended processing times SHOULD NOT BE SMALL PRINT.

You want your customers to be 100% aware of exactly what to expect…always.

On most websites and marketplaces, your processing times will be displayed on the sales page with the rest of the product information.

That being said, it’s important to realize that most online shoppers do NOT read the entire sales page.

To make sure that all of your customers are ‘in the know’, be sure to add your temporary processing times to:

  • The top of your product description (‘current processing time is 7-10 business days’)
  • A text image in your product photo lineups that has current processing times
  • A message in your email confirmation (‘Thank you for your order – as noted in our product descriptions, our current processing time is 7-10 business days.’)
  • Remember to update the actual processing times in your website settings.

But don’t be a ding-dong with the information you provide.

If you go out of town, would you put a sign in your yard that says, “We’ll be gone for seven days”?

No.

So why would you purposely provide that information ON THE INTERNET?

(While I have your attention, stop posting those day-of vacation pictures to your personal social accounts while you’re out of town, will ya?? Same reasoning!)

You can make your customers aware of what to expect without telling them your life story and whereabouts.

It is 100% acceptable to simply lengthen your processing times without giving additional details.

If you feel the need to provide an explanation, keep it to something like, ‘Thank you for your understanding of our temporary processing time of 7-10 business days as we rejuvenate our studio! We’ll be back to our usual 2-3 business day processing by October 30th.’

Your personal business is not your customers’ business. Use your melon.

Tip #5: Offer incentives for “vacation” orders

If you’re worried that the lengthened processing times will push potential customers away, consider an incentive in exchange for their patience.

Bonus points for providing a coupon code that helps them remember why they’re getting a discounted price in the first place (again, to drill in the fact that their package will be delayed).

Even more bonus points if the coupon code phrase goes along with your chosen copy voice for a clever branding detail.

Examples: PATIENCEGRASSHOPPER (10% coupon), VIRTUE10 (also 10% off), etc.

Tip #6: Develop a content calendar

Having a content calendar system will be your sanity-saver when planning a vacation from your skin care business.

If you’re not familiar with content calendars, they are tools (most often a spreadsheet) to help you organize ALL of the marketing plans and publications you have for your business.

For skin care makers, this includes:

  • Sales/promotions
  • Weekly newsletters
  • Social media posts
  • Product launches
  • Pins for Pinterest
  • Any other marketing or events that you participate in

I noted above that it is wise to start planning one month in advance for every week you’ll be gone…

This prep time is intentionally lengthy to keep stress levels down.

Nothing goes efficiently in business when the owner is frantic. Set yourself up for success!

If you add just ONE extra item a day that is to be published during your week of absence onto your ‘everyday’ workload for a month, it makes the business portion of vacation prep so very easy and approachable.

New to this concept? Set aside six minutes to read How to Use a Content Calendar for Your Skin Care Business.

Tip #7: Automate your promotional tasks

Most of your content can be scheduled and automatically published while you’re on vacation for FREE.

Sales and promotions can be added in advance to your marketplace or website:

Automating sales and coupons while taking a vacation from your handmade skin care business

Weekly newsletters can be scheduled in advance:

Scheduling an email while on vacation from your handmade skin care business

Pinterest pins can be scheduled up to 14 days in advance:

Scheduling Pinterest pins while taking a vacation from your handmade skin care business

Social media posts are slightly different to discuss since there are so many types of platforms that makers use.

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms for skin care businesses, and Later is the only free scheduler I have found. It lets you choose one social set to post up to 30 times/month.

I don’t take the time to use schedulers on the norm (since there is so much more to social media success than just posting and walking away) – however, vacation is vacation and the free plan helps me to stay consistent!

Tip #8: Automate customer communication

If customers have a question or special request, they usually reach out via email.

You can schedule automated responses in advance; either leave a simple ‘we’re out’ message or go further and include links to answer common questions.

In Google Workspace, this is easily done by going to Settings (the gear icon) and then scrolling all the way down to ‘Vacation Responder’.

Setting email responses on Gmail Suite while taking a vacation from your handmade skin care business

Tip #9: Update the notification settings on your phone

You are in control of how much information you receive while you’re away!

Apps on phones are a great tool when set up in a way that will be beneficial to you…and YOU get to decide what that means!

Below is a screenshot of the settings I use on my Etsy Seller App when I’m on vacation:

How to use the Etsy Seller App when you're taking a vacation from your handmade skin care business

And this is a screenshot of my Shopify App settings when on vacation:

Shopify app settings if you're taking a vacation from your handmade skin care business
  • I like to know when someone has sent me a message via Etsy since I don’t use ‘vacation mode’ and can’t set up auto-responses another way in Etsy at this time.
  • I like to know when a customer makes an order so I can keep a vague mental note of what type of workload to expect when I return from vacation.
  • I like to see every single review as they come in, vacation or not – if there are any that need attention it’s better to just nip it in the bud rather than leave an unhappy customer waiting.

I realize that notifications and responding to reviews isn’t 100% being on vacation.

However, I consider this easy-peasy compared to the regular work week and absolutely worth it in exchange for being able to plan a vacation on my own terms and be my own boss.

But you do you!

Tip #10: Save Your Work!

The absolute BEST tip you can internalize is to SAVE all of the work you do to prepare for your time away.

If this is your first time taking a vacation from your handmade skin care business, it will take a bit to orchestrate but will pay off in DIVIDENDS for future trips and life events.

Having your templates and responses saved will make it so easy to take your second and third trip.

Even better, CONTINUE planning ahead in your business ON THE REGULAR.

What if you used your content calendar EVERY day (like you did in response to Tip #6 above) and before you know it you’re consistently two weeks ahead?

You could have the flexibility for:

  • A spur-of-the-moment trip
  • Being a more reliable go-to person during a family emergency
  • Having a few more hours to get ready for your anniversary date
  • Surprising your kids at school for a random early pick-up

Use this time and energy of preparing for your vacation and make it transform the way you work long-term…take advantage of the perks of running your own business!

Enjoy your much-deserved time off, fellow maker!

Grow Your Skin Care Business!

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