Summer time and the livin’s easy, right? Right, BUT if you have an Etsy shop I strongly urge you to take the road less traveled and do not put your shop on Vacation Mode. It really seems like a simple fix, however putting your shop on vacation mode can do more damage in the long run even if it gives you a temporary break to relax. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way and I would love to be a little vulnerable and show you a behind-the-scenes look at how this move has affected my shop since last year. I realize that this may not happen to every single Etsy shop out there, but it’s my hope that sharing this with you will show you a possibility of what could happen.
Learning The Hard Way With My Etsy Shop On Vacation Mode
I’ve been selling on Etsy with my shop WritersWire for five years, since 2013, and a lot has changed on Etsy throughout the years. For the most part, there have been a lot of improvements (maybe up until this year). But I’ve had to learn the hard way with some things because Etsy just doesn’t provide certain information to its users. And if you’ve ever gone Googling for answers like I have, information found in Etsy forums, on Reddit, or even in Facebook groups can be really confusing—everyone has an opinion on everything and most of the time they are completely contradicting!
In August 2016, I put my shop on Vacation Mode for 90 days. A long time to be in vacation mode, but something I felt I had to do. The first leg of my vacation mode was so I could travel and I wouldn’t be in a space to still ship orders. The other leg and the main reason I wanted to put my shop on vacation mode was because I was going through a re-brand and adding new and different products to my shop, including going through mountains and valleys trying to find the right manufacturer for certain new products. By the time I was ready to open my shop back up I had improved photos, better SEO and keywords, updated listing descriptions, updated about me/my story pages, and more. It was a total upgrade in every way. One thing was for certain, I had never come across information telling me putting my shop on vacation mode could negatively affect my shop.
Something you may not know is that when you put your shop on Vacation Mode, your products won’t appear in their search engine. If someone types in your shop’s exact name, that should show up, but even if you were ranked on the first page for “coffee mugs,” your product won’t be there as a suggested listing once you’re in Vacation Mode. There was so much positive talk around the fact that potential customers can still see your listings in your shop even if they just can’t purchase, that I thought my shop would be fine. I had an announcement in my shop stating why I was in Vacation Mode, when I was returning, and that customers can feel free to reach out if needed—but once I returned, I found that none of the things I did to improve my shop actually did so. Maybe you can see why I was swayed that going into Vacation Mode wasn’t a bad thing when this is what I find on Etsy’s Vacation Mode information page:
It does tell you that your shop won’t show up in their search engines, but it’s vague information.
What I Wish Etsy Would Tell You
What I wish Etsy would explicitly say is that “your shop will most likely be negatively affected by going into vacation mode. And the longer you’re in vacation mode, the harder it will be to recover.” I truly thought that once I hit active again, the orders would start coming in regularly like before. I thought my stats would return to normal after my first few weeks of opening back up, but I was so so wrong.
From my research, it seems like if you are in Vacation Mode for longer than 30 days, once you do return it will be like starting over. STARTING OVER! Remember those first few months where you were checking your email every second to see if you had a new order? Or when you were doing everything you could to show up in Etsy’s search rankings and checking back every minute to see if you ranked higher yet? Yeah, it’s like that once your shop is active again after such a break. Your shop views will go down, your orders and revenue won’t be the same, and the traffic to your shop will change too. I’m slowly but surely just seeing a change 1 year later. Yep, a whole entire year later and I’m finally seeing upward movement. Slow upward movement I should say, and that’s after ferociously pinning my products on Pinterest, trying Etsy advertising for a little bit, and everything else under the sun.
Behind The Curtains: My Shop Stats Since Vacation Mode
I’m going to do something a little scary and show you behind the curtains of my shop. I want to be completely transparent and show you some stats so you can see for yourself. The truth is that being an Etsy shop seller isn’t always fun and easy. While my stats have improved during this season of my Etsy shop, below are recent screenshots of the stats in my shop in recent previous months and the hit I’ve taken since last year, specifically after I went into Vacation Mode.
As you can see, below is a screenshot of my stats from April 2017 – May 2017, about five months after opening my shop up again. My visits had decreased by 85% and my orders were down by 63%! That is a HUGE decrease. I was getting 6,764 visits during that same time period in the previous year.
My traffic has also drastically changed. Below is a screenshot looking at my year totals of traffic. Not just the numbers, although going from 46,000 to 8,800 is a big change, but the sources of traffic also changed. Before Vacation Mode, I was getting so much direct traffic, meaning traffic that came from people typing in my URL to their browser or who had saved/bookmarked my Etsy shop and would return.
This year, my biggest traffic source is from social media. Specifically, Pinterest brings in 60 of the 67% of my social media traffic. However, my direct traffic is only at 26% this year. While it’s my second biggest source of traffic, it’s still nothing like it was last year.
What Can You Do To Prevent These Side Effects From Hitting Your Shop?
Unfortunately, there aren’t many alternatives to Vacation Mode except to outsource help. My first suggestion would be to determine if you truly need to go into Vacation Mode. When you put your shop in Vacation Mode you are turning potential customers into most-likely-wont-be-customers due to the fact that they can’t actually see your listings in the Etsy search and can’t buy any of your products. If you will be away too long and not in a position to package or ship your products, can you hire a temporary assistant to cover these duties? My good friend Lexy of Lexy Olivia, who has a huge following with her bookmarks, has been upfront with her customers and followers on social media in the past of when she will be away and has hired a temporary assistant to fill her orders. Her audience understands and would rather have the option to buy a bookmark when they want as opposed to waiting for when she returns.
Now, I completely understand the other point of view with this argument; when you have no other choice but to put your shop on Vacation Mode. However, I strongly urge you to think of your Etsy shop like a real in-person boutique shop. You wouldn’t just up and close for a few weeks or months, would you? You would likely outsource help for the time that you had to be away. The luxury of having an online shop is so that it can be flexible with your lifestyle and it’s something YOU are in control of. That can be both a blessing and a curse, though. You have the power, with owning an Etsy shop, to shut down for however long you want. If that’s truly your only option, there are times in life when we have to do what’s best for our mental health, our family, or whatever your hurdle may be. However, you and your shop are also the only person that will take a hit from doing this. You may not have the financial means to hire a temporary assistant if and when you find yourself in a position to take a short leave of absence from the shop, but I hope this post will help you to see the possible outcome of doing so.
Tips If You Must Absolutely Put Your Etsy Shop On Vacation Mode
You might find yourself with no alternative, and if I’m being totally honest I’m not sure these things below truly helped me if I’m just slowly seeing results 1 years later. However, maybe your experience will be different.
- Put up a shop announcement (super easy in Settings > Options > Vacation Mode > Vacation Announcement ) stating that your Etsy shop will be on Vacation Mode and give an expected return date. If you will be without wifi for a certain amount of time, you can also enter an auto-reply so your potential customers will know why you might be absent.
- If possible, respond in a timely manner to anyone that messages you. Really, this should be no different than how you usually run your shop, but being extra “on it” with your customer service and conversations might give potential customers a reason to wait until you’re back and they can purchase from you again.
- Take this time to improve your shop’s keywords, SEO, and photos. There are lots of helpful articles on improving your Etsy shop’s SEO, Keywords, Photos, and more (like the ones I just linked to, click on them!) If you’re putting yourself in a position where you can’t sell anything, try to squeeze in time to improve your shop.
The Bottom Line
There are Etsy sellers and shops who have gone into Vacation Mode and don’t see any negative effects when they return (read almost any Etsy forum and you will see responses like this), but that was most definitely not my experience and I had no one to tell me the possible outcome.
I hope that this post shows you a possible alternative of going into Vacation Mode so you can make an informed decision when this question arises in your business. Have you experienced these same difficulties in your shop? Or do you have a different experience you’d like to share? Tell me in the comments below! You can browse my Etsy shop here on my site or directly from Etsy too!
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