{Business Tips} Don’t Fear Vacation Mode!

I first opened my Etsy shop a year and a half ago, though spent a good 6 months reading everything I could in the forums to learn best practices, prevent pitfalls and get my shop started off on the best foot possible before listing my first item.

One of the things I quickly heard (and heard loudly) from others in the forums was “DO NOT PUT YOUR SHOP ON VACATION MODE!”  Reasons most oft cited was that your listings would get lost in oblivion and that it would take forever for your shop to get up and running again.

And so every time I took a trip, whether it be for a couple days or a week, I resorted to what others recommended and placed an announcement at the top of my shop saying that I was out and wouldn’t be able to ship until xyz date.

But then my one shop soon turned to 4 and most weeks I process 20-30 orders and get about double that in convos, especially in my supplies shop.  To complicate matters, my usual quick jaunt was turning into nearly 2 weeks away.

The thought of:

  1. angering customers who didn’t see my announcement with long wait times (such as those who found my items through a search and were taken directly to the item rather than my main shop page)
  2. needing to be check email non-stop (as I like to acknowledge orders as they come in as part of my business practice as well as answering back convos quickly)
  3. coming home to dozens of orders waiting to get out quickly and jumping right back in to the stress of it all

… all left a sour feeling in my mouth.  Not to mention that I was already feeling close to burnout.

So I took the leap and thought that if it really was as bad as everyone said, that I would use the free time to create new items and get new listings up (something I currently struggle with finding time for).

But you know what?  When I took my shops off vacation mode, I received 3 orders within 24 hours and by the end of the week, things went right back into the pattern they once were and I was able to take the much-needed break from my shops.

I’m including what I did that I think helped the transition as well as some tips for you to consider when going on vacation mode.  Granted, you may need to switch these up based on your store volume as well as your level of comfort.

1. Put your shop on vacation a full day or two before leaving and leave ‘vacation mode’ up a full day or two after coming back home

My vacation  started on a Wednesday but I decided to put all my shops on vacation no later than Monday as I tend to get a lot of orders on Sundays/Mondays (and sure enough I did receive close to 10 orders that Sunday before leaving).  By putting my shop on VM a couple days in advance, I was able to complete all orders before leaving (and don’t forget how many last-minute personal tasks need to be completed before you leave for vacation; you’ll be glad that you built in some extra time for yourself and won’t have to be up until all hours of the night packing your bags as well as your orders!)

I also wanted to slowly get back into the swing of things when I got back and I’m glad I did this.  I’ve always been one to come back a day early from vacation because I hated the rough transition of going back to the grind the very next day after returning from a trip.  I appreciated being able to take a mini vacation-from-my-vacation to do all the necessary life tasks (grocery shopping, laundry, going through mail, etc.).

2. Hold off on renewing any sold items or listing new items right before you put shop on VM

As mentioned, I sold close to 10 items on the Sunday before I left for vacation.  Renewing those items right away would have been pointless as once I put my shops on VM, they would have disappeared from searches and would be ranked far down by the time I reactivated my shop.  Instead, I used these items to get my shops back on the map.

When I took each shop off VM, I then utilized that time to relist the items that had sold before I left, which brought me back to the top of the search rankings.  I also renewed some items and even listed new items that I made before I left which gave me fresh, new material in my shops.   I recommend that you renew/relist/list items from different categories which makes you show up in a broader range of searches (so instead of relisting/renewing/listing 5 stickers, I relisted a couple stickers, a couple gift tags, a couple stationery items, etc.)

3. Utilize the Vacation Mode Announcement and Outgoing Convo options and include your date of return in both

When you put your shop on VM, you have the option to list a quick message that overrides your regular announcement.  Let people know here that your shop is on a “TEMPORARY” break and will be back on-line on xyz date. This is important because a lot of people who put their shop on long-term hiatus use VM and many people see that and think you’re no longer in business.  By listing a date of return, you let them know that you are in fact still in business and just taking a temporary break.

Just like the regular announcement, this line is really only 1 or 2 sentences and is quite small, so I bolded the word “TEMPORARY” so that buyers wouldn’t miss the message.  And Etsy automatically offers viewers the option to sign up for email notification the moment your shop goes back on-line.  I had a customer who ordered within hours of activating my shops who told me she saw my item weeks previously and then signed up for the email notification so she could order as soon as I got back.

In addition, Etsy also gives you the option to have an out-going convo message, like an “Out-of-Office” email that automatically bounces back to the people who send you convos.  It behooves you to write a message similar to your announcement, with your date of return, so that people that have contacted you without going through your main page (such as previous customers, contacts, etc.) won’t think you’re being rude when you don’t answer back right away.  This is vital in maintaining good seller/buyer relationships.

4. Notify your buyers ahead of time that you’ll be closing shop to ensure you don’t miss their order

This was actually a recommendation of a seller in the forums who said that she utilizes this practice (in her shop announcement and outgoing message to buyers) to encourage them to make any (additional) purchases before she leaves, with much success.

I wish I had done this in my shop as well as with potential buyers with whom I was communicating.  I had one potential buyer that had contacted me a full month before my vacation wanting a bunch of information.  I replied with a long convo listing options and prices, then didn’t hear anything.  A week later the inquirer thanked me for the info and said she would get back to me.  When I didn’t hear anything further, I assumed she wasn’t interested until she contacted me the day before to let me know she was ready to place her (rather large) order.  Dang!  If only I had contacted her a week before putting my shops on VM, I would have probably captured the sale, but she wasn’t able to wait.  Lesson learned.

So once again, don’t be afraid to use Vacation Mode when you need to (for vacation, personal reasons, or mental breaks).  It is NOT the kiss-of-death that people once spoke of.  If you utilize the tips mentioned above, you should be able to get up and running in no time at all, while getting in a much needed break.

Remember, work-life balance is essential and everyone needs a break in order to be productive and fresh in the marketplace!

Have any additional tips to making Vacation Mode a smooth transition for your business?  Please share!

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  1. Thanks for sharing.
    I’m finally getting back up and a running after putting my shop on VM in March for a 2-week period. Yes, I actually enjoyed being on vacation and had too much in my life that needed attending to. March went by- then Spring…then summer….Since Etsy was not my primary source of income, this has been OK. But now- back to business! I don’t want to miss the holiday season, so that is why I am getting back into the swing. :)
    Even being away, I have been faved and convo’d, and I really appreciate that people have been patient so far! I plan on messaging them all back, and of course, offering a nice polite “out” for them in case they have bought something else in the time I have been gone.

  2. I can’t thank you enough for writing this. I’m preparing to fly 3000 miles back home to be in my best friend’s wedding and as I read into putting my shop into vacation mode all I could find were panicked warnings of “NO, NEVER, ARE YOU CRAZY?” Your article has great pointers, and from what I’ve learned over the last six months or so it sounds like good common sense tips to keep the shop from falling off the map. Thank you so much!

  3. My fiance and I were getting pretty steady sales. We were in the process of moving across several states, so we decided to put our shop on vacation mode! Vacation mode has been off for many weeks now and we are marketing harder than we did before. We have only had a couple of sales. We make iPad cases, so we were expecting a little bit of a jump, in at least views, when the iPad 2 came out. But we haven’t had very many sales or views. We are at a loss of what to do. Everything was fine before vacation mode! :(

  4. I’ve been on vacation & just now catching up on blog posts. Wish I had read this before going away! I felt I had to respond to a couple of convos & orders while away (since I had the announcement up but didn’t put my shop on vacation mode). Next time, no fear! Thanks for the advice.

  5. I used vacation mode when I went on vacation and left a notice when I would reopen. It was nice not to fret about it. I don’t sell huge amounts, but I do get custom request orders that earn me $$ and I didn’t want to jeopardize that income stream. All in all, it worked well for me. Great info, thanks!

  6. I have never used vacation mode for exactly the reasons you stated- I am definitely going to do it next time! Now I really, really want a vacation ….

  7. I agree completely! I’ve tried it both ways and decided VM is the way to go. I had a relaxed vacation and my shop picked up right away when I returned. Going on VM this coming week, in fact!
    Thanks for all the advice!

  8. Thank you for the great advice. I too have heard the “Don’t ever put your shop in vacation mode” rumor. It is nice to hear another opinion from someone that has tried both ways.

  9. I am also a painter and I have a show coming up. I am probably going to take your advice and take at least one of these vacations to be able to really focus and get some painting done. You have helped with all of my fears but one..getting that front page exposure (from a treasury) and not being there with an open store..
    I have only been on the front page twice tho, so the fear is a bit irrational!!
    heh heh!

    • Bobbie, I don’t think you’d even get to the FP because even though there are 16 slots in a treasury, there are only 12 slots on the FP and the Etsy staff pick and choose for the front page. Instead of your price, it would say “Vacation” so you’d likely get skipped by the staff anyhow. Glad I was able to put your fears (and those of others!) to rest. :)

  10. Thank you for the helpful advice. I have avoided using it out of fear but plan on using it during our summer vacation.

  11. what a wonderful article with lots of useable tips…I too have a hard time transitioning on both ends of a vacation so the couple of days on either end is a great solution .. thanks so much!!

  12. That’s really great that you can financially afford to take extended vacations. Cutting off my income stream for over 2 weeks would put me into a perilous financial situation. And then how would I pay for my vacation??

    • Hi Jessica, that’s why I wrote, “Granted, you may need to switch these up based on your store volume as well as your level of comfort.” Certainly an extended vacation won’t work for everyone, especially if you are the primary source of income.

      As an aside, my 2 week vacation was visiting with sick, elderly folks, and senior family members, so it wasn’t as if I was spending a lavish time drinking mojitos in Turks & Caicos. It was an obligatory visit that frankly I would have rather not taken, but you sometimes have to look after family and have to break away from your work.

      • Yeah, life can be a real struggle to balance. The article is a great reminder to allow yourself some down time. And to give yourself permission to turn it all off every once in a while!

  13. I’ve always been fearful of “vacation mode”. I think I can safely say, those fears have been put to rest. Now….to schedule that vacation….

  14. That’s great advice. I think I feel a vacation coming on.

  15. Great tips! Thanks…