Product release pipelines for your Etsy shop

My day job, for the last 15 years or so, has been running release management functions. At its simplest, release management is about taking a piece of software or some kind of technical change, and putting into use in a way that’s supportable, maintainable, and understood.

How does this relate to your Etsy shop? You’re not deploying software, you’re making products!

But consider what goes into an end to end build and release of some kind of technical change:

  1. Understand what need the change must meet
  2. Design, build & test the change
  3. Coordinate & communicate the change with customers and internal support teams
  4. Release the change to your users
  5. Monitor for early problems
  6. Hand over to operations and start again with a new product

All of these steps could easily apply to you designing and releasing a new product in your Etsy store.

Why turn it into a process?

One of the arguments I frequently have in my day job with project managers who don’t want to follow process is that if you waste time and burn resources doing things ad-hoc and at a rush, your overall volume of delivered change will be lower. Why? Because when you standardise certain tasks and do them at a predictable cadence, and when you use checklists to track this, you massively reduce errors creeping in and having to do rework which is the number one worst form of waste possible. And waste is the hidden killer of small businesses, especially those with tight margins.

There are other very good reasons to standardise how you do things: it can help keep you on course when you get tired or demotivated, it can help when you come to take on staff because teaching someone to follow a process is easier than teaching them something you’re ad-libing and it’s easier to measure and spot constraints/bottlenecks that you can exploit or otherwise manage.

I like it…tell me how to get a product release pipeline

Let’s take the same 6 steps I used at the beginning and imagine how they’d look for an Etsy shop:

  1. Research your market, understand what events are coming up (e.g. mothers day) and decide on your product mix to meet that need
  2. Design and create some products, testing them with peers and friendly customers who you know will give you honest feedback
  3. Prepare some blog posts, instagram photos, etsy shop updates, Facebook posts etc ready to tell people the products are coming and to get ready (maybe sign up to your mailing list for an early launch offer?)
  4. Get your products in the shop and carry on telling people about it
  5. Monitor feedback and engagement, tweak as necessary
  6. Get the product into your automated / regular social media feeds and into your schedule for keywords reviews and performance assessments

How you do each of these will be unique to you, but standardising it, writing it down and defining it and doing it repeatedly will give you a solid base to measure performance with. You can then change one thing at a time, carefully, to see how your shop’s performance responds to different factors.

It’s worth coming up with checklists and templates to help you with putting a repeatable process in place – for help with the communication aspects of steps 3,4 and 6 check out the recent youtube video from Fuzzy and Birch on creating the Ultimate Editorial Calendar for Your Etsy Shop.

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