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Tips We Picked Up Along The Way

A collection of three short stories.

Hero image for Issue #16: 3 Short Stories

I’ve been handling Mailchimp’s merch production for a few years now, so I have an idea of how long it takes to make things. Our vinyl Freddies, for instance, can take up to a year between concept and finished product. On the other hand, we can get stickers in 5 days. I knew our Freddie and Co. product would fall somewhere in that range, but I was still surprised by how fast the deadlines snuck up.

Even when our vendors give us a timeline, we still have to pad it with extra time. After all, we can’t launch new items as soon as we have them in-hand. We need photos for the website, emails, and social networks. We have to make sure we’re organized and ready for fulfillment when orders start coming in. And then there are all the unseen delays that inevitably happen — hold-ups at customs, manufacturing receiving the wrong color, etc. These things happen.

It feels crazy to plan so far ahead. We actually wrapped up the design and orders for all of our collections through 2016 this week. We had to get into a wintry mindset for our holiday collection, which feels impossible when it’s 100 degrees outside. But allowing for that extra time is crucial for business. E-commerce pros can’t be procrastinators!

Speaking of procrastinating, I am great at it. Despite my love of planners and journals and keeping track of my life through writing, I can be pretty bad about missing meetings or forgetting deadlines.

When I started Freddie and Co., I realized I’d have to be more diligent. “With great power comes great responsibility.” Or something like that.

My current method includes custom calendars and lists, which serve 2 different functions. I have a yearly calendar that helps me keep an eye on impending deadlines — even ones that are way in the future. But the lists I make are daily and category-based.

An open notebook

Knowing what to post on social is tricky, too! I thought it would be natural and obvious, but it’s actually pretty challenging. On my personal networks, I just try to have fun with it and be silly. But for a brand, it’s different.

I was clueless at first. I used a blurry close-up of a sock as the header image on all our platforms and picked a bright yellow color for our avatar logo. I just wanted to get it done, which is how I imagine a lot of small business owners feel. Then I panicked: “What do I say? And how often? And how do I get people to follow me?”

On Twitter, we have around 800 followers and we get a handful of likes when we tweet. On Instagram, we have around 1,200 followers and engagement is a little better. But I have no idea why.

Luckily, our social media extraordinaire, Brooke, has been guiding me. She handles all of Mailchimp’s social content, and she’s been working on Freddie and Co.’s social media as well, along with our amazing intern, America! In next week’s newsletter, Brooke will share some insights.

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