Saturday, October 18, 2008

Custom Order Blues?

One of the most amazing things about Etsy is its overflowing wealth of unique, often personalized treasures, ranging in custom features from impossible to find sizes and fabric combination's in apparel to completely personalized artwork, born in the mind of the buyer, and projected, via the patient hand of the artist, onto the canvas. Custom work is an extremely exciting and satisfying process to be a part of for both buyer and seller, but often times we as sellers get a little overwhelmed in trying to accommodate. We end up selling ourselves short on design and tweaking time, and inevitably pay with our sanity. Hello, my name is Amanda, and I sold my sanity to custom embroidery. For like $2 an hour!

So how do we prevent this custom heartache? Set limits, my friends! If you sell kids' clothes, limit your fabric choices and sizes. If you sell embroidered pretties (ahem), limit your designs. This way, time in between orders can be spent building basic stock that can be personalized later. Most of my stress when I was still accepting custom orders stemmed from the frantic scrambling I had to do in order to create each item, from scratch, in the projected time frame. The key, I think, is coming up with as many ways as possible to minimize the work which must be done after the order is received.

What if you sell something that simply can't be started ahead of time? Don't worry, you shouldn't have to commit yourself to the asylum just yet. Just be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to complete the order. Think about how much time the item should take to complete, and double that time when responding to custom inquiries. There is nothing quite as stressful and guilt-casting as a convo from a buyer of a late item!

What about pricing? You may have sensed a common theme here. Custom orders are heavy on love and patience, but they're even heavier on precious time. Remember when you're pricing your item that you're not just pricing the materials and the literal time it takes to put the item together. You'll always spend an unforeseen amount of time on design work, both conceptual and physical, and more often than not, your customer will ask for quite a bit of reworking.

Bottom line, respect your time, respect your limits, and respect yourself. Happy crafting, my lovelies!

About the author: I'm Amanda of longwinterfarm and lwfidget. I live in Maine in a yurt with two toddlers and a slue of animals, so sanity is a precious commodity around here! This post of course is just the tip of the iceberg as far as custom orders are concerned, so please PLEASE feel free to contact me with more specific woes. :)


The House of Mouse said...

all sound advice Amanda! I learned all this the hard way too. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience!

Fru said...

Thank you Amanda, this is great is good to read what we sometimes should know but we tend not forget!

SnappyBibs said...

Great advice!

Amanda Conley said...

Good post! I'm with you on all parts (I get tons of custom orders and have had to learn the hard way) But these are really great tips! And it's nice to know that others feel the added pressure when it's custom!

Kits and Caboodles said...

Nice post Amanda. You have a lovely, warm style of writing. I look forward to more posts from you!


TOTDesigns said...

I was wondering if you could give some advice on how to list a custom? For instance, I make hats and blankets for photgraphy studios. I have sold the first one and have pictures. Now I would like orders to make others. Is there a best way or do I just list it the same as my other items putting cutom order in the title? Thank you so much for your article. It is incredibly helpful to the new people!