Thursday, October 27, 2011

Crafting Custom Orders

Offering custom orders is a great way to connect with customers and offer something special. People love items that they helped to design and were made just for them. Taking custom work is great for the artist as well. It provides an opportunity to do something creatively different and can often lead to new design inspiration. I have completed several custom orders that have inspired new products.

To make sure the transaction goes smoothly, there are several things to remember when accepting custom work.


le custom pet by leanimale

Communicate with your customer - Communication is key when taking on a custom piece. Talk to your customer to find exactly what they want. No detail is too small to discuss. You really want to get a clear picture of the client's expectations. It can be easy for two people to interpret things differently, so getting a lot of information is vital when creating a custom piece.

Calculate a price - Realistically consider the time and material cost it will take to complete. It is easy to underestimate how long it will take to create a custom piece. Honestly consider the time it will take to finish; you do not want to undervalue your work. Taking hours longer than anticipated may pressure you to complete the project and you do not want the quality of your work to suffer.


custom silhouette pendant by tuckooandmoocow

Set a date to ship - Take a look at your schedule and set a reasonable date to ship. I often will have to order materials for custom orders, so make sure to consider the time it will take to get supplies. Giving yourself a little extra time is always a good idea and can avoid a stressful situation if something unexpected happens. Make sure to communicate with your customer when to expect their order in the mail. Many people will not realize how long it takes to complete a custom piece. Being up front with the lead-time will avoid any confusion and dissatisfaction.

Create a custom listing - It is a good idea to ask for payment up front, or at least a deposit before investing the time and materials into a custom piece. To create a listing on Etsy without a photo of the finished product, you can create a custom listing. A custom listing image can easily be created using the free photo editing program picnic. Edit an existing product photo by adding text. Include the details of the piece in the listing’s description.


custom order by cornflower blue studio

Take photos– Pictures of the finished product are important for several reasons. Sending photos of the final product for approval is a good idea before shipment. If your client is unhappy or wants changes, it is much easier to remedy the situation before mailing the item out. Pictures of custom items are great to include in your portfolio to showcase a range of work. Also, I have had customers return for a second, similar custom order. It is very handy to have detailed photos so you can create a replica of the original piece.


  1. This has arrived just in time! I have just started the journey of a massive custom order that I have never done before. Thanks so much :)

  2. This points out a lot of things I did wrong with a wishy-washy request a while back. It wasn't a "custom-order," more of a "custom-request" initiated by the potential buyer. It ended in me spending a lot of time and expense searching for the materials, making desired items into jewelry, then the customer deciding not to purchase because she could get something cheaper elsewhere. Ouch! The items she purchased were cheaply made too, but that's not the point if that's what she wanted.

    I didn't insist that we communicate clearly, I was too eager to please, and I got bit on that one. The real downer is that the products are not really my style, so I'm not sure what to do with them. Good lessons are presented here that I learned the hard way. (I'm "taking notes" for next time though! Rather than write-off custom orders all together, I just need to do a better job up front.) Many thanks for the insightful tips!

  3. I totally agree with you! I even opened a "make your own" section in my store because my dolls sell better when the customer can decide certain details like color, a phrase, etc... each of my items takes so much time that to stock my store is tough so having always the option to make a custom order is the best for me! of course I have to be careful with my time frames, some dolls like my big Fridas take me sometimes up to 10hrs. to make so I cannot make them in stress time like Xmas (right now!) so I`m careful to take them out of my store in those times... :D thank you for the info!!!! :D