Through my years as an Etsy seller I've had many requests for custom items. Custom items are basically a customization you put on an item per a customer's request. It could be small, like a change in color or size, or big, like a completely new design they dreamed up.
Whether it's big or small, custom orders are a wonderful way to get loyal customers for your business.
Be friendly, answer promptly.
Sometimes you will get requests that are downright strange. You may even think "that won't even look good!". But when you get a custom request, it's vital to have a friendly, helpful reply ready. Before you even get requests it's a good idea to figure out how you'll handle requests and what you will accept. Always be friendly. Always be helpful. If you get a request that just makes no sense (perhaps the size is extremely off, or the customer is asking for a much lower price than you can accept), still answer promptly and with courtesy. The best way to turn off a potential customer is with hasty, ill-written replies.
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Custom orders can be fun and unique..and challenging as well! Many times I've gotten requests for items I have never even made, yet end up not only being able to make it, but also having fun in the process! Be willing to step out of your comfort zone and just do your best. Obviously I'm not telling you to do something you're incapable of doing, but many times if you're creative you have the capability to do just about anything! Sometimes it's easy to think we're incapable of trying something new, especially if we've gone years making the same things. But change and challenge are good, and I challenge YOU to not be afraid and have fun with those custom orders! That being said...
...Are You Up to the Challenge?
Are you up to trying anything? Are you willing to put lots of time and effort into large or intricate orders? Or do you prefer sticking with small customizations, like size and color?
Decide what you will and won't accept, then be ready with a friendly, helpful answer when requests come in. I've been on Etsy for over five years and have a pretty good idea of what types of items I'm capable of making. Of course I'm always up to a new challenge, but many times I can tell from the very first request whether or not I have the skill to make the requested item.
Also, it's good to decide whether or not you'll even accept custom orders. Some shop owners choose not to, and that's okay! While accepting custom orders opens up the possibility for more exposure and return customers, it's not for everyone. Weigh the pros and cons and see if it's for you before jumping in.
Keep in Contact
Contact your customer as soon as you can after getting the request. Contact them when you start and as you work on the project. Contact them again when you're done and ready to ship.
I'll admit, sometimes I don't get as many messages sent as I plan or hope to, but I at least try to contact someone right after the request, and then when I finish. I'll also sometimes include pictures of the items for the customer to look at before sending the finished product if I have any doubt that the finished product may not be quite what they envisioned. Be patient; custom orders can take quite a bit of time, between working out details, working on the item, then tweaking it as you go along. Be prepared to put time into the custom order, especially if the piece is a unique or one-of-a-kind request.
That's basically all I have to say about custom orders...have anything to add yourself?
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