Don't Let Etsy Custom Orders Suck Up Your Time

Lately, there has been something that's been wasting a lot of my time. I'm constantly getting request for Custom Orders on Etsy. Customers want a different color, or some silly design that no one else would ever want. 

In the last 2 weeks, I've gotten about 20 different custom order requests. So each night, instead of working on improving my Etsy Shop through new Keywords, better Listing designs, and Shop Optimization, I'm wasting time on custom orders. 

Most people who request Custom Orders are picky. They want something super unique that no one else would want. And this means they typically are much higher maintenance and much harder to please than the normal customer on Etsy. A customer who simply buys something from your shop without asking questions or filing complaints is exactly the kind of person you should be catering your designs and time towards, instead of focusing on custom designs or services.

Here are some positives, negatives, and things to consider when doing Custom Listings on Etsy.

The benefits of doing Custom Orders
- If you need money fast, Custom Orders can get you quick extra income.
- If you're in the early stages of your Etsy Shop (200 Orders or less), Custom orders can help you get your first few orders and 5-star reviews. It can also help you get experience for dealing with real-life customers, as well as figuring out a general sense of what Etsy Customers are looking to buy.

The negatives of Custom Orders
- It can distract you from focusing on optimizing your Etsy Shop, updating Keywords, improving on listing Designs, and other daily Etsy tasks you need to keep up with.
- Custom order customers tend to be super picky, and some custom orders may take weeks to finish, or may never end at all.
- Some custom order customers are so picky, they'll be unhappy with the result and will ask for their money back.

If you are unsure about whether you should offer custom order requests, here are some things to consider:
- Do you need more money as soon as possible? If so, make sure the customer sends you payment upfront. Don't let them pay you once they are "happy" with the results. Often times, they'll never actually buy from you and you'll end up wasting a ton of extra time. 
- Do you have very few sales on Etsy, such as less than 20 or 200 Sales? If so, custom orders should probably be your Number 1 focus right now to get your sales & reviews up. Once you get enough sales, you can focus on transitioning to a set number of listings that customers can buy from at any time. 
- Do you have the time to focus on this, or would you rather improve your Etsy Shop overall? In the long run, doing custom orders is not sustainable. It is much better to focus on designs that you can sell over and over again. 

Justin Wood

JPW Design Studio, California

Minimalist Website Designer