Offering Custom Orders

When a customer asks for a custom order, don't be afraid to charge them an appropriately high price. Designing, producing and shipping a custom order can be loads of work. And it is often extremely difficult to estimate how much time, resources, and energy it is really going to take. 

The best way to approach custom orders is to compare the customer's request to something else that you've already done before. If you log how many hours it takes to make something, that generally helps 

Minor Customizations
Minor customizations are simple design edits to your item which take very little effort on your part. Let's say you sell a brown leather purse, but someone asks for the same exact item in black leather. The only obstacle you have to have to overcome in making this item is to source new some black leather. If you already have that material, then the minor customization for your customer could be the same price you were already selling the brown item. 

Designing minor customizations for Etsy Customers is a great opportunity for you to figure out new items to add to your Etsy Shop.  These minor customizations are simple ways to figure out what your customers want, and then consider adding them to your Shop. You can even photograph the finished product and add it as a "made to order" item to your Etsy Shop for someone to buy a 2nd time later on. 

From my experience, about 50% of these minor customized items are something I can resell again later on the Etsy shop as a brand new design. The other 50% of these items tend to be odd colors or requests that are too unique to sell to the general public, and so I never add them to the Etsy Shop. 


Major Customizations
Major customizations are items that are going to require significant effort on your part to design, source materials, put the item together, and ship it. With major customizations, there are so many variables along the way you have to figure out, and can often be a huge headache for you. If you are willing to experiment with these customers, then you must be willing and okay with lots of time and effort on your part. 

I only take on major customization projects on Etsy within the following criteria:

  • It will take very little effort on my end, with a maximum estimate time of 30 minutes.
  • The customer seems reasonable. Some customers seem off the wall and have crazy ideas, or they have no clue what they actually want. If the customer seems unrealistic and confusing, I avoid the project altogether by giving them a ridiculously overpriced estimate, like $200+ for a custom art project.

Justin Wood

Minimalist Website Designer