How to stop doing custom orders

How to stop doing custom orders

Many artisans get much more pleasure from working “in free flight” than from selling custom products. Sometimes it is more interesting, enjoyable, and easier to make things to your liking than to run around the stores looking for a mother-of-pearl button, which is sure to be the cherry on the cake according to the customer’s wishes.

Some people get it right away because of the uniqueness of their work. For some, it is only a dream. For some, it is impossible – for example, when sewing clothes.

Some artisans are happy to make such goods – this publication is unlikely to interest them.

Everything is simple if the craft is purely a hobby for the artisan, and there are no great financial expectations. Let the artist do what she is interested in, and do not suffer financially. If money is relevant, you can lose a significant portion of your income if you “just stop” doing custom work. So it is not easy to do without mental anguish.

I consider the abandonment of custom products with the retention of income to be the next level. Like most actions, it is not given immediately. It’s goal awareness, preparation, and a gradual transition.

Suppose your goal is to reduce custom work without a significant financial loss. In that case, you won’t find a magic button in this article. However, I do want to share my thoughts on this. Maybe it will clarify some details for you and help you start down the path from custom orders to finished work.

What is wrong with custom orders?

The answer here will be different for every artisan because the organization of work and the cost are important. I will give possible answers:

It’s hard mentally

I will describe my example. I am friendly, and I have no problem talking on the phone for an hour and correspondence in messengers. Most clients are nice people with whom it is easy to discuss everything, and conflict situations are so rare that you don’t have to talk about them. However, my perception has peculiarities: if I have an order, I need to do it right now. Increased sense of duty. I can’t comfortably sleep and live until work is done. So it’s constant stress and working briskly, even if the order is entirely non-urgent. And if there are several of them at the same time? I immediately turned from someone doing pleasant work at home into a “perpetually busy and exhausted” office worker.

By doing finished work, I don’t become a lazy couch dweller and work the same way every day, but the awareness of “I want to do it, I want not to do it” makes life easier.

Increased responsibility

It is essential to reach an understanding with the buyer, to understand his/her wishes well, and to be able to implement them perfectly and on time. Over time, all fears of “what if I don’t like it?” go away, and we already know how to get around these situations. If the client doesn’t like it, a master with experience won’t cry on her pillow but will return the money to the client and sell/gift the work to someone else. And yet, having taken the prepayment, the artisan begins to “owe.”

Relationships built on money (business relationships) do not imply excuses – no time, couldn’t, children are sick, it’s snowing, headaches, etc. If we declare ourselves as masters and professionals, we need to live up to that.

How to stop doing custom orders

– How to stop doing custom orders


If the first two points can be attributed to the “I do not want,” the finance issue is from the ” I can not” category. You may be faced with the fact that it is simply unprofitable to make custom goods in relation to the sale of finished work (or may not be met – since everything is individual). The order brings some money, but you earn twice as much in the time it takes to do two ready-made works.

Often, the higher the cost of materials and the greater their variety in work, the more difficult and expensive to make custom goods. And you can find yourself in a situation where custom work requires twice as much investment as selling the finished product.

A crafter can not buy many materials and work with them once a month, necessarily not enough to order some buttons, fabric, lace, or wool in a specific color. And so she is forced to either spend time on trips to the store or order the missing materials with delivery and pay for them.

Some of the time (sometimes substantial) is spent on correspondence and running from desk to computer. Again, this is not because all customers are evil, and the artisan doesn’t want to communicate with anyone. It is just that custom work involves constant coordination of all the intermediate steps with the buyer. And after buying the finished product, customers usually ask almost no questions.

Finished product = as in the example

Reading the previous paragraph, you can fall into confusion. Well, who needs that same button? You can just replace it, and that’s it. You can just replace it, and that’s it. And in this, there is much truth because so many customers easily agree to replacement materials.

And yet, let’s look at ourselves. In the online store, lined blue shoes with laces and florals. Wanting them with all our souls, we order the same. It says “made to order,” here’s a picture, here’s the price – everything is cool! And then it starts… I can’t make blue ones, but I can make green ones. And not with laces, but with zippers and leaves instead of flowers.

Wait, I don’t want those! I just want the exact shoes that are in the picture.

So the artisan has to be willing to do repetitions. In my situation, it is clear and logical that if I want to make money with my craft, I have to put my desires far away and do what people will be willing to pay for. Some artisans can’t work like that, and making repeats is unbearable. They tire of making the twentieth album and working with the same materials! So, you must look for the golden means to make money and be interesting.

So how do you go about selling your finished work?

This will be the easiest, most obvious, and shortest section. To sell your finished products, you must create a demand exceeding the financial losses from stopping the custom work.

That is, if earlier our income was X dollars and consisted of 50% of finished work and 50% of work on order, then we are doing so that the income was the same X dollars and consisted of 100% of finished work.

How to create more demand for finished work?

First of all – you need to write the right keywords!

Just kidding! 🙂

To begin with, you have to have some “base.” By the time the artisan sets out to change the demand, that demand must already exist in some form. That is, you have already had time to work, there are stable sales and a lot of individual orders that you want to reduce.

How to stop doing custom orders

– How to stop doing custom orders

Which, in my opinion, is what needs to be done next:

1) Identify customer preferences

This question will be pretty simple if you have worked for two or three years. You need to know what people order most often. These products should be done in large quantities and variations to sell. Based on this also adjusts the purchase of materials. We buy a lot of materials for the most popular products.

It is essential to study the demand in your store because each master has its characteristics, designs, and other “tricks” you can not see from other artists. For example, Anna’s postcards are not the most beautiful, but she sends them the day they are ordered. The fact that Anna has a lot of reviews does not mean that you have to make 200 postcards and sit and wait for big sales. But it is necessary to improve service to Anna’s level.

2) Keep a large assortment

Also, everything is simple – if we want to sell the finished work, then they must be in the store so much to provide a choice for every taste and occasion (to make them as much as you can).

Here, unfortunately, will not help any excuses such as little time, no money to make a large purchase of materials, and so on. If you work and set serious goals, then all the intermediate steps have to jump. Jumping over the steps will not work.

In the matter of assortment, again helps to look at yourself from the outside. The task is to buy running shoes. Would you go to a store with three pairs of running shoes, or would you go to a store with 100?

And even if we have “unique museum” things, we should remember that even cars worth several million are sold in different versions and colors – an assortment. It’s necessary because people like to choose.

3) Reduce orders slowly

Fortunately, most of the decisions you make about your business are reversible and available for adjustment. So there’s no need to decide – I’m not making custom goods anymore!

Introduce changes gradually, rejecting uninteresting and unprofitable orders first, then orders of medium complexity… and simple and interesting orders can even be kept.

4) Analyze progress

Recording all the intermediate results to understand if we are moving toward our goal is important. Record how ready-made products were sold each month and how much was on order. And also compare the income received in the new month with the previous month. Income mustn’t be much reduced.

I’m sure that if the master makes cute things of good quality, providing an assortment based on demand, she will do well!

If you don’t want or can’t do custom orders at all

Then, as an option, a set of measures can be taken to improve the overall situation:

1) “I don’t want to” difficulties can be solved by changing attitudes and a more thoughtful selection of orders. For example, stop taking orders for which you need a button from the other side of the world. Or orders with which everything is complicated, incomprehensible, and uninteresting. Take in the work of easy and understandable things for which you already have the materials.

The heartache of saying no to a person that you won’t make any money only bothers you initially. Believe me. You will get something interesting when you refuse something uninteresting.

2) The “can’t” kind of financial difficulty can be solved by increasing the price of custom work. If it makes total sense to you, why not?

3) Smoothly decrease the amount of custom work, just as smoothly increase the amount of finished work.

So, for some of us, custom work is fun. For others, it is not. As always, everything is very individual, and any change requires effort. I hope my thoughts on this will help someone direct their efforts in the right direction and achieve their goals.

And, of course, it would be very interesting to see in the comments opinions and advice from masters who have already gone this way!