I’ve been doing custom work pretty much since the beginning of selling my clothing online, and I’ve learned a lot over that time. Mostly I’ve learned The Hard Way.
Accumulated through years of mistakes and missteps, here are a handful of rules to live by if you offer custom work:
1. Always require payment up front
This is one of those things that newbies are always scared to do, and yet you learn very quickly that you will get burned if you don’t. Go ahead and ignore me. YOU WILL GET THERE.
I get at least one custom order request a day, some days more like 10. If I was making all those orders and waiting around for payment, I would’ve been out of business 5 years ago. At least half of the requests I get never amount to an order. Lots of people like to window shop. Not so many actually have the money to put it where their mouth is.
At the very least, if you’re super nervous that people will be hesitant to pay in full up front, require them to pay half up front. That way, if they magically disappear once the order is completed (and some of them will), at least you were compensated for materials and maybe some time.
Then you’ll start requiring full payment up front, right? Right.
I’ve never had anyone refuse to buy a custom item from me because I required payment up front, and really- why should they refuse? When I bought custom sized windows for my house, I paid up front and got the windows 6 weeks later. That’s just how customs work.