I just recently started taking custom-request order in my Etsy shop. Here is a simplified process of creating a custom order for a customer via the "Request Custom Order" button on Etsy.
When a customer reaches out to have a custom item created for them, they will tell me what type of item they want, any specific color requests, sizing, and we'll discuss price, timing, etc. After the initial communication about what they want, then I can select a few yarn choices and send a photo of the choices to the customer to select which yarn(s) they like most. I sent this photo as some color options to choose from, and they told me which ones they liked best.
Once both me and the customer are clear on exactly what the item will be, I can turn the Etsy conversation into a custom order by clicking "make this a custom order" in the message center. I can then collect payment and get to work! When the item is finished, I will contact the customer again with a few photos of the finished product. At that point, they can let me know if everything is what they were expecting.
At this point, we can discuss if there are any alterations necessary. So long as the customer is satisfied with the item, I can then package it up to send!
All of my orders are sent with tracking, so I can tell exactly where the package is, and when it has been delivered, and so can the customer.
I also reach out to the customer after the tracking says the item has been delivered to ensure they have received their item and are happy with the custom order.
So, what happens if they don't pay?
Once I turn the item into a custom listing from the Etsy conversation pane, the customer pays for the item before it is shipped. This ensures that I have been paid for my time, as well as the materials and shipping necessary to make and send the item to them.
If they don't pay for the custom listing, I don't send the item. Simple as that. Now, I will make every effort to communicate that their item is ready and waiting for payment. If I don't hear back after multiple attempts to reach them, or if they indicate they no longer want to purchase the item, I can decide if I want to list the item in my shop, donate it somewhere, or give it as a gift to a loved one.
What if they try to re-negotiate the price?
I am somewhat willing to negotiate on price before I set out to make an item. But once it's decided, I will not renegotiate after the item is made. They can purchase the item for the agreed-upon price, or I will list the item in my shop for anyone to buy.
To that end, I also don't agree to make any item that I'm not familiar with. I have a lot of knit infinity scarves and crochet hats in my shop. I know exactly what it takes to make one of those, so I am comfortable setting a price I can live with. The same goes for any other items in my shop. If someone just wants a different color scheme, or maybe a slight alteration to an item, I can do that. If they want an item unlike anything I've ever made (like maybe a crocheted succulent in a pot), I will gladly refer them to another maker that would be more comfortable with their request. #communityovercompetition
How do I initiate asking for a custom item?
Head over to my Etsy shop, and click on "Request Custom Order" on the left-hand side of the screen. If you're using the mobile version of Etsy, click on the "contact" button toward the top of the shop's homepage. Just send a message with your request (the type of item you want, colors you might have in mind, any sizing needs, etc.), and I'll get back to you to go over the details.