Your jewelry making business is such a success that people are now approaching you to take on commissioned work. Maybe your story is different and you do only commissioned work based on some interest in unique pieces you have done for others. Regardless of your story, the simple fact is that jewelry makers are creative people who love an opportunity to focus on individual items, though many find themselves banging out lines of products, too.
In this article we are not going to look at the “should you or shouldn’t you” of commission work. Instead, we’ll consider the wisest way of accepting and working on commissions, and discover how you should be pricing such items.
Though we did say we won’t look at the whole issue of whether or not this something you should do, we do want to share what one jewelry maker said of their experience. Expressing that it is “fun to do, it also takes a lot of extra time and energy…[and] making commissioned jewelry has boosted [the] retention rate for customers of [the] online store.”
So, how do you go about offering this option? Generally, you can simply indicate that you accept custom orders on individual sales pages and/or your website. You can also create a custom gallery and let potential buyers know that you take orders on demand. Remember to explain the terms and turnaround times for such items. For example, let’s say you make semi-precious lariats. You might require two weeks to consult and complete the project. Be sure you let potential buyers know this.
You can also have a page on your website for making custom order inquiries. This can enable you to track the amount of interest, learn where buyers come from and get immediate replies to those who are interested.
What about those who sell mostly in shows or fairs? This is an ideal way to accept custom orders. You can discuss the matter fully at the time, take a deposit, arrange the deal and get paid when the item is complete. The face to face deal also lets you get all of the details formalized and you can even have contracts that let you get it all on paper.
Communication Is Key
No matter how you begin the process, you must ensure you can communicate promptly and effectively. Most makers do not hand out private contact information but rely on bump notifications from their website email addresses or other contact forms. Email is best, but if there are specifics that must be hashed out, you may want a dedicated phone for just that purpose.
Be clear about the terms of any custom orders. For example, you might want to get a signed agreement to a sketch of the piece along with a list of details about the materials, stones and delivery times. You could even have simple online order forms that leave it all in the hands of the customer. There is a lot of flexibility with this, but the point is to be sure that custom orders are as specific and clear as possible, and you must always take the time to clarify if the order is not as clear as you need.
Is It Worthwhile?
If you speak with experts, most say that they can generate immediate sales as well as secondary sales by taking custom orders. This is because other potential buyers will see the item, comment on it, and find out how to get one for themselves. Additionally, many happy buyers revisit any online stores or shows and fairs to make additional purchases. Custom orders are fun for you as a creative maker and fantastic for buyers who want something original.