…For real this time!
I actually made this announcement (and shared this photo) the first time back in June of 2020. Now here I am, two and a half years later, making it again!
The whole story (14 parts! O.O) is posted here – but here’s a short explanation of why I stopped offering custom orders for so long – just in case you don’t have hours to read my babblings!
Since mid 2020, Etsy has a mandatory ads program. They force me to participate, and randomly take an extra 12% out in fees for any sale “attributed” to one of these ads. I can’t choose what to advertise. And yes, it can apply to a private listing that I make for a customer, if that customer clicked on an Etsy ad for any of my listings at any time in the last 30 days. Or if Etsy’s bots think they have for some reason!
ALL of my custom orders used to come from Etsy. And there’s another policy on Etsy, where if I ask a customer in a message to purchase from me off the platform, I can get banned.
What should I do? That was the question running through my head for the last two and a half years. Do I overcharge everyone, or sometimes take a paycut?
It’s a big paycut. The fee is 12% of the order total, and I still have to pay for everything else – materials, shipping, all Etsy’s other fees. When I get an offsite ads order, it works out to about a 25% paycut. A fancy custom gown can take me weeks to make.
A LOT has happened in 2022, and I wound up taking a long break from Etsy. It gave me the time to really think of how to get around the problem.
I would leave Etsy in a heartbeat if I could – but I can’t, and since founding the Indie Sellers Guild I’ve discovered that nearly every other creative indie seller is in the same boat with me. Tiny online shops simply don’t have the power to dominate Google searches like a giant tech platform. But there are a lot of ways I can make sure my Etsy shoppers know how to get a custom order that aren’t likely to get me banned – mainly in my images!
As I reopen my Etsy shop, I’ve been careful to create multiple images to let people know I have a website, and on the things I make that tend to inspire people to ask for custom made, I make sure one of the photos specifically says that custom orders are only available at auralynne.com.
If anyone contacts me on Etsy to ask about a custom order, I will have to turn them down entirely so that I’m not breaking Etsy’s terms of service. But I’ve always received a few more custom requests than I have time to fill.
With this plan, I’m finally feeling confident enough to open custom orders again. I feel like I won’t spend TOO much time turning people down because they reached out on Etsy. I hate saying no, and it would be particularly aggravating if I had to keep doing so while my schedule was open!
On my website I have options for custom orders that aren’t possible on Etsy! I’ve started by creating a page on my site for pre-orders – that is, where you can see what’s next on my sewing schedule and order a rotating selection of my skirts or shrugs made just for you. I’m still working on this, but I think I can add a “Request Made-to-Order” button on everything I post here, so you can sign up to be notified the next time I make a batch of any of my skirts or jackets.
I’ve run out of a lot of my most popular skirts and underpinnings – so my plan is to restock those first. Next, I’ll work on getting options for made-to-order costumes, and the made-to-order gowns I offer that take less time to make. Haha, dress jacket gowns will have to come last!
I have updated the custom orders page on my site with commonly asked questions, and I anticipate that they will be fully available again by spring of 2023.
I’m looking forward to creating one-of-a-kind creations again!