…building a business: custom orders & money

Did I scare you? I know, we don’t like to talk about money – especially if your a gal that was raised to be polite and kind and accommodating. BUT, I am here to tell you that you are worth asking for your number if you are providing a service that someone benefits from. Especially if you work really hard to deliver a custom product.


Start as you plan to go. Love this saying. I don’t have a problem with charging a lower amount during the first year or two of your business, but as you grow please up your prices. Paint is expensive – about $40 a can if you use ASCP. Brushes wear out, clear wax goes fast and your time is being taken from your family or your book or your glass of wine. Or if your craft is a different medium, you still need to buy your supplies and use your time.


I didn’t always feel this way. I used to have a sense of indebtedness to those that wanted to work with me. Being a painfully shy child, that was kinda my M.O. I am slowly learning that solely pleasing someone else ignores your own worth and that is a slippery spiral.

Some clients will respect your boundaries and position on price & custom orders and some will be mad at you, to be honest. But, let me say that even though it feels like you are protecting yourself by being completely compliant, at the end of the day it is more heartache. I hate saying no, but when it does not feel right I’ve learned that it is the best way to protect myself. Not to get way off track, but I’m reading the book Boundaries, which says that when you say “Yes” when your heart & mind say “No” you are not being true to what God really wants for you. It’s not mean to say “No”. (Yes, I’m preaching to myself here.)

IMG_0430 I want to choose to work with clients that trust me and my process at the end of the day. If I feel like I have to convince someone of what I can do then I am not the right gal for the job. And that is okay with me. There is such freedom in that, I must say! Makes me feel like a big girl and it makes me feel safe when I protect myself. It also allows me to focus on what I love & be successful at it.


When doing custom orders, show your client examples of what you can give them. Be clear.

“I can do this for you.”

“This is what it will look like.”

“I can deliver the product at this time.”

“For labor & materials I will charge this.”

Set your expectations and live up to them. Be proud of your work.


  1. Thank you for posting this. I have learned as a costume sewer, designer person the hard way. I always said yes, even when I didn’t want to. Sewing over holidays etc. I now have certain people I will sew for, and others are a dead ringer “no.” it’s ok to not be a pleaser all the time, and set boundaries. Once we learn how to set boundaries, it feels really good! Good luck Christen, love your insights and hearing about your business!

  2. Christen,

    once again, I feel like you read my mind. My husband said the other day, when working on big pieces for people, I need to charge by the hour. The problem is, no one has paid me for my time in 19 years! How do you put a value on your time when you’ve not been in the workplace for that long. Anyway, I am still muddling through, mostly, I just want people who have trusted me to be happy.

    Do what you love and the money will come, right?! Thats what I’m trying to follow. Thank you, as always for being generous of heart and spirit.


  3. Boy oh Boy!! This is exactly what I needed to hear this morning!! Thank you so much for sharing all aspects of your business with us. God Bless You!

  4. Hi Christen,

    I have read Boundaries 3 times. I grew up feeling that I HAD to say yes. I always felt too intimidated to say no. I wanted everyone to like me! Silly me. I take care of horses for other people, as well as my own, and I STILL feel nervous about not doing things right! (This is my business right now since I have no avenue to sell my pieces, that are now filling my garage!!) Anyway…keep it up and read that book a billion times if you need to! Thank you for such a great post.


  5. How did you know that this exactly what I needed to hear??? I have been struggling with trying to “prove” myself to clients and feeling that my time isn’t worth what I charge. Trying to start a business isn’t easy but your posts always help! Thanks so much for all your advise!!


  6. Thank you for posting! My husband and I run a small furniture business (he makes tables out of old doors). We’ve spent the last year pricing our stuff way too low and are learning to ask what it’s worth. We constantly get the Pinterest request or Pottery Barn DIY knockoff request. People don’t realize that, yes, it can be built for cheaper. But, you are paying someone to make you a custom piece of furniture! Alot of time goes into that.

    Also, not charging what you or your product is worth hurts the whole industry. You aren’t “giving a better deal” than your competitor, you are lowering what can be asked by everyone!

  7. This is great. I’ve walked away from making money because it wasn’t right!! some thing told me don’t take this auction. So glad you posted this. Vikki (Auctioneer) (painter)

  8. Hello! I just love reading your blog. So much valuable info! Question for you. I sell pieces I paint with ASCP, at Mission Galleria Antiques. My question is when I fill out my description/price tag should I put that it was painted using ASCP, and the colors I used? Like you said I have to not be afraid to price my items accordingly, and at the same time feel if I put that I used ASCP, then it will justify the cost I have placed on an item. What do you think? Thank you so much for the time you take to post on your blog.


  9. Wow!!! Thank you so very much for this post. I clean houses for myself and do some custom crafts pieces on the side. As for the house cleaning ( it was meant to be a winter job). I charge a fair price for the quality service I give. Although after doing this and having a great deal of experience I have learned a few hard lessons 🙁 It is always hard to increase your prices if you start too low as well.
    P.S. Love & Admire your work, keep it up 🙂

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