4 Tips to Help Manage Handmade Orders

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As I manage two wholesale orders, back-to-back I realize it’s like a marathon. As most know marathons are a process. I am not a runner, so I won’t pretend I know exactly what it takes but I know preparation, dedication, a good diet and a support system are essential. I’ve found that some of these same things help me manage orders, especially wholesale orders.

On the journey to fulfilling handmade orders there are so many steps including: getting all the supplies, creating an item, selling to local shops, communicating with customers and shipping handmade items. Whether it’s just a single item or an order of 50+ items, here is my best advice. These are the 4 things that have honestly improved my experience over the last few years.

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In this very fast-paced world taking care of yourself is essential. In this fast-paced world it’s easy to forget about the most important thing: yourself. In the world of handmade, it’s no different.

Self-Care

Self-care has become a major topic as of late. You see it on social media, Pinterest, magazines, TV… it’s everywhere and for a good reason, too. In this very fast-paced world taking care of yourself is essential. In this fast-paced world it’s easy to forget about the most important thing: yourself. In the world of handmade, it’s no different. When your focus becomes making and filling orders it’s possible to forget to take care of yourself. Without proper rest, hydration, and nourishing food your body and brain could start to lack the energy you need to stay focused.

One of the key things I have learned to do is listen to my body. If I am tired, I put my hook and yarn aside and call it quits for the night. If I am hungry, I eat. If I don’t have time to plan a full meal I reach for veggies, proteins, cheese and salami or protein bars. I always have a stock of granola and yogurt as well. 

Hot Baths! I take hot baths when my body is sore or I need to destress. A candle, a good book and Epsom salts are 3 things needed to make for a great bath. Pinterest has an endless number of ideas for self-care. Check out my self-care board for ideas that sound nice.

And last but not least; be sure to take time for you. Even if that means making something handmade for yourself, sipping a cup of coffee on your porch, taking a nap or listening to good music.

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Organization

I love organization and I love being organized but, it doesn’t always happen during a wholesale order. I count, measure and calculate a lot during the process of making items for a large order. If I don’t take notes I waste a lot of time recounting, re-measuring and recalculating. Did I make enough of this? Do I have enough of that? 

I learned to take notes to save time. I always keep the whole sale order details and my notes together. My Maker Biz Worksheets come in handy for this. I just released the Orders Sheet Bundle on Etsy that is a game changer! Now I don’t have to guess at how many of one thing I’ve made and where I am at in the process. It also has the deadline and who the order is for front and center on the sheet.

Also, check out the inventory checklist as well. This is useful for tracking supplies and finished items that aren’t shipping immediately. 

One valuable and simple lesson I learned during my most recent wholesale order is to take your notes with you when you shop for supplies. True story: I revisited the yarn store three times before I got the correct color of yarn I needed. Yes, 3 times! The first time I went I totally whizzed right by the brand of yarn I needed and thought they were out of stock. The second visit I was in a hurry, as I often am, and grabbed a colorway thinking it was exactly what I needed. Nope! It wasn’t. If I would’ve had my notes with me I could’ve compared names and even a swatch of the yarn. So simple! Side note: Always ask for help if you can’t find something. The third time I went to the store I asked for help twice and both people were so nice! And I got everything I needed! 

We carry a lot of weight on our shoulders but only have two hands and so many hours available in one day.
Ask for help!

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Support System

Having a good support system is critical when managing orders as well as any small business in fact. Without a strong support system, someone to lean on or someone to pick up the slack you can become overwhelmed really easily. A support system is critical. We carry a lot of weight on our shoulders but only have two hands and so many hours available in one day. Ask for help! 

Ask a friend, your significant other or your family for help with other responsibilities. Every support system is different. It might be a neighbor or cousin or high school student that can help. Maybe barter for something that is equality beneficial. 

I turn to my husband often for help around the house. Oftentimes I have to choose between keeping up on laundry or making another item for the wholesale order. When a wholesale order arrives, I ask him to help with laundry, dishes and kids for the next few weeks. He’s always happy to help! 

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Dedication

There are two different things I’d like to mention about dedication. The first; stay dedicated and the second; dedicate time. In my eyes these are two different things. 

Staying dedicated during the highs (and the lows) of the process helps you progress through and order. In my experience, it’s also helped me meet deadlines and ship orders sooner. It’s easy to get distracted when the process of making orders can span several weeks. I’ve found there are parts of the making process that isn’t my favorite, staying dedicated through these details is the most important time to stay dedicated.

Second, dedicate or designate a good chunk of time to specifically working on just the order.

I pop in my ear pods and listen to music or a book to focus on just my order. I can always accomplish more and feel more accomplished when I have uninterrupted time to work on the order. 

Self care, organization, dedication and a support system are a big piece of working through handmade orders. I look at these four things and realize they are a work in progress, at least for me. They take time and intentionality. I don’t recommend you try to tackle them all at once. Pick one to focus on and I think you’ll slowly start to see a difference in the way you feel as you work through orders.

Don’t forget to go grab your Orders Worksheets! Especially if getting organized is at the top of your list!

As always, stay crafty!

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