A few things I have learned from custom orders...
1. Always charge a bit more than you think you should, because it will always take longer to make than you think to design something new and you may need to do it twice...one caveat...if it is a simple change on an existing design I don't charge anything.
2. If it is personalized (ie has Margaret on it) get the money before you start...that way if the person changes their mind or (more likely) finds it somewhere else you aren't out time and materials.
3. Don't freak out, you can deliver. Custom orders are my favorite because they make someone happy, because you can give them exactly what they want. Creatively they push me to see what I can come up with!! Also don't be afraid to NOT do exactly what they ask...especially if it turns out to be ugly...most people can't visualize the finished product...so make some of the creative decisions for them!
4. Give people finite choice (no more than 3). If you make them decide every detail they get frustrated with all the 'work' you are making them do...that is what they are paying you. Just to give you an idea.
First email: Price Range. What color, red/green, blue/snowflake? Size 4X4 or 6X6
Second Email: Three pattern selections (red/green)...now this is where you get smart. I give patterns that are a style as well.. Fun and Funky (selection of 3 patterned paper); Old World and Monochromatic/cutesy.
--And that is it...in those two emails I got enough information to complete my project.
And while I don't think I came up with exactly what she envisioned...she absolutely LOVED it...which is the whole point ;-)
Now for the project, it looks very, very simple, but as we all know simple design always takes some careful consideration...to look simple. LOL.
The client wanted fun, funky and a Santa Claus (so no one got confused about "HO"). As you can see I creatively made a decision...a Santa Clause wouldn't of fit and would've ruined the design...(I think it would've looked tacky).
For the base (to make it stiff) I used Cereal boxes, cut to 6X6", I stapled the ribbon onto the back (which I stamped with Moonlight White Ink and TAC Snowflakes and Winterflakes LE). I only stamped the one side...cuz I wanted to leave the other side non-holiday so she could hang pictures.
I used my friends CriCut (see the time factor) to cut 3.5" letters and their shadow for the HO's. The top and bottom panel are covered with DCWV Christmas Stack papers...the middle one a piece of red cardstock (ProvoCraft Designer series...but it perfectly matched) and the green is from Michael's Brand Designer cardstock.
So the middle was looking a bit boring, when my friend suggested a little something on each corner...and BAM there it was.
We stamped TAC Mini Sampler holly leaves in each corner with VersaMark then used green iridescent chalk. The berries are red stickles! It adds something but doesn't compete with the busier patterns.
Now for the back, I wanted to leave her with something generic (also couldn't exactly leave raw cardboard and staples showing, oh no no!!) bonus she didn't have to store her banner and then find it next year (I always lose things into storage wonderland)...so I just made a simple scrappy side to display photos. Two pieces of red cardstock and a non-holiday (but in the Christmas stack) pattern paper. I originally was going to provide mats, but decided I wouldn't because I didn't want to force what size photos she had to use!
If anyone is interested...I actually have the materials all ready for a second banner...and that is how I do custom design...I make up an original but then make another one (or a similar one) for myself.
Thanks for looking...and thanks to my friend for helping me out because well I couldn't of done it without her!