One thing I generally hear from people who commission something from me, "That was fast!". My wait list is getting longer and longer, with 19 people on it right now, but once they actually make an order, the turn around time is usually a week if I don't have to order parts, and I can't think of an order that took more than two weeks. I usually mail an order a few days after it was made by the customer when dealing with small orders, and people are often shocked. This is made possible by my habit of staying up until one o'clock in the morning after my girls go to sleep at nine. Even with late nights, I spend much of my day time hours working. I try and take one day off completely every week, but sometimes that doesn't happen.
I used to take orders without the wait list, and just work myself really hard getting them out. I hated making people wait for their order, and to be honest, waiting is my least favorite part of this hobby. I'm impatient and want the pretty things now! I had a hard time keeping balanced with family life, etc., and would often get discouraged and weighed down. It's a feeling of being in debt in some ways. In addition, I would feel unable to do my own projects and smaller items to offer for sale. When I don't want to look at one more piece of leather (this generally occurs after skiving for hours and hours) and I take a break by working on boots or saddle pads. My solution: I have a wait list. I open up a few slots as I'm really ready, and get the customers their order in a timely manner. No more backlog, just a waiting list of people who I can offer a slot to (their is no commitment to join the wait list) with no pressure, and if they're not ready, I can move on to the next waiting customer. I find this prevents a lot of financial stress for those who are no longer able to pay for the custom order they made 6 months ago, because if I'm certain of anything, it's that life happens, and it can be expensive.
Then, there are customers who only made an order a week ago, and can no longer pay in a timely manner. I have taken payments, and generally speaking it's not fun for anyone involved. I don't like making car payments, house payments, and to rely on someone else making their payment to me on time so that I stick within my budget is not helpful to my OCD or stress levels.
I get a lot of inquiries that result in people balking at my prices. Right now, my complete saddle sets start at $350, and go up over $450, and trust me, the hourly wage is not impressive. Any tack maker who turns out regular projects can attest that this is not as low overhead as some people believe. Between Rio Rondo, The World of Model Horse Collecting on eBay, Tandy, and MH$P, the costs for making high quality tack are not cheap! The time spent on taking photos, updating blogs, Facebook, and designing new projects, all have little to no fiscal gain, but are crucial to being a tack maker. My logo for example, is the result of 4 Photoshop hours with a photo of my late gelding, Buddy.
Now I'm off to make some bridles!