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As a handmade business owner or Etsy seller, you may be used to saying yes to every single request that comes your way. Or cow-towing to every nasty customer demanding unreasonable requests of you. This can lead to burnout and resentment from both you and your customers.

It’s so important to set boundaries with your customers in order to maintain a healthy balance in your business and life and to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the importance of setting boundaries and how to do it effectively.

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I want to make this more about the personal experiences I’ve had since I started my own jewelry shop.

And most importantly, how I myself have changed over the years and learned the hard way just how important it is to set boundaries.

But not only that, to set those boundaries and not feel guilty or harsh about it! My hopes are that when you get a nasty customer, you’ll laugh it off at how incredibly rude people can be. And remind yourself that it’s not worth your time and energy to try and please everyone.

I remember when I first started my jewelry shop, I would say yes to every custom request that came my way. If someone wanted a specific design, I would do everything in my power to make it happen – even if it meant working 16 hour days to get it done. It took my too long to learn that this was not sustainable and that I needed to start setting boundaries with my customers.

Now, don’t get me wrong, custom requests can be really fun and rewarding! But there comes a point where you have to draw the line and say no. It’s so important to set those boundaries early on, or you’ll quickly find yourself resentful and burned out.

There are a few key things to keep in mind when setting boundaries with your customers:

👉 Be clear and concise: When you’re saying no to a customer request, be as clear and concise as possible. There’s no need to explain yourself or make excuses. Just say no.

👉 Don’t take it personally: It can be easy to take customer requests or demands personally, but try not to. Remember that this is your business and you have the right to set boundaries as you see fit.

👉 Be polite: Even if a customer is being rude or demanding, always remain polite and professional. This will go a long way in diffusing the situation and maintaining a good relationship with your customer and keeping your good reputation.

Handle every communication knowing that they can screenshot what you say and share it online. Do not give them ammo!

👉 It’s okay to say no: This is probably the most important thing to remember! It’s perfectly okay to say no to a customer request. In fact, it’s necessary in order to maintain a healthy balance in your business and life.

Now I want to talk about my very first “problem” customer.

This goes back to about 2013-ish. I didn’t have very many sales in my Etsy shop back then. In fact I think I only made less than $700 that year.

When you’re a new Etsy seller, you unfortunately become a target.

There are groups online that teach others how to manipulate new sellers into free product, discounts and unnecessary refunds. And they will go to great lengths to get what they want even if it means threatening and/or verbally abusing you.

Back to the story, I had sold a size 7 one-of-a-kind ring to a customer. A couple weeks later this customer reached out to me, sweet as pie, letting me know that the ring didn’t fit.

Rather than standing by my own listing description and polices, I wanted to please her. Even though it wasn’t my fault, I wanted to fix the issue. Never mind the fact that the real issue is that the customer should not have bought a ring that didn’t fit them.

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👉 So I made her a brand new ring, free of charge.

While I was making the ring, she was repeatedly sending me 5 paragraph essays about how crappy her life was. Now it’s not for me to judge whether or not any of it was true, but I quickly realized that something is wrong with her.

After a few of these massive messages, she eventually told me – on her own – that she was trying to emotionally manipulate me into giving her free product. And like an idiot, I was shocked that someone would do that and then actually fess up to it.

I never responded to that message and I did not send her the replacement ring that she never deserved in the first place. A few weeks later she messaged me asking where her ring was.

So I put my big-girl panties on and told her I wasn’t going to be sending her the ring because of what she said. I never heard from her again.

And in the end I not only lost the cost of materials, but I lost so much time and endured so much unnecessary stress. I wish I’d have known right from the start that the best course of action was to tell her to ship the damn ring back for a refund and then that would have been the end of it.

But instead I wanted to be a people-pleaser. And all I wound up doing was hurting myself and learning that my “goodwill” was being abused.

Over the years, though, I got better at standing up for myself. And I also learned that you need to set boundaries with everyone in your life, including your customers. People are going to take as much as they can get out of you and you allow. So it’s important to establish the boundaries right away.

If I am being 100% honest, I think my people-pleasing attitude was mostly about my own insecurities.

And I wish I could tell you some magic trick that makes it all go away but the only thing that changed me was when I started becoming successful.

And by that I mean it in this way: Back then I felt like I was begging people to buy my jewelry. Now it’s the other way around – not to toot my own horn or anything.

If I could tell you ONE thing right now. Don’t be like I was. Your products are worthy, just as you are. It is a privilege to be a part of your world.

I feel like the more you actually believe that, the less you attract the nasties into your Etsy shop or website. When you put out this energy that, let’s face it – desperate for sales – you attract the worst type of people. Funny how that works.

So why am I bringing this all up this week?

Because I got a nasty person this morning and it felt so good to respectfully and tastefully tell them off. If they are a reasonable and of-sound-mind, they will quickly realize what a jerk they were.

If not, they’ll just go find someone else to harass. And may the force be with that shop owner!

👉 Look, over the years I’ve had people tell me they were embarrassed to give my jewelry as a gift, been emotionally manipulated, been called racial slurs, slandered, lied to and just today I was told that if (the customer speaking here) she can repackage and label 1000+ orders per day with 3 kids being a single mom, that I can do it too.

Sorry lady, I don’t resell and, mind your own damn business thank you.

When I got that message all I did was laugh at it. 10 years ago I would have bent over backwards to accommodate this person. But not today.

I hope you understand your worth and that you don’t waste years of your life trying to help the people who are only trying to take advantage of you. Because when you’re a new Etsy seller, your sale count is the single factor that will attract these people like a moth to a flame.

And that’s the truth! The Wicked Griffin is not my only shop. I have another where I make jewelry supplies. I opened that shop in the summer of 2021. And shortly after, I naturally attracted one of these people who was trying to convince me that her charm arrive totally broken in half and that she wasn’t going to send me pictures to prove it – that I will see it when she ships it back.

I told her I don’t accept forced returns and that all I needed was a photo to help me “for my records” and I’d be more than happy to refund.

No surprise that I never heard back from her. And that’s how you need to handle these people. If they want to play the game, you play it right back!

I hope that by hearing just a little of my own experiences that you can see through the BS when it happens to you and not feel bad about yourself, but rather understand that you’ve simply attracted a nasty and that you can make the nasty.

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Why Etsy Sellers Need To Set Boundaries With Customers
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