[42] A Guide to International Orders for your Handmade Business


Deciding to accept international orders in your handmade business can be a big decision, and can seem overwhelming and a bit scary.

However, I truly believe that if you can work out a way to do it, you will find it more than worthwhile. You will vastly expand your customer base, and therefore grow your business faster than you could only selling domestically.

If you are interested in offering your product to international customers and you don’t know where to start, or you’re unsure if you’re ‘doing it right’, then this episode is for you.

It it, I take you through a checklist of the things you need to do in order to set yourself up to sell your craft overseas.

While selling internationally is different for every country, there are some general rules to follow to ensure both you and your customer are protected throughout the whole process.



Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • Should you be selling internationally?
  • Some products can be a barrier if they are large or delicate.
  • You will never know if it is for you unless you try!
  • ‘Don’t let the fear, or the workload, stop you from doing it’. {Jess}
  • You need to do the work to calculate shipping, as customers want it to be easy or they will most likely not bother.
  • Do your research. Who will you ship through? How much will it cost? How long will postage take?
  • Perfect your packaging so that it is sturdy and protects your item.
  • Communication is key in this process!
  • Never assume that your customers know. Sending a personal email can combat misunderstanding.
  • Blog Post: Are you using your customer correspondence to tell your story?
  • Podcast Ep 3: How to provide outstanding online customer service. 
  • Make your policies clear. Is tracking included? Insurance?
  • Make sure you have a policy that addresses that the customer is liable for import duties or customs charges.
  • Does sales tax apply?
  • There is always going to be a chance that you undercharge at some point.
  • If undercharging on postage occurs you are liable and not the customer.
  • Know the postage rules and systems to stop this happening.
  • Scams – do they happen?
  • Have a replacement policy rather than a refund policy.
  • If something goes missing always confirm the address, refer them to your policies and remember to trust your customer.
  • Keep receipts from the postal service.
  • ‘Keep your integrity but stick to your guns when something goes wrong’. {Jess}
  • Miscommunication is usually the number one problem.
  • ‘Have a relationship with your customer rather than just a transaction. {Jess}
  • Remember that different countries will have different rules. If you aren’t comfortable – don’t send there.


Download/Listen to this Episode

(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create & Thrive’.)


Van Den has written 388 posts in this blog.

Jess Van Den is the editor of Create & Thrive, and has been a full-time creative entrepreneur since 2010. She makes eco-conscious, contemporary, handmade sterling silver jewellery under the Epheriell label, and blogs about her jewellery and other beautiful things at Epheriell.com. You can catch her on twitter @JessVanDen.


Allison Dey

Just yesterday I mailed off a small item to Canada. I sell mostly digital downloads and don’t ship my wooden stitchery tools outside Australia. But a gal from Canada asked if I would, so I added Canada and a shipping rate I got from Aus Post online, and she ordered. I ended up being $2 short with the actual postage, but the fact that she asked and ordered was a nice effort on her part to be a customer. It’s okay that not everything lines up perfectly all the time. She’ll be happy and I’m not going broke for $2 this month.

When I did sell more finished stitched items, I did a lot of research and planning and rarely had any mishaps. The only real clearcut communication need seemed to revolve around the issue of possible customs fees on the other end. An order of the equivalent of about 25 pounds UK ended up costing my customer another 40 pounds in customs. That is definitely something folks overseas need to consider although I would dearly like to see a coalition of small business owners challenge the customs rules that should not apply to us.

Jocelyn Serone

Another great podcast! I totally agree with the pros of international sales- 40% of my sales are now overseas.I send by registered post, so I have tracking. I had a lady last year contact me that she had not received her order in the US. I apologised for the inconvenience & then lodged an enquiry with Aus Post/ USPS, only to find out that this customer had in fact received & signed for her parcel 4 weeks before she contacted me! When I sent her a convo, with a screenshot of her signature, she replied with “Don’t bring me down with your negative responses.” 🙂 The many lovely customers I have had wonderful interactions with far outweigh this negative experience.

What say you?