This is directed mostly towards digital/traditional artists, but also literature artists!
At some point in your artistic life, you might want to start earning a bit of extra money from the work that you love to do; yet I see that many people struggle with commissions, especially in the beginning. Thus I decided to write this little "How to" journal, where I share my own experience.
1. When do I start to do commissions?
Whenever you want to, and especially, whenever you feel comfortable
doing so! Especially that last part is important. I remember lots of people asking me if I were doing commissions years ago, and I had to say "no" to all of them, simply because I didn't feel ready for it. I was also completely nervous when I started doing commissions for the first time; what if no one would respond? What if the commission order were way too difficult to handle? What if I got negative responses?
I started doing commissions when I felt right about my art; when I trusted myself in mastering human/animal anatomy good enough to give good results, when I trusted myself in being able to shade an artwork, and make simple backgrounds for it. And even then, it was pretty difficult to set up that first "Commission Information" journal!
And even then, if you're still not sure if you're ready to do commissions, a great indication that tells you if you're ready to get started is when people actually start asking you if you do commissions ;D It shows that people are interested in your art style, and willing to pay for what you do!
2. How do I start doing commissions?
2.1 - Payment - How to get paid?
First and foremost, you need to think about payment
. How would you like to get paid? Currently, there are two popular ways of getting paid; with
points or Paypal:
- Points are DeviantArt's own currency. One point is worth 1 dollar cent, so 100 = $1, which is the conversion that is used if points are converted to real money using the commission widget, but we will get there later.
- Paypal is basically an online payment system. You can link your debit- or creditcard to your Paypal account and use it either to make payments online, or to receive payment from other people.
For people that do not have a bank account, for example young people, points are probably the way to go But since I have a bank account and want to use the money to help in paying my rent, I prefer Paypal myself ;D I've also seen lots of people who simply use both!
For payment with points, there are several ways of obtaining the points:
- Receiving the points as a "gift". On your profile page, people will click on the "give" button in the upper-right corner, select "points", and pay you the amount of points needed for the commission. These points cannot be converted to real money! They will only be available to you as points.
- Receiving the points through the "Donation Widget". On your page, you can set up the donation widget through "edit page" in the upper-right corner, and selecting the donation widget --> install it. Just like the gift option, these points cannot be converted to real money!
- Receiving the points through the "Commission Widget". This widget can be set up just like the donation widget! Points earned with this widget will go into your "earnings" in two weeks, and then you will be able to either cash them out with a creditcard, or Paypal.
For payment with Paypal, please keep the following points in mind:
- Ask your customers to pay you through "goods and services".
- Paypal takes a fee, depending on the price that is being paid. You could include this fee into the total price of your commission beforehand! The Paypal fee can easily be calculated here: thefeecalculator.com/
- Ask your customers to NOT include an address! If they put an address, this could result in problems for you!
If more information on any of these methods is requested, I will gladly make a bigger tutorial for them using screenshots! Just ask <3
2.2 Payment - When to get paid?
It is also good to think about WHEN to receive payment for a commission. This is perhaps also a matter of trust between the artist and the customer;
- I for example like to receive payment in advance of the commission. In this case, the customer has to trust me that I will finish the commission and won't run off with their money.
- Some other people like to be payed after the commission is completed. I myself don't like this type of payment, because it means I have to trust the customer. I could finish the commission for them, and they could just vanish from the internet, not paying me. All the work for nothing...
- Of course, something in between is also possible. You could, for example, sketch out the commission for someone, and if the customer likes it you could ask for money right then. Of course, you won't continue the commission until you've actually received the money, to prevent scams ;D
It is handy to put this kind of information in your "commission information" (see 2.3).
2.3 - Commission Information
What needs to be done second is putting down your commission information. People need to know what
they can commission you and for what price, after all! There are many ways of presenting your commission information; for example on your profile page, in the commission widget itself, but
I mostly like to keep this kind of information neat and tidy! Therefore I use a Journal
to present my commission information.
One of my old commission journals can be found here, for traditional/digital artwork:
Commissions - CLOSEDCommission information
Check below in this journal for the "How to commission me?" part.
$10 SIMPLE DIGITAL ANIMAL - CLOSED
Example: Pokémon styled animals, your OCs of closed species, really anything!
Up to 5 characters per commission!
Only for $10! You get two characters for the discount price of $15! Three characters for $20, four characters for $25, and 5 characters for $30!
No background, no shading/very simply shading.
$12 CHIBI - CLOSED
Chibi-style drawing of your OC!
$12 for one character, $20 for a couple.
Other types of commissions
$20 HEADSHOTS/BUSTS - CLOSED
You can use it as an example if you like!
I also have an example commission journal for literature works:
Literature CommissionsLiterature Commissions
(You can write some personal message here, like "Hey" and "welcome" and stuff, maybe stating why you want to do literature commissions, and what made you start doing them, etc)
Types of Commissions
Short Story(1-2k words) - $xx / xx
(You can have a standard price for this, it would be great to make this a cheap commission)
(Provide some examples here by posting the thumbnails to stories you already made)
Story Chapters (~2k words per chapter, max 3 chapters) - $xx / xx
(For people that want a chaptered story, but don't want to pay too much. You could give this a standard price as well)
(Provide some examples here by posting the thumbnails to stories you already made)
Custom Story - $xx / xx , $xx / xx for each extra 1000 words.
(For people that want more chapters, or a one-shot story that is over 2000 words. You provide a standard price fo
Again, just an example! You can use it if you like <3
Basically, the commission information needs to contain at least this:
- Types of commissions; what types of artwork/literature can you offer?
- Commission price; what price does your commission have? Do you have a standard price, or does the price go up when the commission (OC or story) is more detailed?
- Optional: Do's and Don'ts; What do you like to draw/write, and what will you not accept?
- Optional: Extra information; Basically, your commission 'rules'. See the two examples above for ideas!
- Optional: Commission Form; a Form that people can fill in and note you with, so that all the commission information gets neatly in a row.
- Optional: Commission slots; So that people can check how far you've progressed with a commission!
- Optional: Preferred way of communication; Would you like to communicate about the commission in the way of notes, or rather email?
For those that prefer email over notes, and in order to also let non-DA people commission you, it's great to also mention your email address in your commission information!
2.4 - Pricing your commissions
This is probably one of the hardest things for many people! Let me just say it loud and clear; don't undersell yourself!
If you're unsure about how to price your commissions, look at the minimum wage, and check how long you spend on a commission type. Is the minimum wage for your age $5 per hour, and do you spend 2 hours on a specific commission type? Then charge $10 for such a commission! Is the minimum wage for your age $10 and do you spend 3,5 hours on a specific commission type? Then charge $35 for such a commission! And so on.After all, people don't buy the end product only, but also your TIME!
Asking the minimum wage for a commission is of course the lowest minimum you could ask for. If you really want to take your prices professional, you could also choose to take the art supplies into account. Not only traditional art uses art supplies! Digital art has them as well, and even literature, in the form of Software and a drawing tablet
Still not sure how to price your art? It's okay to take inspiration from others. Find multiple artists that draw in a similar style as yours with a similar quality as yours, ánd check if they're from a similar country (since different countries have different wages per hour), and use their prices as an example! You might find a lot of artists that undersell themselves, simply because the competition on DeviantArt is high. This is exactly why I always have different types of commissions customers can choose from; also some "cheap" options, such as a more sketchy style or chibi-artworks that take me less time, so that people can also get a piece of art that doesn't directly cost $50.
3. Taking your first commissions - ADVERTISING
So now that all your commission information is set up, it is time to throw that journal in the World Wide Web, and try to get commissions. Don't be discouraged if you don't receive commission notes right away! I also had to wait some time before I got my first commission, and really wasn't that popular here on DA at all.
Sure it helps to already have a large group of watchers supporting what you do, but a lot of new and relatively unpopular people (like I was as well) will have a bit of a harder time. But do not fret, there are ways of getting your commission information out there!
3.1 - Groups
In the past years, ever since the introduction of Groups, I've found that most of the commission advertisement can best be done through groups. There is a huge amount of groups on DeviantArt that focuses especially on commissions, so you might just get a chance there! The groups can also be used to find "looking for someone to draw for me" type of journals!
If people need help on how to join groups, which groups are good for starters, and how to add journals to a group, please ask me! I will make a more detailed tutorial about it then <3
3.2 - Raffles
That's right, in order to start your commissions, you can hold a raffle! Not only will more people start to notice you through the raffle, but the prize that people receive through the raffle is a great
example for your commissions, and will link even more people towards your commission journal!
Here, have one of my example raffles!
Summer Art Raffle! CLOSED!WINNERS
The winners of this raffle are LonesomePine, DanaDani, Rumianyan! Congrats
You only have to leave a comment on this journal for your first ticket, but you can earn more tickets in the following ways:
By entering, you get your first ticket!
More tickets can be received by +watching, +faving this journal, and making a journal or poll linking to this raffle! That's 3 more tickets!
Two more tickets can be received by faving the following journals: Pay what you want Charity Commissions OPEN and
See how people can receive optional extra tickets by +faving my commission journals? It's a great way to spread your information
3.3 - Forums
The DeviantArt forum is quite big and visited by many people, and therefore an awesome place to advertise! Do not be scared, just try it out ;D
Here is the link to the Job Services Forum, where most people put their commission information: forum.deviantart.com/jobs/serv…
In the same way and on the same forum, people also post "looking for someone to draw for me" forum posts, so you might also want to try your chances there!
3.4 - Links
You can link to your commission information in the artist comment underneath your artworks, and you can also link to the commission information in your commission footer! Also make sure to have a link to your commission information on your front page ;D
In order to make a nice looking link, try the following code:
<*a href="PUT THE LINK TO THE COMMISSION JOURNAL HERE in between the quotation marks">Commission Information (or any other text)</a*> And remove the *'s!!!
For example, if I do this with my own commission journal example, the result will look like this:Commission Information
Neat huh? People don't see an ugly link, but they see a clickable text! Okay, moving on~
4. Handling a Commission - Do's and Don'ts
So you received your first commission, how exiting! Now here's some do's and don'ts for you, based on my own experience;
- Keep communicating! Your customers would love to know how their commission is coming along. Make sure that you communicate with them at least once a month (but more is better)! One easy way to communicate the commission's status is to post a "to-do-list" on your front page that says how far done the commission is.
- Ask your customer for references, and not only references of their character, but also if they want the character to be drawn in a specific pose, with a specific background, a colour palette, day/light/sunset atmosphere, etc. If the customer doesn't have these kind of references, you could also provide them with some examples of poses and colour palettes yourself ;D
- Send Work In Progress pictures (WIPs)! I noticed that people love to receive at least the sketch for their commission. It is handy as well, because mistakes in the design can be pointed out by the customer, which saves you a lot of work.
- When communicating, whether it is in comments or notes, stay professional and polite. It doesn't matter if the customer appears to be a rude person, always handle it in a polite way. Do not swear, stay calm, and reply normally.
- If it works for you; Set aside a certain time on a certain day in which you will work on commissions. You can even learn your brain to "trigger" this specific time of the day, for example by eating a snack/drinking coffee (or tea) right before this specific time arrives. There are also wonderful apps for your mobile phone that can help you manage the time.
- Entirely optional and mostly for digital artists, but I noticed that people really love when they see a stream or speedpaint of their commission. People told me it was nice to see how I work, and to also learn some more about photoshop/SAI/etc techniques ;D
- Don't keep your customer waiting for months without letting them know anything from you. It's plain rude!
- Don't finish a commission in one go, without checking with your customer. If something happens to be wrong in the end, this is your fault (if the customer communicated the commission details well enough), and even if the customer didn't provide enough detail, it's always nice to check if everything is looking fine to them. It's their money after all! ;D
- Don't take more commissions than you can chew! I fell into this pitfall pretty hard. Not only will you stress yourself out by seeing the gigantic list of commissions still to do, but also will your customers have to wait long times for the art to be finished.
- This also has to do with the previous point a little bit, but don't set deadlines on commissions if you're not sure you will be able to meet them! It will only stress you out. I don't mean that you just have to shove commissions aside entirely, but more that the time you take for a commission should be realistic ;D
What if you can't finish the commission?
It happens to all of us; sometimes a commission might prove to be too hard for you, sometimes we take too much that we can chew, sometimes life is too busy, and sometimes unfortunate things happen in life. At some point, you might realise that you simply cannot finish a commission. What to do?Offer a refund.
Especially if it has been MONTHS since the customer has paid. Don't be afraid, it is really the professional way to handle this! It is rude to keep those customers waiting, and while it might not feel right to do, it isn't right to keep your customers waiting for a long period, and it might make you feel stressed
as well. It might even make you feel demotivated
about drawing or writing. Now that doesn't help at all, does it?
Write a kind note to your customer, saying that unfortunately you cannot finish their commission anymore. You don't need to go into too much detail as for the why; it is not of their concern. Ask them kindly how they would like to receive their money back; through points (as a gift, donation?), or through Paypal? Make sure to include the paypal fee for them if you pay them back by Paypal.
That is, in my opinion, how you keep your commission business professional and how you can handle your customers well. Don't feel ashamed if you have to go through this situation! It can happen to all of us <3
When to say "No"...
Sometimes you might run upon a customer that is problematic in one way or another; the artwork they want from you might be too difficult for you to produce, or maybe you don't feel comfortable creating what the customer wants. It can even appear that a customer is simply very rude
, or picky
. Man, I've heard so much stories about artists not receiving any payment for their hard work, because the customer refuses to pay them... (which is frankly why I always choose to do payments beforehand!
Anything can happen really. What to do in this case?
Say no. Save yourself the trouble! You have the right to turn people down. Just do it in a polite and professional way. Even if a customer is downright rude to you, keep calm, keep polite, keep professional.
Money might be tempting to keep a commission going, but what worth is this if this single commission causes so much distress and negativity? I would rather do multiple awesome commissions for returning customers than one negative/stressful commission.
It also is handy to include a rule in your commission information that says that you have the right to decline a commission! <3
Last but not least...
This guide is far from perfect, and mainly based on my own experiences! If anything's missing, feel free to leave a comment with suggestions <3 If anyone requests more detailed information about anything presented here (for example, sample screenshots with explanations), I will try to add them as well!
I hope this was useful in some way! Happy Commissioning! Tags: #tutorial #how #commission #commissions #guide #to #set #up #setup #handle #and #start #begin #business #professional #payment #paypal #points #pay #do #work #deviantart #refund