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Edit: This tutorial covers aspects related only to your Deviantart gallery and Deviantart Journal. It has nothing to do with the Deviantart's newly implemented points commission system. You can take commissions without using that points system on Deviantart as long as you have paypal.

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WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO START
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When you have enough watchers and people interested in your art.
When you have a closely-bounded community around your work/gallery


How many is enough I can't say for sure, because it depends on the community around you and your work. Some artists can live on one patron, others need to live on millions of them.

For DA, I would say typically around 20,000-40,000 pageviews, at least 40-50 watchers on your DA is best before you start considering taking commissions, (because out of that 40-50, you may have 1 person willing to pay, a safer bet is 100 people.) however, if your gallery has explosive growth, or you are good at making new friends, you probably can start earlier.



If you need more exposure, do really good fanart. After all, people would type and search famous series, not your name. If they do type your name, you are famous.

If you don't want to do fanart, the other option is draw the cliche-category.
Pirates are selling, draw pirates.
Angels and demons, vampires, wolves always sell...

However, the key is naming your title of the piece with "cliche words" so that the search engine will show your work up when someone searched it. Like my "Angel Shines" will come up when someone search "angel"

A list of cliche words in popular search: Angel, demons, vampire, devil, rain, wolves, wolf, dragons, tutorials, anime, pirates, jack, sonic, mario......

You get my drift?


Now that DA has clubs/groups, you can also submit more original stuff to those clubs and be seen, but competition is fierce still, make sure you only submit your best if you want business.

HOW TO START: - POST A COMMISSION BLOG ON DA. It's that easy!
For people who doesn't know how to post a blog: help.deviantart.com/100/

Content of the blog:

1. Draw samples of your art, make sure you can make the quality art you can continue to work at steadily.

2. When you are Setting prices:
if you don't know how to set prices yet, there's a few things that can help you to determine what prices you need to go with:

-Evaluate the competition:
take a look at other artists who are doing commissions and their prices. While evaluating, be critical about your work in a skill-based manner, (forget self-esteem for a while when you want to do business.)

Is my drawing skill high enough?
Is my painting skill high enough?
What's my strength?
What's my weakness?
What can I offer that is my specialty that this other person doesn't offer?


-Hours and effort spent on your part:
how long do you need for each commission on the average, if you set the prices too low, you will discourage yourself from working, if you set it too high, you won't get customers.

I personally go by 10-20 dollars/hour estimation. Some people who are not in USA can set it cheaper/more expensive according to their currency exchange rate, most DA users are USA citizens, so going by "USD" is best.




Generally, when your pageviews is over 1 million, (1,000,000) you can charge upto 300-500 dollars per finished piece, 20-25 a sketch, and you might still have a lot of buyers.

Most of the audience on DA are teenager to young adults, their spending range is really around 20-150 USD dollars. Anything over 100 (currently at 2010) is still pushing it.

*However, in a few years, if all of the users still stay around DA, and started working on jobs, the spending range might gradually increase.


Anything above 100 USD will be hard to come by for start ups, lower is not a problem. You also don't want to set it too low, don't charge less than 5 dollar per piece, if you do that you might as well do it for free. No one is interested in paying for a piece that's 1-3 dollars, it doesn't feel like buying art, it feels like donating to a beggar.

For Pro level users, they tend to charge $20-45 an hour rate and won't work lower than certain amount. You can work your way up to that. As Pro freelance artists your cost should cover your own insurance, retirement, and family expenses. 


2. Keep things flowing

-Free trials:
Use free offers on commissions to friends or your close-nit watchers to get started. (use what you have)
Submit your commission pieces to DA for advertisement. Commission pieces title should include "Commission" to let your viewers know you do commissions. Include your commissioner's name on the describtion.

- Include an easy access to your commission related information.

- Provide finished samples and price range next to each other.

EX: Finished illustration: [link] - 45 USD.

- Provide payment method: EX: My paypal email: xxxxx@xmail.com


KEY POINTS TO SET UP COMMISSION JOURNALS

1. Be clear, and make it easy to read

-Use spaces.... lots of spaces between words help for easy reading, the faster they can read your journal, the more business you may get.
If your journal is chaotic, you will get more notes of confused commissioners.
- use icons, graphic information to decorate your journal post


2. Keep a list
- Slots- the easiest way to let people know whether you are available, and that you are active in business.
- Keep the contact information somewhere you can review easily.




PAYMENT AND RELATIONSHIP WITH CLIENTS

1. Deadlines or no deadlines: most people actually don't give you a deadline, (then don't ask for one...) but if there are those who do, keep a clear account for that. Set your priority on the commissions in reaction to the urgency of your commissioners.

Updates: even though the clients didn't give deadline, it's best to offer them a healthy weekly update of your progress, they will feel like they are getting their money's worth, if you got busy for some reason, make sure you let them know too. Don't make them wait half a year to a year without a sound unless they say they are ok with it. I update the client at least 1 update a month if the project slows down or I got busy with other stuff. 



2. When should the client pay:

Usually the artists in illustration industry can ask for an advance after doing some sketches. Then the rest should be paid off after the work is done.

I do 50/50 portion payment with my clients, 50% advance after I showed them the sketches, update them on the progress, 50% final after I am done. But if trust is built between me and the client, often they just pay me in full after I have shown them the sketches.

If it's a large project costing several thousand dollars, (like animation or long term commitment) I do it by sections, (like 25-50% each deposit) negotiate a payable amount per stages, use up the fund upto that point completing the work then ask for more. 


In my experience, clients who already paid an advance stay and will follow up on payment, it's the clients who never paid that might take the work and run away. Once they paid part of the budget, I would say 95% would stay on project until it's complete unless they need to cancel. Follow this advice you will less likely to get run-away client. 



3. Payment method:
Paypal, money order, check, if you have your own shop set up you can take credit card as well.
Just go to paypal.com to sign up, it's pretty easy.
For people who doesn't know how paypal works: www.paypal-search.com/socialse…

For people who does not know paypal... this internet transaction bank (like a mid-way bank) can do fund transfer with just the email you use to sign up with. All you need to do is:

1. Sign up for an account.
2. Get your account approved with a bank account linked to it (or credit card account)
3. Give your paypal e-mail to your client, and they use their paypal account to pay you.

I personally recommend getting the business account, even though it's more percentage taken from your earned share, you get more access to all the merchant tools you will find useful later.


3a. Points Commission: DA allows people to take points and convert them to currency later through paypal or DA cash. You can do points commission with basic account but more shares go to DA if I presume correctly. I have never used the points commission myself, but if you do, follow the advance payment method I listed in Point 2, except with points instead of cash.



CHOOSE YOUR JOBS


If you don't want to do the job since the beginning of the request, you are better off not doing it.
(ex: If you hate hentai, don't take hentai work.)


-Choose the jobs that you feel is more suitable, compatible with your personality and quality. (unless you are super desperate.)
If you choose your jobs wisely to fit both your needs, and the clients' needs, you will get good work done, your client will be happy.


While choosing for yourself and your portfolio, you will also build a brand name with your commissions... that will create a steady flow of customers for you as well.
I think I have given enough advices to different people of the same thing I might as well write a journal about it. (So I can be lazy and just pass the link to them later.)

A more detailed article at:
[link]

[link]

Edit: included DA related general pageviews, pricing guidelines.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconthecrimsonaries:
TheCrimsonAries Featured By Owner Edited Jan 14, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Hello! I know this post is quite old but I'd like to ask about how exactly I should set up a business account on paypal just for commissions?
I noticed that when you try to sign up for a business account they ask for a business name but well... I don't really have a "business" per se since I'm just an artist who wants to open up commissions. (I don't really know if a business name is important either but you can never be too careful with this kind of thing lol)

Also, i'm wondering whether I should add my real name or not since I don't want my clients to know my real name.
Does paypal show them that kind of thing?

Anyway thats all I'm wondering!
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2016  Professional Filmographer
for usa, your business name can simply be your name or your alias online, anyone can start a small business account with simply their own name.
Since paypal is usa company, usa law applies first, other laws are secondary. 
If you use business account it shows your business name not your name. 
Reply
:iconthecrimsonaries:
TheCrimsonAries Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh, I see.
Thank you! :D
Reply
:icontamapochi:
TamaPochi Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for this journal it's very helpful! I have a question, I have at least 40+ watchers but not even near 20, 000 pageviews orz do you think I can start doing commisions? Or should I get more pageviews and watchers?
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2016  Professional Filmographer
Eh technically u can setup your commissions anytime, but you will only get business once your stuff is out there.
So try to do some well known series fanart for exposure. 
Reply
:icontamapochi:
TamaPochi Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh thanks
Reply
:icondestatidreamxiii:
DestatiDreamXIII Featured By Owner Edited Dec 19, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Very helpful journal! Though I was wondering, have you ever had issues with paypal? I've heard of accounts being frozen, or artists being charged a lot of money, for things like commissioners sending money as a "gift" rather than a service and such...has this ever happened to you?
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2016  Professional Filmographer
No, it hasn't. I think its because all my exchange are fairly small... paypal gets picky when u give big chunk i think. 
Even staff would tell us to try "giving money to family/friends" option if its not a large amount. 
Reply
:icondestatidreamxiii:
DestatiDreamXIII Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Oooh I see. Thank you so much for the reply, I'll definitely keep this in mind when I give PayPal a try! ^_^
Reply
:iconsilverkittykat:
Silverkittykat Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2015
For the paypal business account, it requires information such as an address, phone, and a business name. I have a couple questions.
1. What would you prefer be the business name?
2. Will it share my address information with other people? If so, that is a very discomforting thought.
3. Can you put in a false address if the answer to the second question is yes?
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2015  Professional Filmographer
I think u are allowed to do a po box. But best provide real address, i don't think it shares my address with others but u can look it up. 
I use my studio entity for business name, or the legal name my company is registered under, you can also use ur official name. Anything u do on paypal has a record so best keep it to the lawful side. 
Reply
:iconsilverkittykat:
Silverkittykat Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2015
Alright, thanks! :)
Reply
:iconr3dfangz:
R3dFangz Featured By Owner Edited Nov 28, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'd like to know, how exactly does PayPal charge me and when? I read something on their site about currency conversion but didn't really understand what they meant by that. Obviously they won't charge you at certain periods of time just for having an account on their site, but I want to sell commissions and I really want to know in what situations PayPal will charge me and how much they will. (I have a personal account btw)
Also, thanks for writing this guide!
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2015  Professional Filmographer
paypal only charge per transaction, aka when you actually make money.  Usually 2-3% depending. If you pass the money as family/friends, then no fee unless there's international accounts from different countries.
Reply
:iconr3dfangz:
R3dFangz Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
So even if a person from across the world sends me money as a "gift", I'll get that money, minus 2-3% percent of it, right?
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2015  Professional Filmographer
yes. across the world however i think its got some international fee. like 50 cents or something, there's different range for different country: www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/…
Reply
:iconr3dfangz:
R3dFangz Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks! That cleared things out for me. ;)
Reply
:iconleenieh:
Leenieh Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2015  Student General Artist
Thanks so much for this post, it was very informative and helpful! 
I had a question though, I have at least 100+ watches now, but not anywhere near 20,000 page views o_O how would you recommend I get those up? Also, even though I don't have a lot of page views, do you think it's a bad idea if I start commissions anyway?
-Eileen <3
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2015  Professional Filmographer
You can start, just need to do more advertising yourself, and start posting around on forums, indy game community forums, and see if you get any bites. :)
Reply
:iconleenieh:
Leenieh Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2015  Student General Artist
(Or should I start requests first?)
Reply
:iconhorach-u:
Horach-u Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2015  Professional General Artist
Hi!
This article has helped me way more in setting up my business module; now I got better idea in how to price my work and other stuff like selecting clients.
I'll still be polishing some details, but for sure I'm gonna sell commissions soon...
Thanks a lot! :D
Reply
:iconnathanrider:
NathanRider Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2015
Whatever you have provided for us in these posts really appreciative.Entrepreneur
Reply
:iconjoycie24:
joycie24 Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2015  Student General Artist
Thank you this has been especially helpful. 
Reply
:iconkyunenee09:
kyunenee09 Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hi, would you recommend setting up a personal or business Paypal account for commissions?
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Edited Aug 27, 2015  Professional Filmographer
business. always business. lol much more tools and options. 
Reply
:iconkyunenee09:
kyunenee09 Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ah okay, thank you!
Reply
:iconanimeloving97:
animeloving97 Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2015  Student Writer
hey, i wanted to know what do you think about fanfic commissions??? I write fanfics and other literature works and i have been making requests for some time now. But i have only seen a few number of writers who do commissions and i dont know if i should start or not. I understand that usually people are less likely to pay for written works instead of drawn works, but idk. i put in a lot of effort into each of my fics and i really could use the money....
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Edited Aug 26, 2015  Professional Filmographer
If you are good at writing, you can offer assistance on research, writing, editing,
to any new writers who may need help, if you want to make money off writing
you might need to start out with more packages/offers and see if anyone is interested. 

Of course have your own writing put together as portfolio. 
More people are in need of editors, especially those who put out books/products.

I won't count on writing commissions on DA,
Kickstarter might be a far better place trying to find a fiction writing gig job. 

For fan fics, you can advertise: Turn your rough idea into novel grade writing... you might have biters.
Reply
:iconanimeloving97:
animeloving97 Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2015  Student Writer
yeah, i was thinking of putting my original novel into one of those! either kickstarter or patreon.

but since i only do fanfics in DA maybe i would be able to make a few cheap commissions. I make requests and i have offered a 'rush' option to people for 50pts, and it seems to work.

its only cuz i wanted the points to buy commissions, i cant keep using my own money but i wasnt reaaaally planning on making real money out of the fics you know?
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2015  Professional Filmographer
Call your novel light novel and just get an artist to draw a few pics and sell it maybe?
That's the trend lately. XD
You can also consider visual novel making. ^_^
Do parody instead of fan fiction you can make money on it. 
Reply
:iconanimeloving97:
animeloving97 Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2015  Student Writer
oh i wish! i would love to know how to draw. but i dont, and i dont really know antone who does that well........
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2015  Professional Filmographer
should be able to find a starting artist for cheap to work with... maybe? Light novel at most need 4-5 pics should be quite affordable to plan a project with. Visual novel is slightly more expensive. 
Reply
:iconanimeloving97:
animeloving97 Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2015  Student Writer
yeah, i'll think about it
Reply
:iconsunsettwilightnoon:
SunsetTwilightNoon Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2015  Student Artist
Hey, how do you request commissions?
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2015  Professional Filmographer
find artists who open for commission, see their availability/offers and price range and note them basically. 
Reply
:iconkuro-shiii:
Kuro-shiii Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
So if it's not paypal, it doesn't work, what I mean is, isn't there another option besides paypal?
and thanks for the great post, it is very helpful
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2015  Professional Filmographer
there is other ways of doing payment, but may not be as widely used between commissioners and artists, like Dwolla, Esty, stripe, etc.
For DA you can also redeem points to cash. You will need to look into that, its not something I use so I don't cover it in depth.
Reply
:iconkuro-shiii:
Kuro-shiii Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
ooh didn't know about the point, thank you, gonna search about that.
Reply
:iconchelseaduong:
ChelseaDuong Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
thanks so much for posting this~! Very very helpful :D
Reply
:iconjosiahnugent:
JosiahNugent Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2015  Student General Artist
Great advice, once I have more followers I'll set up a paypal. (Currently I have 42 but about 38 of them have been inactive since 2013. I keep trying to expand my audience, I've tried doing more fan art, uploading more frequently, submitting my stuff to groups, making my art more approachable, and tagging the hell out of each piece but it's not working. I don't know what I'm doing wrong, I'm not the best at my craft but I've seen work with equal or less than quality get a lot of attention).
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2015  Professional Filmographer
Your style work for animation, if you study animation and do youtube videos, you might have better results. DA is a very illustration focused site, so either study more basics for illustration and learn to paint digitally, or study toward animation and move your drawings and learn to add sound. Either way can help you improve your chances. Hope you get more audiences!
Reply
:icongoombablood:
goombablood Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2015
I have a question.

I just set up a PayPal account, but I still don't understand how the payment transfer works. Do you know any articles that talk about this?
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2015  Professional Filmographer
try this? www.paypal.com/us/webapps/help…

psst, this is the cheapest option, if you do regular service/buying there's a 3% charge. 
Reply
:icongoombablood:
goombablood Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2015
Thanks! This is exactly what I was looking for!
Reply
:iconmeeepow:
meeepow Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
great guide
Reply
:iconmodo3211:
Modo3211 Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2015  Student Digital Artist
Tysm i will definately use this for my 1st commision!
Reply
:iconfox-superior:
Fox-Superior Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2015  Student General Artist
Thanks a bunch for sharing. Definitely helpful. 
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2015  Professional Filmographer
np :)
Reply
:iconsilverwolf2525:
SilverWolf2525 Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2015  Student General Artist
Ty!
Reply
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