WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO START
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.