in all my years fighting the good fight in regards to commission pricing I haven't really sat down and worked on a journal explaining HOW to sell your commissions since pricing properly alone unfortunately wont do the trick. I feel like this kind of information is really lacking in our community so I hope you'll find this journal to be helpful and informative. So let's dive right in, shall we?
Everyone is capable of getting commission sales, regardless of their skill level. It's all in how and where you market yourself. If your commissions aren't selling, it probably says more about your marketing skills than your art skills. Thankfully marketing skills can generally be acquired significantly faster than art skills, so don't fret!
Below I'll outline a few things that can help you market your commissions more properly. I have opted to mainly focus on marketing strategies for selling commissions on DA because this is the platform I am most familiar with selling on. Many of these tips should serve you well on other platforms as well though.
Find your target audienceThe very first thing you should consider is who is your target audience. Who will buy your art? Are you looking for a target audience that will get you only a few sales and then that's it, or are you looking for a target audience that is constantly buying what you're offering? Make sure the audience you are marketing yourself to is one who will actually be interested in your commissions.
Spamming isn't marketingWhen you're submitting your commission journals or adoptables or YCHs to a bunch of groups in hopes of someone buying it, you're not really marketing your work, you're just spamming it in places where maybe someone who will want it could see it. While spamming can certainly be an effective tool in getting your work seen, you shouldn't rely on it as a sole means of marketing. And please please please don't spam people with your work outside of submitting it to groups or your own journal.
Unsolicited spam asking for people to purchase commissions have been on the rise on DA over the last few years and it is a complete turn off to many potential buyers.
You are your brand!Unless you're a very skilled artist with a large following, you'll have the best chance of selling commissions by letting your market audience get to know you as long as you're likable. Charismatic extroverts definitely have a leg up on this one. Sorry introverts, you're all still lovely people, but you'll need to step up your friend making game for this!
If you happen to someone who doesn't know how to play nicely with others, you'll likely also struggle in this area. My suggestion would be to learn to start playing nicely with others or give up on wanting to sell commissions. Not many people want to give someone they don't like money.
With artists who offer commissions being a dime a dozen on DA, you need to stand apart, and without a distinct style or skill set your best way to stand out is by being well known and liked.
On DA people feel more comfortable supporting artists they actively like and feel deserve the money.
Be sincere and let people see the real you (unless the real you is a really awful person). Find and make new friends and create bonds. Get to know the people in your target audience (chances are you'll get along well with them and have shared interests anyway). Mingle, and be part of your community! Become a name people in your community know.
Be professional when selling your commissionsSelling commissions means you are providing a service to a paying customer and it should be treated like the business transaction it is. Be sure to use good manners and provide them with quality customer service (which includes responding in a timely fashion). This helps show your clients that you take your work serious.
Remember to communicate any problems that may arise with your clients. Life is getting in the way of completing the commission? Reach out, let them know that you're not blowing them off, they aren't forgotten and that the commission is still high priority for you.
Blowing commissions off is NOT an option, and actually a really fast way to prevent yourself from getting more in the future! If for any reason you can not complete a commission contact your client immediately and offer a full refund. (This is a good time to remind people not to spend money they got for commissions until AFTER they have completed the commission)
Offer your services when you canDon't be afraid to offer your services if someone in your circle/market audience is looking for an artist for a project you can do. It's possible they may not opt to go with you for the project, but you and most importantly they won't know if you're the right fit if you let such opportunities pass you by.
Adjust to the demand of your market audienceAre certain things trending in sales in your circles? If you can get in on the action, do!
Please be respectful not to rip off other artists in doing this though. Some bandwagons are okay to jump on, others are best left alone!
If your current marketing techniques aren't working, move on!It's okay to abandon a marketing technique if it's clearly not working. If you're not getting sales it's a safe bet to say that either your method of marketing and/or your audience are not right for you. Trial and error and what not are a big part of selling your commissions so don't be discouraged if you run into this, just stop what you're doing and try something new!
I'm sure there are a lot of other small things you can do to market yourself and they likely greatly depend on your skills, target audiences needs, and any other things which can influence the market. It helps to stay in the loop with what is happening in and with your target audience and adjust your marketing techniques as needed.
If you haven't seen my article on pricing your commissions yet, please check it out too: PE: Pricing Your Commissions
If you're looking to sell adoptables, you can also check out my article on pricing those: Pricing Adoptables
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Aaa, this is all very good advice!! The other aspect of selling commissions I've found to be vital is that whatever the style, whatever the skill level whatever the subject it is, presentation is everything. For traditional artists, good lighting for taking photos of the actual art can either make it or break it. Digital artists on the other hand needs to be aware of digital sizes, different file types, etc.
Most people are quite understanding if your grandma just died and you are busying grieving and planning a funeral and can't get that commission done this week!
Getting screwed happens on both ends honestly and it's up to both the artist and the commissioners to do their homework and protect themselves from that.
It really doesn't matter what your skill level is so long as you can offer something unique. Everyone can find that style that only really they can do, and they might find that people want that.
One thing I definitely see though is people who don't know how Paypal invoices work, and then they make the artwork first without receiving payment. Taking half first, half after is risky unless you know the person paying you, and taking payment after finishing a commission is the easiest way to get scammed.
Take payment first via an invoice, hold onto the money like you said to in this journal, finish it within a reasonable amount of time with plenty of updates and communication. Clients LOVE clear communication!!
I personally always ask for money up front. Most people I deal with pay me in full up front, though I am happy to take half up front and the other half upon completion. I imagine that most people buying from me know I will complete their commission and usually I have a really fast turn around time as well so why pay me half now, and the other half tomorrow?
Always use invoices--invoices save everyone's life in terms of laying the ground work for what's expected.
And yee, if they know you, you can always do half-half if they're unable to do full payment. I personally just don't take money until I start, and since I work in sessions (start to finish), it'll be done that same day and that's why I take it all upfront.
On the other hand, buyers need to not dick artists over with chargebacks too. I have seen some cases where they just up and do a chargeback with no communication or attempt to resolve the issue etc beforehand. Using the invoices helps for certain, but Paypals customer service is iffy at best so it's still a gamble and people need to protect themselves as best as they can on both ends honestly.