A Beginner's Guide on Pricing

6 min read

Deviation Actions

I've been asked a handful of times the question every person selling their skills wonders: How do I price my commissions? I've heard from many people on this subject, and since writing this guide back in 2015, I have a better understanding of how a person should price their writing.

The biggest question you should ask yourself is this: Am I writing for fun or do I need money for bills / school / etc? This is the main factor that should determine what you charge.

I encourage every writer to charge what they feel comfortable with. If you feel your writing is worth the big bucks, go ahead and charge that. If you're still learning and want a little extra pocket change, plus improve while you're at it, charge the amount you think your writing is worth, whether that's 5$ or less; no one should make you feel like your writing isn't worth money.

However, if you need money for important things, I'd highly recommend selling yourself on more places than deviantART. Sell yourself on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, anywhere people could find your prices! You may find you'd get more business than just on one platform.

I'd be more than happy to help anyone who feels they need a second opinion for their commissions, but please keep in mind your commission prices are your decision. You can take what I say with a grain of salt, yet in the end, your prices are up to you. Don't let anyone make you feel you're not worth being paid, and don't be discouraged if someone thinks your prices are too high or low.

I stress this: YOUR PRICES ARE YOUR DECISION.

--

Hey, it's your Co-Founder, imaginary-rose! I was going to add this as comment, but it just grew and grew so I decided to tack this on here. I suppose this is a slightly more advanced guide to pricing. :XD:

My one real tip for pricing commissions is simply: self-reflect—honest self-reflection. This is why I think you can read a lot of pricing guides and get advice and suggestions from others, but ultimately your prices are your choice. Here are three things I'd consider during self-assessment: time, need, skill/experience.

Time:

  • How long does it take you to write a page, 1000 words, a short story, etc? How long does it take from story inception to final edits? However you're dividing your commissions, figure out how long it takes. And be honest. Work that doesn't take as long can be charged for less-obviously. A 1 page drabble will cost less than a multi-chapter story. I can write 1000 words in an hour. I can actually write 2000 words in an hour if I really focus. But I cannot write an 1000 word short story in an hour. Why? Because I can't write 1000 good words in an hour. So I have to decide - should I write 1000 junk words in an hour and then spend just as much time or more rewriting or should I go a little slower, take a little longer, but write a lot better and cut down on my editing time? That answer depends on the next question.
  • How much time do you have to devote to writing? Do you work long hours and then have to go home to prepare dinner and maintain your household? Do you go to school, then deal with afterschool activities and then have to go home to do homework? If you've only got a few hours a night without obligations your time is worth more because it's more precious. That will affect your price.

Need:
  • Why do you have commissions open? Are you doing it for fun? Do you desperately need money for bills? Do you just want some spending cash? Your prices should reflect what you need them to. Keep in mind, if you desperately need money - high prices may mean fewer customers, but the few customers you get will get your closer to your goal. One customer who pays $50 is worth more than 10 who only pay $1, but is worth less than 10 who pay $10. (Math—it burns!)

Skill/Experience:
  • How much time and effort have you devoted to your craft? Ten years of casual writing may mean more experience, but less skill than 5 years of intense study. A master craftsman can charge more than a beginner. You don't need to take classes or spend hundreds of dollars of writing books to improve. A self-taught writer can be just as good as one that has taken classes as long they're actually teaching themselves. Study. Learn. If you want to get paid for your writing you’re going to have to put effort into your writing even between commissions. If you're reading this, you have access to the Internet, a place where people love to give their opinions on things. Find tutorials, guides, tips, hints for writing in general and the specific areas you want to excel at. And more importantly: read. Read published books, but also unpublished Internet work, fan-fiction, whatever. Reread your old stuff and see how you've improved. Reading something you've set aside from a while ago can help you objectively look at what areas you need improvement. And then improve. As you get better, you can increase your prices.

Where to start? I suggest figuring out a base price of how much you'd ideally like to be charged an hour (100:points:, $5, minimum wage for your area, whatever) and then increasing or decreasing based on your time, need and skill/experience.

Still need help? I'm not comfortable offering specific price help, but our wonderful founder has said she'd be happy to offer help, when she has the time. Feel free to ask, and leave examples of your work, but don't wait around in commission limbo for a response.

--
What tips would you give for pricing commissions? Leave a comment!
Published:
© 2015 - 2021 Writing-Commissions
Comments95
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In
joenomrc's avatar

This has been extremely helpful, thank you!

ResonantCrimson's avatar

You're quite welcome!~ I'm glad you found it useful. ^^

Hi, I was recently asked about commissions, and since I'm relatively ... idk untrained I suppose? I thought $5/1k was a reasonable price range. However, I have a pretty bad track record with my self esteem, so I wanted to get a second opinion. If it matters any, I'm unemployed but not in drastic need. Thanks for this guide btw, very very helpful.

Sibernethy's avatar
I've never done story commissions before but a friend of mine suggested it. I would like to know what people would be happy paying me for after seeing my existing work.

tapas.io/series/Uniques-United -- This is a written work based on a cartoon show I'm writing called Uniques United. I own the IP and I wonder after reading this, what I can comfortably charge if I were to do story commissions. I have a complete episode written here.

Neil-3 by malfunit

This is Neil, one of the six main characters of the series. He's a wizard's apprentice that uses magic and stealth to fulfill his objectives.
moodyrobo's avatar
This really helped, thanks!
ResonantCrimson's avatar
No problem! ;) Glad it helped.
JJ-11's avatar
Can this type of pricing be applied to characters? See, I don’t charge $5 per 1,000 words or anything like that, but instead I
write OC’s for people based on their fandom or interest they have. Basically, for $2 per character I wrote an OC template for someone. Does that seem too low? 
FreddyKrueger-Holmes's avatar
My opinion on that subject as a commissioner of written art:
I don't think anyone really has to be cheaper than 10$ per 1000 words. I find that to be a fair price, that doesn't hurt either side. It doesn't scare away too many customers and you don't feel like your completely underselling yourself.

Now, if you're insecure and fairly new to doing writing commissions, you can charge a bit less, maybe 7$ per 1000 words but I wouldn't go cheaper than that, unless you really don't do it for the money, but even than it feels like you are underselling you art.

More than 10$ can also be appropriate, if you're really good and have some experience, between 15$ and 20$ per 1000 words is still ok in my opinion, but you have to be good and probably wont get as many commissions. Only thing to keep in mind if you go up that high with your prices is, that there are many writers who charge less and aren't bad as well.

I consider anything over 20$ per 1000 words to be overly expensive unless you're writing about a topic that requires a lot of research.

One last point: If you set your prices, you can maybe include discounts for longer commission, or commissions of Fandoms or subjects you know a lot about or enjoy writing about.
Considering this is how my work looks on average, and that I tend to do more than this (this piece is going to go for 31 days), what should I charge by? Per word or page seems like it would end up being way to expensive. And I don't want to charge too much, since it's just for some extra spending cash.

docs.google.com/document/d/1yM…
KaixChan's avatar
I took a quick look at what you wrote (since I don't have time to read 16 pages x'DD;; ) but from what I saw you have a good grip on grammar and spelling. The only thing I saw was there wasn't a space between each new paragraph. I'd space them, because it looks congested otherwise.

Since you want to do commissions for extra spending money, I'd say 3 USD per 1,000 words, or perhaps 4 USD if you want. In the end, as we state in this journal, your prices are your decision, so it's ultimately up to you what you price your writing as. :)
MagicalDisaster's avatar
Hi! I haven't found much guidelines on art writing anywhere on the internet, except for those that concern artist statements, press releases and artist profiles. I haven't checked for other stuff but I do know that there are no guidelines in pricing one's art writing services. Let me explain, art writing helps represent an artist to an art market, or their work to potential buyers. It makes their art more appealing, or understood better through verbal articulation. Do these guidelines listed above still apply to what I'm aiming for, or should I price a little bit higher since its concerning art? Or maybe not, since I'm aiming for student artists as my target market....  Just needed assistance. Thanks!
DawnEastpoint's avatar
What you're looking for is called Marketing and Branding.
starlord57's avatar
Hey! I know I'm late to this party but I have a few questions, if someone doesn't mind answering.

First off, with the price-per-word-count deal of this, does the buyer set how many words they want? In other words, do I know how long I'll have to make the story for them? 

Secondly, to those with experience, what option do you think is better for an amateur considering opening literary commissions: A one time charge, setting the price depending on what was commissioned or a price-per-word-count deal? 

Thirdly, do I have to set my profile to an "artist" to open commissions? Today is the first time I thought to open literary commissions so I'm still fairly new to this.

My apologies, these are probably dumb questions. I just want to be fair in this. 
KaixChan's avatar
1. Yes, the buyer sets how many words they would like. Try not to go under too much, but say, if you're 200 words under, it's normally not a big deal. If you go over, don't charge your buyer; it's unprofessional and it'll bring a bad rep to you.

2. Price per word count is ideal. The buyer can decide how many words they'd like; for instance they may get a small commission first and if they like your writing they'll get a larger one. 

3. No. Your profile can be anything; it doesn't affect your ability to do commissions. It's just a title dA uses. You can set it to whatever you like.

Hope this helped!
Inspector-Spinda's avatar
Disregarding the spelling errors, how much do you think something like this is worth?
inspector-spinda.deviantart.co…

about 2000 words
KaixChan's avatar
Honestly, I don't give out prices as willy-nilly as I used to because as it states in the journal, your prices are your decision. It's up to you in the end what you think your price should be. However, if you want a base, look around at other's prices and their examples of writing and go from there. Also your prices should reflect your need for money; are you opening commissions because of expenses like bills and such or just for some extra pocket change? That should be a major factor in deciding what your prices are worth.

However if you're really unsure, just reply back and I'll see what I think.
Inspector-Spinda's avatar
okay thank you. I think I'm going to go with $4 per 1000 words
KaixChan's avatar
That's a pretty good starting point C: 
Vinn3TT's avatar
Currently, I charge 10$ per 1000 words for most of my writings, though that's for a few reasons. One of which is cause of my time, I have around 6 hours a day free, and writing around 4000 words usually takes me a good few days since I put a lot of effort into making sure every paragraph is correct, consistent, and the best looking (I'm a perfectionist so I look over my previous paragraphs a lot). I am new to writing commissions, but I have a lot of experience with writing in general but never have done writing as an occupation. Currently need money to buy a few different action figure stuff, so that's also why I charge the $10. D'you guys think that's an okay price? It's just what I would put on mine, but I'm unsure of the market price.
KaixChan's avatar
Honestly 10$ per 1,000 words is a great price for what you mentioned your situation is. I think prices should reflect a) your need for money and b) how much you value your time. It may be a bit more difficult to find customers since dA is dirt cheap when it comes to writing (and art but that's a different matter), but I think you have a good base. 

Good luck with future commissions !!
Vinn3TT's avatar
Thanks for replying, Kai! I was just curious since one of my friends said that was extremely pricey, but they were fairly new to Writing Commissions and also does very cheap art commissions.
KaixChan's avatar
No problem !! I honestly don't charge much (I don't think?? LOL) for my commissions because a) I don't desperately need money and b) I can be slow as hell when it comes to writing them, so I don't want to make people wait forever OTL So I think 10$ per 1,000 words is a fair price for intermediate writers. I hate when someone charges so low for art or writing, since it's like GET MORE CONFIDENCE IN WHAT YOU'RE SELLING YO but I also have a limited budget I can drain cash from to commission people so ?? 

Again, I wish you luck with your commissions ~ !! Feel free to submit your commission sheet to the featured folder so you can get more exposure, and any casual stuff you've written to the appropriate one, which is Casual Writing >w< ~
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In