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.
For example, for my commissions, I charge 4 USD / 400 per 1,000 words because of one main thing: I write for the fun of it, not because I need money for bills or any other financial need. My paypal is also not connected to my bank, so any funds I get from writing are used for online transactions.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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!)
- 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, $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!