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Edit: I derped up with wording, so editing to clarify |D

So I have posted here before with advice about specific clients, but this is the fourth time someone has backed out on me after agreeing to (and starting!) a project. I should mention that my commission process is highly unusual; at the moment, I only charge for materials and offer labor for free. I have a couple reasons for this: first, since I am still learning I don't feel that I can offer accurate time quotes. I do give a time range that the project will be complete (usually a few weeks, although it depends on the project), but I don't feel comfortable setting hard deadlines. This is not to say I won't consistently work on the project, but I don't want to make a promise I may not be able to keep. Hence I compensate my clients for this risk by discounting labor.  Second, these commissions are great learning experiences in terms of timing myself and figuring out how to give accurate quotes for both materials and time. I also favor clients who attend conventions more than I do because hey, free advertising! Finally, the money they save on labor is more money we can put towards high quality materials, and I much prefer to work that way. Sometimes I will have the client purchase tools as a small compensation for labor, but it's not always necessary.
They get a commission at a steep discount in exchange for giving me the opportunity to experiment and build my portfolio.

So far I have worked exclusively with friends. I'm hesitant to open these to the great wide internet because frankly, I'm putting out a ton of effort for these projects and I want to work with people I trust. I thought working for friends would be less risky, but apparently not. Most recently, I had someone back out of a full body cosplay because he spontaneously decided to move across the country and no longer has the money to spend. This is fine except I've already put in 13.5 hours into research and pattern drafting.

I'm not sure if what I'm asking for is even possible, but I'm wondering if there is a way to offer these sort of commissions outside my group of friends without getting burned. For starters I'm thinking of requesting all material funds up front instead of letting people do payment plans, and I’m also considering a cancelation fee. I don’t know how to figure out a cancellation fee, but maybe that will make people take it more seriously. To be honest I’m kind of confused that this is happening; every time someone takes one of my bigger projects to a convention I get notes asking about commissions, so I assume my quality of work is at least OK? I just wanna build cool cosplays, and I want to do it so badly that I’ll give away my time.

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( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
snowhawk
Mar. 16th, 2017 10:00 pm (UTC)
" I only charge for materials and offer labor for free. I have a couple reasons for this: first, I work full time and am financially comfortable, so I don't need the extra money right now. Fully paid commissions obligate me to work for the client and get things done in a timely manner, and I'd rather have flexibility in how I choose to spend my free time."

Okay. No. I have seen this to much.

Wether you are charging for labor or not is on you. If the client is buying materials, that is their payment. If you don't charge labor, and if you don't charge them upfront for the materials, then that is also on you.

When you take a paid commission, wether it be materials or materials and labor, or as a trade, you are obligated to get it done within a reasonable time for the commissioner. If you consider yourself professional or it as a job or not is irrelevant, because you have made it a job, which you should be doing professionally, by taking payment. The fact they might be friends is irrelevant.

If you can't afford them to flake on you, then get payment upfront, or at the least, make them buy the materials. Over-estimate what will be needed, and anything extra goes to the client with their completed commission.

If you want the clients to be accountable and you do not want to charge labor, then make them buy materials. Otherwise, realize you are on the hook for all unpaid work.
rebeccaannoying
Mar. 17th, 2017 05:41 am (UTC)
What I meant by timely manner was that if I were to be taking commissions for income purposes, I would be needing to devote more than evenings and weekends which I cannot do with a 40 hr/week job. Because of this, a project may take 2-3x longer than what I could deliver when I had more free time. P The commissioner is ALWAYS made aware that I will be working on their projects on evenings and weekends in my spare time, and sometimes my spare time needs to go to other things. For example work has kept me 3-4 hours late every evening for the past week, so I haven't had time to source a laser cutter. I do give them a rough estimate so they aren't completely in the dark, but I also have to warn them that it may take longer. ersonally I don't consider this timely. I should also clarify that I don't use this as an excuse to work on at my whim, and I do my best to finish in the best time that I can. There just needs to be zero ambiguity about the fact that I cannot promise a hard deadline.

As a side note, I have never purchased materials from my own pocket; usually I send links to the commissioner and they order for me. There were some sales happening and I was able to shave almost 10% off the total costume cost by jumping on them quickly. I can return all but $40 of the materials, and he will refund me that much.

Edited at 2017-03-18 01:38 am (UTC)
ljmydayaway
May. 6th, 2017 06:32 pm (UTC)
I highly recommend just making your own designs and selling them on FA or via auction. Don't get into doing commissions until you can devote enough time to it and get it done in a reasonable time frame.

This way, you can work on your own schedule without people dropping out, and build up your portfolio.
Fralea Comms
Mar. 16th, 2017 10:23 pm (UTC)
Well, while you may feel for-material-costs work doesn't obligate you to be fully professional, the reverse is true for the client. They aren't really out anything if they decide to drop the project. Do you make your clients sign contracts or read over a TOS before you start? I'm guessing no since you said they were friends, but this would be my first suggestion.

"I know he'll pay me back for what has been spent" --> So you are saying that you buy the materials before getting any money from your client? You may want to consider having a... either deposit or down payment, the nonrefundable one (I don't want to say the wrong word) to cover the cost of materials. If you decide to charge extra for labor after that or not, or add an extra kill fee on top, would be up to you. Of course, if you took forever on the project, the deposit (?) would be void since you would be breaking the agreement in that case. Being slow is fine as long as you are upfront about it and the client is aware you are making progress, though. But if you take years and the client wants a refund, they should get a full refund imo. Its unclear from your post if that is the case in this current situation or not.

As for what to do about your current dropped project, I had two ideas if you are interested in hearing them.

1. If the costume is not too size-dependent, finish it and offer it for sale as a pre-made item.

2. If the costume requires specific sizing, offer up a commission slot where someone pays you to finish making the costume for them. You already have the materials and patterns ready to go, they just send you their measurements. You'd want to get some sort of TOS made up before you do this, making sure to point out how much if any customization you are willing to do for the new client.

Those ideas may not work for you, but if they do they would let you be atleast somewhat compensated for the work you already put in.
rebeccaannoying
Mar. 17th, 2017 05:53 am (UTC)
Do you mind me asking what I said that is unprofessional? If it's the timely manner comment, I said that because I can only work on these things during evenings and weekends due to a full time job. Sometimes I have to prioritize other things over cosplays. Now that I don't have long breaks from school, I can't devote myself full time and hence the delivery isn't timely. However, I ALWAYS make sure my client is well aware of this and has no immediate deadlines. Generally, I get out 1-2 updates per week and so far it hasn't taken me more than 2 months to finish something. This is with 3-4 work sessions, or up to 15 hours or work per week. A lot of it depends on the project.

Normally I have the client order things for me, but there were some sales this weekend at locals stores so I jumped on them (after asking the client, of course). Unfortunately I think he wants to return everything, and thankfully cut fabric was only $40 which he will pay me. I appreciate the suggestions, however!

Edited at 2017-03-17 06:26 am (UTC)
Fralea Comms
Mar. 17th, 2017 06:30 am (UTC)
I think it was mainly this:

"Fully paid commissions obligate me to work for the client and get things done in a timely manner" but also that you were saying you choose only to work with friends, which usually ends up with people being more relaxed than they would be with other clients. (Not always, of course, but we can't tell that just from what you've written).

Maybe you didn't articulate yourself the way you wanted to, but your phrasing is lending itself to the interpretation that you don't want to charge people full price because you feel it lets you off the hook if you take too long to finish a product. Plus if you cut off that conjunction... saying you don't take "fully paid commissions [because they] obligate me to work for the client" just sounds bad. You should always be obligated to work for the client (within the bounds of the original agreement)!

Working fulltime isn't the same as being a professional, you can be professional at a part time job. So as you say you take a few weeks to make products, at max 2 months. I don't know much about the cosplay world but to me that sounds pretty quick, actually! I don't think there is any reason you should feel like you don't deserve to charge people labor. Of course you should do whatever you are comfortable with, as long as you keep up a good quality of service. Even if you just decide to take a few weeks off in the middle of a project it would be fine if you offered the client an option of refunding or continuing at their discretion when it came up. There's no real reason you should be thinking about it differently just because you are charging less.

Though I agree with basically what dinogrrl was getting at-- in my experience you get on average better clients when you charge more (or rather, a fair wage) as they are more committed to the project. Also working with friends can be murky, its possible your friends aren't taking this like a serious business agreement even if you are.

Edited at 2017-03-17 06:32 am (UTC)
rebeccaannoying
Mar. 18th, 2017 01:18 am (UTC)
Haha, based on the responses I picked the worst wording possible to say what I was trying to say xD

At my job, when I am asked to do something my manager expects a fairly accurate response: ie, this will take me x number of hours and I can have it done by Tuesday next week (or something like that). If I fail to meet those deadlines... there better be a darned good reason. With these cosplay commissions, I can't offer such certainty. I can guesstimate a rough number of weeks (4-6, for example) and even offer a detailed breakdown of steps, but sometimes I don't know how long something will take until I get there. It's my lack of experience showing, unfortunately. The client is taking a risk that I might run into unexpected problems that push the project past my guestimated time quote, so I compensate them by offering a massive discount in the form of free labor. Each project has involved an unexpected challenge of some sort, but thankfully nothing that drastically set me back.

Based on other feedback (and yours :) ), I'm definitely going to change my approach to this. I still feel that I should practice a time or three getting garments to fit someone who I don't have access to, so that makes pre-mades a bit challenging. Is there a way to offer "practice commissions" in such a way that it's fair to the customer?
Fralea Comms
Mar. 18th, 2017 04:56 am (UTC)
Custom made artwork, at least in the communities I've been a part of, generally has a different expectation than say, working for an animation company or other similar jobs where there are hard deadlines. Unless you give a deadline upfront, customers aren't expecting you to be able to magically tell them exactly when something will be done. Soft deadlines/guesstimates are generally par for the course, and customers expect prices somewhat under industry standard... but that doesn't mean it has to be dirt cheap!

I've never done any type of costuming commission, but for-materials-cost or making premades is generally how I hear of people practicing. If you are worried about working strictly from measurements, have you heard of DTDs (duct-tape dummies)? Its something pretty common in the fursuit community for getting precise fittings, though I think less common (though not nonexistent) in cosplay commissions. You can find instructions online for making and using them, and you would get your customer to make it and mail it to you.
Fralea Comms
Mar. 18th, 2017 05:00 am (UTC)
To be a little more clear, some customers will want firm deadlines if they are going to be needing something for an event, obviously. But you certainly wouldn't be out of line to only take deadlines that are a certain distance away that you feel gives you more than enough time for completion, for example, over 2 months, and then rejecting or charging a rush fee for any projects with deadlines shorter than that.
rebeccaannoying
Mar. 18th, 2017 05:20 am (UTC)
So how soft is an acceptably soft deadline, and what would be considered inappropriate overshooting? The worst time it happened for me was when I went from part time to full time, so what was supposed to take 5 weeks stretched out to 8. So far I have declined projects that had a near (like less than 4 months) deadline just in case.

And yes, I have heard of DTDs! I have worked with them before, but since they are less common for cosplay I'd like to learn how to custom fit clothes from measurements. Hence it would be super duper if I could work with someone locally so they could try things on. It also makes things easier to fix since some problems don't show up until a couple hours of wear. I will probably practice with a few more pre-made items that don't need to be closely fitted for the near future. If/when I do open for commissions, should I offer something like an extended warranty for the first couple of customers, or is it generally accepted that newbie products might have some flaws?
Fralea Comms
Mar. 18th, 2017 06:11 am (UTC)
Mmmm like I said I don't do this type of art so I am probably not the best person to ask. I say as long as you keep the customer informed and offer refunds if you aren't going to be able to work for an extended time then you are fine. Most customers I work with are happy to wait as long as they see updates and progress.

HMMMM I really don't know. What I've seen before is that the customer can send the item back for repairs if they don't do anything to it themselves or put it through excessive stress. So if they wear it the first time and a sleeve falls off, it can be fixed for free, but if they were trying to alter it themselves or going dirtbiking in it or something it voids the warranty. There should definitely be some kind of deadline though, you wouldn't want to be repairing things that people have had and worn for years. You probably know better than anyone how long your own work should hold up for before normal wear and tear sets in.
Fralea Comms
Mar. 18th, 2017 05:06 am (UTC)
Oh gosh sorry for the comment spam, but I was reading some of your other replies and I'd strongly recommend individually emailing clients instead of using messengers or a blog. Or at least in addition to a blog. A blog can be a nice way for someone to check up on your overall queue process, but you shouldn't -expect- customers to do it. And messengers are often informal and difficult to keep records of. YMMV, but I just think email is the most preferable method, and I doubt people would be upset about getting two emails a week.
leahtaur
Mar. 16th, 2017 11:02 pm (UTC)
I get where you're coming from but it's like you want it both ways, and it doesn't work that way. You want the low expectations of a friend who didn't have to pay much (or anything???) up front, and who is willing to wait indefinitely, but you don't like that they cancel on you out of nowhere in return. But there's no reason for them not to do so since they lose nothing and didn't have to sign a contract or agree to a ToS.

Higher prices bring clientele who treat the process seriously. They also bring higher expectations of your business practices. If that doesn't work for you I think selling premade partials or full suits is the best workaround for your limited free time.

You also say that you don't need the money - but like I said, charging little to nothing attracts people who will burn you. A better solution would be to charge prices comparable to others' and either donate the money to charity or put all of it back into improving your tools, materials and workspace.
rebeccaannoying
Mar. 17th, 2017 05:59 am (UTC)
Is a few weeks considered too long to wait for a cosplay? (not explicitly fursuits). Of course it depends on the complexity of the project, but I can only work on them evenings and weekends so it can take me a while to get things done. I'm also taking advantage of my friends being local for prototype fittings which leads to a much better product, but it does add more time. I think the longest project I did dragged out to a little over two months.
mewsicklemels
Mar. 17th, 2017 12:32 am (UTC)
Agreeing with what others have already kind of said in which even if you're not specifically asking for payment for labor itself, payment for materials is still payment. Therefore you aren't working for free, you're really just kind of stiffing yourself.

The thing I kind of want to add here is that... with a long term commission (and I have no idea how long it takes you to complete these, so these are just numbers I'm pulling out of thin air here) you run the risk of people falling out of interest of the thing they're commissioning you for, as well as their life changing dramatically.

From what I've seen (and I'm not a part of the fursuit community personally, so I could be wrong) I typically see people waiting anywhere between 3-6 months comfortably, and then getting a little uncomfortable around 6-12 months, and more often than not getting anxious and losing their spark for the commission anything 12+ months.

A year ago from now for me, I had different friends, I was into different things / fandoms, had different goals, and my living situation even included a few less bills. Other people may also face similar or more drastic life changes. So I think that's something to take into consideration when you're worried about people wanting to cancel on you.

(TLDR; There is a possibility with the longer you take on a commission, the less interest the commissioner has in purchasing it. If you're charging any fee, even if not for labor, you should be taking the commission professionally, and that includes in a reasonable time frame IMO. If you'd not like to have a time constraint, I suggest making parts that aren't measurement specific and selling those after you finish, that way the interest in each piece is fresh and you're less likely to get dropped by the commissioner.)
rebeccaannoying
Mar. 18th, 2017 01:52 am (UTC)
I have done the occasional fursuit piece, but most of what I have built are cosplay components and props. The longest project took 2 months. I do give the client time estimates and I do my best to meet them, but unfortunately my guesses are sometimes inaccurate (thankfully nothing major so far). I also sometimes need to prioritize other things over cosplay like my day job. I was hoping that free labor was enough to compensate the risk my clients take that their project could be late, but it's not working out very well xD I guess by "timely" I meant a guaranteed delivery date which I don't feel comfortable offering just yet.

Clearly I have a different understanding of what's reasonable in terms of timelines in this community. At work I have to give my manager firm deadlines and meet them. How do professionals costumers handle time quotes? How strict do they need to be?

dinogrrl
Mar. 17th, 2017 01:21 am (UTC)
Yeeaaah what the others have said. If the customer isn't paying anything upfront and isn't even signing any sort of contract (from what I'm understanding), then yes, they will flake on you before flaking on their other financial obligations if their situation changes. They will flake if they lose interest in the project or decide they want something else from someone else or whatever. It's no skin off their nose, after all.

If you want more reliable commissioners for projects of this sort, then yes, you will need to institute some sort of upfront payment so that they will have a reason to not flake. Have them buy the materials and ship them to you. Have them pay you directly for the materials. Have them pay part of an estimated total. Have a certain percentage of the estimated total be nonrefundable except in cases of you, the artist, cancelling. Whatever you want. But as it is right now, you've just set yourself up to be on the losing end with no recourse whenever something goes wrong.

Edited at 2017-03-17 02:40 am (UTC)
rebeccaannoying
Mar. 17th, 2017 06:08 am (UTC)
I have never purchased the materials myself before; usually I send an excel list with prices, quantities, and links so they can order for me. There were some pretty great sales this past weekend so I jumped on them (with the client's permission) and saved quite a bit. Thankfully this person is good for the money, but I won't be doing that again :(
takesu
Mar. 17th, 2017 02:28 am (UTC)
You'll need to charge a non-refundable deposit on top of the cost of materials. This prevents from people dropping out if you are working on projects that take long to do. If they ask for a refund, you'll have to ship them the materials instead, since that's where the money went. Like everyone else said, the materials IS the payment. But, you can keep the deposit as the cancellation fee. If you want to do the labor free for "exposure" and give them payment plans that's cool too, but you have to charge a non-refundable fee upfront. It'll save you time and money.

Edited at 2017-03-17 02:29 am (UTC)
rebeccaannoying
Mar. 17th, 2017 06:06 am (UTC)
Yes, I should have asked for a non-refundable deposit :/ At least I'll have a good justification from now on I suppose. I did actually have to send a box of materials to one person because he dragged his feet so long I couldn't return them. Any idea on what would be a reasonable deposit? Should I pick a dollar amount or go for a percentage of the total?
takesu
Mar. 17th, 2017 06:13 am (UTC)
I see many charge a 30-50%. But I think any percentage or amount is up to you. Whatever is comfortable! It can be just enough to cover shipping costs and your time so you yourself don't lose money from a fallout.
growly
Mar. 17th, 2017 03:56 pm (UTC)
Clients will take your time more seriously if you take it seriously too and charge for the labor. I don't think you can have it both ways.
rebeccaannoying
Mar. 18th, 2017 01:52 am (UTC)
Gotcha. Thanks for the input :)
mortymaxwell
Mar. 17th, 2017 08:09 pm (UTC)
My opinion:

1. If you want to work on things at your own pace and have fun, I would suggest doing premade costumes and putting those up for auction.

2. I see two problems with your current business model. One, by not having a more consistent work process, it leaves the client wondering when they'll need to correspond/supply measurements/have materials [or payments] ready. Two, saying paid work obligates you to get things done in a timely manner makes it sound like you don't see commissions as a professional business transaction. This is a dangerous way of thinking. Even though it is not a 40 hour a week job, a commission is still a job and should be treated as one.

3. I remember previous posts you made, such as the failed Lucario commission, http://artists-beware.dreamwidth.org/1647193.html. I'd echo what everyone has said and do contracts and deposits and use them, even dealing with friends.

Edited at 2017-03-18 12:31 am (UTC)
rebeccaannoying
Mar. 18th, 2017 01:31 am (UTC)
I did pick some pretty bad wording to explain myself in the original post, so let me try again :D

I don't quite have enough experience to give hard time quotes. I can tell someone a project may take 4-6 weeks or something like that, but I can't promise to have Step X done by a certain date. This is what I meant by timely manner; it's not that I don't care or will work at my own whim, but that I don't feel comfortable promising a hard deadline--yet. When I have commissions of any sort, I spend a minimum of about 10 hrs weekly even if I'm quite busy with other things, so progress does happen; it's just sometimes slower than I'd like. I have turned down projects because people had a near-ish deadline in mind, so I had to say no.

I didn't talk about my business practice too much in this post, but it's usually as follows: Client tells me what they want, I do a little bit of research. I give them some loose quotes of time and budget, and if they aren't daunted by that I give them significantly more detailed quotes. If they still wish to continue, I have them order materials and send them to my address. I used to give updates via Skype or Facebook messenger, but I recently switched to a blog so I don't spam people (the updates come 1-2x weekly). I explain all of this so there isn't any mystery. I wasn't using a TOS because I (falsely) thought that established trust between friends was enough, but I won't make that mistake again :( If I continue this type of commission at all, it will definitely have a deposit involved.
sableantelope
Mar. 22nd, 2017 01:12 am (UTC)
TOS wont replace a proper buyer's agreement and by their powers combined a proper contract. With the way e-sig have come into recognition there's 0 excuse for getting proper, written contracts with exact terms while doing custom work strictly online. Gone are the scan/sign/scan days even so no excuse. Research basic buyer's agreements, and don't be jamming in any old terms of service unless you know they're legally reasonable and therefore enforceable.

Once compensation happens- ie: have them spend money on materials, you've created a type of contract between you and client anyways, no matter how 'casual' you want or imagine things to be.


If you're adding deposits into the mix do some research. Learn what is and is not okay to keep in terms of a deposit and how to word them so that they'e binding. Deposits aren't a way to try and legally double dip.

Custom work is a more complicated thing to set up agreement wise than just selling an item but not impossibly so.


Regarding some other points you've made- don't give a deadline unless you can keep it. Just don't. Fullstop. That's taking on additional risk, charging extra for hard deadlines is good practice.


Since you're worried about a quote in the bargaining phase, well add an extra two month cushion, or whatever you know is the max it'd take. If you're worried you'll go past the cushion to the point where you don't feel right even giving a quote in a range, then I'd say you're not in a position to take any custom work right now.
Your "giving" free labour was part of the contract you made, it's none of the client's concern, it's how you chose to make the deal, not them. It doesn't mean you get to be late. If you hope it will make clients more patient, well that's nice but business is business and is almost never nice. Friendship is nice, and trying to mix business and friendship is a good way to be bad at both. You may get patient clients, and you may get others who see you as not being professional about this and wanting to bail.

I just get this odd vibe from you wanting someone to tell you the max or usual time line as if you aren't even sure yourself of your own average work time.
If you want to be held to the legal entity Reasonable Completion you're going to be compared to a pro, full time costumer whether you feel that fits your more casual operation or not. Once you take money to build a costumer you're a professional costumer. You don't get to play at business when real cost is involved.

So you're better off giving real quotes based on how long you honestly know deep inside it will take you to build the costumer. Including if you get busy at your "real" job. If that means two years, well then you be honest and you say two years, don't try and hint it will probably only be six trying to weasel out of the two. If you can't commit enough for six be honest and say 24. Expect most clients wont want to wait that time and wont hire you.

Once you have them buy those materials and spend money this is as much a real job as your fulltime job.


You have to think about if you break your arm for a month, if your house burns down and your insurance doesn't cover enough for the half built costume you now have to refund or remake. How to handle refunds if the client doesn't want the materials in lieu of cash.(they aren't costume makers, the materials aren't of value to them and they bought them under your direction. Now if they send you materials they bought independently and say 'make me something from this' that's different. This is the kinda stuff you want to hash out contract wise)


If you want to half-play at this, make premades which you may or may not see a return on. Sell with an extra offer to tailor them to the client(within reason of how you know the item can be nicely tailored) if you want tailoring-to-fit experience. Custom work is a niche area of business with a lot of pitfalls and is a lot of risk for buyer and seller, you don't want to half ass it.

Edited at 2017-03-22 01:13 am (UTC)
rebeccaannoying
May. 15th, 2017 02:58 am (UTC)
Late reply is extremely late, but I REALLY appreciate you taking the time to give so much feedback <3

The point of this business model (which is now moot since I won't be using it anymore when my current project is complete) was twofold. I love building cosplays and props, but due to obnoxious college tuition there was no way that I could justify purchasing materials. I had friends, however, who loved to cosplay but didn't want to build things. Hence it made perfect sense to meet in the middle; they would give me the materials, and I would use my access to tools through the school and make epic things. They got something at a great discount, and I got pieces to put in my portfolio. The problems started when I began expanding past my very close inner circle of friends who I could trust to play along with my quasi-business model without issue. As you said, trying to mix business and friendship is a good way to be bad at both and I won't be doing it anymore. I learned my lesson there :P

I have never, ever given deadlines I can't keep, but clearly there's something I don't understand or I'm communicating poorly. I will admit I am confused about what sort of time estimates people give their clients. At my day job, when I'm given a task I am expected to tell my manger something like, "Ok, to do that I will first have to do x, y, and z, it will take about 13 hours, and I can have it completed by next Tuesday afternoon," or something like that. I need to be very specific about what will be done, what steps are involved, and when each step will be completed. I try to do something similar with cosplays, and for smaller projects (like one prop, a pair of boots, a mask, etc) the estimates are usually pretty accurate. For larger stuff, however, I like to give myself a healthy buffer. To give a quote I write out every single step beginning with shopping for materials and finishing with packing the item and driving to the post office. Everything gets a time estimate, and when it's all totaled, I double it to account for the inevitable issues that pop up during large projects. I would then tell the client something like, "Hey, if everything goes swimmingly I will have this done in 3 weeks, but it could take up to 6." My thinking was that a hefty discount was a fair trade for such a loose estimate. It doesn't mean I get an excuse to be late, it means I get an excuse to take longer if I need it; late is redefined. Except for one time my sewing machine broke, I have never missed the later deadline.

I thought that if I made this clear to the client and they agreed, everything would be considered fair. Working around the constraints of my day job may be an unusual request, but unfortunately it's something I can't avoid. Based on feedback from this post, I will be ditching this business model but I do have a few questions moving forward:

1. What on earth is considered a reasonable time quote? I don't mean per project (like props of xyz dimension should take this many weeks), but more like business practice. I think a buffer of some sort will always be necessary, but I don't know how much is considered reasonable.

2. I started a cosplay blog to keep track of my progress. I thought this was great because the client doesn't need to ask how the project is coming along, they can just go see! It wasn't meant to be a substitution for communication, just a time saver for the client. Is that a bad idea? Should I stick to private email updates?

Again, I really appreciate your detailed feedback <3 Thank you so much for taking so much time to help me out!
jedinewt
Mar. 22nd, 2017 11:06 pm (UTC)
Personally, I think it's kind of a cool idea for a beginner to set commissions and stuff and if it's just a passionate hobby for you.

so I guess creating a strict T.O.S, personally I think costumers will be less likely to flake on you because with friends they usually will take advantage of the fact they are your friends.

I'd suggest just, making a strong T.O.S, not doing payment plans and requiring the materials to be there before you start on anything, if they back out, they forfeit any materials they bought and you can keep it in your stock.
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