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Without selling yourself short that is...

Ok so, I'm terrible terrible when it comes to selling myself to get commissions. And no matter what, even if I post the process of things, my do's and don'ts, terms of service, etc on the same page (spaced and broken for readability), with examples and such, I can't seem to bring in any customers. Even when I tried to keep things shorter (while trying not to leave too many things open to be taken advantage of), things just end up being too much. (Though I am considering having a separate page for TOS, what I will and won't do, etc...)

With all commissions I've been able to get in the past, I always make sure that whomever's inquiring is as close to 100% as possible on all the details and the progress of how things will pan out, regardless of how many notes, emails, etc it takes (usually it doesn't take more than a couple days be it time zones, life, etc.)- all this before accepting any money or starting any work.

I know a few things that will also play a role is:
1) Style
2) Audience (those that watch you and commissioners are looking for from you)
3) Turn-Around Time

Because I've come to the conclusion that if someone wants something that bad, they'll pay for it. (However proper pricing helps too.)

When I asked my watchers what they were most interested in, it ended up usually being my more expensive stuff (often times full color with a background, etc). But I always offered stuff on the cheaper end (sketches, lineart, quicker things), but people just don't really bite at those.

Even after getting their opinions and (serious) price ranges of how much they would pay... when I finally do get the chance to open, it's crickets.

Granted I'm not as fast as others, I've made sure to keep my customers up-to-date for when there's been actual progress done. And they had more than one way of contacting me if they ever had any questions or concerns. (More than just a few lines added that is.) And only with two scenarios have I had to either refuse or outright cancel the commission, where I refunded them. (I tried doing cheap emergency commissions, and that backfired, getting burnt out and I refunded everyone for the work I didn't do or full if I didn't even start- more so to get a clean plate and start over.)

At one point it's discouraging, despite I know I can improve in general. Thing is I seemed to get more commissions when I felt I was less in skill set versus when I felt I improved over time, even though the prices haven't really changed, if at all.

I haven't tried anything outside of users via FurAffinity and Deviantart mostly because I feel I don't have a portfolio strong enough for more professional things.

And if it means anything, while I feel I can do better in general, what's the point if no one's going to buy?

Sorry if this is rather long winded, but I'm just looking for opinions...


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Comments

( 81 comments — Leave a comment )
kayla_la
Oct. 1st, 2011 08:05 pm (UTC)
1. Advertise. Buy banners on FA, link yourself on appropriate art sales communities, maybe ask your friends to advertise for you.

2. If you don't have a particularly marketable style (cute, hyper realism, anime, etc), and you're comfortable with drawing pornography, you'll get a LOT more business the more fetishes you open yourself up to. There are a lot of artists on FA in particular who pretty much make their business solely in catering to people's stranger fetishes. You can make a LOT of money this way!

3. Draw a lot. Even if you're not doing commissions, try to upload something every day or so if you can. The more you upload, the more people favourite it, the more exposure you get, the more people watch you, and ultimately the more commissions you get.

4. Fast turnaround time and a short, concise TOS help. Consider creating a form for people to fill out for your own convenience, and use a business email that you either check regularly or forward to your normal email.

5. Despite people saying they like your more expensive things, people are more willing to buy cheaper, smaller things. Learn how to animate, people love animated icons, especially.

6. Don't underprice yourself, even if it seems counter-productive. It's better to have one commission for 50 dollars than 5 commissions for 10 dollars a piece. People will pay it, and this way you avoid the cheaper, more picky commissioners that don't tend to appreciate what goes into art and as a result tend to be bad customers. Plus, a lot of people aren't going to want to buy from you if YOU don't think your art is really worth anything.

7. Have a public queue and try to do things in order if you can, but don't take too many commissions at a time. I know I've actively avoided ordering from people with long queues and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

8. Be friendly and approachable, but don't try to be everyone's friend, either. That's not what you're there for. But you do want repeat customers.

9. Believe it or not, I've come to find that occasionally doing free art giveaways really helps with publicity. When I did a free sketch day recently, I earned roughly 100 watchers and a couple commissions. Just don't do it often, or people are just going to figure they can wait and get something for free.

10. Last but not least, go out and comment and favourite other people's art a lot. It gets your name out there, and I definitely noticed an uptick in watchers when I went on a commenting spree.

ETA: Oh, politely encourage the people you draw for to upload what you do for them to their gallery. More exposure is always good!

I know that's long and a lot, but I feel it's fairly solid advice and hopefully it helps!

Edited at 2011-10-01 08:07 pm (UTC)
kayla_la
Oct. 1st, 2011 08:08 pm (UTC)
Oh, and be patient. It's an uphill battle to become more popular (and thus get more commissions) and it relies a lot on momentum. Once you get there, you can't just stop everything and assume you'll keep that userbase you earned. You have to keep it up.
(no subject) - crisis_the_hat - Oct. 1st, 2011 09:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sigilgoat - Oct. 1st, 2011 10:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crisis_the_hat - Oct. 2nd, 2011 12:51 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tizzrah - Oct. 1st, 2011 11:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crisis_the_hat - Oct. 2nd, 2011 12:47 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - feather_dancer - Oct. 2nd, 2011 08:28 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dazen_cobalt - Oct. 2nd, 2011 11:10 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alaitallon - Oct. 1st, 2011 08:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kayla_la - Oct. 1st, 2011 08:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spiffystuff - Oct. 2nd, 2011 02:10 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celestinaketzia - Oct. 1st, 2011 08:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kayla_la - Oct. 1st, 2011 08:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celestinaketzia - Oct. 1st, 2011 08:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sigilgoat - Oct. 1st, 2011 08:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celestinaketzia - Oct. 1st, 2011 08:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kayla_la - Oct. 1st, 2011 09:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jurann - Oct. 1st, 2011 10:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shukivengeance - Oct. 1st, 2011 10:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sigilgoat - Oct. 1st, 2011 10:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jurann - Oct. 1st, 2011 11:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shukivengeance - Oct. 1st, 2011 11:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sigilgoat - Oct. 1st, 2011 11:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celestinaketzia - Oct. 1st, 2011 11:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sigilgoat - Oct. 1st, 2011 11:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jurann - Oct. 1st, 2011 11:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sigilgoat - Oct. 1st, 2011 11:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - banrai - Oct. 1st, 2011 11:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jurann - Oct. 1st, 2011 11:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sigilgoat - Oct. 1st, 2011 10:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cappucola - Oct. 2nd, 2011 05:28 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - duster - Oct. 2nd, 2011 09:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - kayla_la - Oct. 1st, 2011 09:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - duster - Oct. 2nd, 2011 09:56 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kayla_la - Oct. 2nd, 2011 04:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - housyasei_san - Oct. 2nd, 2011 05:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kayla_la - Oct. 2nd, 2011 06:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
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jurann
Oct. 1st, 2011 08:12 pm (UTC)
Kayla seemed to forget about posting commissions and prints on furry sales sites like FurBuy, Furbid, FurPlanet and Rabbit Valley as well. Those furries with money to spend and an interest in buying furry items are lurking around those sites looking for things to buy - they also all have ad banner systems for affordable rates to boot. Just be sure you have a reasonable amount of work in one of your galleries (and link to it!) to show potential commissioners what your style and quality looks like!
celestinaketzia
Oct. 1st, 2011 08:19 pm (UTC)
I agree with the adverts from other sites. They are usually cheap, and buying a month or so of them to see how well they work for you won't hurt your wallet. :3 Plus you'll be helping out those sites, too, so it's a win-win.
celarania
Oct. 1st, 2011 08:35 pm (UTC)
Now, I can't find your art gallery to give you personal feedback (which may actually be a problem for you too), but I'll give you some general feedback.

There are essentially two sides to getting commission - supply and demand. Let's just assume that you're doing everything perfect, but still aren't getting orders, so you need to work on getting the demand up. The easiest way to do that is advertise. Do something on lj for those followers, post on boards, do something through teenycom, whether it's a special or just one of your cheaper items, do a charity auction or something like that to get your friends to promote it and by extension you, find local conventions to go to. There are a ton of ways to get your name out there. I'll agree with kayla_la - update your gallery regularly, it'll keep you fresh in people's minds.

The other side is making your product better, and keep in mind these aren't personal as I don't even know what your stuff looks like. Try doing a bunch of gesture drawings or such to really get your speed up, that way you can either get more cash for your time, or decrease the price without shorting yourself. Take the time to do more studies and work on improvement. A figure drawing will rarely sell well, but might make you a better artist. Work on style, or other styles you can offer - it'll help you appeal to a wider audience. Try creating a limited time themed item (e.g. a custom Halloween sticker) which creates a limited window of opportunity. Try making generally appealing pictures you can use to make products or prints so you're not trying to recoup all your losses with one piece.

And if it means anything, while I feel I can do better in general, what's the point if no one's going to buy?

This concerns me. If you want to be successful in art, you need to do it for you too, otherwise you might be wiser to just look for a part-time job if the income is your only concern. Either do better for yourself and enjoy that you may be able to earn some income on the side, or look for a source of income. I don't mean to harsh, but it's just not worth it unless you're enjoying the road and the improvement for you too.
crisis_the_hat
Oct. 1st, 2011 09:02 pm (UTC)
Oh believe me, I have two part-time jobs for general income (looking for another so I can get some decent hours though, I'm under 20 hours both jobs combined).

And no offense taken~ I'll be doing a future post asking about pricing, but I figured I'd try for some general information in terms getting stuff out there regardless.

---

I honestly don't know if I want to be successful in it as a sort of life-career thing. But if I can make a little spending money on the side, then I figure why not?

While I basically see how things pan out, I still draw for myself on the side when and how I can.

But yeah, no offense taken~
(no subject) - celarania - Oct. 1st, 2011 09:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crisis_the_hat - Oct. 1st, 2011 10:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celarania - Oct. 1st, 2011 10:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - celarania - Oct. 1st, 2011 10:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - celarania - Oct. 1st, 2011 11:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - celarania - Oct. 2nd, 2011 04:32 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - crisis_the_hat - Oct. 2nd, 2011 12:49 am (UTC) - Expand
sigilgoat
Oct. 1st, 2011 08:38 pm (UTC)
Dealersden.com is the auction site I use personally, and they have free advertising, which doesn't hurt at all!

Kayla said everything I was going to say in a much better way. The only thing I'd add is to lurk a bit on the FA forums to see if there's anyone looking for art, and maybe join some communities like artcommissions or teenycom for some signal boosts for sales.

You can also try doing trades with people slightly above and slightly below your perceived skill level, and then the crossposting can help a lot c:

kayla_la
Oct. 1st, 2011 08:41 pm (UTC)
Be careful with the FA forums, there are a lot of scammers on there who never pay (make sure you get paid upfront!) and a lot of picky, cheap commissioners who think they're doing you a favour offering 5 dollars for a fully coloured yiff pic and if you're REALLY GOOD maybe they'll throw in another dollar or two! So generous!

Plus, there's a lot of competition from artists trying to undercut each other. It's really hard to make decent money in an environment where people are clawing each other to get paid slave labor wages.

I don't even look at those forums anymore, personally. I've only ever had bad experiences from the black market.
(no subject) - sigilgoat - Oct. 1st, 2011 08:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celestinaketzia - Oct. 1st, 2011 08:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kayla_la - Oct. 1st, 2011 09:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celestinaketzia - Oct. 1st, 2011 09:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ginkaruja - Oct. 1st, 2011 09:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thaily - Oct. 1st, 2011 09:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kayla_la - Oct. 1st, 2011 09:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
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likeshine
Oct. 1st, 2011 10:52 pm (UTC)


if you can, attend conventions. work artist alleys at first, not necessarily dealer's rooms. talk to the other artists, talk up the people stopping by your table, just be as cheerful and friendly as you can. remember people, they really appreciate knowing they're not just a means to get paid. and if you're nice to them they'll remember you too, and a lot of times they will bring their friends over as well. word of mouth is very powerful. also, work your ass off. people seem to appreciate tenacity. be approachable. i know it's an uncomfortable feeling, putting yourself out there at a table, but people are more likely to feel comfortable doing business with you if you're not huddled over your table scowling.

i think thats how it worked for me. my first few conventions i drew in artist alleys, and slowly i just got to know people. i used to not sleep entire con weekends to get work done (although i do not recommend that at all). i also met people through LJ and became friends in reality at conventions, or met people at cons and stayed in touch with them after via LJ.

now that i've done enough conventions and met enough people it kind of spills over onto FA (and to a lesser extent, DA). i am certainly far from the most talented out there (like waaaay far away lol) but i think i make up for part of it in personality.


TL;DR : be friendly!

and if conventions or local meetups are an impossibility, i apologize for my long winded and useless advice >.>
crisis_the_hat
Oct. 2nd, 2011 02:40 am (UTC)
I wouldn't say your words were long-winded or useless~

I've considered getting a table at my local (anime) con, but I don't think I have enough of the right examples that would draw people in. (That and I usually don't have the money when its announced that the tables are available... or they're sold out.)

But if I want in I'll have to get on it that's for sure...
(no subject) - crssafox - Oct. 4th, 2011 03:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
anjel_kitty
Oct. 2nd, 2011 06:08 am (UTC)
This so much. On the Internet you are another artist in a sea of artists willing to sell and undersell for next to nothing. At cons you're art is a commodity and furies bring money to spend. I've made most of the money I made at conventions during my short artist careers; nearly ten time what I ever made from online sales. If you want to make money as a furry artist I would say attending cons is a must.
(no subject) - crisis_the_hat - Oct. 2nd, 2011 07:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - onesteptwo - Oct. 2nd, 2011 08:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - likeshine - Oct. 2nd, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - onesteptwo - Oct. 2nd, 2011 09:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
petercat
Oct. 2nd, 2011 01:33 am (UTC)
A good start would be putting links to your galleries in your LJ bio so that people can, like, actually look at your artwork.
crisis_the_hat
Oct. 2nd, 2011 02:43 am (UTC)
When I originally created this LJ, I had the intention to keep it separate from my galleries...

(Though the more I post here the more that becomes moot so...yeah I probably should...)
spiffystuff
Oct. 2nd, 2011 02:17 am (UTC)
In addition to what others are offering, "gimmicks" are potentially great if you can come up with a catchy one. I haven't really tried offering them myself yet, but I like to buy some so I think they should be good!
... basically come up with a style or theme, do a few, then offer it. Some people have an animated icon base they can easily pop a character's characteristics on, some have "durp" badges, etc. Ideally it'd be something distinctive that you can bang out pretty quickly.
feather_dancer
Oct. 2nd, 2011 11:01 am (UTC)
Couple things that may help generate watchers since a watcher can turn into free advertising or even a sale:

Keep links to your galleries. Here on LJ I've got ready links in my theme to DA, FA and Tumblr for easy access. I also ensure my icons are tagged with whoever created which can help generate for other people in turn. As best as I can those galleries have links to others as well.

Commission people. If they don't mention your name in the description make sure you comment! Also ensure you go around commenting and faving stuff you like but try and say more than "Cool!". Insightful and meanful comments can get passers by to come look as well as the artist.

Plug people. Be it via, oh hey look at this person! This person is having commissions! you're helping someone else out and it can come back your way as often people are curious where it came from or themselves put a thank you linking back.

Try and have a character that stands out both in your own art and in commission. People don't often remember usernames but they DO tend to recognise a character. The amount of people who have recognised my Mahu and Notalope and have gone "Oh! I recognise them!" Yopu find manya re more likely to follow the trail if thats the case, I've gained a few watchers from those I commissioned as they enjoyed the characters.

Abuse livejournal communities like Teenycom. Mention in your other locales the fact it's there with options for those not on livejournal. I've tripped over many artists I commissioned and art stalked thanks to there.

Try art communities. I got shedloads of people to watch and people watching me thanks to ArtSlam over the past three years. It's ended for the year but it's getting you into places people might not normally spot you.

Most importantly, don't cater but draw what YOU enjoy. the moment you start doing something because you feel compelled to generate more attention, the more likely you'll slowly burn yourself out which won't help anyone.

Edited at 2011-10-02 11:03 am (UTC)
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