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Advice: How Long Should I Wait For Payment

Edit 10/23/12: I have read everyone's comments, and I want to say thank you for everyone's advice. I greatly appreciate it. I've decided that I will wait 7 days until I remove someone from the list if they are unable to pay within that time frame. If this doesn't work out, I will shorten it to 3-5.

Hello AB. I have been following this community for awhile, but this is my first time posting, so forgive me if I make any mistakes.

I need some advice. Often when I do commissions I only accept payment upfront. Only then will I work on a client's commission. Usually, I have clients who pay right away, but sometimes I will get the occasional client who does not. Lately, I've been getting clients who don't pay until 2 or 3 weeks later, sometimes even a month or 2. If I remember correctly, this has happened perhaps 3 or 4 times. Waiting a month twice, and the rest have just been a couple or a few weeks.

I am a rather patient person, but lately I have been growing impatient as I would like to get these commissions finished and sent off to the client. I like to be able to finish a commission and move onto the next; not wait for a few days and then get payment. It ruins my work flow. 

So my question to you is, how long should I wait before I take someone off the list? I want to be fair, but strict at the same time. I feel waiting 2 or 3 days before taking them off may seem unfair. So how long should I give them before taking them off and adding someone else? 

Thank you in advance. 

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( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 21st, 2012 03:43 pm (UTC)
Good morning! I approved this post, and I have this to say:

If you haven't put this in your Artist's Terms of Service, you ought to immediately: Buyers have x-time to pay upfront or their spot in the queue is either A) given away or B) dropped to the boy. Sellers on ebay often have a similar policy (only there its pay or ebay kills your account).

Usually the timeframe is anywhere from 24 to 72 hours. 1 to 3 days. Plenty of time to get the money to you UNLESS they discuss some sort of payment plan, or mention a delay. And even in the event they mention a delay in payment, you have every right to tell them their spot is at the bottom of your queue while immediate paying customers have priority.

You don't even need to go on about how it kills your workflow - its just business.
Oct. 21st, 2012 07:37 pm (UTC)
I agree with this.

If you aren't willing to wait for payment before starting a commission, then you need to put a time frame in your TOS letting customers know that if payment is not made in X days then they will be removed.
Oct. 21st, 2012 03:44 pm (UTC)
It depends on what you think is fair. I personally have a 72 hour rule where if one doesn't pay within that time, they will be dropped. However, I do my commissions on a weekly basis, so I can't afford to not have a weekly slot filled.

You'll have to factor in how you work, and if you can afford to wait a few days on this person.
Oct. 21st, 2012 03:45 pm (UTC)
Generally what I see when Artists do commissions, they have a time frame that you have to pay, if you miss that deadline of payment, then you forfeit your slot in the commission list. You can put it in your TOS, but also state so in the same post that you are accepting the commissions in.

I think a good time frame is 1 week. If they do not pay within that one week then they will loose their slot to somebody who will pay within that time. It may seem harsh, but it keeps people from holding a spot that they cant pay for at the time they call it.
Oct. 21st, 2012 03:46 pm (UTC)
If a person can't pay in a day or 2 of asking for a commission they should not be asking for a commission.
I'd give a 72 hour timeframe before they lose their slot to someone else.
They should NOT be asking you for a commission if they cannot pay you for a few weeks/months.
Oct. 22nd, 2012 09:00 am (UTC)
^ this
Oct. 23rd, 2012 05:42 pm (UTC)
That's exactly how I feel about it, yet people continue to commission me despite this anyway. It's happened too often to the point that I decided to make this journal. I'm wanting to be more strict about it.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - fenris_lorsrai - Oct. 21st, 2012 05:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 21st, 2012 06:02 pm (UTC)
As others have suggested, once you figure out your timeframe for payment, put it in your Terms of Service, and whenever you make a post about accepting commissions, mention it there too.

2 or 3 days is not unreasonable, and seems to be standard for most artists I've come across. I personally give a week for some sort of payment. That gives people time to get money transferred if they have to.
Oct. 21st, 2012 06:28 pm (UTC)
I don't put anybody on the list in the first place until after I get payment. Keeps things simple, and keeps me from getting annoyed. :3 You're just somebody I'm discussing *maybe* doing some work for until after you've paid.
Oct. 21st, 2012 07:57 pm (UTC)
Like Bladespark said, I only put people on the list once they have paid me. Before that, they are not real commissions, only inquiries. A lot of people who seem serious about commissioning me vanish off the face of the earth as soon as it's time to put money down, and that's okay! Sometimes we all change our minds. Not writing their name on the queue until they are serious enough for money is a good way of always having something to work on and not being in a holding pattern for three weeks waiting for someone to make a decision. If you have empty spots in your queue, SOMEBODY will fill them, so don't wait on people who may or may not come through.
Oct. 21st, 2012 08:17 pm (UTC)
I don't mind a late payment if I'm told about ti ahead of time. if not. They usually have a 2 day time frame.
Oct. 21st, 2012 08:41 pm (UTC)
Just to give you a bunch of diverse opinions, I'll toss mine in. I'm pretty strict about being paid on time. I am under the belief that you should not commission anyone unless you have the money ready for a transaction (That is, IN their paypal account, not still in their bank). It's just not totally honest to me. It's because of this belief that in the very rare instances I accept a commission without being paid first, I only give the client 12-24 hours.
That's just ME though, and my policies. I don't see much of a problem with waiting longer, but personally, I don't like to.
Oct. 21st, 2012 09:29 pm (UTC)
Personally, I take payment in advance because I don't want to be scammed and I like to think I have a good enough reputation of being a reliable artist that people know I deliver the art or refund when I can't.

That being said, if I have, say, three people in my queue while I'm working on another piece, I don't ask them to already pay me in advance, but rather to pay me when I start their picture. Otherwise I start feeling nervous since I already have the payment, but haven't been able to start on the drawing yet.

But then again, that's how I personally handle it (and it's not like I deal with large queues).
Draekaar Draconigenae
Oct. 22nd, 2012 01:08 am (UTC)
I agree with putting the information about timeframe in TOS, or at the very least, in the information for your commission prices/commission journal information that someone has to go through to get a commission, put that you'll require payment before you start their work.

Additionally, I personally don't hold myself up for a specific person on my list to get completed before I do the ones after; if someone after that person has already paid, why make them wait? Just do that one and remind the person on hold that they owe you payment before you can start their image. Recently, I just had to remind someone that their slot was coming up, and I would have to remove them from my list if I came up to it and they had not replied to my email.

Personally, I think that you should just continue the rest of your list, and send a reminder to that user once or twice, saying that if you complete this list and have not heard from them or seen payment for the slot, you'll drop them. I like the idea of emailing as you come up to their slot, emailing after you've completed all other items in your queue, wait 3 more days for some form of reply/payment, and then drop them from the queue if they have not paid or replied after 3 days past completing the current queue.
Oct. 22nd, 2012 05:17 am (UTC)
I like what bladespark said too, don't consider it a commission until they cross your palm with silver.

If you're doing a payment plan, I recommend aligning it with art stages. Like first 25% is sketch, second 25% is ink, third is flats, fourth is color (or whatever works for you). They don't pay, they don't get the next stage.

If you do reserved slots you could do a returnable deposit, or just state a time in your TOS, "Payment must be sent within 7 days of final quote" or something like that and say it when you give someone their slot. If they contact you 3 weeks later either they missed out or you can still take payment from them based on your schedule.
Oct. 22nd, 2012 06:21 am (UTC)
Echoing everyone above really. I won't put someone on my list until the money has hit my account and in full usually unless a pay arrangement has been agreed on before hand.
If I don't get payment within 24 hours, I usually message the person inquiring where it might be. If they can't make payment within a reasonable time, possibly another 24 hours, then I state that their slot will be filled by someone else.
Oct. 22nd, 2012 07:10 am (UTC)
Just don't give them a slot until they pay, then you won't have to take them off if they don't?
Oct. 22nd, 2012 09:04 am (UTC)
When I was still taking commissions, art was worked on in the order payment was received rather than the first to comment or ask. I always invoiced rather than just receive payment as you can set reminders to go out when your payment deadline is up.
It's worth putting in a deadline into your TOS as there are a lot of flakers out there
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 22nd, 2012 07:16 pm (UTC)
I am guilty of asking an artist for their prices and asking what something would cost me, but without paying anything or even agreeing to make the purchase. I usually do this because I have to budget my money and it's good to know in advance.

But I think someone saying "yes I am buying this from you now" and then not paying for a while is something different... I don't have much to say but to echo that to make sure your TOS is very thorough...

And to discourage people who do what I've done before, be very explanatory with your prices if they aren't already? I know it seems like an obvious thing but there have been so many times where I've seen artists say "hey I take commissions" but never post prices so you have to ask them and it can make for an awkward situation like if it's not even close to what your price range is.
Oct. 23rd, 2012 05:40 pm (UTC)
With me, I'm usually selling something specific, like say sketches ($15)or ($25)flat colors. In the title and the journal itself I will let my potential clients know what I'm charging before hand. So that isn't an issue for me.
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )


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