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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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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.
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.


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