Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login

:iconcyphervisor: More from CypherVisor

Featured in Collections

STUFF by Rovei

Journals by LilMissSunBear

Journals by PlatinaSi

More from DeviantArt


Submitted on
August 29, 2013


20,769 (10 today)
370 (who?)

Do you do commission work? Do you have trouble to get customers in order to buy commissions from you? Or Are you in a dilemma to set your own "competitive" commission price?

If your answer is "yes" to any of the above questions then you are at the right place! Today, I'll tell you (or at least give you a better idea) how to start up with your commission work and setting up the right price.

A little introduction about myself: I am a hobby-driven artist who mainly deals with CSS coding and graphics designing (now) in deviantART. As a profession I am currently employed as an online marketing professional who looks after two leading online gaming brands. I like to help people customize their pages and support them to be a better artist in deviantART.

Having given my short introduction let us first understand that why most of us face a lot of trouble to get commission work or worst, to set up the "right" price for their service.

To my surprise, in a survey poll, I got over 85% of respondents who said they faced trouble to get customers for their commission or setting up their prices.

Since, I the target was roughly 270 of them. We can assume it to be more or less accurate.

Most of the times the main reasons for which we fail to get commission are:

1. We over price our commission
2. We are not exposed enough for people to know us (in other terms we don't have traffic for our page)
3. The quality you are offering does not go hand-in-hand with the price
4. Low reputation (people do not know us enough to trust us)
5. The type of commission you offer (paypal, points, etc.)

Before I start with the guide now, let me give you some more insights based on the real world scenarios:

Scenario 1:

  • Employers (especially companies) to artist: Hey I have seen your work in so and so website and found it really intriguing and extraordinary. You have done a really great job on your so and so project(s). You are really a very good artist!

    We: Well, thank you! I am really honoured to get such great compliments from a person like you. It's my hobby and passion to create such art you know.

    Employers to artist: No doubt about that! You see I have a proposal to make. I was wondering if you could make me a similar kind of piece for my company, website etc. It will be displayed in the home page or lobby etc. etc. where people everyday will see your masterpiece.

    We (overjoyed): OMG! That would be so great and I will be greatly honoured to do that! Let me know when we can start. :)

Scenario 2:

  • Employers (especially companies) to artist: Hey I have found your work in so and so website and found it really intriguing and extraordinary. You have done a really great job on your so and so project(s). You are really a very good artist! I was hoping if can discuss some business with you.

    We (overjoyed by hearing the word business): Yes, please tell me I am all ears.

    Employers to artist: I was wondering if you could create a flash website (website is taken as an example) for me.

    We (overjoyed again!): Yes, sure thing! I can of course do it! Just let me know when and how you want it to be.

    Employers to artist: How much would it cost?

    We (now confused!): Think at the back of your mind that you do it for $20(say) in deviantART and the employer is quite a good one who can pay a handsome amount. So, finally you say it would cost around $35

    Employers to artist: Oh okay! That sounds reasonable.

Let us now see what is happening in both the scenarios.

In scenario 1, the employer did say that you'll get exposure in his website or whatsoever but still he is winning the game. How???? Because HE IS GETTING THE WORK DONE FOR FREE! And say he asked for a piece of web graphics in this case. So, when he puts it up on his website no doubt it is your piece of work but DOES PEOPLE REALLY KNOW THAT IT WAS YOURS? Think about it!

In scenario 2, it looks like an awesome deal at the first glance since you are making an Extra $15 bucks as compared to your regular $20. Yes, that is cool! But still we are the fools! How? Because we do not know the worth of the artwork (here the flash website) that we have just sold. The employer knows very well or perhaps done a research before approaching you for the commission. He knows that a flash website can cost around say $100 if ordered from a renowned web-designer or a web-designing company but he is getting it for only $35! Get the point? Of course there is always professionalism when you order from a popular designer or company but if you compare the work you can see that it is almost the same.

In the both the scenarios above, the Employer is a smart-ass and we are the fools! Yes, that is the fact and it is true!

Some golden lines:

• If you are good at something, do not do it for free!

• Art is not for free, it's your hard work!

• When you are investing your time and energy on an artwork how can you give it for free? Isn't your time and energy precious to you?

An important message for both buyer and seller!

Have you ever wondered why does A (say a professional) and B (an amateur) charges the same fee (say $100) for a project who does the job in 1hr and 10hrs respectively?

No? I'll explain it to you "why" with the help of a small story. :)

    There was a painter sitting by a river and painting the sunset. A lady was just passing by the painter while he was painting. Seeing the painter she stopped and asked him if he can paint a picture of her with the beautiful sunset background. The painter nodded at her. He finished the painting in 8 minutes. She saw the painting and was amazed at the painter's talent. His painting was simply outstanding. So, she asked him how much is for the painting. He looked at her and said $500. Her eyes got wide open when he said $500.
    The lady got furious and yelled, "What non-sense is this? You are asking for $500 just because you painted my picture so nicely? You didn't even take hours to complete the painting! You took only 8min.?" The painter replied, "Yes"…And then he continued…Ma'am what you currently see is only 8mins of my time that I am invested to create an artwork for you. However, do you realize that to create your painting in 8mins I have actually invested 10years of my life towards it? The lady did not have any answer to that but to simply pay.

So, let's come back to the real world and take any example of any painter, photographer, graphics designer, programmer, etc. They charge you more with more professional work because they are simply the "best" in that field, they have more experience than others and they can do their work faster than others. Got the point?

Having understood the above mentioned things, let's move ahead and check out how you to set up yourself for starting with commissions.

*Please note that this is not a well established model to start off with your commission work but it surely will help you out to follow a structured way to starting with commissions.

As you can see in the diagram above, there are certain steps that you need to follow to setup your commission. I'll explain them briefly below:

Know yourself: Before setting up your commission at least first try to know yourself. You need to know which artwork are you comfortable with (such as digital painting, traditional media, etc.). Many people have varied interest and skills which are good but they need to know out of 10 skills (say) which are the strongest! You may have 2-3 skill sets which you would be very good at. So, identify your skills and talent!!!

Analyze the market: This is very important if you are new to the community or in the site. You are NOT the only person with a definite skill. There could be hundreds or thousands of people who have the same skill sets as yours. Example, apart from you there could be 10,000 graphics designers in the site who are already selling their works.

It is very important to analyze the market before you set your price and define your skill sets further. The most important things that you need to analyze are:

    1) The prices that others are offering 2) The skill sets of other people in the same market.

You will get a fair idea on the average selling price which has been set by other people and the level of pricing according to the quality/feature/quantity of a package.

Define your USP: Always remember that there is someone out there who is better than you! USP means Unique Selling Point. After you have analyzed the market it is time for you to identify or define your USP! So, what exactly is USP again? Well, the answer cannot be put straightforward. USP can be your price, your artwork quality, the services that you provide, the category of customers you opt for, etc. etc. In simple words, WHAT MAKES YOUR COMMISSION DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS! This can only be answered by you!

Set your goals: For any business a goal is very important. You need to know what you want to achieve before you set out for a journey! Keeping the topic particular to commissions, you need to set your own goals for your commission.

Since commissioning is only focused on making money. Hence, there could be two types of goals here:

    1) The amount of money you want to generate or 2) The number of items you want to sell

You can set a goal of say generating a profit of $100/ month, $10,000/year, 20 items/day, 100 items/month, etc. etc. You need to set a goal! Goal is specifically important if you really want to make money in DA! Goals make you run for the things you want to achieve!

Set your Approach: Now that you know yourself, your market and your goals it is time to set an approach to achieve them.

An approach may take little time for you to get customers but you need to keep trying. "I got my first commission after around 2 months when I started. "

Some important approach that I would recommend would be:

    1) Post your price list (in your profile widget or journal etc.) 2) Submit your work to showcase it to other people. Let them know what you are capable of! 3) Get exposed as much as possible.
  • a. If you have money buy adcast in the site if you need to or
  • b. Ask popular deviants to feature you in their profile page or
  • c. Get active in groups, forums, chatrooms, etc.
  • 4) Talk to people in the site (yes talk to them and make more friends) 5) Give positive feedback to deviants (in comments, replies or critiques)


After you have done all the previous steps please remember NOT to stop your activities ever. You have to keep continuing what you do! Be it deviation submission, comments, blogs, whatever. You cannot get customers overnight! You have to be patient and give your best in every step.

Now, there could be only 2 outcomes of your approach. Either you get customers or do not get customers.


If you do not get customers then there are high possibilities that you

    1) did not Know yourself or 2) did not Analyze the market properly or 3) did not Define your USP properly or 4) your Approach has got some problems and you need to refine it

*You can see in the above diagram I have mentioned it using the dotted lines.


If you are successfully getting customers for whichever commissions you are offering then it's awesome! :#1: However, you may want to take care of some more things as well.

1) Sale quality assurance: The quality should be matching up to your customer's expectation when you make your sale otherwise you may lose your reputation. If you have charged extra for something then give them the reasons on why did you charge more.

2) Service: Some customers may need some assistance after you have sold them sometimes. Example, for coding some of your customers may need some help on the implementation. Please do not overlook when they seek help! Guide them, help them and do whatever you can to satisfy them. They will spread positive words of your service trust me!

Measure: This is the last phase of your process and it is highly important as well. You may ask, why do we need to measure? The answer is very simple, because you need to check whether you are able to achieve your goals or not.

Measuring your commissions will give you a better understanding on how you can improve yourself, analyze how to get more customers and accordingly you change your goals and approach.

An example of setting goal is as follows:

Goal: Say I want to earn $200 every month.

My USP: Let's say I am a traditional artist who makes face sketches.

Furthermore, let's say I am a student who can give 4hrs of time daily to work on commissions. I take 5 hours to complete 1 sketch. And I have a paypal account to draw money.

So, let's do some math first. Don't worry these are simple math! ;)

So 4hrs per day means 4x30 = 120 hours per month (I am considering 30 days in a month)

And I take 5hours to complete one sketch so I can make 120/5= 24 sketches a month.

Let us also take into consideration that due to some unthinkable circumstances in our day to day life we can make only 20 out of 24 sketches.

So, that means you have to make $200 by selling 20 sketches in a month.

Now, here are your choices that you can make. The choice has to be made by you to achieve what you want.

1. Sell 20 sketches at $10 i.e. 20x10=$200
2. Sell 10 sketches at $20 i.e. 10x20=$200
3. Sell 20 sketches at $5 but sell each sketch 2 times i.e. 20x5x2=$200
4. And so on..

As you can see, you have innumerable ways of selling your commissions. You just need to figure out which one suits you the best. :)


It is not always a good idea to sell your commissions at a lower price!
- It is because you are yourself making your customers look only for cheap commissions from you. Hence, if you plan to increase your prices later on it may have a negative impact on you.
- Selling your commission at a lower price will attract more customers however you may believe it or not, you are lowering the value of your work and also others. Ultimately, this results into spending more energy for a low price commission.

Charging high at the starting of your commission is not really recommended. You need to find a balance of your service and price yourself.?


Do not go for cheap commissions only.
- It is a good practice to do some research among deviants and check their prices and quality of services before commissioning them.

Remember not to rush your commissioners because it may impact the quality of your commission

Hope this piece of information help you on your commission. :)



I am a free customization resource provider for the deviantART community. If you like my free customization resources you can donate some points :points: to me as an appreciation or support.

I take commissions to make custom journal/gallery CSS too. Check out my CSS Skins folder. Send me a note to contact me.


Skin copyright © CypherVisor
Add a Comment:
sarcasticupcake Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2014  Hobbyist
This was very helpful, thank you! ^^
tellmymotherimsorry Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Thank you very much for this! <3 
saku-draws-and-shtuf Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2014  New member Hobbyist General Artist
This is exactly what I've been looking for! Thank you so much! :D
TheCharismaPandaXD Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2014  Student Digital Artist
oh my god! this! I NEED THIS!
CypherVisor Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014
Haha... :hug:
mikurei26 Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2014   Digital Artist
CypherVisor Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014
FoxyTwinz Featured By Owner May 12, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much! 
CypherVisor Featured By Owner May 18, 2014

You're most welcome! :hug:

ShaneProcrastinates Featured By Owner May 5, 2014  Student General Artist

Thanks so much for doing this! It contains a wealth of information :)
This should help me once I decide to open up commissions, still busy finding out where I am at what I'm going to work with.

As someone who does both graphics and web as well, I know exactly what you mean by the Employee in both scenarios xD!
In the end the only person winning is the Employee haha :( But there is hope! There are those (albeit a few) that are actually really understanding and willing :) It's nice knowing that not everyone is a scumbag hehe, but we still have to take precautions to cover ourselves .-.

Rocking guide, hope you have a great day and keep up the awesome work!
Add a Comment: