If you want to sell your creative art for income, commissions could be a great way for you to give the people what they want. You can sell pieces before you pick up the pencil or paintbrush.

To get started as a freelance artist, you should familiarise yourself with the process of how commissions work. It can help you prepare for challenges and enjoy the rewards sooner.

This guide discusses freelance art commissions, which include the do’s and don’ts of:

  • Finding customers
  • Customer service
  • Charging fees
  • Managing day-to-day

Freelance art commissions:

Finding customers

The first priority when it comes to freelance art commission should be how to get work

Do

  • Use freelance sitesFiverr is a platform that lets you advertise your online services. You can post the styles of art you do with a clear price and option for the customer to choose from different packages.
  • Get active on social mediaInstagram is a visual platform, making it easy to show  off your work and build a following. You can use giveaways and ask people to tag friends or share your page to enter.
  • Post on forumsReddit is full of online groups and communities. These include people who sell their art commissions online. You can make a post and hashtag the relevant groups that you want to appear in.

Don’t

  • Confuse your customersbe clear in your descriptions of what your services include and exactly what customers can expect if they hire you. Add relevant information, but avoid overcomplicating your posts.
  • Blend in — there are plenty of artists that also want to get commissioned work, so make sure you stand out. Put together a portfolio of your best work to represent what you can do.
  • Give up — it could take time to find a customer, but persist. Eventually, the more work you do, the easier it is to get more.

Customer service

After you find customers for your freelance art commissions, learn to communicate well with them to get the most out of your time.

Do

  • Ask questions — when it comes to art, you must know what your customers want and what their expectations are. Cover each base, so you don’t over-promise or under-deliver.
  • Share updates — customers love to see the process of their art pieces, so you can share glimpses of work in progress. It adds to their experience and you can avoid the need to start over if they don’t like it.
  • Build relationships — if you produce quality work and be friendly to your customers, they are more likely to hire you again. In addition, they may tell their friends or provide you with a review to help you get more work.

Don’t

  • Go silent — it’s vital that you’re responsive to anyone who messages you from your listings, avoid customers going elsewhere. Also, follow up any potential inquiries with more information.
  • Ignore red flags — if someone isn’t willing to meet the terms of your listings, they could be difficult to work with.
  • Be unprofessional — you could put off customers returning to you, if you don’t act in an appropriate way.

Charging fees

To make any money from freelance art commissions, it’s important you know how to charge customers for your service.

Do

  • Know your fee — choose your prices depending on the time it’s likely to take and the size of the piece. In addition, ask for money if the art requires a higher level of skill.
  • Protect yourself ask for a payment upfront before you take on the work, it can help with supplies and to check they’re genuine. You could ask for 30-50% of the overall cost first, then the rest after it’s done.
  • Check customers understand ensure they know how much you want for the service and the payment methods you accept. If you’re unclear, they could leave you a negative review.

Don’t

  • Charge too much — at the beginning a lower price may help be competitive, you can raise it as you gain experience. You want to make sure that you can encourage new customers to your service.
  • Charge too little — you need to earn enough to cover your costs and make a profit. Make sure you still get what your art’s worth.
  • Forget to make a contract — when you take a payment, ask customers to sign a contract. It can help you legally, either if you file against someone for lack of payment or if they take you to court over the work.

Managing day-to-day

Freelance work can be a challenge, here are some tips to keep on track with your freelance art commissions.

Do

  • Keep the passionchoose styles and processes you enjoy to help keep yourself motivated, even when things get tough. Don’t be afraid to change your approach over time to keep things interesting and fresh.
  • Put in effort — don’t complete any work that’s not up to your usual standards. It could damage your reputation. Great work will help you continue to attract more customers.
  • Keep money separateset up a business account to manage your earnings and costs. If it’s in the same place, it helps you when filing your income tax Self Assessments at the end of the year.

Countingup is a business account with built-in accounting software, which you can access through the app on your phone. Its tax estimates feature will let you know how much to put aside each month.

Don’t

  • Get put off — it’s more than likely that you will get difficult customers that expect too much for too little. If you realise that before you begin, you won’t be surprised and can more easily move on to the next one.
  • Lose touch — if customers message you directly or email you, regularly offer new projects to them. It’s often easier to get a customer to return than to find a new one.
  • Mismanage financescosts that get out of hand quickly eat into profits. Expenses could include materials, equipment or bills like wifi. It’s vital to manage your money to avoid it stopping your work.

Countingup is the perfect tool to help freelance artists keep on top of spending. With features like the receipt capture tool, it’s easy to add costs to your accounts, just use your phone camera and scan paper bills.

Get started for free.

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