Beginning freelance advice

POSTED: Mon May 01, 2017 1:46 pm

(This topic is aimed at seeking commissions from an audience outside of 'Souls)

Hi guys! I was wondering if any experienced artists on 'Souls could help me out a little?

As I approach my 10th year of digital drawing, I am starting to consider upgrading from a hobbyist to a freelance artist; I am hoping that this can be my job over the summer so I can cushion myself when I return to university in the Fall.

However, beyond one-off commissions like here on 'Souls, I am a complete newbie at the art business! I was hoping that those who offer commissions off-site can advise me on these aspects:

  • Pricing: How do you price your artwork? A friend recommended I price $10 for every hour on a piece; does this seem adequate? What other factors aside from time should I consider when pricing?
  • Advertising: What is the best way to advertise your business without being obnoxious? What other ways besides posting prices can help bring you attention? Is it best to list your prices on a portfolio website or within a shareable image?
  • Social media: I have created multiple social accounts (DeviantART, Fur Affinity, Twitter) that focuses solely on artwork. Are there tags or forums I should participate in? Is it worth contributing to a fandom via artwork in order to throw yourself out there?

Any and all advice, especially if it's a topic I should know about, would be appreciated. Thanks! ;v;
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Luperci Witch

POSTED: Mon May 01, 2017 3:43 pm

I don't have too much to offer you because I was only in the game for a hot minute and then essentially out of the game for three years, so I am actually very interested to see what other artists have to offer.

Pricing: Well, 10/hr strikes me as VERY cheap considering that this is skilled labor. You don't see anyone else with 10 years invested in a skill asking for 10/hr. Consider that the difference between freelance and hobbyist is that a freelance artist is living off their income - this is their bread and butter. There aren't a lot of places in the US (I assume that's where you are) where 10/hr is a livable wage.

Depending on the market you're advertising to, your prices will vary. I think identifying your market is the first step to determining prices. See what other artists are doing and how they're pricing their commissions, but also look at what they are offering and factor in your own skills. For instance, someone who is more experienced than you may charge less in their commissions because they can bust out a fully realized piece in a quarter of the time you can - they can afford to lower their prices because there isn't as much investment (not that I personally believe that they should for this following reason), but I would hate to charge the same and work twice as long/hard. I think it's also important to allow for mistakes in the price as well - you're not just paying yourself that hourly wage or years of practice/skill honing, you're allotting yourself those moments where you draw 90% of the image and realize you messed up big time somewhere, or you hate the design, because even with 10 years of drawing experience under your belt, creation is never a straightforward process. You're navigating a new set of problems every single time. I think it's important that whether you breeze through a commission or struggle for a week on it, you're going to look at the price and feel comfortable with the amount you'll receive.

I think it's also wise to develop a plan for private commissions VS commercial commissions (eg a production company) because they are definitely different fields. Coming up with contracts is a big part of commercial freelancing and it can get kind of sticky working this way, but that's also where the bigger money is. Researching is always going to be your friend no matter what you do.

I've actually been in the process of setting up commissions for non-Souls art stuff and scratching my head and doing the same type of research you're probably doing. Looking at what other people are doing is so helpful. Also, lmao, Kiri our Lord and Savior helps run this blog and there's been some A+ tips on there about art stuff in general, not just related to conventions, so you should definitely check it out! Relevant links from their resources page: Setting Prices for your Artwork, (con related but still valuable) How not to Starve as a Starving Artist

Advertising/Social: ???? I am not the best at this because I am a hermit-type pokeman and would be happy regardless if anyone ever saw my art, but that's just me and also a counterproductive attitude if you want to make money or be popular lol. I think other than setting up the usual social media accounts (twitter, tumblr, instagram, etc) along with communities you're interested in (furaffinity and other sites if that's your thing), and using hashtags to promote your work into groups that interest you, there isn't much more than just making good work and being available and open for opportunities that may come. If you have friends who have followings, and it's not awkward or weird to ask, you might ask them to reblog a "Commissions" image to their followers. I think it's more valuable these days to offer both a shareable image AND having a commissions page/prices on your main art site or blog.

Also like, constantly producing work. This is advice I've had from industry folk and it's whether it's sketches or WIPs or full pieces, endeavor to update your platforms regularly, tag your stuff, figure out the best time to post your work (try posting your stuff at different times to gauge reaction levels and see what is the best time to update and stick to a schedule), and don't over-reblog/bump your work (2x a day seems to be a good amount, like morning post and evening reblog, but more than that feels excessive or spammy). Also, some social media has features to post once and cross-share the post to other platforms, but I heard recently at a panel that this was actually not a good way to go, because it leaves links to the other social media (forcing a person to click a link and go to another place) rather than actually make a properly formatted post, and people are muuuch less likely to click the link than they are to open up an image. I agree that it takes a couple minutes to just properly post from each different social media account and allows for more control over the presentation of your work (twitter preview formats are different from tumblr preview formats, so you might wanna adjust the image that you share).

SORRY I am always making GIGANTIC posts I just want to give as much as I can because I like for people to succeed!! GO SUCCEED!!!
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POSTED: Mon May 01, 2017 9:53 pm

YESS TY GRANDSAN I need all the walls of text I need! I'll be sure to check out all the links and to work on the advice you gave!

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Luperci Witch

POSTED: Fri May 12, 2017 3:21 am

I don't quite have any advice, but a potential resource?

Artists&Clients, where you kind of sign up and showcase your art and someone might come along and be interested :D

I personally use this when looking to reach beyond the Souls art circle to someone else out there :D Don't know how much play you'd get on there, but its def worth signing up for the potential commission or six you might get :)

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POSTED: Wed May 17, 2017 1:35 am

Pricing. $10/hr seems low to me too, but it's a good minimum. You may feel more confident charging more after you have a better gauge on how quickly you work and the quality of work you can consistently produce. Skill level and experience should definitely factor into price.

Personally, I'd also factor in things like personal preference on type of commission. For example, if you like doing commissions of type A way more than type B, I think you may price type B higher, so it'll be more worth your trouble. For myself, I've had a fair bit of pricing divergence in digital VS traditional art in recent years. Commission prices for me used to be fairly comparable between mediums, but nowadays, it's generally cheaper to get traditional work from me because digital not only takes me longer, but is more physically taxing and difficult for me, so I charge more.

Social media: The most important thing to understand about social media is that to get the absolute most out of it, you have to engage. You can't just toss things on Twitter and Tumblr every now and again and expect to accumulate a following from that. You should follow other people. You should talk to them/engage in their work as well as post and promote your own. You should craft relationships with others on whatever platform you choose and inject some personal touches by occasionally talking about things other than art.

After all, the benefit of social media is reaching not only your following, but the followings of those around you (and so on), and to do that, people need to care about you enough to retweet/reblog your stuff, and knowing aspects of you aside from art is helpful for that. This is especially true for a platform like Twitter, but even on less "chatty" platforms like Instagram, it helps to be more personal with your followers.

This isn't to say it can't happen that people accumulate thousands of followers without engaging often, but I've found that generally the people that have large social followings without much engagement are people that already had those followings.

Social media is very much dependent on what you put into it, and I think it's helpful to treat it as a way to find your audience VS a way to advertise constantly.

Advertising: In my opinion, if you use social media "properly," the occasional advertisement about commissions or whatever should bit in pretty naturally with whatever else you post and thus won't be too obnoxious or overwhelming for followers. Visuals are always helpful. While more detailed information can always be linked to or whatever, posting the basics inside an image alongside examples of your work is extremely helpful, especially on platforms that limit text captions/linking (like Twitter and Instagram). Don't forget to include contact info in the image too!

Instagram is extremely reliant on hashtags, so I'd recommend following some people you like and see how they use hashtags, then diving into those tags to find others who use the tags and find even MORE tags that way. There are a gajillion IG tags and it's really stupid tbh but that's how it goes lol. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Tumblr is all kinds of broken as far as tag-searching goes so honestly don't worry about it too much. If you're not in a fandom there, it's incredibly hard to get noticed. General tags rarely get hits. (Re: fandom, if you're into stuff and wanna draw for it, go for it, but I'm never big on producing fanart just to get noticed if you're not into it. I feel like it shows and you don't want to get noticed for subpar work because you didn't actually care that much.)

Twitter is less tag-dependent, but sometimes there weekly/monthly/seasonal big art events that everyone gets in on (#mermay, #inktober, #hourlycomics, #witchsonaweek, etc)

There are quite a lot of Facebook groups dedicated to art, whether for self-promo or support or improvement tips or resource-sharing or whatever. I'm personally mostly in convention-related groups, but I know there are tons and tons of other ones as well. Poke around and see what you can find for advertising or other self-promo stuff.


uhhhhhh I hope that helps... I'm very sleepy. v_v Good luck! Feel free to ask if you have other questions.
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