We hope you’ve all had a good time this holiday season, and have enjoyed the chance to decompress and spend some time with friends and family. I know our team has – our development team will be back to work shortly after the New Year.
We’ve been working on testing our commissioning interface, and have been putting together some visual guides to help explain how it’s going to work. In the first part of this series, we’ll be focusing on the ‘how’ and ‘why’, along with some animated demos of the features we’re testing. Next week, we’ll be giving you a full walkthrough of the process from the Artist perspective, and the following week we’ll do one from the Commissioner perspective.
(Important note: throughout this blog post, we use the word ‘Artist’ to represent many kinds of content creators as a whole. All content is a form of art: we consider stories, crafts, fursuits, leatherwork, protography and many others to be part of this, not simply ‘visual arts’.)
Why improve commissions?
We believe that we can substantially improve the experience of both commissioners and content creators, by making it easier to manage and track work, and my making it easier for all parties to ‘do the right thing’. By making a slick, reliable, easy-to-use interface for financial transactions to take place, we hope to be able to encourage good behaviors and make it safer and more enjoyable to commission artists within the fandom.
As an artist, your core competency is in creating amazing content – not necessarily in being an expert in tools to track your job queue, who’s order is at what stage, and keeping track of everything in a spreadsheet. If it was, you’d probably have gone into accounting. Our goal is to make it so you can concentrate on your craft – and see exactly what you need to do, at a glance – without it being a huge pain, or taking away from your creativity.
As a commissioner, you want to get great results for minimum effort – and chances are, if you had confidence you were definitely going to get what you expect, every time, you’d commission a lot more work from others. Our goal is to make your life easier – and provide a valuable and useful service to you and artists.
We’ve all had bad experiences with transactions before – whether its the ‘quick sketch’ that turns into a 6-month epic email adventure, or that commissioner with unrealistically high expectations that believes you should do great, custom work for them for free, we aim to free you of the drudgery of things that are a chore to you.
How are you going to make commissioning easier?
We’re going to be making commissioning easier by laying out clear, sensible policies for both buyers and sellers, and backing it up with both Buyer and Seller Protection. Combined with our easy-to-use commission management system and our excellent dispute resolution team, we’ll be offering a service unique in the Fandom: a safe place to both buy and sell in a commission format, with proper on-site payments.
Commission Management Interface
As an artist, you want to be able to see all your commissions in one place, sorted by status. You’d like to see at a glance what you have to work on, and what opportunities for future work you have – and pick the jobs that interest you.
You want to communicate easily in real time with your customers, and uphold the great standard of responsiveness you strive for in all your work – without having to play ‘messenger tag’ using several different IM clients, private messages or emails.
As a commissioner, you want to be able to see all the commissions you have open with content creators in one place, with notifications when there’s progress updates, or the artist has a question for you. You want to be able to access your commissions from anywhere, on any mobile device – and be notified automatically when one of your favorite artists opens for commissions. Well, we’ve got that:
As an artist, you always want to put your best foot forward – posting a pretty, informative announcement of your availability for commissions as soon as you open. You know that presenting a professional and competent image to all your fans is key, and an attractive and well thought out announcement with an image and full details of your availability is just the ticket. You’ll get a wider selection of offers from commissioners, and enjoy picking the ones that interest you!
As a commissioner, you want to see a feed of all your favorite artists’ announcements, and receive notifications the second they open for commissions. Want to get an email the instant they open? Sure thing – just tick the box and we’ll do the rest:
Don’t want to see announements at all, ever? Simply turn them off in your “What’s New” feed, and never see them again.
On-Site Payment Processing
As an artist, you want to accept commission payments with confidence. Good news: we have negotiated with payment processors to allow a wide range of furry content, which means you can get paid for adult-rated art safely, without the threat of having your account shut down. You’ll know exactly where you stand, and be able to sell in confidence – knowing that we’ve got your back. We’re making it easier than ever to receive money – so easy in fact, that you’ll be able to charge a premium for your work, and have the motivation to provide a great experience for your buyers.
As a commissioner, you want to pay for artwork, stories and other media with confidence, knowing that you’ll get exactly what you agreed to in the timescale provided – or a full refund. Good news is that’s what we want too. What’s more is all of your payment information will be securely processed via a well-known, reputable payment provider – your financial details will never touch our servers. With support for a huge multitude of payment methods (including local European payment methods), you’ll be able to pay for your commissions in confidence, in a way that suits YOU.
As an artist, trading safely and not getting screwed over is important to you – after all, all it takes is one bad experience to put you off from sharing your work with others. Our professional dispute resolution team is there to help you every step of the way. Our team has had many years of experience in helping artists and site users resolve their differences amicably and constructively, and will always seek out a constructive resolution for all parties. Consistency and Accountability are very important to us, and we know they’re important to you: our procedures and policies will be specifically tailored to ensure that you get predictable results, every time. What’s more is we’ll be clearly outlining the standards of behavior we expect from both buyers and sellers – so you’ll always know where you stand, and what’s expected of you.
As a commissioner, you know how important getting what you asked for is – especially when deadlines slip, when ‘things come up’ for the artist, and that sometimes your needs change. Our dispute resolution team understands these dynamics, and want to ensure you are treated fairly as well as have an opportunity to make things right. If you have a problem with an artist, you can ‘flag’ the transaction – at which point one of out disputes team will take a look, and address the issue raised with both parties. What’s more is we’ll be clearly outlining your responsibilities, so you can be sure that you’re doing the right thing.
Buyer & Seller Protection
Part of our commitment to artists is to make sure that you’re covered in any eventuality. Our Seller Protection program will protect you from ‘bad deals’ that can burn you when doing a commission directly with a customer. Commissioner made a payment using a stolen credit card, but you completed the work as per the agreement and rules? We’ve got you covered. Did your part, but the customer’s changed their mind and doesn’t want it any more? You’ll still get paid. Sell with confidence – and focus on your craft!
Commissioners: You’re putting money on the line, and want to be sure you don’t have a bad experience. We want the same – and as such, we back up every transaction you make with our Buyer Protection program. Commission an artist, but they never finish the job? Receive a full refund for work not yet completed. Make payment, but get something substantially different from what you agreed on? Get your money back – at no risk to you. Simply ensure you follow our guidance on successful commissioning (and our rules), and you’ll always be covered – risk free.
We have had many years of experience in covering these sorts of transaction issues, which while representing a very small percentage of transactions, are often very disruptive, time consuming and difficult to fix. Because we’re offering a paid service, we are able to cover these losses ourselves – resulting in more confidence and safety for everyone.
Simple to use, with clear, fair fees
We do not charge a monthly fee, show ads, sell your data or force you to answer surveys in order to use the site or these tools. Instead, we charge a per-transaction fee for every commission made through our service. Our pricing is a flat percentage – and is in line with other competing services that allow all forms of content, such as Patreon. Full details and pricing will be coming at launch – but we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
This simple, transparent pricing allows us to focus on producing great tools, and by providing those services to artists and commissioners, allows artists to charge a premium for their work, in return for the convenience and benefits a dedicated platform for marketing yourself and your work provides. We’ve chosen to support the project ourselves and invest in its future rather than request donations or crowdfunding, because we believe the site will earn back its development and maintenance costs all on its own – and that it ensures we’ll be motivated to make the site as great as it can be.
What’s more is Furry Network is “By the Fandom, For the Fandom” – decisions and management are performed by people intimately familiar with how our community works – and we’re not here to squeeze every last penny out of you. We’re in for the long haul – and we believe that providing great tools will more than pay for itself both commercially and in overall positive effect on the Fandom as a whole.
What value do you bring to the table?
We bring our dedication, resources and commitment to the long-term success of the Furry Fandom – and have a long track record of making things like this happen, as well as following up to make sure things are working right. By providing a platform for artists and commissioners to perform commercial transactions safely, the value we bring is ‘reducing the friction of commerce’ – which means more art, and more fun!
We hope this has been an interesting insight into how we hope to change the status quo in the Fandom through our commissioning service, and that it’s given you the same injection of excitement as it has for us. As always, we welcome comments, questions and feedback via email [varka at furrynetwork dot com] and our Twitter account – and if you’d like to help test out our commissions system before it’s released, drop us a DM or email with an explanation of your track record, a brief explanation of your involvement in commissioning, and why we should pick you!
-Varka and the Furry Network team