Commission Troubles – Being Seen

Hello, everyone!

One of the struggles that people have starting as a new seller is being seen. Even if others love your work, it can be a struggle to land a commission.

We are currently planning to open public commission testing either late December or early January. As we move in that direction, we wanted to talk about some of the problems we’ve seen with commission visibility and how we plan to tackle those.

Current Difficulties

One large problem with opening for commissions in the fandom is that there isn’t one specific way to let others know. Some change profile bios to say they’re open; others create journals; some post frequently on social media about openings. While it’s good for sellers to shape advertising strategies based on what works for them, it can be difficult for new buyers to know if a seller is open.

Another issue is that most sites in the fandom focus on either galleries or commissions, not both. Because of that, it’s rare that users browsing galleries know that someone is open for commissions unless they specifically look for that information. This can unfortunately leave upcoming creators in the soup.

Plans to Improve Visibility

Commission badges. One of the best ways for users to find someone selling commissions is to browse through submissions – if I see something I like, I may wish to purchase a commission. Having a badge on a thumbnail or next to users’ names will make it much easier for potential buyers to find sellers; just by looking at a submission, they’ll know if a user is open.

Commission_button

Art by Nomax; badge design not final

Another benefit, of course, is that these badges will appear in the favorites list – all I’d have to do is look at my favorites, find a commissions badge, and BAM, I’d know where to get some custom art that I’d love.

Announcements. Getting the message out to your followers that you’re opening for commissions is important – many already love your content and are much likelier to purchase commissions.

We’ll be adding an announcement category that will allow you to reach your followers with quick messages. In order to keep announcements relevant, these will have an expiration time with 48 hours being the max.

Improved promotions. It’s still difficult to see promoted images on FN – they appear on the Activity History feed, but that’s about it. We’ll be adding a promoted gallery that can show up on users’ profiles. In addition, the commission badge will show up for any submissions by users open for commissions.

Off-Site advertising. We’re still working out the exact details for this, but we’re planning to include an option to advertise for free on sites outside of FN; upload a banner, and anyone viewing your art on those sites will see that you are open for commissions. This would be an optional feature, of course, but the more chances you have to be seen by potential buyers, the better.

Have any other grand ideas for improving visibility for sellers? Hit us up on Twitter! We’d love to hear them.

As always, thank you for all your support. We hope we can help continue making the commission process smoother for both buyers and sellers alike.

Digby

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Users’ Nightmare Commissions

Hello, everyone!

One of the reasons we’ve been focusing a large amount of work on the commission systems is because of the problems that have happened between buyers and sellers – while most commissions go well, there’s always the chance that things can fall apart. A few users sent stories to us about their nightmare commissions.

From Buyers

One submitter discussed what happened when they tried to buy a present for a friend:

This was many many years ago. I wanted to get something smallish and in budget for someone special’s upcoming birthday because I was full of commissions that needed to be finished in time at the moment. Well, the artist’s side turned into excuses after excuses while they were still creating other art. Although I waited patiently without much pestering despite the deadline being missed by a year, they still decided to dump the ultimate disappointment: instead of just refunding the artist finished the commission using ms paint, a mouse and ittybitty resolution, their sloppiest of skills too to complete the disaster. Ofc the person receiving the gift took it as an insult, the character barely looked alike.

The rough part of this is that the buyer tried to be as patient as possible; however, even with this being a time-sensitive commission, the seller was not bound by any ultimate deadline. In addition, little could be done about the low quality of the final product – after that much time, many furries might become exhausted from the process and decide to just let it go.

On Furry Network, the policies that we have in place will protect the buyer. All commissions are required to be finished within six months, and sellers are encouraged to establish an earlier deadline. In addition, buyers will have the opportunity to have staff review any commissions that are lower in quality. Simply put, you’ll never pay $50 for a surprise MSPaint drawing.

We had another buyer who purchased a plush:

Commissioned an artist in Australia for a big orca plush. Sent around $800. After 6 months, no progress. Artist said they were low on funds and couldn’t afford the materials. Paid another $400. Another 6 months went by, still nothing. Asked the artist how we get it done, and they promised me if I gave them one more lot of $400, they’d do it. Pinged them on an off every couple months for 2 more years then gave up. That was more than 10 years ago.

Hindsight here is definitely 20/20. I generally don’t recommend sending additional funds unless there’s a change in the scope of work – if you want more detail or characters, for example, increasing the price is acceptable. What likely happened here, though, is that the artist tried to prey on buyers who would sympathize with them.

To avoid these scam-like situations, Furry Network holds onto funds that are paid upfront by the buyer; these are only sent to the seller once the commission is finalized and approved by the buyer.

We’re considering allowing certain verified sellers to receive part of the commission funds at the beginning of the commission – this way, sellers who have historically done a great job can receive payments sooner. However, buyers would still be able to receive reimbursements from Furry Network if a situation similar to the one above happened; the seller would also lose verified status and potentially lose access to selling commissions at all.

From Sellers

Of course, sellers sometimes face nightmare commissions of their own:

The horror commissioner, I should’ve sensed something wrong when they first approached me saying: “This previous artist failed to capture this image and gave up midway so I’d like you to do this commission instead”. The half finished image looked exactly like they were already looking for but I thought maybe they just didn’t dig the very toony style. So I gave it a try. The process went alright, I showed multiple wips and they just nodded shortly everytime. I made sure to say “if something needs changing just say so”, but apparently things were ok. The bad stuff came after: They posted the image to their own gallery modified, they had changed colours with bad photoshop skills and painted over the expression, then said in the comments “the artist didn’t edit it to be perfect so I had to”, despite me having offered to do so. Also accompanied by a journal ranting about how good artists are always stuck up and don’t listen to their commissioners. My ToS states that art must not be modified and copyrights stay mine, but the commissioner had also slapped their own giant watermark on top, claiming everything as their property. Taking a closer look on their gallery revealed hundreds of other victims alike. They already had me blocked too, before I could say a word, so I guess all they wanted was to cause drama – drama apparently worth lots of money. But I simply blacklisted them and moved on.

The end result is probably the best way the seller could resolve this – starting a public squabble could end poorly, and responding could have fueled the buyer’s fire. However, it’s likely future sellers would not know this buyer’s history, and it would be possible to get drawn into the same trap.

Furries purchasing commissions on Furry Network are bound by the site’s guidelines, and this type of behavior could restrict or prevent that user from purchasing additional commissions in the future.

For less serious situations, though, we want a track record to exist for buyers; when we implement the review system, sellers will also be able to leave reviews of the buyers, warning future sellers of any nightmare situation they’ve faced. Sellers could always take that commission, but they would at least know if there were problems in the past.

We’re currently able to expand our commission testing system to additional users. If you are interested, feel free to send us a PM on Twitter, and we’ll have a quick chat with you. Thank you again for all your excitement!

Digby

Commission Horror Stories

Hello, everyone!

We know that many buyers and sellers alike have had horror stories when working with commissions. Do you have a story? We’d love to hear it! We’re especially interested in how this became a nightmare commission and how it was resolved, if it was.

Follow this link to submit your story. You may submit it with your details or remain anonymous. Any stories may be examined in a future blog post.

Thank you!

Digby

The Role of Promoted Submissions

Hello, everyone!

As we’ve been discussing the possibility of renaming promotes and favorites, we had a few concerned members say that they really don’t see the benefit of promoted submissions right now.

I agree with this – when you promote a submission, the goal is to help the submitter receive more attention. Luckily, we have some planned changes that will amplify the reach of these promoted submissions.

Promoted Posts on Profiles

Right now, there’s not a convenient way to see all of the past images that a user has promoted. Other gallery sites commonly have a section on profiles for shared or favorited submissions, and we will be adding this. Because we want profiles to remain customizable, this will be an optional section on profiles; however, we’re looking into including it by default so it’s not a challenge for new users to setup.

Better Interactivity on Activity History Page

Promoted submissions currently show up on a user’s activity history page as a thumbnail next to a wealth of text.

Promoted Picture

While this does technically share posts, it’s missing a few key elements:

  • Thumbnails are difficult to see.
  • To see full size images, you have to navigate to a new page.
  • There’s no way to quickly promote, favorite, or comment on submissions from this view.

As we move forward, we plan to change this and make the activity history page much closer to a timeline on social media – we want you to be able to see and share images quickly. Keeping as much interactivity as possible on a single timeline will make it much easier to find a share submissions that you love.

We’re currently working on shaping these changes for Furry Network, and we hope to have this ready in the next couple of site updates. Thank you for all your thoughts on promotions, and we hope we can continue improving the way you find new content creators!

Digby

The Renaming Game – Promotes and Favorites

Hello, everybody!

We are currently working on improving visibility for promoted submissions on Furry Network. In the next couple of updates, we’re hoping to have a section on users’ profiles that shows any submissions they have promoted. We also will be making some significant changes to the Activity History feed; we’re aiming to make it a more usable and helpful timeline, especially when looking for new artists.

However, since the original wording had been penned, we’ve had discussions about whether “promotes” and “favorites” were the right words. While users have gotten used to them, the wording can be confusing for new members. We’d prefer to have something more intuitive.

One common suggestion is to change the word “promotes” to “favorites” – in general, other websites in the fandom use “favorites” as a way to share submissions and find new artists. This change would help standardize the wording. If we were to change that, we would also need to change the current “favorite” to something else – “private favorite,” “stash,” and “hoard” have been some of the most prevalent suggestions.

We’ve also seen the suggestions “share” and “save” come out as replacements.

The only concern about those is that other websites use them differently; “share” is typically used to share to an external social media website, and “save” is commonly used to save to a hard drive. These might work if there were a small tutorial, but again, we’d want to have things be as intuitive as possible.

If you stumble across other words that might work, feel free to hit us up on Twitter. Thank you for all your excitement!

Digby