Respect your clients.
So I recently posted a poll on my page, inviting those who have had bad experiences with ordering commissions on dA to share whatever they've had to deal with. Most people said that it's been hit or miss depending on who they've ordered from, but some people's experiences have been really saddening. I've decided to write this journal to wake some people up to what your clients actually expect when they order a commission from you, and things you NEED to do, or they will NOT order from you again, guaranteed.
1. Finish commissions in a timely manner.
It's just like when you order food at a restaurant: you want it as soon as possible, right? And if it doesn't come in a reasonable time, you're discouraged from going to that restaurant again. Serving your clients and serving customers at a restaurant are in the same realm of good service. No one wants to wait for more than about a month or so for their commission, even if you're the best artist in the world. If you have commissions up the wall and you know it'll take you longer than about a month to finish another commission in addition to all the ones you have, close your commissions. Don't accept more orders than you are actually able to complete within a reasonable timeframe.
2. Keep them in the loop.
Keep in contact. No one wants to spend money on something and then not know what's going on with it for weeks or months at a time. Update your progress bars on your page if you have them, and if you don't have them, get some or write up some equivalent and stick it somewhere on your page. Send your clients notes letting them know how their commission is coming along. Tell them when they should expect to see it posted on dA. If you're going to be unavailable or if you're going on some sort of hiatus or if something happened where you can't do art for a while, tell them. One of the worst things about commissioning people is waiting for weeks and then feeling like they forgot about your order. Do not make your clients feel this way.
3. Get their character's colors/markings right.
Ask for image references if they have any. Make sure you know the exact colors they want, and do not guess. Make sure you see any and all art of that character that's been done, and try to make the character as close to what the person intended them to be like as possible. Don't dull eye colors. Don't dull coat colors. Don't change hair/body colors because you think it looks better in that lighting. Seriously. That character is someone's baby. Don't butcher their design.
4. If they ask you to change something, change it.
Don't say "well I think it looks better this way." They paid for it. That means they get what they want, regardless of your opinion. If you can't handle giving your client what they paid for, don't offer commissions. If you can't deliver what they want, stop putting yourself out there as a professional, commissionable artist for hire, because you aren't. If you say that you will change a piece of art as much as the client wants until it's 100% perfect for them, uphold that. Don't give some big explanation as to why you want it to stay the way it is. It's not for you. It's for them
5. Do your commissions in order.
If you don't, provide a valid reason why not. It's frustrating when a client orders a commission and three weeks later, after they hear nothing from you, you're doing a bunch of art trades, other commissions, streams, adoptables, random personal art, drawings, etc., when their commission has been at the top of your to-do list, still unfinished. If you need a break from their commission and want to do something else, just do one or two other things, and don't drag out their wait time by another two weeks while you do it. If you are struggling with their commission, explain to them that you're going to take a short break and then give them an estimation of when you think you'll finish it. It looks really bad when you're doing a bunch of other things when you have a stack of commissions waiting to be completed.
Above all, treat people with respect. Don't make your clients resent you, because if they do, it's your fault, not theirs. It doesn't matter if we're all basically 14-25 year olds who are just trading pictures with each other. You are providing a service, and you are getting paid for it. You should act professionally and deliver what your client paid for. This is especially true if you're a Graphic Design student or even a graduated Graphic Designer. You are going to be dealing with clients, usually very stubborn ones, for the rest of your career. Get used to how the system works.
Bottom line: if you can't deliver the money's worth, don't offer the service. You're wasting your client's time.