How to gain com­mis­sions

Fol­low our guide to get or­ders and price your work con­fi­dently

Country Homes & Interiors - - MY COUNTRY BUSINESS - Caro­line Jack­man, Tal­ent De­vel­op­ment Man­ager, Crafts Coun­cil, craftscoun­cil.org.uk.

Just as Layla Robin­son has found, gain­ing com­mis­sions takes time.

Caro­line Jack­man, Tal­ent De­vel­op­ment Man­ager at the Crafts Coun­cil, has been sup­port­ing mak­ers for more than 15 years and has worked for the Crafts Coun­cil for the past two. She un­der­stands fully the im­por­tance of good mar­ket­ing strate­gies to bring in in­come. Here are her tips on gain­ing a reg­u­lar source of com­mis­sions…

Lis­ten to your client.

‘What are they ask­ing for ex­actly? Can you ful­fil the brief within bud­get and to dead­line? What par­tic­u­lar con­di­tions and de­tails of the project are they ask­ing for? If you need to be com­pet­i­tive in ap­ply­ing for a com­mis­sion, it’s good to do as much ad­di­tional market re­search as pos­si­ble so that you have the com­pet­i­tive edge – find that spe­cial some­thing that sets you apart from ev­ery­one else.’

Be re­ally thor­ough and con­cise in cost­ing your pro­pos­als.

‘Bud­get cor­rectly and never as­sume your client un­der­stands the pro­cesses you use. You might have to ex­plain them in de­tail, as well as talk through the cost of ma­te­ri­als and the time re­quired to com­plete the project, in or­der for them to un­der­stand your price point and the value of your work. Breaking it down in an email or on paper will fur­ther aid un­der­stand­ing.’

Pro­vide good vi­su­als of your pro­posal.

‘Use sup­port­ing images rel­e­vant to your work, as well as a CV of your ex­pe­ri­ence. If you are new to working to com­mis­sion and don’t have ex­am­ples of work, be sure to pro­vide a de­tailed out­line of how you would achieve the project in­stead, in­clud­ing draw­ings and a writ­ten out­line.’

Have good images of your work.

‘It’s even more ap­par­ent to­day that any­one pro­mot­ing a small busi­ness should have the best images pos­si­ble of their work, es­pe­cially as so many ar­ti­sans and mak­ers market them­selves on so­cial me­dia and web­sites. There are lots of re­ally good apps for your phone, tablet or com­puter that will al­low you to crop, en­hance and lay out your pic­tures. How­ever, if you are not com­fort­able tak­ing pic­tures your­self, it can be worth in­vest­ing in a pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher to help you. As well as en­hanc­ing your web­site and so­cial me­dia chan­nels, these images could po­ten­tially lead to ed­i­to­rial pro­mo­tion, too.’

Al­low peo­ple to get to know you.

‘Peo­ple love to get to know ar­ti­sans and mak­ers es­pe­cially when they are con­sid­er­ing buy­ing your work. They like to find out your back­ground and are al­ways in­quis­i­tive to know where your ideas and in­spi­ra­tion comes from. Set­ting up an open stu­dio ses­sion or ex­hibit­ing at lo­cal craft fairs are al­ways good ways to get chat­ting to peo­ple, which can then lead on to busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties.’

Keep the com­mu­ni­ca­tion lines open.

‘Hav­ing a good re­la­tion­ship with a com­mis­sioner is im­por­tant. If pos­si­ble, in­vite them to visit your stu­dio or work­shop. If you have a com­mis­sion from abroad, ar­range your ini­tial meet­ing with them via Skype or Face­time if you can, us­ing email and phone calls to fol­low up.’

Whether you work in the UK or abroad, it’s im­por­tant to keep your records in check.

‘Hav­ing a paper trail is im­por­tant while you are in the process of pre­par­ing or working on your projects. If your cor­re­spon­dence is by phone or face-to-face rather than in writ­ing, remember to fol­low up each dis­cus­sion with an email sum­mary. Ask for a re­sponse for any amend­ments needed on the work or to check that noth­ing has been missed out in the de­tail to keep them en­gaged in con­ver­sa­tion.’

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