How to organize commissions without dying!

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Post header image by @NippoIsAlien.

Commissions are often stressful, but they don’t have to be. Painful as it can be, taking the time to properly organize your commissions drastically lowers your stress—and your clients’, too, since they know exactly where you are!

I ran commissions for 5 years and along the way, found some awesome tools that might make commissions easier for you to manage.

Index

  1. Method 1: Commiss.io

  2. Method 2: Bonsai / Cushion / AND CO

  3. Method 3: Trello

  4. Method 4: Coda.io

 

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Method 1: Commiss.io

Commiss.io is a great all-in-one platform for taking commissions, communicating with clients, and managing payments! Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Price: Free with 5% platform fee, or $10/mo with no fees.

  • Core Feature: Communicating with clients in an easy, structured system.

  • Great for: Most commission uses.

You make a creator’s profile and add commission slots which people can apply for. You can limit the slots available in case you don’t want to find yourself drowning.

Commission slot page.

Commission slot page.

When someone signs up for the commission slot, a project page is created where you can add details, send invoices, and communicate with your client. When one of you leaves a comment, the other is notified by email.

Project page screen.

Project page screen.

You can view all invoices that are paid during the project. You can receive payments via bank deposit, Stripe, or manually mark them paid (if you wish to use Paypal or another service).

Final assets submitted.

Final assets submitted.

Once the job is done, you can upload the finished files. The files are provided as a preview format with a watermark. The client can then mark the job complete and gain access to the full files.

Overall, Commiss.io is a great platform for managing commissions. I used it for quite a bit of time and found it flexible, stable, and easy to use. The clients who I worked with using Commiss.io really liked the platform.

 

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Method 2: Bonsai / Cushion / AND CO

If your jobs are getting too complicated for Commiss.io, or you’re handling large transactions, it might be time to upgrade.

Bonsai, Cushion, and AND CO are websites built for professional freelancers to help manage projects and clients. They’re more expensive, but have way more features to compensate. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Prices

    • Bonsai: from $16/mo

    • Cushion: from $8/mo

    • AND CO: from $18/mo

  • Core Feature: All-in-one platform for professional freelancers.

  • Great for: Full-time commissioners or freelancers looking for robust project management.

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These platforms offer robust features that are great for managing a business, like expense tracking, proposals, contracts, time tracking, and reports. Cushion focuses on financial goals and scheduling, while AND CO focuses more on the project management / task management side.

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Each platform has a wide variety of features and differences, so look up these three to find which one offers the best fit.

 

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Method 3: Trello

This is my personal favored method; it’s great for people who have to manage commissions with many moving parts (GUI commissions, batch commissions, etc). Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Price: Free!

  • Core Feature: Advanced project management.

  • Great for: Commissions with multiple parts (batch commissions, etc).

Trello is very flexible, but I’ll walk you through how I personally like to use it in my commissions.

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Step 1 - Create a project board

First, I like to create a project board with multiple columns.

  1. Project Information — for client info, references, and uploads.

  2. Queued — for works that your client has requested that you haven’t started on yet.

  3. Columns for process — if you’re a developer, these columns might look like “Concept,” “Design,” and “Development.” If you’re an artist, these columns might look like “Sketch,” “Lineart,” and “Color.”

  4. Complete — for works that are complete and no longer need attention.

Add all the items of the commission as cards to the Queued column and invite your client to the board via email.

As each step is complete, you or the client can drag the card to the next column on the right.

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Step 2 - WORKING WITH CARDS

In this system, each card represents a different commission. With Trello, you can add descriptions, attachments, and more. Since I have a Trello Gold plan, I added a custom field to display the job’s rate.

I like to use the cards’ colored labels to note the payment status (Paid, Not Paid) and the commission type.

I like to use attachments for sharing WIPs and asking for feedback. The client can also attach picture references and other useful documents.

You can also do other cool things with cards, like set due dates and add checklists.

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Step 3 - Communicating with the Client

Trello’s cards offer a great commenting system. You can scroll down to the card’s activity to see all the comments, starting from most recent. This is an easy way to provide updates, ping clients, and receive feedback.

This system is great for complicated projects, but it’s also good for single projects! In my experience, clients like to see exactly what stage their commission is at.

 

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Method 4: Coda.io

Similarly to Trello, Coda is a multi-purpose project management platform that you can use to manage your commissions. It’s more of a linear format compared to Trello’s kanban format, so pick whichever system you prefer. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Price: Free!

  • Core Feature: Advanced project management.

  • Great for: Commissions with multiple parts (batch commissions, etc).

Coda is basically a powerful doc system where you can add smart spreadsheets to do all kinds of things.

Here, I’ve set up a task list where each item has a different status indicator depending on its current stage (sketch, lineart, render, complete). You can also easily add references, information, and attachments, making the doc as long as you need.

 

Summary

I hope you’ve found this useful—or at the very least, that it’s inspired you for your own system that you’d like to try out!

If you have any personal favorite tools you like to use, feel free to share them below :)


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