We've talked at length about color theory and gone over the practical aspects of painting. By now you should have at least four or five cards that are completed. So now what?
Step 1: Paint Cards
Step 2: ???
Step 3: Profit
There are a number of ways to fill in step two. The more avenues you take, the more profitable you will be. However, keep in mind that you must also keep up with the demand for your product, or risk losing your good reputation, and sales.
Trade! Trade! Advertise?
The first and most obvious would be to trade your altered cards to other players. The method here is easy. All you have to do is put your cards in your binder, and trade as usual. There are a couple of points I'd like to make about this though. First of all, treat your cards like you would treat rare misprints. Some people may look at your Brainstorm and think it is worth $3 because it's a Brainstorm. They may be surprised or even offended that you are asking $10 or $15 for it. Remember that there is only a small (growing) segment of the market that will be prepared to trade for these at the prices you ask. Be patient, and stick to your price.
Many times, the best that you can do is not trade the cards. More often than not, I'll go to an event with 5 altered cards and leave with all of them and a smile on my face. Why would I smile about this? Everybody who opened my binder saw them, and though I didn’t trade any of them, I may have upwards of ten email addresses, phone numbers or other contact information from people who want their own cards painted.
The Internet is for What?
If you live in a small market and the trading community isn't the greatest, you still have options. Thanks to the internet, you have access to the rest of the world through Ebay. This is one of the most common ways to cash in on your product, but it comes with a cost. The prices are unreliable here, and a card that auctions for $20 one week may auction for $5 the next. On top of this, Ebay and Paypal will always take their cut of the profit too. To help keep people bidding make sure you always use a scan of your work instead of a digital photo. When people can see the details of what they are buying, they are more confident in their bidding.
The internet also brings us another gem in marketing our business, forums! The forums at MTGsalvation and MOTL allow you to post an add for your alters at no cost to you. Both of these sites see a lot of traffic, and all of this traffic is there specifically for what you are selling. When you create your add, be sure to include a link to your portfolio so the buyer can see your style. An easy portfolio can be set up on Photobucket.
The sign says no soliciting...
The last thing we can do, and probably the most effective, is to try and get some display space in your local card shop. This is a difficult thing to do as most shop owners know that space is at a premium. Your best bet is to offer to sell your cards on consignment and have a small sign with your contact information. The profit margins may not be great, but you are advertising your work to everybody who looks into the singles case. This can be a huge boon to your commissions work.
The last thing I'd like to discuss with you is pricing. You've driven all of these people to your business, and now they all want to know how much this service will cost. The best thing to do is work out an hourly rate. This way no matter what they want done, you get a fair wage. To give you an example, my rates are as follows: $15 for the first hour, $10 for each additional hour. When setting your price points you want to make sure that every alter, no matter how small or large is worth your time to do. Also, prorating for every 15 minutes will help keep your prices attractive to buyers.
That's all for now, I have to go back to studying for finals. Keep working on those contest entries, the deadline is less than a week away!
-The Painters Servant