Art by cherubiel

Your First Service Offering

A step-by-step guide

First of all, congratulations on your decision to market your skills as a creative professional. We’re here to help you grow your creative passion into a fulfilling freelance career. You’ve taken an important first step!

In this article, we'll walk through the creation of a Service Offering for Game Character Portraits for our artist, Mindi. As you follow along, take the time to stop and do the Exercises for your own Service Offering. When you're done, you'll be ready to start selling!

Grab a notebook, and let's get started! :)

Step 1: Deciding what to make

The best choice for your first service offering is something that:

  • You could do it a lot times and not get bored with it
  • It takes you about same amount of time with consistent results

Mindi knows that “Game Character Portraits” is a good starting service for her because:

  • She’s done commissions for friends for a while now and has a consistent style
  • Her Service Title passes the “what do you do?” test:
    • “I am a Character Portrait Artist specializing in RPG and Game Characters
  • She knows on average how long a single project typically takes
  • Each project goes through the same kind of steps:
    • Sketch Concepts, Refined Idea & Colors, Final Polish

Exercise #1: What do you do?

Write down a list of all the things you think you could make for others. Write it out in a sentence like the above 'What do you do?' examples. Have fun with it!
BONUS CHALLENGE: How many different ways can you specialize with a single 'What do you do?' statment? Try at least 4 variations of a single skill/project type.

Wearing many hats - learning to specialize

Many creatives can adapt their skills to apply to a lot of different specialties. A freelancer is especially capable of mastering many different, sometimes wide-ranging technical abilities. For example, you may be primarily a 3D artist, but also be perfectly capable as a landscape painter.

It can be tempting to create a “one size fits all” service that shows a wide variety of work. What may suprise is that this actually works against you. If you promote too many different things, you are less likely to be hired than if you promoted a specialty.

Break your distinctive skills into separate Service offerings, and specialize even further by focusing on a specific genre, industry, or subject matter. You’ll be suprised at how effective this is over a all-in-one bucket!

Step 2: Defining Packages

People love options - just not too many options. Packages are our way of helping you show clients a “low end” and “high end” version of what you do. We allow up to 3 Packages per Service.

This is ideal, because you can define packages as price ranges, and not feel pressured to list just your “starting price”. This also lets you present a “Deluxe” package, showing off your very best work!

You can break Packages down a number of ways:

  • Additional perks and add-ons, such as print services or bonus goodies
  • Higher refinement, such as sketches to full-color, or higher detail & file size
  • Additional elements in a piece, such as more characters, props, backgrounds, etc

Here’s another perk: a lot of clients like that they can break a bigger project into smaller pieces over time. Think about how you can use that to your advantage, especially with new clients!

Each package requires a few key pieces of information:

  • A Banner image, Name, and Brief Description - the high-level overview of the package.
  • At least 3 Examples of work that are directly related to the deliverables in this package.
  • A Price Range or flat rate for this type of work
  • An Hourly Estimate for how long it takes you to complete the work.
  • A Lead Time Estimate: How much time (in days) you will take to complete the work after it’s been started.

Hourly Estimate vs Lead Time - what’s the difference?

The Hourly Estimate is what we use to track your Backlog. This is a very powerful feature that helps you keep track of how much work you have in your queue ready to start, and helps you determine if you’ve taken on too much work and need to pause new requests for a while. This is not shown to clients.

The Lead Time is shown to your clients, and sets an expectation of how long they can expect to have a finished piece of work in their hands once you’ve started working on it. This also helps you to justify rush fees if a client asks you for a due date that would be shorter than what you set as a Lead Time.

Here are the Packages Mindi decided to start with:

1: Sketch Concepts Package

A Look at Mindi's first package within the Service Template Creator

Mindi can complete these fairly quickly with consistent results. This allows new clients to try out working with her without feeling nervous about a big commitment or price tag. She knows satisfied clients come back for her Deluxe package almost every time!

2: Full Color Character Package

Mindi's second package within the Service Template Creator

These take a bit more time, but are still limited in scope to a single character. She’s open to adding on other characters, though, and priced this in a flexible range and listed additional characters as an add-on price. By limiting it to a certain print size, she knows she can keep the polishing-phase time to something reasonable.

3: Deluxe Package

Mindi's deluxe package within the Service Template Creator

A project in this range could take Mindi a week or more, so she broke it out into it’s own special package. She really wanted to emphasize the quality and detail of this package, and so she’s uploaded a lot of great images to showcase her best work. She doesn’t feel shy about pricing this fairly, as it’s a lot of work and not for ultra-tight budgets.

Exercise #2: Defining Your Packages

Start with your favorite Service idea from Step 1. Break down the process to create that item, step by step. Are there any noteworthy milestones? Stopping points where you'd likely ask a client for approval before continuing on? It might make a good package tier!
BONUS CHALLENGE: What kind of bells and whistles could you offer for additional prices? More of an item? More detail? Larger print-friendly sizes? Add-ons are a great way to capitalize on your hard work and time - just be sure you can deliver on your promises.

Publishing your Service

Once you have everything ready to go, you can Publish your service, and start taking requests right away! Or, you can preview your Service before it’s published to be sure everything looks right.

Mindi's Service Offering, ready to go!

Exercise #3: Share your Service!

Once you've published your Service, share it with us on social media! We just might re-share it on our network, or even pay to 'promote' it on your behalf at no cost to you. Free top-notch advertising? Oh heck yeah!
BONUS CHALLENGE: If you're serious about freelancing and need a little extra help, we offer free coaching and portfolio reviews to all PLUS members, once a month. We're here for you! ❤

So… What’s Next?

Here’s a few other guides you may find helpful: