Successful Adoptions and Agencies: A Guide

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Successful Adoptions and Agencies: A Guide

Postby Desmond » Tue Dec 13, 2011 5:17 pm

⇔A Successful Adoption Agency⇔
⇔A guide for agency creators and adoptees alike.


[Mods: If you feel that this is better placed elsewhere, feel free to move it. c:]


    As cofounder of Pound of Hope, one of the many successful adoption agencies, I get asked quite often for advice on ways to improve smaller agencies. So often, in fact, that I often feel like I’m repeating myself, and it makes me feel bad. xD

    I made this guide as that – a set of guidelines. These tips have worked for us, though they are not rules and can therefore be bent to the preferences of the creator. We were just lucky that we had multiple people pitching in ideas as we created the thread, including the ideas of a future graphic designer, several very-well-versed character adopters that have a ton of experience with agencies, and someone willing to play devil’s advocate and take the thread from a visitor’s point of view.

    If you have any suggestions to add to any part of my guide/s, please post and let me know. C: I will be happy to edit them in and credit you for the idea.

Please be aware of the rules concerning Adoption Agencies.
    Copy/pasting the written content from other agencies is not acceptable. You must write your own content yourself. Similarities are okay, but copying and pasting everything and replacing every mention of the original agency’s specific information with your own is not acceptable.

    Stealing art is not acceptable. Please check the big pink banner at the top of CS’s art forums to read about what is art theft and what is not. If you have to ask if it’s art theft, chances are that it is, and that you shouldn’t do it.


⇔Table of Contents⇔
Organization.
Visual Appeal.
Character Selection.
Something Special.
Networking.


⇔Organization.
    Organization is a necessity when creating an adoption agency. The less organized an agency is, the more work someone has to go through to figure out what is going on before they can adopt a character, and the less likely they’ll put up with it enough to actually put in a form.

    When creating POH, we separated the thread information from the form information, and separated even those from the kennels, critique request area, code drop, forms list and affiliates list. We wanted everything to be nice and clean-cut, because we were tired of seeing places all jumbled up and squished together. We also wanted the thread to be as informative as possible; my personal goal was to make it the best place to go, without needing any other threads for help. Tiikeria created banners marking each area as a separate place, and everything is set up in the same way for each character, separated even amongst themselves by quote boxes. This pattern continues into the code drop, bringing those elements together, even though they are technically separate.

    The thread also flows from one place to the next. Think of it as a conversation:
    “Hi, we’re Pound of Hope, where you can adopt homeless characters. These are the forms you might need, if you’re giving up or ready to adopt. Here’s all of the characters we have, and if you look here, these are the lucky ones that found homes, and the forms that won them. Here are the forms that we have in right now – these might be your competition, so be aware of them. We also have a crit staff on standby if you’re nervous about your form. Also, check out these other really cool places for more characters, art, or a website!”

    My bad interpretation aside, it still has a nice flow to it that potential adoptees can understand.

    Alongside physical organization is time management. Having code drops and closing forms should be done in a timely, regular manner, and the drop date should be posted somewhere it is noticeable – the first post is usually the best spot for it.
    I can't emphasize how important being timely is. Taking a long time to judge, or putting off judging in favor of making more adoptables or accepting more breeding forms is generally looked down upon by the adopting community, and can become a sticky situation really quickly - especially if staff is called upon to check in!

⇔Visual appeal.
    Visual appeal is something that makes the entire place, even if it is just a shell without available characters, look nice. Color schemes other than eyeblinding rainbow make the vast majority of CS users more comfortable. I use Color Scheme Designer and various color palette sites to help me out, but experienced artists can also come up with their own schemes that still look absolutely amazing.

    Something that always irks me, personally, is when people use Glittergraphics. The sparkles and dancing distract and annoy me, and it makes me turn away from an agency, even when I really like a character. I simply don’t want to look at the ugly sparklebanners to read what they’re trying to say. I recommend either making the graphics yourself using whatever art application you have (even if it’s MS Paint), or asking an artist to make a set of banners for you. Even if you have to pay for it, it’s a very good investment if you want a professional-looking agency.

    Organization also ties into this; if everything is jumbled up, squished together and made into a crumpled-up virtual paper wad, it’s going to look terrible. Having everything nice and organized really makes the place look better. (It’s also why your parents ask for you to clean your room.)

⇔Character Selection.
    Pound of Hope and Freaks of Nature started off with ten characters each, mostly designed by me, and on separate threads. Everyone starts off somewhere, and you have to remember that success does not come overnight. For most of the characters, I looked around to see what was popular – I checked the species, the color schemes, the ideas that went into them, and I created a balance of unnaturally-colored and naturally-colored characters. While a couple of them never got adopted, there are still some that did, and, slowly, more and more people and donations came in.

    Many agencies that are just starting off have only bright characters that rarely, if ever, find homes, even in large agencies like POH. These agencies usually fail because nobody wants these characters – they prefer the variety found elsewhere. Maintain a balance in your selection that seems to coincide with the trends of character creation and adoption, and don’t be afraid to make more to put in, if all you’re getting goes against the trends.

    It is also a good idea to do revamps of characters that have not been adopted. Sometimes, it’s the art or pose that pulls a potential adopter away from going for the character, and all it needs is a new piece on display.

⇔Something Special.
    With so many character agencies around, there’s a lot of competition. One way that helps bring people in is to have something different, that no other has. Some agencies run little games and events that involve art, or a revamp competition (SCAA held one of these), while others offer valuable services, and sometimes staff will hold livestream sessions to create a friendly and creative atmosphere. Something that I, personally, do for Pound of Hope is hold a livestream session where I create characters with inspirations and comments from those watching me, and, in the end, I give a couple away to my viewers and donate the rest. These special events bring in potential adopters that have a harder time writing forms, which helps boost popularity.

⇔Networking.
    Networking is… essential to life, anymore. The world is based on who knows who, and spreading the word around. Getting affiliates is one of the quickest and easiest ways of getting attention. However, when you ask for others to advertise you, it is only polite to link to them somewhere on your own thread. Affiliates are usually the last post, so then people interested in looking at more can find their way to an art shop or another adoption agency can easily find them.
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Creating a Successful Adoptables Thread: A Guide

Postby Desmond » Tue Dec 13, 2011 5:17 pm

⇔Adoptables, Part 1: Setting Up.
Much of this is the same as for the adoption agency guide; Please read that one before you go through here, as there are only a few things I want to point out on this one.
If you wish to go a growable adoptable, please check out my guide on "fixing" Photobucket's URL problems here, then check out Aphelion's Growable Photobucket Adoptables Tutorial.


⇔Creating A Unique Species.
    Creativity in developing a species is the first and most important part of making an adoptables thread. Some people have chosen to create variants on existing species, such as Emberwolf’s Bat-Eared Foxes, Cheetah Eggs, run by Pink Ego (Trisomy), Tiikeria and myself, and various cat, horse and dog adoptables that are simply too numerous to name. However, one major thing to note about these is that nobody reports others for having a dog character. Species that exist in real life cannot be copyrighted.
    If you’re aiming to create your own species, please note that just adding armor or wings does not make a species of character different from any other species, and is therefore not a reportable alteration when found on others’ characters. The best bet to have a completely unique species is to not copy existing ones in the first place. Starting off with a base body is fine, but do something with it. Making yet another wolf-with-this-addon or feline-with-this-mutation may lead only to trouble, if you try to report every single character with that mutation that you didn’t make.
    If you're having trouble creating your species and need feedback, Toki and Bel provided us with a link to the Species Creation Unit - thanks!

⇔Designing What People Want.
    For adoptables to succeed, you need to know what people want, and be willing and able to make designs that attract others. Be aware of the trends, and be creative with them, while not copying any designs. Something that I found that works is to breed natural designs together for some litters or releases. Others may prefer to examine various ideas and let them permeate the design. Either way, allow for variation; doing all natural designs, all idea designs, or all neon-rainbow will make people lose interest and leave. Another great idea I’ve seen is to allow adopters to submit ideas. This is very direct, allowing for specific ideas to come through. However, be cautious with this method – it can result in a lot of spam, and people may start to abuse this system by using it as a roundabout way of getting a custom.

⇔Be Consistent.
    Being consistent with your releases (and, where applicable, judging) is how you stay alive. Having a release every week or every other week will bring people in, but you have to keep that pace to keep them interested. Stopping for weeks or months at a time will lose people, and will lead to failure, even when you have a very good reason for a break in adoptions. Be prepared for anything; keep backups of your lineart online, be it on storage on your character site on a hidden page, or on the Oekaki, and have multiple artists and moderators that can release litters when you cannot.
    Also, if you ask for payment for adopting (though it’s best to be free or cheap), be consistent with your pricing. If you accept only a certain payment, don’t make exceptions.

⇔Hold Events.
    A quick way to get word out is to take advantage of the influx of people on CS during the holidays and events, such as Easter, Hallowe’en and Christmas. Holding events for these, as well as throughout the year, garners interest for people looking for fun on the site. Do things that seem fun to you, so you still have interest, but also allow for the interests of others – if you do an event for the anniversary of the first release of Star Trek and you want to show your Trekkie side, be sure to include ideas that center around space, and don’t bully people that can’t tell the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars, because that will simply chase people off – and it could get your thread locked.
    Also, when holding events, allow for people who haven’t had the chance to adopt yet. If it’s a “draw your [species name here]” contest, have at least a few of your own available for use, or ask your moderators for ones that they don’t mind being used in these cases. Also, it’s a good idea to allow participants to draw others’, as long as they have permission.


⇔Archiving.
    People change their signatures all of the time, and sometimes, they lose their codes, not realizing until months later. They didn’t save to their computer for whatever reason, so what can they do? Most people will look for an archive. It’s not the easiest thing to take care of, but it’s worth it, for the sake of the adopters. It also helps because potential adopters get to see what you’ve been doing, and how well you’ve been doing it.
    Your best bet is to keep an archive thread, link to it in the adoptions thread, and keep it updated. An archive that has not been updated is of no use to anyone.
Last edited by Desmond on Wed Sep 26, 2012 6:47 pm, edited 8 times in total.
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Successfully Adopting a Character: A Guide

Postby Desmond » Tue Dec 13, 2011 5:17 pm

⇔Adopting from an agency.
Someone made the agency, and now you want to adopt. I’ve seen far too many people post tiny, weak forms, and complain when they lose to someone that actually put time and effort in. I’ve also seen people complain about how they use characters in other methods, rather than writing, because they “can’t write well”. So, for those that need it, I have written this.
Most of this is personal advice that I give out to… seemingly everyone that asks me about how to adopt from POH, as well as my personal method and convictions about adopting, and advice about what works and what doesn’t. However, my opinion is not the law; you don’t have to follow these suggestions if you don’t want to, but experience and observation has led me to these conclusions.


⇔Table of Contents⇔
Read Rules.
Play Your Strengths, Not Your Faults.
Proofreading.
Have Patience.
Have Sportsmanship.



⇔Read Rules.
    There are three parts to this suggestion: read the rules of the forum, the thread itself, and the donator’s preferences for the character. Reading the rules of the forum is imperative; I’ve seen forms have to get edited or deleted by CS staff for inappropriate content. In judging one of these forms that have been edited by staff, I, for one, am less likely to give the character out to the author – I’d rather reward someone willing to follow CS rules, not only because I know that they won’t get in trouble, but because they won’t abuse the character by making him into something I, as his creator, never wanted him to be.
    Next, read the rules of the thread. Most agencies are fine with alterations of the adoption forms, but some require a keyword that you cannot tamper with, because they use the search function when gathering forms. If the word is not present, your form may not be counted. Also, judges of some agencies – Pound of Hope included – cannot stand it when forms are unnecessarily long. There was a short-lived trend of people who thought it was cool to use character memes from dA, which are usually used when writing a full-length novel, as their forms. Such memes went down to such ridiculous detail, such as every single crush or fifth-favorite color, or offered such useless information such as what this would be if they were an animal – when these forms usually were for an animal character anyway. Because of this, these forms are usually not deep enough for POH (and are thus skipped), and are really tiresome for judges of agencies that do allow such forms. If you have any questions about what you can and can’t do, don’t be afraid to ask. But be aware that some agencies do not allow other users to answer, preferring to personally answer all questions themselves to prevent confusion. Also, finding the date of the code drop will help cut down on those sorts of questions.
    Lastly, check the preferences of the character you’re looking to adopt. If it can’t be a fursona, don’t try to go around it. And, if you truly think that it represents you, contact the donator and discuss it with them, then contact the owner of the agency itself. If you can’t change the gender or name, don’t try to change it. Some also have requirements on the story of the character; for example, one that I put on one of my donated characters – which had three legs and one eye, among other physical disabilities – to not have a “sob story”. I hated imagining forms being put in for him talking about his life’s angst, doom and gloom. I wanted him to have a happy home, where he’d be treated well. If the character you’re looking at has these preferences, follow them – it increases your chances, and keeps everyone happy.

⇔Play Your Strengths, Not Your Faults.
    Not good at writing? Don’t complain about it. It puts the judges off, because people hate whining in general. If you use characters in roleplays, you should be just fine for writing a regular form, because of the nature of RPs – The ones on CS are mainly post after post of writing, and so you should be just fine. First and third person points of view are both allowable for most of the agencies I’ve seen – indeed, I’ve used them both, and have never been met with an issue, other than my own weaknesses. If you prefer to use your characters in art, such as drawings or comics, one suggestion is to write the personality part of the form, then sketch out several pieces or write a little and include illustrations. There are people that make relatively short forms, but include an incredible piece that wins the judges over. Because people tend to use characters in the same way over and over, coming up with a personality is a good way of showing connection to the judges.
    If you’re the type that “headmates” with characters – meaning, you interact with them using your imagination with little or no physical output – you will have to somehow express that. Perhaps write about their first interaction with your other headmate characters, or illustrate how they would fit in with the world your imagination would offer them. Balance this out with a focus on the personality of the character, explaining the fine details about as many nuances about the character as you can think of.
    Forms can win without personalities if they have a thorough and well-written history, and they can win without a history if their personality is written in fine detail. But writing isn’t the only way to win a character, so do not despair if you are not good with the written word. If you’re not satisfied with your art, either, there are a ton of artists on here that would be happy to redline your sketches and offer critique.
    Most of all, don’t be afraid to try, as long as you’re also willing to seek advice and critique from others. If you’re not a native English speaker, find someone who would be willing to help you write; if that means making a new friend, do it! Don’t be afraid to reach out, most CS users don’t bite.

⇔Proofreading and Critique.
    Writing a long form means nothing if it cannot be read. First, run your form through a word processor's spelling and grammar checkers. Getting rid of such errors will really help make the content clear – in fact, I am writing this guide on Word to keep this problem out of my writing. Also, make sure you're only using words that you know - random words from the thesaurus do not always make sense when put into context. Then, a personal habit of mine is that I go through and re-read my entire form, making sure that everything written is what I wanted to say. Some word processors may accidentally misread an attempt at spelling that changes the entire sentence. Next, find critique. I usually send things to my sister to look at, or I turn to other friends, but sometimes I ask the Critique Café. Here, you can ask other users to look at your forms to make sure that they reach the highest quality that you can. Personally, when I submit things here, I request that people going for the same character as myself not give me critique, because I am paranoid about sabotage. For this same reason, I will not allow myself to critique forms for characters I might want to go for – I do not want to be accused of this.
    Once you have feedback, thank the other user(s) and don't take their advice personally. They shouldn't say rude things such as, “this sucks”, but if they have a problem with your writing, don't throw a fit. Consider their advice as you read through your form at least twice more – I usually do at least three read-throughs, if I have time – and tweak things that you think need fixing, after their suggestions. If you think you need more critique, you can check back with the person that last read your form, or you can find someone else to read through. Once you're happy with your form, ask it one more time, just to check. There's no such thing as getting too much critique.
    Lastly, when you're done with your form, check you formatting. Excessively light colors or multicolored forms, "special" type characters, and animated dividers should be avoided as much as possible. Type should not be entirely bolded, either. Make it easy for the judge to read - if you have to slow down to read, change it! Judges do not like slowing down, they cannot spend forever trying to decipher the personality when they have a hundred other forms to judge. They may very well just scan it and skip the rest. Don't waste your time!

⇔Have Patience.
    So, you’re done with your form. Good job! Now, you have to wait. Do not expect the judges to read through your form right after you say it’s done. Most places that I’ve seen do not read forms before it is time for the code drop – which should be a specific, set time, if they followed my guide above – unless the form is suspiciously short (such as one-five sentences per form part, and no “Work In Progress”/”WIP” signs). Therefore, most will not give out the characters before this set, specific time, and they rarely, if ever, make special exceptions, and so you cannot expect them to. If there is another character that you want, but cannot go for due to thread adoption restrictions, you may write a form, but remember that most agencies will not “hold” a character from adoption for you, and you will not be allowed to chase other users away from it. Doing so may very well jeopardize your ability to adopt the character you’re going for first, as well as run the risk for getting a harassment warning stamped onto your account!
    The best thing to do is to keep an eye on the thread, especially around the code drop date, but turn your focus elsewhere, unless your intent is to watch for questions that you may not have thought to ask or have an answer to (if you are allowed to answer it), or keep an eye out for incoming donations that you might like. Sitting on the thread and posting repeatedly about how you’re waiting/excited/anxious for the drop is spam, which isn’t appreciated by anyone, let alone the judges.

⇔Have Sportsmanship.
    If you won, that’s great, congratulations! Thank the judges and those that offer kind words, but be cautious – sometimes, your competitors might start trying to pick a fight with you because they believe that they should have won, and then there’s also the problem that too many “Thank you, I love the character! I thought I’d never win, my form was so horrible! [etc.]” posts may be considered bragging or angling for compliments. Be as graceful of a winner as you can be – accept the award (character) and walk back to your seat, considering the lessons that you learned as you return to the sidelines.
    If you lost the character, now is a good time to learn where you went wrong, rather than sitting and moping about how you lost. Many judges are okay with you asking what you could have done to make your form better, and it’s always a good idea to check out what judges like what quality in forms. With luck, you’ll find out what you need to practice on, and you’ll improve – hopefully enough to win next time!

Thank you to everyone that patched up the holes in this guide with their suggestions!
Onyxwings, Tesshin-san, Rainbow Dash, Perdito Dulcis, Lady Masquerade, Atwood, Nawee, June Bug (and everyone else at the Agency), Tiikeria and Red October.
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Creating a Successful Adoption Agency: A Guide

Postby Desmond » Tue Dec 13, 2011 5:18 pm

Res.
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Creating a Successful Adoption Agency: A Guide

Postby Desmond » Tue Dec 13, 2011 5:18 pm

Res.
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Creating a Successful Adoption Agency: A Guide

Postby Desmond » Wed Dec 14, 2011 10:34 am

Feel free to ask any questions or post any additions you might have~
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Characters // Through my eyes.
Art by Me.
I will always keep fighting.


"Who cares if one more light goes out?
Well, I do."
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Re: Creating a Successful Adoption Agency: A Guide

Postby ElRojo » Wed Dec 14, 2011 11:41 am

It may help to give out "Freebies" because many people can't afford many.
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Re: Creating a Successful Adoption Agency: A Guide

Postby Tiikeria » Wed Dec 14, 2011 11:58 am

This is more for Character Adoption Agencies, than for Adoptables, though it definitely can be partially used for that. But, yes, adoptables tend to do a bit better if they're free, or offer freebies. X3
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Re: Creating a Successful Adoption Agency: A Guide

Postby Desmond » Wed Dec 14, 2011 2:15 pm

I can make an additional part for Adoptables, if there's enough people interested. x3 I just know that I got the question about how to make a character adoption agency successful countless times, because of the popularity. I didn't get it quite as much when Tiki and I ran Cheetah Eggs.
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Well, I do."
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Re: Creating a Successful Adoption Agency: A Guide

Postby ElRojo » Wed Dec 14, 2011 2:18 pm

-3B- wrote:I can make an additional part for Adoptables, if there's enough people interested. x3 I just know that I got the question about how to make a character adoption agency successful countless times, because of the popularity. I didn't get it quite as much when Tiki and I ran Cheetah Eggs.



I think it is a great idea to start and adoption center.
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