My two cents for an indie comics artist…

Occassionally I get an email that I can’t resist writing a long reply to. If any of you have emailed me, you know I try to help ya out, buuuut with all the email I get I like to put people in the right direction as quick as possible. Hey, I got work to do. Well once in a while I just have to stop someone heading down the wrong path. Especially if I think they could spend months or even years pursuing an unlikely outcome. In this case, the dream of selling a paid membership to an online-only comic. And since this emailer hasn’t even gotten a hosting plan yet (and it sounds like page 1 hasn’t been drawn), I couldn’t help steering him clear of the cliff. Here’s part of my reply. Maybe it will help another…
I’m not sure what to tell you though about getting people to pay for viewing your comic online. Honestly I don’t think thats a good revenue stream compared to some other ways you can make money with your content being free. I think putting banner ads above every page of the comic would get you as much money as trying to sell a monthly subscription. A yearly subscription to a paper comic is what? Like $30. So for an online-only, indie comic artist, you’ll probably be hard pressed to even get $24 a year (or $2 a month). And remember this is an online comic, so comic-collectors won’t even be getting a collectible paper copy. Even a $1 a month subscriptions could be tough. So lets fast forward 2 or 3 years of investing your time in this. Best case scenario, I think you are looking at 100-200 subscribers IF your comic is incredible and has picked up some kind of internet buzz. Which is tough. So 200 subscribers is still only $200-400 a month….
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But if you sign up for a Google AdSense account, you can get maybe 50 cents to $1 per click on ads you serve . So if you draw a page a day, post it free, you’ve got a much better opportunity to make even more money. If you get a loyal fan, they might come to the site every day. Or at least once a week, and click 5-7 pages to work back on the strips they missed. Each page loaded will serve up an ad, hopefully a different one each time, and you’ve got a chance to make some money on your work being FREE. So you get the advantage of more money AND more exposure for your work. And nothing against your work, because I haven’t even seen it, but no matter how great it is, you’ll have a hard time getting it seen if its not free.  But if you just build a strong following, you can make money.
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Did I Marty McFly this kid or what. Set right the wrongs of a future where he’s working his butt off to make a monthly paid comic for a handful of his friends that subscribed?  I hope so.
If anyone else has some great ideas for revenue streams for someone with free daily content,  post ’em up!
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2 thoughts on “My two cents for an indie comics artist…

  1. Should get the book How to make Web Comics by Guigar, Kellet, Kurtz and Straub. He should google Project Wonderful (kinda like google adsense, but geared for web comics) and check out InkOutbreak (http://inkoutbreak.com/).

    He shouldn’t realistically expect to make money from the webcomic until about a year after starting regular updates. Ideally he should start with about a month’s worth of strips, esp. if he’s doing a 5 days a week strip. Once he starts on an update scheldule (like Mon, Wed, Fri) he should keep to it unless the frequency is increasing.

    Right off the bat, he should make sure that the comics are print-ready, so he can do a collection in a year’s time. And he should know that a long-form webcomic (i.e. a serialized graphic novel) is harder to get viewers for than a gag strip (short-form).

    He should think about ancillary products: buttons, t-shirts, figurines, original art, etc… because that’s what’s going to really make him money (aside from the ad revenue from the website).

    I could go on and on, but that’s the major points I can think of right now. Metaphorically, you’re growing a redwood from a seed. It takes time and effort to make it grow tall enough to provide good shade.

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