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Author Topic: Your Webcomic Business 'Qualifications'  (Read 13802 times)

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Offline Matt

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Your Webcomic Business 'Qualifications'
« on: January 08, 2010, 03:55:55 AM »
I saw an empty forum. I posted in it.

Okay, so a large slice of the boards here are devoted to the Business of Webcomics. I fully understand. I'm sure you'll all agree, when people give you advice, or a critique, it is always important to weigh the advice up. Factors like, is the person in question actually profiting from his webcomic, are they 'above me' in terms of readership and experience, are they actually a squirrel randomly pressing keystrokes.

So, forgive me, I am not at all familiar with you guys, nor your webcomics. I have about 6 that I read regularly. As an artist that is willing to glean tips from those that are profitting from their webcomics, superior in terms of readership and experience, and are certainly lacking in squirrel-like features, I want to know your qualifications for giving advice, as it were.

Here are some questions. Answering them will help people like myself make decisions as to whether the advice that you give is worth much.

• How long has your webcomic been running, and what is it's readership? (unique views a week, or something like that)
• How are you doing in terms of webcomic business? (Clearly, I'm not asking for hard numbers for that would be rude, but try not to be too vague and do be honest)
• What percentage of your genome is of the Sciuridae family.

Okay, enough squirrel related revelry.

(Edit: Changed the title to something a little nicer)
« Last Edit: January 08, 2010, 04:08:28 AM by DizzyDoo »

Offline CorvusErebus

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Re: How many of you are turning a profit?
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2010, 04:08:16 AM »
Well, I can't speak for everyone else, but I come to this table wearing two hats. One of them is a cartoonist, yes. And I'm currently making jack off that. But the other is a Freelance Web and Graphics designer.

So why should you listen to anything I have to say?

Because I come at this with an education that can be applied to our hobby quite successfully. I'm trained to make your website, Logo, brochure, etc marketable and appealing to your target audience. Part of that is understanding basic marketing and human behavior. I can't tell you "This is what you need to do to be a success." And really, no one can. But i can tell you "These are some mistakes you DON'T want to make".

I also can't tell you "These website changes will increase your readership Guaranteed". What I CAN tell you is"Your website is cutting in to your readership retention/sales, and these are the largest flaws." If those sound like the same statement, welcome to the subtlety that is design.

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How long has your webcomic been running, and what is it's readership?
N/A

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How are you doing in terms of webcomic business?
N/A

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What percentage of your genome is of the Sciuridae family.
2%

If you have a degree or are a student of marketing itself however, we'd love to have you on board to help consult more specifically on those matters.

Hope I answered your questions.
~Erebus
« Last Edit: January 08, 2010, 04:10:32 AM by CorvusErebus »

Offline Matt

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Re: Your Webcomic Business 'Qualifications'
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2010, 04:10:39 AM »
Thanks Erebus. You make good points.

If you are indeed not a webcomic artist, but instead a freelancer graphic artist, web designer or published writer, then of course, the three (two) questions in the main topic should not apply.

Offline Rob

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Re: How many of you are turning a profit?
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2010, 04:13:16 AM »
This is actually a good question but I hesitate to agree to the presumption that the quality of someone's advice is on proportion to the level of thier success.

As I joked in your intro thread I have some wonderful advice on a lot of things that you might not want to do simply because I did them and can quantatatively explain why they don't or won't work.

There may also be other factors.

Still, disclosure seems fair, but my story over the last 15 months or so is kind of a long one. So it will have to wait until I have a little more time.

The short answers to your questions are though: I have two comics, one is on hiatus. That one has 46 comics that were dispersed over a roughly five month period before the artists life imploded and I had to go on hiatus (like I said, long story). The other comic has been running weekly since November 9th of last year. We are working on a 3rd comic to be relased in the next month or two (although this little adventure may slow things down a bit) and I'm cutting out the artist (Or trying to anyway) as I do fairly well with 3D animation (can't draw to save my life as evidenced by the newer comic which I call Badly Written, Badly Drawn) and so I'm converting all the characters and sets over to 3D models so I can run the comic; sans artist.

My business has been a total loss as I am not actually selling anything. Fortunately, costs have been fairly low. I've probably spent less than $400 all told and I have the sites, some T-Shirts and Prints for promotion and butload of some very nice glossy business cards.

I am less than 3% squirrel though far more squirrely than that answer represents.

I think Trevor (TakaComics) is probably the most experienced staff member right now in sheer time and work. We will be hearing from him quite a bit.

Lastly my readership varies. I did a guest comic for Questionable Content that got me over ninety thousand unique visits over a three day period. If I could get that many to visit every day Icold buy a house with the merch that would be sold. Shortly after that wonderful time the artist left and things got very dark and lonely at Remedial Comics. Right now I get about 13-1400 unique users in a week. If I'm lucky. My blogs are pretty good (I think) I can write a bit. So there's that.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2010, 04:15:11 AM by Rob »

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Re: Your Webcomic Business 'Qualifications'
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2010, 04:25:45 AM »
Quote
How long has your webcomic been running, and what is it's readership? (unique views a week, or something like that)
My comic has been running about a year and a couple months. I used to do Monday thru Friday, but I now only do 3 times a week - MWF. I get somewhere between 30 and 60 uniques a day, however, I haven't done a ton of marketing, and my comic is very difficult to grasp for new readers. I hope to change that soon, but finding my audience has proven more difficult for me due to the nature of my site.

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How are you doing in terms of webcomic business? (Clearly, I'm not asking for hard numbers for that would be rude, but try not to be too vague and do be honest)
Usually when I go to cons, I make back most costs. As for being out one year, I find that that is good. I do not have a store, so I don't have any online sales as of yet.

However, I will offer this counter to my lower looking numbers: I work in art, and have for as long as I've had my comic. I have been commissioned quite a few times right out of college, and I am able to pay off my college loans by working from home. For being 23, I'm very lucky and happy with my situation. I can offer business advice in art in general, not just webcomics. I went to school for Graphic Design and Illustration, and did comics for my Senior Show even though the teachers didn't like them at first. I've given lectures to students about being in art, and am now planning on doing panels for next year's conventions.

Offline Matt

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Re: Your Webcomic Business 'Qualifications'
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2010, 04:38:15 AM »
Great to have you here TakaComics, I'll definitely be paying attention to what you might have to say.

Since I let you guys go first, like the brave person that I am, I'll step up.

I have no webcomic, so no readers, and certainly no business.

I have done paying contract work a good number of times to create art for video games, mainly in the concept art department though I've also done some box art for a published indie title. Little of this work has been cartooning, but all the concept art done has been for characters and creatures, good fun just to be creative with someone else's rough guides. I'd like to think my artistic ability is satisfactory.

I'm also a web developer and web designer. I develop websites in Python, I have only had one contract job for this though, and I am working on that right now. :P  My web design skillset is your standard stuff, I can theme Wordpress, write standards compliant xHTML and CSS and create pretty looking site graphics with Photoshop. Photoshop is my friend. Oh, and I'm also learning Javascript/JQuery, which so far has been rather delightful.

Offline Pete

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Re: Your Webcomic Business 'Qualifications'
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2010, 09:52:41 AM »
• How long has your webcomic been running, and what is it's readership? (unique views a week, or something like that)

I've been doing Bardsworth for over 4 years now, and before that I worked on a now-deceased webcomic for about 6 months (I left due to creative differences).  The readership fluxuates between 3000 and 3500 (closer to 3000 because of a long hiatus I took this summer due to moving across the country) unique visits per day.  Demographic-wise, I range all over the board - younger kids, college students, and adults 40+ years.

• How are you doing in terms of webcomic business? (Clearly, I'm not asking for hard numbers for that would be rude, but try not to be too vague and do be honest)

About 2 years ago I was making some pretty decent headway.  I had just printed my first book and was making decent sales on it, and people were donating like crazy.  Unfortunately, I noticed that once the economy tanked, my sales and donations dried up.  This past year has been pretty bad, both in online sales and in convention sales (although I did have one very good convention experience at ConnectiCon, where I pretty much broke even).  However, I don't think I can entirely blame the economy.  I haven't put out any new merchandise in regards to the comic, mostly due to not having any time beyond my day job and working on the comic itself.  That's something I hope to change this year.

In addition to the comic, I am also run a fairy art site with my wife, and we've been promoting that alongside my comic at conventions.  I actually sell more merchandise through that than I do for the comic, so by pulling people in with the one venture, I can make them take a look at the comic, since the demographics that one or the other are pretty much the same.  We'll see how well that does this year.

• What percentage of your genome is of the Sciuridae family.

I like pie.

Offline Cebronix

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Re: Your Webcomic Business 'Qualifications'
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2010, 10:32:59 PM »
• How long has your webcomic been running, and what is it's readership?
     I've been doing Shattered Myth for about Nine months now, M-W-F plus a small launch buffer has put me at around 150 strips. It's only been late twice (by hours) and I've never missed an update. A fact I'm fairly proud of actually. As far as readership goes, I average somewhere between 60 and 80 unique views a day. I don't seem to get a lot of hits but my average pageviews is usually close to 5 pages a visit which gives me hope for the future!

• How are you doing in terms of webcomic business?
     Shattered Myth hasn't really gotten to the point yet where I'm pushing the business end of it. I've got a small store setup with prints and originals and a single basic shirt design but I don't have the readership to kick it into gear yet and I'm realistic about that. If I can get the quality of the writing and art up, the rest will come naturally to me.

      I make no allusion to "Art for Arts Sake". To me, it's entertainment and and entertainment business at that. I have a degree in Commercial Art with a minor in Business Management. Shortly after graduation I realized Graphic Design now also meant Web Design so I got some schooling in web development as well (Admittedly, it's a little rusty now). My first job out of college was in Licensing of Intellectual Properties (ok, mostly NFL and MLB stuff) where I learned a lot about Building a Brand, dealing with manufacturers & Buyers, and WAY too much about the legal mumbo jumbo involved in licensing IPs. To me, your webcomic is a Brand, not just a free comic. You have to build it into that over time, starting with the product, then the audience. Robert Khoo isn't a genius, he's a salesman who saw potential in an untapped brand (ok, so he's a REALLY, REALLY good salesman).

      My current day job is at a Graphics shop specializing in T-shirts/Garments and Signs. I'm hoping to put all that stuff from each job to good use one day for Shattered Myth. I can make my own banners, flyers, bus cards, t-shirts, stickers, etc. as I need them or in bulk for discounts from the boss (unless he's miffed at me at the time-I'll have to learn to suck up just before conventions). I'm counting on this job to make my initial jump to "Business" a little more affordable.

     And I'd say I'm about 2-3% squirrel, but mostly in my fluffy butt.

Offline Chris Crosby

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Re: Your Webcomic Business 'Qualifications'
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2010, 10:34:11 PM »
• How long has your webcomic been running...
I'm responsible for a lot of webcomics (see http://www.chriscrosby.com), but there's only two active currently that I'm a creative part of...

* SORE THUMBS (http://sorethumbs.keenspot.com): Mon-Wed-Fri since March 2004 (I'm the co-creator/writer)
* SUPEROSITY (http://superosity.keenspot.com): Daily since March 1999 (I'm the creator/cartoonist)
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and what is it's readership?
SORE THUMBS gets about 400,000 unique visitors and 3 million impressions monthly.  SUPEROSITY gets about 25,000 unique visitors and 100,000 impressions monthly.
Quote
• How are you doing in terms of webcomic business?
SORE THUMBS provides a regular living wage for myself and the illustrator/co-creator, 90% of it from advertising revenue.  (SUPEROSITY is a labor of love.)
Quote
• What percentage of your genome is of the Sciuridae family.
I refuse to dignify that question with an answer.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2010, 10:38:10 PM by Chris Crosby »

Offline Rob

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Re: Your Webcomic Business 'Qualifications'
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2010, 10:45:53 PM »
Cebronix I would love to talk to you about the T-Shirt thing. Maybe get you to write an article. I'm primarily interested in a laymans discussion on the pitfalls of dealing with a print on demand like Spreadshirt versus going to a print shop and if going to a print shop the kind of printing available and the requirements for each of those.

I have some knowledge in this area but I'm no expert and I know from dealing with an on demand once that the types of on demand can have some complex and confusing requirements.

Let me know if you are interested in discussing this. I think it would make a great article.

Offline Rob

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Re: Your Webcomic Business 'Qualifications'
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2010, 10:46:23 PM »
• How long has your webcomic been running...
I'm responsible for a lot of webcomics (see http://www.chriscrosby.com), but there's only two active currently that I'm a creative part of...

* SORE THUMBS (http://sorethumbs.keenspot.com): Mon-Wed-Fri since March 2004 (I'm the co-creator/writer)
* SUPEROSITY (http://superosity.keenspot.com): Daily since March 1999 (I'm the creator/cartoonist)
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and what is it's readership?
SORE THUMBS gets about 400,000 unique visitors and 3 million impressions monthly.  SUPEROSITY gets about 25,000 unique visitors and 100,000 impressions monthly.
Quote
• How are you doing in terms of webcomic business?
SORE THUMBS provides a regular living wage for myself and the illustrator/co-creator, 90% of it from advertising revenue.  (SUPEROSITY is a labor of love.)
Quote
• What percentage of your genome is of the Sciuridae family.
I refuse to dignify that question with an answer.

Holy shit I say!

Offline Chris Crosby

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Re: Your Webcomic Business 'Qualifications'
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2010, 11:07:55 PM »
Quote
Holy shit I say!
And we haven't even totally figured out how to make merchandising a steady revenue stream for us, either!  We've come up with a couple of big-selling shirts over the years and our book sold decently, but merchandising isn't 80+% of our income like it is for most webcartoonists.  Probably because we aren't focused on merch so much that we throw a new shirt design at the wall every couple of weeks to see what sticks, but who knows.

There's always more to learn.

Offline Rob

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Re: Your Webcomic Business 'Qualifications'
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2010, 11:17:00 PM »
I know the Wigu creators company "Topatoco" has really taken off this year. They tweeted that they bought something like $275k in postage last year. That's a lot of merch.

From what I've seen from guys like Jeph Jacques and Randy Milholland thier accessibilty to the fan base really drives thier merchandise sales. They give thier characters new t-shirts fairly often and then thier fans ask for those shirts.

That has got to be incredibly rewarding.

Offline Chris Crosby

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Re: Your Webcomic Business 'Qualifications'
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2010, 11:36:15 PM »
Yeah, the growth of TopatoCo is truly incredible. 

Very happy for Jeff Rowland, he deserves the success.

Offline Cebronix

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Re: Your Webcomic Business 'Qualifications'
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2010, 04:35:45 PM »
Rob:
I'd be more than happy to share what I know about ordering/printing t-shirts and stuff. I'll put something together next week & send it your way.