Webcomic Discussion - Monetization and Update Formats

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SNOWDON

The Katbox
Dec 15, 2015
22
7
40
The Sprawl
www.thesprawlcomic.com
Personal Text
You believe that when you die you go to heaven. YOU COME TO US!
#1
ohnoes.png

I was listening to some podcasts while working on remastering LOG:02 for its upcoming book release and I stumbled across this one on YouTube:


In it they discuss a variety of webcomic topics, a little bit of the history of how webcomics have changed over the years, moving from ad revenue to crowdfunding, etcetera, and a couple of the points stuck with me.

First, how should comics be released. Not every webcomic is a strip, but we all mostly tend to update in the traditional page a day/week format. But webcomics like The Sprawl are more and more common. They're not strips. Not meant to be read a page at a time. They're graphic novels. In the past, keeping readers coming back to your site every day/week was vital for ad revenue, but that's no longer the case. Common wisdom is that you need to keep readers coming back every day/week or you'll lose them forever, but is that really true? For long form comics would it maybe to releases further apart, but with multiple pages per release? I'm considering testing this with the Webtoon version of The Sprawl. Maybe doing monthly episodes rather than a page or two a week.

Speaking of ads no longer supporting comics, another topic that came up was monetization. Crowdfunding still appears to be big and I'm considering Kickstarter as a way to raise revenue to market future Sprawl books (using the money to buy ads, send review copies out, etc), but Patreon has never really worked out well for me. I know it's a YMMV deal, as I've seen other webcomics making several times my rent in Patreon revenue each month. And I am planning to redo my Patreon campaign to try other approaches to it. But in the podcast they bring up ideas like only keeping the most recent chapters of your comic public, and making the backlog a $1/mo subscription. People tend to make frowny faces at "paywalls" when it comes to webcomics, but people seem to like the idea when it's applied to bigger published comics, like Marvel and DC, and no one complains about Netflix hiding movies behind a paywall, so maybe the problem isn't paywalls, but the perception people have of webcomics being low tier. I don't know.

What do you guys think?
 

Nixie

Seal of Approval
The Katbox
Jan 19, 2010
3,856
870
Washington, USA
nixieseal.deviantart.com
Personal Text
Ort ort ort
#2
They brought up a lot of interesting points. I've also been thinking a lot lately about how to actually earn a living as an artist, because I am currently facing being a single mom and having to support my family.

Right now, the situation seems to be thus: ads are insufficient, mostly due to everybody using ad blockers. Lesser-known individuals can make some money on Patreon, but it usually involves doing a lot of extra work as rewards. Exclusive content doesn't seem to be enough there. A subscription/pay wall works for larger businesses with a ton of different content from multiple sources, but it absolutely kills individual artists. Kickstarters work for people who are planning to make a big graphic novel and release the entire thing in one go; but unless they're very good at creating hype for a comic that doesn't even exist yet, the kickstarter will fail. As far as I am aware, there are only two groups of people who are making significant money from comics right now. Type 1) people who are only using their comics as a way to advertise for their commission services. The comic itself isn't the product, it's the promotional materials. The most succesfull among this group are NSFW artists. Type 2) industry artists, the kind that were actually hired by a studio to work on a larger project with lots of other people involved in the creative process.
 

SNOWDON

The Katbox
Dec 15, 2015
22
7
40
The Sprawl
www.thesprawlcomic.com
Personal Text
You believe that when you die you go to heaven. YOU COME TO US!
#3
I'm not entirely sure that the subscription model kills individual artists, generally speaking. Near as I can tell, it's primarily an issue with furry artists, and then mainly with regards to those posting illustrations rather than bigger projects like animations, games, and comics. Diives seems to do fine with a subscription model for access to his adult animations, as do certain adult game makers who use Patreon. Jay Naylor did adult comics on a subscription based service for years, although I'm not sure if the model still works for him. I'd be interested to know. The model suggested in the podcast (keeping your current chapter public, but to access earlier chapters requires a small $1 subscription fee) sounds promising.

Right now my plan is to keep the old chapters up as-is but my book editions feature improved artwork and extra content. It will be a while before I see how well that works. Of course that's similar to the commission services model you describe, but with the webcomic being the promotional material to sell the higher quality print and ebook editions.

You're definitely on the money about NSFW artists enjoying the most success. No surprise there, there's always been money in porn.

I dunno. I just feel like what I've been doing so far (ie: treating Patreon as a tip jar rather than a paywall, trying to rely on Patreon extras being things like WIP pages and concept art so it doesn't take away time from, you know, making the actual comic, and doing commissions on the side) just hasn't been working for me and it's time to start feeling out some new ideas.