TWCL Forum Index TWCL
Forums for The Webcomic List
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Free Beer! Need advice on business plan...
Goto page 1, 2  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    TWCL Forum Index -> Webcomic Gubbins
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Valgrim



Joined: 18 Jan 2013
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 8:36 am    Post subject: Free Beer! Need advice on business plan... Reply with quote

Hello everyone, I'm new so be gentle. Or be rough. Whichever.

I have a comic in the works and at first I was going to try to publish it in print but after researching I've found that isn't entirely feasible. So then I was going to do it POD and digitally but here the thing...

People are bastards. People are CHEAP bastards. The sad reality is 99.9% of people that visit my site aren't going to spend a penny on my book. They have been trained that "internets=free stuff". They're right. I'm no different. Paying for an unproven commodity is asking a lot from someone when there are a myriad of other options, free and otherwise. So with that hard fact in mind I formulated the following plan.

My book will be released a page at a time every few days with an option to get the whole story at once in print or digital. Eventually I'll add swag to buy as well.

My hope is that the free postings will build up a fan base that will eventually open their pocketbooks. I plan on collecting the first 5 issues into a TPB and am also hoping by that time I'll have built a little following that will snatch up the TPB.

Anyone else with a similar strategy? Am I nuts? I'd appreciate any input. Again I'm new so hello everyone. You seem like a good lot after lurking for awhile. Smile

TLDR; Is putting out a free webcomic a way to eventually sell print and digital copies to cheap internet bastards?

-Tom
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
SidneyConrad



Joined: 15 Jan 2013
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree that people can be cheap bastards, but it's not always the case. People will spend money on something that is of high quality and that they find entertaining. There are a good number of other webcomic artists who are able to sell books despite having their entire comic library available for free. Part of it is just having a compelling story, art, likable characters, etc, etc. It also helps when they have something in their book that isn't available online such as alternate cover art, alternate stories, concept sketches, so on and so forth. Even though from a financial viewpoint it makes no sense to buy something that's available online for free, people still do it (including me). If the fan-base is there, they will spend money.

On a publish on demand system, your plan seems fine. I would consider just releasing a page per week, that way you release just enough of the story to hook people in but not too much that they would be able to just wait it out to see how it ends. But, I would consider the idea of just focusing on building a fan-base first and spending more time developing your book so that you can add things to help separate it from what's available online. Or, you could still give people the option to buy the book if they want the entire story now (some people do enjoy having things right away versus waiting) but as you release more pages online, develop a special edition to release once the story is completed online. Either way, it's all about the building that fan-base.

Also, any marketing/business strategy also comes down to how much money you are able to spend. If making a book is financially feasible for you right now, you are able to spend some money on advertising (it'll help build traffic which makes selling a book more possible), and you are confident in what you're producing, then go for it.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
vulpeslibertas
Level 1 threat


Joined: 19 Dec 2005
Posts: 2489
Location: Here and there...mostly there. Sometimes kinda in between.

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would agree mostly with allentmathews above, but also be aware that you probably won't make a living off of selling comics either way.

That, and when your comic goes online it should have a good-sized archive available for free. If someone visits your free comic, sees 3 pages, they're going to leave and never come back. They aren't going to bookmark you and come back again unless you've got a good 10-20 pages. (Ideally at least one entire chapter/story arc).
_________________
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
UncleRobot



Joined: 30 Apr 2012
Posts: 29

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your strategy seems sound. Some people will never spend money on your work, but if it's quality eventually you will find a loyal following. You just have to stick with it long enough. If your work is good, you market it hard, you do public appearances, and you price your books right; you can definitely sell your comic.

Especially early on, I'd suggest having some attractive schwag for people to buy. We've found that t-shirts and our secret decoders are particularly popular and also a great way to get our name out even faster.

If you want to talk more about this just let me know.

Uncle Robot

PS I don't have a lot of experience with POD but I don't think you'll ever make much money this way. The cost of POD makes your unit price so high that either you make nothing or you price your books so high that few people will buy them.

For example, I just got a bid from Brenner Printing for a 112 page book

500ct $9,365 - unit cost 18.73
1,000ct $9,965 - unit cost 9.97
2,000ct $11,160 - unit cost 5.58

If you assume a 112 page book sells for $19.95 look at your profit margins at the different print volumes.

Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
smbhax.com
No! Don't post it there!


Joined: 10 Apr 2009
Posts: 2928
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 11:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess a lot of people looking to go print are doing the Kickstarter thing these days.
_________________
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Valgrim



Joined: 18 Jan 2013
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

allentmatthews wrote:


I would consider just releasing a page per week, that way you release just enough of the story to hook people in but not too much that they would be able to just wait it out to see how it ends.


I hadn't thought about that. I have 32 pages done (a 24 page issue, and the start of a second). If I did a page a week I would have a giant buffer. If I did 3 a week it would be possible to pretty much wait the story out.

Quote:
but as you release more pages online, develop a special edition to release once the story is completed online. Either way, it's all about the building that fan-base.


Yea that's another idea I hadn't thought of. I'll have to come up with some incentives for a special edition. My storyboards look like a preschooler drew them so those are out but I'm sure I can come up with some goodies.

Quote:
Also, any marketing/business strategy also comes down to how much money you are able to spend. If making a book is financially feasible for you right now, you are able to spend some money on advertising (it'll help build traffic which makes selling a book more possible), and you are confident in what you're producing, then go for it.


Yes, I have money for ads but I want to be smart about it. I've looked into PW, Facebook, and a service called Adbrite. As soon as I get my print proof (in the mail!) I'm going to start shelling out for adverts. As far as confidence... *I* like the book but I have no idea how marketable it is.

vulpeslibertas wrote:
If someone visits your free comic, sees 3 pages, they're going to leave and never come back. They aren't going to bookmark you and come back again unless you've got a good 10-20 pages.


Thanks for this. I was kinda thinking the same thing but I wasn't sure. I could put like half of the first issue up to start without a problem.

UncleRobot wrote:
Especially early on, I'd suggest having some attractive schwag for people to buy. We've found that t-shirts and our secret decoders are particularly popular and also a great way to get our name out even faster.


I want to get some shirts up to start with but I'm not sure what company to go with. I've looked into a little and it seems you get boned on price unless you make a sizeable upfront investment. I really haven't done much research though tbh. Any suggestions?

Quote:
PS I don't have a lot of experience with POD but I don't think you'll ever make much money this way. The cost of POD makes your unit price so high that either you make nothing or you price your books so high that few people will buy them.


I hear you there. As a case in point I just ordered a proof copy of the first issue and with shipping it cost me $5.67 to get it shipped domestically (Ohio). That was at MY price If you factor in any kind of profit after the POD company takes their cut the consumer is looking at paying around $7.00 for an issue. That's ridiculous. i figure it's only an option for diehards, friends and for me to be able to take books to cons.

Really I am looking to push the TPB. The profit margin isn't fantastic but a 96 page tpb for around $10-14 isn't terrible. So much factors into it. The unit price breaks are huge. If you can get a kickstarter funded then it's clear sailing. If not then you'd better have deep pockets or be prepared to ask A LOT for the book.

Thanks to everyone who replied! I've definitely got a lot to chew on. Back to the drawing board for me.

-Tom
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
ttallan
Postpostpostpostpost!


Joined: 28 Feb 2008
Posts: 1128
Location: Ontario

PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

UncleRobot wrote:
if it's quality eventually you will find a loyal following. You just have to stick with it long enough.

More and more, I'm beginning to believe this is really what it all comes down to. There are so many fly-by-night webcomics out there-- even really pretty ones with gorgeous art and even an interesting start to a story-- that many people don't want to commit to anything (either a time investment or a money investment, doesn't matter) until they have faith that the creator will stick around. That credibility generally comes from having successfully completed past projects, and in the case of webcomics means several years worth of reliable posts.
_________________
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Valgrim



Joined: 18 Jan 2013
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Message
ttallan wrote:
More and more, I'm beginning to believe this is really what it all comes down to. There are so many fly-by-night webcomics out there-- even really pretty ones with gorgeous art and even an interesting start to a story-- that many people don't want to commit to anything (either a time investment or a money investment, doesn't matter) until they have faith that the creator will stick around. That credibility generally comes from having successfully completed past projects, and in the case of webcomics means several years worth of reliable posts.


Yea, this is really starting to sink in. For the past week I've put on my marketing hat and have seen a glimpse of the sheer number of comics out there. It's pretty daunting.

My mindset has been "Do it like you're already successful". I have zero blog subscribers and zero followers on twitter but I blog and tweet away as if I had thousands. I'm beginning to realize this is a very long haul. So for the time being I am putting my head down and working on producing the best comics I can and pretending the audience is there. I love making them and for now that's really all that CAN matter.

-Tom
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
vaslittlecrow



Joined: 01 Aug 2005
Posts: 752

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shocked

The first secret to get them an audience, is to earn their trust and respect. Referring to your potential customers as "bastards," "CHEAP bastards" and pretty much coping an attitude because .01% will gladly hand you money for your product by pretty much discounting their support because of the majority, is what I like to refer to as shitty customer service. "Paying for an unproven commodity is asking a lot from someone when there are a myriad of other options, free and otherwise," is only unreasonable when your unproven product is shitty and you are certain of it. Remember, part of your product is your attitude and presentation.

If your product is new, but happens to fill a customer's need and has an air of trust, people will gladly throw money at you. Before you even think about doing a business plan and talking about the following you'll have, be the customer you want to be. Show those who are not sure about your products, the kind of service that you would want a business to lavish onto you when you aren't sure about buying.

Quote:
TLDR; Is putting out a free webcomic a way to eventually sell print and digital copies to cheap internet bastards?


Absolutely NOT! So don't even bother. Now, if you want to try to attract a following of wonderful people who desperately want to support independent artists by buying high quality print and ebook version of their favorite webcomics at a premium, then yes, they will buy your product even if you initially offer it for free. I do it all the time. But, just because these people are few, it doesn't mean that they want to be treated like shit along with the customers you don't want.
_________________
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Valgrim



Joined: 18 Jan 2013
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Absolutely NOT! So don't even bother. Now, if you want to try to attract a following of wonderful people who desperately want to support independent artists by buying high quality print and ebook version of their favorite webcomics at a premium, then yes, they will buy your product even if you initially offer it for free. I do it all the time. But, just because these people are few, it doesn't mean that they want to be treated like shit along with the customers you don't want.


I was joking. Thanks for the input.

-Tom
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Casual Notice
Spambot Extraordinaire


Joined: 18 Mar 2005
Posts: 2960
Location: Oh my God, It's full of stars!

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the general message here is that "Be an artist, make money by the shovel-load" is not a business plan. I really don't know how it works with visual artists, but a writer (assuming he has more than one story in him) is going to write nomatter who's reading or paying him. If you think you should earn money for something you'd do, anyway, I suggest you submit it to a publisher (or several). You can still just create and post it to the web to improve your visibility.

Otherwise, get a job as an electrician's helper and shut the fuck up about "cheap internet bastards." (Actually, you should get a real job, anyway. The vast majority of "successful" (meaning, "steadily working") artists of any kind, don't make enough to support themselves without a real job or a very loving spouse.)
_________________
Casual Notice--commentary, comics and an appreciation for snappy hats.
S*P*Q*R
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Jeroen Willemse



Joined: 05 Jan 2013
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you're in it to make money, you might as well stop right now. It's not the right reason to start a comic. Don't expect to get money right off the bat either. If you're going to give up because you're not earning anything, then you'd better give up right now because you probably won't be soon. Forgive me for the pessimism (realism?).
I know I'm not the most knowledgeable person out there - not when there are people who have ten years of writing and drawing comics behind them - but I feel like I kind of understand the webcomic world. Most webcomic artists just don't make a living from their comic.
You put your stuff out there for free, because it's a story that you want the world to see. You have to build an audience for your stuff, and once it's good enough and enough people think so, they might want to pay you for it. I repeat, if your stuff is actually good and enough people think so.
It's 2013, webcomics are everywhere and every other person has thought about starting one. Some of them take off, others die immediately. For an audience to spend money on something, they have to be involved in it first. For all intents and purposes, most webcomic authors register as complete nobodies and that's why no one will fund a business that has not made a name for itself.
Tom Siddell makes money off of Gunnerkrigg Court because Gunnerkrigg is a legitimately good story that he's been telling consistently for over 8 years. He has a large fanbase that are willing to show that they're fans because his product is worth it. But he had to put time and effort into that, and no one can expect that to come overnight. If all you want is instant fame because it's a comic on the internet, you'd better think again.
Starting out is hard. I've done it before in 2007 (with a comic that has thankfully vanished from the internet), and didn't last too long. It's a timesink. You spend a lot of time doing stuff that doesn't have any immediate response and that's frustrating, but you want to push through to find out if your work is actually appreciated. Unless you're sure of that, unless someone actually tells you they'd want to buy someone off you, yeah, you probably won't get anywhere.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
ewomack
Grand prize winner!


Joined: 05 Jun 2007
Posts: 468

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Though I would never want to squash anyone's ambitions, I have to mostly agree with the message above. This isn't a money making genre for the most part. Yes, you could end up as one of the extremely few comics that gets press attention and attracts bajillions of fans, but the competition is very steep and, like all winner take all genres, only a few can ever reach the "I'm making a living" level. Chances are that if you charge from the get-go, you'll likely end up frustrated because people rarely want to spend money on a new and unknown webcomic when they have countless others to choose from. Like others have said, put some material out there for free and see if people like it before you start charging for it. At least you may get some compliments or priceless feedback. Lastly, if you have any press or media contacts, use them to the fullest (assuming they want to talk to you about a webcomic). Connections matter in the webcomic world, too. But the minute you stop having fun quit, because that's really the most realistic criteria. Good luck!
_________________
Ed Womack
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
vaslittlecrow



Joined: 01 Aug 2005
Posts: 752

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Valgrim wrote:
I was joking. Thanks for the input.

-Tom


Unfortunately, as someone who actually made a living in part thanks to my webcomics (until I was too injured to tour constantly,) I am not. When you decide to treat business as something other than a joke, that's when you can start thinking about a business plan.

Best of luck.
_________________
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Traegorn



Joined: 16 Feb 2010
Posts: 157

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

...you can make jokes about things you take seriously.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website AIM Address
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    TWCL Forum Index -> Webcomic Gubbins All times are GMT + 1 Hour
Goto page 1, 2  Next
Page 1 of 2

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group

Hosted by Fluent
The Webcomics List is operated and owned by Ash Young. Syndicate the comic updates.