This article will show the differences between making webcomics for fun versus making webcomics for a profit. And how to make money on webcomics.
Whether you are making comics for money or for fun, I have to repeat what I have stated in previous articles: DO NOT COMPROMISE YOUR COMIC FOR MONEY!!
That being said, just because you’re making comics for fun doesn’t mean you won’t profit from it. Both recreational webcomics and planning to use comics as a business can both generate revenue. But, again, DO NOT COMPROMISE YOUR COMIC FOR MONEY!!
Your comic is what is going to sell your comic. If your comic will reflect the time and effort put into the story, characters and art, so don’t put the business before the comic. Make good comics and you’ll create a fanbase that will support your business.
That being said, a little extra cash never hurt anyone. For recreational webcomic makers, this extra cash could help you upgrade the computer, system, or wacom you use; something that you would have otherwise been unable to do without the extra donation.
I have created 3 things that both recreational and monetary webcomics should consider while making webcomics. They are in order, from what I believe simplest to do, with the least amount of work involved.
I would encourage both recreational webcomic artists and business webcomic artists to do the following three things:
- Create A Donation Button
- Sell Original Art
- Do Web Advertising/ Google Adword
Creating a Donation Button
Donation buttons are crossing platforms. Before, only certain websites offered them, one of the first being DeviantArt. Now, social media platforms like Facebook and Youtube and Patreon offer users to donate to help support an artist or creator.
Donation Buttons aren’t going to bring in tons of extra revenue, but it does bring in revenue. If someone loves your work, they will donate to keep you going.
Donation Buttons tend to be linked up to Paypal, so be prepared to create an account with them. Different websites have different requirements with Paypal for using their Paypal Button.
For Tumblr’s requirements visit Paypal’s terms and conditions page for the Paypal Plugin.
wpbeginner offers three different ways to put the Paypal Plug in a wordpress webpage.
Sell Original Art
There are many ways to sell original artwork. Many of them include a website and the Paypal Button, but there are few other ways as well.
COMMISSIONS ARE NOT DONATIONS! A customer is paying for a product! That product MUST BE PROVIDED to the customer or YOU MUST REFUND THEM. Sometimes a commission is detailed and specified other times it could be simple. Be sure to communicate with your customer before and during the commissioning.
- First, set up a fair set rate and provide some examples. For example, $10 for a colorless sketch that is 8.5 by 11; $20 for a lineart of 8.5 by 11, and $30-50 dollars on full color 8.5 by 11(based on how detailed the customer wants the drawing).
The prices go up as you spend more time on it and bigger the piece. This is discussed before you official take on the commission. It’s fair and unless you’ve received no commission in MONTHS, DO NOT let people talk you down from your rates.
- Second, is setting up an account or an additional tag on your website for submitting art commissions. Make sure that your commission rate and your terms and conditions is listed on this page for customers to see.
Some I recommend a format similar to Hello Darkness My BFF or dheerse. But, if you have some favorite artists who accept commissions, checkout out their commissions page; their format could work better for you.
If your commissions are going to be of other fandoms, please be sure to do more research on beginning commissions. If you will only be doing commission for your own characters, then there isn’t much more to consider.
However, if you want to build a portfolio alongside your webcomic and gain more money while doing it; accept commissions in other fandoms. But, please do further research on what to expect when doing art commissions outside of your webcomics. DIY Art Career has a great article called 14 Things You Need Before You Start Taking Art Commissions.
Web Advertising/Google Adsense
The most popular and widely known web advertising is Google AdSense. Google AdSense put advertisements using Google’s search algorithm and puts advertisements on the page that best fit the content. It is also the most simple to install. wpbeginner has a blog post and a video about getting started.
Gaining revenue from advertising is difficult because the amount of money you receive is based on the number of times a reader clicks on the ad. This also encourages you to gain a bigger following.
If you want to gain more revenue there are three additional options, but they require more time and money than the three options mentioned above:
I’m going to argue that conventions will be a better pay off in the long run compared to Merchandising or Print for beginners. Going to comic conventions will pay off in the long run if you can do three things successfully:
- Booths: Booths cost money to set up or reserve. Therefore, if money is tight try and get a booth for one day on Saturday or Sunday. Saturday’s are the busiest days of conventions, but Sunday’s are when most of the items get sold (because of the “everything must go! Last Day Sale!” idea).
Successful booths are decorated in art and have prices clearly visible. They can offer to do special commissions, but only take a couple (no more than 3 depending on the details and size of the commission). Booths should also have your webcomics address or a business card within view of potential customers.
- Panels: Most comic conventions will let you into the conventions FOR FREE if you are speaking at a panel. Panels will give you a chance to share your experience with your audience, talk about your work, and allow you to shamelessly plug your webpage or contact information.
If you are not good or uncomfortable at public speaking, do not try and do a panel.
- Networking: The best part about the convention community, is it’s a great way to network and get advice from other webcomic and manga creators. Be sure to have business cards to handout with your contact information (email, website address) for anyone who asks. They may want to send you some links on bettering your storyline, how to gain a following or they may want to share your stuff on their site. Or you might want their information, feel free to ask them for a card, twitter handle or website.
Merchandising and Print are the last two common ways to make money on a webcomic.
They have the biggest pay offs and gain the most revenue for artists, but they cost a lot upfront and they are time consuming. Infact, most beginning webcomic and manga artists make the mistake of focusing on building their merchandise before building their brand (ie gaining a following or having a completed project).
Merchandising includes shirts, stickers, toys and plush dolls. Unfortunately, there is no universal, go-to merchandising website with great prices. A lot of websites will be trial and error and finding the right price for yourself. Going to conventions and talking with other creators will help you narrow down your choices.
Getting your work into printed in comic book or manga (by getting published or self-publishing) is the best way to sell your work. I am not going into detail with this here, because there are a variety of ways one can get their work printed or published. That will be discussed in detail in a later blog.