So, you have got your idea for a webcomic, you’ve built up a buffer to minimize the stress of an update schedule and you are working on building an audience. How do you take your comic to the next level by turning it into a source of income? Once you are done with this article, you should hopefully have a better idea of how to do so.
The way this works is that you basically ask your readers to fund your webcomic, or any other projects related to your comic, with small regular payments. The benefits of a subscription model include receiving payments at regular intervals and the ability to develop a direct relationship with your readers. There are various ways you can setup a subscription service, but the most common one is using Patreon. It gives you the ability to provide different entry points for readers to subscribe to you: membership tiers, milestone funding, and the ability to pay either per month (or other amount of time) or per creation. Find out more about Patreon here.
If you have developed enough of a comic archive catalog, and your webcomic has a large enough audience, it may be time to consider putting part or all of your comics behind a paywall. This would entail restricting access to users who have paid to subscribe to your comic. A word of caution, webcomic readers are used to reading comics for free online, so you would have to have consider this route carefully. Comic creators that have been able to succeed with paywalls tend to have widely popular comics or Not safe for work (NSFW) comics.
- Tip Jar/Donations
Giving your readers the ability to donate to you on your website is another way you can earn income from your comic. There are several payment gateways that give you the ability to add a “Donation Button” to your website in a matter of minutes. These include PayPal, Ko-fi, Patreon
When your comics gain a wide enough of an audience, it will be inevitable that some of your readers will want to pay you to draw for them. It may be a personal comic, caricature, poster or a greeting card. Make sure to publicize the fact that you offer commissions on both your website and your social media profiles
Merchandising is a fun way of earning a living from your comic as it offers limitless possibilities. You can self-fulfill your products by setting up an online store on your own website, or sell the merchandise on 3rd party dropshipping services like Shopify, Redbubble, TeePublic and Amazon Merch. It comes down to how much you are willing to take on in terms of upfront costs, shipping, storage, quality and the profit margins you are looking for. Basic rule of thumb: self-fulfill small stuff (like greeting cards, posters and stickers) and use dropship services for bigger things like t-shirts.
- Print Collections
This is one of the best ways for a creator to make money from their work. There is nothing like the immersive experience of reading a comic on a printed page. Print collections do involve a bit of heavy lifting and you may have to partner up with an established published company or self-publishing with Print on Demand (P.O.D.) services. Examples of P.O.D. services include Lulu, Ka-Blam, ComiXpress, Blurb and CreateSpace. It can be overwhelming deciding how to go about printing and selling your comic collections. The following article gives a good breakdown of things to consider when choosing your best options for printing.
- Conventions (Cons)
Aside from selling your merchandise and print collections online, another good avenue for selling your products is at comic book conventions. Cons have the added benefit of getting you to meet fans, create new ones and network with fellow creators. Popular cons include: San-Diego Comic-Con, New York Comic Con, Heroes Con, Emerald City Comicon and Small Press Expo.
Crowdfunding is a great way of financing projects by raising small amounts of money from a large readership base. It gives you the ability to work on projects that you would otherwise have never considered working on. The way it works is you propose the project, request a total amount that is required for the project and then you publicize the project as much as possible. The two platforms that webcomic creators usually use are Kickstarter and Indiegogo. When determining your funding goal, make sure to factor in potential delays and unexpected expenses.
When it comes to earning income from your webcomic, you have a variety of options available. The key is to diversify and hassle for that money!