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Get a Successful Online Comic! 10 Ideas That Really Work

Updated on June 4, 2013

on't worry, we'll assume you already know what a webcomic is -- an online version of a comic strip (or a comic book) that you can read online instead of in a bookstore or a newspaper.

We're not going to assume you know how to make money off of them, however.

Why should we?

For ages people have been unable to wrap their heads around the idea of actually making money off art -- something that is considered an idea or a service -- in a world where commodities rule. Oil controls the stock market, food prices squeeze wallets, and while art is "nice", it's not a commodity.

Except, when you're just starting out, it is.

Realizing how your art (precious and unique as it may be) is actually a commodity will allow you to focus on the first impressions your website leaves on visitors. Learning this is a critical component to making your comic popular, and ultimately profitable!

How Many Webcomics Do You Read each Week?

See results

Making money involves supply and demand. On the web, supply is infinite. demand... not so much.

es, art can command high prices. It has to -- why else would someone think that charging over $4000 for abstract splotches on a giant canvas is a good idea, no matter how lovely a shade of teal it is?

The thing is, everyone knows only well-known artists can do that. People will only pay so much unless they either really want it, or they know you're just that damn good that they know other people are willing to pay that much.

So, for at least the first year or so, your comic will be a commodity.

"Commodity" is not a dirty word. It just refers to an item that is only worth as much as other items like it. Most tangible items are commodities; most people are only willing to pay so much a price for a tin of coffee, a fillet of fish, or a drink of alcohol.

Smart readers will realize this isn't true. You're not going to play the same price for Starbucks as you will any other coffee, or the same price for random fish as you might pay for sushi... and we don't even need to talk about the insanity of the wine market!

Do the Research! - Lots of books on Making (and Selling) Comics abound!

No point in avoiding the research... why make mistakes when other people have already made them for you?

How to Make Webcomics
How to Make Webcomics

Four of Webcomics' top personalies give you the lowdown on making comics funny, memorable, and profitable!

 
Webcomics: Tools and Techniques for Digital Cartooning
Webcomics: Tools and Techniques for Digital Cartooning

A definitive guide on comics for the internet!

 
The Economics of Web Comics, 2nd Edition
The Economics of Web Comics, 2nd Edition

A quick read that pulls no punches on the economics of webcomics!

 

Why would anyone pay so much for this stuff?

Because we learn to discriminate based on taste.

It has only a little to do with quality, and much more to do with popularity, especially with what people think is popular.

eople who like Starbucks are willing to pony up the extra cash for coffee that's only marginally better than a much cheaper item. Everybody knows coffee can't possibly be so expensive that they need to charge three bucks a cup.

Yet that's what everybody pays.

People are lazy and only have so much patience (and money!) to spend looking for a high quality item. As a result, we mentally inspect everything we see for shortcuts to determine which items are good. If we are convinced enough, we will pay an additional cost to be assured that we have a high-quality item and to reimburse them for making our lives easier.

Starbucks may not have the best coffee, but they have "good enough" coffee that it is worth the three bucks a cup to have something we already know is a good item. The same principles apply to almost every other category with a "premium" item. Apple computers cost more, but they work so much better than the average Windows machine that it's worth the additional cost. Sushi is made by trained chefs and prepared to only serve the finest cuts. Wine has been treated and aged by professionals...

You get the idea.

So what's your comic going to be?

Be honest. Do you think your comic can become a premium comic right now, or is it just another commodity?

See results

f you were to pluck the average man out of Bangladesh, put him into the typical American big-box supermarket, and offer him the opportunity to purchase instant coffee vs. freshly ground Starbucks coffee, he wouldn't know the difference between Starbucks Coffee and any other coffee. He would only see the price. And if there were no cues to tell him which one should be better -- like packaging, or popularity, or brand recognition -- he would likely end up picking the cheaper one, if any.

(Oh, and you'd have immigration on your butt faster than you could blink. You DID just bring a total stranger in from Bangladesh, after all.)

Likewise, a lot of folk who see your art online will not be purchasing from you unless you give them special clues that they SHOULD be. If you expect to make money off your comic, you have to make it look special enough to deserve it.

Art, like food, starts out as a commodity, and as it becomes better quality and you become better known, people will pay a premium, and the price of the items available are now prices you can control.

Need a Better Tip?

Check out how you can use Project Wonderful to make money from your comic while you're waiting to become famous!

Premium Comics -- Is It Possible Online?

Can Webcomics Make Money?

Books to Make Your Comic Premium!

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art

Praised throughout the cartoon industry by such luminaries as Art Spiegelman, Matt Groening, and Will Eisner, this innovative comic book provides a detailed look at the history, meaning, and art of comics and cartooning.

 
Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels
Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels

Scott McCloud tore down the wall between high and low culture in 1993 with Understanding Comics, a massive comic book about comics, linking the medium to such diverse fields as media theory, movie criticism, and web design. In Reinventing Comics, McCloud took this to the next level, charting twelve different revolutions in how comics are generated, read, and perceived today. Now, in Making Comics, McCloud focuses his analysis on the art form itself, exploring the creation of comics, from the bro...

 
The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)
The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

The old saying is wrong—winners do quit, and quitters do win. Every new project (or job, or hobby, or company) starts out exciting and fun. Then it gets harder and less fun, until it hits a low point—really hard, and not much fun at all. And then you find yourself asking if the goal is even worth the hassle. Maybe you’re in a Dip—a temporary setback that will get better if you keep pushing. But maybe it’s really a Cul-de-Sac, which will never get better, no matter how...

 
Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

You're either a Purple Cow or you're not. You're either remarkable or invisible. Make your choice. What do Starbucks and JetBlue and KrispyKreme and Apple and DutchBoy and Kensington and Zespri and Hard Candy have that you don't? How do they continue to confound critics and achieve spectacular growth, leaving behind former tried-and true brands to gasp their last? Face it, the checklist of tired 'P's marketers have used for decades to get their product noticed -Pricing, Promotion, Publicity, t...

 
Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing out of Sync?
Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing out of Sync?

“Gotta get me some of that New Marketing. Bring me blogs, e-mail, YouTube videos, MySpace pages, Google AdWords . . . I don’t care, as long as it’s shiny and new.” Wait. According to bestselling author Seth Godin, all these tactics are like the toppings at an ice cream parlor. If you start with ice cream, adding cherries and hot fudge and whipped cream will make it taste great. But if you start with a bowl of meatballs . . . yuck! As traditional marketing fades away, the ne...

 
Unleashing the Ideavirus: Stop Marketing AT People! Turn Your Ideas into Epidemics by Helping Your Customers Do the Marketing thing for You.
Unleashing the Ideavirus: Stop Marketing AT People! Turn Your Ideas into Epidemics by Helping Your Customers Do the Marketing thing for You.

Treat a product or service like a human or computer virus, contends online promotion specialist Seth Godin, and it just might become one. In Unleashing the Ideavirus, Godin describes ways to set any viable commercial concept loose among those who are most likely to catch it--and then stand aside as these recipients become infected and pass it on to others who might do the same. "The future belongs to marketers who establish a foundation and process where interested people can market to each othe...

 
Free Prize Inside!: The Next Big Marketing Idea
Free Prize Inside!: The Next Big Marketing Idea

Purple Cow was the #1 bestselling marketing book on Amazon in 2003. Now in Free Prize Inside, Seth Godin is back with practical advice on how to put Purple Cow thinking to work inside your organization (big or small, profit or non) to MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN. The next big marketing idea is a proven strategy for making your products or services so remarkable that they practically sell themselves. Purple Cow taught marketers the value of standing out from the herd, which is how companies like Krisp...

 
Reinventing Comics: The Evolution of an Art Form
Reinventing Comics: The Evolution of an Art Form

In 1993, Scott McCloud tore down the wall between high and low culture with the acclaimed international hit Understanding Comics, a massive comic book that explored the inner workings of the worlds most misunderstood art form. Now, McCloud takes comics to te next leavle, charting twelve different revolutions in how comics are created, read, and preceived today, and how they're poised to conquer the new millennium.Part One of this fascinating and in-depth book includes:The life of comics as an ar...

 

Still having trouble figuring it all out?

t's fine. Like I said, it'll take time to make your webcomic successful.

In the meantime, it doesn't hurt to get your hands on as much research as possible... And if Last Res0rt isn't a good place to start, I don't know what is!

Like this lens? Let me know!

(no login necessary -- but if you rate, leaving a more in-depth statement would be awesome!

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    • profile image

      jhh 23 months ago

      www.theballercomic.weebly.com

    • profile image

      CalobrenaOmai 4 years ago

      [From observation, yes. There was one online comic artist that started out on the web and managed to make enough income to create and publish several hard copy versions. Then I came across two others some years ago that managed to get a sample of their work published in variety book.]

      Getting recognition for a web comic can be difficult especially when you're not sure where to start and are low on funds to kick-start your own site. A good way to get recognition or at least to get your foot in the store is to explore online art sharing sites. I've come across a great deal of individuals that have comics that share them there with a link to their comic. Really enjoyed the lens and so glad I found this.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Webcomic is essentially a blog software that has an added feature. In addition to all the things blogs already do, Webcomic lets you post a series of images, i.e. comic pages, inside of a special set of templates that generate a navigation for the comic, so that your readers can move forward or backward among the comic pages.

    • profile image

      LEDOFF 8 years ago

      This is all absolutely true. Great artists are not enough, there are lots of them out there...I have lead the digital department for a webcomics company for two years and only one of our artists is starting to make a little money. Nothing that could pay the rent...but his fan base is growing. It takes at least a year of weekly online publishing and a lot of following up, blogs, small conventions, press, energy, devotion....so far 500 euros were gained in the first 18 months. More than the money his book is about to be released nationwide in France by a major publisher. Webcomics is exposure more than anything, ...the money ( if that's what you're looking for) is not there...but the internet does make it easier to build a following without which you don't get anywhere. I meant promotion is easier but not less work because this is only entertainment.

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      comicsfan 9 years ago

      Good work in the Lens

      Comics Shopping. Found lots of XMen, SpiderMan, Marvel and lot more Comics at unbelievably low prices at

      www.comicsbay.com

      Check out..