Adventures In Cartooning - Week 2
"Adventures In Cartooning" is a series of articles about one man's journey to become a full-time cartoonist. – by Chris Desatoff
FYI: What I Mean By Cartoons, Comics and Comic Strips
There are actually many working definitions that can be used for the terms CARTOONS, COMICS and COMIC STRIPS, and I sometimes use those words interchangeably.
But what I’m referring to are primarily newspaper-style comics that have been popular for the past several decades. Just scroll down through this article for examples.
I’m not really referring to animated cartoons and movies (which you see on TV, Netflix or in theaters) or comic books and graphic novels (which tell a story over the course of several pages or several issues). My comics are basically just short jokes and typically consist of just 1-4 panels and take a few seconds to look over – like the ones you’d see in the Sunday newspaper.
Welcome back to the 2nd installment of Adventures In Cartooning. If you missed the beginning of the series, CLICK HERE to go back and get caught up.
So now we’re in WEEK 2 of my journey as I figure out how to become a professional cartoonist. It’s pretty frustrating because the industry has gone through so many changes in recent years, and the strategies and career paths that were effective in the past may not really apply today. So I feel like I’m having to reinvent the wheel all over again.
Of course, that’s not necessarily the case.
You can always learn things from those who’ve gone before, but the trick is to recognize what still works today and what is now obsolete. The world of cartooning is in a state of transition (i.e. chaos), so it’s hard to know whose advice to follow these days.
I’ll happily research and solicit the opinions of others, but in the end, it’s my dream, my career and my responsibility, so at some point I’m going to have to just go with my gut and do what my own brain tells me I should do. Does that make sense?
Anyway, what am I going to talk today? What things did I do last week to build my business as a cartoonist?
- I drew some new comic strips
- I made my first video comic strip
- I continued to work on my marketing plan
- I reached out to a fellow hubber for some marketing input
- I joined several new social media networks
- I published 2 new cartoons on my blog and on social media
But before we get into all that, let’s look at the numbers.
- Cartoons drawn this week: 3
- Cartoons sold this week: 0
- Earnings this week: $0
- Total followers on blog and social media: 537
My Weekly Earnings As A Freelance Cartoonist…
I Drew Some New Comic Strips
The backbone of a cartoonist’s career is the creation of cartoons, of course. So I continued to draw new comics this past week, and I will likely do so every week going forward.
On my website, I’ve committed to publishing two new comic strips per week: The Dinkledorfs on Mondays and Attack of the Words on Wednesdays. So two per week is my minimum. My goal will ultimately be to publish one or more comic strips every single day, but as I thought about it this week, it dawned at me that creating content is probably not as much of a priority as I first assumed, at least not right now.
Right now, I need eyeballs.
What’s the point of publishing new content every day if nobody sees it, right? Yes, I need to keep putting new stuff out there; and yes, I also need to build an audience. It’s not either/or, but I feel my efforts will be better spent on promotion at this stage in the game.
So, I drew three new comics, and then I focused on promotion.
I Made My First Video Comic Strip
Oh yeah, before I start talking about promotion, let me mention something fun I did this past week in the content-creation department: I took one of my comics and made a short, 25-second video from it and put that up on YouTube.
What do you think?
My 1st Video Comic Strip: Attack of the Words "The Freelance Life"
My inspiration for this came from a cartoonist named Michael Jantze. Do you remember the newspaper comic strip “The Norm”? It ran in newspapers across the country from 1996-2004. Mike’s the guy who drew it. I didn’t read newspapers back then haha, so I totally missed The Norm during its heyday, but I came across him on Instagram and became an instant fan.
Well, Mike is drawing The Norm comic again, but he publishes it online.
Anyway, he’s also made some of his strips into little videos with sound effects and everything. I love them! When I first saw one of his little video comics last year, I knew I’d have to make my own someday. Well, that day finally came, as you can see above. I need to work on my process some more, but I think it was pretty good for a first attempt.
And I made it all on my iPhone. Cool, right?
I Thought About Marketing & Promotion
Once I realized that creating comic strips in high volume is not the best use of my time right now, I shifted toward thinking about how to promote my work and get some exposure. I also had to keep wrestling with the very important question of how to actually make money with cartooning in the first place.
One thing we all know about building a business: you’re not going to make very good progress if you don’t have a solid plan in place. One of the reasons I hesitated so long before officially attempting to be a cartoonist was that I just didn’t know how to make money at it.
Even now, I’m still not sure, especially when it comes to self-publishing.
I’ve read articles online, but like I mentioned above, it seems like a lot of the advice is becoming obsolete. I know that I’m going to have to find new cartoonists – Internet-Age cartoonists – that are making it happen. But I don’t know any offhand.
So now what?
I Reached Out To A Fellow Hubber For Marketing Input
I hadn’t stopped by @billybuc’s wordpress blog Artistry With Words for quite a while, so I visited last Sunday (I think) to say, “Hi.” Bill was talking about self-promotion for writers, and he ended his post by asking his readers how they were trying to market themselves as writers.
I’m not a freelance writer anymore, but I still responded, and Bill ended up addressing my comment in his latest installment of The Writer’s Mailbag. The short version of my marketing plan is that I am thinking of giving away my cartoons to bloggers (and anyone, really) to post freely on their blogs and social media accounts in the hopes that I will gain exposure as quickly as possible. Then, I’d monetize by selling physical products on my website.
If I understood him correctly, I think the short version of Bill’s response was that it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to stock up on physical products if nobody knows they’re there! That makes sense. While I don’t plan on investing money in inventory just yet – I’ll outsource my first products through Zazzle – the idea is sound, and I think it applies not just to selling physical products but to creating comic strips too. There’s no sense publishing comics every day if nobody is going to see them.
So again…I think I need to emphasize promotion over content creation right now.
I Joined Several More Social Media Platforms
In that light, I finally accepted the fact that I need to try harder with social media.
I suck at social media.
Hell, I just plain suck at anything social.
But I can’t get my comic strips noticed without it, so I decided to take another shot at the whole social media thing.
I already had accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Instagram, but last week I also started up accounts on Tumblr, Pinterest, Flickr and Ello. And of course, I became more active back here at HubPages again by starting this Adventures In Cartooning series.
Altogether, I have a little over 500 followers across all those platforms (including my website). That’s not a whole lot, but it’s a start. I didn’t track how many followers I had for Week 1, but I would guess that I’ve picked up about 20 or so this past week. I’ll start tracking those numbers every week now and see if I can get them up.
I Published 2 More Cartoons On My Website And Social Media
I published one new Dinkledorfs cartoon strip on Monday and one new Attack of the Words strip on Wednesday. I also finished up posting all of my old Dinkledorfs comic strips on my main social media accounts like Facebook and Instagram.
My goal is to publish one new comic strip of each series per week, and so far I’m maintaining that pace pretty easily.
SOOPER DUPER REEDER POLE
Does anybody still read comic strips in the newspapers these days?
Okay, so I guess that’s it for Adventures In Cartooning: Week 2.
Did I miss anything? Got any questions or feedback for me? Please comment below.
Also, if you aren’t following me yet, GO HERE TO MY HUBPAGES PROFILE and click the button to follow me and receive updates when I publish more Adventures In Cartooning.
"BYE. SEE YA NEXT WEEK!"
All text and images copyright Chris Desatoff.
Chris Desatoff is a cartoonist and blogger living in Las Vegas. Visit his website at ChrisDesatoff.com.