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Thread: Making money off of webcomics

  1. #1
    Book lover/Spy Sai's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Back home

    Making money off of webcomics

    Okay, before anyone says anything, I don't plan to get rich from doing webcomics. But I do plan on paying my artist, and it would be nice to have some funds coming in to help to do that. I was hoping that the AW comic community might have some advice on ways to make a webcomic earn it's keep. So far all I've got is:

    1.Advertising. I have a friend who's site use Project Wonderful ( to allow people to place ads on her site. I like the model, but I can't see it bringing in more than a couple of bucks a month (if that). What other kinds of advertising services are there?

    2. Merchandise. Have a section of the site that operates as the online store and sell t-shirts, mugs, whatever. If anyone has experience with this, I'd be interested to know how you handled it. Did you involve a third party to create and send out the orders, or did you do it all yourself?

    And of course, if there's any other possibilities I'd love to hear them. I'm sure that if we put our heads together, we can solve the greatest riddle of our time: how to make money from the internet!
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  2. #2
    i AM batman (not really) myrmidon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Portland, OR
    Hmm. I'm going to weigh in more because I've got a similar problem and am trying a few things (none of them yet working) and so maybe by helping put out that information we can slowly start getting some good answers (rather than my bad ones).

    I recently monetized my Wordpress blog through a pilot program of theirs I was eligible for (by having at least 25k - 30k visits a month). The program basically means that I get half the advertising dollars (google adsense) and Wordpress gets the other half. In roughly five weeks and just over 30k hits I have made...wait for it...almost 5 dollars...and I guess if I was getting ALL the ad revenue, I would have made almost 10 dollars. NOT impressive in either scenario.

    So I'm in the process of launching my own site and will be eventually migrating the blog over and monetizing it there - perhaps with Project Wonderful, which I agree, seems awesome, but maybe not so great for bringing in cash?

    Google adsense is the "best" advertising I've heard of from all the articles I've read and perhaps it is good if used correctly as opposed to how I'm using it. I will say that google adsense does seem to have a lot of options if you know what you're doing. But so far the customization (which would probably maximize ad revenue) has been wildly confusing to me and stuff that I've tried out has not worked, but that might be in part because of what Wordpress is allowing or not allowing in terms of ad space because of the pilot program I'm's hard to tell. I don't think I'll know for sure until I'm on my own with a new host.

    I haven't tried having merchandise yet (my journal comic ran daily for a year, but it's currently on possibly permanent hiatus)...but Kate Beaton's awesome Hark A Vagrant site uses TopatoCo which seems pretty great...I don't know what the fine print is, but worth a check out if you're serious about a "store".

    Anyway, maybe more people will jump on here and we'll start getting some good information. I'll definitely come back when I've tried out some more of these things for myself and let you know what works and what doesn't. In the meantime - good luck!
    KELLY THOMPSON The Girl Who Would Be King, Storykiller, Heart In A Box, Mega Princess. Also: Hawkeye, Jem & The Holograms, A-Force, Misfits, Star Wars, Captain Marvel & The Carol Corps...

  3. #3
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    right here
    1.Advertising. I have a friend who's site use Project Wonderful ( to allow people to place ads on her site.

    If your site is low traffic something like CMFads will make a few cents a month. If you have hundred of hits a day Project Wonderful might make a few dollars a month. If you have thousands of hits a day Adsense is probably your best bet. One advantage of Project Wonderful is that it started for webscomics and so a webcomic site might make more than the average there.

    2. Merchandise. Have a section of the site that operates as the online store and sell t-shirts, mugs, whatever.

    The easiest option is to use something like Zazzle or Red Bubble. I would suggest maing cross-over products that would appeal to more than fans of the comic.
    Last edited by veinglory; 06-01-2010 at 05:35 AM.
    Emily Veinglory

  4. #4
    Well, first off, best of luck launching the new webcomic!

    Everything I've heard about Project Wonderful says it's good for paying for your *own* Project Wonderful ads. Not so much for paying page rates, at least not alone. I think most webcomics do a variety of ads. This comic's creator has done some great blog posts about his experiences getting readers, webcomic ranking sites, etc-- and getting visitors is the first step to getting ad clicks, so maybe some of his posts will help.

    Oh, and I don't know much about Topatoco, but I'm pretty sure they might be invite-only. Here's info on applying. Sounds like you have to have a HUGE die-hard audience and a long track record before they'll consider you.

    Most of our clients are people who sell so much stuff that they need a new and more efficient way to produce and fulfill their popular products. That is where we pick up the slack. If you have never sold anything before, we are much less likely to want to take a risk on you. That is just not how our business is designed to operate. Do not take it personally!

    As a bare minimum benchmark, if you are not getting 100,000 unique visitors per month to your website then save us both the trouble and come back to this form at a later date.
    For other options, there's Shopify (see Dylan Meconis's shop here), but that just organizes items you already have to sell (ie, you order a big print run beforehand, and the site organizes orders, it doesn't create them *to* order like lulu). For putting things on tshirts (made-to-order this time), there's MySoti (see Megan Rose Gedris' here) or Spreadshirt (see Sister Claire's). Some webcomics also have each individual page available to be bought as a print (or the original art up for sale).

    All the webcomics people I know do all the merchandise selling themselves, except when they get too big and need something like Topatoco.

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  5. #5 MJRevell's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Have you tried approaching magazines and websites that deal with similar themes to the webcomic you want to write, and pitching it to them?

    They might be willing to pay for a series, if they like it enough.

  6. #6
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Advertising and merchandising are pretty much the only ways to make money off the internet - subscription services might be another, but that mostly applies to high demand exclusive content like porn or financial/economic information, medical publications, etc. i.e., you have to have something people are willing to pay for.

    I would look for webcomic sites that format for cell phones - those will theoretically generate more hits.

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW FinbarReilly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Sacramento, CA
    1) Project Wonderful: As you can set minimum bids, it does as well as you comic does. [In case you're curious: It works by an "infinite auctino" model; people bid on it, and current highest bid gets it.] I would advsie combining with AdSense for maximum profit, but that's me.

    2) If you have at least 20 strips, start debating a donation button. You can offer a desktop if you want, but a tip jar or donation button can help.

    3) Merch: You have three basic options: Create your own, use a POD, or have extras. If you create your own, it's more expensive in the short run, but really cheap over the long run (you can offer $5 screen-printed tees, but you have to buy at least 25-50 tees), and you need to set up a shop online. POD (print on demand; it's not made until it's ordered, such as Zazzle or CafePress) is a little more expensive, but you don't need to worry about shipping, inventory, or any of the other details. As you're doing digital, you can set up stuff that's only available to your digital fans, and use it to set up a shop over at AssetBar.

    If it helps...
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  8. #8 MJRevell's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Just seen that you can sell stories to -- including, rather wonderfully, comics.

    They pay 25c/word, which is fantastic, but it will be very hard to break in.


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