How do Webcomics Make Money?

When I started posting my graphic novel online about a year ago, I wasn’t worried about making money, but something started happening over the last 6 months that really opened my eyes. I’m not talking about winning the Xeric Grant or making $12,600 from Kickstarter either, although they have brought in the most money so far. I’m talking about several other streams of income that, when combined, brought in over a thousand dollars since starting this blog. It’s not a living but it’s a great start and so far it’s payed for my all my hosting, paying my flatter, as well as most of my advertising.

Before I go into each income stream, I want to explain the importance of multiple income streams. Believe it or not, I’ve gone to many classes and lectures on making money in my life and one of the common denominators is usually having multiple steams of money. If you have a job, and a side business as well as investments, then you have multiple streams of income. Make sense? Okay, so with webcomics, it’s all about multiple streams too. You will never just receive a paycheck at the end of the week so just get rid of that mentality here.

Instead you will have lots and lots of little streams that are not attached to how many hours you work. It’s called passive income and it’s a beautiful thing. But before this can really start happening for you you will need to focus on growing your readership. I didn’t start seeing any real income until I was getting around 1000 unique visitors a day. I know that may sound daunting to some, but I guarantee that it’s possible to start growing a fan base if you do the best work you can, advertise and get involved with other sites somehow. It may take a year or two to get there, but it will happen if you stick to it and have a good webcomic.  Here are some articles I wrote about where to advertise and how I went about getting traffic.

You could start doing all the things below even though you have no traffic but it won’t really produce much income until you can build that fan base. So, here are all my current streams of income with reMIND.

My Sources of Income

Google Adsense……………………$76 (June 22nd to Sep 30th – 3.5 months)
ProjectWonderful.com………..$9.20 (1 month)
Amazon Associates………………$32 (about 4 months)
Bluehost.com………………………$650 (8 months)
YourFonts.com……………………$43.78 (about 6 months)
T-shirts………………………………..$95
Donations…………………………….$185.62
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TOTAL…………………………………$1091.60

Now I’ll break each one down below. I divided the above list into three categories: Advertising, Affiliates, and Direct Sales.

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Category #1 – Advertising:

Advertising is probably the most obvious way to make money on your site. More popular sites sell advertising space directly to their advertisers but that’s a bit more complex. For those of us just starting out, here are some of the methods to create simple revenue on your site without much work.

Google Adsense works really well for blogs and pretty good for webcomics. It’s fairly easy to set up and it runs on it’s own. Every time someone clicks on a Google advertisement you get a few cents or maybe a few bucks. I’ve been getting about 1 to 4 clicks a day and it really adds up.

If you want to start displaying Google ads on your site then follow the link below and start an account:

www.google.com/adsense

Here is a video explaining how it works

There is a learning curve to all this, so be patient and just learn one thing at a time. It took me forever to figure out how to make it work best for my site, but now I have it down. In short, you select the ad size and content you want, then copy and paste the code provided by Adsense into your site. Then sit back and wait. Money will shower down from the sky in the form of GOLD! Okay, maybe not but it’s a good start.

ProjectWonderful is another method of advertising that most web-comics use. I can’t say that I’m a very big fan of Project Wonderful though. I’ve tried it a few times but turned it off recently. I might try it more in the future when I get more traffic because seems like you need to be generating 100k hits a day in order to make it worth it.

If you want to test ProjectWonderful on your site then go to the link below and sign up:

ProjectWonderful.com

You need to get your website approved before you can start displaying ads on your site though. Once approved, you can set up the dimensions and what category you want to display. All you need to do is copy and paste the HTML code that they give you into a blank widget on your site and you are ready to start getting bricks of solid gold! (I mean a few cents a day)

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Category #2 – Affiliate Links:

Affiliate links are great, but I give you a warning… Only become affiliates with companies you absolutely love. Almost every website offers affiliate programs now so it’s pretty easy to do. But if you recommend everything, then you are just a tool. The more random things you recommend the more watered down your site becomes and you are less likely to be trusted enough to convince anyone that they need to buy something.

Have you ever had a friend who said that every movie was “AWESOME!”? Yeah, it’s like that. Be selective and honest with your affiliate links.

I learned about this from a friend who has a blog. First you join Amazon Associates. Once you have created an account, every time you talk about a book or product (on Amazon), you can make the link be your associate link. If anyone clicks on your link and makes a purchase, you will get a small commission of the sale. Like around 4 or 6 percent. The percent gets higher the more you sell. At first I didn’t see much happening but in time it really started working.

See the “Books I Recommend” section off to the right of my site? That is a widget that I made with Amazon Associates and anytime anyone buys one of the books from those links, I also get a small percent of the sale. There are plenty other ways to use it so read up on their website to get more ideas of how it can make you a millionaire. (Okay, maybe a hundredaire. That’s not a word, is it?)

Bluehost.com – This has been my most successful affiliate link so far. Like Amazon, every time I send someone to Bluehost ,who signs up, I’ll get a commission. This is just another of the many reasons I love Bluehost. They pay really good commissions.

Just like Amazon Associates, You need to sign up to be apart of their affiliate program. They provide all the code you need to make links on your site.

YourFonts.com – Another site that pays me a few dollars whenever someone makes a purchase who clicked on my link. I get a 40% commission. Not bad!

Remember, almost every company online has a affiliate program now. Just make sure you don’t get affiliated with every stupid company out there. I only do this with websites that I really like and trust.

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Category #3 - Direct Sales:

T-shirts - Obviously selling t-shirts will take more work then just collecting a commission. I chose to make my own shirts and sell them myself using Storenvy.com, which takes a lot more time and money but you get a good return on your investment. If you want to offer shirts, mugs, mouse pads and more without worrying about lifting a finger to make and ship it, look into a Print-On-Demand company like CafePress.com to take care of it all. I’m not saying I recommend this method though because you’ll be paying them 90% or more of your profits. It’s a great way to test your market though and make more passive income.

In addition to shirts, I plan on offering other things for sale on my site in the near future including:

  • reMIND book (once it’s finished)
  • Digital release of reMIND
  • Art Prints
  • Original art

Donation Buttons – I was skeptical about putting a donation button on my blog, but I finally tried it and was pleasantly surprised. It’s not a steady flow of money but a random $20 is a great thing. I think you really need to have content that is either extremely helpful or inspiring to motivate someone to donate though.

To make my donation button, I signed up for a PayPal account and set up a merchant account so I can sell things on my site. Paypal has a button creation tool where you can make anything from “Donation” buttons to “Add to Cart” buttons. I made a simple donation button and copied the code into my site in the appropriate position. Now I have a yacht. (Joking again. Forgive my lame humor.)

Here’s the weird thing about donations. When I just had a simple donation button on my site, I would randomly get (about once a month) a donation of about $20 and one time I got $50. But as soon as I made a donation incentive to get a free wallpaper, my donations went down to $5. Not to mention that I didn’t really see that many more donations even with the incentive. It seems to me that when you attach a reward to a donation, people will only give what they think the reward is worth. In my case, about 5 dollars. But when it’s just a donation for the sake of donating, people are more willing to contribute more. Now that I look at these findings, I might just remove the donation incentive again.

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Well, that’s it. Those are the methods I’ve used so far and how much they have given me in return.

This is by no means enough money to make a living, but also realize that most of these methods of making money are only from a few months of testing. I just barely started selling t-shirts. But the fact that I can make enough money from my webcomic to pay for all my hosting, domain name, advertising and cover some of my flatting fees is a pretty big deal. And here’s the kicker, I’m not even selling my comic yet, the reason for this whole thing.

Another thing to remember, this is only my first year of doing this and I only have about 1000 people who visit my site a day (according to Google analytics). Imagine the potential if I could have 10,000 visits a day, or 50,000 and reMIND available to purchase.

According to my second grade calculations, if Google Adsense brings in about $25 a month with only 1000 people visiting my site a day. 50,000 visitors a day would average $1250 a month. That’s just crazy cool!

I’m not guaranteeing anything here, I’m just trying to illustrate what’s possible by building a good webcomic and blog if you take into consideration all the avenues to generate income. Build a big enough fan base and this really could become a good living.

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