What’s working… and what’s not
As I did last year, I thought I’d share some things I did this year and discuss their effectiveness.
Last year, my list looked like this:
This year, I experimented with several plug-ins and third-party add-ons to my site — in part because I wanted to be able to speak intelligently about them here. Here are a few thoughts on how some of them have worked out:
What’s Not Working
What’s kinda working
Here’s my list for this year:
Even though it took me an entire summer to finally get it formatted correctly, Google DFP made a significant impact in how I delivered ads on my sites. I particularly enjoy the control it gave me in organizing and delivering “House” ads. And, now that I’m fine-tuning it, it’s doing a very good job of optimizing the revenue I’m making on my ad-network ads.
This summer, I also started an unprecedented (and, to my knowledge, unrepeated) experiment. At the beginning of each month, I released the entire month’s worth of daily Evil Inc comics as a $3 digital download. I formatted files in PDF and MOBI files to reach the two most significant ebook markets (iPad and Kindle, respectively). And I offered them directly on my site, through Amazon.com (MOBI files only), and DriveThruComics.com. And I’ve signed up to Beta-test the Comixology Submit program.
Obviously, my preference is to sell those files to my readers directly and retain most of the transaction. But it’s impossible to ignore the audience-reaching power of Amazon, so I used my Amazon Associates account to re-gain some of the money I was losing my offering my books on Amazon. My decision to offer the downloads through DriveThruComics was a good one, too. And I have high expectations for Comixology Submit. And the Send To Kindle app is going to make it even easier for me to sell MOBI files to Kindle users outside the Amazon store. Finally, all of my books contain reader-outreach to try to bring tose readers to the site (where, hopefully they’ll buy the files directly from me at some point in the future).
My association with DriveThruComics lead me to a dicsussion on the show floor of New York Comic Con in which I was clued into the idea of an RPG Sourcebook. Not being much of an RPG gamer, this was a completely foreign concept to me. But, with a little help from the guys at DriveThruRPG, I caught on quickly enough.
The first Evil Inc Sourcebook sales have floored me. And it’s got an unlimited shelf-life, so it can (and, so far, has) contributed to my bottom line beyond the first month of its offering.
I’ll be releasing a second as quickly as possible.
FEWER COMIC CONVENTIONS
I made up my mind in 2012: I would not continue this cycle of attending a proven, tried-and-true, pofitable comic convention one weekend… only to lose those profits by attending a weaker show.
So I made a new rule: with the notable exceptions of San Diego and New York, I was not going to attend a show that I didn’t get compensated for at least two-out-of-three major con expenses (travel, hotel, booth). I did fewer shows, made more money, and had more time to spend on profitable projects.
I’ll also stand by advice I gave at the beginning of the year. I think a comic convention’s profitability is largely a function of the local economy. The West Coast and the East Coast have rebounded from the economic depression rather well, while the MidWest and the South have not. I’ve got to have all thre of my expenses covered before I’ll consider doing a MidWest or Southern show.
I took the plunge in the summer, and the results were… not strong. But by autumn, I was doing some pretty decent lettering. Today, I’m actually getting compliments on my lettering. It’s not to a level of proficiency yet, in my opinion, but it’s high-quality and getting better. Plus, I can get a much wider range of expression through the lettering, my panel composition has improved, and my originals take a fraction of the time to process for sales. (More on that in a moment, though.)
What’s kinda working
I’m still using 14Blocks to front-load Tweets at the beginning of the week. And it’s very good for comic-update announcements and features like “This date in my comic’s history” (which sends readers back into your archives). But lately, it has fallen down the list of priorities. I’m hoping to get back on the horse after the holidays.
I still use it, but when Conduit took over, they removed the pop-up-message feature that allowed me to do some powerful reader-outreach. I still use it, but not as often… and I’m not sure that I won’t disable it in 2014.
Still working, but I wish they’d update my ads more often.
For the longest time, they weren’t even distributing ads through my site. The ads have re-started, but at horrible fill-rates and anemic CPMs. Thank goodness for Google AdSense.
What’s not working
Woof. Even offering calendars with Artist Edition illustrations was a flat-out bust. My best guess is that offering this product through Lulu results in a pohibitively high price tag. But due to the highly limited shelf life on the product, I’m very reticent to do an offset print run.
Well, not yet, anyway. Technically the blame lies at the feet of Amazon Payments (the whole story was on my comic’s blog). But I had to shelve a couple of important projects because I couldn’t get cleared by Amazon Payments for several months. Oddly enough, the problem was resolved within hours of my posting a rather sour blog post on the subject on my comic’s Web site.
I have very high hopes for Kickstarter… starting next month.
AUCTIONING ORIGINAL ART
Took it on the chin here, too. I wanted to improve the sales of original art. I tried offering them on Etsy, and bombed. I tried offering them on eBay, and I bombed. I even tried offering them on eBay with an initial offering-price of about half of what I offer them for on the site. The results were not very strong.