A while back, I posted 12 Ways You’re Doing Patreon Wrong. In it, I advocated moving away from an ad-supported business model, and into a subscription-supported model. After one member read the piece, they asked:
Q. I have a question about this: Do you EVER provide the paid material to the general population? For example, if Patreon subscribers get your NSFW work, will the visitors to your [public website] … see the archives one day? And if so, how?
A. A few days ago, I posted this under the Webcomics.com Twitter account:
…And this is a perfect example.
Why would I release that material to the general public?
To drive pageviews.
Remove pageviews from the equation. Now, why do it?
My views on exposure are pretty well-documented here, but let’s not be dismissive. Let’s say I did it for exposure. To what purpose? In other words, how would that particular exposure be beneficial? Again… pageviews don’t matter anymore. So what’s left? Sales? What am I going to sell if I just gave away my content for free?
The short answer is — no. You don’t give away your exclusive content.
You might use a couple pieces here and there to promote the exclusive content, but no more than that.
For example, I packaged 12 months of the NSFW content into a digital download that I offered as a $20 Kickstarter add-on. It generated about a thousand dollars in extra revenue. And it included a very prominent promo for my ongoing NSFW work thru Patreon.
After that went out, I saw a nice bump in patrons (at $10 a month).
And, at some point, I’ll be announcing a Kickstarter campaign for a printed collection of that same work. If I release the content to the general public, it would hamstring my Kickstarter. I’m pretty confident that the Kickstarter will fund easily. Why?
The last 15 years of webcomics worked like this — we posted things on the Web to build an audience. As the Community developed around our comic, we started offering merchandise. And we monetized that entire process with ads.
Ads are dead.
So, if you’re going to survive, you’re going to have to lose everything you thought you knew about webcomics over the past 15 years and start re-inventing your publishing strategy.
It ain’t about the pageviews.