During the recent Patreon on Tour conference in New York city, a discussion arose about promoting Patreon at personal appearances. It was tough, one creator complained, because setting up a laptop to process pledges was cumbersome — and expensive. And, […] ↓ Read the rest of this article...
Dave Kellett and Brad Guigar are talking comics! In this episode, they discuss the secrets of Instagram tagging. THEN … if a backer asks you to add a crowdfunding platform to Patreon, should you? ALSO… what’s the danger of waiting […] ↓ Read the rest of this article...
*…necessarily A federal court ruled in favor of ComicMix in a case in which their Star Trek / Dr. Seuss mash-up book, “Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go” was claimed to have infringed upon the intellectual property of Dr. Seuss […] ↓ Read the rest of this article...
Let’s pretend you’re a biscuit baker. Your potential customer is a person who is sitting in front of an all-you-can-eat buffet. They don’t even have to walk from their table to the smorgasbord. They’ve pulled their chair directly to the […] ↓ Read the rest of this article...
Within moments of launching your Kickstarter campaign, you will become inundated with spam. Marketers, third-party facilitators, printers… they all want to talk to you. But perhaps the most cringeworthy and pathetic of all of these is the request for a […] ↓ Read the rest of this article...
Understanding the Supreme Court’s Copyright ruling
The Supreme Court voted unanimously in a copyright case that will have a ripple effect across several creative industries. You’ve probably heard a lot of chatter about it on social media — and you’ve probably seen a lot of folks […] ↓ Read the rest of this article...
During the recent Patreon on Tour conference in New York city, a discussion arose about promoting Patreon at personal appearances. It was tough, one creator complained, because setting up a laptop to process pledges was cumbersome — and expensive. And, it didn’t always work so well.
“Why are you bringing a computer to a show when literally every one of the attendees is walking around with their own in their pocket?” replied another creator.
Let’s talk about two ways to convert Patreon pledges at comic conventions and other personal appearances…
Simply build a QR code to point to your Patreon page. When an interested person uses their digital device to read the code, they’ll be taken directly to your page. If they sign up, you can even give them a reward on the spot — in person!
Think of what a powerful enticement to drive Patreon pledges this could be at a comic convention!
NFC business cards
Some printing companies — like Moo — are offering NFC business cards. This is a business card with an NFC chip embedded in it that will trigger a digital action when it is tapped on the user’s smartphone. Android phones have had NFC capabilities for a while now, and Apple’s iOS 11 has finally brought iPhones into the game.
They’re expensive, but remember — you don’t have to give these away in place of regular business cards. You can keep one or two at your table and re-use them. Best of all, the chip can be programmed and then re-programmed. So, you can use them in several different ways — from opening up your Patreon page on the smartphone’s Web browser to, say, downloading an app.
Dave Kellett and Brad Guigar are talking comics! In this episode, they discuss the secrets of Instagram tagging. THEN … if a backer asks you to add a crowdfunding platform to Patreon, should you? ALSO… what’s the danger of waiting too long for success? AND FINALLY… Rob Salkowitz from Forbes drops by to discuss the changing comics industry.
BUT FIRST… Dave tells Brad about the time he ate his whole wedding cake.
00:00 — The time Dave ate his whole wedding cake
04:15 — Instagram tagging
08:18 — Crowdfunding – Diversifying vs Duplicating
18:31 — Waiting for success
29:25 — Managing multiple projects
45:56 — Copyrighting digital rewards
1:00:36 — Interview with Rob Salkowitz on the changing comics industry
A federal court ruled in favor of ComicMix in a case in which their Star Trek / Dr. Seuss mash-up book, “Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go” was claimed to have infringed upon the intellectual property of Dr. Seuss Enterprises. The ruling has many people claiming that similar creative projects — like mash-up shirts and books — are now legally protected.
It’s a little more complicated than that. Let’s talk about what happened and what it means for creators…
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Let’s pretend you’re a biscuit baker. Your potential customer is a person who is sitting in front of an all-you-can-eat buffet. They don’t even have to walk from their table to the smorgasbord. They’ve pulled their chair directly to the serving station! And they’ve already started filling their plate with food. You’ve got a plate of biscuits you’d like them to eat, so you devise an ingenious plan to entice them…
You tell them that you’ve hidden biscuits somewhere in the next room.
If you’re posting teaser images on social media, you, like the biscuit baker, have a lot to learn. And here’s why…
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Within moments of launching your Kickstarter campaign, you will become inundated with spam. Marketers, third-party facilitators, printers… they all want to talk to you. But perhaps the most cringeworthy and pathetic of all of these is the request for a pledge swap.
The Big Plan
The Kickstarter Pledge Swap scheme works like this. You agree to pledge to the other person’s Kickstarter in exchange for their pledge to yours.
Kickstarter has no official stance on the Pledge Swap except to say that sending unsolicited messages through their service is against their rules. And, according to a Consumerist poll, pledge-swapping is overwhelmingly unpopular. (87% oppose it.) So, why is it still being attempted?
Some people claim that this tricks Kickstarter’s algorithm into perceiving your campaign as more popular. However, I think you’d need to exchange an awful lot of pledges to have that effect. And that would end up being awfully expensive (unless you ghosted on your swap partners at the last minute).
The truth is simple. If your strategy for pulling off a successful Kickstarter depends on pledge swaps, then you’ve failed already. Kickstarter’s greatest strength is in its function as free market research. If your Kickstarter doesn’t meet its funding, then you know that your product isn’t ready for the market (or vice versa). That’s valuable information. It’s information you should be eager to receive. And it’s information that you should be willing to act upon.
A pledge swap reeks of desperation and amateurism.
Kickstarter strategies that work
So, let’s talk about Kickstarter strategies that really work well.
THE PATREON SECRET LAUNCH
Dave Kellett shared this strategy during a recent episode of ComicLab. It’s very simple. You set up a number of Early Bird specials offering enticing rewards. For example, you might offer free shipping at these levels. These must be limited — only about 10-20 backers per reward.
And you alert your Patreon backers that you’re about to launch a Kickstarter and that you’ve set up rewards just for them. This is a bonus reward to their patronage. After giving your patrons advanced notice, you open your Kickstarter without a public announcement. Make it clear to your patrons — they have 24 hours to snap up the Early Bird specials. After that, you’re throwing open the doors.
Using this strategy, my Kickstarter earned nearly $2,000 in pledges in the first 24 hours.
And that got noticed by Kickstarter’s algorithm, placing my campaign in the Popular category, and boosting its prominence in internal Discovery mechanisms.
I can’t stress enough the importance of a good video. Two minutes — maximum. I’m a strong proponent of delivering the pitch in person. If you’re going to ask someone for money, you should have the courage to look them in the eye. But avoid posting a video that’s two minutes of talking-head blather. You should insert visuals of the product you’re Kickstarting — as well as rewards — too keep the video engaging and interesting.
And include subtitles! This is important to your potential backers who might have hearing issues — as well as those who are scrolling on their smartphones with the sound disabled.
Finally, learn how to do Kickstarter math.
The first step in running a successful Kickstarter is to correctly determine all of your costs. The rookie move is to determine the cost of the thing and set that as your goal. The seasoned Kickstarter campaigner knows that there’s a lot more than that! For example:
Shipping all of the items from the vendor/printer/producer to you
Shipping the individual items to your backers
Shipping supplies — boxes, tape and padding, etc.
storage for the merchandise
insurance for the stored merchandise
And… if you’re smart, you’ll building a buffer for all of the little things that always come up. Whatever my rough goal is, I usually add in an additional 1-2% for incidentals.
Just remember to keep your receipts on all of those costs. Kickstarter income is taxable income. This is especially important to remember in the happy circumstances of running a campaign that goes beyond the goal.
Once you have your total costs, use this formula…
COSTS / 0.90 = GOAL
Or, simply worded, take your total costs, and divide that number by 0.90.
That will give you a final goal that is large enough to cover those total costs after 10% is deducted by Kickstarter.
The Supreme Court voted unanimously in a copyright case that will have a ripple effect across several creative industries. You’ve probably heard a lot of chatter about it on social media — and you’ve probably seen a lot of folks jumping to alarming conclusions. I’d like to have a better understanding of the topic than that.
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Brad Guigar and Dave Kellett are talkin’ comics! In this episode, each cartoonist offers a step-by-step guide to their creative process — from the idea stage to posting the finished comic. Then, they take a moment to talk about how real-life struggles can often interfere with our goals as creators — and that’s OK. Finally, a Patreon backer asks how soo is TOO soon to launch a new Kickstarter after their current crowdfunder closes.
BUT FIRST, Dave fondly remembers Screwgie, perhaps the only syndicated comic strip written by a baseball hall of famer.
00:00 — Screwgie
10:49 — What is your creative process?
42:53 — Anything worth doing well is worth doing poorly
53:02 — How soon is TOO soon to launch a new Kickstarter?
Get out your calendar and start circling dates. It’s time to do a little webcomics planning.
If your taxes are not done by now, stop procrastinating. Get them done. No excuses.
You should have a good sense for the conventions you’re planning to attend for the year. Start purchasing flights, car rentals and hotels now before rates go up.
Mark your convention dates on a calendar and put reminders at the four-week, three-week, two-week, and one-week prior points reminding you of the prep you need to do. For example, at the four-week-prior date, you should make sure you have flyers printed and any merchandise either in-house or ordered. Three-weeks out: Double-check hotels / travel and ship materials. Two-weeks out: Start prepping site announcements and tweets to build buzz around your appearance. One-week out: Print your checklist for packing and start getting this ready for the Big Weekend.
Take a quick look at your stats over the last four-month period. Are you pageviews and unique-visitor numbers moving in the right direction? Are you getting good results from Twitter? If the numbers are rising, what can you do to keep pushing? And if you’ve plateaued, do you need to start incorporating a new push — whether it’s paid advertising or viral?
Convention season is just starting to heat up. This is a great time to order some low-price-point merchandise (like enamel pins).
Push yourself to breakout of the mold. Try a new panel structure. Take a risk on a different perspective — or a different kind of writing. Break a few habits this week.
Take a moment to look at your last two weeks’ comics upside-down. Could you be composing panels better?
As we head into tax season, let’s take a look at one of the most useful tools for running a small business — the Profit & Loss Statement.
What’s a P&L?
A Profit & Loss Statement (P&L) is simply a monthly statement of the following:
How much money your company earned in revenue
How much money you spent on your business
Track how much money you earned as a webcartoonist. This would include Patreon earnings, advertising income, book sales, convention earnings, freelance projects, commissions, etc. Put them in an itemized list and calculate the total. It’s a good idea to have all related invoices and receipts printed out and on file for these items.
In this section, create an itemized list of every expense you made in pursuit of your webcomics business. This would include printing costs, purchasing drawing tools, new computers, rent for studio space, Internet access, travel expenses related to conventions, etc.
If you work from home, you may be able to deduct a portion of your utility bills (electric, heat, Internet, water/sewer, phone, etc.) based on the percentage of your total square-footage that your studio represents. But remember: The IRS insist that if you do this, that studio space be used only in pursuit of your business.
It is crucial that you keep all receipts and invoices involves with these transactions. In the event of an IRS audit, you will be called upon to prove all of these expenses.
Calculate the total.
Profit / Loss
Subtract the total amount of expenses from the total earnings and you have either a Profit (if the result is a positive number) or a Loss (the the result is a negative number).
Your P&L statement will be the itemized lists of both earned revenue and expense, along with the final total — which will be identified as either a profit or a loss. In some cases — and your CPA can guide you on this — you may even have a third category to represent “Cost of Goods Sold.”
Print this statement and put it in a folder with all of the necessary receipts, invoices, and related paperwork.
When tax time comes, you will have a ready-made guide to nearly all of your earnings and potential deductions.
Dedicated bank account
It is for this reason — and others — that I always advise that you have a dedicated bank account for your webcomic business. If you relegate all of your webcomics-business-related income and expenses to that account, your monthly statement gives you an excellent head start on your P&L statement.
A also strongly recommend that you do this as a monthly habit. Firstly, it’s an incredible boon when it comes down to tax season. Having file folders of P&L statements, invoices and receipts is going to make tax prep much easier than it would have been without them. Secondly, it’s a good way to chart the health of your webcomics business from month to month — and that information comes in handy when you have to decide, for example, whether to pull the trigger on that comic convention you’ve been considering. And finally, it’s the only way you can calculate your estimated tax obligation of your CPA has advised you to make such payments.