It’s already December. It’s a month dominated by holidays — both preparing for and celebrating them — and it’s the end of the year. It’s probably the most challenging months for a webcartoonist, so let’s get organized.The content you are trying to access is only available to members.
Q&A: The importance of re-writing
Q On a recent ComicLab episode, you answered a question about someone doing draft after draft of his writing and you said he was doing the right thing. Could this be the same problem of someone drawing the same comic […] ↓ Read the rest of this article...Read more
Writing stories — planning a route
Sometimes the hardest thing about writing a story isn’t coming up with a grand arc that challenges and changes your main character. Sometimes the devil is in those little details along the way — all of those myriad decisions you have […] ↓ Read the rest of this article...Read more
ComicLab Ep 108: Live by the platform; die by the platform
From YouTube’s new policy regarding Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to SmackJeeves’ site-wide changes, the ComicLab guys realize that living by the platform can mean dying by the platform. Then they take delight in an ingenious plan to expose […] ↓ Read the rest of this article...Read more
Clip Studio Paint needs to support OpenType
I was very excited when Comicraft announced that it had build “crossbar-I” technology into their new fonts — and that they had re-released their two most popular fonts, ComiCrazy and Wild Words, with this feature enabled. Imagine my chagrin when […] ↓ Read the rest of this article...Read more
Ten resolutions for a better 2020
We all make resolutions this time of year. Sure, most of us forget about them by February, but it’s useful to set goals at a time like this. It helps to focus our attention on those areas that we know […] ↓ Read the rest of this article...Read more
Should you be building an audience on Webtoons?
Webtoons has developed into a significant player in the independent comics scene. With a ravenous comics-reading audience traversing the site — and even a few opportunities to get paid upfront as a Featured Creator — there are a lot of […] ↓ Read the rest of this article...Read more
Here’s a handy pro tip for people running Patreon campaigns. If you’re like many of us, you love Patreon, but many aspects of navigating the Creator Feed are… lacking. And you want better for your backers.
So — once their payments have processed — you send out a link to a Dropbox folder so your backers can access the exclusive content outside of Patreon’s clunky interface.
Of course, once that link is out there, anyone could use it to access that content. And that’s a little troubling.
This pro tip is for you…
You can set your Dropbox link to expire on a pre-set date. In your Dropbox dashboard, hover the cursor over the folder or file you would like to share. Click the blue Share button that appears, and select Send link.
At the end of the line that starts “Anyone with the link…” click on add expiration.
Now you can set your expiration date.
I set mine to expire at the end of the month. Then, when the new payment cycle has finished, I create a new link and send it to all of the current members. Anyone who has dropped out, of course, will not receive the new link.
If I find that a user has abused the link (by sharing it, for example), I can always manually deactivate the link. Go to the Dropbox dashboard and click Links on the left-hand column. You will see a list of all of your active links.
Simply go to the link you’d like to kill, and click on the grey X at the far right side of the row.
Clip Studio Paint — software I strongly endorse for comics production — is on sale for 50% off until Tuesday, Dec. 3. If you’re making the leap from Photoshop to CSP — or if you’re just embarking on digital art for the first time — there are tons of resources at Webcomics.com to help you along the way. Here are some favorites…The content you are trying to access is only available to members.
Blambot is one of my favorite places to discover new fonts. Next Monday, they’ll be launching a 30% off sale — Dec. 2-6. It will definitely be worth setting aside some money for. Here’s some good bets:The content you are trying to access is only available to members.
It happens every month. You get to the end of the month and breathe a sigh of relief. You’ve made it through another month, and you’ve earned a certain amount of money on Patreon.
And then, on the first few days of the following month, a significant number of patrons cancel their pledges! Is it the beginning of a long, steady decline?
Probably not. More likely, it’s part of a very normal pattern of patron behavior. So let’s take a closer look at what’s happening…
The Patreon dip
We can see a very typical first-of-the-month Patreon dip in the chart to the right. Some are smaller than others, but they all occur on the first day(s) of each month.
We discussed the Patreon dip in this September 20, 2018, episode of ComicLab (08:36) — linked below.
First of all, this is a good opportunity to address a wider false assumption many creators have in regards to their Patreon campaigns — a pledge is newer assumed to be ongoing. You can never assume a commitment of more than one month from any given pledge.
This is an especially important point to understand if some of your Patreon rewards are meant to be given after a number of consecutive pledges. In other words, offering a reward after a patron has been pledging for a year isn’t a very good idea. Your patron may not be intending to pledge that long.
In fact, you should be approaching Patreon with a completely different mindset. You should be asking yourself — every month — if you’re doing enough to keep those patrons for one more month!
Ongoing pledges? Ongoing rewards!
In other words, if you want ongoing pledges, you have to be willing to post ongoing content and ongoing rewards. Exclusive content posted regularly, for example, will keep those patrons in place for another month. They’re going to want to see what’s next. Moreover — they’re going to feel as if they’re getting their money’s worth for this month’s pledge!
Rewards, too, should be ongoing. By that, I mean, reward should be monthly. Regular reinforcement for a regular pledge. Rewards that take several months’ pledges to earn should be reserved for high-value items. For example, I offer original art in return for three consecutive $20 pledges. That’s because offering originals as a reward for a single $60/month pledge is too great a commitment on the part of the patron. (Not to mention me… that’s a lot of physical shipping!)
But in general, if you want a monthly patron, you’d better be prepared to offer a monthly reward.
Part of the dip you see at the first of every month is actually due to the closing days of the preceding month. If you check you Patreon numbers of the first of the month, you’ll see wild fluctuations throughout the day. This can be very stressful — until you understand the mechanics behind it.
You see, as Patreon processes your backers’ credit/debit cards, some of those charges are being declined. This happens for a wide range of reasons, but the most frequent is simply that the card that the use enter has expired. They need to go in and manually update their information. And until they do that, they will be removed from your Patreon totals (both poledges and patron count).
Don’t delete declined pledges!
Don’t make the same mistake I made with patrons with declined pledges: I deleted them.
A little later, my contact at Patreon got in touch to see how things were going, and I brought the issue up with her. Her response was that Patreon has made it so any patron who has a declined pledge will not be able to access members-only content. So as soon as their card is declined, their access to protected content is disabled. And that remains the case until they update their payment information. Once they successfully do that, they regain their access — and Patreon attempts to recover any pending charges from the past.
So, deleting those patrons — especially the ones whose payments had cleared in the past — was a big mistake that may have cost me hundreds of dollars over time.
Bottom line: Don’t delete a patron whose payment has been declined. His or her access is blocked, and if you delete them, you’ll never have the opportunity to reclaim that lost money.
Will Declined Patrons Still Get Access To My Content?
Not any longer! We’ve listened to your feedback and have been taking steps to protect your content from patrons whose pledges decline.
If one of your patron’s payment declines, they will stop receiving email notifications about your new posts until their payment goes through. Additionally, if they try to view content while logged into Patreon, they will instead see a page reminding them to update their payment method.
As soon as their payment method goes through, they’ll be able to view your posts as well as receive email notifications about them.
The power of exclusive content
This is yet another reason that I remain enthusiastic about posting exclusive content. When patrons with declined cards attempt to access that content, they will be redirected to their payment page, where they can update their information. That money is charged immediately (whether you use Charge Upfront or not), and the patron regains access immediately.
That’s one of the reasons I like to make several posts at the beginning of the month. I like to provide as many opportunities for this interaction as possible.
The bottom line
The bottom line is this: A first-of-the-month dip in your Patreon campaign is normal and natural. Don’t panic. Realize this for what it is — a recognizable pattern of behavior — and plan your crowdfunding approach accordingly.
I was once asked by a webcartoonist, “what happens when I’m too busy to respond to reader comments?” The answer requires a nuanced understanding about what we — as creators — are trying to do on social media.The content you are trying to access is only available to members.
Social media has gotten more sophisticated. Your posts need to adapt. Video outreach is not only easy but, according to strategic marketing agency Insivia, viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch a video ‚ compared to 10% when reading it in text. And since social-media posts with video have 47% more views, according to HubSpot, the time is now to start re-thinking how you’re posting your work — and how video can play a part.The content you are trying to access is only available to members.
Let’s talk about one of those savvy touches that can help take your art to the next level. And, ironically enough, it’s not all about creating a neater, more tidy image. It’s about adding detritus.The content you are trying to access is only available to members.
As I was teaching my Storytelling class at University of the Arts, I discussed the several character archetypes found in a Hero’s Journey narrative structure. They included such characters as hero, mentor, shadow and ally. Then, a hand shot up from the back row, and a student asked, “Why isn’t there a character archetype for the Damsel in Distress?”
It was a good question, and it deserved a good answer.The content you are trying to access is only available to members.
I got a Facebook friend request from a cartoonist, and, as usual, I accepted. Within seconds I got a “thanks for the add” direct message. Friending is not exactly an “add,” but I decided not to split semantic hairs. I sent him a thumbs-up icon as an acknowledgement.
Immediately, he direct-messaged me his business card. (Please read Business Card Etiquette if you haven’t already. It applies to digital business cards, too.)
I unfriended him a few minutes later.
Why? Because he was annoying?
Partly. But mostly I did that for one, important reason…
The importance of aim
Remaining connected to this person on social media was going to mean being on the receiving end of scattershot promotion over a long period of time, and I choose to avoid that. (Psst… so do most people.)
There are two types of social-media promoter — The Scattershot and the Sniper. The Scattershot promoter sprays promotion everywhere — usually without thinking — and hopes that something hits. If you get pelted by a stray shot, they’ll shrug and mumble something about being in the habit of “shameless self-promotion.” You’ll see posts crammed to the gills with generic hashtags. And you’ll see posts pointed (although that’s definitely not the right word) in the darnedest directions. You’ll see cartoonists promoting their Kickstarters on Facebook groups dedicated to… you guessed it, other cartoonists.
You’ll see a one-size-fits-all approach to promotion that’s based on a general understanding of HOW — and a downright tragic ignorance of WHY.
A sniper takes careful aim and takes their shot. Depending on their experience and their attention to detail, they hit their target more often than not.
You should try to be a Sniper. I’m convinced that it’s not only more efficient, but it’s more effective as well.
How to be a sniper
Let’s talk about good social-media promotion habits.
ARE YOU SPAMMY?
Years ago, I wrote a piece on how to determine of your messages are perceived as “spammy.” It stressed understanding the difference between personal interaction channels and impersonal ones. Understanding the difference will make a pronounced difference in how you handle “shameless self-promotion.”
In short, people dislike receiving impersonal messages (promotion) through personal channels. In the example above, the cartoonist used a personal channel (Facebook’s Messenger function) to send me generic promotion (his business card).
This is also why I like using a separate Facebook Page for my comic. My comic’s Facebook Page can be commercial-heavy. And I can be selective about which posts I decide to share on my personal Facebook account.
If your sales pitch is “do you like comics?” then you’ve already lost the game. No one promotes “Harry Potter” by saying “do you like to read?” Focus instead on what makes your comic unique.
Likewise, if your hashtag is #webcomics, you’re also wasting time. That hashtag should be targeted to the subject matter, not the medium. This goes back to the HOW vs WHY argument. WHY are you putting a hashtag on your post? To find new potential readers. What’s the best way to attract a reader? Through subject matter.
Translation: If I were promoting “Harry Potter,” using #books would be brain-dead. Using #magic or #wizard would be better. And #magicboy or #wizardschool could be better yet. Why? Because someone searching for one of those terms would be more likely to stumble upon that post and like what they see. Using #books would be much less efficient.
Finally, take a little time and craft your message. Figure out what point(s) you want this post to convey and they edit (and re-edit) that post until your message shines through. Then re-read that post for emotion. Are you projecting excitement? You’d darned-well better. If you’re coming across as a sad sack, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. You’re an entertainer. People have enough misery in their own lives. They come to you to alleviate that — not to be loaded down further by yours. And don’t apologize. That comes from fear, and your audience is trained to reject fear. They’re drawn to confidence. Learn how to fake confidence, and you’re halfway home!
Finally, put some thought into your visual. (And there’d better be a visual.) Does it fit the words? Is it engaging? Is it attractive? Can you do better?
Social-media promotion is deceptive. It’s so darned easy, it’s easy to focus on the HOW and forget about the WHY. Spend some time considering WHY you’re doing promotion, and you’ve taken your first step towards being a social-media sniper. And that means better, more effective promotion.