Webcomics and viral cartoons are a couple of the ways that you can effectively give your work away to the web but get paid back by other means. Successful webcomics work on a business model based on the idea that you give away a regularly updated cartoon on your website and build a following of readers who come back day after day. British examples include John Allison‘s Bad Machinery or Jamie Smart‘s Corporate Skull.
The profit comes from selling merchandise to the more loyal fans – bound compilations, prints, sketches, T-shirts, toys and so forth. Similarly, viral cartoons can drive lots of new readers to your website. How much money can be directly attributed to virals is arguable, although, for example, the well-known New Yorker cartoon “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog” is said to have earned its creator, Peter Steiner, more than $50,000.
The website Kickstarter has recently become one of the biggest publishers of comic books in the USA, from independent cartoonists using the crowd-funding model to raise money directly from their fan-base. Here in the UK, Procartoonists.org‘s very own Adrian Teal (The Gin Lane Gazette) and Steve Bright (Hairy Steve – in collaboration with Jamie Smart) have developed their own crowd-funded projects.
We’ll be considering another aspect of the communication change – After Gin Lane – and what it means for cartoonists next week