How to Start a Webcomic
Everything you need to know about starting a webcomic
Research & Refine your Business Idea
Want to start a webcomic and share your passion and creativity with the world? If so, you’ve made a great decision. But, wouldn’t it be nice to also make some money out of it? Read this article and find out how to start a successful webcomic, how to promote and monetize it, and everything else you need to know about turning your passion into a business.
Starting a webcomic can seem a bit challenging for those who have never run a business with a robust online presence. But, the truth is that it is straightforward. All you need to do is market research at first. In other words, you should find out everything you can about the webcomic market. Start with people’s favorite types of webcomics. Then, check out your competition and what they are doing well so that you can focus your efforts on doing it even better.
Once you’ve done your research, choose your niche and target audience. It is essential that you have a clear idea of what your comic will be about and who will your audience be. Just stick to a certain kind of humor, and you’ll build your loyal online audience.
When it comes to webcomics, you can choose any type of humor you want. For example, you may focus on creating a superhero, manga, anime, science fiction, fantasy, action, adventure, horror, humor, romance, children’s, and adult. Having a specific niche, preferably a low competition one will also help you target your audience.
Now that you have your niche figured out, it’s time to choose whether you’re going to create you comics traditionally by using pen and paper and then digitalize them, or by using a digital tablet.
The first option is cheaper since you’ll need a scanner only to make your comic digital. But, don’t forget about the traditional tools required such as white, unlined, absorbent paper, a non-repro blue pencil, a high-quality set of inking pens, adequate erasers, rulers, and triangles. But, leave the typing to the computer.
The second one requires you to invest a bit more in a digital tablet. You should also think about the equipment and tools needed. For instance, you should choose the right program for making webcomics such as Adobe Photoshop, Manga Studio Ex, Corel Paintshop Pro, Adobe Illustrator, or any other that seems ideal for you.
Creating your Business Website
Setting up a website isn’t as hard as it may sound, in-fact, many hosting providers have tailored their service around small businesses who may not be tech savvy. We suggest going with BlueHost to host your website, they’re service is simple and easy to use/setup and they’re currently offering 60% off hosting, including free domain registration.
Additionally, creating a blog on your website is also a great way to attract organic traffic and expand your business. Checkout our full guide on the best and easiest way to setup a WordPress blog here.
However, you should make sure that your comic is in the center of attention. When creating and designing your site, follow these tips:
- Don’t make your comic too big or too small and center it in the middle of the page
- Think about navigation and include a link to your comics archive in every new comic you post
- Arrange your archive by storyline or chapter rather than by date
- Include a contact and about page so that the reader can get to know you
- Feature your blog area below the comic and keep people engaged and informed
- Include a comment section and give your audience a voice.
What’s more, as you grow your business, at some point you may want or need to offer your readers the chance to buy your comics online in the form of an ebook or even sell some merchandise like t-shirts, posters, stickers, etc.
Get Ideas for your webcomic name!
Marketing Your Business
The options for online marketing are numerous, but several may work great for marketing your webcomic. All you need to do is try to apply as many marketing strategies as you can, so you can promote your business successfully and improve your webcomic’s readership numbers.
The first option to consider is Social Media marketing. You can use Twitter, for example, and post a link on your account back to your website. Or, you can feature a Twitter widget on your site. Similarly, you can post your webcomics on Facebook and make sure to inform the readers who ‘like’ your comics when you have a new comic posted.
Second, you may want to find a reputable webcomic reviewer and ask him/ her to review your webcomics and post the reviews on their website with a link back to your site. Also, you may find a comic influencer and ask to share your site link on his/ her profiles or sites.
Forums are yet another useful and effective places where you can promote your webcomics. All you should do is join a webcomics forum like ComicFury, ComicGenesis, Smack Jeeves, etc. and add a banner to your name that links back to your website.
Setting Goals and KPI’s
If you are serious about making a career and a successful business of your passion, you’d better keep track of some metrics called Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). These measurements will provide you a deep insight into the performance of your business and enable you to identify the areas that need improvements. So, if you really want to succeed and set realistic goals, follow these metrics:
- Bounce rate
- Unique website visitors
- Pages viewed per session
- Average time on page
- Top landing pages
- Top exit pages
- Subscriber rates
- Traffic distribution
- Leads generated
And if you do decide to create your own e-shop and sell merchandise or ebooks, you should take into consideration the following key performance indicators:
- Sales conversion rates
- Number of purchases
- Average order amount
- Product performance
- Sales closing rate
- Cart abandonment rate
- Conversion rate by referral source
- Average order value
Plan your Finances
The key to planning your finances is to understand that your business and personal money should be kept separate. For that reason, you have to have a special business bank account. Just choose the option that best works for you from a Business Checking Account, a PayPal Account, or a Credit Card.
Once you have a separate business account, it would be easier to plan your finances and expenses. And, what’s even more convenient, several tools may help you manage your money simply and effortlessly. Such tools include:
- Xero – accounting software
- PlanGuru – budgeting tool
- Zenefits – payroll management system
- Sure Payroll – payroll management system
- FreshBooks – agile billing
- LivePlan – financial dashboard and KPI tracking program
- InDinero – financial dashboard and KPI tracking program
- Float – cash flow analysis
- SOS Inventory – inventory management
- Expensify – expense tracking
- Xpenditure – expense tracking
Adopt an Entrepreneurial Mindset
Having an entrepreneurial mindset will definitely help you succeed and achieve your goals. And, embracing an entrepreneurial mindset isn’t as complicated as it may sound. You should just take responsibility for your actions, seek knowledge continually, accept uncertainty, learn from mistakes, be consistent, and always keep trying regardless of how bad the situation may be.
Here are some books that may help you grow your business and mindset:
- The Entrepreneurs Book of Actions: Essential Daily Exercises and Habits for Becoming Wealthier, Smarter, and More Successful by Rhett Power
- How To Make Webcomics by Brad Guigar, Scott R. Kurtz, Dave Kellett, and Kris Straub
- Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud
- Drawing Words and Writing Pictures by Jessica Abel
- The Webcomic Handbook by Brad Guigar
As a bonus, here are some podcasts to listen to:
- Jason Loves Life Podcast – Helping Your WebComic Live Long and Prosper by Jason Love
- Off-Panel Podcast – An interview show getting the story behind the comics we love
- Comics Coast to Coast
- Webcomic Alliance Podcast
Other things to consider when starting your webcomic
If you want to make your business legitimate, you should take certain legal requirements into consideration. First of all, you should pick a name and see if it is available. Then, you should choose a business structure for your entity. Several options are available like Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), and C Corporation. Make sure you examine the differences before choosing one.
Once you’ve chosen your business structure, you can register your entity in your city. And make sure you don’t forget tax reporting which is pretty much determined by your business structure and location. Federal and income taxes are essential, but you may also need to pay certain sales taxes, too.