What works for webcomics?

I feel like there are a lot of promotional suggestions Patron has that just don’t work for someone like me who’s slowly picking away at a long graphic novel.

What’s worked for you to get people joining your campaign? Small stuff like “link to the patreon next to every page” has worked for me; what’re some bigger things that have worked well without turning into a never-ending obligation on top of the already-huge work of just making the comic?

9 Likes

Hi! I’ve been working on my webcomic graphic novel, The Middle Age, for a little more than two years and have built it around Patreon support. The support is growing slow and steady. Here’s my Patreon.

Here’s what I do…

  • I regularly collect 20-40 pages of my webcomic into PDF downloadables and print-on-demand books and make them available as Patreon rewards
  • I give my Patreon supporters access to larger versions of the strips.
  • I embed the URL for my Patreon page into every strip I share on social media.
  • I present each webcomic on social media with text like “Here’s this week’s new episode made possible by my kind supporters on Patreon.”
  • I thank new Patrons by name on social media.
  • I publicly share PDF downloadable collections of my webcomic (usually around landmark episodes, anniversaries, or holidays) and include a page dedicated to thanking - by name - my Patreon supporters
  • I add another page to each PDF showing the covers of the nine PDF books “just like this one” patrons can immediately download with a pledge of $5 or more.
  • In my Kickstarters, I make regular reference to and link to my Patreon page (these are friends and fans already willing to financially support me and my webcomic).
  • And finally, I’m slowly adding exclusive bonus comics featuring side characters and exploring the world outside the main story (but this is much more work).

And one more thing - I exhibit at comic conventions and I have a mailing-list sign-up sheet. I regularly reach out to those folks with news and plugs for my Patreon.

I hope these help!

– Steve

10 Likes

Hello, not a serial comic artist here, but as an illustrator, I thought I’d weigh in. What’s worked best for me is (unfortunately) a bit of an obligation, which is sending out physical rewards. I mail out prints (which you totally could do no problem, as your art is gorgeous), coloring books, and small booklets. Sometimes people just like being able to hold a thing in their hands. I think they like that physical connection between themselves and the creator they support, too.

Here’s my Patreon page, if you’d like to take a look.

2 Likes

Hey there! I’ve had my patreon going for a few years for my webcomic, Tamberlane. Right now I’m able to pay rent and bills thanks to my patrons, and since I have chronic illness, I’ve managed to get a schedule that’s fairly simple to keep up with.

  • I recently updated my website to include a Patreon-only section that has links to all the reward things my patrons need (like the forms to fill out). I’m also in the process of figuring out how to automatically append the “Patron” role for commenting on the site.
  • I always have links on social media to Patreon when the pages are posted.

The biggest draws for getting people to follow me on Patreon are:

  • character cameos (pay $50-$100 monthly and your character gets a cameo; the longer you pledge, the more you’ll show up; and the higher you pledge, the more important your character will be in the story. But I get to change the character to fit the world/setting/etc and they don’t get a say in how they’re included or presented. Great for when I need a secondary character to move the story along.)
  • monthly sketch commissions ($50 - bust sketch, $100 - full body sketch; forego a sketch for one month for your next month to have 2 characters; and if you don’t put in your request, you don’t get a sketch [which has been the biggest help i stg])
  • getting to access to every page that’s been created ($10+ get the full buffer)

In addition, I send out a monthly postcard via AmazingMail with a little summary of how the month went and a terrible, terrible joke. (I always get the best reactions from the jokes, ahaha.)

I’m also part of a multi-comic discord server for the patrons of a couple diff comics, and that’s helped cross-promote as well. (It’s a closed server unfortunately!)

This is super disjointed, sorry, haha.

So, the biggest thing I wanted to do was keep a broad base of lower-$$ patrons because that way when someone drops, it doesn’t devastate my income. So I needed to make sure the lower tier stuff was really worth the money.

$1 will get you each webcomic page a week early. This has been a big draw, esp during cliffhangers. People want to know what happens next.

$3 was a requested tier that’s exactly the same as the $1 tier but for people who inexplicably want to give me more money.

$5 gets to see the character Q&A sketches I do every once in a while.

$10, as I said, gets to see every page the moment it’s created. Right now I have a 9-page buffer, so people in my $10 tier have seen pages that won’t be public until next year.

$25 gets the postcards, and I have their details for background cameos if I need to fill out a crowd.

$50 gets a bust-up sketch every month and a character cameo that will probably be around for a panel or two. The longer you pledge, the more likely your character will resurface.

$100 - limited to 8 - gets a full body sketch every month and a character that will actively aid the story to the point that everyone will know their name if they read the comic.

$100 - unlimited - gets a full body sketch, a $50-level cameo, and a character design. I’m not sold on that last one. It’s exhausting, haha.

This is all I’ve got right now. Please feel free to ask questions because I know this was super scattered!

5 Likes

I’m just about to start a graphic novel through Patreon. My plan is to submit to traditional publishers once I have enough sample material. As such, I’d assumed that the best way to work is to keep the pages private (patron only), perhaps with a few sample pages to whet people’s appetite - but I’m starting to question that now. Would you say that it’s always best to make it all public? I don’t think prospective publishers would have a problem with that. I’m just thinking about it in terms of offering exclusive access.

3 Likes

I make webcomics that feature gay heroes, this is my patreon, and here’s what I’ve found works for me:

  • starting my lowest pledge at $3 (By my lights, the biggest hurdle is between $0 and $1. If someone is willing to support you at $1, they’ll almost certainly be willing to do so at $3, and you get 3x as much support. New Patreon data supports that instinct.)

  • I don’t offer physical rewards, only digital rewards (packing and shipping is expensive, time-consuming, and doesn’t scale well as your patreon grows)

  • I do offer all my work-in-progress pages as rewards with each update: script pages, thumbnail pages, penciled pages (I have that digital art anyway, and it’s a treat for the dedicated readers to see behind the scenes for each page)

  • Patreon is the only place I offer any 18+ content (My brand, in general is PG-13, but there is strong reader interest in sexy content involving my adult characters, and there are tasteful and interesting things I’m willing to explore with that. Having any 18+ content has labeled me as an 18+ Creator on Patreon, which is a little off-brand, but I’m cool with it. The point for other creators: make the bulk of your stuff free online, but reserve the really special content as exclusive perks for your patrons.)

  • I make it clear to my general readership at least twice a month that it’s the patreon support that makes the comic possible. (Thanks to Patreon, this is my full-time job. I had been hesitant for a couple years to keep bringing up how much I needed the Patreon support, and that support deflated like a balloon month-after-month. Now I’m clear with almost every update how important that support is, and this helps both attract new patrons as well as drastically reduce the churn rate of my current patrons.)

  • I thank my patrons by name under every webcomic update (new patrons on Friday, “anniversary” patrons on Tuesday)

  • I took the time to set up Patreon-exclusive comic pages on my webcomic site. (This is some of the 18+ content I offer. I make use of the Patreon Wordpress integration, since reading webcomic pages is a much better experience on my site than on Patreon. This is new, so it’s not clear to me yet how big a “selling” point it is.)

  • I have my patrons vote on their favorite panels of my webcomic pages, and turn the winners into digital wallpapers for their desktops and phones

  • I’m always looking for how to make the experience better for my patrons and then announce every new improvement to my general readership. (For example, because reward posts are so difficult to find on the Patreon site, I recently created a special index with image thumbnail galleries. Just last week, I launched a Discourse forum that has exclusive sections for my patrons. All of this gives me an excuse to bring up my Patreon to the general readership and let folks know it’s appealing, without needing to ask anybody for anything. :slight_smile: )

That’s the stuff off the top of my head. I feel like I’ve done a good job of turning my current readers into Patreon supporters. And, to be honest, based on my polling, the majority of my patrons (95%) are support-oriented, not benefit-oriented. I still put effort into creating tempting benefits, though, because even if it’s not the main reason the patrons are there, it makes it clear how much I value their support.

My project for 2019 is to build my general readership audience through Facebook ads and a kick-ass email onboarding sequence. I’ll let y’all know how that goes.

Anyway, I hope this helps folks. :slight_smile:

@gareth.southwell: FWIW, I feel very strongly that the best way to build an audience is to release full and complete stories online for free. And, IMHO, the best way to build both Patreon support and to attract industry interest (if that’s your thing) is to build as big an audience of engaged fans as you can first.

There is a place for paywalls: exclusive extras for your patrons (see above.) But for a new project, the biggest hurdle for most of us is going to be overcoming obscurity.

Patreon is not, nor will it ever be, an effective discovery platform. It’s a place to offer exclusive benefits and access to a fanbase you’ve already built elsewhere. (Ideally on a site you own.) And you build that audience by offering kick-ass content for free, updated on a consistent and predictable schedule.

If a potential publisher is foolish enough to not want your work available online publicly, you can always take it down later. But most folks who love your work online will also spring for a printed book when the time comes. It’s just a much better reading experience to have a physical book than reading a comic online will ever be, and comics make for great artbook artifacts.

My 2 cents.

5 Likes

Hi Alex. Thanks very much for your advice. Yes, I think I’m starting to see the merit in offering the main comic for free - as you say, obscurity is the main obstacle.

I’m not totally committed to getting industry interest. It’s just that it seems like the quickest route to viability - getting paid so that I can continue to work on personal projects. If Patreon could do that, then great, and I might then look at self-publishing (or whatever). But I think I may investigate trad publishing first.

Thanks again, Alex! Extremely helpful - and just what I was looking for.

4 Likes