How Can You Make Money from Your Comic Without Selling It?

gamalhennessy Community • Jan 12, 2021

It might seem counterintuitive to try making money from your comic by giving it away. If you spent a lot of time and investment dollars to bring your book to market, why would you offer it for free? The answer is monetization, or turning a non-revenue generating asset into cash.

Traditional broadcast television in America makes money from selling the eyeballs of their viewers to advertisers. People don’t have to pay money to watch networks like NBC, but they do have to deal with commercials, one way or another. One of YouTube’s business models is similar, where short ads are placed in front of or inside videos to generate revenue. Many mobile apps use the same monetization methods to generate money from the attention of their users. As an independent publisher, you have the opportunity to capture the attention of your target market and turn that interest into revenue.

This method of making money goes beyond giving your comic away for free. By leveraging the traffic on your website, you may find that your artwork, your marketing content, and your perspective on topics of interest to your target market all become monetization content. Depending on which method you use, you can begin to make money from your comic before it is made, but if and only if you develop a relationship with your target market. Without an audience, you have nothing to monetize.

The three major methods of monetization are website advertising, affiliate marketing, and sponsorships.

How Can Website Advertising Generate Revenue?

Banner advertising refers to the use of unused space on a website or online media property to display advertising. There are various types, sizes, and aspect ratios depending on the nature of your website, and different sizes can generate different levels of income.

What Are the Benefits of Banner Advertising?

1. Revenue can be generated before production of the book is complete.
2. Ads often come from third-party networks, so you don’t have to spend extra time and effort finding ad partners.
3. You make money without asking for your ideal reader to spend any of their money.

What Are the Downsides of Banners?

1. Ads can detract from the visual and narrative appeal of your website.
2. Ads can slow down the performance of your website, leading to lost traffic and lost readers.
3. Ads can often drive traffic away from your site, unless you have the option to open the ad link in a new window.

How Can Affiliate Marketing Generate Revenue?

Affiliate marketing is an advertising model in which a company compensates third-party publishers to generate traffic or leads to the company’s products and services. As a third-party publisher, you are the affiliate, and the commission fee incentivizes you to find ways to promote the company. It is your job to post ads on your site that will appeal to your target market. When an ideal reader clicks on the ad and buys something, you get a portion of that sale as a commission.

For example, Amazon has an extensive affiliate marketing program and a large selection of vampire cosplay products. If the publisher of a vampire comic sets up an affiliate marketing program with Amazon, they could potentially make money from all their readers who might also be into cosplay as part of their fandom.

What Are the Benefits of Affiliate Marketing?

1. There is a low cost of entry to get started.
2. You don’t have to buy, store or ship the products being sold.
3. You can start generating revenue before your comic is finished.
4. Your revenue is based on the relationship between your target market and the goods and services they are interested in, not just your book.

What Are the Downsides to Affiliate Marketing?

1. Affiliate marketing doesn’t lend itself to every type of comic.
2. You have very little control over the quality of the product or the customer service of your marketing partner.
3. There is very little control over the commission amounts.
4. Some marketing partners resist or avoid paying commissions.
5. There is often little support from the marketing partners.
6. There is often a high degree of competition in the market.
7. Affiliate marketing can be a long-term revenue stream, but it is not a short-term income solution.

How Can Sponsorships Generate Revenue?

Sponsorships in this context involve someone acting as your sponsor and providing funds in exchange for a halo effect with your readers. There are two types of sponsors your comic can employ, single sponsors (often corporate sponsors) and public sponsorship (or crowdfunding).

What Are the Benefits of Corporate Sponsorship?

1. Revenue for your comic is not tied to reader spending.
2. Social proof to your target market.
3. Special deals or discounts for your target market.

What Are the Downsides of Corporate Sponsorship?

1. Sponsorship dollars are extremely competitive.
2. The sponsor could dictate the marketing or even the content of your comic.
3. The deal could be exclusive and limit your other sources of revenue.
4. Disclosure is legally required for all sponsors.

What Are the Benefits of Public Sponsorship?

Public sponsorship programs like Patreon enable fans (or patrons) to pay and support artists for their work. There are several benefits for independent publishers who want to monetize their target market with Patreon or similar systems:

1. It works well for niche creators with passionate fans.
2. It allows you to set up flexible funding goals.
3. It provides an interface to track and interact with your ideal readers and might be the closest approximation of your true fans.

What Are the Downsides of Public Sponsorship?

1. The majority of creators only generate between $1 and $100 per month.
2. The sites charge a fee which further reduces your revenue.
3. Some creators are banned based on their content.

What is the Best Monetization Method for Your Comic?

Monetization isn’t normally an instant success or failure. It is often not based on a single solution. Many independent publishers test different monetization mixtures to find the right combination for their market and their website. It might take time to find the right formula.

But there are other ways to make money from your comic. Next week, we’ll look at how you go about selling your comic to your target market.

Until then, have fun with your comic.