Friday, July 4, 2014

The Rise of Patreon

Webcomics are great for the audiance.  They can cover dozens, if not hundreds of different topics, genres, stories and what not.  The art can be dirt simple to amazing, and all of it for free.  Completely free.

Which means it sucks for the artist because free does not pay the bills.  Oh, a few comics have managed to make it big, but the vast majority don't make a red cent.  Often the artists have to find ways to make money.  Advertising is almost universal for all comics, but rarely makes enough.  Some artists run the convention circuit selling sketches, books and doodads in the hopes to make enough to do the next convention.  And some, like Doc over on The Whiteboard, actually have full time jobs.

Then came Patreon.  The idea is simple:  Pay your favorite internet creator (comic artist, blogger, video maker, streamer, etc) a small fee every month of content they provide.  It's crowd sourcing an income.  And it's gaining speed at a startling rate.

The first comic I saw it on was Does Not Play Well With Others, and the rest of Michael Poe's work (Errant Story and Exploitation Now!), and I thought it was a damn fine idea.  But it's been spreading quickly and one in particular got me to writing this, but I'll get to that.

Of course, so did Kickstarter, but the difference is the goal.  Kickstarters are typically for a single project, in the case of comics it's usually a book.  Patreons are continuous, month after month.  They're apparently working on a one time payment option, but that defeats the point of it.  That also means if one invests in a comic and said comic does NOT produce anything that month, the money can disappear.

That recurring payment thing means that the rewards should also be recurring, not a one time thing.  Consideration should probably be made before blindly throwing money at a creator, and before the campaign itself is started.  I've noticed a few Patreon campaigns where the rewards sound very much like the rewards for a Kickstarter, which is terrible since those rewards are designed to be one time things, not something that happens repeatedly.  Sadly, I think many don't see the difference between Kickstarter and Patreon, when the difference is quite clear, and I think both creators and investors need to examine what is in a given campaign for rewards and such before committing.

It has taken off though (seriously, I added two more to the list in one morning), and it's a damn good thing.  Without a steady income, most comics are at the whims of finances, which can be, and often is, rocky as hell.  The few comics that manage an income don't strictly need it, but even successful comics, like the Devil's Panties can always use the extra finances.  Though it would help if she put it a bit higher up on her page so I don't have to hunt for it.

That said, don't expect a lot, despite what some have done.  Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has gotten over 8000 dollars a month, which is insane.  I think Dr. McNinja has the second highest at about 2000, but most will be lucky to get a couple hundred.  Popular comics obviously make much more than average, and most of the ones I read are really good and popular, so they're a bit richer than I would normally expect.

So which comics have Patreon campaigns?  Here's a list and a link to their campaigns:

The Adventures of Dr. McNinja -
The Demon Archives -
Twilight Lady -
Exiern -
Derelict -
Dead Winter -
Does Not Play Well With Others -
Romantically Apocalyptic -
Sorcery 101 -
String Theory -
Trying Human -
Zebra Girl -
Bug Martini -
Chainsawsuit -
Devil's Panties -
Dumbing of Age -
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal -
Book of Biff -
Wapsi Square -

I might have missed some as they tend to happen with little warning or I miss the icons.

There is one comic missing from that list because while it doesn't actually have a Patreon campaign, it's been doing the same thing for years?  That comic is. . .  yeah it's Sluggy Freelance.  For a LONG time now, the Defenders of Nifty program has been one of the bigger income producers of the comic.  It works basically the same as a Patreon, though it runs yearly rather than monthly.  Still, same idea.  I'm telling you, this comic has done everything.

Well enough of that.  Until next time kiddies.  Oh and happy 4th of July for my fellow Americans.

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