How to Make Money From Your Comic (Part 1) :: PWP #15

PaperWings_MoneyWings-1In a Paper Wings first, Chris and Lora jump in on the discussion about making money from your comic!

Is it possible to change the ratio of freelance work to personal work in your life?  To make your comic pay for itself?

Press PLAY and listen to Chris and Lora discuss how you can:

  • Never pay a cent on advertising… 
  • Make money just by being a trusted voice…
  • Sell your book without much upfront cost…


Project Wonderful

My Daily Routine: Comics, Podcasts & Visual Development At Disney by Chris Oatley

The Dreamer, Lora’s webcomic

UPDATE: Listen to Part 2 of How To Make Money From Your Comic!

Comment and Share:

Which of these tips have you tried, and which has worked for you?
This was just the start of a huge discussion! In the next episode we’ll be doing part 2 of this series, and we will share three more ways to generate income for your comic!


  1. says

    Really great show, guys. I’m glad you mentioned the affiliate stuff. That’s something I haven’t really seen discussed much and it’s good to have some ideas on where to go for that. Honestly this is the area of webcomics I know least about. It’s hard for me to wrap my brain around monetizing it, even though from following webcomics I know it’s not only possible, I’m even pretty aware oh how it’s done (Project wonderful etc). Strange mental block I suppose, or perhaps just something that seems bigger and scarier than it is.

    I’ll second Chris’s comment about the Cintiq, though. I bought mine with my first steady freelance gig (about two years ago now) and it too paid for itself almost immediately. The shear amount of time you can save with that tool will easily justify the cost. While a tool will not make you a better artist, if you can competently work with less sophisticated tools to get the same job done, the new tool is likely just to speed you up. And there is nothing so valuable to a freelancer as time.

    An interesting follow up to this conversation about monetizing web content would be monetizing your work in a convention setting. Particularly for comics this is essential, and for me personally this is currently where the bulk of my comic related income derives from. It seems fairly straightforward but I’ve learned over the years there’s a laundry list of tips that can help with sales at conventions. From your table setup to the pricing of your work (why pricing low can actually hurt you) to who you bring with you to the show, all of it can impact in-person sales drastically. Though not part of this conversation per se, it seems like a good related topic to hit.

    • says

      Hey Jake, I was wondering: does a Cintiq save more time than when you`d be using, say, an Intuos?

      Your blog is very nice by the way.

      • says

        Henrike, I literally can’t do on a tablet what I can do on a Cintiq. I used to have to scan my drawings in and only paint them with my tablet. Now I can do 100% of the art on the Cintiq – drawing and all – and that alone is a time-saver. Not to mention all the other cool tricks that the Cintiq can do…

        • says

          I draw my comic 100% with my Intuos… my Intuos2, lol!!

          When I finally get a Cintiq I’d be a good test subject to see how much faster it makes me.

        • says

          As if I wasn’t drooling over a Cintiq enough!

          I do all my drawing on paper and scan it and and so many times I wish I could ink on my tablet. Not to mention the paper space it would save.

          Love the “how can you afford it” point you made in the episode. Makes me think much differently about how I’m using my business-related money and how to plan for things like the Cintiq in the future.

        • says

          Michelle, we should form a club on PW: Wingerz working toward a Cintiq! And come up with ideas for making it happen! :P

        • says

          Come on, guys. :D

          The Cintiq was something I was sort of thinking of putting off until way later (year(s))…Now look what you’ve all done.

          I’ve taken a break and started turning down web development work to work on projects, but I think I might need to let my rules slide a bit there so I can get some money… :)

          On a serious-yet-related note, I really liked the lofty thought on this one. It’s funny, for me, I have no problems making several mid-level purchases (ie. three 300 dollar things), but choke as soon as it comes to the big ones, even though they really come out the same in the end. Often, also, those purchases are for things I could probably do without, and benefit more from the bigger thing (ie. Cintiq). I’ll be looking at that more closely from now on.

      • says

        I had an Intuos 3 before I had the Cintiq, and I loved the hell out of it. That said, the difference between a tablet and the Cintiq is the same step between mouse and tablet. Instantaneously I was about 20-30% faster and as Chris says, there are just some things you cannot do on a tablet. The intuitiveness of actually making makes under the tip of your stylus makes all the difference. Your work will be much more fluid, even compared to the tablet.

        Thanks for the kudos on my blog!

  2. says

    I need this SO BAD!!! Thank you guys, Just got to start this show this morning, Will finish listening on my lunch break, but this is at the heart of what we are all trying to do. Thank you for broaching this topic and I can’t wait to give it a couple of listens. You Love us! you really really LOVE us!!!

  3. says

    Loved this episode! It made me look at a few sites we link to all the time on our podcast and I found out they have affiliate programs! Hooray, maybe now our podcast can stop costing us money and bringing none in! :)

    • says

      Woooo hoooo! Yeah! That’s the path I’m on, Liz. Let me know how it works out for you. Oh, and give it a few months. These things take time to get going.

  4. says

    Thank you thank you thank you! I am absolutely certain that I will be enjoying my walk to work tomorrow now. :) Haven’t even listened to it and I’m already thinking about part 2! (I know, I may have a problem-but it’s a productive problem. so I’ll keep it)

    Oh, and I use an Intuos for almost everything now myself-and I just got Sketchbook Pro for my little xoom tablet, so now I can be drawing paperless anywhere! Ain’t technology grand?

  5. says

    Even switching to a digital tablet from pencil and paper can make a big difference, once you get past the learning curve. The side effect I have found is that the quality of my work has increased, because it is so easy to work and rework things until you get them right, without dealing with erasing and the paper degrading and so forth.

    Regarding POD and customization – you can do it with the right vendor. I printed my first book with 360 Digital books:

    The minimum order is 25 books. I ended up printing 75. Now the cost will be high, and you will have to pay for it up front. The way I did it was to do a pre-order, collect the money, send it in and then process my order.

    Then I got a box of books sent to me first. So then I did the sketches inside, and this really helped me make a profit on the book, because the profit margin without a sketch was literally like $1.20.

    The plus is that they are a real printer with top equipment, so the books look great. The down side is that it’s kind of a hassle to go through the whole thing.

    A really great resource for POD is, owned by Amazon. I’ve printed two books with them. What’s great here is you pay $40 for the “pro” account, then you get to order your own books at a reduced rate, so you really can make money from your own book. Example: We printed my daughter’s book when she was 11, Gertie. (

    Our cost on the book is like $3.40. She sold them for $7 (Note the price on Amazon is higher and they take a big chunk, we sold most of them locally). She sold 100 books, so she made a few hundred bucks for an initial layout of only $40. Plus, people can order her books via her “Store” page on and she makes the same amount.

    As you see you get listed on Amazon which is nice (you get the bar code and all) but you make only a small fraction. Highly recommended for ease of use and making some $$. Plus, the books are nice.



    • Chris Oatley says

      Wow, Tom. I didn’t know CreateSpace allowed color. That seems like a REALLY good set-up for a POD. How is the print quality for color illustration? How long was the turnaround?

      • says

        Hey Chris, the color is very good. Certainly it does not sit in the same quality bin as a high quality traditionally printed book, but – still very nice. I was very happy with my books. They are using some high quality equipment.

        The turnaround is also very good. I believe I got both my books earlier than the time they told me. I want to say it was something like a week, but it’s been awhile. Regardless, it was the fastest of any vendor I’ve ever used.

  6. says

    I was so excited to listen to this podcast! As usual, you did not disappoint, and now I have (way too much) I want to talk about!!


    I’ve debated whether or not to list on Amazon because it’s still a bit vague and intimidating to me. I don’t know where the hidden cons are. So perhaps there’s a Winger that may be able to help me out?

    - Would it be better to control distribution myself, and as such be able to collect the most direct profit? How much does Amazon take?
    - Does being on Amazon really gain me anything in terms of getting my story in front of the people that would like to read it?
    - Does it limit what I can sell it for off my own site? Am I selling it to Amazon at 50% off cover price (like I would be doing if selling directly to a local comic shop) and after that it’s in their hands? Or is there some loophole that prevents me from under-cutting them if I am listed with them?

    ***TIP THAT I’VE TRIED: #1 – Advertising to Advertising.***

    At 6 months I’d earned about $15 from Project Wonderful. Which I have now put into advertising on PW. By my estimations, that advertising increased my readership by about 25% – which is to say, gained me about 20 readers. Basically spending $0.75 per new person, or 3 people per month of advertising revenue earned. The added bonus is that now I know a LOT about my readers that I didn’t know before, and I plan on using future ad campaigns to learn more about my demographics. I’ve learned a little about what they like, what they don’t, and where they’re from. I’m hoping that future tests may reveal more about age, gender, and interests. What I’ve learned so far has already helped me decide what local conventions I want to attend next year.

    Particularly when your story is small, and a reader survey will not have a test pool large enough to make valuable conclusions, advertising can be used as a source of valuable information. IF you plan it, and are willing to dive into the numbers like a MAD SCIENTIST.


    Project Wonderful is great for the purpose Lora suggested. You make a little money and then pour it back into gaining more readership. However, very rarely have I heard of PW being a big money maker, even if you get a high volume of people visiting the site. It’s really rare to find a lot of comics bidding at a high-dollar range consistently. Most float somewhere between $0.10 – $2.00 a day. Which MIGHT get you about $1000 a year. Nothing to sneeze at, but not exactly a living wage.

    I’ve heard that, once a site has gained a high-volume of visitors, Google Ads become a better bet. However, Google ads are not going to be a money-maker for any starting comic. It doesn’t become financially sound until two parameters are met: 1) High volume of readership and 2) ads that are accurately targeted to your readership and content. The first is something we’re all working on, but takes time. However, a site CAN do something to ensure that if #1 occurs, #2 is already done. Have a Google ad in a low-exposure location on the site to get the algorithm active and collecting information. Google ads are chosen based on the content that you post on the website. Every topic in your comments, blogs, FAQs, etc, gets combed to match up with a demographic and advertising content. The more information and data it has to work with, the better the ads will be.

    Now, why have it on the site to start? Normally I would say “Pff, they can scan all that in seconds. There’s no point to having it now.” However, I think there is a lot more to that algorithm than just the content, and I think it needs time to tune. I’ve heard of a lot of creators that had Google Ads on their site do pretty much nothing for years, and suddenly something clicked and their revenue stream shot up. The ads had become accurately calibrated. So why not just stuff it on the bottom of the page and let it churn there, preparing for the future?

    Granted, take these thoughts with a grain of salt. LeyLines has only been up for about 7 months, and I only have cash coming from PW in the tiniest of fractions. I can’t say anything definitive about Google Ads, and have no personal experience about how they do (or do not) pay off, nor accurate, verifiable knowledge on the Google Ads algorithms. This is just based on observation of other creators. I freely confess that I may be jumping to the wrong conclusions, and welcome a “NO, ROBIN, YOU ARE WRONG!” – because then I’d convert that Google ad into another PW one and have more to dump into advertising for LL. :)


    For an article that beautifully combines the “How can I afford it mindset” and the topic of advertising – – Cutting Starbucks to fund Project Wonderful campaigns.

    (Seriously, I have a word addiction. You guys just get my brain cooking!!)

    • says

      Hey, Robin!

      I believe Amazon wants a 55% discount to list your book(s). The updside is that you’re on Amazon, and that you don’t have to deal with shipping or handling. If you have a hit and you send all of your readers to Amazon, it could be cool. But, there’s a few big if’s to be mindful there. If you don’t have a hit, once you take printing into account, you’re not making very much at all. Maybe you could do both? Sell it from your site and then move it to Amazon after a few months? And if you have an affiliate, maybe you could promote it that way and double dip on sending people there? (this last bit is talking out loud. I’m not an affiliate, so I don’t know if that would work).

      As for Google Ads, I’ve only known Scott Kurtz to do well with them. That’s not to say no one else has, but everyone that I’ve talked to hasn’t had too many good things to say about them. I like PW, though it is a bit insular as most of them are just webcomic sites.

      • says

        Hi Alan! Thanks for the response. If it’s 55%, that gets me thinking…

        I guess my big question on Amazon is: What is being on Amazon REALLY worth? Because, when I try to run the numbers, it doesn’t look pretty.

        –SCENARIO 1: Sell on Amazon–
        Cover price: $20.00
        Cost to make book: -$5.00 (Est)
        55% Mark-down for Amazon: -$11.00
        S&H to get it to Amazon: -$6.00
        S&H to get it to customer: $0.00

        Net LOSS: $20-5-11-6 = -$2

        NOTE: The US post office only accepts 70 lbs packages. Assuming the books weigh 1.4lbs a piece, that’s $300/package of about 50, which is $6/book. This is WITHOUT insurance. Numbers come from USPS postage price calculator for a 70lbs package that is 13″x10″x13″ (0.25″ spine x 50 books, which are roughly 9″ x 12″)

        Assuming there is a better shipping method at 1/2 the cost, this COULD be:

        Net Profit: $20-5-11-3 = $1

        Even if I magically get it to Amazon via Fairy Godmother:

        Net Profit: $20-5-11 = $4.

        – SCENARIO 2: Sell Privately –
        Cover price: $20.00
        Cost to make book: -$5.00 (Est)
        Mark-down: $0.00
        S&H to get it to Seller: $0.00
        S&H to get it to customer: -$5.00
        (This is Priority Mail® Flat Rate Envelop cost, no insurance)

        Net Profit: $20-5-5 = $10

        Can you see why the prospect of selling on Amazon makes me nervous?? IF I can find a shipping method that isn’t completely insane, I’d still only make a tiny bit of profit, and what do I gain? Is Amazon really going to be funneling me oodles of new readers, or am I just giving them the profits of my faithful supporters, who would have gladly bought it directly from me instead? In fact, am I ripping off my readers because I have to charge more just to not lose money on the transaction?

        Am I missing something? Cost of storage, maybe? Cost of advertising book to get it to sell?

    • says

      I’ve taken a thousand dollars out of my PW account. It’s not a full time salary, but it’s no small thing when it happens, either.

      Have you advertised your comic with PW? It’s strange but when you are advertising your comic, hits are coming in, and so the bid on your personal box on your site goes up with the increased traffic. So you’re making more even though you’re spending. It’s kind of win/win. New readers and it helps deflate the cost (or cover the cost!) of what you’re spending yourself.

      • says


        It’s really encouraging to hear that PW can pay off in higher numbers. Everything that I’ve heard/seen pointed at it being a bad long-term income source — guess it just goes to show that there is no silver bullet! Nothing is going to work 100% the same for everybody, which means continued experimentation is key!

        • says

          Wow, really appreciate all the extra input on advertising! I’ve tried PW with only limited success (read: a few extra hits for a week) but some of the ideas here look like they’re really worth trying out. Also, good insight on giving GoogleAds time to “calibrate”.

          I’ve been doing my webcomic for a couple years or so now, and my traffic’s been pretty low. Recently there’s been a bit of an increase though (actually a pretty significant increase for me), so that combined with this episode has me thinking it’s about time to start trying to monetize. Thanks all!

  7. says

    Thanks for this episode! It was really interesting. I’ve actually done the Amazon affiliate thing, but it hasn’t really worked for me particularly because I don’t go out of my way to mention books or other things I like. I made a small little “e-store” instead, but it’s not really doing anything. XD The idea of doing blog posts where I actually link to some of those books is a good idea though. Sometimes I feel a little guilty asking, even implying the need, for money. It’s irrational, and probably stems from the fact I have a full-time job already and don’t really NEED that extra cash. Almost feels like having the cake and eating it too.

    Another thing that keeps me back is, well…taxes. It’s super boring, I know, but how do you deal with all this money shifting around and going place to place and do your taxes? I’ve never even done freelance, I’ve been full-time pretty much right out of college, so I’ve gotten a W-2 the past three or so years. I spoke to my mom once about it when I expressed the desire to print and sell my comic, and she said you just claim it as income. Is it that simple? Am I making a big deal out something as easy as filling in a blank box?

    I’ve used Project Wonderful to advertise my comic on other sites, but never to put ads on MY site, again because I feel like it’s kind of not fair. PW is very simple and easy to manage and I’ve gotten some good bumps in traffic when I use it. I might use it to put ads on my site eventually, if I can work up the nerve.

    I have no problem spending money, ironically, but I just don’t like the Cintiq because there’s such a disconnect between the pen tip and the screen and the “paper surface”. Until they fix that up I don’t think I’ll seriously look at buying one. Even with a regular Intuos, I do everything on the computer now. But that’s just me!

    I liked hearing about the ISBN thing, in particular (that’s the one thing I really remember from this episode, to be honest). I’d love to hear more about the technical/legal side of printing a physical book, and maybe touch on copyright and stuff like that.

    Thanks again, guys! Great podcast. :3

    • says

      Lot’s of great thoughts Sarah. I’ve heard other people express their dislike of the Cintiq because of a disconnect and the “paper surface.” I understand their viewpoint and I myself can’t part from the Romantic idea of being able to engage with my art so directly. Anyone else have thoughts on this?

      • says

        I still use pencil and pen for my line-work, but I color everything with the Cintiq. Mostly because this is the fastest combination for me.

        Personally, since coloring on a computer is so different than using oil paints or water color or colored pencils, I don’t even think about missing paper. It’s like missing clay when you’re painting on canvas — the media is simply different, and using it creates a different experience.

      • says

        I’ve gotten so used to my intos 4 that when I actually tried a Cyntique I didn’t like it. My hand was in the way. I’ve gotten so used to seeing the curser point and line applied on screen that I just didn’t like it. So yea! Saved me some money there. It did take awhile to get used to drawing while looking at the screen and not my hand. Kind a like patting your head while rubbing your belly, but I’m used to it now.

        • says

          Do you guys know if there are any storefronts that sell the Cintiq? I’ve been thinking about saving up for one, but I want to give one a try first, as I’ve never actually seen one in Real Life™. But the only place I can find them is online retailers. I bought my Intuos from the Apple Store, but even that was hidden away (it was kind of off in the corner, and the Bamboo was the only Wacom thing with a demo on the floor). Wacom doesn’t seem to have a big physical presence in stores, at least here in the US, from my experience.

          That purchase is probably a bit off, but some of the comments here are making me second guess saving up for it… haha

        • says

          Hey Chad, if you have an opportunity to attend a convention in which Wacom is representing you can fiddle around with one there. I haven’t ever seen a retail source for the cintiq, not even in San Francisco. Does their web site show any retail outlets?

        • says

          Yeah, same story here, Sam. I’m in Chicago, and I don’t know of any.

          They have a list of vendors on their site, including a bunch of brick and mortars, but all of physical storefronts I’ve seen don’t have them there.

          I suppose from a sales perspective, it’s such a niche product that you’re not really going to sell some random storegoer on a 2000 dollar piece of equipment that facilitates drawing on a whim. You kind of have to have an idea that you want one going into it. It makes more sense to keep the floor open for more universal products. Still, just because it makes total sense doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it. :D

    • says

      I was also curious about the business side of pursuing freeland and/or a web comic as I too have a day job.

      I spoke to a friend of mine who has owned a business (non-art related) and it depends if you are pursuing this as a legit business to make money OR just a hobby for tax reasons.

      Here is what she and I came up with:

      1) Get a business license

      2) Get an accountant, for $300 during tax season they will sort out your receipts and fill out those forms.

      3) Get a separate business account and/or a credit card. This will keep your accountant and the tax man away if your accounts are straightforward.

      4) Keep all receipts in an envelope and perhaps scan them periodically as a back up.

      Note, if you are pursuing your art as a side business you have to be profitable 3 out of 5 years you are filing taxes. Which is daunting to me considering I have a lot of setup costs right now. That is something to talk to the accountant about regarding start times of writing off items on your taxes.

      I hope that kind of helped. I like to get the boring logistics of this kind of thing over and done with right away so I don’t have to think too much about it later. Also, if you are comfortable with math and filing your own taxes the accountant is not necessary. For me tho, outsourcing that headache of forms and math to someone is worth it.

      Also, if someone knows more about this stuff please feel free to correct me. This is of my own research and talking with small business owners (non-art related). Cheers!

      • says

        My CPA said that the “profitable 3 of 5 years” thing is to keep people from just creating a business to get tax write-offs. But she said that if you can show that you’ve been making effort to turn a profit, you’ll be fine. She told me not to worry about this!

        Hope that helps.

        And I agree, just pay for an accountant. Its worth the few hundred dollars. Mine is worth every cent and then some.

  8. says

    What a great resource. I’m going to start following these steps soon! The only tip I’ve been applying is the lofty thought : “plan how to afford it.” With careful planning, my wife and I finished paying for animation mentor right before I finished the program. We looked at our budget and couldn’t see the advantages of going to CTNX, so I planned to volunteer and will now be able to go. I’m now planning to be able to afford Sherm Cohen’s storyboard success course and in the more distant future, possibly a cintique. So THANKS for the tips and inspiration. I’m becoming more and more confident in this journey!

  9. says

    A much needed discussion for us! I cannot thank you enough. I have always been hesitant with advertising on my website, but with the information and clarification that you guys have provided, I feel like this is something that can actually work on my site! A question I have concerning this topic is on the note of self publishing, what are some good places to go to get your book self-published? I have used ka-blam and like them, but they no longer do hardcovers and that is one thing I’d like to have, but in general, I would like to know more resources for self-publishers to print at.

    • says

      Good Question, Lee. I also had it in the back of my mind and forgot to ask. Is there any way paperwings can become affiliates with an on-demand publisher?

      • says

        Scott – do you know of any reputable self-publishers that offer affiliate programs? We are open to the possibility if it’s a good fit and if Lora and I can, in good conscience, give them our endorsement.

  10. says

    Hey guys.
    I just wanted to say thank you for another amazing episode. LOTS of really great information, of course. But especially wanted to say thank you for the ‘lofty thought’ in this episode. :)

    It’s so easy to get bogged down with having to pay bills and taking care of the day to day that you don’t even realize that with even the smallest of tweaks you could be doing so much more. It ALWAYS helps to be reminded of things like that, so I’m really appreciative.

    We all deserve to be investing in ourselves. :)

    Any case, I’m much looking forward to hearing more. Please keep up the wonderful work here~! And it’s great to meet you guys (this is my first time commenting, haha).

    On a random note, I was thinking about getting a Cintiq later on this year (the best Xmas gift ever *lol*). I’ve been reading different reviews and such but I can’t find much about eye-strain. Do you guys that have one experience eye-strain much? Are there ways around it using a Cintiq?

    Thanks guys~!! :D Have a good one.

    • says

      First of all, C, welcome and thank you for joining in the conversation.

      Second, yes, a small start with monetization is better than none at all. Take it from me – the guy who waited THREE flippin’ years to take action in this.

      Third, I take frequent breaks as part of my time management (counter-intuitive, I know…) so that usually deals with eye strain. I would say that eye strain is secondary to back issues. If you don’t sit correctly with the Cintiq, it can take it’s toll on your back/ spine. Eye strain has not been much of a problem for me. No more than with any other computer monitor.

      The main solution for both eye strain and back pain is frequent breaks and stretching/ resting eyes.

    • says

      Hey, C! I found this review to be *really* helpful about the ergonomic perks of the new Cintiq. I hope this helps:

      On a personal note, I loved the Lofty Thought. This is something Chris has always encouraged us in, and stretched us in a bit. I definitely have a tendency toward monetary conservatism. It’s kept us out of debt, but at times made things a lot harder on us when having the right tools would have helped. Slowly over time we’ve added things incrementally as we were able. The “How CAN I?” is a great way to think about it. Not reckless, but intentional!

  11. says

    Man I love thinking about this stuff. Most all of the content of this ep is based entirely upon passive income streams. Wondering if that may be the delineation between part I and part II…. :P Here is some stuff that I can think of/have thought about.

    Are there any services for you as a creator that might offer relationships based on content, besides affiliate marketing? The Dreamer is a super easy example here, perhaps, say, a partnership with a Revolutionary War memorabilia business could be worked out where both mutually benefit from the relationship.

    Another thing I’ve seen people doing is getting into the whole ‘livestreaming’ thing. That simultaneously builds a closer bond with the audience, and I’ve also seen a lot of ‘I’ll draw this thing that you tell me to and then you can buy it’ model happening. I’m not sure how well that works in tandem with running a webcomic, though, as far as time investments go, and this one might be one to save, for when you get a following and are recognized for your style.

    I can think of a whole bunch of other indirect means of generating product sales for artists. Work it out with the local comics meetup group or library or youth group to give talks on creator-owned content and your process. Or local groups related to your topic, if applicable (again, Dreamer – historical societies, re-enactors). Most of these will be more than happy to have such a program and you can directly pitch your work to the public bolstered by the fact that being a presenter automatically makes you a person of authority, and you’ll probably sell a couple of books on the spot.

    Some artists sell tutorials online, or you can teach local classes.

    As a curiosity, does anyone know if there’s a service that delivers a webcomic via email? I know Feedburner allows you to offer an email feed to your viewers, and *may* even offer advertising (I haven’t looked at FB’s backend in awhile), but I’m thinking full-on email with a template. While webcomic readers tend to be more web savvy than the average person, RSS is still a technology that’s pretty confined to a technical audience. Email has become universal and is already utilized by most retailers. Plus, more advertisements. However, I don’t know enough about the webcomic business to know the cost/benefit analysis on running a listserv vs. not catering to viewers who don’t use RSS, or if this is even an issue at all, so it’s also entirely possible that the last paragraph could be totally bunk.

    I’m for sure totally rambling now, and thinking aloud, but these are some quickly-constructed thoughts on other ideas in addition to traditional banner advertising and affiliate sales. I’m drawing a lot of this from my knowledge of blog marketing, which obviously contains heavy parallels to webcomics. From my experience with that, it seems that success in this realm relies on setting up *many* mechanisms for passive income plus maybe some rev share, and then putting out great content, with each piece of the system putting a drop in the bucket over time, and then all of them adding up to a sustainable income.

    • says

      Great input Chad. And yes, we’ll be talking about active income streams in the next episode.

      As for an email service that can deliver email attachments – you can use AWeber for that. They are AWESOME. They are our new email service and we’re using them for PWP, and

    • says

      Are there any services for you as a creator that might offer relationships based on content, besides affiliate marketing?

      I’m thinking that very thing Chad. once I have Ouwangalaymah! finished, I’m taking copies to our local zoo and see if it might be something they could offer in the gift shop.

  12. Steph says

    Love the podcast! In the past week, I have found your (Chris) personal podcast/blog, the dreamer webcomic (which I started reading and only stopped when absolutely necessary, until I reached the latest page), and this podcast…and I found all of them only because of that “Daily Routine” post. I would love to do visual storytelling/ story boarding, so I subscribe to a lot of animation/character design/story blogs, and through one of those I came across your post. Very cool stuff indeed.

    It’s really difficult to find great resources like your two podcasts, that I have been looking for, so thank you both for you time, and keep it up. :)

    • says

      Ahoy Steph and welcome!!

      You will find this site, team and community to be an absolute treasure! They are truely priceless and know what the heck they are talking about. When you get time, check back through the archives and you will find a coule podcasts/blog posts on character design and that will get you started on amount of nuts and bolts they provide.

      Stay on for the conversations, I have found many a kindred Winger here and you will be taken care of.

      Best wishes for happy journeys!

  13. says

    Great episode!

    One way that I’ve been able to conserve money this year is that as I’ve been getting more and more freelance clients, and moving into full-time freelance, I’ve been setting aside extra money for taxes from each job. When tax time comes around, I’ll hopefully have enough extra after taxes for some upgrades to my equipment.

    I’m currently working on an Intuos 3, and I absolutely love working with it. However, there are some areas that really put a snag in my process. One, is that I can’t spin it around or upside down like a normal piece of paper, so I find myself making unnatural movements with my arm and hand in order to get certain things to look right. This has caused me to actually ditch the tablet and just use pencil, pen, and paper sometimes.

    That being said, how much more efficient is the Cintiq compared to the Intuos? Would it really be worth the upgrade?

    • Chris Oatley says

      Paul – that is the exact reason I use Cintiq as often as possible.

      Tablet = Unnatural drawing experience

      I used a tablet for years. Scanning pencil drawings and painting with the tablet. Tablets are fine but limited. Cintiq is exactly like real drawing and painting with the one exception that the surface is slick like a computer screen. But you can get different stylus tips to help with that.

      • says

        I agree — the Cintiq is a totally different experience than a tablet, and totally worth the upgrade! As for not being able to spin your page or turn it upside down: You can actually do that in Photoshop (if that’s what you’re using), assuming you have one of the newer versions. Of course it’s on screen rather than physical, but it does allow you to draw at weird angles and even upside down if you like.

        • says

          I’m using CS3, and I don’t think it has that feature. I supposed I could just flip the canvas, but that takes too much time out of drawing.

        • says

          Nope, CS3 doesn’t have the canvas rotate. Sketchbook Pro does, though! It’s like $59 these days I think, and I actually think their rotate feature is WAY more intuitive than Photoshops.

        • says

          Lora, I tried out the trial version of SBP and I didn’t like it very much. I was having difficult time getting the line weights just right on my solid black lines.

          I still think I’ll hold out for the Cintiq.

        • says

          I JUST got a freelance job yesterday that will be enough to pay for it! I told Mike and he said, “So there’s your Cintiq.” We were on the same page about it, ha ha!

        • Chris Oatley says

          Just FYI, Paul, I must chime in and say that the canvas rotation feature (Photoshop 5 and Sketchbook Pro) is, indeed, NOT the same as just intuitively turning the screen with your hands (Cintiq and real paper).

          Just think about how you draw naturally… …you never keep your arm at a fixed angle, rotating the paper relative to your arm…

          The canvas rotation feature is definitely an improvement over CS3 but just know that it is still very counter-intuitive and definitely slower than Cintiq/ real drawing.

        • says

          So it’s not unwieldy to rotate the Cintiq, Chris? Something I was curious about…

          Is it a fairly light piece of equipment, then? I guess now that I think about it I’ve been kind of projecting the thought of a monitor with a flat mount in my brain, which makes it seem more of a permanent fixture than it might be… haha

        • Chris Oatley says

          Chad, yeah, the Cintiq rotates very easily. It’s a little bit heavy but only when you have to pick it up and move it. To rotate, it has a swivel point at the back that can spin almost 180 degrees.

        • says


          I was -| |- this close to pulling the trigger on an eBay bid, but I need the warranty on a purchase this big.

          Unfortunately, Wacom seems to have been out of stock of the 21ux for awhile, and their impulse-purchase-from-paper-wings-conversation window is rapidly closing. :)

  14. says

    How can I afford a Cintiq? …I don’t know! I’ve been trying to figure that one out ever since I found out what one was. Every user I’ve met who has had one says it makes all the difference…argh.

    Thank you for mentioning the Amazon affiliates. I had never heard of that. My partner and I have been working on a bibliography/suggested reading to go with our comic, and linking that to the books themselves. Now it sounds like it could be an excellent resource for us as well as our readers!

    So, I have a conundrum I’d like to present to you guys, that always leaves people scratching their heads. I definitely have enough comic pages for a book. People have told me they want a book. However, for the first two years worth of work, I painted all my original comic pages at 100 dpi. The later comic pages were at 200 dpi. No printer I have met will take anything smaller than 300 dpi and prefer 600 at that. Now, I can rescan my pencil originals easy enough, but the thought of recoloring all those pages makes me just want to weep (especially because right now I don’t feel like I can color at all – I’m going through the same steps I used to with extra-lackluster results, so scrapping the colors I like and won’t be able to duplicate would just kill me). I’ve tried programs that supposedly can increase the dpi without making it look like crap, but they make it look like crap. Any ideas?

    • says

      You guys can also set up an account at Goodreads. It has nothing to do with making money, but I have a lot of readers over there who follow my reviews and recommendations. My book is about history, so they want to know what I’m reading.

      I am setting up a much shorter reading list with Amazon Affiliate links on my own site, though, after Chris & I began talking about all of this stuff. It’s a great avenue if you have a topic that people ask you about all the time!

    • Steph says

      Ok, this is something I know about from my photography endeavors, so I don’t really know if this would work for you, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t, so I’m just going to throw it out there:

      There’s a program called Genuine Fractals that can increase image sizes up to 1000%. It works well…I think it costs somewhere around $100, but it’s worth every penny.

      Ok…I see it’s been renamed, but it’s now Perfect Resize, but I’m sure it still works well. I have an old version. :)

      • says

        I tried the demo version Genuine Fractals 5 or 6 a year or so ago and was underwhelmed by the results, but I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to try the new version. Thanks. :)

        • Steph says

          I used mine a few years ago for some photographs, but honestly, I haven’t used it often. When I did use it, it was worth it for what I needed. If I think of something else, I’ll let you know. At any rate, I hope you figure out a good solution to your quandary. Good luck!

    • says

      Oh yes, I forgot to reply to that! I would print out your 100 dpi, if it’s printable. I’d just resize your images to 200 dpi and send those. I’ve never heard of the programs Steph mentioned, but they’re worth a shot.

      Good luck!

  15. says

    Ahoy Wingers! I hope you all are doing wonderfully! I just wanted to chime in on my take early on.

    I am like Chris on this, I am not a huge fan of advertising because of those that completely abuse/ugly up their site with it. Like Lora said, it can get to the point where you cannot guide yourself through or to the content. But Lora, you have a great point; when approached properly, this is a great way of gaining a little monetary ground and help the venture fund itself and that is really what we are after!

    If our comic does get off the ground, my writer, Omar, and I are going to discuss some new ideas I am having about advertising with non-comic material on the site. Example, it is a sci-fi comic with a very involved story tying together alot of myths and speculative history being discussed in modern fiction and many aspects of sicence. The History Channel is currently running many reletive shows about this kind of content. I would like to contact them and discuss a way of advertising their material (in a small way) in conjunction with our comic. This will help to widen the market reach of the book past just the common comic reader and add quite a bit of potential lagitimacy to our story by mearly piggy-backing on their content reletive reputation.

    This is just an early concept but I think this idea can actually extend to other Winger’s works and is a awesome way that our little niche of material can actually interact with larger, more broad-base markets with a greater amount of followers. That in turn, would widen our own base.

    Ok, enough ideas for my small, sea-faring brain…must lie down before I hurt myself.

    Wishing you great sailing (and selling!)
    Captain Dutz

  16. Steph says

    Out of pure curiousity, since I’ve been looking at cintiqs for a while myself…what size/model do those of you that have one have? Or if you are already saving for one…which one? I really don’t have any experience with them, and know no one who has one to ask. Is bigger better? Or is the 12WX “plenty”?

    • says

      Steph, I have both the 21UX and the 12WX. I like the 21UX for the bigger screen but the 12WX is portable and it has two more “Softkey” (programmable) buttons for shortcuts.

      I can just about work entirely without the keyboard on the 12WX which I can’t do with my 21. All because of the programmable softkeys (easy to program via the settings panel in the Cintiq driver software that comes with it).

      Also – the 12WX does not rotate on the stand, but it’s so light and small that you can work with it in your lap and get plenty of natural, intuitive movement.

  17. says

    Wow, I just stumbled upon this great podcast (and community) in the last week and I’ve absorbed all the back podcasts and the blog posts with great haste. I really have never encountered anything like PW, with the “wingers” — a group of like-minded creatives, willing to openly share. I’m so impressed and I’ve been around the sun a few times (as Chris likes to say)

    I wanted to throw my two cents worth in on the Cintiq topic. I would love to have one. I’ve been working digitally with a tablet for several years but I think a Cintiq would certainly up my productivity. I wouldn’t mind finding a refurbished 12x. It’s all I really need.

    Interestingly, I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine from art school, a photo-illustrator/retoucher, who bought a 24x about a year ago and was frustrated because he was so familiar with the feel of working on a tablet, the Cintiq presented the unfamiliar position of having ones hand in the way of what they were working on.
    I found this interesting.

    Is there anyone else out there in “winger-land” who has a Cintiq, and finds it awkward after years of using a tablet? Just curious.

    Chris, did you find there was a learning curve in the outset of using your Cintiq? Did it take a while to adjust?

    (I still want one…and am going to come up with a way to get it.)

    • says

      Hi Tami! Welcome to Paper Wings. I’m so glad you found us and are ready to dive right into the community!

      I can’t chime in directly to the Cintiq discussion, as I’m like you–plotting to get my first. But I wanted to give you a warm welcome to the Wingerz!

      • says

        Thanks for the warm welcome! I’m so glad to be here.
        BTW, I love THE DREAMER.
        I’m a total history geek. Being from Virginia and living an hour away from Williamsburg, Monticello, Appomattox and a ton of other awesome historical sites, I almost take it for granted.
        Thanks for doing such beautiful work and putting it “out there” for the rest of us to enjoy. You’ve really inspired me.

    • says

      Just wanting to chime in on the Cintiq questions, I think size and weight-wise (and price-wise) the 12wx seems like a good fit for me, but I’m concerned about the lower pressure sensitivity. I currently have an intuos 4, and the cintiq 12wx has half the pressure sensitivity it does. Does anyone know how noticeable that would be?

      • says

        From a pressure-sensitivity standpoint, I prefer my 12WX over my 21UX. Not that noticeable of a difference though.

    • says

      The whole “my hand gets in the way” argument makes me feel a little crazy because nobody says that about traditional drawing and painting!

      You never hear anyone saying “I can’t draw with a pencil on paper because my hand gets in the way!”

      That said, as with any transition, it takes time to get used to it. I just find that many artists make a judgement about how they work without thinking about the big picture. They sit down and try the Cintiq for two minutes and immediately dismiss it saying they don’t like it. Ugh.

      A week or so of slow-down while you adjust and come up with your own Cintiq Technique is nothing compared to the speed and efficiency increase that comes with the more natural feel and the customizable buttons and striking menu.

      • says

        Hello Chris! All eighty, gotta get two questions in! If a used 12″ in is what I can get sooner, would that size do the job if I am not doing this kind of work all of the time? If it turns out to be the tool for me, I can take the money I make from it and also resell it and then re-invest it in a larger one. Second, would a unit that is a few years old be worth the investment?.

        This is perfect timing because I have been looking to purchase in the very near future! Thanks!!!!

      • says

        Hey Chris, it’s true for me. I never complained about my hand getting in the way in the analog stage because I never knew it could be any different. When I was in school, the closest thing to My current MAC & Wacom set up was an overhead projector! :o0
        My shift from pencil & paper to my intuo quintupled (figure pulled out of the air but it was reeealy big!) my productivity. I’m not saying that I would refuse a Cintiq if you gave me one,

        [please ship to 6832 N. Rowell Ave Fresno Ca. 93710] “JUST KIDDING!!!!”

        but A balance is so needed. Like you mentioned, you have to be realistic and responsible. If you cant afford a Cintiq don’t feel you have to go out and get one. If a week with a Cintiq showed me that I could have a similar increase in productivity that I had with my intuo then I am in the boat with you! Right now though, to be balanced, I need to find reasons not to afford one. I be poor! One of these days though…

        • says

          You’re right. Cintiq is amazing but it’s not the midas touch by any means. Artists have been making beautiful, purely-analog art since the beginning of art!

  18. says

    Hi guys!
    Great episode and a timely one for me. I’ve been trying to find a way to monetize my work for over a year now and the suggestions from the latest podcast give me a direction to start in. I do have a question to put toward the group. I have two comics that have regular viewers, but both are still on a webcomic hosting site. I’ve been thinking about moving on to my own independent website, but have been hedging. I think I’m too comfortable with not having to worry about the responsibility of managing my own site, but I think getting a site of my own would help me improve my web presence. Any suggestions on how I should proceed?

    • says

      Keir, I see you’re over at “The Duck” comics. I launched my own webcomic there years ago. A site like contains with a built-in readership of comic lovers, and offers ways to be featured and followed that can really help jumpstart your project. But I think to really grow your comic you need to eventually outgrow a site like this. When the time is right to do that is up to you.

      It can be a little scary, but I think it’s worth the risk! Good luck!

    • says

      Do they let you use personal domains over there at the Drunk Duck site? I don’t know a lot about webcomics platform hosting, but maybe you can break things down on the web move here a bit.

      One suggestion I can think of is, well, first, see if they offer a service where you can use your own domain (, the blogs hosted by wordpress, allows you to do this, for example), purchase it, and use Drunk Duck as your hosting platform for awhile longer. Second, if they don’t do that, you could also buy your domain and set up a redirect on it to your Drunk Duck page. A little bit inelegant, but it would be a really solid intermediary step!

      That will get you started with the process. When you buy your domain, you can also buy your webhosting at the same time in combination. Then you can start promoting your real domain name at cons, in your web presence, on social media, etc. Meanwhile, since you bougth both, you *have* the hosting available. That way, you build the real site in the background, figure out the web stuff, and then launch it when you’re ready. And since you will have already been using your URL, the transition for your users will be seamless.

    • says

      I’m a big supporter of independent domains with clean and simple names. Easy for people to remember, easy to advertise, freedom of website design and control.

      I am NOT a very web-savy person, but WordPress and themes like Webcomic make it really easy to manage your content. Most good hosting companies even have quick-install set-ups for WordPress now. If you want something fancy, have some cash, but don’t have time/skill to make the site of your dreams, you can also get help. Like Chris’ lightbox example earlier. (HIGHLY recommend Alice of for this. She just helped me code my new website design. She got the rough done in a day, and the site is now live and tweaked, 3 days after I sent her the .psd Mock-up. Lady is made of LIGHTNING and AWESOME.)

      Hosting is relatively cheap, particularly if you know that you can commit for long-term registration (I got 3 years of hosting for about $3.30/month this way). You’ll also have to pay for annual domain registration (~$15).

  19. says

    I love these discussions! My comic isn`t online yet, but Paperwings is like a big cabinet full of helpful advice, tips, tricks and suggestions. When the comic launches, I`ll be sure to be listening and reading this episode and comments again. :)
    I`ve always liked the idea of Project Wonderful, because you can directly buy a space on a website of your choosing. I`ve wondered if there would be any effect if you`d advertise on sites that don`t have anything to do with (web)comics but that deal with the theme of your story. (like, in the example of the Dreamer, on a site about the revolutionary war) Could that draw in new readers that are interested in the topic, but aren`t necessarily comic readers? Or do you have to be careful about it?
    I also like the idea of the affiliates.

    I had recently convinced myself that I would get a Cintiq “when my work would be somewhat professional” or “when I would feel like my work could justify such a big investment”. But these thoughts are really vague and unmeasurable if you watch it in the light of the previous post about not pursuing artistic growth. Still, I only bought my Intuos 3 three years ago and I haven`t regretted it one moment…I have no job in the creative field and my comic is still something I do in my free time. A Cintiq is a really intimidating “professional” tablet to me, so I`m still in doubt if that`s the first thing I want to save money for now.
    I could recommend people working with other tablets than a Wacom to go buy Wacom though (went from a crappy A6 Trust tablet which I bought to “try-this-tablet-thing-out” to the Intuos, the difference couldn`t be any greater than that, I was in love with my Wacom from the moment the pen touched the tablet)
    I`m lucky enough to have a multimedia store where I live that has a Cintiq on display. Unfortunately they have this really simple drawing program installed (would love to try Photoshop on it) but the feeling I got from it was that the pressure sensitivity and feeling of the pen on the screen is almost the same as on my Intuos. Big plus of course is the fact that you actually draw on the screen. I didn`t have the feeling that my hand was in the way like some people mentioned. I still draw and colour a lot on paper too, so I guess it`s like that and it doesn`t bother me.

    I wondered: can you use the Cintiq in combination with a normal computer screen? Or would you need a second or advanced video card like you would need if you worked with 2 normal screens?

    • says

      Thanks for the kind words, Henrike. On my Macbook Pro, I don’t need any extra video cards and I can use my Macbook display along with the Cintiq with no problems.

    • says

      I would say that you should buy it when you feel like the investment merits the derived benefits. “Will the alteration in workflow help me in a significant way so as to justify the cost of the purchase?” and not “am I at a level professionally where I feel I deserve to use it?” They don’t make you take a Photoshop test before you buy it to make sure you have enough skill for it. Not that I am saying you should go out right now and buy one, that’s for you to evaluate based on your financial situation etc., but it seems like your perception of the device as “something those *other* Serious Artists(tm) use” might be clouding your judgement. You use the tools that *you feel* will help you do your best work, regardless of the level of investment or ‘who else is using this’. Think of it more like a workbench, or a comfortable computer chair.

      For me personally, for example, the way I have thought about it is that my skillset and strengths skew extremely heavily toward technology, in other words – I feel very comfortable in a technological space. The computer enhances my abilities, so a closer union between physical drawing and technology will be of great benefit to me.

      I fall quite often into the ‘I’m not a professional’ trap in a lot of my thinking, so I wanted to debunk that part of your thinking on this topic. :)

    • says

      I’ve got a 2007 iMac and a 2011 Macbook. I didn’t need any extra video cards. I DID need special connectors for both, which were in the $20-$40 range to buy. It basically operates as a second screen. That you can draw on.

  20. says

    Project Wonderful allows you to manually allow or disallow advertisers to put their content on your site on a case by case basis. You can also allow or disallow animated ads, text ads, and ads above a certain content rating.

    Its a fantastic service that doesn’t make you compromise the homeyness of your website at all, and since you can choose to only advertise for other webcomics, its even less like selling-out than using affiliates.

    I can’t see myself ever using another ad service…

    • says

      I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been using PW since it…launched. Wow, I feel old now. I remember back in the day I’d approve someone’s ad, but then they’d switch the graphic to something…less…tasteful. But the PW guys closed that loophole fortunately.

      Oh, and a tip for those advertising on PW: a good and less expensive way to get a good traffic wave is instead of vying for the spots on the big sites, bid on the sites of those who are bidding on the big sites. Similarly, if you start seeing the same ads on a whole bunch of sites, advertise there. This not only helps those people pushing their ad campaign, but people who click on one interesting banner are more likely to click on another. :D

      • says

        I had some really good luck with that method, personally. You can usually find a few webcomics that are advertising eeevvverrrryywwwhhheerrrreee and you get more bang for your buck if you advertise on THEIR site instead of compete with them for bids on all the sites they’re advertising on.

  21. says

    Loved your information on affiliates. I really had no idea about them and never would have known that I could be helping fellow artists by using them. By the way, Chris, I just bought the Complete George Bridgman Guide to anatomy off of an amazon link you posted on your Formspring. Hopefully you see some of the profit from that! I also plan on buying a few other books off your site when I have the money. Always love to get good recomendations from well known and talented people like you guys. OH! And I just watched your newest digital painting video you posted. Absolutely amazing. Can’t wait for part two!

  22. says

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  23. says

    I know I’m late to comment on this particular podcast, but I’m a first-time listener with a question :)

    Can you use both Affiliate links AND Project Wonderful? I read the fine print on PW and it said they discourage the use of affiliate links because many of them look bad – but I’ve seen certain websites use both. That left me a little bit confused.

    Keep up the good work – I can’t wait to pour through the archives.


  24. says

    Hi guys,

    I may have completely missed a mention of this, but with reference to finance and budgeting, do you use or can you recommend any particular software for this side of your business? Particularly one that syncs with phone/desktop, like Things or Wunderlist (but for serious money type stuff of course!).


  25. says

    Just started listening to your podcasts and there are a lot of helpful tips and advice on this episode. Me and my brother have been trying to get some traction with readers on our own site, but haven’t had much progress on account of we don’t know exactly how to go about promoting our comic.. So thanks for this! Really very helpful! :)

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