You can always consider selling comics with a website. Although there is a catch. It can be a technical and time-consuming option for inexperienced comic creators.
The benefit to comic creators is that this method is typically better suited for selling directly to readers.
I’ve personally been looking into the different options for selling products via a website recently and as I understand it there are three options available to you. Distributing digital copies, dropshipping or holding inventory.
- Buyer pays for the digital copy.
- Now you have two options.
- You either provide them with an account to a portal on your site or third party site or.
- You send them a digital copy using any medium you desire, email, download link or mail them a USB (not so sure about the last one).
Cheaper to produce
The process of creating a comic is done in two different ways. With either physical materials (paper, pencil, ink, paints, etc) or digital tools (Adobe Photoshop, Manga Studio, a Nintendo 3DS and stencil, etc).
At the end of the day if you are looking to upload it to your own website or to get it printed by a major printing company (offset or POD) you will need to digitize your work.
In the case of physical materials, all you have to do is scan it. More on what to do with digitally produced comics later.
The point is, that once it’s produced that’s it…
If you intend to distribute and charge your readers for digital copies your costs for producing your comic end there.
No printing costs you have to make sure are covered, no shipping costs, nothing.
Your Margins Can Stay The Same
If you still wanted to sell physical copies of your comic you can still make the same, or more, per unit of digital copies depending on the type of markup you want to offer to your buyers.
Can be easily re-distributed
A major concern with digital copies is that they are popular to re-distribute among the masses in the modern internet focused age.
Although this is a reasonable concern there is something to keep in mind. It’s not the end of the world if people read your comic for free (read this article to find out why). In short, you can probably still make money off of those who read your comic for free.
Retailers Don’t Like It
A common belief among retailers is that digital comics as a threat to their business.
In my time researching digital comics and their effects on the market by connecting with various former publishing companies sales reps and third party resources I’ve learned that digital comics don’t sell well enough to justify this belief. But this popular belief among retailers is something you need to account for.
If you’re trying to also sell physical copies of your comic to retailers some of them may take the fact that you distribute digital copies to readers from your website (which they may very well check) as reason enough to never sell your comic on their store.
- You receive an order via your site.
- You receive payment for the product (your comic).
- You forward the order information to your supplier (probably your POD printer).
- Supplier sends the product with your logo/information in the packaging to the customer
Basically you never even get to see you comic in this process.An incredible resource that I’ve found for this is Shopify’s Ultimate Guide To Dropshipping (I strongly recommend reading it).
You hold no inventory
This means that besides paying for a website and spending time to design it and make it work the way you want (you can always use a content management system (CMS) like Shopify to make this easier, that’s what I’m considering) and covering any other legal fee’s (this may not apply to you) you can practically start selling comics off of your site for just a few hundred dollars.
- You are at the mercy of your suppliers, whoever they are.
- There are a lot of different variables that can end up costing you.
- Depending on the agreement you have with your supplier this can end up costing you a lot, making you make the decision of whether or not to charge a lot for your comic (not many will pay for it) or charge a regular price (and make little off of it).
- Shipping costs are out of your control since they’ll be shipped out from the supplier's location.
Basically how holding inventory works is like this:
- You order a specific amount of units of a product (printed comics) from your supplier (most likely your printer, POD or Offset).
- You list how many units you have available on your store (you can make this visible to your buyers or not).
- People buy from your store.
- You prepare the units (your comic) for shipping, arrange the shipping, and ship the units to the customer.
- Customer receives products ordered (your comic).
The More YOU Buy The More You Make
Depending on the volume you buy prices can be reduced. Typically the more you order from a supplier the lower the individual unit prices will be.
This offers you an opportunity to make more money from the same price you would normally have charged if you used dropshipping.
You’re In Control
You’re totally in control as to how your stuff gets shipped.
- You have to pay a lot before you even make a sale on the inventory you decide to hold.
- You’re entirely responsible for the shipping (this is a bit of a learning curve).
- Inventory space required increases during cyber retail high times (i.e. Cyber Monday).
As a comic creator, you can take advantage of a world where starting a website that you can sell your comic from has become significantly easier can help you become increasingly more self-reliant as an independent comic creator. If you’re a publisher, all of these different techniques can also work for you.
The point is selling comics with a website is a good idea. It offers an opportunity to connect more directly with readers that are genuinely interested in your comics and yourself. If you can find it in yourself to try to set one up and learn how to manage it you can start to reap the benefits.