How to Start a Webcomic and Not Die

Webcomics are an awesome method to practice skills and build an audience, or launch your magnum opus for your eventual domination of the comic industry! Muahahaha! 

Let’s go.

Self-Hosting or Third Party? 

tina from bobs burgers  standing in front of a sign that says uhhhhh

I’ll start with the hard part…where will your comic live?

Self-Webhosting 

Self hosting is the (time-honored) traditional way to post a webcomic.

Many webcomics still have websites. You can add the websites to an RSS feed to read them all at once and get updates everyday! Click here for an example of a comic website! 

Pros

a meme image of Zendaya looking exhausted while Timothee Chalamet yells excitedly in the foreground.

Hosting your own comic is means you can post whatever you want, have passwords, memberships, expand to a shop, make your own ad revenue, protect your art from downloads, start a blog, run a crowdfunded project, open a digital café, campaign for president of the United States, collect participants for your evil inhumane ritual to summon a dark beast from

Uh, yeah, you get the idea. 

Cons

confused person with loading symbol on their forehead
Learning to set-up and run a website.

Learning to manage a website like a real pro is not in most people’s skill range. However, these days sites like Go-daddy and Wix make webhosting with security and monetization a total breeze! 

Its not cheap!

If you want to sell items, having your own site can cost 15 dollars minimum per month! The cheapest service is to have a site like “HostGator” host your WordPress site for you.

Tools come and go

Hosting through a site is nice, but be ready if your site’s host goes down!
Or maybe even gets put onto Comcast’s blacklist effectively blocking you from ever accessing it again (true story…*pain*).
Pick a big site with good customer support! You’ll need it! and be patient, if you’re using WordPress just give yourself a few weeks to set up your site so you don’t get overwhelmed.

Summary

All in all, self-hosting is more for webcomic professionals who make a significant income from their comics or NSFW artists who want Total Control (*cackling*). 

If you’re freshly starting out its better to just go for…

Third party hosting!

It’s called “Third Party” because this comics host is the middleman (the man in the middle) between you and your readers. 

Pros

A pokemon screenshot of meowth and james working a food truck. Meowth is happily saying It's meeting time for our capitalist conquest

You agree to follow their rules and they agree to let you upload all your wretched little images to their giant server farm (on an undisclosed plot of land in the Midwest or foreign country). 

Your comic will boost their site metrics (the number of people looking and clicking on stuff) and their advertisement (AD) value, while in return you get free advertising forever! *Children cheering* 

Most sites even let you get a little slice of the profits with an AD revenue program! (These are good for some extra cash in a pinch but compare rates amongst sites and read the fine print to see what you can and can’t post! The best rates I get are from LINE Webtoon by Naver)

Third Party hosts are the best way for beginners to get eyes on their work, live feedback, build a community, and practice their craft!  

Cons

Darcy from Marvel comedically chained to a truck.
  1. Rules, rules, rules

    Do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars.
    By using the service you’re entering into a contract (don’t be scared, you agree to a contract literally anytime you use any service or product, ever).

    This means that if they say no butts, you can’t post butts! If they say no kissing you can’t post kissing!

    If they say “we have the right of publication first refusal of 30 days for any content you post to the website” then they own your ass for a month before you can ask anyone else to publish it! (this was a real incident, watch your back these are real greedy companies)
  2. IP Farms

    I don’t know if this is truly a negative, but these sites are mainly used as IP (Intellectual Property) breeding grounds for the next big hit TV show. (everyone wants to be Marvel *sigh*)

    So they push for comics that are totally polished and Top Tier which kinda sucks the fun out of posting online for free… :T

    The culture becomes more like actual publishing even though nobody is getting paid! Booo!! BOOOOOO!!!
  3. Tools come and go

    When you don’t own your house, be prepared for if it gets demolished! Technology moves fast, so don’t count on the same website to be there in five or ten years! Save backups and keep in touch with friends!
  4. Format

    Some websites prefer scrolling format and some websites let you do whatever you want, and some are best for full page format.

    Think about your format because this can be a big time slog if you don’t like the format or if you have to switch between two formats every time you post or if you can’t print a book because it’s only in scrolling format. BLEGH!

OK! That was the hard part now for the easy part! The actual comic!

Step 1: Goals

A screenshot from a youtube channel. The host is explaining omegaverse and saying now let me take an introspective look

Decide what your goals for the comic are. They can be casual or professional. 

If you’re new to making a comic or doing it for free I’d suggest going for “casual”, like me! 

If you’re going for a professional and polished look, I would suggest just finishing a large chunk (like the first chapter) or almost all of the comic before starting to post it, it will give you a big buffer and the clean experience of a seamless schedule for your readers. 

Step 2: Plot!

An image from my so called artist's journey of the main character excitedly drawing comics while out drinking with friends.

Don’t start driving a car without a destination!

Write the beginning middle and end down on one page.

Seriously, even if it’s just three sentences, make sure you have an end in mind! I would also suggest not making it longer than 200 pages. Finishing a project is an important thing to experience!!

Step 3: Write the script

Rashida Jones dressed as a calm and professional Kamala Harris threatening the audience with a fly swatter.

Go. Now.

I’m not gonna tell you how to write a comic, but for webcomics I DEFINITELY suggest having an idea of what will go on each page BEFORE you start drawing.

Step 4: Draw the pictures.

Image from a manga. An editor is forcing an artist back to his drafting table. "Now get to your desk and draw!" the editor demands of the artist who is resting and saying "N...No!"

I’m also, not going to tell you how to draw your comic but, pick a release schedule that’s realistic and easy.

My release schedule is now every Monday. First it was Sundays but now I have a full-time day job. Just let your readers know what’s up first.

If you’re going for a professional feeling schedule, then twice or even 3 times a week is perfectly normal. Keep in mind this schedule is FAST and usually for paid teams of people or individuals whose MAIN job is their webcomic.

Hot tips!!

a gif of kelly marie tran on stage with flames shooting up

These are the hottest tips I have, direct from Orzamaar, forged in the fires of my own (shitty and painful) experience, so YOU won’t suffer my same fate, dear traveler! 

Never redraw anything. Ever.

If the page is ugly, its ugly forever.
You will get caught in the Bermuda Triangle of redrawing, sucked into the vortex, and drown.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The only thing you have to do is be Black and die. 

(That’s right. You don’t even have to do taxes. Tax evasion is cool.)

Comedian Brian Gilbert saying I am not your friend, and you have no say over what I do with my body.

There’s no “free webcomic police” nobody is gonna come and throw you in the ocean for changing the style, changing the schedule, releasing less pages, not reading the comments, going on hiatus, or even just deleting the whole story and running away.

I’ve done all of these and I’m still alive.

and finally…

Have fun!

Simplistic pixel art of a cat wearing a pink dress with text that says I'm so pretty I'm so pretty I'm so pretty

If you don’t love your comic, nobody else will (and that’s on period, pooh).

Making the comic is 95% of the work, it better be fun for you or you’re honestly wasting your time.

Stop it and come back later when its fun or never. It’s fine. It literally doesn’t matter. It’s your life. Enjoy it.

Is the drawing tool hurting you? Change it. Is the drawing process boring? Change it.

You will never make better art than when you’re having a good time making it. Even if its just to vent, you’re still putting your heart into it, okay?

It’s your drawing. It’s for you.

Go! Fight! WIN!

Meme image of tengen uzui with large text that says sorry forhaving great tits and correct opinions on everything. As if it's my fault.

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