There’s something odd about telling people, artists, that they need to work for free to be pure while you’re sitting there getting a salary that ultimately is paid by a generation of young people going deeply into debt for their education.

Someday I will tell you all stories about theater school that will make you cry. Or scream. This quote from Astra Taylor reflects one of them.

(ON THE OTHER HAND we must break down that many faculty members don’t get “salaries” per se because they’re adjuncts, and others do get a salary but it’s very small, and the whole “work for free” culture may also derive in part from that.)

(HT: The Billfold, again. I should just requote all their stuff.)

“These situations where I can’t make a choice because I’m too busy trying to envision the perfect one—that false perfectionism traps you in this painful ambivalence: If I do this, then that other thing I could have done becomes attractive. But if I go and choose the other one, the same thing happens again. It’s part of our consumer culture. People do this trying to get a DVD player or a service provider, but it also bleeds into big decisions. So my rule is that if you have someone or something that gets 70 percent approval, you just do it. ‘Cause here’s what happens. The fact that other options go away immediately brings your choice to 80. Because the pain of deciding is over.

“And,” he continues, “when you get to 80 percent, you work. You apply your knowledge, and that gets you to 85 percent! And the thing itself, especially if it’s a human being, will always reveal itself—100 percent of the time!—to be more than you thought. And that will get you to 90 percent. After that, you’re stuck at 90, but who the fuck do you think you are, a god? You got to 90 percent? It’s incredible!”

Louis CK on making decisions (HT: The Billfold)

Jenna spent her first months of life in two places primarily: taking senior level literature and theory classes, and on my lap while I geared up Igraine, my max level troll shaman. It came as no surprise to me when she insisted on creating her own character before she could walk. However, what did come as a surprise was how irritated I got watching my still teething goblin run in circles and die repeatedly.

- The Hardest Part of Parenting by Kristine Hamilton

Brilliant.

A Reader Asked Me For Business Advice

hijinksensue:

She was responding to a video I put on Youtube, but didn’t say which one. I’m assuming it was my Patreon video. I’ve removed her name, contact info and some parts of her questions, since I didn’t ask for permission to post this. I just thought some of my ideas might be helpful to others. 

Hi Joel Watson! Thanks for responding! I actually have 100 comics that I have been posting on my G plus page for two weeks now. I am planning on establishing the characters to start and I have looked at Project Wonderful. I am just trying to establish the right business plan, because I need to replace my day job slowly but surely.

That’s a bit “cart before the horse.” Get your audience first. Then figure out how they are willing to support you through experimentation and open, honest dialog with them. At first I relied heavily on donations, then it was merch for a few years, and now I dont sell much merch and I’m back to donations (Patreon). It’s different for everyone. 

Do you monetize purely by people purchasing the comic now or merchandising?

All of my comics are free. I make money from advertising, conventions, online merch (not so much any more), donations and freelance work. 

Would you say it’s a enough to cover a mortgage?

My artistic endeavors are my only source of income, but no one in particular is enough to pay all of my bills. I try not to rely too heavily on any one source of income because they can all disappear at the drop of a hat. 

I was wondering how you actually got your very first few readers, and discovered that they were geeks.

I got my first readers from the art forums that I already frequented and posted on. Then it was primarily word of mouth, and the occasional social media bump. That was in 2007 and I don’t think it’s a very good plan for today. Word of mouth is best, but advertising/marketing are the only realistic ways to get your name out there in the ever expanding sea of “things to pay attention to on the Internet.” 

How do you suggest testing and finding out who is gravitating towards your story, even before the advertising? Would I be able to pay you to assist me with my business plan for this comic?

I don’t suggest doing this at all, and no, I would not be able to help you with this. Make your comics, then SEE who is gravitating towards your story. There are the readers you want and the readers you get. Best case scenario is there’s some overlap, but you have less control over this than you think. Readers will tend to mirror your attitude and the attitude of your work. Act like an asshole online and you get asshole fans. Be kind and honest online and in your work and you are more likely to attract those types of people. As for market demographics, don’t worry about that. If young people end up reading your comics, sell t-shirts. If adults read it, offer them something funny and attractive they can hang in their home or office. 

I am working on doing things properly this time to leave my day job for good. Also, I’m engaged, so I am working on supporting a family with my comic. So I have serious planning to do, and it  helps to learn form someone that has been there. 

This is an awesome plan and very similar to my original one, but in hindsight I would suggest building a safety net/nest egg before taking the leap. If your combined income with your partner just barely pays the bills, don’t cut it in half without a backup. If your partner can support you both for a couple of years, then you have more wiggle room. Expect to make around $0 a month for the first year or two. 

I can’t stress enough that you need to focus on the work and not the business. You aren’t Kickstarting a new kind of smartphone connected bottle opener. You are creating art that will be given away for free in the hopes that a small percentage of your audience will give you money eventually… for something. It’s a very unorthodox business and this can’t be figured out with projections and charts and demographic studies… UNTIL you have A) a lot of comics and B) a dedicated audience. 

Is your very first comic on your blog in the archives?

Yup. It looks awful, but it’s still pretty funny and reminds me where I came from. 

http://hijinksensue.com/comic/a-soul-as-black-as-eyeliner/

Hope that helps. 

-Joel

(I was just thinking, as a follow up, how cool it would be if I could tell this publication “how about you hire a visual artist to work alongside me and draw cool stuff to illustrate whatever I write,” because that would be AWESOME. How do I make that happen?)

A Question for Visual Artists

I am going to be talking to an online publication soon about doing some features for them. This publication is very interested in my reblogging popular content and/or using animated gifs and relevant artwork to illustrate points I make in my writing.

Since this is a paying gig, I want to make sure I do it right — both for you and for me, because my name will be attached to these pieces too! 

Here’s what I want to know from y’all:

  1. "Credit is enough" — not the case, right? In an ideal world, artists would get paper (or the equivalent PayPal transfer) every time your images show up somewhere, even with credit attached.
  2. "Animated gifs based on movies are fair use because they show, like, two seconds of the movie" — also probably not true? And also someone took the time to make the gif, and the gif artist should get credit? I should credit gifs along the lines of "Columbia Pictures/ArtistName?" What’s best practice here?

I already know the answer to the first question (obvs try to pay whenever possible, but at least get permission first, yo), but the second one is completely confusing. It’s like trying to get ASCAP permission to post a cover song to YouTube: there just isn’t an existing license for that.

Anyway, please share your thoughts! Please?

Now that @aliceandstuff knows that we all dressed up in bear hats to make her a present, I can finally share this outtake featuring me and @mcabain. :D

Now that @aliceandstuff knows that we all dressed up in bear hats to make her a present, I can finally share this outtake featuring me and @mcabain. :D

molly23:

hello-the-future:

Now that Muppet Christ Superstar exists, can we please have Muppetly We Roll Along, starring Kermit, Piggy, and Fozzie as Frank, Mary, and Charlie (respectively)?
I totally want to hear Fozzie’s line delivery on “gross percent of the billing clause!!!”
Or the three of them doing “Opening Doors.” Oh my. It would be magical.

I want a Muppet version of “Follies.”
Obviously it would be called “Fozzies.”

I am now picturing dozens of aging Fozzies standing around an empty theater, when suddenly a door opens and a long line of beautiful, youthful Fozzies begins to descend from the heavens…

molly23:

hello-the-future:

Now that Muppet Christ Superstar exists, can we please have Muppetly We Roll Along, starring Kermit, Piggy, and Fozzie as Frank, Mary, and Charlie (respectively)?

I totally want to hear Fozzie’s line delivery on “gross percent of the billing clause!!!”

Or the three of them doing “Opening Doors.” Oh my. It would be magical.

I want a Muppet version of “Follies.”

Obviously it would be called “Fozzies.”

I am now picturing dozens of aging Fozzies standing around an empty theater, when suddenly a door opens and a long line of beautiful, youthful Fozzies begins to descend from the heavens…

Now that Muppet Christ Superstar exists, can we please have Muppetly We Roll Along, starring Kermit, Piggy, and Fozzie as Frank, Mary, and Charlie (respectively)?
I totally want to hear Fozzie’s line delivery on “gross percent of the billing clause!!!”
Or the three of them doing “Opening Doors.” Oh my. It would be magical.

Now that Muppet Christ Superstar exists, can we please have Muppetly We Roll Along, starring Kermit, Piggy, and Fozzie as Frank, Mary, and Charlie (respectively)?

I totally want to hear Fozzie’s line delivery on “gross percent of the billing clause!!!”

Or the three of them doing “Opening Doors.” Oh my. It would be magical.

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Freelance copywriter. Essayist (The Toast, Yearbook Office, The Billfold). Occasional nerd musician. Every week I post how much money I earn writing.

twitter.com/HelloTheFuture

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