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Study examines webcomic economic model realities
Ben Gordon, a webcomicker who created Scratchin Post and Li’l Nyet, has dug into the economic model claims used in the best selling book “How to Make Webcomics.” Ben believes the oft boasted “10% Rule” (the number of webcomic fans who will purchase merchandise that sustains a webcomic) is questionable and has spent a month investigating the reality of the HalfPixel business model and found that 10% is indeed unrealistic for most comics.
The bible is flawed.
“How to Make Webcomics,” which presents a serious working business model for making a living from webcomics:
- cannot be verified by the majority of case studies; and,
- appears to offer incorrect guidance about what sort of webcomics are most likely to succeed.*
Doing some fact-checking (for I am using the HalfPixel plan for my own comics), I discovered that the 5-10% figure, called the sell-through rate, seems unique to the book. Every sell-through rate I found on the internet pertaining to t-shirts and similar merchandise was 1%, and in one case, half of 1%. The last is from one of the most successful names in webcomics, Chris Crosby.
The obvious situation is either HalfPixel has over-optimistic forecasts, or something special is happening in webcomics. Perhaps a special sort of fan loyalty has emerged to drive higher sell-through rates. (To check that, I developed a statistic for fan loyalty that as statistical instruments go isn’t fantastic but isn’t bad. It tells me that comics with unusually high fan loyalty scores might turn moderately insufficient traffic into sufficient traffic, but it wouldn’t perform miracles. We’ll visit that another day.)
Disclaimer: Ben has been an advertiser on this blog.