Adventures in Moving – A Change in the Schedule

Because of my adventures in moving, I need to let you know early (and maybe often) that there will be a change in the schedule.

Here’s what’s happening:

  • The Freelance Lifestyle blog post series is going to be paused until June.
  • Writing for Comics 101 will be on pause until June, as well.
  • The Legend of Jamie Roberts MIGHT have some scheduling hiccups. (More on this below.)
  • There will be a livestream on May 23. But…
  • No livestreams will happen May 30.

I’m moving to my new apartment on June 1. We’ll see how quickly things can get back on track after that.

“But wait!” You might be thinking. “You said there might be scheduling hiccups with The Legend of Jamie Roberts! I HAVE A MIGHTY NEED FOR GENDERQUEER PIRATES!”

First, thank you for being so enthusiastic for my adventure story of a genderqueer pirate and their two best friends treasure-hunting in a land of dragons and spirits.

Despite my best efforts, though, I don’t have much in the way of pages made ahead of schedule as buffer. Plus, Beefy McMuscleton – my devoted HP Officejet 7612 printer and scanner – has been forced to retire. So my workflow in making future pages of Jamie Roberts is going to get an overhaul. A decidely digital overhaul…

A bit sooner than expected, actually. I hoped I could stretch the process I’ve been using to the end of Chapter 3, and THEN go full digital in Chapter 4. But it looks like the full-digital comics-making process transition is happening sooner.

Because of this transition, and the move to the new apartment, updates on The Legend will MAYBE not happen once a week on Wednesdays. I will do my best to hold to this weekly-update promise! But I make no guarantees.

Stay tuned to the blog here for further updates.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

Monsters Everywhere! A Live-Draw

This is a replay of a livestream I did earlier today.

I livestream every Saturday from 1 pm to 3 pm EST on YouTube. Every Saturday I share what I’m drawing, pro tips on being a better artist, and slices of my life. What do I draw? Every week it’s a different theme. This week’s stream theme? Monsters! MONSTERS EVERYWHERE!

Also in this stream/replay? A GIVEAWAY.

If this replay gets 40 likes on YouTube between now and the next stream, NeverEnding, Inc will give away a FREE health potion vial to a lucky viewer!

Which is fitting, because these monsters are being drawn for NeverEnding, Inc.

So be sure to give the replay a like on YouTube, yo.

How I’ve Run 11 Successful KickStarter Campaigns

Hold on to your seats, because I’m about to reveal how I have run 11 Successful KickStarter campaigns.

And unlike some folks, who put these kinds of secrets behind a pay wall, I’m sharing this learning for free in today’s post.

I started running campaigns specifically for comics way back in 2013. And I’ve averaged 2 or 3 campaigns per year since.

Now, here’s the thing: if you’re looking to raise millions of dollars, these tips COULD still help you. But keep in mind these things…

The most I have raised in one campaign is a little over $2,000, for Validation’s Final Push. This is still 419% of the asking goal. That said, I HAVE run one campaign that raised 800% over the asking goal.

How did I do it? Well here are my tips:

Know your BARE MINIMUM that you need to make a project happen.

Do the math. Factor in costs to print, shipping orders, KickStarter and credit card fees. Add up anything that could cost you money for the project. Know the bare minimum amount that you need to make your project come to life.

This is NOT the time for bells and whistles. If you’re raising funding to get a book printed, know the minimum you need to get JUST the book printed. And ONLY the book.

Often when I see first-time KickStarter campaigns launch, the asking goals are $3k or more – and yet the audience for it cannot raise that much.

And the asking goal is set so high so often because the math is just inaccurate. Because these folks ignore the next point…

Set the rewards to be easy on the budget – and related to the project.

Most of my campaigns are to get a specific product printed. Usually a book. So my rewards are copies of the book, MORE copies of the book, other books I have excess stock of, and something easy I can fulfill with little cost to make. Like commissions!

Often, when I see an unsuccessful KickStarter – and yes, this includes one failed campaign I have under my belt – the campaign fails because of one thing… The rewards offered cost extra to make. And the creator tries to tack on the cost of making those extra rewards onto the overall asking goal.

So for example: a creator may only need $600 to get a book to print…but they think “I could offer stickers! I’ll offer 3 different designs!” But those stickers cost an extra $500 to print. So they add it up and ask for $1100 on the campaign as the initial goal. But wait, there’s t-shirts they wanna make! And those cost $500 more to print, so they add it on and –

You see where this is going. Eventually there are so many rewards offered that the creator THINKS are essential. But they are stretch goals.

Offer stretch goals for after your bare minimum is met.

Stretch goals are goals to make when your campaign raises extra money past the initial asking goal.

Stretch goals are THE THING TO USE when you have extra products you could make, but are not considered essential to make it happen.

For example: if you want to get a book printed, stickers and T-shirts are NOT essential to make it happen. Make those your stretch goals.

Whether you succeed or not – POST. UPDATES.

I’m speaking here as both someone with successful campaigns AND as someone who has backed other campaigns. A creator who posts updates on the KickStarter page, before AND after the campaign ends, is a good creator.

I can count on one hand the number of people I have backed on KickStarter who have not posted updates. And those are the same number of people I would not support again if they launched another campaign.

Posting updates, even irregularly scheduled ones, is still better than dropping off the face of the earth.

And yes – you need to post these updates on the KickStarter page. There’s a link in the creator menu called “Post Update.” USE THAT FEATURE.

Updates can be little things or big things. Just keep your backers in the loop regarding the progress of the project they helped you launch.

Hopefully, with these tips, you can launch your own successful KickStarter, and make your project happen. I believe in you.

If you have any other questions, leave a comment below!

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

Writing for Comics 101 – Making Pages You Can Actually Read

In today’s lesson of Writing for Comics 101, let’s talk about making pages you can ACTUALLY read.

How do we do that? By not packing the pages with an obscene amount of dialogue.

Or at least, if you HAVE to keep so much dialogue, how to pace it out so it’s not a word brick.

This technique is something discussed in more detail in Making Comics by Scott McCloud, so what I’ll do for today’s post is share my mistakes so you can learn from them.

Let’s take a look at this page from Seeing Him, written by Kia Crawford and drawn by me:

seeing him transgender webcomic page 25

To be honest, there’s a way to get the information across that we need, without using a fuck-ton of dialogue.

We could:

  • split this between two pages,
  • condense the banter,
  • condense the backstory drop,
  • change the page layout,
  • change the balloon layout,
  • or any combination of these.

At least past me had the sense to split the dialogue into separate balloons. That way the page felt, at the time, a little less like a word brick.

This is me spit-balling some ideas right now on how to fix this page of Seeing Him: we could change the camera focus in the second and third panels, to cut away to framed photos on the walls. Those photos could showcase the history of the venue. With that edit, we can split the dialogue up some more, re-frame where the speech balloons sit, and make the page feel like less of a collection of talking heads.

Compare this page to The Legend of Jamie Roberts, page 65, written and drawn by me.

the legend of jamie roberts genderqueer lgbtq pirate adventure webcomic page 65

Here, I let the space breathe and tell the story for me, without so many words.

Whether you can draw or not, comics are a visual medium. Let the environment and scenery describe for you what words could not.

If you have questions, or need feedback, let me know in the comments. I’m happy to help.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

The Freelance Lifestyle – What Jobs to Pursue

Today for The Freelance Lifestyle, I’m going to give an honest take on what kinds of jobs you should pursue – especially if you’re freelancing for the first time.

For the first time freelancer, it can be tempting (or even encouraged) to take the first job that comes your way. For folks like me who have been freelancing for a few years, you get a better sense of what to say “yes” or “no” to.

I hope that in this blog post, you can learn from some mistakes I’ve made, so you can avoid really shifty, shady, or downright nasty clients.

Trust Your Gut.

Your logic brain will tell you to take any job you can get because “it’s money.”

But if there’s something about the potential client that makes you raise eyebrows, pay attention to that.

Pay attention to these signs if you’re unsure about a gig:

  1. Does the client use language that makes your spider sense tingle? For me, that looks like anyone who makes sexist jokes, or talks about Christian topics in really uncomfortable ways. My primary audience is the exact opposite of these people. So if a potential client is using language that my primary audience would NEVER use, I note that.
  2. Does the client use an obscene amount of emojis? I’m not knocking against emoji use. However, I’m encouraging you to spot any communication from your potential client that’s less than professional. Especially if you feel that it’s detrimental.
  3. Does this client have a digital presence that’s easy to find? Some clients will share their website or social media link with you. THIS IS GOOD. Some potential clients may not provide this information, even if you ask for it. THIS IS SHADY. Do your due diligence and go to Google. Cross-check them. If the search results come up with something weird or unsavory, voice that concern.
  4. Does this client balk at the idea of signing a contract YOU wrote? If you don’t know how to write a contract that protects you and a client, I wrote a post a long while ago about how to do it. There’s also some good templates through the Artist and Graphic Designer’s Market.

If you wrote a contract, and the potential client doesn’t want to sign it or even READ it, make note of that. A good client will ask clarifying questions before signing anything.

If I missed something, or if you still have questions, let me know in the comments. I’m happy to help.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.