Life Without Facebook (So Far)

It has been exactly 2 months since I deactivated my Facebook account and deleted the business page for my art. And I’m going to talk a bit about my life without Facebook (so far).

For one thing, I am WAY less stressed about politics.

Facebook makes it very easy to see political opinions alongside cat videos. There is no separation of fun from calls to anger (or action). Why Facebook is so upsetting with political posts is because it’s the easiest way to discover that your close friends or family don’t hold the same opinions that you do – and they aren’t willing to change their mind about it. And the trap that Facebook sets up is the idea that you can talk with the other person in an effort to change their mind.

Speaking as someone who worked at a doctor’s office that quickly became a drug addiction clinic, I can tell you THIS surprising truth I learned:

The Venn diagram of people who are addicted to drugs, and people who hold racist/white supremacist beliefs, is only one centimeter off from a complete circle.

And unfortunately, on Facebook, I saw a lot of people who defended their beliefs with the same fervor as people who were addicted to drugs. The person thought they were in complete control over their addiction/feelings. The truth is, they aren’t. The drugs/feelings are controlling them. And voices of disagreement against them trigger a defensive response. Because the person addicted to their beliefs doesn’t want to admit that their emotions are controlling them. They don’t want to admit that they have a problem, because they think they don’t have one.

The sad truth is: you need to treat people who are stuck in certain beliefs the same way that you treat drug addicts. And that is: they have to admit that there is a problem first.

Until the addict admits that there is a problem, they will just continue going downhill.

To me, Facebook as a platform, and the people who use that platform, are going that route.

I’m glad I left when I did. Since I’m not on Facebook (or Twitter!) anymore, I’ve developed a more…realistic view of things. To me, that means that my understanding of things come from real life, not some apocalyptic think-piece someone posted at 3 am on Facebook. Gods I do NOT miss those.

I also don’t miss my posts being ignored by the algorithm.

Being on Instagram means that I’m still subject to the whims of a Facebook-esque algorithm, but in general, more people on Instagram are following me for the art I post. I may also get an account on TikTok, but I’ve seen news pieces talking about how the platform may get banned because it’s Chinese. So who the f*ck knows.

Thankfully, since I left Facebook, I’m not constantly being asked to spend ad money to promote a post to the audience that I ALREADY have.

However, I can’t run Instagram ads. Running ads on Instagram requires a Facebook account. Which I don’t have anymore.

So, with that said, I’ll have to get more creative with my promotions and outreach. I have yet to decide whether or not to return to Twitter. Gods I hope I don’t have to.

I still have an email newsletter though! And right now, that’s the best “social media” platform to stay in touch. If you’re not on it yet, you can sign up for free. I don’t give your email to anybody because that’s shady as heck. (Ok, soft plug done).

Also, in the meantime, I’ll be posting more often on the blog here. I’m playing with the idea of writing a new blog post every day. Just personal posts – no attempts at the traditional blog posts like my Writing for Comics or Freelance Lifestyle posts. I’m retiring those. I’ve written all I want to write for those topics anyway.

So yeah!

In short – I’m glad I left Facebook. I’m happier and more balanced. It’s also making me more creative in how I do outreach for my business.

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

You. Are. Awesome.

Johnson & Sir’s Future

johnson and sir book cover

Today I want to talk about the future of Johnson & Sir, the comic I made back in 2013 about 2 elf cops in Fantasyville.

I made this comic in a different time, with a different mindset. I primarily made this story as an inside joke between myself and close friends and family to parody cop shows and dynamics. Heck, it originally came about when one of my sisters and I made up satirical dialogue between two cop characters in the Jak and Daxter games – and the cops were corrupt in the original source material.

Is this a justification for why I made Johnson & Sir? Maybe.

What I DO know is that right now, in this point in history of 2020, the police system as a whole needs a complete overhaul. I feel like I don’t have to say why.

To profit off a comic about Fantasyville cops, even a parody of the institution of policing, seems to me in bad taste right now.

Also, over the last few years, Johnson & Sir just hasn’t sold very well at comic conventions or online. Johnson & Sir aren’t in my top 5 bestsellers list anymore, to be truthful.

So with these conditions (and a few others) in mind, I’ve taken down Johnson & Sir’s listing on my online store, as well as the listing for the original art from the production of it.

The website for Johnson & Sir is still live for now, but I have not monetized that site. The website may or may not be taken down. That decision still has yet to be made.

That said, I’m still sitting on 40+ copies of this book. I had ordered so many towards the start of this year because I thought comic conventions would still be a thing. NOT ANYMORE.

For now, these books will sit in storage, until such a point that I decide to list the book again for sale – with a disclaimer on the inside front cover.

If you have issues with this decision, I have a few things to say to you:

First, you’re allowed to be angry. But understand that I don’t have to babysit you while you sit in your anger. You are in charge of your emotions. You are responsible for what you feel. Figure out what to do for yourself.

Second, I’m not changing my mind about this decision.

Third, if you’re still wondering why I would even make this decision, go check out privtoprog on Instagram, or this list of books and podcasts to educate yourself. There are resources for you to learn. I am not here to be your teacher right now.

Thank you for reading.

You. Are. Awesome.

Taking A Break From Livestreaming

I’m taking a short break from livestreaming.

Right now I have a LOT of work to catch up on (including behind-the-scenes stuff for Validation, NeverEnding, and The Legend of Jamie Roberts). After that…

Well, after that I want to run these streams differently.

For one thing, I’m going to bring the schedule down to doing one new stream a month.

For another thing, I’ll be doing giveaways during these monthly livestreams – I’m still sitting on a LOT of books and art.

Also, I want to do more than just drawing live. With convention season and workshops not being things for the foreseeable future, I would like to do more tutorial livestreams.

Just to spitball some ideas, these are the sorts of workshops, panels, etc I would be participating in during convention season. Let me know which of these topics you’d like me to talk about in next month’s livestream:

  • How to Make Webcomics
  • LGBTQ representation in comics
  • How to Make a Minicomic
  • Character Design That’s Awesome

In the meantime, I’ll be taking a break from posting online (stream or otherwise) until the week of July 15. But I’ll be in the comments…lurking…

Anyway – thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

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.

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.