If you’re a patron on Patreon, you know this already, but I turned in my two week notice at the local gas station I work at part-time. I’m now preparing to freelance with a more open schedule than ever before.
For the last year or so, this has been the situation: because of the part-time gas station gig (with indeterminate hours from week to week), there were times that making comics had to go from a full-time job to a part-time one. Then right back to full-time. It was a strain on my energy AND the energy of my clients.
Now that I’m leaving that station job, I’m freelancing more fully again.
So what am I doing to prepare myself?
Well, first thing’s first, I turned in my two week notice at the gas station, rather than just walking out or saying, “I QUIT.” This is not just to protect my ass just in case I need to get the job again. It’s also more professional of you to turn in a notice, instead of leaving at the last minute.
For the last week and a half to two weeks, I’ve been analyzing my income streams, which are these:
Patreon (this includes producing The Legend of Jamie Roberts). It’s a weird day when you realize your passion project is paying for your groceries. A weird day, but a GREAT day.
Making comics for clients. I have one dedicated client whom I’ve been working with for years. I have two whom I work with when they have work for me (which is intermittent at times). And I’m hoping to get more clients to draw/write/letter/design for.
Commissions, which encompasses anytime someone wants me to draw their D&D characters or even family members or pets. This is usually through KickStarter, but I get occasional odd requests.
DoorDash and/or other labor. However, I live in the middle of nowhere, so DoorDash isn’t as lucrative as it would be in a major city.
Ko-Fi. This is still new, so I’m not sure how much this will bring in. But I’m keeping it in the income stream lineup.
Consignment Deals. This one I only have to check in once every 3 to 6 months. So the income is not as regular as the other streams. But it pays out once a quarter, so it works.
KickStarters WOULD make the list, but they are exceptionally situational. Also sporadic.
I’m looking into other income streams. I’m considering going back to Gumroad to sell ebooks through (I want to avoid Amazon as much as I can). Otherwise I’m looking for new clients to fill out the gaps.
I’m also looking to launch a new KickStarter campaign. But you should sign up for the (free) email newsletter for more details on that. I’ll talk about it with subscribers in their inboxes tomorrow.
If there’s an idea that you think is worth considering, make a suggestion below. I’ll look into it.
The email newsletter is back, and I’m happy to introduce some new things to it!
I had put the newsletter on hiatus for a few weeks because of a fatal design flaw in MailChimp’s system. This design flaw deleted all of my subscribers, with no way of putting them back on the list.
So I deleted my MailChimp account, and started shopping around.
It took a little while to find a good substitute – for a hot minute I was afraid MailChimp had monopolized the free email client market.
But I found two services: Moosend and MailerLite.
I tried to make Moosend work, but it kept rejecting every email I tried to use. See, when you send emails, you need to specify who the sender is. And Moosend kept rejecting every. Dang. Email. That I wanted to use.
“This email is from a free client.” “This email is invalid.” Bleh bleh bleh.
So I didn’t want to dick around with them.
After a little more research, I found MailerLite.
And, for what I need it for, MailerLite has been working marvelously.
It’s a bit of a curve for me to get used to: it has different terminology and layouts than MailChimp. And I had been using MailChimp for like 3 years. So it’s still a process to unlearn MailChimp’s clunky-ass design and use MailerLite.
That said, now that I’m getting the hang of MailerLite, it’s smoother to handle than MailChimp. I also have zero fear of accidentally deleting all of my subscribers. And that’s worth everything right now.
Now that the email newsletter is back, I can bring in some new ideas: like exclusive offers for folks I meet at specific events, and even a Patreon-only newsletter.
That said, here’s the thing:
If you were on my email list before, odds are high that you got deleted. My back-up files were very limited. Not everyone was able to get back on.
If you would like to get email updates from me once a week, you can re-sign up at this link.
I’ve been to RathaCon many a year before. It was one of my first shows as a vendor, and has since become one of my anchor shows. Because of that, I do my best to go every year. I even turned down the offer to go to Awesome Con in Washington, DC again to get to RathaCon instead.
(Mostly because both shows were happening on the same weekend… but RathaCon is physically closer to me and lasts only one day. So I could just drive down, show off, and drive back home without paying for a hotel. Very nice.)
However, this year, RathaCon had a couple of things working against it.
See, Awesome Con wasn’t the only other show happening the same weekend: there was also Gem City Comic Con, and two other shows in West Virginia that I can’t remember the names of. So RathaCon had to work extra hard to get folks to come in.
To my understanding, they ran radio ads, because there were a few attendees who mentioned, “I didn’t know this show was a thing until I heard about it on the radio yesterday! So I HAD to check it out!” So, kudos to the RathaCon staff for getting the word out.
That said, the crowd this year was about the same size as last year’s audience, but they thinned out WAY sooner towards the end of the day. Partly because of the rain, I think.
I’m not sure how many attendees were current students of Ohio University, though.
One of the reasons the convention staff picked the day they did was to try and entice the local college crowd to come and attend.
But here is where another factor worked against them: April 27, the day of RathaCon, was a week before finals. No sane college student is leaving campus the day before finals week hits, unless they are Sherlock Holmes’-level of confident about their work.
When I talked about it with the staff, we mentioned the idea of offering discounted attendance to people who brought a valid OU ID. Hopefully they do that next year.
Another thing I hope they do next year: get volunteers who check in with the artists more often throughout the day. I was the only person at my table and, aside from the one or two times I could see another neighbor’s table, I could not leave my spot. I’m glad I packed a lunch.
This is a grievance I’ve already discussed with the staff, and they’re working to resolve the issue for next year. I’m confident they’ll fix it, because RathaCon is VERY good at accepting constructive criticism and working to improve year after year. That is one of the reasons they are my anchor show.
In conclusion: was this the best ever RathaCon so far? No. It wasn’t awful or even bad. But there will be changes next year. Hopefully for the better.
And hey! I booked another appearance before 3 Rivers Comicon!
If you’re in the Saint Clairsville, OH area on May 4, stop at New Dimension Comics in the Ohio Valley Mall. They’re running Free Comic Book Day, and they gave the OK for me to showcase and sell my work. Also, there will be a GhostBusters division there. (I talked to some GhostBusters at RathaCon and they mentioned they were appearing at FCBD at the comic shop.)
If I have noticed anything regarding social media platforms in 2018 – from Facebook constantly being pursued because they sell private data, to Tumblr’s crackdown on NSFW content – I have noticed that social media platforms aren’t exactly held accountable. They’re also always changing.
I want to have a space online dedicated for my art, sharing the art and stories of my life, and hearing from you, the reader. And the best place to do that is… this blog.
So, in the spirit of sharing in spaces that are NOT social media platforms, I’m going to start updating this blog once a week in January.
I want to start with once a week updates for two reasons: to not overwhelm myself, and because there’s a lot going on outside of the blog. There’s Validation, The Legend of Jamie Roberts, the projects detailed in the other goals for 2019, and now I have a new job outside of the internet. So, once a week updates it is… for the time being.
Still, I want to share art, news, and stories, and I want to hear your stories, as well.
2: Launch the Lazy Diana Podcast
Lazy Diana is a zine I make. As I like to pitch it at conventions, it’s Magic and Paganism for lazy people. Because not all of us in the field can afford going to the top of a specific hill three days before the first quarter moon and stand under a yew tree. RAVEN.
Lazy Diana: The Podcast will be very much about magic and paganism for lazy people. The plan is to have episodes last ten minutes or less, updating twice a week, with each season being about 16 episodes long. There will be a two-week break between seasons, to give me time to write and record new episodes, edit them, and all that jazz.
For 2019, I want to actually make this podcast a reality! The plan is to have a website for it where people can download new episodes or listen to them on the site itself. I may pursue other platforms (like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Castbox, etc), but… I’m not entirely sure how those work. More research will be needed there.
3: Launch the LGBT History Podcast/Radio Show
This has been a goal of mine since 2017, when I started Beyond the Rainbow. Beyond the Rainbow is an LGBT advocacy group in my neck of the woods. Because up until Ohio Valley Pride became a thing, there was no LGBT advocacy group in my neck of the woods.
I do still want to make the LGBT History podcast, for two reasons: a) it’s cool to read about LGBT figures in history, and b) the local radio station expressed an interest in airing it on their station. Their FM station. That broadcasts in the Wheeling, WV area. The mostly densely populated area in my neck of the woods.
This project (and Lazy Diana) had been on hold because I needed a half-decent microphone to record at home. Now, thanks to a Christmas present from my little sister, I have one!
The goal with this series is to update it once a week: this is to keep myself from being overloaded, and also because the radio station has only one time slot for this show to air. Episodes would be half an hour long, probably a little shorter to allow for advertising spots. Again, because that’s the length of time the radio station would allow.
4: Launch Indie Comics Hub
Have you noticed that there’s not a ton of indie comics coverage in the comics news hemisphere? It’s mostly Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, and the like. The most indie it gets is Image comics and the occasional coverage of a webcomic that’s managed to garner more than 3000 regular readers.
Well, I plan to launch a website dedicated to indie comics.
Not Image comics. No.
I mean webcomics, small press, independent publishers, and the stuff you can only get at zine fests and comicons directly from the creators themselves.
The website will start with comic reviews and interviews. If you’re a regular reader, you may remember two blog post series’ I had running on this site before: Review Day Tuesdays, and Featured Artist Fridays. In fact, I did a Feature recently on a webcomic artist. Indie Comics Hub will be a website dedicated to just that.
(Plus maybe the occasional Top Ten list, and anything else particular to indie comics).
I hope to not only launch this site, but also grow it enough to bring on at least one other contributor. I hope to monetize it enough to actually pay this contributor, as well. But the first achievement to unlock is to make the dang site.
It will NOT be an online store. When I did my research, I discovered that there are roughly 6 billion online stores advertising themselves as “the hub to buy indie comics.” Indie Comics Hub will NOT be one of them.
5: Grow Patreon to $500 a month
This was a goal I had for 2018, but I neglected it. To be honest, I feel like I’ve neglected my Patreon page somewhat. I update it as consistently as I can, but I feel like I can do MORE with it.
So 2019 is the year I polish up the Patreon page and really drive for patron support. If you’re a patron on Patreon, you know I’ve already made a blog post asking for your feedback for what you would like to see more of in 2019. (And if you haven’t given feedback yet, PLEASE DO!)
If you’re not a patron on Patreon yet, why not? If you’re broke, that’s ok, there’s no pressure to pledge. But if you have the funding to pledge and you haven’t yet, I’d like to know why not. Is it Patreon as a system? Or are there rewards that are missing that you haven’t seen me offer yet?
Be honest and let me know. I want to improve my Patreon in 2019 and I cannot do that without your feedback.
6: Workout at the Gym at least once a week
(Insert joke about getting gym memberships and never using them here.)
Here’s where I disagree: I took weight training classes in high school. I was actually a weight lifter, believe it or not. My personal record is having bench-pressed 180 pounds. There was one time I did 210, but 180 was what I could bench consistently without straining myself.
Both of those weights are more than my own personal body weight. And I miss being able to lift and press things that were heavier than myself.
There’s a satisfaction I get in weight lifting that I don’t get in many other forms of exercise. That satisfaction is being able to see the progression and improvement of how much weight I can move. Being able to track that is a big part of why I like weight lifting so much.
The problem is: I can’t afford a gym membership at the moment. So the only way I can go to the gym is when my mom brings me along as a guest to Planet Fitness… whenever she decides to go. Or remembers to invite me.
However, my buddy and former Dungeons and Dragons player, Dana, was on the lookout for somebody who could tag along with her to the gym. She wants to get in shape, but doesn’t know how the equipment works. (Wee lamb didn’t even know what a bench press was).
And I was like, “TAKE ME WITH YOU, GRASSHOPPER.”
So the plan right now is, starting in 2019, I’ll be Dana’s plus-one at the gym. I show her how the equipment works and train her a bit, and I get to exercise. Win-win!
7: Start and Grow an Indoor Garden
Yes, I have a yard, but a) it’s tiny, and b) the enormous pine trees cast most of the place in shade for 90% of the day. The only space with consistent sunshine is the front of the house, and… we don’t have a front yard. We have a front sidewalk.
However, there’s a big freaking window in my living room that lets in a metric ton of sunlight every dang day. So the plan is to build a shelving unit and start growing some plants there.
I like green things, and I like having plants in a space. It’s aesthetically pleasing, cleans the air, and makes a space feel more alive.
Also, to be honest, I want to see if I inherited my late grandfather’s green thumb. He grew vegetables all year long thanks to his massive outdoor garden and the greenhouse porch he had built. He was most proud of his tomato plants – he was even buried with the tallest one that he had ever grown.
I want to see if I can start something like that.
The idea is to start with herbs and succulents – those are often the hardest to kill on accident. Especially basil. Basil is a surprisingly sturdy plant in my experience. I had a basil plant in Phoenix and it was exposed to constant sunlight. That sucker (his name was Nigel) never died. In fact, putting him in the shade was when he seemed sickly.
The other cool thing about growing plants indoors: FOOD. I want to be able to literally eat the fruits of this labor.
So those are my goals for 2019. There’s smaller ones, too, like drawing one sketchbook page a day, and writing one page a day. Those are connected to the larger goals for the year.
There may be a secret Part 3 of this post series. It would highlight my bullet journal and how I’m going to track all of these goals. But I have to get a bullet journal set up for 2019 first.
What are your goals for 2019? Let me know! I’d love to hear about them. Also, we can be accountability buddies – I want you to achieve your goals, too!
For a show I was invited to at the last minute, Imaginarium Convention in Louisville, KY was worth going to!
There were a few things that helped:
I shared a table with two very cool authors: Neal Sayatovich, writer of dystopian psychological affair, and Joshua Hampton, writer of epic and high fantasy. Neal covered my table fee in exchange for some art (thanks Neal!).
The folks at Imaginarium gave me a free pass in exchange for doing panels. 4 panels, to be precise.
Holy banana pants did I meet a LOT of cool folks at this show! From mermaid/pirate lesbian fiction writer DB Francais to Justin and Cory at Purvis Games, from Glenn Porzig to Mackenzie Flohr, holy jeez were these people super approachable and fun to chat with!
Most importantly, I learned a lot.
If there is one thing I can commend Imaginarium on, it’s their panels. While it’s kind of silly just how many there were (often having four or more happening in the same time slot), the breadth and depth of topics was hugely commendable. Plus, the panelists themselves knew what they were talking about. One author described the panels as “iron sharpening iron,” and he wasn’t lying.
Here’s a blog post listing the ones I presented in. I think the best moderated ones that I did were LGBTQ Characters in Fiction, Healthier Habits for Creatives, and Composing Newsletters for MailChimp and Beyond. The first two were moderated by Janie Franz, who is a marvelous lady. (Check out her stuff.)
Those were the ones I presented in though. I also attended a panel about Military in Fiction (Neal was in that one), Audiobooks, and Freelance Writing. The Freelance Writing one covered basically what I already knew – but the Audiobooks panel was immensely helpful.
Why? Because I want to get into voice-over and voice-acting. (Yes I’m aware the two are very different.) The Audiobook panel covered a lot, from authors finding and hiring talent and what they look for (always a plus) to knowing how to set up your own DIY recording space.
I’m REALLY jazzed about what I learned in these panels. The best thing is: these panels are giving me some new blog post ideas.
And with that, I’ll make my temporary leave. Hopefully next time I’ll have a tutorial for you.