Money Changes Everything

Jon Maki, President and Publisher
Jon Maki, President and Publisher

(As part of the migration to the new hosting platform, I’m manually adding back in the posts that were made to The Threshold on the other platform.  If there were comments made on the posts, I have no way of carrying them over to the new site as actual comments, so I will append them at the end of their respective posts.  Note that in the time since I originally posted this I have created an FAQ, have voted in favor of Patreon, and created a Google+ page.)

Right, money.

Given that it’s all going out at the moment with none coming in, I’m not quite sure what to talk about in that regard, but I suppose we do need to discuss the opportunities currently available to creators to earn at least some amount of revenue via OpenDoor Comics as things get started.

Advertising Revenue

That one is pretty straightforward; every page will feature a space in which ads will be displayed.  As ad revenue comes in, sources of revenue will be identified – that is, which pages featuring the ads are generating the clicks/impressions – the totals will be tallied, and payouts to the creators will be made on an agreed-upon schedule.

OpenDoor Comics will retain 5% of the revenue.

To keep it simple, let’s see what that would look like with some nice round numbers.

Say that the total advertising revenue for a given period of time comes to $1,000.  You, as a creator posting content to your OpenDoor Comics site, are responsible for driving 10% of that revenue, or $100.  Your payout would be $95, with OpenDoor Comics keeping $5.

Another creator accounts for 25% of the $1,000 total.  That creator’s payout would be $237.50, with OpenDoor Comics retaining $12.50.

80% of advertising revenue generated by any of the main OpenDoor Comics pages – Home, The Threshold, etc. – will be retained by OpenDoor Comics, with the remaining 20% distributed equally between creators.  (Note:  Creator sites will be housed in a folder called “Comics.”  An example of a creator site might be something like www.opendoor-comics/com/comics/example_page.)

Advertising revenue generated by other sites owned and operated by OpenDoor Publishing, LLC, the parent company of OpenDoor Comics, which do not house content from any of the creators at OpenDoor Comics, will be retained entirely by OpenDoor Publishing, LLC.

In the interest of transparency, OpenDoor Comics will provide all creators with the analytics information used for identifying revenue sources in a quarterly report.

Sales

There are two sales channels currently available via OpenDoor Comics:  The OpenDoor Comics Shop, which is a Café Press online storefront selling physical merchandise, and the Supply Closet, a digital store incorporated into opendoor-comics.com.

OpenDoor Comics Shop
Creators submitting designs to the OpenDoor Comics Shop will receive 97% of the revenue from sales, with OpenDoor Comics retaining 3%.

Revenue from the sales of OpenDoor Comics-branded merchandise created by OpenDoor Comics directly will be entirely retained by OpenDoor Comics.

Supply Closet
The Supply Closet is a store selling digital downloads, primarily consisting of tools and templates for use in illustration and image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop and Manga Studio.  Examples include custom brushes, custom layer styles, shapes, page templates, actions, and fonts.

There are two methods by which creators can sell their products via the Supply Closet.

The first is by listing/uploading product directly.  Sellers can set their own price and will receive 100% of the revenue; however, OpenDoor Comics will add a 5% processing fee to the price set by the seller.  If you set a price of $5 for a collection of custom brushes, the final sales price will be $5.25.  OpenDoor Comics will keep $0.25, and the creator will receive $5.

The second is by selling your product to OpenDoor Comics for a negotiated one-time fee that provides OpenDoor Comics with a license to redistribute the product.  No additional payments/royalties will be received by the seller.

Collaboration

If you have applicable skills and would like to offer your services as a collaborator, you can sign up via the form on the For Creators page and be added to the index of creators available to be matched with other creators.  Specific payment terms will be negotiated between collaborators, and any content or products published to or sold by OpenDoor Comics will be subject to the revenue terms listed above.

More information about the matching service will be provided in an upcoming post.

***

So…that’s it for right now.  In all honesty, while I think they are, I have no idea if these terms are fair and/or reasonable.  With that said, they’re subject to change as OpenDoor Comics evolves, but no changes will be made without notice or agreement.

It’s also worth mentioning again that creators retain the full rights to all content published or sold via OpenDoor Comics, with the exception of any “work for hire” products created under separately-negotiated terms.

What about services like Patreon that allow fans to directly contribute to creators?

Honestly, I’m not sure on that one just yet.  I’m generally in favor of allowing it, but I have to admit that I don’t know enough about how it works, and, more specifically, how it would work here.  For example, if you wanted to offer your patrons an ad-free experience on your pages, I’m not sure what, if any, options are available for selectively disabling ads.  I think that’s a bridge we’ll have to cross when we come to it.  That said, you’re certainly welcome to include your own PayPal “donate” buttons on your comics pages in the meantime.

In terms of the future, as mentioned in the previous post, as more content is offered and the audience grows, there will be opportunities for more and better advertising, and as the functionality of the site expands and OpenDoor Comics grows as a company, there will be other opportunities for revenue as well, such as print-on-demand services, and eBook sales via this site and other eBook marketplaces.

Additionally, I will rework this post slightly and turn it into its own permanent FAQ page.

Comments:

Hi there! I think your project is neat, and I have several questions/comments. I’m aware this thing is in early alpha, to use video game terminology, so I don’t mean any of this negatively- I’m just curious and want to see how best to work with this if I can.

0) What experience do you have with website hosting, other webcomics hosts, dealing with ads and other proposed sources of revenue, freelance work and contracts, and social media promotion? Basically, how much experience do you have with doing the stuff you say you’ll be offering?

1) What sort of hosting are you planning to provide? Is it all through Squarespace? (I have no familiarity with Squarespace beyond Googling them when you mentioned it.) If so, does that mean we’d be paying for Squarespace hosting, meaning you’re mostly offering the collaboration and promotional aspects?

For an average comics-person with little experience in or desire to do coding or backend work, what specific features are you offering or considering offering, or what will be available through Squarespace?

2) Do you have a general strategy for your site promotion/social media promotion? What platforms are you considering?

3) How are you planning on paying? Quarterly? Through what service?

4) A Patreon would generally be a thing that exists outside the bounds of the site. If your hosting doesn’t do ad-free/early release/whatever then someone just wouldn’t offer those things via Patreon, or would find some other means of doing it. I’d agree with not worrying about it at this point.

5) Can you give an ETA, even if a very general one, on the basic site features like posting comics? Even if you don’t have revenues worked out I’m sure some people wouldn’t mind setting up their pages/blogs and maybe generating some interest for an opening. How about a list of your next priorities?

6) Anything you’d need or like volunteer experience on? What can other people do to contribute outside of tossing the link around?

Good luck!

– too lazy to log into anything

Great questions. They’re all things I’ve been meaning to address, but, as with everything else, you have to start somewhere, so my focus in these posts has been on various other aspects.

0) Honestly? I have very little in the way of direct experience. I have, in the past, worked in public relations and advertising. It was a very different, less digital world back then, but the basic principles apply, I think. I’m very much learning as I go, but I am learning, and I plan to begin bringing in others with more expertise to help keep things moving. Some of that will be through directly hiring people and enlisting the aid of friends and family, and some will be through building a community of creators and readers who will help to fill in the gaps. There’s going to be a lot of trial-and-error, and I probably should have done more to prepare before I got started, but I was at a point, personally, at which I had to stop thinking about it and planning and just dive in and do something.

1) The hosting is all on me – I have a Business plan with Squarespace that provides me with plenty of space and bandwidth. Comics creators will not have to pay anything to post their content.

2) I’m in the process of assembling a Media Kit that I’ll be sending out to comics-related sites (Comics Alliance, Comic Book Resources, io9, etc.) and podcasters, and I’m establishing some connections via my local comic shop and will be displaying at cons and local comic shows. In terms of platforms, ODC currently has a presence on Facebook and Twitter, and will soon have one on Google+ (I know). I don’t really “get” Tumblr – not in a philosophical sense, more in a “Maybe I’m old and out of touch, but this looks like a disorganized mess to me” kind of way – but that’s a pretty obvious avenue as well. Beyond that, I’ll also utilize reddit, handling the job of rehosting content on Imgur and posting to r/comics, r/webcomics, etc. on behalf of the comics creators and setting up AMAs.

3) This is an area in which I need to find out what works best for people, whether it’s on a regular schedule, or if they would rather choose to be paid based on crossing a certain earning threshold. Possibly it’ll be a completely flexible arrangement, with different options available. PayPal, despite its drawbacks, seems like the most obvious, but I’m open to better alternatives. Actual paper checks are also an option.

4) Yeah, that was pretty much my thinking.

5) Right now! It will take some manual intervention on my part for the near term, but anyone who wants to post can post. To be clear, the process involves filling out the sign-up form and creating a (free) Squarespace Profile. Once you – the general you – provide me the details about your comic I can create your site (using the built in blogging feature for the time being) in the “Comics” folder, and when you have a Profile I can invite you to become a contributor. I’ll work with you to get your site set up to your liking, and you’ll be up and running.

6) As I want to ensure that the level of discourse stays relatively civil once actual content goes live and the discussions begin, I’ll need some people to volunteer to be moderators. Based on the volume of content and the need to promote it, there may also be a need to assist with some of the social media promotion. (It’s my intention, by the way, for those sorts of volunteer activities to eventually become paying gigs.) Beyond that, people can like the OpenDoor Comics Facebook page (www.facebook.com/opendcomics), follow @OpenDoor_Comics on Twitter, buy some stuff from the OpenDoor Comics Shop, click the “Donate” button, and keep leaving comments and suggestions.

Thanks!

– Me, in reply

Awesome. Thanks for replying.

I’ve filled out the sign-up form and haven’t heard back or seen anything change on the site, so I wasn’t sure if there was a technical problem or what was supposed to happen next.

– still too lazy

Thanks for letting me know – there definitely does seem to be a technical issue. I didn’t get an e-mail, but your information was saved, so I do have it. I’ll get back to you soon via comics@opendoor-comics.com.

– Me, in reply

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Jon Maki

Born and raised in the sparsely-populated Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Jon Maki developed an enduring love for comics at an early age.

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