To recap, the goal for the year is to replace my disability income of $2k/mo with income from my comedy by Jan 1, 2017. The graph above shows our progress and I'll be posting one of these each month from now on. The green line is the projected goal of doubling every two months. I removed the last four months from this graph so you can more easily see what's happening this month. In January it's true that the Patreon pledges didn't go up from $43/mo, however, a generous one time $40 PayPal donation brought us up to our March 1 goal of $86/mo. So for the month of January, we're already ahead of schedule! :D
So where did I spend my 40hrs/week this month?
Comic Story Pages: 4
Public Extras: 1 - David Bowie Tribute
Patron Only Bonuses: 3 (two bonus pages, one high-res art download, again David Bowie)
Ad Campaigns: 3 - I promote on Project Wonderful as I'm able
Research/Study: Audience - I finished reading this book and posted a short review on Facebook. The next book is the Complete Idiot's Guide to Guerrilla Marketing.
Plain-Old-Asking: ~20 - I didn't do a very good job recording how many people I contacted or who, but I think I contacted about twenty people to ask for help in general. I think about a dozen of those were people I asked directly for help sharing my Star Wars/Monty Python mashup from the 11th and the rest were people I simply asked for help getting the word out and linked to my 2016 Goals page. A few people did help in both cases. Nathan McConnell who writes a comic titled Growing Up Aspie gave me a bump on Facebook. My DeviantArt friends, Jason, Mr Wolfe and Katy mentioned me several times. My friend Pam Harrison gave me a shout (and I reviewed the first 5-issue archive ebook of her sci-fi action comic A Deviant Mind). I think the biggest exposure-bump I got was from my friend Eric Drobile of HateFarm fame who gave me a shout. By the way, he's doing a new comic called Wheel of Failure! I think I'm forgetting a few... I'll do a better job next month of documenting the people I ask and the people who helped, so I can give them proper credit. :D
Other: Email List created -- This actually took several days of serious work and I'm not sure all the kinks are worked out of it yet - if you've signed up and haven't received the opt-in email, let me know. I also spent a bit of time adding friends on Facebook and inviting people to like Woohooligan over there as well as trying to prune my Twitter account. I just didn't do a good job of managing my Twitter for a lot of years, so I've removed a couple hundred people from it, but I haven't yet found a really good way of working on it that's both fast and free -- I'm really not keen on spending money on this. I also added dates on all my Patreon milestone goals.
A Note on Goals
All told, this places me well ahead of schedule for publishing content in January also. Patreon recently changed their profile pages and I updated mine -- it seems you can no longer see the full list of milestone goals for a creator, just the next one coming up. So for me, the next goal for March 1 is labelled "The End!" at $86/mo. (See what I did there?) At that level I haven't promised to produce any specific amount of content. My milestone goals don't promise any pages until the next goal on May 1 at $157/mo. Why is that? I need to make sure I'm being realistic about the amount of work one person can do.
I know that as someone who picks up the latest copy of X-Men or Deadpool, it's easy to think you're getting a pretty good deal for your $4 every two weeks or a month or however often that title is published... the reality is you're getting an AMAZING deal for that price! Over in Marvel's offices, there's a HUGE amount of work going into that book, and they're only able to sell it to you for so little, because they can depend on selling copies in tens of thousands! As an independent publisher like myself or many of the other great, talented artists here on Patreon, we can't depend on those titanic sales figures. We're doing good if we sell a few copies in a month. So we depend on support from readers and fans like you who are generous enough to support our work in these early days.
Now I could do what a lot of other artists do and I could say that I'll give everyone who donates at $5/mo or $10/mo a commission sketch. I chose instead to have a raffle and do just one sketch a month because I'm pretty sure that I can't handle doing a ton of commissions every month. The end result of that would be I'd spend all my time doing commissions, and you guys would never get the comics you're enjoying from me! Not good. The reason why I haven't promised any specific number of pages per month until that $186 goal in May is similarly because I think that's realistic. Rather than promise a ton of content and risk not making good on that promise, I prefer a very conservative goal in which I promise less than I can achieve and then some months I can exceed those expectations.
Before this year I worked primarily as a software engineer. I made $80/hr on contract, so it's TERRIFYING to leave the world of $80 an HOUR for the world of comedy currently netting me $43 a MONTH (from Patreon). When you consider the fact that I tend to spend about 8-12 hours PER page, you realize that this past month, I put around 70 hours into creating content (not including hours spent on marketing), and earned about $10 per page, or roughly $1 per hour. (Not including all the hours I spent on marketing.)
I'm lucky that for the moment I'm still on disability, which means that until I break $1080/mo, I still get my disability income on top of my sales and Patreon pledges. That's a ticking clock however, so in the next few months, I've got to find a way to go from $1/hr to at least $8/hr before I'll even be at minimum wage.
Which brings me back around to what I've promised and when. I promised at least two pages per month once we reach $186/mo, which is roughly two hours worth of programming work or 20 hours of work at a minimum wage job. At the rate I'm earning from Patreon currently, it's 186 hours of work, which is more hours than I have in a month. Once we get to that point though, I've promised at least two pages, which is 20 hours of work, putting me right about minimum wage! Yay! (I take that back, it's slightly less than minimum wage, because it doesn't include the monthly commission raffle, and that's still only counting content, not marketing work.)
So that's the goal -- I'll be earning near minimum wage by May! And then by Jan 1, 2017, I'll be closing in on the goal of earning a living wage! :D
Thank you guys so much for being a part of my crazy life-journey! You all totally rock!