September Progress!
Happy Halloween! This year the pumpkins are still orange, but the horror is existential and it won't just turn you white, it's already turned the whole house white. With any luck, our Sleepy Hollow horseman will remain head-of-stateless. ;)

There are several bits of good news in September!

First, page fourteen of A Good Name was very well received. This page had me pretty nervous because it deals with the events surrounding Trayvon Martin's death and it's always a white-knuckle moment when I talk about sensitive, emotionally charged subjects. So I'm relieved that I connected with people in a positive way. :) I say that because my advertising budget ran out shortly after I published it, that page was shared quite a lot. So while I didn't receive verbal feedback (which is pretty common), it's good to know people felt I expressed something worth sharing.

Second, Pippa Bailey gave me an awesome review of our three ebooks (Nerdgasm, Into Dorkness and Secret Life of Klingons) and mostly the newest, as yet unnamed story about Amy in Hell. (I'm thinking about Hellbent as a title for this one, but haven't committed yet.) ... Anyway, her review was super-cool. She's one half of the Ghoul Guides who publish reviews of indie comics, loot crate and other stuff on YouTube. Really fun folks, and a great review. :D Also, if you're into horror she's got a short story in the upcoming Phantasmagoria anthology, so check that out!

Lastly, I've found someone willing to help me promote Woohooligan on the tiny, shoestring budget I have of only about $100-150 per month. That person is Beau Brooks from No Lotus. This is a change of strategy for me, since that money has to come out of my advertising budget that's already allocated every month. So I should probably give a bit more explanation.

Tiffany and I had several unexpected expenses in September. This means I wasn't able to spend as much on my promotions this month, despite the fact that I created some new ads based on the Star Wars strip I posted on the second. I also updated my goals page to replace a couple of older banners with these new ones from the Star Wars strip and the Batman strip from late July. For the last few years I haven't pursued commissions, largely because I don't want making money to get in the way of my passion for bringing the laughs and making the world a better place. I hold the monthly Patreon raffle just as a way of showing my appreciation for you wonderful folks who support me. This month however, finances were super-tight. An old friend of mine, Jeffry Houser, contacted me around the seventh asking me about a couple of commissions. A few years ago he pledged to our Kickstarter campaign and received a caricature commission as one of his rewards. This month he wanted to know about two more caricatures of his wife and of the two of them as a couple, for her birthday, to hang at home like a tryptich. So both because he's a friend and since our finances were so tight this month, I took it as a sign and accepted. You can see those caricatures here:

Those were the good things this month, and while I don't want to belabor them too much, I feel like it's important for me to also mention my frustrations this month -- places where I spent time and effort, but nothing (so far) positive came from them. This isn't because I want to complain -- I'm really grateful to be following my passion -- I just want everyone to know when my output seems slow, just how much work I'm actually doing, aside from still being the only driver in a house of six people for the past four years.

So I want to mention my attempts to contact four people for various kinds of help, all of which met with some variation of the silent treatment. I've never felt very good at asking for help, so I'm trying to do it more and get better at it.

1) Robert Khoo, the former CEO of Penny Arcade who offered Holkins and Krahulik a business plan and two months worth of marketing work for free in 2002 (four years before I started publishing Woohooligan), accepted a friend request from me on Facebook early in the month. So I messaged him on the 12th asking him for advice about finding someone to help me with my marketing on a small budget of $100-150/mo. I explained how I had set a goal of earning my living with my comedy after an autism diagnosis, a diabetes diagnosis, and a cancer diagnosis last year, and that my results had been promising although below target. No response, although I'm not especially surprised.

2) Oni Hartstein runs a couple of conventions including Regeneration Who and Intervention Con. I sent the same message to Oni on the 12th about my goals, asking for advice about marketing. I had a brief conversation with her in which she was very friendly and supportive! I realized however that I had contacted her just a few days before Intervention Con, so obviously the timing was poor. She asked me to contact her back on the 22nd, which obviously was perfectly fine. When that day came, I was busy with other things, but contacted her back the next day on the 23rd and have heard nothing from her since. It's been almost two weeks, but now there's a massive hurricane headed toward Florida where she lives. :(

3) I registered Woohooligan on Comic-Rocket in June 2012 and from the beginning was pretty impressed with their efforts to create a nice webcomic subscription service. They also had an "ad network" there which they pushed fairly heavily... since then it's become impossible to find *current* information about the ad network (though there are several apparently outdated pages of information about the ad network that don't work). But since the ads from them have been appearing on my site for a while now (often for comics that no longer exist), I decided to try and contact them directly to get some information about what kind of credit I might have accumulated and how I could go about purchasing more advertising through them (neither of which I could find on their site). I had tried to contact them via the information on their website for several weeks when I sent a tweet about both them and TopWebComics on September 10th. The Comic-Rocket Twitter account responded the next day that I should send email to andy at their domain, which I did. Andy never replied. :(

4) I might use my old bonus panels and publish a voting incentive every day next month (my birthday is in November), the problem is my TopWebComics account is hosed. TopWebComics overhauled their website several months ago and must have reset everyone's passwords because I suddenly couldn't log in... Apparently I created the account around 2009 with an email address I can't access (since moving hosting to ComicFury -- which is normal). The end result is nearly a hundred pages of the Woohooligan site link to a TWC voting gateway that I couldn't manage. Within a couple days I submitted their contact form, but received no response for a couple months until I submitted that Tweet. A guy named Marty finally replied and asked me to provide the email address from that account and after several emails back-and-forth I finally "confirmed" my identity (I've owned a lot of domains over the years - it could have been one of a dozen or more different email addresses and I wasn't sure which it was). On the 17th, Marty told me he'd fix it as soon as I provided the new email address. The further frustration was that over the next two weeks I never saw any change and contacted them twice and didn't get any reply except an autoresponder (telling me I'd get a reply inside 72 hours). I finally got a reply today (Oct. 7) after the third follow-up, saying there was an unexpected emergency that kept everyone out of their office for the past couple weeks and that it will be fixed some time this weekend. So this story at least ends well. Although admittedly even if I never got it fixed it wasn't the end of the world, it was just frustrating and taking up time.

Moving on from my frustrations about getting the silent treatment from people... I hoped to use the payment from these two new caricatures to supplement the ad budget for Woohooligan, but wasn't able... nor were we able to do anything for Tiffany's birthday on the 28th. :( So this month has been kind of a roller-coaster, but I'm not giving up.

Every time I get really frustrated with my progress, I hear some new story about how some HUGELY successful person had to endure crazy amounts of rejection or disappointment before they achieved their success. Earlier today it was a story on public radio about Gandi's entire family mortgaging themselves up to the eyeballs to send him to law school, only to have him LOSE case after case after case in court because he lacked confidence. It's good to remember that the road to living your dreams usually isn't Trump's "small loan of a million dollars" -- that far more often it's a lot of blood and sweat and tears... and lord knows I'm putting enough tears into this thing. :P An entire week of October has passed and I've had so many errands this week, I've gotten NO WORK done outside of this progress report (again, the only driver in a house of six and had to take my daughter to a job-fair yesterday).

So here's the breakdown for September.

Income: $83.00
Expenses: $85.00
Advertising: $70.00
Shopping Cart: $15.00
Net: -$2.00

I suppose it seems counterintuitive, but I would much rather that net negative (-$2.00) be a lot larger like it was the previous few months. My advertising budget has been very effective overall. Since January I've consistently improved the traffic to the Woohooligan site, and that's mostly thanks to my advertising. I've paid around $100-150 every month this year except for three months in a row now my advertising budget has run out... every time my advertising budget runs short, there's a massive drop in the traffic to the site, which means fewer people seeing my comedy and slower overall growth. And that also doesn't account for the fact that even when I can fund my ad budget for the entire month, just managing those ads to make sure that I get the best return on my investment EASILY takes a full 40-hour week or more out of my time. That's a HUGE amount of time that I could be making more laughs for you guys, but I can't because I have to focus on getting more exposure to bring in more of you guys.

This graphic shows the effect of my ad budget running out, how it massively effects every aspect of my work, and also shows where a number of people continued sharing that important page of the A Good Name arc.

So knowing that I'm spending an absurd amount of time managing my advertising, over and above still running Woohooligan at a loss every month, and that after nine months I'm still only growing at $10/mo (so mathematically will get me to my goal in FIFTEEN years), that means what I've been doing, while working, is NOT working fast enough. So if I'm going to reach my goal, I have to keep changing something until it works and the progress is faster.

So for the next few months, probably at least through Christmas, I'm going to switch from managing the ad campaign myself to having Beau help me with social-media marketing. If it works and I start seeing growth in the $15 or $20/mo range, that means I found what I needed and we're back on goal! :D This also means I'll have more time to do what I set out to do, make you laugh!

So what have I accomplished with my 40 hours/week in August?

Comic Pages: 5 (3 updates)
I published the Star Wars comic on the 2nd and then I managed to get two more pages of Amity's story published this month... it's been challenging... I'm really hoping things will speed up now that I have someone to help me with my marketing.

Bonus Content:
No NSFW bonus again in September. The Star Wars comic does have a three-panel bonus ending.

Commissions: 2
Just the two for Jeffry Houser... Ashley Misinkavitch won the raffle again this month, but she never did get back to me when she won it about a year or so ago, so she now has two pending as soon as she lets me know.

I think I covered this already. :P

Ad Campaigns:
Even when I'm not talking about it, much of my time is spent on advertising. Managing my ads by hand is the only way I know to get the best return on investment for my budget. With a larger budget for advertising, I might not worry about squeezing every penny out of it. The $100-150/mo I have gets me very little return without another 20-60 hours a month managing that expense. My ad budget ran out during the last half of this month, but much of the first half of September was spent on massaging the new Star Wars ads.

Other Promotion: 4
This entails non-paid contacting of bloggers and podcasters about reviews and/or interviews. In addition to Pippa Bailey, Robert Khoo and Oni Hartstein, I also got a promising response from Magenta Prex who is both a Trekkie and a poly blogger and who expressed an interest in reviewing Nerdgasm. She's currently traveling and said it might take a while for her to publish a review, but you know, a lead is a lead, and she's super cool! :D

So that's it for now! You want more laughs, right? So go share those comics! :D

Let the Wookiee Win!

Stay tuned and stay awesome, Hooligans!