On Business: Transition

By | Monday, March 13, 2017 Leave a Comment
Several years back, I wrote about how we all should be following the business model of webcomikers by putting out a continuous flow of stuff that can be monetized in a variety of ways. No one piece might sell a ton, but over the long term, there would be a steady flow of income when the current paid work got lean. In retrospect, I was basically talking about how to navigate the gig economy. (Four years before the phrase gained popular usage, I might add. Dig me, I'm a futurist!)

For whatever reason, the idea popped into my head again. I had remembered I'd written that earlier piece, so I went back to re-read it. I think, conceptually, it still holds up and I don't see anything in the economy that's changed our society heading from heading in that direction. In fact, it seems to have sped up. (Although that's definitely more just an impression of mine than being based on actual metrics of any sort!)

I then panicked for a moment. Since 2011, I did publish a second book but two really obscure books about topics no one really cares about isn't going to have much of an impact to bottom line. I did start planning a third book, but I haven't been able to make much headway on it. So, geez, what was I going to do?

After a minute or two, I realized that I'm not quite as bad off, though. I did have a regular freelance writing gig for some of that time, which has afforded me some additional connections and gotten me a few one-off projects. It also led to my working on the Comics Alternative podcast, which in turn got me an honest-to-goodness book contract. (I can't say much more about that yet, though.) I've got a Patreon set up as well, which brings in a few bucks. (Feel free to contribute and make that "few bucks" a little healthier!)

So things have moved forward with respect to getting additional income streams, but relatively slowly. I think that, in large part, that's because of complacency with my day job. That is, I've gotten several raises there since 2011 and I even got a healthy promotion last year. So, financially, I'm more well off than I was in 2011 and the job seems really stable. I've got no immediate concerns, thankfully.

But what I need to remember is that stability is only in place as long as things remain stable. That is, it might be stable now but that could change quickly. A new set of government regulations, perhaps, or another stock market crash, or any number of other factors could pull things out from under the company in the blink of an eye. And that I don't have more set up to fall back on is more than a little frightening if I actually put any thought into it.

And all of that is to say: if you start looking to webcomics and that business model to set yourself up to navigate the impending gig economy, your transition will almost certainly not be as fast as you like (or even need!) it. I think some of the better webcomikers have suggested that it will take at least four years of hard work and surviving off ramen noodles before you can even hope to make a webcomic self-sustaining. So better to get started now and have things at least progressing along before your day job gets outsourced to you.
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