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How Webcomics.com is doing as a subscription site

Last January Webcomics.com went behind a paywall to much the surprise to many of us.

Fleen.com’s Gary Tyrell looks back to see how the site has changed.

That fourth graf is where I got it especially wrong ? I was reading WDC as an informational resource and nothing more; what?s become clear is that Brad?s managed to turn it into something else entirely. If it isn?t already, it?s well on its way to becoming a professional society, with the fringe benefits that go along with it. Members exhibiting at the inaugural C2E2 got a break on table costs greater than their annual subscription (with the possibility that a similar deal may extend to other Reed Exhibitions shows in future), and the 10% discount at Transcon could be worth hundred of dollars.

And while I don?t have definite information on this, I think it?s likely that Guigar would not have been able to negotiate such deals for the readers of an open website ? that $30/year subscription acts as a gatekeeper, and convinces suppliers that this is an audience that they want to reach out to. That bit of exclusion acts to make the demographic cohort economically desireable.

As ? let?s say awkwardly as the transition was handled, the outcome has been significant. I?ve seen no indication that the quality of postings has dropped off, that the discussions have fallen away, or that the passion of the membership has diminished. Guigar is coy on the exact number of members, but he has been willing to describe it as Close to twice what I expected, and more signing up every week. That fact alone ought to give him the leverage to make deals to benefit his members in future. Website hosting, accounting and business services, private-label Bristol, and custom-edition Cintiqs could be a reality someday. Or, if we?re really shooting for the moon, how about WDC becoming the equivalent of the Freelancers Union? They get access to an insurance benefit.

Community Comments

#1 Scott Kurtz
May/10/2010
@ 11:15 am

I am extremely proud of the work that Brad has done at Webcomics.com and honored to continue to contribute to the amazing community he’s built there.

I wish that back in 1998, when I started making PvP, I had a resource like Webcomics.com.

#2 John Glynn
May/10/2010
@ 12:28 pm

Great site. I’m a paid subscriber and it’s worth every penny.

#3 Ben Paddon
May/10/2010
@ 12:36 pm

Aye, cracking site. Really pleased with the leaps and bounds it’s made over the last few months.

#4 Mike Cope
May/10/2010
@ 1:10 pm

A wonderful cartooning community! I joined a few months ago and have read some great art, writing, and business tips for aspiring cartoonists. For those more confident in their ways, there’s plenty of thoughtful and topical discussions to help keep one up-to-date with current technology trends related to cartooning.

A great investment for those sincerely interested.

#5 Meredith Randazzo
May/11/2010
@ 6:39 am

We really DO need a professional society for amateur/not-yet-professional comic artists. I hope it plans to extend its resources beyond just webcomics, I may just take a look.

#6 Jonah Gregory
May/18/2010
@ 4:55 pm

I was skeptical when the site went with the paid model, but am very happy to hear it is working out well for all parties involved.

If and when I get my new project up and running, I may have to join up myself.

#7 Clint Hollingsworth
June/24/2010
@ 3:49 pm

I been futzing around in webcomics for about 10 years, but in the last year or so, since listening to the podcasts and being part of webcomics.com (as a subscriber) I actually feel like I might be able to make at least a partial living doing my comic. Kudos to the entire halfpixel crew, and especially to Brad.

#8 Gar Molloy
June/25/2010
@ 4:09 am

so…worth the subscription fee? I’ve been thinking of signing up

#9 Stephen Beals
June/25/2010
@ 8:11 am

@Gar,

I recently signed up. For $30 I would say it’s definitely worth it. I haven’t spent a whole lot of time on the site, but I’ve still gotten more out of it than other things I’ve spent $30 on (I can think of some magazine subscriptions that still makes me wonder what I was thinking).

The Robert Khoo interview and John Glynn piece are excellent, but I always think it’s hearing from other budding creators that’s the most enlightening.

(Cover your ears, Alan.) More sites catering to a niche market should go to an inexpensive subscription fee.

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