I had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours with Howard Tayler, creator of Schlock Mercenary last fall at a local anime convention in Salt Lake. He’s got a depth of knowledge of cartooning in general and webcomics specifically. He’s proof that one can make a living solely off the web if you’re willing to pay the price.
I was glad to see that The Daily Herald had a nice write-up in today’s paper both from his perspective and that of his wife’s.
But the couple says it was a long and painful road to bring Tayler’s intellectual property to where it is today. In 2004, Tayler and his family, after much prayer and consideration, took a literal leap of faith, quit his six-figure project manager job with Novell to pursue penciling, inking and publishing his Web-comic full time.
“It was Sept. 22,” Sandra said. “It was ‘Talk Like A Pirate Day.’ “
Tayler said the jump to complete, safety net-free self-employment was “terrifying.” He would hole up in his office working grueling 80- to 100-hour weeks with little to no time for his family.
“The price of going full time was four years of my life,” Tayler said.
But the highly motivated, self-taught cartoonist continued to refine his craft and his site’s free content business model (all of “Schlock Mercenary” can be viewed for free on his Web site) and fans began to take notice. Slowly the family’s sacrifices began to reap results and generate the income they needed to pay the bills, and reduce Tayler’s weekly hours to more palatable 40 to 50 hours.
I plugged his presentation before, and I’ll do it again. Here’s Howard’s presentation to Open Source TV conference last fall. He explains his path to profitability on the web.