Success in cartooning speaker: Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson is a single panel gag cartoonists who’s sold cartoons to some of the best known magazines. He also has developed one of the best pay-per-use comic sites on the web.


  • Presentation Title: Finding your Path
  • Mark grew up in Iowa and loved cartoons; Bill Hoest was a big influence in determining to go into gag cartooning.
  • Dropped out of college (majored in trombone); played trombone on cruise ship (not Carnival)
  • After working on cruise ships found a job selling screws.
  • Left the job selling screws to sell metal coil. This is not what he wanted to do with his life.
  • Started selling cartoons to magazines – Readers Digest, etc.
  • Launched Andertoons website
  • He was downsized out of metal coil job but landed a job selling online advertising to used car dealers. Lasted 1 year.
  • When first child came, decided to be full time cartoonist between changing diapers/bottles
  • Sold cartoons to big magazines; greeting cards; sells cartoons to corporations
  • Best known for
  • Four basic concepts that often get over looked:

1. Commit to being a cartoonist

  • Set goals on production. Mark started with a goal of writing 10 gags a month and moved up to 30 and then 60.
  • It’s a job. A lot of work willing ideas; making deadlines; jobs are hard
  • Success doesn’t come overnight.

2. Do it yourself

  • Do as much as you can yourself. Mark taught himself cartooning
  • Ask the people who buy your cartoons for the advice on what you can do better
  • Ask your fans on Twitter and Facebook what they want to see more often
  • Look at your competition – what are they doing right/wrong?
  • Be organized
  • Find ways to be more efficient (schedule blog posts; find keyboard short-cuts, etc.)
  • Take credit cards – Paypal,; Square, Recurly;
  • Accounting, trademark, marketing – so many options to do it yourself

3. Find your fit in marketplace

  • Started website – now several iterations later – each an improvement. Trying to figure out why people come to your site and make it easy for them to purchase cartoons.
  • Mark uses bigger, brighter buttons to hold customer’s hand through purchase process
  • Does custom cartoons. Now a larger part of requests
  • SEO – Great content is the most important, SEO is the equivalent of grammar and punctuation for writers.
  • Less and less traffic is coming form Google. Social media has become very important
  • Partnering with other websites. When blogs took off, offered cartoons for blogs – great link bait
  • Partnered with Small Business Trends

4. Need to fail and fail a lot

  • Do not be afraid to fail; fail often and big – if you’re not failing you’re not trying.
  • Tried his hand at a daily comic strip.
  • Tried cafe press.
  • Has tried several attempts at books: ebooks, mini-comics, calendars, SPX, and ibooks. Hasn’t really proved to him to be a good return on investment
  • Did Comics Sherpa – didn’t work, but now on GoComics and is bringing in some money
  • Has tried Facebook app. Didn’t work initially. May do it again
  • Tried to do summer shows, events, fairs. People never bought it. Lost a lot of money on it.