2017 in review

In hindsight, everything looks impressive, even if you’ve only managed to get a couple of quality projects off the ground and up to a modest level of success. Nevertheless, I’m pretty happy that I got a few things out. 2018 looks to be a pretty good year in terms of focusing those projects into something more.

So here’s a short list what I’ve been most proud of getting done this year:

Homebased

Back in 2015, I had just completed a short scifi comic for an anthology titled Gwan all about the migrant experience. I was pleased with this piece, and that the book has achieved a level of worldwide success makes me honoured to have been a part of it. As projects go, however, I felt it was a conscious effort on my part to take a break from Pandeia in the hope of picking the story up again once Dear Giang had been completed.

But a little soul-searching, and a couple of kooky ideas later, I decided that the next project needed to get back to something simpler. I had made an epic n00b mistake with Pandeia: a huge, sprawling saga in full colour told as a potential series of comics spanning some 26-30 issues bound in 5 books. As a first project, it was all wrong. Also, I was a stay-at-home dad (for the most part – I still took on the occasional class at JMC one day a week) and any project had to fit into a schedule which revolved around the kids. It was serendipitous, then, that these facts should also be my inspiration for what came next.

I had mused on writing a web comic about being a stay-at-home dad, and it was not without trepidation that I stepped into the web comic fray. The subject had been done before, and well by the likes of Fowl Language and Lunar Baboon – to name two. I also only had a handful of ideas, and to really make a go of it, I needed at least 30. So I collected ideas over the next couple of months and set myself a goal of reaching 21 solid ideas before I bought a web domain, and released the comic to the world on a 3-day-a-week release schedule.

The project went live on 27th of March this year with the first strip titled Stay At Home Dad setting up the mood and style of the comic right out the gate. I released it on its own website, as well as on Webtoons and Tapas – to varying success. I reposted the strip on social media like Facebook and Instagram, and even posted each strip to comic threads on Reddit. Around October, I got in contact with an old friend Jason Badower who admitted to being a rabid Homebased fan. After chewing the fat over a few emails, he offered his editing skills to any future comics I might have in the pipeline. To butcher a quote from Ghostbusters “When a successful comic, storyboard and commercial artist offers to edit your humble comic, you say YES!” I took on his suggestions and found my comics became a lot stronger – even if the changes were just a couple of tweaks from an expert eye. In just a few short exchanges, I found a working balance which was a little like jazz – he offered a backbone of no-nonsense feedback and adjustments to panel structure, direction and dialogue, and I’d riff off these for a final polish.

One strip even got rendered in colour for a new issue of Reverie.

I smashed my humble goal of 30 comics reaching a total of 65 posts this year. The overall response has been pretty good. To date, the website alone has received over 32K views, with the highest record for a single day hitting 2,429. Webtoons has gotten over 17K, and has an average rating of 8.89 (out of 10. In comparison, Lunarbaboon has a rating of 9.6).

You can check out Homebased here: http://www.homebasedcomic.com/

Youtube and Adsense

I had an existing youtube account which was eligible for earning ad revenue, and thanks to a couple of very popular videos, I had been receiving cheques from Google to the tune of $122AUD a quarter. The problem was these videos were outdated, and needed a revamp. I also wanted to create a youtube account more in line with this website, as well my overall brand. So I set up a new youtube channel and basically began from scratch. I was determined to get back to earning advertising dollars, and it seemed a little crazy, but this was to be a long term goal. In order to hit the much-needed 10K, I revamped my tutorials on using Blender to edit video, then posted a news article on Blendernation – a popular Blender blog. This garnered a few thousand views pushing me closer to my goal, and with a couple more videos promoted on that blog, I managed to hit 10K views in just a couple of months. I immediately enabled AdSense and now Youtube is once again generating revenue.

In conjunction with this, I also wanted to take advantage of the visits to Homebased (and also to this site) so I researched how to use AdSense on select pages and posts, hoping to turn some of that traffic into revenue. My one mistake was that by the time I was up and running, Homebased was coming to a close for the year. The upside is that in 2018, when I release the new buffer of work three times a week, the traffic should hit a respectable pace and I’ll have better metrics on ad revenue.

The key lesson I learned here was how to promote posts. Instead of just making a blanket update on facebook, I’d make a post here, or promote a specific Homebased cartoon then link that to the facebook post or blog post. The traffic would funnel back to the website and I’d get stats on ad impressions.

You can check out my Youtube Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEhYWUp3jRKQF7GHjhpcI_g

Patreon

So I had initially been skeptical of Patreon – asking people to contribute an on-going monthly donation indefinitely so that you could support your art-making seemed a little crazy. I mean, everything is subscription these days: Netflix, Audible, Heck – even software has gone subscription. What you get for those subscriptions however is a great deal of content and you can justify the value for your money. Subscribing to a few artists at potentially alot more cost to you in return for little to no content seemed… well nuts.

But in conjunction with my Youtube plans, I thought I’d give it a go, and devised a strategy which would make it worth the while of a potential patron. I decided to create exclusive tutorial content focused on producing illustrations and assets in Blender.

I kicked it off in late June this year and my goal was to hit $100USD per month. Initial interest was not that high, because I had only told a handful of people. I figured that the way forward was to amass enough content to make it appealing to a future patron before I announced it more publicly. My chance came around September, and with a couple of strategic posts to Blendernation and a few free videos on Youtube, I saw a spike in patrons over the next couple of months which now places me at just shy of $80.

You can check out my Patreon page here: https://www.patreon.com/pcaggegi

Going Forward in 2018:

So the goals for next year have been planned for at least the first few months. I’ve got several Homebased strips ready for production, and these should round out the goal of hitting 100 by March. My plan is then to compile the first Homebased book release. It will either be a best of, or a complete 100 strip release with forward, and a small section outlining some concepts, behind-the-scenes comparisons of work, etc.

Patreon content has been produced for January, and there is an outline to incorporate upcoming features in Blender’s anticipated 2.80 version release. I’m aiming to hit that initial goal of $100USD by February. I also plan to release some content to Youtube for free, with ads, but the downloadable working files will remain Patreon exclusive.

Ultimately I am hoping that in 2018 these projects will begin to pay for themselves – from web-hosting costs to software needed to produce them, I’m aiming to create an income stream which utilises the tools currently available to creatives everywhere, and by producing content which gives something back to the larger community, I also hope to aid others in their creative endeavours.

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