Have you ever wondered how monthly giving works?
Did you ever want to do it better?
Are you curious about monthly giving? Are you curious about crowd-funding?
What if you combined monthly giving with crowdfunding?
Well this is exactly what people are doing! They’re doing monthly giving in a whole new way- crowdfunding for comics!
My first interview about monthly giving and crowdfunding is with Sandra Tayler, business manager of Schlock Mercenary, a sci-fi comic that is updated 5 days a week. Each month, Schlock Mercenary gets almost $2,000 through crowdfunding.
For my readers, what is your comic about and why did you start it?
The comic is called Schlock Mercenary. It is epic science fiction being told four panels at a time with a joke. It updates daily on the website schlockmercenary.com and has been running for almost 15 years. It is written by Howard Tayler. I’m Sandra Tayler, I run the less visible portions of our business, including doing much of the accounting and Patreon management. Howard started the comic because he thought it would be a useful format for storytelling.
How did you get started fundraising for your comic?
Most of our income is from sales of merchandise related to the comic strip. We sell books, shirts, mugs, etc. The comic had been running for six years before we saw much income. We also run ads on the website which account for significant income as well. However we’re always interested in finding new ways to continue paying bills, so when we heard about Patreon we decided to give it a try. It turned out to be a useful way for some of the fans who wanted to support us to do that.
What do you wish you had known when you started your Patreon? Any mistakes you’d like to share from when you were first starting out?
We haven’t been using Patreon for very long, only a few months so far. But we’ve had prior experience raising $158,000 to make coins using Kickstarter, and $82,000 to make a board game and many years experience with filling customer expectations. We knew not to promise things that we couldn’t deliver. We also did our best to set it up in a way that did not take a lot of effort for us to maintain. We are busy people and we knew the biggest hazard was that we would forget to update and drop goodies for our Patreon supporters.
How did you decide what prizes to offer? Any tips on prizes that people seem to like?
We set our Patreon up so that people knew they were pledging monthly support. In return we’d drop sneak peeks, behind the scenes tidbits, and store coupons. The key to selecting prizes is to know your audience. We’re still experimenting. We thought the store coupons would be a big draw, but most of the Patreon supporters are there because they want to support without cluttering their houses. Digital prizes have been more welcome for them. The key is to be responsive and willing to shift options in response to the audience.
Do you have an email list that you send updates to? If so, how do you grow your list?
No. Maybe we should, but we have enough reach with the blog under the comic that it hasn’t been necessary so far.
Do you use Twitter or Facebook as a fundraising tool? If so, what have you found works on those platforms?
We use various forms of social media to connect with the fans. Occasionally we’ll mention something that is on sale or the fact that we have a Patreon. But the key with social media is to offer things that are useful or entertaining more often than you ask for attention.
Are there any other techniques have worked well for you when you’re doing a fundraising campaign?
We alternate periods of pushing with periods of relaxing. If it is all fundraising or advertising all the time, then people will tune out and go away. Make sure you’re giving more to people than you’re asking from them. Then they’re happy to give a little back.
If people would like to learn more about you, where can they go?
If people are looking for Sandra Tayler, they can find her at her blog site onecobble.com.
To read the comic go to schlockmercenary.com.
Howard Tayler is the writer and illustrator behind Schlock Mercenary, the Hugo-nominated science fiction comic strip. His artwork is featured in XDM X-Treme Dungeon Mastery, a role-playing supplement by Tracy and Curtis Hickman, as well as in the board game “Schlock Mercenary: Capital Offensive” by Kevin Nunn, published by Living World Games.
Howard has written SF horror for the Space Eldritch and Space Eldritch II: The Haunted Stars anthologies, and he writes fantasy tie-in fiction for Privateer Press under their Skull Island X imprint.
With his friends Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, and Dan Wells, Howard co-hosts the Hugo and Parsec award-winning “Writing Excuses” podcast, a weekly ‘cast for genre-fiction writers. “Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart.”