Today we have comic artist Jason Brubaker to talk to us about how he promotes his comics and what he's doing nowadays.
Qn: Can you give our readers a brief introduction about yourself and what you do? I think I read some short post about you having already quit your job at DreamWorks Animation. So are you working full time on your online comics now?
I did recently quit my full-time job at Dreamworks Animation, actually it was the end of December 2014. Now, I'm just working on freelance and my comics with my goal to keep reducing the amount of freelance I need to take on in order to pay the bills.
At this time I am putting in about 60% of my day to freelance and the rest to my comics. But I am currently living in Los Angeles (because of the job) and so now that I can move anywhere, I'm going to be moving back to Idaho, where I am from, and the cost of living will be less than half of what it is here in LA. So this will also help me be able to reduce the amount of freelance that I need to keep the mortgage and bills paid.
Qn: I read on your blog mentioning that you have around 1,000 unique visitors a day. What's your readership like nowadays and how did you manage to attract such a huge following for reMIND?
That was back when I was updating reMIND on a weekly basis. Nowadays my numbers are more spread out across a few website since reMIND is finished and I don't update that comic anymore.
I have a new comic called Sithrah which gets about 200 people a day from what I can tell. reMIND still gets about 300 a day reading through it online or reading my old articles on making comics. Then I also have my patreon page which has about 160 people who pay to get special content and support me.
These days, I don't really try to figure out how big my audience is because it only makes me obsess about it more and then I'm always just checking my stats. My main goal is to finish making books and do them exactly how I think they should be made and so I figure if I focus on that then the numbers will take care of themselves. But there are times when you need to get some stats but I only dig into it when I need to now.
Qn: Are you able to make a living, either directly or indirectly, from your websites?
I'm close but not quite there yet.
At this time I'm making about 50% of what I need to live from comic sales, websites, online sales, digital content sales, Amazon and my distributor who sells reMIND books to stores.
I'm basically trying to build up my passive income streams more than anything. The way I see it, if I have 10 books that are all selling each month through various channels then there are all those streams of income. The more books I have the more streams I have coming in. Eventually all those streams will add up to more than what I was making at a full-time job. But it's a longterm strategy. As long as I keep producing new books then new fans will keep finding all my old stuff and it should just keep growing. Of course there is no guarantee but it keeps growing so I'm going to just keep doing it and see what happens.
Qn: How do you allocate time to promoting your work online versus producing your comic? Do you think good work will market itself?
At the moment, I work about 90% on producing content and 10% on marketing online.
There is definitely a disadvantage to not putting more time into marketing my stuff but I just can't do it all and so I have to focus on the thing that matters the most which is just getting the content finished t the best quality I can.
I assume that I will have more time to do online marketing in the future but for now I am just trying to get books finished. In a way, just finishing a book is really good marketing.
On the flip side, I'd hate to put all this time onto my online marketing and then not be able to deliver an amazing product.
I do think good work "helps" to market itself but it seems like you still need to focus on good marketing in order to allow that work to be able to speak for itself at it's fullest. Does that make sense?
Qn: I see that your new graphic novel Sithrah is already up. What are you doing to promote it online? Are you doing it any differently from how you promote reMIND?
Yes, it's a completely different approach. Mostly because I wasn't enjoying all the hoops I felt like I had to jump through to promote reMIND. With reMIND I approached it like a blog where I wrote lots of articles to gain attention to the comic. It worked but I felt like I ended up becoming a How-to guy instead of a comic artist/writer. Once I finished reMIND I packaged all my articles and advice into my How-to book titled UNNATURAL TALENT: Creating, Printing and Selling Your Comic in the Digital Age. This was a big help in making my transition out of the How-to content because now I could just say it's all in my book on the subject.
So with Sithrah, I haven't done any marketing really for it yet. Well, besides just tweeting pages and emailing people on my mailing list to let them know it began. I do plan to buy some advertising on other comics in the near future as I continue to work on the series. At this point, the first Sithrah book is finished and I'm just waiting to get the shipment of books from the printer. Once the books are out then I'll probably invest some time and money into advertising it.
Aside from that I mainly like to use Instagram to take pictures of process sketches and it seems to help get new fans.
Qn: It's not easy to find the link to your Facebook or Twitter page on reMIND. They are not on your homepage. Is there any particular reason why you chose not to display Facebook and Twitter links prominently on your website? What do you think about social media as a tool for promoting your work?
I honestly loathe Facebook at this point. I hate the idea of steering people away from my website to get lost on that complicated website that has too many distractions grabbing your attention.
My main goal is to get people to my site and then my mailing list and so that is always my main focus with my websites. Although I don't think I've set up either website to do a very good job of getting new signups at the moment. But my mailing list is my bread and butter of marketing. I want to focus on growing that way more than getting people to leave my site and goto Facebook to get lost.
Qn: What's the best advice you've ever received either relating to art or promotion?
Make what you wish you could find, not what others tell you to make.
Qn: What do you know now that you wish you had know when you first started out?
I wish I wouldn't have given up on making my own comics when I started getting professional art jobs back in the late 90's. I didn't work on any personal project for over 10 years because I was focused on my "career". But now I can see that chasing the career outside of my personal projects was a big detour from what I should have been doing.
Qn: Who are other artists that you follow online and think I should interview?
Thanks again for the interview!
You can check out more work and updates from Jason Brubaker at
- https://Patreon.com/JasonBrubaker (my patreon page)
- https://gumroad.com/l/UTaudiobook (Unnatural Talent Audio book)
- https://forms.aweber.com/form/83/537144983.htm (my mailing list)