The new webcomics-specific hosting service from Joey Manley (publisher of Modern Tales, serializer, Graphic Smash and girlamatic.com) will launch in mid to late January, 2004. Late last night/early this morning, bleary-eyed from coding, but feeling victorious and smug after finally tracking down bug number 12,038,999, Manley posted the pricing and service package levels.
The service offers cartoonists a quick and easy way to get their work up on the web, whether they know HTML or not. It also allows them to make money from their webcomics with integrated applications allowing cartoonists to easily sell and manage banner ads, as well as set up subscription and/or micropayments. Other features include the ability, for example, to “dog-ear” and annotate pages in archives.
At the highest service levels, customers can even easily create and launch their own Keenspot or Modern Tales competitors, featuring multiple comics by multiple creators, each with his/her own control panel and upload capabilities.
This is more laughable than Seussical. Everything Keenspace offers, except no FTP or any extensions, and webspace the size of a serving size of reeses pieces. OMG, SIGN ME UP!!!!
I won’t be using either myself but I can hardly believe no one would pay for reliability alone over the free but typically sporadic reliability of the Keenspace set up. Keenspot gets a ton of credit and karma for maintaining Keenspace over the years for free but even they have a for pay offer (keenprime) for the same reason – some people want more reliability and a few more bells and whistles than the basics.
That really was me, above.
Also, the paragraph about business tools forgot to mention advertising. Advertising business tools (professional banner ad server, with click-through tracking, client management, etc.) are packaged with the higher-level account. So all four popular business models for webcomics are serviced. I’m hoping to get into the POD game at some point, too, so that we can service that business model as well.
The real question is: are these features “bells and whistles” or are they powerful applications that cartoonists can use to make money and gain attention? For some, they will seem like the former, for others, they will be the latter.
Same with branding: some may see the WebcomicsNation branding as a disadvantageous obtrusion. Others will see it as a way to set themselves apart and gain attention for their work.
If by “all the hype” you mean the one TAC message board thread where I’ve expressed my enthusiasm for the project, and the three press releases I’ve posted on Comixpedia, Comicon and the ecartoonists’ Yahoo Group — well, that doesn’t seem like much hype to me, compared to the company I used to work for (who bought billboards up and down highway 101, one for every mile, from San Francisco to San Jose one month). But maybe that’s just perspective.
I do think I made a mistake in not being clearer about the limited nature of the “Beginner” accounts early on. People who had three or four years’ worth of Keenspace archives were thinking they’d be able to pay $4.95/month and move their comics over — and if I did that, it would be a financial bloodbath for me. The “Beginner” account is a “Beginner” account — and worth the money. For Beginners. The other accounts should be able to service any cartoonist who isn’t also a programmer. That lots of currently-experienced webcartoonists have a great deal of facility with web technology is a symptom of the inherent technical difficulty (believe it or not — I know, I know, it doesn’t seem difficult to me, and it doesn’t seem difficult to you, but it is difficult for many) of taking the fullest advantage of the online medium. People who want to sell ads, or sell subscriptions, or micropay comics, and who want automated updating, greeting cards, syndication, etc., etc., etc., but are completely intimidated by server-side scripting. WCN is targetted at that group of people.
Either I’m right, and there’s a market to be served with this product, or I’m wrong, and there’s not. I hope I’m right, but I could be wrong!
Everybody’s feedback, of course, is greatly appreciated.
Evaluating this product solely on the amount of server space, or bandwidth, offered, is similar to evaluating the value of a house based solely on the value of the wood, glass, brick and tile contained within it. WebcomicsNation is not a commodity (server space is a commodity — one that, as the original poster points out, is available cheaply — heck, freely — elsewhere). WebcomicsNation is a structure.
It provides webcomics artists a structure in which to post their work technically, via a web-form, without having to know anything about web coding.
It provides webcomics artists a structure in which to promote their work and to find an audience, without having to know anything about marketing.
It provides webcomics artists a way to make money from their comics (if they want to), without having to know anything about business.
If you are capable of building a house — and you have the time and capital to do so — you’d be better served by actually building your own house, rather than buying one somebody else built for you.
If you are capable of doing all of the above yourself — and many, many people are! — then, by all means, you should not use WebcomicsNation.
There has been some complaint about the low levels of service offered for the “Beginner” accounts — specifically, I’ve fielded complaints from folks who have had comics on Keenspace for years, and who seem to be irritated that they can’t move their entire archive over to a Beginner account. But the Beginner account is exactly what it says it is: a level of service designed to allow somebody who has never done a comic on the web to try it out, see what it’s like, and experiment a little, without having to pay too much money for the privilege. Someone who has been doing a comic for years doesn’t belong in the “Beginner” category, and needs more service than I can offer at that extremely low price. It was never my intention to offer the “Beginner” account as the main selling point of WebcomicsNation.
The “Professional” and “Publisher” accounts are the ones where the real benefits lie. I will be very, very surprised if the majority of “Professional” and “Publisher” accounts don’t make their money back, using the business tools that are part of the application (tools to service merchandising, subscriptions, and micropayments — your choice, all three are optional) and then some, every month.
On the other hand, I am listening to feedback. I’ve upped the server space limit on the “Professional” account by roughly 3x, since this was originally posted, because of feedback from the community. The “Professional” account now allows for 100 megs of storage at the base fee, and allows for purchase of storage in 50 meg blocks after that.
But it’s still an overly expensive, far from impressive package where webcomic creators spend a lot of money for really not much more in bandwidth, etc that they can get from other places in exchange for some fancy bells and whistles and a brand name across their ass. What it comes down to is just that–People will be paying to have the Modern Tales seal of approval on their comics. And frankly that’s just not enough.
I think, after all the hype, then all the waiting, and all the promises by you about “how great it was going to be”, WCN turned out to be less then impressive.
Comments are closed.