No strip image because this isnâ€™t really about OOTS. And a project that should have taken three days got wrapped up with another one and has taken over a month.
Submitted by Morgan Wick on October 28, 2009 - 00:39
For better or worse, in the absence of any sort of paywall on the actual content and enough readers to justify a thriving ad market, most webcomics are reliant on merchandise to make money, usually T-shirts and reprint books. I may complain about the effect this has on which webcomics can be financially successful, but unless micropayments miraculously start working or webcomics can gain significant traction on a subscription model, thatâ€™s the way it is.
One of the challenges of needing to sell webcomic merchandise â€“ and there are a lot of challenges for selling merchandise â€“ is finding a place to sell them at. Many if not most webcomics sell merchandise through print-on-demand outfits like Cafepress, but sometimes thatâ€™s not the ideal approach, especially when production of many things gets cheaper per-order as more of them are ordered, and especially when many such places have an iffy reputation for the quality of the resulting merchandise. Whatâ€™s more, print-on-demand shops are usually intended for reeeeally amateur operations â€“ you could sell T-shirts and mugs with your kidâ€™s random crayon drawing on it at CafePress. Iâ€™m not sure that sends the best message when Girl Genius is selling merchandise at the same site as â€œBillyâ€™s T-Shirtâ€.
Last week Rich â€œOrder of the Stickâ€ Burlew announced he was opening up Ookoodook.com to sell his merchandise, instead of using, in his words, â€œa game manufacturer who was just doing me a favor by retailing my stuffâ€ in APE Games, a partner in the new site. But Rich also intends the site to sell products not only from himself, but from â€œother independent and self-publishing creatorsâ€, and that â€œ[w]e hope this new venture will allow us to spotlight other self-published products that you may not be aware of yet by working with their creators directly.â€ The site seems intended for publication of a wide variety of material, so long as itâ€™s unlikely to sell through traditional retail channels, but it still seems fit for webcomics to take to it like a glove. If webcomics have their own ad service, why not their own store?
Ookoodook isnâ€™t perfect â€“ it appears you need to handle production yourself, implying your product needs to already exist, and the only other webcomic to sell merchandise on the site, Schlock Mercenary, hasnâ€™t even advertised its existence â€“ but I canâ€™t help but wonder what it presages for webcomics.