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Bitpass, will you use it?

If bitpass takes off and becomes the number one micropayment system would you use it for something? Could micropayments mean a decrease in the amount of free comics on the web and/or will it enable more creators to live off their work?
Is this just rampat capitalism? Some webcomics seem to have a donate button up before their first strip.

Bitpass, will you use it?

If bitpass takes off and becomes the number one micropayment system would you use it for something? Could micropayments mean a decrease in the amount of free comics on the web and/or will it enable more creators to live off their work?
Is this just rampat capitalism? Some webcomics seem to have a donate button up before their first strip.

I won't be using it. Yes, I have a donate button, but I don't intend to require payment. That would be suicide for any new comic.

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If bitpass takes off and becomes the number one micropayment system would you use it for something?

I intend to keep a close eye on how successful people like Scott McCloud and Jim Zubkavich are with it. If it grows, I may use it in the future. Personally, I hope it becomes HUGE and helps to change the landscape of the business of webcomics. Quality comics, be they print or digital, deserve to have a chance to earn their creator some compensation.

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Could micropayments mean a decrease in the amount of free comics on the web

It won't change the amount of webcomics, but it may change the amount that remain free. For example, I don't think that micropayments are an appropriate model for webstrips. But for long-form comics, it's right on target.

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or will it enable more creators to live off their work?

That's the dream. Talented creators who can build an audience through quality work shouldn't have to give it away. The system needs to change.

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Is this just rampant capitalism?

Capitalism, yes. Rampant, not exactly. I'm sure some people will say that some of the creators who will choose to use micropayments are just being greedy. Maybe some are, but would those people say the same thing if the comics were in print?

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Some webcomics seem to have a donate button up before their first strip.

And this will never change. But IMHO, the quality webcomics out there shouldn't have to beg for money.

-Otis

What's the thinking on using bitpass for web strips? Is there a way for it to work with a daily comic strip?

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What's the thinking on using bitpass for web strips? Is there a way for it to work with a daily comic strip?

I think that micropayments work best for long-form comics, but there may be a place for daily strips. Not necessarily paying for the strip daily, but perhaps paying to view large chunks of archived material, in the same way someone would buy a print collection at a book store. That would certainly be an option.

-Otis

[quote:023f2edff0="Otis_Frampton"]

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What's the thinking on using bitpass for web strips? Is there a way for it to work with a daily comic strip?

I think that micropayments work best for long-form comics, but there may be a place for daily strips. Not necessarily paying for the strip daily, but perhaps paying to view large chunks of archived material, in the same way someone would buy a print collection at a book store. That would certainly be an option.

-OtisYeah, that's pretty much what I was thinking, though it's tough to keep building an audience if you make them pay for archives (even it's a small amount).

[quote:cc6cc547a5="Anonymous"][quote:cc6cc547a5="Otis_Frampton"]

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What's the thinking on using bitpass for web strips? Is there a way for it to work with a daily comic strip?

I think that micropayments work best for long-form comics, but there may be a place for daily strips. Not necessarily paying for the strip daily, but perhaps paying to view large chunks of archived material, in the same way someone would buy a print collection at a book store. That would certainly be an option.

-OtisYeah, that's pretty much what I was thinking, though it's tough to keep building an audience if you make them pay for archives (even it's a small amount).Thats was me. Sorry, wasn't signed in.

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Yeah, that's pretty much what I was thinking, though it's tough to keep building an audience if you make them pay for archives (even it's a small amount).

It's not any harder than it would be for a print comic to build an audience.

Example:

The first issue I ever read of Bone was #16. After that one issue, an issue with little dialogue and even less character development or story, I was hooked. Jeff Smith's talent was evident on the pages, and I was compelled to seek out and buy more of the story I had gotten a small taste of with that one issue.

Why would it be any different on the web? Quality content is quality content. The cream rises to the top, as they say, and it should not take much to entice a reader to dig deeper into the archive once they've had a taste.

In fact, I think that the web has an advantage over print in this case. It's much easier to provide that taste by allowing a certain amount of material to be free as a preview. And it's much easier to track down the "back issues" once you're hooked. I can't tell you how many stores I had to go to before finding all 15 of the previous issues of Bone. Imagine if I could have gone to one store and bought them all . . for a buck!

-Otis

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

I wonder if Joey Manley's webcomicnation hosting package will support bitpass?

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

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I wonder if Joey Manley's webcomicnation hosting package will support bitpass?

He's certainly hinted that it will in the press release.

I'm curious to see how this gets implimented.

-Otis

experiences of a bitpass user...

I was invited on for the beta test of BitPass back a month or so ago. I've posted about my experience to date over at the Zwol forums and at Rocketbox but I'd be happy to share here as well.

My site is little-known and little-hyped. A good deal of my traffic originates from Otis' post about my site at talkaboutcomics.com I'm lucky to see over a couple dozen visitors a day.

All in all, the earnings after 10-weeks of being on bitpass is enough to cover my hosting bill for a month and pick up a coffee and some donuts to celebrate.

Big money? Easy street? Not by a long shot. But there's a couple things about bitpass that leave me with the feeling that it's a success.

Donations
Be as generous as you want to be.
That's the tagline I'm using on my site where I have bitpass enabled donations. I've had donations of fifty cents and I've had a donation of a penny. I don't think any of the dozen or so people who've tipped me over the past couple of months would have done so if their minimum was fixed at a dollar. So while the individual donations are smaller, they're much more frequent.

eliminate the 'success tax'
How many of us have known sites to dissapear because their popularity ate away more bandwidth than the author could afford?

A minimal charge for archive access or for large downloads means that creators are always able to meet their bandwidth fees.

it feels just so darn good
I'd had donations to the site in past, and while I appreciated it very much, I tell you the first nickle I made off of my comic 'you wanna buy an O' felt so much better than the $5 PayPal donation I recieved the month before.

Now-a-days, when I recieve a donation, it's an honest to gosh tip and not a handout. It says that someone enjoyed my work so much that they're insisting on paying more than the ask price. And if that doesn't pump up the self-esteem for an artist, I don't know what would.

It tells me the dream is possible
Every time I sell a comic, I know that another couple hundred is all I need to sell to give me a decent days wage. 10,000 at a quarter a month is enough to sustain an artist. I'm a long, long way from those kinds of numbers - but with a solid product, a good marketing plan, and a lot of work it's not an impossible feat.

The dream of working full time as a webcomic artist is a reality, imho, thanks to bitpass.

well, I go to quote you and you've already done it yourself. I'll go back to wherever it is I go now.

What scares me about BitPass is competition. If it takes off, I'd be surprised if one or more competing services didn't come out offering much the same thing, maybe even better, and that would be problematic for everyone. For the artists, they'd have to decide which service to support or perhaps whether to support both or all X, which would probably be technically nontrivial, and then the readers have to make the similar decision of where to deposit their money. Barring some kind of micropayment "central bank," it could get pretty hairy.

Has anyone looked at redpaper? Basically people put all kinds of digital content up and charge micropayment-level prices for downloads. There's a transaction fee, and it's a fairly ugly, slow-loading site, but a benefit I can see is that they're essentially hosting your content for free (no bandwidth bills, unless there's something in the fine print I didn't see). Right now it's kind of incestuous, geared toward offering content for other content-offering people, but if they spruced it up a little (and stopped publicly displaying how much a particular item has sold, which is kind of the killer) it might work for web comics: have your free content but point people to redpaper for the pay stuff.

pclips, I can think of another revenue model: merchandising, e.g. via cafepress. It would take a giant audience (not to mention top-quality artistic talent) to have any success with it as a sole source, to be sure, but it could act as a supplement in the mean time. The most potential is probably with free online content paired with physical, offline content (i.e. trade paperbacks), a strategy that may be possible now with cafepress and lulu, at no upfront cost. That's assuming the artist has the time to build up exclusive content for the physical version, though.

I think one way people go wrong with merchandising is tying their products too close to the content (the webcomic) by, for example, only creating products featuring characters from the strip or plastering their url on everything. I imagine a lot of people are like me in that we don't like being walking advertisements, which means we don't buy shirts with logos and urls on them. But I might buy something with attractive artwork on it that, while it doesn't really have anything to do with the comic (or whatever), captures the spirit or the setting of it in some way. And from the creator's side, generalizing the products like that might allow you to separate the merchandise into more of its own entity, capable of being promoted apart from the comic, with the comic and the merch drawing in traffic independently and driving that traffic from one to the other.

But maybe that all smells too much like "selling out" for some people. :)