Todd Allen on Online Revenue Models, Niche Media and Webcomics

“Welcome to the 21st century. The rules of the media game are changing. Those who want to survive are changing with it,” says technology consultant and author Todd Allen, who outlines the new rules of engagement in his book, Online Comics Vs. Printed Comics: A Study in E-Commerce and the Comparative Economies of Content.

In keeping with the advice in his book, the entire text of the book is available for free.

“There is no one best practice for turning content into currency,” explains Allen, who was previously the originating producer behind the online editions of the American Medical Association’s suite of medical journals. “What I’ve done is followed a subset of the content industry, and examined which revenue models work and how well. With web comics, the community is small enough to absorb the data, but still has its share of successful entrepreneurs. And when you compare the results of the web cartoonists’ labor with the financial realities of their printed cousins, a strong case for migrating independent media to the web quickly materializes. There’s no question it’s a better place to build a following, and there’s a valid reason print publishers are starting to sweat.”

“They’re reading it straight off the web,” Allen say of the MIT students. “The same basic models work for music, video and prose, as well as comics. It’s just about matching the appropriate stream with your content. Sometimes you charge a flat fee, sometimes it works better to give it away. With my book, I’m content to let people read it online. A percentage will like the material and prefer to read it in book form. It’s an established method.”

What the critics are saying:

“Todd Allen’s new book on online publishing might be the salvation of online comics. He quantifies the problems that make most publishers shrug with frustration, and points toward the new solutions.” – Len Strazewski teaches online publishing and New Media at Columbia College Chicago and is an expert on the impact of new technology on publication management.

“The entire study is full of actual revenue numbers, offering a very detailed glimpse into the financial realities behind the comics industry. Allen concludes with a series of lessons for online content providers, lessons which are applicable beyond just the domain of comics.” – Econozoo

“It’s a fine overview of the kinds of options available to any web entrepreneur… As with indie music, on-line is the place to be.” – Metrist Partners

“A valuable case study of how e-commerce is changing the business models of an old industry.” – Econozoo

Xaviar Xerexes

Wandering webcomic ronin. Created Comixpedia (2002-2005) and ComixTalk (2006-2012; 2016-?). Made a lot of unfinished comics and novels.