The 5 Stages of Webcomic Development

Photo by: "torsteinsaltvedt"

If you’re serious about turning your webcomic into a business (even a side-business) you must treat your webcomic as a product. Consequently, the process of making (or developing) your comics should be similar to the process of developing any new product.
The life cycle of developing a new product roughly consists of five basic parts: Invention, Creation(*), Publication, Promotion, and Monetization. Let’s examine each of these stages in the context of creating a new webcomic.

This is the stage where you generate your ideas and thoughts for the new comic series. You come up with the plot, the main characters, and end with a draft of one or two pages/strips.

Having established the general plot and characters, you start creating comic pages (or strips, depending on your design). Each page undergoes a process of designing its layout (panel layout and texts), then sketching, lettering, penciling, inking, and coloring, where applicable.

In the traditional media, publishing meant that you had your comic printed and distributed. This could be as simple as you making some copies of the comic and handing them over to friends, or as complicated as signing a contract with a publisher and having your comic printed as a book. In the Web 2.0 age, this simply means airing your comic on a blog or web site. This includes tasks such as choosing a host for your site (paid or free), buying a domain (optional), designing the site’s layout, and finally uploading your comics to the site.

After airing a web site and uploading comics to it, your next task is to make the world aware of it. There are hundreds of millions of web sites out there (according to the Netcraft Web Server Survey), and you need to make your webcomic site stand out if you want anyone to visit it. Promoting includes such tasks as advertising and search engine optimization, or SEO (techniques that will help your site achieve a high rank in search engines such as Google).

Some comic artists draw and publish comics just for fun. Others want to make money out of it, and possibly, even a decent living. Monetization is all about turning your comic into a cash machine. Examples of ways to monetize your comics include selling comic books with your comics, fan merchandise (e.g. T-shirts with characters from your comics), or even ad space on your web site.

So there you have it: Invention, Creation, Publication, Promotion and Monetization. Future articles will delve deeper into each of these topics. In fact, almost any article that you’ll read in this blog will fall under one of these categories.

(*) In the industrial world the term “Production” is usually used instead of “Creation”. With regards to comics the term “Creation” seems more suitable, as creation has both an industrial and artistic meaning.

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