Hosting Your Webcomic

Photo by: "William Hook"

So you’ve managed to come up with an idea for a comic, layout the main characters and plot, and draw a few chapters. Now it’s time to upload them to the internet so that others could gasp with awe at your creation!
In order to do that, you have to create a site for your webcomics, which means you need to find a host. For those of you who don’t have much experience with creating or owning websites, a host is simply a computer connected to the Internet. There are many hosting services out there, and guess what – some of them are even specifically targeted for hosting webcomics.
Let’s have a quick overview of what are hosting options you can choose, and what are the basic pros and cons of each option. Future articles will explore each of these options in more depth.

Free Comics Hosting Services
Free Comics Hosting Services are platform that were designed specifically for hosting online comics. Designing a site and uploading comics using these services is quick, easy, and cheap (well, free!). This option best serves the beginning webcomicker who doesn’t want to invest too much time or money in maintaining a website. Services such as Drunkduck, Smackjeeves, and Comicgenesis fall into this category.

Hosted Blogging Services
Many web cartoonists, including professional ones, choose blogging platforms such as Wordpress.com, Blogger.com or Typepad.com in order to host their comics. Why not? After all, webcomics can be seen as nothing more than illustrated blogs. Hosted Blogging Services are free (or relatively cheap) but usually give you more power and versatility compared to Comics Hosting Services. For example, you can choose from countless web designs for your site (and even use your own custom CSS code to alter them), you can use your own custom domain (e.g. www.myowncomic.com), and you can monetize your site by hosting ads there. But, quoting Spiderman Comics – “With great power comes great responsibility” – you will need to invest a lot of time until you learn how to leverage all the capabilities provided by these platform. Also, since you’re not hosting by yourself, you will have to comply with the basic rules of the hosting service you’re using – which can sometimes mean you cannot post nude art or material considered as offensive. And finally, you don’t get the benefits of a strong community, as you would if you had used Comics Hosting Services. This means, among other things, that you’ll need to work hard to gain those first few readers of yours.

Self Hosting Platform
This is probably the most professional, yet complex and expensive, way of hosting your comics. Going on this path, you buy a domain name (using services such as GoDaddy or eNom), buy a good hosting deal (examples being again GoDaddy or eNom), and then start building the site from scratch, taking care of all aspects such as site design, archiving scripts, etc. The good news are that since we’re not inventing the wheel here, you can install blogging platforms such as Wordpress (*) on your site, gaining all the functionality of the blogging platform. The GREAT news are that there are also lots of webcomic targeted plug-ins to those platforms that would give you the ultimate webcomic-site-design experience , examples being ComicPress.
The main advantage of self hosting is that you can do practically anything with your site. The main disadvantage is that it’s going to cost you, and you’ll pay, with both money and sweat, until you manage to design and maintain your dream site.

Summary
As you can see, there are numerous possibilities for hosting your webcomic site. Future articles would dive into each of the specific options (Comics Hosting Services, Hosted Blogging Services, Self Hosting), and I’ll also review some specific services such as Blogger and the powerful Wordpress + ComicPress combination. Stay tuned!

(*) Don’t confuse Wordpress.com with Wordpress.org. Wordpress.com is a free hosted blogging service. Wordpress.org is an open-source publishing platform that can be installed on self hosted sites.

1 comment:

Zachary Levi said...

The best part about these developments is that they allow you, regardless of any talent as an artist or comedian, to create your very own comic strip.
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