This week’s question comes from Ben, who wrote:
“I’m on the last stretch of back log work on my own webcomic. My knowledge of web design is limited to contained portfolio sites, but I wouldn’t really know about setting up a blog/webcomic format site. If it’s not too much trouble, [could you] point me toward some resources that could help me out? Any advice is appreciated.”
There are lots of options and resources for you, no matter what your skill or experience level is with design and coding. I am not the most tech-savvy person myself, but that doesn’t make having a website impossible. It all depends on what you what to do and how much you want to learn or do on your own. Below are a few possibilities and some resources that may help you out.
OPTION ONE: SELF HOSTING
If you want to have your own look to your website and would like to design it, or hire someone to help you (this is what I’ve done in the past few years) then self hosting is a good option. I worked with a local group to put together a Webcomic Primer, which you can find here. The first section (pages 3-11) cover how to do self-hosting. In short, you buy your own domain name, pay for server space, and build your own website. Most commonly, webcomic creators have used WordPress and either Comic Easel (formerly ComicPress) or Webcomic Plugins. Once a WordPress website is set up, it’s pretty easy to maintain! To customize it, you’ll need to create a Theme, usually using PHP or CSS. This may require a lot or a little work, depending on how far you deviate from the Plugin defaults.
PROS: Total control over your website, brand, and name.
CONS: You have to do all the community building on your own, and will either need to learn how to design a website or hire someone. Also costs $. If you want to hire someone to help you design and/or code a website, I have a few people I can point you to!
Often they’ll provide templates or do a lot of the coding for you, so if you’re not sure you want to learn the basics of webdesign, or WordPress is frustrating, some of these communities may help bridge the gap. You’ll also have a built-in group of people that share your love of comics and may be able to help you when you run into problems.
I don’t have much experience with collectives and hosting communities, because I’ve always self-hosted, but Drezz on the WA recently wrote a two-part article all about his experience at Tapastic which covers the pros & cons in far more detail.
PROS: Existing community, help setting up the website, often free.
CONS: Less control over site, often have to share ad revenue, competing with everyone else in the network.
OPTION THREE: DEVIANT ART OR TUMBLR
There are people that don’t even bother with the separate website and simply post exclusively to DA or Tumblr. I’ve been co-posting LeyLines pages on Deviant Art since chapter eight. I prefer it to Tumblr because people can still comment and engage with me directly, which is important to me. They also get notified each time I post a page, which is a nice convenience. However, everything I post there gets lumped in with everything else, and I have very little control over the appearance of my space there.
PROS: It’s easy, it’s quick, and it has an existing user-base with a built-in means of sharing your work with other people.
CONS: Often perceived as “less professional,” no control over display, no ad revenue or means of generating revenue. Sometimes it can also be difficult to build community.
Here’s a list that I made of my most recommended resources for webcomic creators. Check them out! There’s a wealth of information in all of these sites and books, a lot of it for free.