Pro-Blogger Showdown
Kevin Cheng  

Blogging for Money… by Learning from Comics

March 19th, 2006 by Kevin Cheng :: 10 Comments

The [keynote][1] with [Jason Kottke][2] and [Heather “Dooce” Armstrong][3] was recorded you can listen to their [podcast][22]. While we took some liberties with the exact sequence of the keynote, the points made were pretty much covered. Yes, including Kottke calling himself a failure.

Before the riveting [presentation][4] and [workshop on comics][5] next week at the [IA Summit][6], I got to participate on a panel earlier this week at [SxSW Interactive][7]. The panel, [How to Blog for Money by Learning From Comics][8], was partly motivated by Jason Kottke’s [announcement last year][9] that he was going full-time with blogging by taking small donations from his readers (micropatrons, he calls them).

[One year later][10], he announced that he would not be repeating the fund raising drive during the keynote. This entire experiment, from beginning to end, garnered a lot of attention and buzz from the blogosphere and even press. As Tycho, from the most successful webcomic out there [Penny Arcade][11] put so eloquently, “[What I resent is the idea that what he is doing is somehow bold.][12]” The issues probloggers wannabes discuss: audience trust when going with advertising, what business models are sustainable, how you garner advertisers, merchandising, etc. are all topics that numerous webcomics have not only talked about, but lived. As much as bloggers like to believe they are constantly trailblazing, sometimes, they are not.

And thus, we set out to share what we did know at the most bloggerific conference there is. Our panel included:

- [John Gruber][13], author of Daring Fireball and our “token blogger” to give perspective from the blogging side
- [Bill Barnes][14], co-creator of Unshelved, a webcomic centered around librarians
- [Dave Kellett][15], syndicated artist of Sheldon and member of [Blank Label Comics][16]
- [Kevin Cheng][17], yours truly, representing OK/Cancel as well as [Off Panel Productions][18]
- [Nicole Lee][19], moderator, comics fan, blogger and [journalist][20].

We’d ask Tycho or [Scott Kurtz][21] but they’re far too busy. Our discussions were not so much prescriptive, “this is how you make money” so much as, “here’s some things we and other comics are trying or have tried, the issues faced and the successes garnered. Take it, apply it where applicable, and don’t spend a year and $40,000 to learn a lesson someone else already learnt.”

Some highlights of our discussion:

[1]: “Heather Armstrong and Jason Kottke Keynote”
[2]: “Jason Kottke”
[3]: “Heather Armstrong”
[4]: “Communicating Concepts Through Comics”
[5]: “Creating Conceptual Comics: Storytelling and Techniques”
[6]: “IA Summit”
[7]: “SxSW Interactive 2006″
[8]: “How to Blog for Money by Learning From Comics”
[9]: “Going Fulltime”
[10]: “Oh What a Year”
[11]: “Penny Arcade”
[12]: “Penny Arcade on Kottke”
[13]: “Daring Fireball”
[14]: “Unshelved”
[15]: “Sheldon”
[16]: “Blank Label Comics”
[17]: “kev/null”
[18]: “Off Panel Productions”
[19]: “Nicole Lee”
[20]: “C|Net”
[21]: “PvP”
[22]: “SxSW 2006 Jason Kottke & Heather Armstrong Keynote”
[23]:http:// “The Deck”
[24]: “Ctrl-Alt-Del”
[25]: “Brunetto T-shirts”
[26]: “Spreadshirt”
[27]: “Zazzle”
[28]: “Red vs. Blue”
[29]: “Modern Tales”
[30]: “Design Eye for the List Guy”
[31]: “SxSW Interactive Podcasts”
[32]: “Technorati: Learning from comics”

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OK/Cancel is a comic strip collaboration co-written and co-illustrated by Kevin Cheng and Tom Chi. Our subject matter focuses on interfaces, good and bad and the people behind the industry of building interfaces - usability specialists, interaction designers, human-computer interaction (HCI) experts, industrial designers, etc. (Who Links Here) ?