Thursday, May 28, 2009

Business Plan Versus Marketing Plan

Let's straighten out some technical jargon.

One doesn't truly do a business plan for a webcomic. One does a business plan, and the comic is part of it.

If your interest is helping your comic gain a larger audience, then you are doing marketing. Marketing is all about selling a brand, and your comic is your brand.

Your comic might include a distinctive masthead, logo, slogan or tag line, mascot, avatar, signature, and/or featured characters. Such items are tools for sticking your brand under people's noses in various places. The avatar would be for use in forums, for example, while the signature would be for email and blog comments. They are all marketing tools.

Another marketing tool is your analytics. By studying where you get traffic, you can choose where to advertise or what social networks to frequent.

Another tool is promotion. This is all the things you do to stick your brand (your comic) in front of people, and includes everything from advertising to giveaways to spamming the hell out of millions of furious people.

Marketing is part of a business plan, but if you are serious about making money from your comic and sober about your prospects, the time for a business plan is somewhere in between dabbling in monetizing your brand and actually investing in the idea of an on-going enterprise.

Because the dynamics of webcomics are so weird, it can really pay to talk to people who know what they are doing and hear their advice. The problem is, the noisiest, most visible people claiming to make a living are usually the least successful. The truly successful don't have time to help, unless you are extraordinarily lucky. Making one good friend is challenge enough, which is why people are drawn to gurus. 

Anyone with half a brain has, by now, figured out that some models are a pipe dream, and by "pipe dream, I mean the kind of pipe with soap bubbles coming out of it. Luckily, serious scholarship about webcomic business plans is now unfolding and will be delivered here in due time.