Double uh, oh.
First of all, the TL;DR version: I’m replacing the donation bar with a Patreon page. I’m doing it 1) so I can more directly reward those who are supporting this comic and also 2) so I can keep making this comic and others like it for a long time. There will be special rewards for being a Patreon backer, but no matter what, I’ll keep posting the pages up here for everyone to read for free. If you think The Young Protectors is something worth supporting and want to get some special, insider rewards, please check out my Patreon page and its video here:
Check out Alex Woolfson’s Patreon Page
Now the details:
What is Patreon?
Patreon lets readers like you support their favorite creators by becoming patrons. Unlike other fundraising services, which raise for a single big event like printing a book, Patreon is for creators who regularly post up creative work, like a webcomic. Instead of making a single large pledge like you would with Kickstarter, with Patreon you pledge to make a small donation every month (like $3 or $5) to support a creator’s ongoing work — and, in return, you get some nice rewards (that are often also ongoing). Patreon accepts both credit cards and Paypal (although I get charged less fees with credit cards); they also accept international payments in any currency; and you can pledge as little or as much as you’d like. Lots of my friends who make webcomics have had a good experience with it, so I’m giving it a try.
You can watch their video on this page:
(There are two different kinds of Patreon campaigns: one where you pledge to pay per update (“patronage per content release”) and one where you pledge to pay monthly (“patronage per month”). The “pledge-per-update” Patreon campaign is the best solution for creators who publish on an irregular schedule, like once every couple of months, and that’s the kind of campaign their video focuses on. Because my updates are consistent, though, I’m using the “monthly pledge” method because I think that’s most clear and easiest for everyone. You can read more about the two different types of campaigns in their FAQ.)
You can read their FAQ here:
Here’s my own off-the-cuff FAQ:
Why are you replacing the donation bar with a Patreon page?
A couple reasons. The first is that I’ve been wanting to come up with a better system to more directly show my gratitude to those who support this comic on an ongoing basis. My personal “thank-yous” under the pages are truly heartfelt—I really do feel tremendously grateful to y’all—but I’ve wanted to do more. Patreon makes it easy for me to set up a system of direct rewards that do just that and I’m excited to be able to show my gratitude more directly to each of you.
But there’s another important reason. From the very first moment I decided to make webcomics, I’ve always been very committed to making that work sustainable, meaning that it would be set up in such a way that I could always finish what I started. I’d been burned myself by getting involved with various webcomics only to have them go on long hiatuses and then eventually stop altogether with the story left unfinished. I never wanted my readers to experience that. It’s one of the reasons Artifice was only 88 pages (I wanted to make sure it was short enough that I could be sure I could finish it.) It’s one of the reasons why we’re so hardcore about not ever missing an update. I consider it a sacred trust.
And, as this comic has grown in readership and has consistently been posting at twice-a-week, I’ve had to turn down more and more work from the day job, which has meant burning through my savings. And, while I’m not on the verge of financial collapse, that can’t continue for much longer. I know many of you would understand if I chose to put the comic on hiatus for financial reasons, but I absolutely don’t want to do that.
Right now, a small group of awesome folks are donating to keep the bonus pages flowing. It’s my hope that with a Patreon campaign, even more people will find it rewarding to support this work and that more folks would see that even small donations over time make a huge difference in my ability to make this comic possible. Will that happen? I don’t know. I’ll never take your support for granted, so I’ll certainly understand if that’s not something y’all can do. But, by the same token, you’ve also all amazed me again and again with what you can do when you all come together, so I thought this would be worth trying. 🙂
Does this mean people will now have to pay to read The Young Protectors?
No. Absolutely not. The comic pages will always be available for everyone to read for free just like always. Patreon backers do get some extra awesome stuff (like special Disqus Avatar badges and getting to see sneak previews of the art and, if certain Milestone Goals are reached, things like exclusive NSFW rewards), but I’m not going to put the regular comic pages behind a paywall. Not ever.
If you want to support the comic and my work, then hopefully I can make that worth your while. But if now isn’t the right time for you to do that, you’ll be able to enjoy The Young Protectors just like always. I want as many folks as possible to enjoy this story and the last thing I would want is for anyone else to be put into a tough financial spot by making a pledge they couldn’t afford.
What about the bonus pages?
OK, so here’s where I need to explain a bit more how Patreon works. This might get a little TL;DR, but here’s what you need to know: you know how in a Kickstarter campaign, there are often “stretch goals” — meaning extra dollar goals that when they are hit, it means every backer’s rewards get better? Patreon has a similar thing called Milestone Goals. And turning The Young Protectors into an official, permanent, twice-weekly comic is now one of those Milestone Goals.
Milestone Goals work like this. As more people join the Patreon campaign, Patreon tracks how much total money is being pledged monthly when you add all those individual pledges together. It then puts that total dollar amount (converted to U.S. dollars) under the number of Patrons for that project. (For example, on the Questionable Content Patreon page, you can see that Jeph Jacques has 3362 Patrons and his Patreon project is receiving $9,722.01 in pledges each month.) That dollar amount under the number of Patrons is what triggers the Milestone Goals.
The Young Protectors is officially a once-a-week comic that updates every Saturday. The Wednesday updates (like this one!) have been “bonus pages.” The way bonus pages have been working on this site so far is that a new bonus page has been triggered whenever the donation bar hits $400. Since that target has been met every week for well over a year, that’s meant about $1600 (4 x $400) of support per month. Even though this doesn’t come close to covering the art costs for a month’s worth of comics pages, let alone other costs, this is still huge and has been a big reason why I’ve been able to sustain things for as long as I have. But ultimately, over time, the workload and expense of those two pages per week has meant that I’ve had to continually turn down paying work and continually dip into my savings to keep things going. And like I said, that can’t go on for much longer.
So, I’ve decided to set the Milestone Goal for keeping this a twice-weekly comic at the amount that covers my actual art and webhosting expenses for 8 pages of comics per month, and that’s $3000 per month. That amount doesn’t include any money for me, but if we hit that goal, at least I wouldn’t be out-of-pocket for creating the monthly pages of this comic, and so it seems like a good minimum for making things more sustainable if we’re going to keep this comic at two pages per week (which I think we all want to do.) $3000/month is an ambitious Milestone Goal, but The Young Protectors has thousands of readers. If only 10% joined the Patreon campaign at $3-$5, then we’d have more than enough to hit that Milestone Goal and then some.
Now, to be clear, I don’t feel any of you are obliged in any way to give me any of your hard-earned money, even if it’s “just” a few bucks. But one of my biggest responsibilities to y’all is to make sure this story is able to continue to its completion and that means asking for what’s actually needed. And, ultimately, the more successful the Patreon campaign is, the more time I’ll have to devote to creating the stories you love, including extras with your favorite characters which I’ve been wanting to do. I believe setting goals based on actual costs is the best way forward for serving the needs of this comic and, in particular, you as readers. And for those of you who can support this work, I’ll do everything I can to make being a Patron fun and rewarding.
I’ve removed the donation bar below and right now, we have three more bonus pages “in the buffer” — so, no matter what, there will be bonus pages through February 4th. If we hit the $3000 Milestone Goal, then I’ll be able to keep posting up two pages of comics going forward, just like we have been. If not, then no matter what I’ll keep posting up a page once-a-week every Saturday and, with the extra time, I’ll change my focus from creating comics back to drumming up more work for the day job. Now, I really want to keep us at two pages a week (I’d much rather spend my time making awesome comics for y’all than editing corporate video), so I hope we are able to hit this Milestone Goal. But either way, I’ll always feel tremendously grateful to you all for being such amazing, thoughtful readers. The best community in webcomics period, IMHO. 🙂
Does this mean you won’t be doing any more Kickstarters?
Kickstarter and Patreon are actually very different and serve very different purposes. Kickstarter is great for making specific big things (like a book) that would never be able to be made any other way. It’s absolutely terrible for making rent. (After Kickstarter fees, $120,000 from the last Kickstarter was placed in my bank account; that project’s rewards costs are over $117,000 and are looking, after shipping, to be a bit north of that…) Patreon, on the other hand, is about supporting the artist while they create ongoing work.
I’ll still use Kickstarter to fund the printing of future volumes of The Young Protectors (although with a lot more restraint when it comes to the stretch goals so folks don’t have to wait so long for their books), but the point of Patreon is to make the day-to-day life of a working artist into something sustainable, especially now that the merchandise market (like T-shirts) is so over-saturated and ad income is so unreliable (and, in my case, with a comic that features gay romance, mostly unavailable from the mainstream ad networks other creators can use.)
What if I just want to donate every now and then instead of monthly?
I hear you. Right now, Patreon doesn’t support an easy way to do that. What is easy is changing and/or cancelling your pledge which you can do at any time. I’ve been supporting other creators for months on Patreon and it’s very simple to make changes to your pledge; it happens immediately. So, in theory, you could make a pledge, wait a month (or whatever) for your credit card to be charged and then cancel future pledges, thus making a “one-time” pledge. But let’s face it, that’s a pain in the butt. The folks at Patreon have told me they might someday offer one-off donations, but they don’t now. So currently there’s not a great solution for one-off pledges and, while I could keep the donation bar up here on the site, I think for now anyway that that would just confuse things.
For what it’s worth, as I said, the whole reason I’m doing this is to make being a comic-creator sustainable. And something that’s really helpful for that is having a predictable monthly income (which ads and selling merchandise absolutely do not give you.) Making a living as an artist means living within a tight budget and making that happen means needing to know what I can count on for sure. If you are able to afford supporting my work here, it’s much better for me if you make a small pledge that you know you can afford to make monthly, than a much larger pledge that happens at random and I don’t know is coming. I can totally understand if that won’t work for some folks, but having a predictable monthly income will really help me make things sustainable if you’re able.
So, okay, I get why you’re doing this. Do I get anything by being your Patreon backer?
Glad you asked! Besides the good feeling you get from knowing that you’re directly responsible for making the stories you like possible, depending on your pledge level, backers get all kinds of rewards! Like sneak peeks of the art, a special badge for your Disqus Avatar, access to a special monthly Google Hangout where you’ll get to ask me and the artists questions, free Kindle e-books, and even free stuff from my store.
And if we hit Milestone Goals, other rewards get unlocked, like access to script and pencil pages, access to the digital Kickstarter rewards (yes, even the “Full Monty” rewards), special new sexy pin-ups and more!
And the rewards will only get better as the Patreon campaign succeeds and I’m able to devote more and more time to making comics. While I prefer to call y’all “readers” instead of “fans” — I’m just a regular guy, not all that and a bag of chips, y’know? — Patreon is set up to reward fans. I’ll know the folks who back the Patreon are true fans of this comic and so I’ll do whatever I can to make being a Patreon backer feel special and to offer as much inside, special access as I can to the comic and its world. Like with the Kickstarter, Patreon backers will be able to vote to decide what new rewards I should create and together we’ll make this into something really fun.
Okay. I’m willing to give this a try. What do I need to do?
Awesome. 🙂 If you believe this comic is worth supporting and if you want special access to The Young Protectors goodies and inside information, then I think you’ll really like being a Patreon backer.
Please check out my Patreon Page. Take a look at the video (where you’ll be able to play a fun drinking game based on the number of times I say the word “basically.”) And consider being a Patron.
And thank you so much for taking the time to read my little novel of an explanation here. A lot of folks have never heard of Patreon and hopefully now y’all know more what it’s about. I really appreciate your interest in The Young Protectors and in supporting this work! 🙂
***THIS IS A BONUS PAGE!***
Our seventy-ninth bonus page in a row! And you yet again tipped the donation bar past its target below! That means that, thanks to your generous donations, and in addition to our regular Saturday updates and bonus pages on Wednesday, January 21st (page 98!), and Wednesday, January 28th (page 100!), there will now be an additional bonus page (page 102!) on Wednesday, February 4th!
Special thanks go out to long-time supporters Amelia B. (who makes their second generous donation to The Young Protectors!), & Antonia S. (who makes their twenty-second generous donation to The Young Protectors!) and a warm welcome and grateful bow go out to new supporters Erin C., & Roger T. for their generous donations over the last few days!
Big hugs go out to new friend of The Young Protectors Mary C. for their super-generous $25 donation and also long-time friends Marc B. for their super-generous $25 donation and Pam W. for their super-generous $39 donation! And this makes Pam’s tenth (!!), and Marc’s eighteenth super-generous donations to this comic!
Thank you all so much for your generous support! And a HUGE, BIG THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS EVER DONATED WITH THE DONATION BAR! You have no idea how much your support has meant to me. It’s been HUGE and I love you all. 🙂
So! First blood… and it’s Spooky’s! And it looks like Kyle and Tsunami are now a bit distracted by that while, at the same time, The Annihilator is ripping his way through the Spookster’s ectoplasmic restraints. Is Spooky now out of the fight? Will The Platinum Priestess take advantage of this distraction? Will The Annihilator be able to get free and, if so, what will that mean for the rest of the team?
Tune in this Saturday to find out! Hope to see you there! 😀