Make money from Crimson Dark - Suggestions

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Make money from Crimson Dark - Suggestions

Post by OneSalientOversight » Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:42 pm

We all want David to live off making Crimson Dark so that a) He can buy food, and b) We can get more than one page per week to read.

I've emailed some suggestions to David but I think his Spam folder must've eaten them. So here are my suggestions again.

1) The Marillion Model

Marillion are a British rock band from the early 1980s. I remember them only because Neil from "The Young Ones" likes them (and Hawkwind). After their popularity peaked, the band found themselves with a small but loyal fanbase, but a music industry that wasn't going to financially back any new albums.

When the internet came around, the band were one of the first to utilise it for centring their fans into one place. It was this that gave the idea that has become known as the "Marillion Model" in business circles.

Basically it goes like this. Marillion went to their fans and said "We want to make a new album. Would you like to pre-order it? It will take about a year." The fans responded by saying yes they will and began pre-ordering. With the money is escrow, the band were able to borrow enough money against the fans preorders to buy them studio time as well as the cost of manufacturing CDs and shipping them. Eventually the band recorded the album, sent out the CDs to the fans and profited from it.

How would this work with Crimson Dark?

Well, David would say "I want to create a new chapter of Crimson Dark in physical comic book form. Would you like to pre-order it?". We, the fans, would then pay for it via paypal and the money goes into escrow. David then creates the physical comic and sends it out to us, the fans. After this transaction is complete, David would then begin releasing each page onto the website for free on a weekly/bi-weekly/tri-weekly basis. After the new comic has been sent, David would then take preorders for the next chapter.

And on it would go, with each subsequent comic purchase being the primary source of David's income, with the CD website essentially functioning as a way to get fans into the web comic and eventually desire to purchase a physical copy of the thing. Of course those who choose to buy a copy of the new chapter will know all that goes on while web watchers will just have to wait until it unfolds.

There are a lot of advantages with this model, not least being the fact that David retains control over his creation. If the enterprise gets too big for him, he can contract out all the paperwork to another entity.

2) Merchandising.

As far as I can tell, there's no Cafe Press type business linked to CD. Having a CD T-Shirt or poster or coffee mug would be a great idea.

3) CD-specific advertising.

This is probably a bit controversial but let me suggest it anyway, This sort of advertising would involve the creation of a special page once in a while where the characters of CD deliberately and unashamedly advertise products. The page could be Kari brewing herself some Nescafe Blend 43 coffee. It could be a platoon of Space Marines drinking Coca Cola. They would simultaneously be both "legitimately" Crimson Dark and still be advertising. For a similar example of this, check out the Spalding Street Ball ads they placed in comic books of the late 70s and early 1980s. Of course, these ads would not involve "product placement" and could easily break the fourth wall, allowing the integrity of the story to remain.

Imagine a 30 second advertisement involving the crew of Serenity drinking some Tooheys Old from "Earth that was" and commenting on how refreshing and wonderful it tastes. Or imagine Kay-Lee working hard all day, sweaty and greasy and then retiring to her room, having a shower and spraying Impulse on herself, then walking past Simon who notices her and stares after her.

Advert+Firefly universe. The advert would've been part of the fan's show while simultaneously being a way to make money from it. There's no reason why CD couldn't do this.

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Re: Make money from Crimson Dark - Suggestions

Post by see317 » Thu Feb 26, 2009 6:35 am

1. I'm curious if you're suggesting this would be in addition to the web-comic? I mean, would it be "Hey the next chapter is also going to be available as a comic book to buy" or would it be "Hey the next chapter is only going to be available as a comic book to buy"?
I'd imagine that most people are generally unwilling to pay for something they've been receiving for free. In some cases they are vehemently unwilling to start paying out for it. Personally, I'm not a huge comic book fan and don't really see myself purchasing one. Don't get me wrong, I like crimson dark, but I like it online.

They will be providing me my birthday present (from: me to: me) soon. I've heard though, that Cafepress (and all the other internet t-shirt places) don't provide much cash per sale. Sometimes only a tiny percent of their actual sale price goes anywhere near the seller.

3. Sounds good, but really hard to sell. Corporations that have million dollar advertising budgets aren't looking to reach out to small web comic readerships. There's just not enough return on their investment. I wouldn't have any problem at all with seeing a Coca-Cola advertisement on a prominently placed screen in the background while the crew was walking through a space station. Heck, maybe even a chapter where the crew is entered into a space race (see Taris in Knights of the Old Republic as an example) and all the racers have large sponsor stickers placed on the sides. Truth be told, I would love to see this. It's the kind of detail that makes a well established human setting more realistic. The problem (as mentioned above) is getting the money from real companies.

Realized I hadn't actually provided any useful advice, just crapped on the OP's ideas. Sorry about that, bad habit of mine.
So, some ideas:
Increasing readership.
Sluggy Freelance ( runs fanart on Sundays. It's a huge web comic, one of the oldest too, so it's got a pretty large fanbase who also like Sci-Fi. If you could toss together the characters in the style of CD, and if it gets put up then some of them would likely want to check where it came from. Hopefully, some stick around.
Guest comics. I know that 8-bit theater ( as well as Sam and Fuzzy ( occasionally open the floor up for guest comics while the author/artists take a break. Consider putting together a comic for them. Again, you're only likely to get a tiny percent of a tiny percent of their readership to stick around.

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Re: Make money from Crimson Dark - Suggestions

Post by SciFiGuy » Thu Feb 26, 2009 5:47 pm

With CafePress, they tell you what your cost is for a particular item (a coffee cup or a poster) and then you set your own price. So if a coffee cup costs you $7, you can charge whatever you want to charge and they take away $7 and give the rest to you.

Unfortunately, their cost is not that great of a deal, so you have to charge on the high side to make it worth your while.

I paid $24.95 for a good sized poster of a spaceship that I'm a big fan of (Leif Ericson) and it was worth it to me.

You can get a CafePress account for free, but you are limited to ONE style (i.e. one graphic). That one graphic can be on any item they sell (cup, shirt, poster, etc), but only that one item.
Some people get around the one-style limit by getting different freebie accounts. I think the documentation for CafePress actually mentions this. I know I've read it someplace.
The down side is it makes it harder to manage your various different styles if they are under different accounts.

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Re: Make money from Crimson Dark - Suggestions

Post by Dhraakellian » Sat Feb 28, 2009 10:37 am

Has the calendar been updated for 2009? I don't recognize the pictures from Froggy's copy that he got from the fanart contest. (And it looks like a couple are from this last year, unless I'm incorrectly telescoping things.)
Some pithy statement goes here.

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Re: Make money from Crimson Dark - Suggestions

Post by jonpdavis4christ » Sun Mar 01, 2009 12:17 pm

I wonder if smaller online companies would be interested in taking advantage of advertising opportunities through CD. What is the general kind of demographic we have here among the fan base?

On another note, and this would be a lot of work so I have no expectations in this regard:

The Crimson Dark universe is obviously very big and has infinite potential in characters, timelines, and places to explore. What if there was a second storyline opened and it was available in type print only, or in the graphic novel form? This second story would not be a web comic or web novel, but sold on Amazon or through some other online distributor. The online storyline of CD would still remain in place, with weekly or bi-monthly updates but would also act as the advertising base for the second story.

Of course, this would require working on 2 projects at the same time, but it was a thought that occurred to me anyway.

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Re: Make money from Crimson Dark - Suggestions

Post by buj » Wed Apr 08, 2009 8:27 pm

There is a competition at TechPowerUp to design a body sticker graphic for the Radeon 4890 graphic card. HIS will use the best design for a special edition Radeon 4890 card and the winner gets a card of their own design.
I would love to see such a card with a CD theme.
The url is:

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Re: Make money from Crimson Dark - Suggestions

Post by Thaago » Fri Jan 08, 2010 4:10 am


As David said he wanted to make money from making Crimson Dark, here are some things that I have seen comics do:

1) Bonus pages (extra updates) for contributions totaling some value. Typically there is a progress bar at the bottom of the page, and once it tops a certain amount the author posts an extra page (if possible). One pro of this is that it gives tangible reward for small contributions (it all adds up), but a surge of donations could very well leave a lot of work to catch up on.

2) Bonus content for membership (high res images, wallpapers, stories, etc.). In the comic post David mentioned something of this sort. It is currently being implemented at, where I think its working out pretty well for them.

3) Selling prints. Mostly the more artsy comics do this, but honestly some of your scenes (especially the nebulae) are just beautiful.

4) "Tempts Fate" (See A mini, non canonical, story in which the fate of the protagonist depends upon the amount of money contributed. Typically there are also puzzles which readers must email solutions to if the protagonist wants to solve them. Apparently it works, judging by past results there, but they have a large readership.

5) Mugs, t-shirts, etc.

6) Bribery! I've heard of fans paying lumps to have their name on a throwaway character. It might work?

Well, this is all I can think of off the top of my head; if I see other stuff Ill post it.


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Re: Make money from Crimson Dark - Suggestions

Post by Mocker » Wed Jan 27, 2010 9:06 pm

I just stumbled upon this comic from a link on Reddit and am astounded by the quality. I've been around a few webcomics and some of the money makers are:

advertising of course. Project Wonderful and google adsense both provide good options but page design, word of mouth and generally driving traffic to make ads pay up anything is up to the comic. social network sites can drive a ton of traffic, so adding an icon to easily upvote on reddit/digg/facebook etc can be helpful.

Merch- cafepress sets a pretty high base price so usually best to use someone else if you want to make anything from it.

The supporter club I saw mentioned under the last comic is a good plan. If you need any help with programming I'd be glad to assist. (Does David read these posts or should I email him? )

Also I do some indie game development and the writing and art of these comics have me dreaming of a game based on this universe. The writing is good enough for a space opera game, but the designs are well thought out to support many different ones. Since you generate 3d models for your sets anyways it doesn't seem like such a big push.

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Re: Make money from Crimson Dark - Suggestions

Post by David » Wed Jan 27, 2010 9:57 pm

I read every post in this forum. I'm actually grateful for the thoughts expressed in this thread, and I've taken these ideas on board as I think about how the supporter's club is going to work.

There will be new merchandise this year, as well as a print version of the comic, but these will come later. I also plan to hit off a new advertising campaign once money starts coming in through the club, I haven't actively promoted CD for a couple of years now. I was nervous about doing this sort of thing while I was unsure about how college would affect CD, but now that college is done with I can start making real plans.

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Re: Make money from Crimson Dark - Suggestions

Post by WarPlayer » Thu Jan 28, 2010 4:42 pm

I'd love to see this in print. I like technology, but I still prefer something I can grab and take with me when I expect to be stuck sitting at the dentist or whatever. If you can find out what it would cost to print a comic up, of the early chapters, and take pre-orders, that would let you make money on already completed art, and then continue with new work. A comic that does this (although he releases GNs instead of comics) is The Dreamland Chronicles. I read it online, and then my son and I read the books when they are released.

Although, come to think of it, I read some comics on my phone now. If Crimson Dark could be put on Comixology, maybe the first issue, or a sampler (which might be better, since the graphics have improved over the years) for free, and then $.99 (or whatever you think the market will support) for issues, I'd at least have that to look at while waiting for the Novocain to kick in.

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