Making Money with Webcomics

By: Michael Grefe, Associate Professor, Interior Design

February 20, 2018

Web Comics

Whether you study illustration, graphic design, game art or fine art every art student doodles in their sketch book and many will make or create funny or interesting comic characters. Some students like to draw Manga characters, funny characters, superhero characters and many times we will fantasize about stories for these characters. Sometimes we take pencil and paper together or digital tablet and create a few frames and start to tell a story about our comic character and this is a start of any comic book or webcomic. Once we have a comic story idea and a few characters we can start sketching out our comic idea, whether by hand or digitally, but the question remains—how can we get our work to be seen, noticed and, hopefully, monetize it? Struggling art students, or recent graduates, are always looking for additional revenue streams of income whether their freelancing in their field of study or have a full-time job, and creating a webcomic is a viable option.

We may have doubts that our comic is good enough and most artists are surprised once it's published at how well their work is received by the comic reader fan base, especially if their stories are genuine and from the heart. If you’re looking for an immediate impact with your comic, then controversial or topical subjects can create a large following for your comic very quickly.

Since the Internet is so ubiquitous, with many people making money by writing blogs or creating YouTube videos, it would only be natural for us to wonder if we can also make money creating webcomics and the answer is yes and no. No in the sense that many webcomic artists struggle to get a footing at first with the right comic or story and sometimes it can take a few years before a comic artist will get a following. While it’s easy to start out making some extra money to supplement an existing income, it’s extremely rare for a beginning webcomic artist to make a lot of money on their first comic quickly.

Many comic artists will start out by creating a website on and pay for a domain or hosting it on a popular comic website such as,, or You could also use social media sites such as Tumbler, Twitter, Instagram or Google+ to create buzz for your comic. Most people in the industry tell you to stay away from Facebook as it's primarily for an older audience and can also damage your credibility with a younger audience. Another great website is and you can add your comic to their site and readers will vote on your comic for the website’s top 100 list and this will help you grow your audience fan base.

Once the comic artist has a large following they can make good money by using Google “AdSense,” which will sponsor ads on your website and you will get paid per click for anyone who clicks on an ad. If your website gets a lot of traffic you can also get sponsors who might pay a monthly advertising fee to be on your site. 

One option is to have a subscription service where you will unlock additional content or a new comic strip early for a fee. You can incorporate your comic art into an electronic greeting card and sell it online through a website called Some comic artists will have donation buttons on their website where many artists will merchandise their comic with tee shirts, stickers, toys promoting their comic characters, important story lines or cover art. If you have a popular comic, you can make money by making public appearances at colleges and speaking about your comic or talking about making comics as a career. You can also get a lot of freelance work, either as an artist creating comic art or as a comic writer, once you have a large group of followers since many publishers of comics will hire someone with a built-in fan base. You can sell your original Comic Art if you draw your comics by hand. Web cartoonists such as Dave Kellett, creator of "Sheldon," gives his readers the chance to buy his original artwork for every strip. The artist hand-inks and letters all his comic strips and the buyer will receive a hand-drawn original of their favorite strip.

One of the best ways to make money is to sell printed collections of your comic work. Some Web cartoonists will place new material in printed works as a way of encouraging web readers to pick up the collection.

None of these avenues are a sure thing since donations are a shaky source of income and web ad revenue is tricky at best. Merchandise and print sales require a lot of set up work and the graphic quality must be perfect. Combining all these avenues could allow you to make a decent living, provided your webcomic hits a large enough audience but it may take a few years before you make enough money to live off it. If you have a passion to draw comics, then what do you have to lose?

The information and opinions expressed herein represent the independent opinions and ideas of the faculty and/or staff and do not represent the opinions or ideas of The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division.

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By: Michael Grefe, Associate Professor, Interior Design

February 20, 2018