Fund My Comic Seeks to Be the Go-To Crowdfunding Platform for Comics

By Mike Wheeler

A new crowdfunding platform called Fund My Comic (FMC) aims to provide an alternative funding source specifically tailored to comic creators and publishers. Launched just 8 months ago by comic artist Luke Stone and developer Todd Oltmanns, FMC has already facilitated over $300,000 in contributions across nearly 80 active campaigns.

In an interview, Stone touted impressive site traffic and campaign conversion rates that exceed projections. He attributes much of this early success to FMC’s targeted niche—focusing solely on comics rather than the broader categories hosted on mainstream crowdfunding sites. This concentrated approach helps drive more crossover traffic between comic-related projects. An FMC “street team” promoting on-site creators at local comic conventions provides additional exposure.

Stone acknowledges valid reasons for comparing FMC to heavyweight crowdfunding platforms but stresses key differences in FMC’s handling of payment processing, fees, and campaign mechanisms tailored to comic creators’ needs. For example, FMC’s flat 3% site fee means creators keep more of their funds compared to mainstream sites. Ongoing upgrades aim to further streamline and customize the funding process.

With promising early traction, Stone projects FMC is 12-18 months ahead of its goals to become the go-to crowdfunding site for launching and funding comic projects. He welcomes skeptics, saying, “I’m very open to being shown that I’m wrong.”

FMC’s Laser Focus on Comics Provides Edge Over Mainstream Rivals

While Stone doesn’t shy away from comparisons between FMC and established crowdfunding giants like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, he argues there are fundamental differences that give his upstart platform an advantage in serving the comic creator niche.

A key insight underpinning FMC’s launch is data showing that comic/gaming projects make up only around 10% of traffic on mainstream crowdfunding sites, which concentrate more on technology and higher-dollar campaigns. By focusing 100% on comics and gaming, FMC ensures all site visitors are interested in this niche—boosting chances of driving traffic and conversions across projects.

Stone also highlights the fact that creators themselves drive 70-90% of traffic to their own campaigns, regardless of platform. Yet mainstream sites still take credit for algorithm-driven activities like search conversions. FMC’s niche concentration helps creators leverage their existing fan base while tapping into shared comics-focused traffic. So far, FMC’s campaign-to-campaign conversion rate is running at an impressive 17-20%—nearly double the 10% benchmark seen on mass-market rivals.

Kickstarter Killer? FMC’s Unique Features Tailored to Comic Creators

Beyond riding the wave of its focused comic/gaming audience, FMC has baked-in key features designed specifically to empower and incentivize creators in this space:

  • Customized payment processing and escrow system give creators more control over funds and transparency. Campaign owners have their own Stripe “connect” account linked to FMC, providing Uber/Lyft-like authority over disbursements.
  • Sliding fee structure starting at 2% keeps more money in creators’ pockets compared to mainstream sites’ higher cuts. FMC can offer this due to Stone and Oltmanns having separate day jobs. A portion of fees also goes to charity.
  • “Keep what you earn” and rolling storefront options remove the risk of all-or-nothing crowdfunding. Creators can sell existing inventory via FMC while also running fundraising campaigns.
  • Site upgrades are continual. The latest major update promises massive improvements to features, functionality, and user experience—cementing FMC’s positioning as a custom-built solution for comic creators.
  • Hands-on ambassadors stimulate organic growth. Street teams on the ground at comic cons and shops spread the word about FMC creators. No algorithms required.

This laser focus on serving comic artists and authors—while leaving tech gadgets, films, and other projects to the mass platforms—is at the heart of FMC’s value proposition and traction with creators.

Controversial Founder Luke Stone Addresses Critics Head-On

As FMC climbs in visibility, so too has scrutiny and criticism aimed at outspoken co-founder Luke Stone. In keeping with his frank persona, Stone tackles accusations of arrogance and abrasiveness head-on:

“I think a lot of people confuse confidence for arrogance… I try to be well-informed before I enter a debate and respectful until I’m met with disrespect. In that case, my confidence can seem like arrogance, and I do have a tendency to be an asshole to those people.” Nonetheless, he reports that most creators joining the FMC community find him “charitable and kind.”

However, Stone maintains that the majority of creators joining the FMC community find him to be “charitable and kind”—supporting his claim that much criticism comes from those “on the wrong side of a disagreement.” He does acknowledge that his self-assured stances can ruffle feathers at times. Even so, Stone avoids backing down when he feels exploited or sees friends being taken advantage of—”that’s when the teeth come out,” he says.

Controversies aside, Stone feels FMC’s traction and community-building show the platform stands on its own merits. Usage metrics indicate the site is outpacing initial projections by over a year. With ever-increasing word of mouth from creators themselves, Stone believes FMC can become the go-to crowdfunding portal for comics—no matter who’s running it.

Mainstream Sites Still Dwarf FMC’s Overall Reach… For Now

While FMC’s astronomical early growth sets it apart from most startup crowdfunding portals, Stone acknowledges his brainchild can’t yet compete with established players in terms of total visitors and volume. Kickstarter and Indiegogo have had a decade-plus head start to build traffic.

However, FMC’s detailed targeting of comics combined with Stone’s conviction to keep improving the model has it outpacing forecasts. Key milestones like 1 million lifetime users and 9,000+ transactions evidence the ability to drive real traction. Stone is banking on word spreading within the close-knit comics community.

In fact, FMC’s current momentum has it on track to eclipse its 5-year site objectives in less than two years. Developments like bringing on more ambassadors and creators—catalyzed by support from well-known authors—could accelerate growth even faster. While still a speck versus the Kickstarters of the world today, FMC’s hockey stick trends and niche focus present a real threat to mainstream crowdfunding incumbents.

Comics Funding Innovation – FMC’s Origin Story

FMC arose from Stone and Oltmanns’ shared frustration over comics creators’ reliance on mass-market crowdfunding platforms that didn’t cater to their unique needs. Mainstream sites’ high fees and tech-centric model overlooked challenges for artists producing physical products like graphic novels.

The pair imagined a streamlined, comics-focused portal guaranteeing lower costs and greater creative control. After the infamous Comicsgate censorship debacle where Kickstarter suspended and erased several creators’ campaigns, Stone and Oltmanns decided the time was right to turn their vision into reality. They invested their own savings to launch FMC last spring. The site’s growth since then continues to surpass even the lofty goals set by its uncompromising founders. While the road has been bumpy at times, FMC’s traction with creators and fans reinforces its product-market fit.

What Critics Get Wrong About FMC’s Prospects

For all the naysayers, small but mighty FMC converts skeptics questioning FMC’s staying power against crowdfunding juggernauts, Stone believes lack of imagination is their Achilles heel. They fail to grasp how FMC’s narrow targeting provides strategic advantage that could expand its slice of the niche dramatically over time.

Stone doesn’t pretend FMC yet matches Kickstarter’s reach. But for comic artists—a traditionally underserved and disgruntled funding base—FMC provides a bespoke solution where mainstream options fall short. This beachhead of an eager, blended audience of creators and fans generates tangible platform benefits:

  • Top-notch user experience custom-designed for how comic projects work—not adapted from a generic model.
  • Significantly lower fees that make margin and creative control a priority.
  • Community-like feel where creators cross-promote and share knowledge.
  • Relatable support from founders who come from the comics world.

By delivering on these points in a way no large-scale portal could, FMC’s formidable niche presence positions it for exponential growth fueled by word-of-mouth within the comics scene. Even attaining just 20-30% of comic crowdfunding volume would render FMC an industry force while fulfilling its profit potential. This endgame escapes shortsighted critics. But Stone sees a viable path for FMC to become the dominant genre-specialized portal.

FMC’s Critics Still Raise Valid Concerns

For all the positives FMC brings to the table for comic creators, skeptical industry voices have raised issues Stone and his team still need to address:

  • Traffic and volume gaps remain. Raw visitor totals quantify FMC’s sizable engagement gap versus the Kickstarters of the world. Generating awareness and eyeballs through marketing remains a hurdle. Stone’s projections rely heavily on word of mouth within the tight comics circle.
  • Discoverability and SEO trail. FMC’s ability to drive organic search traffic and discovery of new projects is still maturing. The site’s backend analytics tools and optimization efforts aim to enhance this over time. But for now, surfacing emerging artists or projects via unprompted searches lags behind leaders.
  • Unanswered product questions. Some key site functionality, like automated recommendations for related projects, is inconsistent. Tracking the origin of transactions to gauge true incremental value also needs refinement. These limitations leave room for doubt around FMC’s traction claims.
  • Uncertainty over mainstream response. As FMC ascends, skeptics question whether dominant sites will simply amp up competing features that box out FMC’s innovations. These players have far greater resources to throw at product upgrades. FMC must maintain its niche-focused agility.
  • Founder’s outsized influence. A cult of personality surrounds Stone. For all his passion, FMC’s fate remaining tied to his bombastic leadership poses risks. Plans to diversify ownership and management could ease this concern.

While still exceeding expectations, FMC has

miles to go to address reasonable doubts over its staying power and ability to sustain momentum. How Stone counters lingering gaps around traffic, discoverability, and his team’s execution capacity may determine if FMC ascends to a Kickstarter conqueror or becomes a footnote.

FMC’s Path to Mainstream Crowdfunding Relevance

While FMC may never reach total dominance over mainstream portals, there are realistic avenues for it to become a major player:

  • Keep winning on comics niche. By maintaining its razor-sharp focus on being the absolute best portal for comic projects, FMC can continue gaining share of this cornerstone category. Optimizing features and community for artists’ needs ensures loyalists.
  • Expand to other niche creative categories. FMC’s next horizon could involve rolling out tailored solutions for other creative spheres needing alternatives to mass fundraising sites. Adding video games, tabletop games/RPGs, and fiction opens growth avenues.
  • Build partnerships with comics giants. Linking up with major publishers or distributors helps FMC tap into wider creator and fan networks. The quality and selectivity of its portfolio also aid legitimacy.
  • Innovate on cryptocurrency and NFTs. Exploring blockchain and Web3 funding mechanisms allows FMC to lead the way in offering comic artists seamless support for these models alongside traditional crowdfunding.
  • Go global. Comic cultures span the world. Localizing features and payment methods for international audiences multiplies the addressable market size. Partners abroad accelerate this.
  • Improve accessibility and instruction. Enhancing FMC’s ease of use through tools like project wizards, expanded video tutorials, and round-the-clock coaching helps newcomers.

With these expansions, FMC could realistically capture 5-15% of total crowdfunding volume across a multi-category creative arts niche. This foothold provides cash flow and visibility to reinvest in the platform. In time, FMC may become universally synonymous with independent artists funding passion projects on their own terms—even rivaling mainstream portals through superior specialization.

Stone himself admits Kickstarter won’t vanish anytime soon. But by relentlessly focusing on comic creators’ unmet needs, he sees no reason FMC can’t earn a lucrative position as the genre portal of record. Its growth to date affirms this ambitious vision is within reach.

The Road Ahead – What’s Next for FMC

Stone and his team show no signs of complacency. FMC’s staff continues working tirelessly to enhance site functionality, expand creator support services, and spread the word. Upcoming initiatives and milestones that could turbo-charge growth include:

  • Creators network. Plans are underway for formal and informal collaborations connecting on-site artists for idea-sharing, mentoring, and driving commerce through cross-links.
  • Crowdfunding workshops. FMC will launch a hands-on program guiding first-timers through successful campaign development via interactive group sessions and one-on-one coaching.
  • Targeted awareness campaigns. PR and social media outreach focused on prolific writers/artists as FMC power-users spotlights the platform’s utility while also attracting more convertible visitors.
  • Comic-Con blitzes. High-visibility booths, creator appearances, and wheeling and dealing at major fan conventions strengthen FMC’s brand association with top-tier comic culture spanning indie to mainstream.
  • Paid advertising partnerships. Cooperative ad campaigns alongside major publishers, brands serving artists, and complementary startups widen exposure to receptive demographics.
  • Referral/affiliate programs. Incentivizing active patrons and power creators to organically spread awareness in their networks drives viral expansion reaching even more untapped segments.

With tactics spanning grassroots creator initiatives to targeted marketing pushes, FMC’s perpetual evolution shows relentless drive to keep perfecting its service model and reach.

This roadmap builds upon the site’s successful foundation. Combined with the passion and perseverance Stone injects into every stage, FMC seems well on its way toward establishing itself as the dominant genre portal for crowdfunding comics while delivering on its mission to nourish artists.

The Unfortunate Reality Remains

In December, we launched a Kickstarter for the Comics Illustrated Winter Special and had 200 backers and made $4,515. We launched the same campaign with a new exclusive cover on FMC and got 2 backers and made $42. I think there is a long road ahead for this platform.

Mike Wheeler
Editor-in-Chief
Comics Illustrated

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