A couple weeks ago, Kickstarter unveiled their relaunching of Drip, what you might call a crowdfunding subscription service or Kickstarter’s version of Patreon.  The general idea with this category of crowdfunding is to fund ongoing work with a regular monthly payment, rather than a one time payment for a specific project.

Seeing as how Kickstarter and Patreon are major revenue streams for the many wings of the comics world, particularly independent and digital cartoonists, The Beat thought it might be a good idea to check in with Spike Trottman, proprietor of Iron Circus Comics and a prominent creator in the Drip relaunch.

The Beat: How long ago did you get approached for this launch?
Spike: I had to go back and check my email, it was so long ago; I was on-boarded in mid-September! Kickstarter asked me to participate in the launch slightly before that. After I said yes and signed the NDA, we had a video-conference and a project liaison walked me through set-up via screen-share. It was very exciting.
The Beat: Did you have a Patreon going?  I was thinking you didn’t.
Spike: I’ve never had a Patreon, actually!
I don’t want to turn this into a Drip vs. Patreon thing, but there was a lot going on with Patreon that discouraged me from launching a campaign there. I was interested in it conceptually- I mean, I love crowdfunding and that direct audience connection, obviously!- and I’d decided I would consider a project after they fixed a few problems I had with the site. The broken search bar, an inability to schedule posts, that sort of thing. But a lot those fixes either took forever, or were never addressed at all. That made me uneasy.
And I didn’t like that you couldn’t just browse the difference sections; you were limited to the 20 top-earning campaigns in every category. Discoverabilty is important to crowdfunding projects; that’s people who just happen across you browsing the site, like what they see, and decide to back you. between 25% and 40% of my Kickstarter projects’ funding is from window-shoppers like that. And Patreon doesn’t enable it, and never has. That’s a big misstep on their part, enough to keep me away.
The Beat: How do you see Drip differing from Patreon?
Spike: Ha ha, that remains to be seen, honestly! Drip is in its beta phase, right now; it really reminds me of how Kickstarter used to be in 2009. They have the basics down, and are waiting for input on what to add next. When I finish here, actually, I plan to send the Drip team another email about what I’d like to see added! I have a lot of faith that my suggestions will be taken seriously, too, and actually be implemented; Kickstarter has a track record of listening and improving. And not just to its star project creators, but everyone using the site. That’s incredibly important to me, a willingness to fine-tune a service like this for its user base as a whole.
The Beat: Your description on the Drip page sounds like a combination of free form art and an ongoing strip, Ordinary, which you _have_ been threatening to do for awhile.  Are you planning on having Ordinary live on the Drip feed or will it eventually appear on a standalone website?
Spike: Ha ha ha ha I HAVE NO CLUE. I warn folks on the project page, I don’t know what Ordinary is, or where it’s going. It’s formless. It’s shapeless, it’s just an idea I had and never did anything with, but can’t shake. I’d like to keep it on Drip, but if it merits it, I wouldn’t against a print edition, one day!
The Beat: How integrated into the Kickstarter infrastructure have you found Drip to be?  Will it cross-pollinate with the discovery tools on the main Kickstarter site or is the advantage more in being able to message previous backers that there’s a new offering, much like you’d do for a new Kickstarter campaign?
Spike: Well, it’s kind of like Amazon. Y’know how if you have an amazon account, you also have an Audible account and a Comixology account? same deal. if you’re signed up for Kickstarter, you’re signed up with Drip. Which is good, because it saves folks the toruble of creating a new account on the site, and the fewer hurdles there are for adopting a new platform, the better.
When I launched my Drip, I messaged the backers of my biggest campaign about it! I had to manually provide the link, but I imagine there will be more integrated means in the future. Like I keep saying, this is all still pretty beta. I’m basically a playtester.
The Beat: What’s been the most interesting feature of Drip, in terms of displaying and distributing your content?
Spike: The Foundation Period. It’s basically the first 5, or 10, or however many days a Drip is up, and you can offer folks who back during that period special perks for getting in on the ground floor. This is good for attaching some level of excitement to launching a sustained campaign like a Drip project, it gives folks a impetus to back right away instead of waiting.  There’s an incentive!
The Beat: Any plans or expectations for growing this once the the Founding Member period is over?
Spike: Ha ha, I plan to keep the first fifteen pages of Ordinary free to read in perpetuity, so folks can see what they’d be signing up for. And if my Drip funds enough, I’ll probably turn all the posts free-to-read. That feels like a good plan.
Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work?  Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics

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