Today, Gamal Hennessy launched a Kickstarter campaign for his latest book, The Business of Freelance Comic Book Publishing. The new book from attorney and writer Hennessy digs into the ins and outs of working as a freelancer within the comics industry, including topics like how to find work, how to get paid, and how generally to manage a freelance career. With the campaign in full swing, The Beat is pleased to offer an exclusive look at a modified excerpt from the The Business of Freelance Comic Book Publishing, which covers competition within the creative field.
Who Is Your Competition As A Comic Creator?
By Gamal Hennessy
This is a modified excerpt from a book I’m working on called The Business of Freelance Comic Book Publishing. It is designed to help you identify and compare yourself to the competitors for your services. While this can’t be taken as legal or financial advice, it can help you determine your place in the market.
What is Competition?
In business, Competition is the effort of two or more parties acting independently and adversely to each other to secure the business of a third party. No matter how specialized your skill set or your talents, there will always be competition. Depending on where you live and what you charge, there will always be someone charging less than you. This is especially true in comics, where geographical freedom allows publishers to source talent from anywhere in the world.
How Do You Identify Your Competition?
This means that in theory, you are in competition with everyone who can do the same type of work as you can for every project you try to secure. In reality, you cannot and should not attempt to identify every FCC in the same niche as you. The goal isn’t to construct a comprehensive spreadsheet of all your competitors. Instead, seek out three to five of the major competitors in your field and compare your business to theirs. You can find them in the credits of current comics, on social media, or in conversations with other freelancers and clients.
Look at their marketing messages, social media activity, and client lists. Use this information to understand how you are similar, how you are different and why a potential client would hire one of you compared to the other.
How Can You Compare Yourself to the Competition?
One tool that you can use in your competitive analysis is called SWOT, which is an acronym that refers to Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. For example, let’s say that there is an independent lawyer out there who specializes in providing services to the comic book industry. Look out over the marketing landscape, he finds three other attorneys with the same specialty. By researching each one and finding out what books they’ve written in the past, he can develop a unique perspective to help him stand out from the crowd.
It is important to highlight the importance of diplomacy when it comes to your competition. In almost all cases, it does you no good to spend time and energy criticizing or mocking the FCC who work in your space. The industry is small. You never know who you might be working with or for, or who will suddenly become key to your business, or who is friends with your competitor. Identifying the existence of competition is useful in your marketing, but on an interpersonal level, collaboration and referrals can be a better long-term strategy, if you can leverage your competitors to help solve your client’s problems. Just make sure everyone knows the referral came from you, because in this case, good karma in the form of work later can be the result of public referrals.
Have fun with your comic.
The Kickstarter campaign for The Business of Freelance Comic Book Publishing is live now, and runs until Thursday, October 19th.