We recently talked to a lot of Webcomic artists to know their experience of creating and maintaining a webcomic website. And we learnt that they had quite a few questions about creating and running a webcomic website.
Do you run a webcomic website or are you planning to do so?
Do you feel it’s such a pain in the neck?
Do you feel, you have more you want to do and your platform is limiting you?
I promise you, by the end of this article, you will have upgraded your knowledge to be able to create an awesome webcomic website without spending anything and without breaking a sweat.
It’s true that many webcomic authors prefer Tumblr and other free webcomic hosting solutions like Tapas and ComicFury as of now.
But, if you want to spice up your website and customize it to make it reflect your brand or create a powerful community then I would say that these free webcomic hosting solutions or other webcomic software fall short.
Then, what’s the best way to go?
I recommend you go with WordPress.
You might have already considered WordPress but might not have had a clue on how to make a webcomic site with WordPress or felt it was too complicated.
As for these issues you might have faced with WordPress, let me try to simply it for you with some quick step by step instructions and recommended plugins that solve your problems.
Hopefully by the time we are done, you will feel that making a webcomic website is as enjoyable as making your webcomics themselves.
WordPress is a powerful CMS.
What’s a CMS you ask?
CMS stands for Content Management System, meaning its suitable for managing any type of content that you want to publish to your audience.
It’s true that WordPress was once used primarily as a blogging tool, but over the last decade and a half, it has grown incredibly fast in terms of its abilities, ecosystem and community. There are around a 100,000 themes and plugins that cater to your every need.
WordPress now powers over 27% of all websites and no other platform comes even close. You have powerful websites from E-commerce websites, to marketplace websites, to webcomic websites, social networking websites that are built using WordPress and its plugins/themes.
And still, the ecosystem continues to grow incredibly fast.
As a webcomic author,
- You have themes that can help you create clean, aesthetic webpages
- Webcomic plugins that have decent features
- Page builder plugins that are What You See Is What You Get page editors that lets you customize web-pages without needing to code anything
- Powerful plugins to help you backup, secure your website
- Plugins that let you build your own community,
- Plugins for patron and other useful integrations and much much more.
Let me walk you through each aspect of running your own webcomic website.
Choosing a hosting:
There are a variety of options, but to suggest a cheaper and relatively robust hosting solution, I would recommend Bluehost’s shared hosting. It costs just $3.95 / month.
If you want a much high-end customer support and server speed, try Siteground’s shared hosting options. They usually cost higher, but you get a 60% on the first year.
Choose Siteground if you have a high traffic website that needs very good server performance.
Choose Bluehost’s shared hosting if you have less than 10,000 visitors.
Bluehost and Siteground have special setup features to install WordPress for you.
Choosing a Webcomic Plugin and Theme:
There are 3 webcomic plugins for WordPress and of them, Comic Easel is definitely the most popular one with over 5,000+ active installs.
Comic Easel has been downloaded over 93k times and currently used in over 5k websites. This is one of better WordPress plugins among the available options.
Chapters and Stories: Comic Easel lets you create individual comic stories and even organise them into Chapters. This has benefits of using Comic Easel’s navigation features to navigate to next/previous stories inside the same chapter or even to jump to the first/last story of the current Chapter.
Characters and Location: You can add additional information to your stories like the Characters in that story and the location of the events in the story, etc. There is also the characters’ page which shows you how many times the characters come in comics.
Gallery: You can add a gallery of comic images to a single post using Comic Easel’s Gallery feature.
Comic Easel is somewhat compatible with most WordPress themes, but the recommended theme is the ComicPress WordPress Webcomic theme from the same author.
Loss of formatting when updating the plugin.
This is one of the issues reported by some users with Comic Easel. This could have been fixed in the recent versions, nevertheless, here’s a solution should you ever come across such an issue:
You can use the backup plugin suggested later in this article or you can use the Export/Import options in WordPress to backup and restore just comic related content.
The name of this WordPress comic plugin is Webcomic. Webcomic is the second most popular webcomic plugin for WordPress with over 45k downloads and 1K+ active installs.
Collections: A collection in Webcomic represents all of the comic posts, storylines, characters, etc that are related to one comic story series.
The Webcomic plugin lets you create and manage any number of collections.
Storylines: A Storyline is an optional feature inside of a Collection. You could have multiple Storylines inside a Collection.
The storyline is like a category in WordPress, you can use it to organize multiple webcomic posts within a collection.
You can also add a cover image to a Storyline.
Characters: You can add Characters to your webcomic posts using this feature. The characters could also have avatars which you control.
You can choose to display the characters on the side of your webcomic posts.
Compatible WordPress Webcomic Themes:
- Inkblot by Michael Sisk
- Archimedes by Michael Sisk
Other Theme Suggestions:
Apart from the compatible themes mentioned for Comic Easel and Webcomic plugins, I have a couple of recommendations for themes that work well with page-builders ( read about page builders below ).
Customisation tools – Page Builders:
Do you want complete control over your site without needing to code?
Do you want a simple tool to customize your WordPress pages anyway you want?
Enter WordPress Page Builders.
WordPress has a number of powerful page-builder plugins that lets you customise your web-pages with super simple drag and drop interface.
How does a page-builder work?
I. You can create a page
II. Click edit with a page-builder
Iii. Drag and drop elements into your page that you want.
Iv. Customize the colors, fonts, width, etc.
And voila, you have made your page.
Page Builders I would recommend, Elementor. It’s a free page-builder that’s super simple and very powerful.
Here’s an introduction to using Elementor Page Builder.
The ability of Comic Easel or other webcomic plugin’s appearance/features to be customised is based on how well the plugin has integrated with the page builder.
Other things to think about:
There are a few other things to think about when you create a WordPress website.
To keep all your webcomic website related data safe, it’s a good practice to keep your website/data backed up.
UpdraftPlus is a free WordPress Backup plugin that automatically backs up all your website content and code to a safe location of your choice. It’s currently being used in over 1 million websites.
You can save your backup to Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon AWS, etc.
UpdraftPlus also lets you schedule automatic backups.
Security is a recurring concern in WordPress, but not to worry, you have security plugins for WordPress that can keep you secure.
WordFence is a free WordPress security plugin with over 2 million+ active installs making it the most prominent and trusted security plugin.
It collects security data from the best resources and updates your website with protection from new attacks with every update.
It protects against:
- Brute Force attacks
- Login attacks
- Hacking attempts
It also automatically scans your website for security issues caused by other plugins or themes and keeps your website completely secure.
Hope this helps you make your own awesome webcomic website. Please comment your thoughts or questions. Also let us know if you want us to write on another topic.