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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sponsored Comic: Stack 'Em High

Polyglots language learners collect new languages like candy

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Wednesday surprise!

So this is something new I'm trying out. To be completely honest with you, I'm still a bit conflicted about it. I was approached by Lingoda to create a comic that they would sponsor, but it's really important to me that you, the readers, don't just get a bunch of advertising in your feed. You're here for comics, not ads! That's why this site has been conspicuously ad-free for a long time. 

However, I figured that a sponsored comic would be acceptable if: 1) the advertising wasn't too in-your-face, 2) it was still a genuine Itchy Feet comic in every other way, and 3) it didn't replace the regular Sunday comics.

What are your thoughts? Is this just more delicious Itchy Feet content for you to enjoy, or shameful exploitation of the bean-shaped comic arts? I am really interested to hear what you think.




54 comments:

  1. This is a great example of how to do it, i.e. it fits naturally in and is almost unnoticeable. Blatant stuff like a movie character suddenly dropping everything to slowly drink a coke for 30 seconds is unacceptable. Everyone's gotta make a buck, keep it classy and note when something's sponsored and it's all good

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    1. Every producer of content should read a TVTrope "Enforced Plug" to see what blatantness to avoid.

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  2. Hey, who am I to complain about an additional comic? :-) Keep them coming, sponsored or not!

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  3. You know how in superhero comics there were page long ads masked as mini-adventures? They never figured out the secret to product placement that you used: for us to swallow the ad, the content should be genuine. (Does that mean you switch to twice-a-week schedule? :-))
    I'm still mad at Lang-8 that users who are not Premium can select only two languages at maximum for learning. This restriction is too cruel.
    Wait, why is he wearing military ushanka? I assume he got the hats from the same store that sells them in Governor of Poker.

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  4. I'm all in favour. It's clearly identifiable as being a sponsored post, it's an additional comic (which is always great), it's an appropriate subject matter and - last, but not least - it's a clever Itchy Feet comic.

    Well done, Malachi!

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  5. You gotta pay the bills! And the integration into the Itchy Feet style doesn't detract from the quality of the comic, whilst advertising. One question, the two hats between the German and Russian hats belong to which countries/languages?

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    1. Awesome! Thanx TMax. The hats in order from top to bottom are meant to be Chinese, Russian, Arabic and/or Turkish (it's a fez but got swallowed by the Russian hat), English (bowler hat), Portuguese, German, Spanish, French.

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  6. Very good integration indeed. Seems fine to me as long you respect the 3 mentioned rules. I would add one more, that you already respected but not put in your list: 4) "sponsored" is mentioned somewhere, to be sure the reader can make the difference between classic and sponsored comics.
    Continue your nice work! Nicolas

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    1. That's a really good point. Do you think having it written is enough, or should there even be a color difference? Maybe the background is a different color?

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  7. Honestly, I had never heard of Lingoda so I thought you might be mocking those who think that some software will get them toward fluency in all the languages we wish we spoke. My experience has always been that all the software you can cram in your hard drive doesn't equal a month living in the culture.

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  8. All for it. More comics for me and makes your life easier (i hope). Keep on, man

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  9. As long as they are clearly labelled as sponsored and are still a funny little story like this one, go ahead. Perfectly fine!

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  10. I mostly agree - yes, authentic comic, don't see why you shouldn't get sponsored especially if you so nicely label the comic as such. Need to get your pennies from somewhere, after all! But: as a true fan I of course get 'em sent by email, and thus I'm now getting advertisement in my inbox. I don't want advertisement in my inbox. Especially not in the middle of an ordinary workday. Can you refrain from sending out these comics? Otherwise I'd be forced to unsubscribe. Which would make me quite sad.

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    1. Hm. Yes this is a big deal to me - I don't want people to unsubscribe because of the comic, which is why I wanted to make them above all a normal comic, just with a bit of sponsorship. But if it's completely unpalatable to you, I will consider just posting them to social media.

      The problem is, when I post on here it automatically goes out to the email list. I can't choose not to send them. So either I don't post them on this site at all, or you get these in your inbox.

      I would be interested on hearing other email-listers' opinions on this, too.

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  11. Malachi Rempen, I must echo all the others' sentiments and encouragement here. Though I sympathise with and admire your values-based conflicted struggle -- this is by far the most pleasant "advertising" I've seen all year. Especially because I totally relate to the strip!

    I think the conditions you've placed are more than enough to protect your artistic integrity. At ease, soldier -- keep being awesome.

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  12. Hey, it worked on me. I also want to learn all of them :)

    I thought this was a very cute comic and didn't notice the ad at first. I may try out their site though!

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  13. Hello!
    I agree with all the above remarks and feel really grateful for your questionning us about that decision. Keep going and thanks a lot!
    Maud

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    1. Of course! You guys keep me going each week, after all.

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  14. Hey!

    I love your comics and sincerely would not mind if you do a sponsored series. Just do not make it all about the sponsor and lose your originality. One can always use their skills for some money! :) Cheers!

    Love from India (Visit soon)

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  15. I'd never heard of Lingoda before, so it didn't immediately register as a sponsored comic. So... great job?
    Thank you for being transparent about it, though! I like for it to mentioned in the description text that it's a sponsored comic. Sponsored posts only bother me if you don't use or like the product. If it's something you would recommend to others, that's great.

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  16. Of course we don't like ads, but you have bills to pay. I like the Wednesday idea, and you managed to balance your voice and style with the product. Well done. Not all artists are able to live off beans the way you do!

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    1. Well, I'm not quite living off it yet, but who knows what the future holds? ^_^

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  17. I think it is perfectly acceptable. No complaints about getting an extra comic. We are happy you are getting paid! Plus, we learn about product that may be beneficial to many of us. As long as the product fits into your comics/genre, it is a great idea.

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  18. Yep, this seems fine to me, as long it doesn't happen more than 1 out of 5 comics.

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    1. That seems like a good number to me, too. Thanks!

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  19. You do you, man. Get paid! I really like the transparency of labeling it as a sponsored comic. I could also see in the future some company such as Lingoda wanting to just use the comic for one of their ads, which would be a great opportunity for you. Thanks for all the work you've put into keeping us entertained over the years!

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  20. Looks good to me. Not in your face, but I did notice the site name.

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  21. This is fine, your 3 points sound pretty solid to me.

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  22. Hello Itchy feet,
    I am completely okay with sponsored comics. As you already mentioned, you will try to have them 1. not so in the reader's faces and 2. still a humorous itchy feet comic.

    A side thought from me: when you are good at something, never do it for free.
    I have been a follower for far too long, reading your comics regularly and free, i don't give me the right to decide your way of work and it would be a pleasure to know you are earning extra from doing something as a hobby (beside selling books, of course)

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    1. That's awfully nice of you to say. Thanks!

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  23. So this is why you subtitled Sunday's comic 'everyone's gotta eat' :P

    Though my first reaction was 'hell no', this is ok. I think that the more you do, the harder it will be to keep the integrity of it, but this is a decent benchmark.

    PS. A sponsored comic can never really be a 'true' Itchy Feet, so don't let them near the print books! (Please.)

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    1. Hey Rik! You're probably right, it will get harder, but I'm REALLY sensitive to advertising in my everyday life, so my top priority will always be the integrity of the comic. If at ANY point I violate that integrity, I'm counting on you guys to let me know, and I'll stop doing them.

      I agree about the print books - I thought maybe if the comic was good enough (I like this one, for instance), I would include it in the print book but with the logo taken out. So it would just be a normal comic. I've already made it clear in my agreement with Lingoda that I retain the right to republish these comics in whatever form I like, with or without their logo - so that should work.

      Thanks for your advice!

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  24. I think it's perfectly acceptable, as long as you stick to your guidelines. How often would the sponsored comics come out? Are you doubling your workload? Mostly I just see it as more Itchy Feet fun!

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    1. It certainly wouldn't be weekly - that's a) too much work (I just had a baby for god's sake) and b) too much advertising. I'd say maximum once a month, but probably more like once every couple months. It's not like companies are knocking down my door, exactly.

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  25. I like it! Congrats on getting sponsored; it shows you're doing an outstanding job!

    And that is literally my answer when anyone asks me what language(s) I want to learn, I say "all of them"... but I have to control myself and take one at a time, or I don't really learn any of them... so I'm focusing on Spanish for now, and making pretty good progress, I think.

    And in regards to the request that you not email the sponsored ones out, I would rather you did; I've been having an issue with my phone lately where the Gmail app shows the picture, but in the browser it just shows a blank (I tried two different browsers). I used to be able to see the old comics, but it seems I can't anymore. Don't know if you've changed anything...

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    1. Okay, looks like I just didn't go back far enough; I can see everything before October 18, 2015, but after that the browser doesn't display the image, even though I can see it in Gmail.

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    2. Really? That's super weird. What browsers did you try it on?

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  26. i have no problemm with this kind of product placement, because it speaks precisely to my interest. if it started to be in in-your-face (buy one, get two free, sale this month only, etc) it could be a problem.

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  27. It's ok for me too :-)
    You have to get paid somewhere, and the manner you indicate the sponsor and talk about it is great. (before reading your message at the bottom I was wondering if it was a real ad"hidden" (I didn't see the comic title at this time^^) So it's really good for you to explain and let us choose (you don't have to, after all)

    Thanks again for your great work (and I love comics about french, theay are so true (yes, I'm french, why ^^ ))

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  28. Less than an hour ago I was washing some dishes wishing that itchyfeetcomic.com would post cartoons more often -- at least twice a week. Then I checked the website and I got this.

    Che bella fortuna!

    Needless to say, I'm quite pleased (and a little dumbstruck at the coincidence).

    To be honest, I don't mind advertising so much, especially if it lets artwork be enjoyed for free. Artists deserve to be compensated for their work.

    If Lingoda wants to pay you to use your skills for their benefit, that's between you and them. There's nothing wrong with that, provided you aren't tricking your readers to believe otherwise.

    So I appreciate you being so up-front and honest about this.

    You got me curious about Lingoda. Now I gotta head over to their site and check them out!

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    1. Thanks for the feedback! I'm glad to know I invade your dishes thoughts.

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    2. I agree. You've got a family to support, and we've received the benefit of your comics for free. Nicely constructed advertising is not a bother, and I think you've plugged for Lingoda in a very nice way that uses their advertising dollars effectively.

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  29. Honestly, I feel like the people complaining about this are completely overreacting. If you used a made-up language site name and didn't put "sponsored comic" at the top, nobody would care and everybody would consider it a "real" Itchy Feet comic. This ad isn't in your face or anything! It's completely relatable and is a lot better than multiple banners on a webpage or pop-ups. I trust you to advertise good companies and not sell out to anybody who wants to throw you a buck.

    You have a family to feed, after all! And most webcomics don't make that much money without using ads. I see absolutely nothing wrong with you sending this out to email subscribers. If people don't like it, they can make a filter that automatically deletes sponsored content. Or they can get over themselves and support you. I don't know how much you make off your books, but it looks like you currently get $261/month on Patreon. That's not a lot!

    Keep up the good work! :)b

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    1. On the other hand, one of the Patreon goals -- the one that was already met and exceeded -- was for the ability to remove ads from the website.

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    2. Thanks for the feedback Unknown, and good point Philip. My Patreon pledges fluctuate around the $250 mark, so the goal is constantly in a Schroedinger's-Cat state of achieved / not achieved. Still, you're right. But then what counts as an ad? I put ads up for the IF books, after all. I don't know, I'm not settled on this issue, and I'm really glad to get your feedback.

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  30. I wouldn't have even known it was sponsored content without seeing the words- I was too busy yelling "that's EXACTLY how I feel!!" :) Maybe people should hire you to do their advertising :P

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