Another friend, Dawn Douglass, has been pitching a business for comic artists and those editorial cartoonists that I used to read on the editorial page of the newspaper. She wants to help newspapers (and the cartoonists who are rapidly getting laid off because newspapers are firing staffs) find a new revenue stream. She came up with the concept of the cartoons on this post, too.
I sat through a pitch she gave to a Sand Hill VC (got turned down) and saw first hand how tough it is to raise capital and start a business. It’s hype to say that it’s easy, even in today’s world where a lot IS getting funded. Last Friday I had lunch with Paul Matteucci, who is a partner at USVP. He told me they looked at about 300 businesses over the past year and funded less than 10.
Anyway, Dawn thinks she can make a business out of charging people for using cartoons. I think that might work in some limited situations (I’d be happy to pay $10 a month to be able to use cartoons like the one below on my blog) but I’m a weirdo, as Jason Calacanis told Loic Lemeur in a podcast about his new search engine.
Truth is, advertising is still the best choice for a new business like this. But how to do it? Google’s AdSense usually around only $.50 to $2.50 CPM (payment per thousand page views). Getting 1,000 people to visit your site is actually pretty tough as any Z list blogger will tell you and that’ll only get you $.50 in advertising. So, the numbers of people you have to get to visit your site to build a business is daunting. Cartoonists, she tells me, aren’t willing to do it for free. They want to get paid up front. That’s going to prove difficult.
I keep pointing her to Hugh Macleod who DOES give his cartoons away for free. He got so popular that now companies are willing to pay for him to draw cartoons for them. To me that’s the way to build a business, it seems. Give away something for free to get people to come and buy something else from you. But, we can talk about that another time.
She reminds me a lot of Zooomr’s founder. Idealistic and doesn’t exactly speak the language that the VC’s in the valley speak (they like to see Web 2.0 business plans that have a good chance to get to 10 million users in three years, with a good monetization strategy). I like that idealism of helping people move their work online and get paid for it (Zooomr is going to let people sell photos too). The VC’s, though, are skeptical. One I talked with yesterday about Zooomr said that Corbis and Getty hadn’t made much money selling photos, so he doesn’t think that a new model will be viable. I disagreed, pointing out that there were tons of wedding photographers who could never sell their wares on those bigger sites. But, anyway, demonstrates just how tough it is for some entrepreneurs to get funded.
Would you be willing to pay for cartoons? Especially to put on your blog, Facebook, MySpace, etc? If so, how much?