The Ins & Outs of Wordpress, ComicPress, & site building

Discussion in 'Comic Discussion' started by Shanny8, Mar 19, 2017.

  1. Shanny8

    Shanny8 Blue Belt

    I'm at a critical point where I NEED to get a site up & going. I've been printing my series The Clique for about a year now, and even in handing off cards(at cons/shows) that direct customers to getting printed issues through Indy Planet, I still havent seen any type of monetary growth that way...I feel I would/could do better by selling my books through my own site, plus open up the possibility of selling more merch. Then there's also other issues, like having a centralized site to make a push to increase readership from sites like Topwebcomics and other things. I dont wanna deal with "use our garden variety site building template" coz a lot them dont have what I want to personalize my site to the way I want it to look.

    I wanna use Wordpress, but I dont wanna have a total mental meltdown trying to do stuff that I have no mental fortitude for- I just want it to be "easy peasy". I dont want my site to look super professional- but at the same time I dont want my site looking like I used a site template for selling "scented skin lotion & beauty products". I guess I'm asking for insight about Wordpress/ComicPress- is it hard to use? Can I load images & personalize fonts?

    I feel a lot of my online push/growth with my comics have been stunted by not having a central site- and I feel I need to change this. Help!!!
     
    ShaneV likes this.
  2. Anna Landin

    Anna Landin Purple Belt

    I am a complete tech-neanderthal who gets cold sweats just thinking about doing anything more complicated than plugging in a cable and pushing a button - and I managed to get myself a website for Grassblades without screwing it up!

    I use Wordpress/Comic Easel for the Grassblades-site. It's got a fairly standard, does-what-it-says-on-the-box layout, because that's all I have the skills and confidence for (and I prioritise ease of use over anything fancy), but I was able to change the colours of it, pick fonts, add extra pages, load images to the cast page, add links to sidebars and whatnot without screwing it up, and it's resulted in a useable site.

    So tl; dr - no, it's not hard to use, and I haven't broken anything yet, so you should be able to get by without too much trouble.

    ... just don't ask me any specific questions, because I probably won't be able to answer them beyond "tinker with it, see what happens!". Comic Easel's got fairly good documentation, too, so you should be able to google your way into a decent step-by-step tutorial for anything you'd like to do.
     
    Arcade Colón likes this.
  3. micahdraws

    micahdraws Blue Belt

    WordPress and ComicPress/Easel are pretty easy to set up and run. If you've never used WP before, there might be a slight learning curve but it's very user-friendly, so you can get it to work. Most themes have integrated customization so you won't need to step into the Code Hell to customize much.

    Also, unless you are in the code, it's extremely difficult to break anything in WordPress so just go in and play around and see what things do!

    If you have any trouble with ComicEasel and the documentation doesn't cover it, Frumph is the guy who created it and he's usually really approachable and willing to help. Since I have experience with WordPress development, I coded up my own version of Comic Easel but he helped me with a couple problems I had.
     
  4. Bob

    Bob 4-Stripe White Belt

    Haha, I'm so glad I accidentally wrong-posted into this thread instead of any other one because now I'm getting notifications. ^_^; (sorry bout that, btw)

    I'm in the same boat as Shanny, having to make a new site and having no experience with Wordpress/Comic Easel. Mine is 7+ years old (running ComicCMS, ugh), and I'm going to be updating and switching it to WP/Comic Easel in the next couple of months. I'm fine with HTML/CSS and I did build my current site, dated as it is. But I'm not sure how much php knowledge is necessary for working with Comic Easel. (I assume "Code Hell" is php?)

    And do any of you know if you're able to customize your comic page URLs with comic easel? Since I'm switching from one CMS to another, I'm trying to see if I can transfer the pages without changing the URLs, because it's just another headache having to also transfer Disqus comments. Plus I don't want Comic Rocket to have to re-crawl everything because I have a lot of readers using it but they don't offer much in the way of user support.
     
  5. micahdraws

    micahdraws Blue Belt

    Code Hell is indeed php!

    I haven't worked with Comic Easel directly so I don't know how much (if any) php is needed for it. I'd check the documentation first and see if it has any information.
     
  6. Terminus

    Terminus 4-Stripe White Belt

    I built my main site with WP, which was easy enough because I'm already familiar with customizing the CSS where needed, but I haven't used Easel or ComicPress because of how I run my comics. The WP part of my site is really just a central hub (that will eventually feature a shop), whereas my comics are in subdomains that are run via the Grawlix CMS. I have a bunch of comics so that was the easiest way for me to do things. ^^;
    If you only have one comic, you'll probably be fine with the WP setup and it's not hard to figure out. The theme I'm using allows for Google Fonts, but that might be a theme-specific thing.
    I've found the media management for WP to be a bit tedious, though. It's annoying to sort through and find specific images. But I don't know how any of that would work for a ComicPress thing so maybe it wouldn't be an issue?
     
  7. Shanny8

    Shanny8 Blue Belt

    Well that's the thing; I dont want my site to be a "my [title comic] site"- I want it to be more of a "my [comic brand/label] site", where I can showcase diff comic projects/titles.
     
  8. micahdraws

    micahdraws Blue Belt

    WordPress now allows for a "Multi-Site" system when you install. It allows you to install WordPress once and run multiple different WP sites from the same install. Each site can have its own unique appearance and you can always link back and forth. They can also all be set up with either a regular url (www.yoursite.com/project) or a subdomain url (project.yoursite.com)

    Think of it like how HootSuite lets you add multiple Twitter accounts to one HootSuite account, and you can manage them all from your HootSuite instead of having to log into each one separately.
     
    Cleo-San likes this.
  9. Tsukiyono

    Tsukiyono White Belt

    I don't know how many of you know about this already but there is a group working on a CMS for hosting webcomics called Grawlix: http://www.getgrawlix.com/ I've only done a dummy install and played around with it, but I like it a lot and I think I am going to switch from WP/ComicEasel to Grawlix for my next comic. They also have a really helpful forum and always answered my questions quickly. :)

    Also on a side note for those of you who are new to WP, please be sure to install a security plugin like Wordfence or something similar or you will get hacked. You can still get hacked even with the plugin, but the last time I had malicious code injected into my site by robots I was able to clean it up a lot faster with the plugin's help. Also be sure you keep your WPs updated at all times to help prevent the nasties. ;)
     
    Trinket Trance and Joichi like this.
  10. Terminus

    Terminus 4-Stripe White Belt

    If that's the case, you can do like I did. ^^ Subdomains hosting my sites (via the Grawlix CMS) and a WP-based main hub, which you can use pretty much any theme for. Though if you want to customize your Grawlix sites, there's no built-in editor so you'll need some CSS knowhow.

    I run my comics in subdomains with Grawlix. It's worked out great so far. ^^ The forums are really helpful and the CMS itself is light and easy to work with.
     
    Vanessa Stefaniuk likes this.
  11. Vanessa Stefaniuk

    Vanessa Stefaniuk White Belt

    Seconding this! Grawlix has been amazing to work with. The back end is very clean (I personally hate Wordpress' control panel), there are easy PDF design manuals to walk you through customization, and the creator is very accessible via twitter for questions and occasional help.
     
  12. Batichi

    Batichi 4-Stripe White Belt

    I do WP junk, and can help you get a site up and running, if you haven't decided to roll over to Grawlix. It's more intimidating than it looks, but in all honesty if you're willing to sit down and ask people for help, you'll find it!

    I'm not that big on coding either, but I know -enough- to know who/where to ask. And odds are, whatever you want to make will unlikely to be demanding. Plus frumph.net has pretty much everything you need for Comicpress specifically.

    I've said this before, but if anyone wants set up assistance for their WP site, please feel free to DM me.
     
  13. Bob

    Bob 4-Stripe White Belt

    My main worry with Grawlix is basically what happened with ComicCMS - the creator abandoned it after a while and it became obsolete. I've been keeping an eye on Grawlix because it's not as bulky and off-putting as WP, but there just seems to be more risk with smaller, less common CMS options going unsupported. Not that it isn't also a risk with Comic Easel, since that's essentially what happened with Comicpress? But I doubt Wordpress itself is going to be abandoned anytime soon.

    Yeah, I know nothing is permanent in the world of web design, but switching a CMS is such a hassle...
     
  14. SpaceTurtleArt

    SpaceTurtleArt Blue Belt

    Ok, on the note of comicpress/wordpress-- I also need to set up a main site, as I'm currently hosted on a modified Tumblr theme and I really need to upgrade. Honestly though, I hate website building and just don't want to deal with it. If I wanna hire someone to put this thing together for me, how much should I pay them? They wouldn't need to make graphics or anything, I can do that and plug them in, I just want someone to build me the framework to plug them in TO. Wordpress took me ages to figure out-- I literally let my art site sit for 2 years w/o updating because I found it to be such a headache, so I don't have a lot of confidence in being able to set up Comicpress-- at least not without wasting a weekend.
     
  15. Shanny8

    Shanny8 Blue Belt

    I thought about going the route of paying someone, but then the was the question of updates...so I figured I might as well try to figure some way to do it myself- even if I'm going to hate doing it, coz I dont have $$$ to pay a person for building the site AND updating/uploading new material.
     
  16. SpaceTurtleArt

    SpaceTurtleArt Blue Belt

    Good for you. This has nothing to do with my question.
     
  17. AngelicEmpyress

    AngelicEmpyress 4-Stripe White Belt

    Ooh wow I wish I could help you guys. I actually code my own websites using Adobe Dreamweaver based on a template I got from the envato market's theme forest. I used to do my own templates as well. WordPress is probably the easiest route and the templates you can find for it are pretty stunning provided you look outside of the templates on the WordPress site.
     
  18. grawlixcomix

    grawlixcomix 4-Stripe White Belt

    Heya! The Grawlix CMS may count as our second job, but we don’t plan to give up any time soon. As I type, both versions 1.3 and 2.0 are in the works.
     
  19. jynksie

    jynksie White Belt

    For almost a decade, I used comicpress/comic easel and it was a great tool. However, if you are not code knowledgeable, it can be a tough cookie to manage into what you want your project to feel/look and do. It's limiting. So I spent some time testing out some other possibilities and came across site origin. It's drag/drop/widget design opens up more possibilities, at least it has for me, in the design of my website. I use the vantage theme by site origin, it's the most diverse of their options and I've paid 0$ for all that I use from them. I did donate to their tip jar $35 [U.S] to them after a year of using it, simply because I was that happy with it and felt a desire to give back. It might be worth looking into, depending on your needs.
     
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  20. micahdraws

    micahdraws Blue Belt

    Speaking as a former full-time web developer, the going rate we charged was $60/hour for a custom site design and we were on the lower end of the fair rate scale. Obviously that's not ideal for many of us poor cartoonists.

    What you can do instead is look for websites that sell pre-constructed themes. Don't look through the WordPress gallery itself -- most of those are crap and don't have good customization options. Instead, look for actual developer businesses that build themes for selling. The vast majority of these premade themes come with plenty of custom options for branding and even color change. The template can't be altered much, but it'll tell you, "here's the dimensions for a logo graphic and it will go right here." Many of these sites also let you preview the theme, as well as see what it looks like in a sample admin panel.

    They tend to be "dummy-proof." Most of these are designed to accommodate groups or companies that may not have an in-house web developer. So they need to be simple to learn and use. There may be a small learning curve, but they tend to have documentation and support available as part of your purchase. They also usually take care of things like validation, responsive design, and so on. If you're looking for a personalized WordPress portfolio site, it's a good investment.

    The price of these themes varies, but they're usually squarely in the double-digits range. They're almost always a one-time purchase, though I've seen a couple that require a yearly license fee. Either way, it makes them much more affordable than paying someone to do a custom-tailored website and it's probably more what you'd like to get out of it. Two sites I've used before are TeslaThemes and ElegantThemes

    I should note that aside from Webcomic or ComicEasel, I've not seen any WordPress themes or plugins that are well-suited for the webcomic experience. They may be out there, but the majority of themes you find will be geared toward other, more widespread presentations.
     
    Andy P. likes this.

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