ORIGINALS Creators Update - Increasing transparency and improving processes at WEBTOON

We’ve recently heard from a number of ORIGINALS Creators that they’d like more information and clarity around story performance, payments, contracts, and other topics related to your work. 

Our teams are constantly exploring new ways to better communicate and share important information with creators. As our business partners, we know that creators want and need a clear view of their work and earnings on WEBTOON. 

This FAQ will answer some of the most common questions we get from creators and readers, along with some of the new projects and products our teams are working on to improve our offering. As always, our top priority is creating a platform and community where creators can reach a global audience and make money from their work. 

 

What information can I get regarding series performance? 

Currently, ORIGINALS Creators have access to a variety of story data and metrics. Creators can see all of the public stats related to their series, including subscriber numbers, likes, comments, and total page views. We also provide private payment statements that outline local and international (non-local) revenue for paid content, advertising revenue, and merchandising revenue. Every ORIGINALS Creator receives this information in their payment statements. But we realize these statements don’t provide a complete picture of every part of your series’ performance. 

Because WEBTOON offers multiple revenue streams for creators, aggregating, calculating, and presenting all series performance metrics is a complex task. Episode Fees are a simple monthly calculation based on Episode deliveries. But automating a system that gathers, verifies, and delivers earning statements that capture the revenue calculations for multiple revenue streams in multiple regions is complex to produce for up-to-date, secure access. This is important and sensitive information for our creators and we treat this data with the utmost care. 

At the same time, we know how important access to detailed information is for creators, so our teams are in the early stages of planning for a new system that can provide better, more automated updates to creators. This is something we hope to introduce in 2023, but because this is a large product build, we do not currently have a firm timeline to launch this feature. 

More immediately, we are developing a series performance report that will include weekly and episodic revenue details to help creators understand how their readers interact with their paid content. This is something we hope to start providing as soon as November.

 

How do Episode Fees work and how are they related to my Minimum Revenue Threshold? 

Creators receive payments for every episode they deliver on WEBTOON. But it’s become apparent we have not done enough to communicate this fact and outline how guaranteed episode payments are related to Minimum Revenue Thresholds.  

The Minimum Revenue Threshold is the minimum amount that WEBTOON commits to pay the creator regardless of series performance. This means we pay creators for every episode they deliver, even if that series does not reach sales targets. On WEBTOON, creators always get paid for their work. 

For example, under our current contracts, if we sign a 50 episode series at $1000/episode, we are committing to a total of $50,000 for the creator. This is a direct production cost that we commit to a creator on top of operating costs. In this scenario, a creator is paid a guaranteed $50,000 for delivering 50 episodes, so their Minimum Revenue Threshold is $50,000. 

If the series earns $50,000 in Fast Pass, WEBTOON’s profit is $0 (100% of that $50,000 goes directly to the creator). We invest in creators because we believe in them and their work. While we can and do take a loss on many projects, we’re still proud of that investment because it means we’ve helped bring someone’s work to a global audience and paid a creator for their vision. 

If the series earns $45,000, the creator is still paid the full $50,000 commitment. Any losses on a series are incurred by WEBTOON. This model prioritizes paying creators regardless of series performance. We’ve built this model to ensure creators get paid no matter what, and that is our commitment to every creator: creators get paid first, regardless of sales or series performance. 

Additionally, the Minimum Revenue Threshold does not apply to international (non-local) Paid Content revenue, advertising revenue, or merchandising revenue. This means that a creator can make more than the initial $50,000 guarantee, even if their series never reaches the Minimum Revenue Threshold: a creator will receive the $50,000 commitment, and additional advertising and merchandising revenue, even if the series does not reach $50,000 in sales. 

Our contract structure ensures creators have a consistent, guaranteed earning even if series performance drops. Again, this is an investment we make in a creator’s work and vision because we believe in creators and want to create every opportunity for their work to thrive. 

 

What are your episode fees? 

We believe that WEBTOON’s key to success is our ability to support a wide range of creators, and there is no single rate we pay across all series. Some series have more than 40 panels an episode, while others only have four.

What has been constant is that we have been continually improving our rates. We have doubled our standard rates from when we first launched in the US.

We take great pride in being the industry leader, but we are not complacent with what is considered the top of the industry. Being an industry leader means being the best place for creators to thrive, so we work tirelessly to grow the platform and the overall economy for webcomics so we can provide even better rates with long-term sustainability.

We have published over 350 US ORIGINALS, and we have committed to a full season on all of these series. We commit to full seasons to ensure creators can complete a story even if it does not generate revenue or reach reader targets. We do this because we believe in creators’ visions and support them in bringing it to life, even if it means we take a loss. Again, our commitment is to creators: ensuring they get paid no matter what, and that they can see their story through to a natural stage of completion.  

 

Who can I contact if I have questions about my earnings or series performance? 

Editors are the best resource for creators. They know  your individual needs, understand your story and contracts, and are the best way to ask questions and get additional information about your series. Your editor may require some time to gather information from our various business teams, but we’ll always get you information about your series and work with WEBTOON. 

In the coming months, our Creator Care team will be rolling out a new way for creators to request series performance reports. We’ll hold training session for all ORIGINAL Creators to better explain each part of the report and this new training will become a standard part of our onboarding for creators.  

 

How do contracts work? 

Our contracts are similar to what you’ll find in other entertainment and publishing companies, covering publishing, merchandising, and adaptations. But unlike many other kinds of contracts, WEBTOON creators maintain the largest, controlling ownership stake in their webcomic.

Our contracts enable WEBTOON to create more business opportunities for a series and creator while also protecting the IP for both creators and WEBTOON. 

But we understand that entertainment contracts are complex, and that every creator and every potential buyer have different needs and interests. One of the ways we plan to improve this area is by creating more business affairs support roles and educational assets. These will help creators better understand their contracts in everyday terms and ensure creators can share feedback directly. 

We hope this will provide a clearer picture of what creators can expect as their profile grows and they move into new parts of the entertainment industry. 

 

How does WEBTOON promote my work? 

Every ORIGINAL series on WEBTOON receives promotion across multiple channels, including:  

  • On-platform promotion at launch, including targeted main banner spots. 
  • Our AI systems provide personalized recommendations to readers who have an interest in similar series or genres.  
  • Our PR and social media teams consider all ORIGINALS Creators for media opportunities and social media profile. 

At the same time, the comics and entertainment industries are incredibly competitive. There are endless novels, mangas, graphic novels, TV shows, movies, social media platforms, and games competing for people’s time.

The US and Western webcomics markets are still at an early stage. We’re building a market for your work and introducing a new comics format to people who may not even know webcomics exist.

In the past five years, the webcomics industry has grown and become more competitive. Readership is growing, there are more creators telling amazing stories, and there is more overall awareness of everyone’s work. But that also makes it harder to stand out.   

WEBTOON offers instant access for a new series to a guaranteed global audience. Besides large-scale streaming services, this isn’t found anywhere else. We’ve built a global community for your work and we do our best to get it in front of as many people as possible.  

WEBTOON is not a subscription business, and we pay for every ORIGINAL series on the platform.  In addition to investing in your vision and work, we have a real stake in your success. Attracting and retaining an audience for your work is what we do. We want every ORIGINAL series to succeed because it’s good for you, for WEBTOON, and the industry overall. 

To tackle this challenge, we’ve made a long-term investment and commitment to building a  platform that can attract millions of people who will consume and pay for everyone’s work.  

Our product and operations prioritize maximizing the audience, visibility, and likelihood of success for all series. Creators are our business partners, and these efforts benefit all of individual creators, creators at large, and WEBTOON. We are all here to grow the industry, profitability, and opportunity for everyone making webcomics. 

While we cannot guarantee success for everyone, we’re committed to providing the best chance  for success by building a platform where story and art can instantly attract millions of readers. There may be varying levels of promotion at different times, but we are doing everything we can for your work to reach as many people as possible. 

 

Reorganized Communication Channels

Currently, we communicate with creators a number of ways: 

  • Onboarding sessions with editors so creators know what to expect when moving into ORIGINALS
  • Editors as the main point of contact for day-to-day needs 
  • Regular Creator Announcements to share general information with the creator community. We aim to send these out every month or every other month depending on the time of year.  
  • Zendesk hosts a wide range of general information about WEBTOON and what we offer creators 
  • Webinars and information sessions: these are new initiatives that we kicked off in May after feedback from creators. We will hold our next webinar on Sept. 28 and plan to hold these on a regular basis going forward.  
  • Our Creator Care support email, which allows any creator to directly access information beyond their editors. 

At the same time, these channels and communication points can’t answer every question a creator may have. And importantly, they don’t all provide a quick response. We know we need to do a better job of communicating with creators so everyone can feel fully confident and aware of important activities related to their work and the wider WEBTOON business. With a growing creator community and increasing amount of important information to share, we are seeking ways to better serve hundreds of creators in a timely manner. More to come on this as our teams explore how to move forward. 

While we keep building more scalable solution (such as Zendesk, webinars, monthly Creator Announcements), creators can check in with their editors if they have unanswered questions for our teams. We’re committed to getting you answers and we appreciate your patience.

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