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Webcomic Advice, Please?

Discussion in 'Marketing' started by PlotHolio, Feb 6, 2013.

  1. PlotHolio

    PlotHolio Sage

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    Hello,

    Some of you may know me, for my exploits are legendary.

    I am in the process of creating a military fantasy webcomic with a friend of mine, but I am unsure how to promote it, among other things. I have several ideas in mind.

    1. Cinematic Trailer
    I would create a cinematic trailer that would be uploaded to YouTube. I have access to professional-grade sound and video editing suites, so it would be high quality. However, I am worried that this approach would be too time consuming and would not increase my readership enough to be worth it.

    2. Social Networking
    Word of the comic would spread quickly between my friends and beyond, but this method may appear sloppy and alienate those who do not use social networking often.

    3. Posters
    This method would give me the least exposure, but the presence of physical artwork will mean that people who see the posters will be more likely to go to the website and read the comic.

    In addition to whatever method I use for this, I would still need to storyboard, write the script, edit my friend's images, and maintain the website on top of my normal schedule. At the same time, I don't want our work to amount to nothing.

    Any ideas on how I could manage this better would be helpful.
     
  2. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

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    Deviant Art and a blog.

    Create a progress blog and teasers for the blog, games, character profiles to look at, etc. I like looking at 'extras' when I find a rare web comic that I will bother to invest my time and effort in reading (which is very rare). Perhaps figure out quite a bit of the comic before you start putting it up, to give yourself a head start. But put each page up once a week or whatever.

    Before you put up any sort of site, give us something to look at. Don't put a 'coming soon' with absolutely no art, no teasers, no basic storyline, and a whole lot of waiting. I'll never come back.

    I like looking at concept art, too. Use Deviant Art and your website/blog for this. I have found DA works best if you add people's stuff to your favourites, add your images to group pages and comment on people's work. I don't use DA a lot but I have found in the past that it increases traffic considerably.

    Surely there are web comic groups out there too? Advertise on someone's and they advertise on yours, join a club, etc...network!

    And since I have no bloody clue who you are, maybe you could put the website, when you have some content, into your signature on this board and others - it's done quite often on here. Even link your Deviant Art if you have one.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2013
    PlotHolio likes this.
  3. Nihal

    Nihal Vala

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    I advice you to closely watch what other webcomics creators do. I can outline some strategies - which I may use in the future when I finally decide to draw my own.

    - Create promo art. Pretty and cool art attract people and make them wonder about the story behind it. Get your artist - or commission someone - to paint battle scenes, beautiful scenes and such. They must be full color (well painted artwork have a huge impact and reach vs B&W) and you can already address other two strategies: Posters and content for online promotion. Make good covers too!

    - Posters. They are cool. They're even better if you go to comics conventions. You can set up a stand there to sell printed posters and printed volumes of your comic, you can go further and create mousepads and such using the artwork. I would recommend to take easy at first. You can also use these posters as temporary bonus if you're planning to sell the work in printed versions, online. "The X first buyers also gets a poster".

    - Networking. As Jesse A pointed out, deviantART is one of the places. Post the full color artworks there, ocasionally post some pages too. You can also use Tumblr (the reblog feature is neat, things easily get viral) and Facebook, they work well, but only if you keep producing content.

    - Webcomic sites. There are some sites that host webcomics, they usually have a voting system and everything. Using them you're going to have a higher reach and be noticed by the public which is already used to read webcomics.

    - Webcomic's main site. It's important to keep people engaged, but it's not the main thing. People will likely stumble on your comic on social networks or by recommendation, not finding your site. Here is the place where you can set up a comments section and an about page about the creators, another with character profiles, world and such things.


    I advice you to get a good handful of pages already read before putting it online. Unless its an already well know artist, people will be more likely to start reading your comic only if you have at least a chapter ready. You can use the feedback to measure the initial success. After this, if you decided to go ahead, having work already done will allow you to do regular updates (let's say a page a week), what is really important.
     
    PlotHolio likes this.
  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Get a backload of comics, approach an existing site with a built-in audience that seems right for it, and pitch it to them.
     
  5. PlotHolio

    PlotHolio Sage

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    Thanks. I was planning on getting at least one small story arc out of the way before posting anything. One more question. As an alternative to a webcomic hosting site, should I purchase my own domain name? I think that would be preferable. Aren't there sites that have a voting system for webcomics with their own domains, too?
     
  6. Nihal

    Nihal Vala

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    It looks more professional if you own a domain, it's an investment. If you think it's worthy or publishing a first chapter goes well, do it. Also, this way you can avoid the threat of someone snatching the domain name from you.


    I don't think .com domains are expensive and considering the low traffic you're going to receive when beginning you could use a free host. I know two more or less ok, sometimes they go down, yes, but I've seen worst paid hosts. This way you can cut some costs for now, worrying about a professional hosting solution only when the need arises.

    I don't know a system that works for comics with their own domains, in truth I know little about those ranks for webcomics. Maybe something like this exists.
     
  7. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

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    I agree. Having your own domain name is very important. I am getting one for my journalism and writing stuff. It's not expensive at all. People will take you more seriously, and usually you get emails bundled into it.

    For instance, for your comic, you may have www.comicname.com. Your email may be [email protected]. Usually this comes with the domain name. I'm still not entirely certain how it all works, but it's more professional. Plus, it makes it much easier to find you!

    I otherwise know very little about the world of web comics, I'm afraid, though I read a couple. Link us when you're done!

    Another pointer is to make sure you have good keywords which allow people to find you in search engines. I'm not entirely sure how the search engine stuff works, either. Still learning.
     
    PlotHolio likes this.
  8. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    Okay, I know a little about this from my own webcomicking days (nothing survives on the internet, don't look, I can't draw, that's why I fingerpaint). I was a moderator on The Webcomic List forums for a few years back in the day and still keep in touch with webcomicking friends.

    The number one marketing tool you can have in the initial stages is a regular update schedule. It's useful to have a good comic too, but a good comic won't go anywhere if there's not much of it to see. Later on when you've got a lot of pages you can pull a Dresden Codak and leave four to eight weeks between updates, but Dresden Codak has awesome art that's a step above even the big comics, a compelling story, and a long archive.

    Number two is a good website. It should be clean, the url obvious (and there's nothing wrong with having a comicname.wordpress.com or comicname.comicpress.com or whatever site, nobody minds if you've got a free website). But if you do get your own url and do the website yourself, don't stack it full of adverts and links and a massive banner at the top etc. Keep the actual comic front page and archive pages clean and tidy, with separate pages for "about", "links" and "shop".

    Number three is this: don't do any advertising or marketing until you've got something for your audience to get their teeth into. If you go all out on day one and all the visitors have to see is your front cover and a slow start first page, they won't come back. If you've got fifteen or twenty pages and they're interested, they'll bookmark it. That might mean you draw your first twenty pages before creating the website then put them all up at once, or it might mean you create it now, update weekly for a few months, and then market it.

    Additional advice: Don't put a shop for merchandise on your website straight away. In fact, don't do it at all until people start asking for merch. If you've got five pages of comic and fourteen items in your merch store, it looks like you're doing it for the money and not for the love, and that is offputting.

    Be prepared to spend a long time building an audience. If you're updating once a week - not unrealistic - you're producing 52 pages a year. That's not a lot for early readers to get their teeth into. It might be the best part of a year before you start getting a regular returning readership. It might be two or three or four years before you get properly noticed.

    More so than with novels, webcomics take a huge commitment of time. The webcomickers making a living off their comics can be counted on two hands and possibly a foot. There aren't many and most of them (a) started a decade ago and (b) do a lot of work besides the comic, like promoting their webcomic at cons, as well as indirect webcomicking stuff - like writing books on webcomics, drawing non-comic art and commissions, writing articles for websites, or creating comics for other entities; someone I knew landed a gig drawing Madagascar (the film) comics for a kids magazine put out by Disney or Pixar or Dreamworks who whoever made the film.

    Basically, if you're doing this for the money, forget it. It's like writing fiction for the money. It'll take a decade or more to get up to the point where you can drop your day job hours down to part time. But if you're doing it for the love of it, because you're passionate about it, the key is dedication and patience.
     
    PlotHolio likes this.
  9. PlotHolio

    PlotHolio Sage

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    I don't plan to make a living off it. I'm doing it because I believe a comic format is the best way to get this particular story across. Unlike my other ideas, this one is very heavy on dialogue and visuals.

    The issue with being so creative when it comes to non-human characters is that it becomes nigh impossible to describe them with words. Believe me, I've tried. I'm not trying to toot my own horn here, but I have one character who I can only describe to my friends by saying "picture a cross between an insect, a lizard, and a zombie, and it has wings, too."
     
  10. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I've said this before, about blogging, and I'll say it again, about webcomics. If you're trying to build and promote a website on your own, you're going to sink a lot of time into it getting nowhere. You cannot produce enough content, or do enough marketing, to build an audience in a reasonable time frame, at least in most categories. And marketing is a very different skill set than drawing or writing the comic - do you have both skills?

    Either pitch it as an expansion to an existing website with an existing audience or find a group of people with similar interests to join their efforts under your web brand. Or, for a webcomic, do it entirely offline and try to see if you can get anywhere pitching it as a graphic novel.

    But I think you're wasting time trying to split your attention between webcomics and marketing and producing your own site, part time as a hobby.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2013
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