Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Promoting Your Webcomic

The creators of the webcomic "Smash" asked on Twitter what days work best for webcomic updates, especially if you were doing two pages per week. My advice, right or wrong, was that I find the day of updates typically doesn't matter. If people like you're work they'll check it out on days that work for you. I would point out however that updating on DrunkDuck did lead me to updating on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I had noticed Mondays and Wednesdays were particularly busy so you got bumped off the "Most Recently Updated" list on the front page. But that tended not to matter too much as less and less people went to the home page on DrunkDuck and just went straight to the comics they favourited/subscribed to/whatever. And if you're on your own website then this matters even less.

So what did work for me in terms of getting attention? Now I have to say I suck at promoting myself. Heck, I used to avoid talking about my comic here and at one point I even had the link on the right listed as something like "My crappy little webcomic..." I'm still pretty hesitant to talk about it as I actually hate people looking at how bad it was to start. But that's another story.

So again, what did work for me? Participating in the community. Commenting (and not just blindly) on other people's comics, offering constructive (and keeping them positive) comments, posting in the forum discussions (and not necessarily about my comic), taking part in forum games or networking events (Secret Santa is always a hit), doing up some fan art for others, and just being involved.

And I think to go beyond DrunkDuck I would (and did) suggest getting involved in "comic community" stuff. I'm sure the artists who work on The Line it is Drawn on CBR or in other communities for artists to show their stuff do benefit from that. Though yes, you have to make sure people don't take advantage of you and you really are benefiting from the time you spend on these things (don't get sucked in to doing art for your friend's company's website because it's "good exposure" for you, it's not). And putting up your portfolio on one site (like deviantart or something) is a good thing, promoting your art on various sites with new stuff they can't see there along with other artists seems like a good idea to me.

Now what about Twitter/Facebook/whatever? Sure, they have some benefits. Have a few followers on Twitter or a fans on Facebook, post some pictures and hope they retweet or pass them along (I tend to avoid flat out asking for retweets, but that's just me). But I don't know how many people really are actively looking on Twitter for new artists or webcomics to check out. They have the people/things they follow and periodically they find someone/something new through them but it's not guaranteed. They may see some art that gets retweeted or passed along but a lot of the time they won't look beyond that or the information about who drew it and where you can see more is lost (filtered out by someone who passed it along but didn't think to credit the source). I'm sure some people will have different experiences from Twitter or Facebook but that's just how I see it. They can be good for getting the word out but they aren't perfect and they shouldn't be all you rely on. In the end, I find they're more about engaging with the fans you have and letting them do the promoting for you.

And conventions? Well again, you'll get some people picking up a free bookmark from you or maybe buying a commission (these are comic fans after all) and that's great but just doing a couple conventions isn't going to be the end of the road. Not to mention how pricey some can be for a table. And by the way, please have something, even a cheap business card, to give to people that has your URL on it. I see too many comic/webcomic people have nothing to give out to promote their work so unless I have something to write down the URL and something that reminds me as to what the URL is by the time I get home I've completely forgotten about it.

So yeah, the way I see it, just being active in the comic/webcomic community is your best bet. If you're producing good stuff then someone will eventually notice (I hope) and it won't really matter what days it comes out.

This may not appear to help the writers out there but I'm sure if you're writing a couple webcomics and the artists of those books are out there getting attention, the webcomic and your writing will get the attention it deserves as well (at least I hope that's the case).

So any thoughts on the subject? I know I'm sort of all over the map there but am I way off base or is there a nugget of truth in there somewhere?