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Finding readers outside of webcomic circles?
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tpiro



Joined: 31 Aug 2007
Posts: 986
Location: Bay Area

PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here are some of the things I've tried.

Advertising with flyers around schools: People take the flyers. They laugh and smile and generally give me positive comments. But I've never had a person write me an email or comment on my site that they found me this way. Doesn't mean it hasn't worked, but its a costly way to do advertising.

Leaving free bookmarks at coffee shops: See above. People take them, but not sure if this has a big affect.

Syndicated in school papers: I'm syndicated by MCT Campus, and there's a few school papers that carry me. Once again, haven't got much direct feedback.

Advertise on ad networks outside of project wonderful: I ended up paying 10-50 times as much per hit as I do with PW. Definitely not worth it because I at least make my money back (and usually more) when I use PW.

Get nominated for non-webcomic awards: I was nominated as one of the finalists for the 2008 Weblog awards in the webcomic category. This definitely gave me some serious traffic.

Use PW to advertise on big traffic sites: People say PW is incestuous, but really if it's a big traffic site like Dinosaur comics, there are a lot of people reading who aren't part of the normal webcomic community.

Participate in forums outside of webcomics: Depending on the content of your strip, it may be worth participating in other forums. You don't have to actively advertise--you can just have an attractive signature banner, and people may click.

Hope that helps. I'd be interested in hearing what other people have to say. It's definitely a lot of work to do this. Sometimes I feel that I spend more time selling the comic than I spend drawing it.

If you're at a university, I definitely think you're missing a big opportunity if you don't get involved in the school paper.
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Metruis
Postpostpostpostpost!


Joined: 14 Oct 2008
Posts: 1019
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I try to attract people from non-webcomic community forums. I've taken to literature forums, fan forums and MMO forums, MapleStory in particular. I've made a few MapleStory sprite comics of my own comic for the luls which I plan to post up on some MapleStory forums, and I've been reading a few of the better ones and commenting, making friends in the forums.

I just try to spread out to non-webcomic communities on the internet, leaving my signature banner up on literature, art, fantasy, anime and science fiction forums.




Novil wrote:
I don’t really see the point. Your time and money is better spent to attract as many people as possible who are already interested in webcomics. How many of the regular readers of Penny Arcade, Questionable Content or Sinfest have already heard of your comic? Not many, I guess.

But the point is that they are already reading Penny Arcade, Questionable Content and Sinfest and may not be interested in adding another comic to their regular reading list.
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tpiro



Joined: 31 Aug 2007
Posts: 986
Location: Bay Area

PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Novil wrote:
I donít really see the point. Your time and money is better spent to attract as many people as possible who are already interested in webcomics. How many of the regular readers of Penny Arcade, Questionable Content or Sinfest have already heard of your comic? Not many, I guess.


I generally agree. Reaching these readers is by far the best use of your time and money. Project wonderful is an AMAZING resource for doing this. There is no other advertising network nearly as efficient. If your work merits a larger audience, the audience you reach in this way will do the legwork for you.
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rcmonroe



Joined: 18 Jun 2006
Posts: 239

PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are a lot of people who read comics but donít, for various reasons, read webcomics. There are even people who are generally not into any kinds of comics but would be open to one that just happened to appeal to them. Iíve actually gotten e-mails from people who have told me mine is the only comic they read, or mine is one of only two or three that they read.

Bottom line is, not everybodyís target audience is ďpeople who read webcomics.Ē

And I do believe that most webcomics readers have a limit to how many webcomics theyíre willing to follow. Yeah, for some that might be 40+ but itís still a limit. Once theyíve reached their limit, whatever it is, it might be real hard to get them to give something new a chance.

There are a lot of good reasons for seeking readers outside the general webcomic-reading populace.

I still havenít found a good way to do it.
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Midtoon



Joined: 20 Apr 2009
Posts: 189
Location: California, USA

PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 12:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rcmonroe wrote:
There are a lot of people who read comics but donít, for various reasons, read webcomics. There are even people who are generally not into any kinds of comics but would be open to one that just happened to appeal to them. Bottom line is, not everybodyís target audience is ďpeople who read webcomics.Ē

And I do believe that most webcomics readers have a limit to how many webcomics theyíre willing to follow. Yeah, for some that might be 40+ but itís still a limit. Once theyíve reached their limit, whatever it is, it might be real hard to get them to give something new a chance.

There are a lot of good reasons for seeking readers outside the general webcomic-reading populace.

I still havenít found a good way to do it.


I actually read a few webcomics (not too many) yes, including Out There, abd I agree with the view that we need to attract new readers, but for someone as lowly as me, with apparently only 20 readers or so, and no printed comics yet, the public that follows a popular webcomic is a large enought segment of the population to get me started. At even 1% of the readership of one of the big ones, I'd be greatly multiplying my reach.

So yes and no. The industry as a whole needs new readers, but we small ones may not be ready to receive them or retain them.
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R(ed)



Joined: 25 Dec 2007
Posts: 153
Location: That place in London

PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even Pokemon discourages inbreeding.
I have had a few readers from other non-comic forums, and since my comic is named after a method of cell reproduction, I get hits from undergrads trying to research for their projects. A target audiance actually.
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KevinJ1971



Joined: 03 Oct 2008
Posts: 580
Location: Metairie, Louisiana

PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 6:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This thread looks good I think I will be reading it.
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ewomack
Grand prize winner!


Joined: 05 Jun 2007
Posts: 469

PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 8:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The general rule that applies to the stock market also applies here: diversify. If you want to attract readers from outside the webcomic world, then go outside the webcomic world. Many forums have no problem with signature links as long as you don't spam your site. Find a forum that interests you and become a real member of the community. If you just touch and go, post your link and run off you'll likely not get invited back.

Also, a friend of mine has printed out comics of mine and posted them in the hallways of the university he works at. He's heard people comment on some of them and then he directs people to the site. I really owe him.

In the end, it's hard attracting any kind of viewers, so doing anything you can helps. Also learn about SEO, make a Facebook page, etc. For some reason my Facebook page is attracting people I've never known. I don't get it.
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rcmonroe



Joined: 18 Jun 2006
Posts: 239

PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WARNING: This mini-essay is going to be full of generalizations, assumptions, and ďeducatedĒ guesses, because I have not studied the issue scientifically. In my defense Iíll say Iíve thought about this stuff a lot the last two years, so you can take that for whatever you think itís worth.

Santaroga wrote:
I think more people are reading comic online than they are reading them in paper-format. If only because it's free and easy and you have no commitment to them.


Even though newspapers have been dropping like flies, and even though the ones that still exist have seen their circulation shrink dramatically, Iím all but certain there are still more peopleóin fact, a lot more peopleówho read comics in newspapers than online.

Iím sure most of you are familiar with Project Wonderful. Go to ďPlace a New BidĒ today on Project Wonderful and youíll find that the most popular site it represents is, not surprisingly, Questionable Content, which, according to PW, attracts around 450,000 unique visitors daily, a number all of us here covet. 450,000 readersóa little less than half a million.

Letís assume PWís number are accurate, and letís also assume that QC is, or is close to, the most popular webcomic around (Iím guessing Penny Arcade is actually more popular but that QC is in the top 10 or even top 5). Half a million readers. Seems like a lot, right?

I have no idea how many daily newspapers there are left in the United States, but there used to be thousands, and Iíll bet there are still hundreds. Each of these newspapers, even in their death throes, still each reach tens of thousandsóif not hundreds of thousandsóof readers. All of these newspapers have comics (except the New York Times, of course).

What Iím saying here is that even though the newspapers are dying, they still reach millions of readers every day. Iím guessing at least 10 million people still read newspapers every day in the U.S. Maybe itís 50 or 100 million. I donít really know. Iím guessing.

Do all these readers read the comics section? Of course not. Do a large percentage of them read the comics section? Absolutely. In their desperation, newspapers have been excising content and shrinking to the size of small pamphlets during the last few years, but to my knowledge, none of them have thrown the comics section out of the boat. They shrink the comics down to postage stamp size, but they donít get rid of them. Thatís because they know a large portion of their readership would stop buying the paper if the comics were gone.

Anyway, I donít know how many people still read ďthe funniesĒ in the newspaper these days, but Iíll bet itís still way, way more people than readóor have even heard ofóQuestionable Content (or Penny Arcade for that matter).

Santaroga wrote:
Going online during work hours, if only for a minute or two, and read up on a couple of strips is so much easier than actually going out to buy a comic, or even a newspaper.


You know that, and I know that, but old habits die hard, and a lot of people arenít going to stop reading their newspaper until you pry it from their cold, dead hands.

Santaroga wrote:
I think it's closer to a newspaper strip than an actual comic. Do people who read comics, read newspaper strips? And do the people who read newspaper strips, read comics? What's the difference?


This is the question Iíve had to think about more than any other the past couple of years. I would have to say that for the most part, no, people who read comic books do not read newspaper strips. Obviously, thatís a huge generalization, and obviously, itís technically not even close to being true because logic tells you there has to be a huge overlap and that there must be many people who read both comic books and newspaper strips (and webcomics, for that matter). But as a practical matter, comic books and comic strips are geared towards different audiences, and as a result they have different audiences.

Comic books are geared towards adolescents. Thatís not a knock on comic books or the people who read them. Thereís no shame in reading something that is aimed for teenagers, even if you havenít been a teenager in twenty years. Obviously, the people who publish comic books are happy that they appeal to people outside their intended demographic, and do make some attempts to court older readers too. But basically, comic books are aimed at teenagers. (Yes, I know there are exceptions. There are exceptions to everything.)

Who are newspaper comics aimed at? Obviously, people who read newspapers. Who reads newspapers? Well, the answer to that is changing, and has been changing for awhile, and eventually the answer is probably going to be ďno oneĒ, but in the meantime, itís ďolder people.Ē Thatís why Mary Worth and Family Circus are still in your local paper, and PVP isnít.

Anyway, to steer the conversation back on topic, the reason Iíve thought so much about this is because I happen to draw a ďwebcomicĒ that uses a newspaper-strip format, but itís not really aimed at the Family Circus/Mary Worth crowd, nor is it aimed at the Questionable Content/PVP crowd. Iíve sort of come to the unfortunate conclusion that itís aimed at people who donít read comics at all.

Oh well. Iím too stubborn to quit. My audience is out there somewhere. Iíll keep lookiní for íem.
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Lavenderbard
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Joined: 12 Sep 2006
Posts: 845
Location: Ohio

PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I work on Scent of Spring primarily when I'm out in public. I haul it around with me in a binder, and whenever I have to sit and wait somewhere... doctor's office, kids' music lessons, I pull it out and start drawing.

When people ask me what I'm doing, and I say "I'm working on a graphic novel", the majority of inquirers do not know what a graphic novel IS. I have to explain that it's a comic book, only thicker and (in this case) not about superheroes. People know what comic books are, they remember them from when they were kids. They don't actually read them themselves anymore, of course.

There are a great many more people browsing the web than patronizing comic book stores. But, alas, just because they are there and could easily look, doesn't mean you can talk them into doing so.

One assumption that I run into time and again is that if it's done in pictures, it must be intended for kids/teens. But Scent of Spring actually appeals more to my mother than it does to any of my children, so it looks like I'm going to be screwed no matter where I go looking for an audience.
:shrug:

Good thing I'm doing it to please myself, isn't it?
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