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Finding readers outside of webcomic circles?
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cdrcjsn



Joined: 25 Feb 2009
Posts: 429
Location: San Francisco Bay Area

PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:01 pm    Post subject: Finding readers outside of webcomic circles? Reply with quote

This was brought up in another thread.

Do you actively try to find new readers that don't currently read webcomics?

What tactics do you use?

Do you think the effort is worth it compared to the results?
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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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Novil



Joined: 01 Sep 2008
Posts: 393

PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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.
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jpcline



Joined: 24 Mar 2009
Posts: 291

PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i think it depends on who your audience is. A comic about D&D like yours will likely appeal to D&D fans who would not otherwise read comics.
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ttallan
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Joined: 28 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I try to attract print readers, which may seem kind of pointless for a webcomic, but book sales are a major part of webcomic income so I think it's worthwhile.

I have done this by:

1) Getting a table at comic conventions. Still lots of comic readers who don't get their comics on the web for one reason or another.

2) Getting a table at non-comic shows. Local festivals, book fairs, etc.

3) Promoting to my neighborhood. I've had stuff on display at my local library, given a few talks to kids, etc. People who already know me-- even only so far as to say hello when we pass by on the sidewalk-- will be much more interested in checking out what I do than a complete stranger.

4) Contacting comic shops in the areas I'm going to travel to (I went to New Jersey and Virginia this summer, for example, to visit friends and family) and ask them to either buy some copies (at 50% off cover price) to sell to their customers, or take them on consignment. It's a slow way to get stuff out there, but this way I get to meet the owner/manager in person, which really helps to seal the deal.

I'm really not very aggressive when it comes to marketing (I have a whole list of things "I ought to do"), so I end up relying on the "slow and steady" approach. Each year I do a few more new things, meet a few new people, and some of those will pay off, either immediately or somewhere down the line.
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Metruis
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Joined: 14 Oct 2008
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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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Casual Notice
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Joined: 18 Mar 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a link to my site in my e-mail sig. Oddly enough, that has gotten me a number of regular readers (or it did, when I was updating).
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Novil



Joined: 01 Sep 2008
Posts: 393

PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You might find these stats from a vote on my website interesting:

Quote:
How many webcomics do you read regularly?

* 8 – 12 (21.0%, 49 Votes)
* 4 – 7 (21.0%, 48 Votes)
* 40+ (16.0%, 37 Votes)
* 20 – 29 (15.0%, 36 Votes)
* 13 – 19 (15.0%, 34 Votes)
* 0 – 3 (8.0%, 18 Votes)
* 30 – 39 (5.0%, 12 Votes)

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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 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.


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 don’t, 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. I’ve 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 everybody’s target audience is “people who read webcomics.”

And I do believe that most webcomics readers have a limit to how many webcomics they’re willing to follow. Yeah, for some that might be 40+ but it’s still a limit. Once they’ve 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 haven’t found a good way to do it.
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Kong



Joined: 19 Dec 2008
Posts: 73
Location: Georgia

PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As it has been said, the success of finding readers outside the webcomic community will depend on the nature and genre of your webcomic. Niche comics would benefit in my opinion. In a funny twist of the situation, my comic, Kong, isn't allowed to advertise with the majority of webcomics online, but my alternative advertising sources have been bringing in a steady and growing audience. In many cases, I'm the only webcomic that is being listed and I know that many of those readers are totally new to the world of webcomics.

As a side note, even if Kong passed the ratings requirement to advertise at the traditional sites, I would still choose the alternatives instead. My target audience just isn't the traditional webcomic reader. If you have a specialized, niche webcomic, I think finding readers outside the community really boosts your readership.

That being said, I'm grateful to the gay and lesbian webcomic creators that have allowed me to advertise at their site. The many readers I've attracted from those sources are solid and the "soul" at my site. I'm very appreciative of that.
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Midtoon



Joined: 20 Apr 2009
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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 don’t, 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 everybody’s target audience is “people who read webcomics.”

And I do believe that most webcomics readers have a limit to how many webcomics they’re willing to follow. Yeah, for some that might be 40+ but it’s still a limit. Once they’ve 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 haven’t 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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cdrcjsn



Joined: 25 Feb 2009
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My own experience in trying to reach outside the webcomic community is somewhat mixed.

I can get them to my site using various methods discussed above.

But I notice that the rate of retention is significantly less than if they came from another webomic.

The likelihood that I'm the only strip they're reading though is fairly high.

So it seems that I have to go to a greater effort to find readers outside of webcomics, but the payoff is that I'm more likely to be their favorite webcomic, which is important when I give a serious try at monetization a few years from now.

But that doesn't mean I don't plan on advertising through PW and reach out to other webcomic audiences. As tpiro pointed out in another thread, with the very low cost of PW, it is actually possible to break even or make slight money back on the readers you gain if you use higher paying ad systems on your site.
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NK_Nutter
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Joined: 07 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Could try branching out from webcomics a little and making something related to your webcomic, like an app or game.

Actually my comic started out as a card game I made at school and I've always wanted to make a full flash game out of it. Ended up being a comic. And now, webcomic.

Shouldn't be too hard to make a game out of it now that I make flash games for a living, and then sneakily stick it up on the work website to get a huge number of non-webcomicker click-throughs.
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plumluckie



Joined: 03 Jul 2009
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nutter wrote:
Could try branching out from webcomics a little and making something related to your webcomic, like an app or game.

I concur. Cross-marketing can be a useful tool to draw in new readers.

Let's face facts, despite the continual increase of nerd culture growing to mainstream popularity, comics are still kind of spit on as a whole. Never mind webcomics. It is also interesting to consider that despite being around for over a decade (which is over a millennium in internet years), webcomics are still a small market, despite thousands of folks jumping into the ring here or there.

I imagine that it must be particularly hard to draw the "real world" into the fold, as one would have to convince someone to remember a url against the hustle and bustle of everyone's normal everyday website visits.

While I would recommend drawing in the webcomic folk, I suppose internet-only marketing campaigns would fair better than anything else.

Even conventions can be a tough spot. I'm not sure how the majority acts, but I tend to throw away most of the free stuff I get (buttons, flyers, business cards) and only end up visiting webcomics I happened to purchase the book of.
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