Congratulations! If you are reading this, then chances are, you have spent copious amounts of time, and exerted copious amounts of sweat, blood, and tears in order to have a webcomic!
But, you may have a problem…of not having many readers. Or, occasionally, not having any readers.
So, what do you do?
Well, there’s several things that you can do. As a webcomic artist and author myself, I have some tips and tricks that, while they may not necessarily drag the readers in, but might bring in a little more traffic.
And I think getting more traffic warrants a party…don’t you? Image courtesy of Bitstrips Comic Creator
1) Get a Stable Hosting Site
Now, if you’re posting a webcomic for the Graphic Novel class, you likely already have a stable site through the UMW Blogs and use of Comic Press. However, if you’re looking to post your own comic and want to run it through a different site, there are other sites to consider.
Now, obviously, there are lots of places to choose from across the internet. Some of them are sits exclusive to comic hosting, such as SmackJeeves and Comic Genesis. I haven’t tried Comic Genesis, though the layout seems good for comic hosting, and fairly easy to customize—and that’s in addition to being free. SmackJeeves does offer basic accounts for free, but to upload anything over 500 kb will mean the need for a paying account.
My personal favorite hosting site is, of all places, deviantART. While not exclusive to webcomic publishing, and largely lacking the ability to customize the page without a paying account, the layout is easy to use and makes publishing comics simple. deviantART allows for gallery setup, in which a folder can easily be made for webcomic pages to keep them all in one place, and the “artist comments” section on each submission allows for a good place to link to the previous and upcoming pages, as well as any other outside sources you want to show your readers.
One of the best ways to get attention for your webcomic is to advertise it! A good place to start is, if you decide that this will be a long-term, continuing project and not something you give up on within the first few weeks, setting up social media sites can greatly benefit your comic.
The one I would recommend most is Facebook. Sure, everyone complains about Facebook—its layout changes ridiculously often, it spams you with messages for days on end every time someone tags you in a post, picture, or comment, and let’s face it, it’s tiring to scroll through your wall only to see endless posts of people complaining about something.
However, Facebook does have its advantages. As one of the largest and most-used social media sites, it’s an effective tool for getting the word out about your comic. Set up a page for it, get a few of your friends to like it, put a link to the page on your stable host site, and before you know it, people are stopping by your page, getting curious, having a look around, and you may just gain yourself a few new fans. Conveniently, with Facebook’s photo capabilities, you can also post webcomic pages there in albums.
Obviously, Facebook isn’t the only social media site where you can publicize your comic. There are various other sites that you can choose to use—I myself prefer Tumblr (and also host my own comic there), but I’ve heard of people even using Twitter to publicize their comics. And…well, if you want to make a Myspace for it, I suppose whatever gets the job done, right?
Additionally, you can also boost your advertising with banners in strategic locations. Many independent comic sites will let you purchase space on their page for your banner. One example is the successful webcomic Slightly Damned, in which the author/artist will allow purchase of space at the bottom of the page for $1.90, or the side of the page for $3.30.
3) Make Friends!
Yes, that’s right. Make friends.
Or, more specifically, make friends with other webcomic artists.
Because friends do things for each other. Such as advertising each other’s webcomics to each other’s audiences. Speaking from personal experience, what really helps is if your webcomics are of a similar topic—for example, if you’re doing a fantasy/sci-fi comic, it would be more helpful to make friends with another fantasy/sci-fi comic artist than, say, a historical comic artist. While it doesn’t hurt to branch outside of your genre, co-sponsoring someone in your same genre can help build your own reader traffic because your friend’s readers, looking for a webcomic of similar material to what they are reading, will be drawn to your comic.
Real life example: Previously, one of my close friends ran a webcomic through deviantART called Dragon Bond. Though she is switching the format to prose, we had an agreement—she would sponsor my comic, and I would sponsor Dragon Bond in return. Just the other day, she featured a link to my comic on her Facebook page.
Seriously, though, you guys should go read Dragon Bond. Image (c) NexisSakura
So I’ve given what I hope is some very helpful advice on how to get your webcomic out into the wide world of the Internet. However, I have one last critical piece of advice to give:
Love your followers.
No, seriously. Chances are, you’re not going to become a super-famous, super-successful webcomic artist. Chances are, this is going to be something that, if you decide to stick with it, has to get fit in between the homework, the classes, the room-cleaning and anything else you decide to do outside of academic work. You may or may not build a huge fan following doing this. But regardless of whether your fan following is one person or one hundred, love your fans and treat them all with equal respect. They enjoy and appreciate you. Don’t forget to appreciate them back.