This is the second part of my “How to” webcomics in 2018 article. If you missed the first part (“Introduction”) you can find it here.
– own your identity online
– choose the best place where to publish your comic according to your needs and goals
– make connections in the webcomic community and embrace feedback from other creators
Time to move on to the next level!
REACH OUT FOR YOUR FIRST READERS
This is THE big deal. Getting your first readers is by far the hardest step of the whole process.
Nowadays there are already so many creators out there that is really hard to make your voice heard.
Not only the number of comics available online is gigantic, but the average quality is steadily growing. More competition means that in order to be recognizable artists have to make an extra effort with their style.
That said, don’t get discouraged. Your art will inevitably improve if you’re consistent enough. In no time you’ll be able look back at your panels and happily cringe, like we all did (and then keep on doing that for the rest of your life) ^_^
Where to start? If you’re on a platform that has already its own readership you’ll be able to get your first readers without making too much effort. Webtoon, Tapastic, SmackJeeves and other big comic websites have their own ways to promote new and fresh content. Just make sure you placed your comic in the right category, that your comic is readable without effort from a mobile device and, even more important, that you have a kickass thumbnail/banner to represent it. All your new readers will only bite if the cover of the book is worthy.
Posting on social media.
First thing you wanna do, is to get your hashtags ready.
Hashtags are fundamental in almost every social platform out there, but particularly on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. You can go on and hashtag away on Facebook, Tapastic and everywhere else you can add tags. It just won’t work as well as for the first four.
In order to hashtag effectively you might wanna have a look at what your favourite comic artists are doing, possibly those who have a similar content to yours (fantasy, gag, drama, etc.).
Make different lists and see which one performs best on each platform. Once you have it you can go on and copy/paste it (at least on Instagram and Twitter) and just add more specific tags to each post.
For ex. I have some very general hashtags like ‘webcomics’ or ‘comics’ in my list, then for each post I add some more specific tags like ‘dog’ if there’s a dog in the picture.
On Twitter you wanna limit your tags to 4 or 5. On Instagram you can add up to 30.
On Twitter you can add some tags that are dedicated to promote comics (like #makecomics) and quote the related accounts like @promotecomic and @supportcomics (see my previous article for more Twitter hashtags).
We already talked about Twitter chat events, during which you can use the event’s hashtag to interact with the participants and show off your work when it’s allowed. I’d suggest you make your own comics-calendar that includes not only these weekly events, but also some yearly events like Inktober (the whole month of October) and #hourlycomicday (every February 1st).
I personally use Crowdfire to manage my Twitter account and it helped a little also with growing my followers base. Some other creators tried it and didn’t like it. Up to you 🙂
Another great thing you can do to save time on social media is to use social media tools like Hootsuite or Buffer. But you have to make sure your pictures look good on each and every platform without needing resizing, and this might prove difficult.
I’ve heard about a tool named Sketch that could help you with that, but I haven’t tried it yet.
Groups, forums and communities.
We aready talked about Facebook groups (see “Introduction“). Here the situation is more delicate: most of comics groups are invaded by spammers. And with spammers I mean comic artists like you, with very good intentions, that basically go there to show their work and don’t care about giving anything back to the community. Needless to say, this is not appreciated.
Most of Communities all over the web allow you to introduce yourself when you get there, but they don’t expect you to use them as your personal launch pad. Usually there are very passionate people behind those groups that invest time and energy in order to moderate them and keeping them interesting and useful for everybody.
So you have two options: play by the rules, introduce yourself, connect, be useful to the community and eventually be noticed for your good karma, or just go and make your own rules by creating your own community. I personally don’t support any other option.
Same rules that apply to Facebook apply to any forum.
A good one where to start is Tapastic’s forum. Very good vibe, very nice people, very interesting topics and overall great community. As Webtoon passed on having their own forum, this has become one of the best places to discuss Webtoon matters too.
Whatever forum you choose to browse, always introduce yourself first and then look for the #showcase/#promotion section of the forum to post your content.
If you’re ready to take a bigger psychological risk you can try to post on Reddit, 9gag, ifunny, Bored Panda or Imgur. They all have ‘comics’ sections (Reddit in particular has many /r dedicated to comics that accept self-promotion). Be careful though, these websites aren’t just for comics and the communities there might be toxic. Make sure you stomach is ready for whatever can happen or just leave it there.
Other websites to get traffic for your website.
You can also register your comic for free in the Top Webcomic List and get friends to vote for it. By the way, while you are here… *angel face* PLEASE VOTE ^_^ http://topwebcomics.com/vote/22962
Finally, you can create your comic series as a Trope in TV Tropes. TV Tropes is the Wikipedia of pop culture. It’s a pretty interesting site once you get the hang of it. Careful not to get stuck in there for half a day (talking by experience here).
Stumble Upon used to be a steady source of traffic but right now it has been merged into a new website called ‘Mix‘. I just saw it so I can’t say much about what it’s worth, but it definitely looks like Pinterest more than the old Stumble Upon, so… We’ll see 🙁
BOOST YOUR READERSHIP
Make special comics for promotion.
Now that you have a bunch of readers/followers, you might wanna start reaching out for other comic artists in order to help each other grow by sharing your audience.
There are different ways you can achieve that and it goes according to you situation, your goals and your feeling.
Here’s what you can do:
- cross-promote your comics with other artists (you just mention each other’s comics in your profiles)
- realize a fanart for an artist you like (you pick a character of your favourite artist and you draw it in your own style)
- collaborate to make a crossover episode (when characters from difference series meet).
How to reach for other artists.
If you haven’t tried to make friends yet (like we said before) this is a good time to start.
Sometimes in comics forum there is a section dedicated to collabs where you can post an ad (and the rules on how to ask for collabs). Here are some exemples:
In some servers dedicated to comics on Discord’ there is a dedicated #collab section.
This is the most ‘formal’ way to ask for collab, but there’s also a much more direct way: you just go and message the artist you wanna collaborate with.
I would recommend a different type of approach according to the development stage of your webcomic career:
– when you are a beginner or when you just started publishing go for FANART and CROSS PROMOTION;
– when you are at a more advanced point (you have hundreds if not thousands of followers and a good readership base) you can go and try to pitch a CROSSOVER idea to another artists. Remember that this one is the most complex to pull off and you’ll have to decide who draw what and agree about the plot. It’s also the most rewarding in my own experience.
Obviously all these things don’t matter if you know the artist already. That’s why I encourage you to join artists community from the beginning 😉
Other types of common promotional content:
- milestone celebrations of your work (comic anniversary, your first 1k followers, etc.)
- Q&As with readers
- sneak previews
Videos are THE thing that works on social media nowadays. No matter which website your choose, videos have more chances to be seen than pictures.
There is plenty of ways for a comic artists to take advantage of videos. For exemple:
- make art tutorials (Youtube);
- make livestream and videochat of your work process (Twitch, Instagram, Facebook);
- make gifs or short animations with your characters;
- make short videos of you, if you want to connect with your readers more personally
- make reviews of other webcomics (for ex. Webcomic Relief)
A good exemple of a successful Youtube channel from a comic artist is Jason Brubaker’s channel. Have a look!
Also, there are more and more comic artists running successful webcomics on Youtube thanks to almost-animation. What do I mean with ‘almost animation’? It’s basically taking a comic and animating just some parts of it (the mouth or just moving the drawing around the screen). Some of the most successful artists use stick figures or simplified shapes in order to cut the production complexity, but it’s still an impressive amount of work, considering also the sound and video editing effort.
I’d say the effort is 100% looking at the mind-boggling numbers (spoiler alert: MILLIONS of views) that these creators are able to achieve. Just on the top of my keyboard:
Some comic artists make podcasts. I’m a total noob about them so I won’t venture into this but if some of you have some good advice to share or good podcasts to recommend please go ahead in the comments.
The only podcasts I know and I recommend are:
- the art corner podcast (anything from making to promoting your creative work)
- the podcomic webcast (interviews with famous webcomic creators by the daneman)
INVEST IN YOUR COMIC
If you are in a comfortable place economically and you want to invest a few bucks in your comic there is plenty of ways to do it for a relatively small amout of money.
Instagram ads are probably the best type of investment at the moment and you can start with 10 dollars a day.
I wouldn’t suggest Facebook, Twitter or Google ads for the simple reason that I don’t know any comic artist that was able to make a good return on their investment using these platforms, but if you know about someone who knows how to make the best of them or if you are aware of a valuable article about those types of ads please share them in the comments.
You can also sponsor your comic for a couple of dollars on Topwebcomics.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR FIRST DOLLARS WITH YOUR COMIC
Publishing on platforms that pay their authors.
Webtoon and Tapastic offer different opportunities to comic artists to make money. As I’ve said before there are other comic platforms such as Hivework and Gocomics that pay their authors but I’m not familiar with it so I’ll pass.
Webtoon has 2 options:
– contract and regular payment for their featured artists
– Patreon pledge and random payment for everybody else
If you just started in the webcomic universe and landed on Webtoon you might ask yourself ‘how do an artist get featured on Webtoon‘?
Here is my personal answer in order of probability (knowing that it might be wrong):
- you do exactly the comic the platform need, which usually means the comics that the readers wanna read. In the case of Webtoon this often means romantic comics in a manga style (likely to happen);
- you are already super famous somewhere else in the web-sphere, so you’re likely to be valuable to the platform (also likely);
- you were in the Discover section and people showered your comic with so much love that they couldn’t possibly ignore you (slightly less likely);
- you are so overwhelmingly talented as an artist and as a writer that they can’t possibly miss you (the less likely option);
- you are blessed with some sort of super power that helps you get in (the chances of likelyhood depend on the super power).
Tapastic also started featuring artists, but I don’t really know much about how they select them. It’s farely new so I suppose it’s more about being already popular than anything else.
You can also earn money (very little for the vast majority of the artists) by collecting tips from your readers and by letting Tapas show advertising on your profile. I’ve been told that in order to have the ‘tips’ feature activated on your profile you’ll need to enable the ad revenue feature first (directly on your profile’s dashboard) and then you have to reach at least 200 subscribers. Tapas lauches regularly some ‘tipping events’ during which they offer free coins to users to spend on the platform and apparently during these events the 200 subscribes threshold doesn’t apply and you can request the tipping button to the Tapas’ crew.
Once uplon a time there was Project Wonderful… Today there’s only Google Adsense. I don’t have much traffic on my website and, even after several months since I joined the program, I haven’t managed to make the 70 USD you need to withdraw your money yet. I can only guess that this tool becomes interesting once you have thousands of daily views (I’m still counting in hundreds, more often one).
Also, since the EU implemented the GDPR it has become such a hussle to maintain that I’m seriously considering if it’s worth to keep it.
If you know someone who knows how to make the best out of Adsense please introduce him/her to this article so I can link up the content.
Some creators use affiliate or sponsored content, but it would take an article just to talk about all the options available. The idea is that you get paid when someone clicks on a link that promotes something and that you placed somewhere in your content.
As you can easily imagine, also this option requires a lot of traffic to become interesting.
There we go: any artist who doesn’t live in a cave without internet has heard of these platforms at least once.
Some of them are still in beta (Tipeee, Drip) and some of them are well established (Kofi, Paypal donation buttons, Patreon, Kickstarter). Each and every platform has its own purpose.
I would suggest to start small (Kofi/Paypal) and move on to Patreon when your comic project is well define and you have already a work routine (so you can add some Patreon-related work to your schedule) and to Kickstarter when you are ready to move to printed material.
Comics and merchandising love each other. Pins, mugs, t-shirts… Readers definitely appreciate them, so why not giving a try, especially when today you can do that online FOR FREE?
I wrote an entire article about how to create and sell merchandise of your artwork, so don’t hesitate and have a look (it’s also free).
Finally you can still do all the comics-related traditional marketing, who said you couldn’t?
Selling prints, doing commissions, going to comic-cons, participating in comic contests… Everything that can make your wallet grow.
One day if you become famous enough you can even host your personal shop on your website. And by ‘famous’ I’m saying Owlturd/Sarah Andersen famous.
* Insert sighs here*.
Some people do Amazon and ebooks. Another option that I haven’t even started exploring.
Comics contests and Comics challenges.
Let’s put it out there: I know nothing about this topic. But I know many artists who enter contests and challenges (especially artists with long form comics). Challenges are particularly popular on social media, where usually you can spot them by following an hashtag.
In both cases the idea is to gain visibility by surfing on the contest/challenge popularity. It could also be a good way to network with your artists peers.
Definitely recommended if you have some time at your disposal.
If you have tips or lists of challenges/contests to share please get in touch so I can add it to the article.
CHANCES TO MAKE A LIVING OFF COMICS?
But many people already told you so, right?
You’re here cause you wanna hear a different story. You want to try, who cares about the result.
Cause making a successful comic means:
- you’re gonna dedicate an enormous amount of time to it;
- you’re gonna have to entertain your audience EVERY SINGLE DAY;
- you’re gonna have to learn how to use new tools and deal with new technologies all the time (making videos, changing platforms…);
- you’re gonna have to grow up and mature business-wise, cause the money in the comic industry tend to migrate and you have to be ready to leave a safe nests to catch new opportunities as soon as they arise. Sometimes you’ll spend more money taking care of the business than drawing;
- you’re gonna have to be social and keep up with your network.
Even if you do all this, you will still need luck.
But hey, who said the contrary?
Thank you for being here and coping with my bad English and this unbearabe huge amount of information. I personally wish you the best luck in your comics adventure and I hope to see you successful one day, maybe also thanks to this article, even if just a little bit.
My name is Kotopopi, I make silly comics since I was 10 and I hope I’ll be still making them at 100.
Websites about comics’ promotion:
Websites about general tips for comic artists:
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
My super friend Moonsun: http://witw.thecomicseries.com
The author of Galebound for her amazing work: http://www.galebound.com/
All the kind people who contributed to this in the Tapas forum: