Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Making Your Web Comic Succeed

A bunch of worthy resolutions for web comics artists who aspire to success:

  • Don't hide your email. A forum or chat box is not email. If you only want media email, say so, and junk anything else that sneaks in. Learn the difference between fan email and media email. Xkcd has a good system to copy. So does Girl Genius, if you get tons of mail.
  • Use the phrase CONTACT in your navigation bar for your email access and policies. Do not put it in ABOUT, LINKS or teeny-tiny print at the bottom of your page. Do not use an envelope icon.
  • Make a logo for your comic and take advantage of the free publicity here: Psychedelic Tree House. Use it on shirts, business cards, web site signatures -- anywhere where there is free advertising for branding your comic.
  • If you are in a collective and there are dead comics on your home page, exile them to some distant place. Dead links are poison.
  • If your collective has a forum board that is half asleep, simplify it and/or hide it. You can't wake the dead.
  • Don't put update info, navigational links or other unsuitable text in your logo art. It will have to be removed before your logo can be lifted for use elsewhere, like articles about you.
  • Visit this list of web comics blogs and make a habit of browsing them until you find one or two you wish to subscribe to. Make comments so the authors know you are there and notice your comic. This is HERE.
  • Link to the web comics blogs you like. These are your community's newspapers and deserve your support.
  • Link to the Psychedelic Tree House. Read it and find ways to improve your craft and your success. It's there to help you.
  • Reconsider hosting your comic on SmackJeeves or Drunk Duck. These sites come with a reputation. I don't want to pick a fight with anyone, but I can't recommend highly enough that you research your site choice carefully. See my recommendations here.
  • Make sure you are on all the link sites listed lower on the same page.
  • If money is tight, know your free hosting options. Besides the lists on PTH, know about Synthasite, Comixpress, Blog-hosting and even MySpace.
  • Banners are outdated. Short, descriptive text links are in.
  • Isolated? Twitter is full of comics people. Find some and listen to them tweet about stuff that's on their mind. Look for chances to build friendships. A few are on Twitter to vent and crack wise, not really looking for friends, but many are really good-hearted. Cartoonists vary just like the rest of the world.
  • Find and read comics you like that are not well-known, instead of reading what everyone else is reading. Write a thoughtful email to the artist. Mention your own strip. Network.
  • Put a feed button on your comic so people can subscribe.
  • Put a counter from Feedburner on your site so you can see how many are subscribing in a feed. Encourage people to try it out. It's still alien to many folks.
  • Sign up for Google Analytics to track your site's development. It's free. Ignore all the talk about conversions and ads and just get the straight analytics so you can track visits to your site.