Friday, May 23, 2008

My Advice for Using EntreCard to Promote Web Comics

Ad card images from some other web comics on EntreCard. From top, Sodium Eye, Dragon Girl Noriko, and Blog of Last Resort, companion to the Last Resort comic.

This is the post I promised for web comics joining EntreCard. They have a smoking "bonus point" offer going for the next 100 web comics that join, and I have agreed to help publicize it. I am not being paid -- this is for the benefit of the web comics community. (Note: to get the bonus you have to be referred by me, which means you need to drop me an email with your comic's URL when you join EntreCard.) 

EntreCard is a tool. Your results will depend on how you use it, and what you use it on.
Think of EntreCard as a game in which you drop your ad, or "business card," on other sites while they drop theirs on you. The more you drop, the more those people see you. But that is a minor point: the major point is that the more you drop, the more credits you get to buy advertising on other sites.

Because it is a tool to boost traffic, you need to be measuring your traffic. Google Analytics is essential, and I like the Feedjit Live Traffic Feed widget, visible near the bottom right of this page. Both are free. The Feedjit widget links to Feedjit.

EntreCard seems to perform well in exposing readers of one comic to another comic. Obviously, that's appealing, especially if your comic is not well known.

Web comics are new to EntreCard. Focus your advertising on other web comics and dabble with other categories, like pets or humor or kids. Highly removed topics, like blogging for money, technology and fashion seem to be poorer choices, though certain comics will fit into those slots. For some reason, I do well with a blog about blogging tips written in pirate talk, as in, "Argh, matey, that's a mighty fine blog!" Baffling.

You should understand the way the site is supposed to work before you decide to use only parts of it. Study the site. Visit every part, a few times. You'll catch on. You can ask questions on the forum there.

View a site before you advertise. Make sure it's not a lousy site, and make sure it loads at a normal rate, free of music and junk that disgusts people, like 300 widgets. When you are in the section where you buy ads, you can mouse over each one and click VIEW, among other things. Sites that place their EntreCard high up, so you don't have to scroll to reach it, are most desirable. Placing your ad high up on your site is wise. Review the content. If you comic is called Satan's Triumph, you might want to spare the people blogging on religion and the afterlife. It's just good manners.

I have yet to use the site forum, though it is said by some to be a good way to build relationships with other users.

I have two comics on EntreCard. Compare them. Scratchin Post is getting a modest boost from EntreCard, but Li'l Nyet is VERY hot. Decide for yourself whether this is due to differences in the comics or in the ads, because everything else is the same. We are going to switch the Scratchin Post ad today, as an experiment, so if there is no text, you are looking at the new ad, and the point is less notable.

A very major point: There are two main ways to drop cards on people. "Campaigning" allows you to drop sequentially from one member to the next until you hit one you have done or don't want. Then you start again. The other way starts on your second or third day, after you have dropped cards on others. Having noted your card in their "drops inbox" (part of your dashboard), they will drop a card on you. Go to your drops inbox, and toggle to see people you have not dropped on. You want to drop on all these people, minus any undesirable ones, every day. This is how you pile up credits quickly. Here's the walk-through: You click on one of the cards. That blog or comic opens in a new window. You spot the drop box and click it. If you click the ad next to it, you are imitating the sequential mode, discussed above. Instead, use your back button to return to your inbox and do another. If clicking your back button doesn't back you up, hold your mouse on the back arrow, making it act like a drop down menu. Select "inbox" and repeat. Unless you have a slow computer or hit a slow site, you can hit around six sites a minute. At that rate, about 20 minutes a day on EntreCard keeps you in nice shape. You'll have to decide if the time is worth it. As you develop a memory of where the most frequently seen sites place their boxes, you'll really fly, and be able to do your dropping while making phone calls or scratching your leg.

Minor points:

If a blog is slow to load, plays music, video or complex Flash animation, skip it. If you can't spot the EntreCard box, move on. Make a note, mental or written, of sites that drag.

It takes about two weeks to get a feel for which members' sites are fast and reliable, allowing you to cycle through a pile of them quickly.

I get far more bang advertising on comic sites than other sites, but a few sites with a "cartoony" flavor do well too.

Clicking on all the people who dropped their card on you can be viewed as a boring exercise or as a game. When you learn the tricks and get good, it's kind of fun, and I do enjoy pausing on some sites to see how good or how terrible they are.

View your statistics page to see what is working for you. The tables at the bottom are critical for deciding where to advertise.

This is probably not a good tool for people with dial-up connections, unless you can invest lots of time.

The more cards you drop, the more credits people must pay to advertise on your site. You get 25% of the ad fee, so this is a hidden bonus favoring heavy droppers.

I am interested in anything that expands publicity and revenue options for web comics, so if you have anything to report, drop me a line. For those who participate in EntreCard, thanks for joining the experiment, and I hope it works for you. Anyone who is so pleased with their experience that they wish to thank me for the numerous hours invested in research and bonus point distribution is encouraged to link to me by way of thanks.

Late addition:  I just read about the EntreCard ebook you can download and bone up on all the top strategies. The download link