Friday, December 12, 2008

Finding Links for New Comics

This post is about helping new webcomics find linking opportunities. But first...

You know what's cool? When you find a link to a comic you've not yet seen, and you follow it, and there on the home page is a link to one of your sites. Thanks to Adsecula: The Seventh Serpent for getting my day off to a positive start.

I'm not sure how many people who are new to webcomics read this blog, but they do find useful posts via search, and I like to summarize data so that it's more manageable. This post is less intended to be a regular installment and more a buoy in internet space, which webcomic creators seeking links and info are likely to locate via searching.

There may be something here for everyone, but today's post is particularly intended for people trying to draw attention to a new comic.

This list is not exhaustive, but features some of the easiest, quickest and most useful suggestions. Some require opening an account but none have ever hassled me with spam or unwanted attention.

Belfry is a quiet powerhouse, and a favorite destination for new comics seeking exposure. There is a significant dwell time on the "new comics" list, and people check it to see what's come along. A well-managed site, too. Something about the architecture of the site causes a lot of links to show up on your WebMaster Tools reports.

WebcomicZ may be a perennial also-ran to some larger sites, but there is nothing objectionable about them. A decent design as these types of site go.

TheWebComicList could be a fantastic site, but the management has decided it is more worthwhile to encourage people who make juvenile, spammy posts than use the forum for discussion. Seriously; they told me themselves. Links seem to come mostly from posting, not as much from registering your comic on their list. When the moderator told me, a guy who writes humor comics for a job, that I am "wayyyyy too serious" I realized the limitations of the site and gave up. Still valuable to people getting rolling, but be wary of shaky advice, as the knowledgeable people have mostly fled, and there is a tilt toward poorly informed answers.

Webcomic Collage - Comicdom's first directory list featuring art instead of words. Easy to use, a friendly owner, interesting to explore. Will probably start showing up in WebMaster pretty soon, being one of the newer sites.

DeviantArt - I like to try as many recommendations personally as I can, but this is one I have not used. It's so popular among so many credible people that it obviously has strong value.

ComicLinks is a small, poorly known site that sometimes seems abandoned for weeks at a time. But it doesn't take long to sign up.

I know less about these sites, and encourage you to let me know your experiences with them:

Xpase is a sort of user-built database, and one topic it covers is comics. There's a slight tone of favoritism that I don't think is intended with the returned results: "XPASE's favorites" isn't the best way to describe search results, as it suggests a subjective analysis that isn't there.

Komix has been growing quietly and doggedly since its recent debut, and the tone is courteous. It's a little weird that they rework your art to suit their own banner display needs, but they do a competent job. The larger question is whether they will attract a user base amidst a glut of similar sites that start with the premise of a list and toss in various features to add value.

Psychedelic Treehouse is a site I created. It's primarily a resource site, but has a comics list of 2000+ titles, and a number of areas where you can get a link. There's an information submission form on the home page. Odds are we'll find you regardless, but you might as well check in and get counted.

This is also a good time to discuss forum signatures, where you sign your posts with your name and site link. Forum signatures are understood as essential and helpful and not controversial. Webcomic Collectives often have forums that are good places to network and be seen. Here is a directory of webcomic collectives.

Blog signatures are often neutralized by anti-spam architecture, and you never know whether a comment will show up as a link. Blogger sites seem the least likely. Others are up to the owner's settings.

They are also controversial. Trivial comments look like spam to other viewers, so using a signature on blogs is wise only if you are making a meaningful comment. Anything less is negative advertising. Looking at WebMaster Tools reports, you'll discover that some blog signature links are read and some are not, and for every five you do, maybe one is found.

I have left out valuable link sources that require more effort, such as knowing Wiki article entry methods, as well as sites that require you have an established archive. These might go on an intermediate list to be presented in the future.

My philosophy is to maximize the chances of the desired outcome without resorting to anything slippery. It's perfectly valid to do your comic and let the world come to you, but doing things that are known to work increases your chances of finding an audience.

A lot depends on whether your comic is good, of course, but that's another topic.

Remember, I left a lot of obvious names off this list, for various reasons, including sleaziness, ease of use, admission requirements, etc. So, there's no need to alert me to well known sites that I skipped, but I'd be happy to hear about any site you like. I won't be put off if it's one I know about, especially if you tell me your experiences with it. I'll receive your comments with interest. Most people have better experiences than me at bad sites, because the bad sites become annoyed and defensive. Still, pay attention to reports of bad conduct, because if you strengthen bad sites at the expense of good ones, you are weakening the ability of the good ones to innovate.

If this post helped you, also see this article.