An extended versions of last Sunday’s chat, since I didn’t have time to go into all the detail I wanted.
(…mostly because I was in a moving car with spotty Internet access.)
Q1: Does your webcomic have ads? If not, would you ever consider getting some?
Yes, on both comics, because why not?
This is when some creators talk about Having Pure Motives and Providing The Best Experience. Thing is, as a reader, I’ve never found ads distracting or disruptive on anyone else’s comics. Not to mention, I can’t afford to directly support a ton of artists and writers, so it’s nice to know that at least my presence is doing something good for them.
For people who really can’t put up with ads, even for the sake of supporting indie creators, and haven’t developed the ability to tune them out…there’s always AdBlock.
Q2: What ad sites do you know of or use to earn revenue for your comics?
I use Project Wonderful, because it’s easy, automated, and works no matter how big your site is.
(Services like Google AdSense have a minimum traffic threshold. PW just gives people the ability to advertise on low-traffic sites for free, if nobody else is bidding.)
It doesn’t make a lot of money, just enough that I can turn it around and funnel it back into…
Q3: Do you advertise your webcomic? Do you use paid ads? Do you promote yourself using free strategies?
…buying PW ads. I’ve never actually withdrawn money from PW and spent it anywhere else. Set up a good campaign and it’ll be a reliable source of traffic.
The trick is to make lots of different banners, compare their performance, and cull the ones that nobody ever clicks on. If you set up a campaign that aims for cheap ad space on low-traffic sites, you can use that data to pinpoint the banners that really get attention, and use those in higher-cost campaigns.
PW lets you target by keywords, too. You’ll get a noticeably higher click-through rate if you search for, say, gay/LGBT sites, and then bid on them with your “romantic scenes with the m/m couple” banners.
I shelled out for banner ads on TopWebComics once. The admins actually screwed up the initial display date, so they were very apologetic and gave me a bunch of extra slots for free. It was nice, but not noticeably better than PW.
Free strategies: crossposting on DA/Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook, sharing with general-interest groups and blogs like lgbtwebcomics, urging readers to vote on TWC, the occasional fanart piece for someone else’s webcomic, and, lately, guest posts on LGBTQ Reads.
Q4: What techniques for earning ad revenue do you use, besides banner ads?
The only one that comes to mind is product placement, so…nothing.
Non-ad revenue comes from Patreon, commissions, and books/merchandise.
Q5: What is the most notable ad experience that you’ve ever encountered as a publisher and/or advertiser?
I’ve had to nix a couple of individual ads. One was a straight-up scam — it got reported and the user was removed. The other image wasn’t TOS-breaking, it just had a joke that didn’t look good next to a comic full of LGBT characters, so it got blocked from bidding on my sites.
It’s nice that PW makes that kind of filtering easy. (On top of the usual broad filtering for “child-friendly” on one end and “NSFW” on the other.)