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Ads and advertising on your comic, for #webcomicchat

Ads and advertising on your comic, for #webcomicchat published on No Comments on Ads and advertising on your comic, for #webcomicchat

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.)

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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 I’ve never actually withdrawn money from PW and spent it anywhere else.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.)

Comments, for #WebcomicChat

Comments, for #WebcomicChat published on No Comments on Comments, for #WebcomicChat

Took a break from remastering BICP chapter 7 this afternoon, to talk about comments at @WebcomicChat.

(I’m also more than halfway through re-uploading And Shine Heaven Now to the new site with comments enabled! Not that I expect to get any, I’m just saying…it’s topical.)

Q1: What are your favorite types of comments to read on a webcomic?

Comments that catch stuff I missed. Especially helpful when there’s a code or puzzle…or a Dramatic Appearance by a character I totally forgot about, so I’m counting on more-avid readers to say “wow, it’s X’s sister we all thought was dead!”

That’s referring to other people’s webcomics, btw. I don’t forget about my own characters. (…usually.)

Q2: How can a reader craft a great comment?

I don’t want readers worrying about Greatness, I just want to hear from them. Even if it’s as simple as quoting a line that made you laugh and writing “LOL” afterward.

Trying to imagine the greatest possible comment, though…”I love your work, I told all my friends about it, these characters are my faves, here’s some fanart I drew, I just sent $10K via your PayPal Donate button, and would you like a book deal?”

Q3: Which platforms or systems do you find work best for commenting?

I like WordPress best. Disqus is useful for sites that don’t have a built-in system, but needs all kind of fussy Javascript to load properly. (Gonna go ahead and say Tumblr is worst.)

The personal feedback on Deviantart is nice, but it doesn’t give notifications for replies that aren’t directly to you, which makes it almost impossible to notice inter-reader conversations. And sometimes those are the best comments!

Q4: Are comments a necessity on webcomics? Why?

Well, uh, webcomics predate Web 2.0, so no.

(Kids these days don’t know how good they have it! Back when I got started, you could only “comment” by emailing the author, uphill in the snow both ways…)

Depends on how much moderating you’re able to do. Unless you hit a certain level of traffic, or a really dedicated army of trolls, it’s not hard to manually-approve all comments before they’re visible to the public.

Q5: How can a creator help foster a positive commenting community for their comics?

Be engaged and responsive, but don’t be too quick on the draw with Word Of God that stifles discussion and shuts down speculation.

(Lots of other people covered “set reasonable boundaries, and don’t be afraid to ban people who won’t respect them.” Although luckily I’ve only had to do that once. Or, technically, multiple times…but all for aliases of the same person, which only reinforces my conviction that they deserved to be banned in the first place.)

Expanding Beyond Webcomic Communities, for #WebcomicChat

Expanding Beyond Webcomic Communities, for #WebcomicChat published on 2 Comments on Expanding Beyond Webcomic Communities, for #WebcomicChat

I’ve been doing some of these chats realtime because my only answers were Tweet-sized anyway. Figured I’d compile them here for reference, and for ease of reading.

Q1: Do you stick to webcomic communities and services that cater to webcomics for promotion? How is your strategy working out?

Yeah, mostly. I have a constant 1-cent-or-less Project Wonderful campaign, and do intermittent more-expensive one using the best-performing ads. It’s a steady referral source.

A Project Wonderful screenshot — steady exposure, for about $0.83 per week. (The costs are all covered by my own site running ads like this.)

The trick IME is trying lots of different ads, introducing new ones every so often, and then looking at metrics to see which get the higher click rates.

And I make sure both BICP and Leif & Thorn are on resources like the LGBT Webcomics Link List.

Q2: What are some other options outside of webcomic communities for sharing your work?

Think about your genre & build on that. Mine are LGBT-centric, so I’m writing some posts for @LGBTQReads, to put a variety of recs in front of an audience that likes LGBT+ stuff but might not have thought about webcomics before.

(Here’s their Webcomics tag! One reclist is already posted, and there are more in the queue.)

Q3: What things make you nervous about sharing your comics outside of webcomic communities?

Yeah, this. It’s not like webcomic communities are magically nicer or better than the rest of the internet. Or like my strips are somehow inaccessible to a reader who’s never read webcomics before.

This is peak #relatable for all of us, I think.

Q4: What kinds of results have you had when talking to people about your comics outside of the webcomic communities? / Q5: What are resources that you have used outside of the webcomic niche to promote your webcomic?

Really just the stuff mentioned above. And when people IRL see me drawing, I tell them what it’s about, maybe give them the URL of the strip I’m working on.

Invariably, without fail, they say something like “oh, you’re so good, I can’t believe you’re not doing it full-time and making tons of money!”

…yeah, this is how you can tell someone isn’t familiar with webcomics.

Spooky comic settings, for #WebcomicChat

Spooky comic settings, for #WebcomicChat published on 3 Comments on Spooky comic settings, for #WebcomicChat

A post I had to illustrate with the stock image of Lady Stanczia and Lord Imri’s eerie mountainside castle. (Last seen in Vampire Hunter Thorn #3.)

Q1: How would you describe the difference between “spooky” and “scary”? Is there one?

“Spooky” is a particular aesthetic, all ominous and Halloween-y. “Scary” is a much broader category. If you narrowly miss being in a car accident, that’s scary, but not spooky. Dark misty forests with no sound except a cold breeze rustling the leaves, on the other hand…those are both spooky and scary.

Q2: What makes a scene or setting spooky to you?

Let me just rec some comics that do spooky really well, and you can work it out backwards from there.

The Last Halloween (ongoing) is full of claustrophobic staging and ominous crosshatching. Along with all the specific pumpkins-and-graveyards type stuff.

Stand Still Stay Silent (ongoing) gets these wonderful eerie effects from detailed art with limited palettes. Check out this shadowy, rain-drenched forest.

Awful Hospital (hiatus) does a great job of combining the gory and horrific with the oppressively mundane.

Serenity Rose (complete) has lots of shadow-filled forests, ornate but falling-apart old houses, and elaborate gothic architecture. Plus stuff in the corner staring at you.

Q3: Are spooky settings limited to specific genres? Why or why not?

If you’re writing something like a lighthearted comedy or a fluffy romance, there’s a limit to how deep you can go into horror territory. But spookiness doesn’t have to be horrific — you can also do the cute-and-fun version. Any genre can be paired with at least some point on the spooky spectrum.

Or, to put it another way: any comic can do a Halloween special.

Q4: What sorts of elements make a scene less spooky?

Bright lighting, pastel palettes, humor.

Spookiness isn’t really something that happens by accident, it’s something you have to actively cultivate. But those are things that can temper it after it’s been cultivated.

Q5: Provide us some examples of your favorite spooky settings!

I did it for other webcomics up in Q2, so here are some from Leif & Thorn:

The dark and deserted-by-order Embassy gardens from Homecoming. And again in Vampire Masquerade, complete with cold blowing winds.

Mata in a deep dark hole — this is one where the spookiness gets tempered by the way he stays relaxed and keeps making jokes.

Stanczia and Imri’s castle from the main continuity. Complete with ominous business deals.

Rec your own favorite spooky comics in the comments!

Leif & Thorn calendar! — Volume 1, printing for 2018.

Leif & Thorn calendar! — Volume 1, printing for 2018. published on No Comments on Leif & Thorn calendar! — Volume 1, printing for 2018.

Now available on Deviantart, Leif & Thorn Calendar Vol. 1: At Your Side!

Featuring OTP artwork from the first two years of Leif & Thorn, a cross-cultural bilingual m/m fantasy comedy. One’s a dragonslayer with a magic sword and PTSD; one’s a gardener working off a debt in a country where he doesn’t speak the language. Turns out love knows no borders. (Although it does get sidetracked by poor translation.)

Originally printing for the 2018 calendar year. After that, it updates every July (so if you order after July 2018 you’ll get the calendar for 2019, order after July 2019 you’ll get 2020, and so on).

Some of the art hasn’t even been posted anywhere else yet, so if you buy early enough, you’ll get a sneak preview. Click through to purchase!

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