Webpizza – Or How NOT To Market Your Comic


Let’s say you make the best damn pizza ever. You decide to go into business making pizzas. You get all the ingredients just right. But instead of having a traditional brick and mortar store, you decide to only sell your pizza ON-LINE! The internet is going to make you rich, just like everyone else. Yay! Success!

Now it’s time to advertise. But you have decided to call your pizza “webpizza” as that’s how you’re going to distribute the pizza primarily. Since it’s only ON-LINE, you want people to know that it’s a “web-thing” since you have bucked the system and decided to only distribute your pizza ON-LINE. So now, you make a “webpizza” and this is gonna be the hottest thing!

Day 1. You open your website. All your keywords and SEO point to “webpizza”. At the end of the day, you have no sales. You keep trudging along. You go to local networking meetings and tell everyone you make “webpizza”. They look at you funny. Then you say “It’s a pizza, but it’s ON-LINE so we call it ‘webpizza’.” They get it, but walk away from you thinking you’re some sort of nut.

After a year or so of little sales despite having a small, but dedicated set of customers, you close shop as you’re tired of doing it “for free” and not making any money.

The moral: You marketed yourself wrong by branding yourself as a “webpizza” maker instead of using the known and established term “pizza”. This sound familiar to you all? It should. It is us. Yes, us independent comic creators who use the term “webcomic” as the primary way of advertising our comics.

Yes, yes. It’s a well-known term… in our own industry. But to YOUR customers (readers) the term is as stupid sounding as “webpizza”. The first rule in branding/marketing is to define your marketplace and your audience. If your audience calls it “pizza” then you damn well better advertise where they look for pizza… and, oh by the way, call it PIZZA!

We independent comic creators face the same challenges of any independent artist. BUT… we’ve tossed in this term “webcomic” as if it is the Holy Grail. It’s not. To succeed, we must conform to conventional keyword searches and stick our comics in front of our REAL audience.

The point here is that simple, basic marketing rules exist for a reason. We seem to think since we publish primarily on the internet that those rules do not apply to us. This is as wrong as saying the world is flat because it looks that way to you. Success comes from taking the essential marketing concepts and following them.

First, define your product. It’s a comic, plain and simple. Here’s a standard definition for “comics”:

“Comics are a visual medium used to express ideas via images, often combined with text or visual information. Comics frequently take the form of juxtaposed sequences of panels of images.”

Did that say anything about HOW it was distributed or published? No. As it doesn’t matter! So don’t mess with it. Call it what it is. If you are in a group of fellow comic creators and want to call your product a “webcomic” because they get it, that’s fine and dandy. But, beyond that, call it what it is: A comic. This is really so simple if you look at it from a business standpoint and start doing keyword searches on what your audience is really using to find your comic. No one finds my comic via the term “webcomic”. No one. Yes, it’s in my keywords, but it’s just not used by my audience.

Ring the bell loudly, that’s the whole point to this article!!

Second, define your audience. Yes, it’s hard work. Nothing is easy. Then advertise where your audience will find you. Don’t have advertising dollars? Then look for Social Media groups that relate to your audience and interact there. Do not advertise on other comic websites, UNLESS their audience is the audience you have defined as your readers. For example, I do a “sexy-innocent” comic, so advertising on similar comic websites DOES work, but it’s not my only outlet. I have started interacting with rock and roll bands, taverns, radio stations and the like on social media as well. Guess what? That’s my audience!

Pizza restaurants do NOT advertise to OTHER pizza restaurants. They advertise to the general public who consume pizza. We as comic creators must expand our horizons and go to our readers using standard terms that they will know and understand. Oddly enough, you’ll find that success you’ve been looking for once you do.


Posted in Business, Featured News, Helpful Hints, Webcomic News.


  1. You’re making some very good points here. Who would google “webpizza”?

    (Incidentally, I read this just as I was eating pizza myself. A yummy coincidence!)

  2. So I get the idea of not advertising on other (web)comics websites. How about on other sites, such as Comic-Rocket, or ComicFury? When you upload a new page, those sites place you as “new” or “updated”.

    I do plan to have tables in Cons to show my work. Don’t know if that’s any better. I’ve also heard Reddit is a good venue, but it hasn’t worked for me. Then again, I might be doing it wrong. @_@;

    • I don’t know those sites very well, but if your readers are there, then most certainly advertise there. Many sites that essentially act as a fancy RSS reader are fine, but I don’t know how many actual readers are there as these sites too cater to the term “webcomic” and I think don’t hit the average person’s radar.

      Hard to say. I’ve never gotten Reddit. Some folks swear by it, so I must be doing it wrong too. 🙂

  3. A marketing lesson that has somehow been lost in translation, thank you Byron for putting this perspective out there. It’s a conversation we need to continue having. Granted, you made me hungry for pizza reading this, but you also fed my intellect and trust me, that part of me needs nourishment! [smirk]

    One of the things I find challenging, is the fact that at the consumer end, the portal sites that are built to promote comic creators are using a marketing model around the assumption that “webcomic” will point readers to their portal and to us. This mentality needs to change as well, otherwise, the portal to find comics by independent creators is gocomic.com and they only cater to a general G audience of comic strips. Keyword analytics, they show what consumers are looking for and the terms they identify with, its time to realize, ones readers aren’t into shop talk terminology.

    Selling pizza to pizza makers, why would anyone market a product or service to the producer of the content, rather than the consumer of it? It baffles me.

    • You and I have had many exchanges on this subject and in fact our discussions prompted this article. I figured it was time to clear the air and get to the real points we need to focus on if we’re going to grow our comics.

      • I think the entire model for indie comic creators is fractured. The way we work from creator to consumer, does not equate with how consumers can find the creator.

        We are using the web as a first window to our content, but even the “webcomic” portals promoting us to the consumer, aren’t modeling themselves as best they could. Who builds a brand around a term that consumers don’t identify with? SEO keyword optimization tools can verify this claim, I don’t need to. Webcomic is not a word in the consumers vocabulary.

        Granted webcomic portals aren’t our end all-be all window to be found, but they are an important tool. The portal site that builds its brand around consumer identifiers, that’ll be the one that takes off, but they would need to engage us in the discussion of what is working and not, from their mountain tops. None of the ones that have come and gone in the past 15 years, can claim it is the gocomics.com for indie comic creators.

        Many of us get more traffic from social media engagement and promotion, than I think we do via a webcomic portal as a first window to our content. I’m sure other creators out there could share this experience, either way it falls. It would be grand if we had a more seamless road to consumers than we do, when the “web” is supposed to be THE playground for our comic creations. I’m not seeing it. Is it out there?

  4. This is an excellent point. I see and hear of so many independent creators, making comics on the web and they only advertise on other online comics. While that’s definitely an audience you need to tap into, you need to REALLY identify your audience. I’m not in a position that I feel comfortable advertising just yet, but when I do, it’s not going to be on non-sci-fi comics.
    I’ll be advertising on sci-fi forums, pop-culture sites etc. Let’s be honest, there’s a limited market if you only market to people who read comics online. There’s a MUCH larger market of people who may have relevant interests who don’t currently read comics online.

    There’s also the concept that “webcomic” isn’t a selling point. Neither is “Updates 3 times per week.” But I see that on SO MANY ADS. Nobody says “Ooh, this updates 3 times a week, that makes me want to click this ad.”

    • Yeah, I only mention my update schedule in my header, just so folks know when to come back around. Update schedules are not selling points, agreed.

      It’s a big deal to US as we’re doing it. I also see folks who get excited over having 100 or 200 or whatever number comics created. Again, not a selling point. Watterson did what, 3000+ comics in 10 years? 200 ain’t nothin’ to brag about. I don’t even count anymore who many I’ve done.

      Thanks for reading!

  5. That’s why ue call them comics or magazines. They’re digital PDF magazines, and with our relaunch we’re doing print on demand too. We’ve never been a “webcomic”. I’m also a 37 year comic vet, publisher. Nice to meet another old fart! Doc m@m

    • Aloha, Doc! From one old fart to another, welcome!

      Yeah, I saw the term “e-zine” banded about there too. Never caught on. Again, the format doesn’t matter… digital or print… it’s still a comic or magazine.

      Glad to have you along for the ride, man!

  6. Interesting, I’ll take note of this. I’m still new to advertising, so I’m sort of observing others at the moment.^^

    I always thought webcomic was weird.:p

  7. Thank you for writing such a straight forward easy to understand article on comic marketing. I just started a webcom….(whoops!) a comic that is online. It’s brand new and I’ve never attempted anything like this before. I’ve enjoyed reading your take on how easy it is to make assumptions (and mistakes) about how a comic should be advertised. The most important thing I learned from your writing is “Learn your audience” that will be my next goal…right now I have to think up something funny for my…uh mid-week post. Thanks again.

    • Glad you got something from the article. You’re doing the right steps, get to know your audience THEN you can focus your advertising and marketing to them. Good luck and thanks for reading!

      • Thanks Byron for your tips and encouragement. Searching through links on the Webcomic Alliance site has really informed me about comics online. Bookmarked for more reading in the future.

  8. Pingback: 50 Tools & Resources to Start a Webcomic - StudyWeb.com

  9. Thank you for this article! I haven’t realized how important it is to call your work what it is, and making it a point to reach your audience.
    It really made the term ‘audience’ simple for me. :p

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