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.