We’ve talked about conventions a lot here at the Webcomic Alliance. They can be an essential tool in promoting your comic and your drawing career. But they can also be a huge loss-leader and can take some balancing to know which ones work for you. But recently I got an email from a reader of my comic, and he is also a successful webcomic creator himself, and I wanted to share some of the things I took away from our exchange. I will not share his name or website out of respect for privacy, but the overall concepts are worthy of sharing.
The email from this reader essentially started off “What the hell are you doing?” I was a bit stunned and intrigued. This guy runs a successful webcomic, and one I admire, so seeing this in an email was an eye opener. What he was pointing out was my complete lack of regular updates in the past year. Guilty as charged.
Now, since 2009, I have planned on taking summers off to recharge myself and create the next year’s worth of storylines. It also allows me time to balance out my family life as well, which is hectic and extremely complex. But in 2011, due to taking on a large outside project and preparing heavily for a convention in March of this year, I really fell behind on updates. Then life got in the way again and I ended up taking the summer off, so, even MORE missed updates.
Now, I was quietly upset with this and took the summer to plan a new format for my comic that allowed me to present a greater variety of stories. It seemed to be working so far, but then I get this email.
What triggered the email was I missed an update by a day. I had been at a convention for 4 days and put the comic up on Tuesday instead of Monday. Now, NORMALLY this would not be an issue, but in light of my bad performance of late, it triggered this reader to write me and kinda bitch me out… rightly so I have to admit.
He pointed out that I was putting all this effort into preparing and attending conventions when what I really needed to do was get back to my comic and, more importantly, its readers. We comic creators have an unwritten contract to create our comic on an update schedule (a schedule we creators choose by the way) and if we miss that promised update on a consistent basis (as I was doing) then I was essentially chasing readers away.
And he was right. My readership had dropped significantly. It can be rebuilt, but I’ve lost that momentum I had built up. It forced me to sit down and rethink my marketing strategy and to really ponder where comic conventions fit into the overall scheme of building my readership, and consequently my drawing career.
What I deduced from the past 18 months of work was that doing three major conventions, while good for building my brand and great exposure for me as an artist, was killing my comic instead of helping it. Stupid in any sense of the word.
We have chatted on the Podcast about doing smaller, local events; such as comic book store appearances or “drink and draw” events, and how these can actually be more beneficial to your comic and to your career. In my case, I can plainly see that I was not ready for major conventions and needed to refocus on creating a solid comic on a consistent schedule while looking into and participating in local events. Even it’s just 5 artists in a pub drinking and drawing.
Sometimes a good kick in the butt is needed to help us clear our heads and take a look at ourselves from “another set of eyes” and I hope this article will motivate you to “step outside your box” and look at and evaluate what you’re doing to market and promote your comic. What works for me may not work for you, but I think it’s a great way of looking at what we do as a whole.