Are you a Webcomic Ghost?

Ghost-Head

You toil over your comic. You’ve followed the advice. You’ve written it well or drawn and coloured it beautifully. You’ve updated with consistency and you’ve promoted it online with intensity and genuine excitement. Sounds like a recipe for success, right? Not necessarily. If we’re not in the rarified air of webcomics authors who have been around for years and have laboured long and hard to expose their work to a wide market, we don’t just disappear – it’s far worse.

We become invisible.

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Being a webcomic ghost REALLY sucks. And the only way you can make yourself visible is by using that creative mind of yours and being noticed in ways that draw attention in a positive manner and engage people, rather than following other ghosts who desperately seek visibility. There are some tried and true methods of creating a broader profile for your work.

Make your online profile visible in communities that are similar in subject matter to your comic.

– This is a long process. Not only do you need to establish yourself within these communities, you also need to tread lightly when promoting yourself. This is more of a trust building exercise in the beginning, which definitely yields high results. The major drawback is the amount of time involved in establishing that trust.

Start small – target groups and areas where you can spend a few minutes commenting and contributing to the conversation. Over time, people will view you with some authority and be more keen on listening to you and following you when you post your work. It may seem like a daunting task, but once it becomes part of your daily routine (like writing, drawing and posting your work) it will yield amazing results.

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(online forums or social media engagement?)

Make your work visible on a local level.

– Sure, the Internet is great for showing off your work to the entire world, but if you sit back and think about it – you’re merely a speck in a field of stars. So how do you shine brighter? Focus on being a bigger star in a smaller constellation.

Search for book fairs, artist galleries, community art events and workshops, and engage with the people attending these events in your hometown or nearby. You don’t have to hit the big shows in bigger centers in the hopes of gaining a wide audience, when you can clean up in your own home town as one of a few artists doing something very specific. Trade shows and conventions are better suited for established artists – ones who have experience working shows and crowds and selling to individuals. Stick close to home and establish a community for your comics in your own community.

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Make yourself visible as an artist.

– Sadly, comics are very low on the pecking order when it comes to perceived value in the world of art. A poet, author, painter or sculptor may get more support because they are viewed as more of a credible, mature art form. Comics are perceived to be throwaway things for children and young adults.

As a comic creator, you do have some skills as an artist or writer (we hope) – in which case, you should show off those skills by flexing your creative muscles to show people you’re more than a one-trick pony. Post examples of your work online, show off some of that versatility and you’ll see a wider audience engage YOU, the artist instead of your comics and the guy/gal that creates them. We’ve talked before about promoting yourself as the brand, and we often read about notable examples of this within our artist community. If they do it with a measure of success, so can you. You are your own best salesman, since no one knows you and your work better than YOU.

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The Takeaway

– This article may seem like an easier-said-than-done piece, but all of us who have had some success with our work can attest to the three methods above as being crucial to being visible and being noticed instead of blending into the background. We rely too heavily on others to do our heavy lifting – waiting for that moment when our work spreads virally or is accepted by people with more influence and authority. You’ll be waiting a long time and wondering if you’ll ever make it.

Instead of waiting, why not do something about it?

Andrés ‘ Drezz ‘ Rodriguez is an illustrator, author, and podcast personality. He provides WA readers with periodic articles (like this one) to help improve their comic production and their processes. Feel free to follow him on Twitter, on Facebook or his website, drezzworks.

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10 Comments

  1. Indeed, I can definitely agree with the second point of taking your work out into the physical space, because quite frankly if you take advantage of a revolutionary piece of equipment to promote your creativity, I can garuntee millions more will get the same idea, too.

    • It’s about increasing your visibility, but doing it within your means and having the patience and experience to keep growing from that starting point.

      I’m not saying you should never attend a big con right off the bat. Do what you feel comfortable with – but don’t feel like that’s the only road to success. You can get by with the resources you have at a local level, and when you’ve exhausted that, make the jump to a bigger pool. Over time, you’ll build nice momentum heading into bigger shows.

  2. yes suddenly I feel this way but to be fair I only launched my site this last week. To be honest after all the hard work and building I’ve done over the last six months I now have that ( what do i do first) feeling. I don’t expect to be a overnight success but I cannot do anything but be honest I’m a greenhorn at this with a lot to learn and only thankful for the nice people on this site who are so helpful. As far as writing and modeling go I’m content with what I do (I use poser pro not draw) what i need to get my head around is marketing and advertising ive hit a few walls already with this because i have an R rated web comic. some advise on this would be gratefully received.

    regards
    Aron.

    • I feel your pain. My comic isn’t exactly family friendly either.

      If you’ve got an R-rated comic, you’re going to have to promote in places where that type of content is well received. I wouldn’t take an ad out on a comic that is family friendly, pacifist, or clashes with my art style. You’re basically going against the grain if you do.

      Webcomics aren’t like they were at the turn of the millennium. There’s more of them, there are more genres and sub-genres and you can’t just cast out a wide net in the hopes of attracting general webcomics readers. You have to set specific targets if you’re looking to increase traffic.

      • Cheers Drezz.

        I am still trying to get my head around the advertising scene and I dont want my comic advertising R rated stuff so I have just lowered the price for now in hopes people will pay 1p a page. I also moved the first part of a two part story into the free stuff.

        • Aron,

          I think the first thing you need to do is actually allow us to read your comic without making us sign up for a membership in order to read it. Sure it’s free, but why would anyone take the time to sign up and read something if it’s free?

          I can understand your concern about wanting to keep kids out if it’s not family friendly, but it’s the internet. There is way worse stuff out there that kids can have easy access to without needing to sign up for.

          • point taken and I’ve just done a bit of work on the site to address this. I’m going to find another way to fund this site so all chapters that don’t contain mature stuff can be free, but I am self employed and do need to make something out of it. sure patreon is an option but I’m British so for every dollar given its worth half to me (sorry if that sounds greedy)what i mean is the sponsorship has to work twice as hard to for fill the requirements. anyhow checkout the chapters I have for free and look out for the upcoming story on you tube folks.

  3. I’m currently five months into my own ghostitude, and unfortunately, most advice doesn’t really work for me. I live a country with no comics industry and no comics readership, so trying to do anything locally would be a waste of time. Socializing is something that I’m just no good at – I hardly ever have anything to say, and promoting myself instead of my comic just always struck me as a bit repulsive, especially since I don’t even like drawing (anything that isn’t comics) or “being an artist.” Comics is really what I want to spend my life on. I wish an audience for my comics would just spontaneously generate itself, but, of course, that won’t happen. (I’ll keep drawing them either way.)

  4. This article helps a lot! I’m a new indie webcomic and trying to get the word out is hard! But going about it in a strategic matter helps if you know the right route and connections to do so.

  5. Hi Drezz

    In my case, promoting my webcomic at a local level is almost impossible, because the comic is in Spanish, and I live in an English speaking environment. Even though I add the English captions under the panel I don’t have many English speaking followers.

    Last year I started uploading the cartoon in facebook, not only as a link, but the whole actual cartoon. I might say it helps to rise the visibility and interaction with followers (in facebook), but at the same time it makes even smaller the monthly amount of visits to the blog.

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