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.
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.
(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.
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.
– 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.