Reader Mailbag: Comments & Community

The Alliance wants to get more input from YOU guys. For this, we’d like to do a Webcomic Workshop Article together regarding one specific issue. Let’s be fun and constructive. I’ll post the actual issue below, make my own comments and then, of course, you guys can start discussing. You can either reply to my own comment or start your own feedback. Sound like a plan? Here we go.

From Remki of Earthbound:

As the creator of a relatively new comic (only about 5 months old) I’m wondering two things: first, how do I help foster a more vocal reader community for my comic, and second: at this early, should I even be trying? I love interacting and talking with my readers, and I know from stats that I have a nice number of regulars who check in, but in terms of discussion or comments it’s pretty much radio silence. Is there anything that can be done about this, or should I accept it as my type of readers and live with it? I’m happy as long as people are enjoying the comic, but I like to know that people are enjoying it.

-Remki of www.earthboundcomic.com

 


Dawn says: Feedback and community interaction is the backbone of how the webcomics business model works, in my opinion. It’s also just nice to hear people talk about YOUR creation, something you toiled over late into the night, and gosh-darnit, you’d like to know when you send it off into cyberspace, someone actually sees it. I completely understand this desire.. whether it be to further improve your craft, or just for a little ego-boost once in a while (hey, we all need that as well!) Even a young webcomic with just a few dozen comics to show can get some solid feedback and interaction, it all depends on how engaging the creator is… and how much said creator gives back to the community.

What I can do is give you what worked for me, in my experience over the years.

  • Just like at a party, a good way to make good conversation is to show interest in others. Ask questions! It can relate to the current comic’s subject, or to current events, or just be a random fun question! The comments you get may just be answers to your question, but some people may elaborate on your comic as well, since they are taking the time to comment anyway.
  • Host a contest or a community project or a live ustream show. The more you try to engage your readers with projects they may be interested in getting involved with, the more likely they will WANT to interact with you. It makes your readers feel welcome and needed.
  • Network away from your website, let people get to know YOU. Most readers aren’t going to leave comments for a creator they barely know, who hides behind his/her website. They may come and read the comic, but the interaction isn’t important to them. YOU have to make it important. Twitter, facebook, and now Google+ are great social networks where you can socialize and make friends… discuss non-comic interests… and then next time they drop in to see your latest update (via the social network they met you on!), you’ll start to see more feedback!
  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again– you get what you give. If you want feedback, give it. If you want comments, go comment on other’s comics. Speaking as a creator myself, when I see the same person coming back and leaving comments, I will check out their comic, and usually leave a comment in return. Here’s where I plug a new website that makes collecting all your favorite comics easy, and going to each site to leave comments a breeze: Ink Outbreak. My tagline for it is: “It’s like Tivo for Webcomics.” Not only does it allow you to “star” your favorites, but it suggests other comics based on what you like! And, the simple way it allows you to go from site to site with ease, makes commenting on each site more of an option. Give it a try!

What say you, Alliance community? Any other tips for bringing in the type of traffic that comments and wants interaction with creators?

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Don’t forget, if you have a question you’d like for us to cover, either in an article like this, or at the end of the Workshop Podcast, feel free to send it to us via the Submission form for Listener/Reader’s issues.

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Posted in Featured News, Helpful Hints, Workshop Mailbag.

7 Comments

  1. Recently I went back and added commentary to a lot of my pages. Usually process information or little tid-bits about the world, sometimes just a dig at one character or another (usually Tama). I noticed after I started doing that, my reader response increased. The comments would provide the basis for a conversation beyond what the page provided.

    • very good point! The more people get to know the creator behind the comic, the more they’ll want to converse! Utilize that blog section after each comic, even if just a sentence or two about your day… or how the comic was written/drawn…

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  3. I agree with Robin, telling a bit about the “behind the scenes” has brought me some interesting comments. Even if I just say “I really like the way that first panel came out because of X, Y, and Z,” or “I used an interesting reference for this page”, I tend to get more comments. I think people are interested in the making of, and like to know what the creator thinks of their creation just as much as the creator wants to know what the reader thinks!

    Another thing that’s increased the amount of comments I get is moving to a WordPress/ComicPress site. The site I was using before had a registration before you could comment and I think that kept a lot of people from leaving me a message. Now that they don’t have to register I think people are more inclined to leave a quick something.

  4. I bet you’d get a lot of comments if you made a comic about Jesus, Buddha, Zeus etc., were politicians, and all they talked about were things like abortion policy, whether or not chili with beans in it is really chili, who was the best Captain on Star Trek, and whether or not Tony Stark is smarter than Lex Luthor. Very little of it would be constructive I imagine.

    On a serious note, I’ve found that with a fairly modest audience, I get quite a few comments on each strip I post for a few reasons I think. 1) I only post once a week (since I like having a job/not starving in a ditch) which gives people plenty of time to hit each page and leave a comment, but that’s not exactly a strategy, more of a consequence of my update schedule. The other thing, honestly is creating a world that has a story and interesting characters. It gives people something to comment on and speculate over. Gag-a-day strips can’t leverage that, but they can get the “oh I’ve had days like that” and other relational comments. Like RobinofLeyLines, I seed each comic with a comment about what’s going on or some joke that didn’t quite fit on the page itself. I’m also fairly active within the comments… maybe too active at times but it seems to keep things going.

  5. I think the biggest hurdle is getting those first few comments. It’s like a wedding, once you’ve got a few people on the dance floor, everyone else feels comfortable joining in. Seeding with your own comments seem a great way to get the ball rolling.

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