Webcomic Workshop #16

Less Swearing, More Talking. Coming to you for a whopping 60 minutes this time!

This podcast we discuss:

Ken: Blog section. Do people read that or just the comic and move on. When I’ve asked this in my blog, people have said that they do read it (obviously since they’ve commented about it). The problem is, that I could end up taking an hour writing what I think is interesting, but that’s an hour I could have invested in improving my comic.

Dawn: The quicker commenting plugin with AJAX: Is it better to get less page views, if your readers can comment quicker?

Antoine: How do you promote a rated G comic/webcomic/book that is related to a PG-13 Webcomic?

Byron: I wanted to continue my issues with RSS. I am unclear how Feedburner works and from the responses on the website, it seems many other folks are in the dark about this as well. Specifically, what’s the difference between a Feedburner RSS and the normal RSS that WordPress provides? Why do people have to subscribe again and how?

Reader’s Issue: Dawn’s Pick: “Is there a way (or have any of you) quantified how many loyal readers have come from ads? ie. If you stopped advertising tomorrow what effect would it have on your visits? Equal loss to what your ads brought in or less.” (Bearman)

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Posted in Featured News, Podcast.

11 Comments

  1. Another good podcast, folks! I have a few comments… (heh!)

    The blog: It’s a good way to connect with your community without the headaches of a forum. You don’t have to write a novel, but it’s good to start a discussion based on the topic of your comic of the day. Don’t dismiss it – perhaps you may need to plan your blog posts while you’re planning your strip. That way it isn’t treated as an afterthought.

    The commenting system: They’re all the same. WP’s commenting system has improved a lot over the past update (3.1) – even though Intense Debate has a pile of ways to customize it so it isn’t such a burden to load.

    The G/PG comic: I agree with Ken – I’d keep it separate. You’re going to fragment your brand by attaching Stubby to a different genre. The Stubby sub-story is fine, but keep it to the TDF world. If you want to do a kid-friendly book, I’d suggest a new concept altogether. If you want something kid-friendly related to TDF, make a plush toy. They don’t care about the character – they care about the toy.

    RSS tracking: It’s all based on approximate values, it isn’t a perfect science. Feedburner is just a helpful tool that can do a number of things (e-mail subscription, RSS optimization for ads, etc). It can be a bit clunky, but you definitely should have it in place while you’re growing than trying to do it after the fact.

    Bearman’s tracking: The only way you’d be able to get a decent read on people that come in from your ads is to hold a brief survey/poll with your readers. But, even that is not a full representation as you’ll only get a few responses.

    Good stuff!

    • Nice feedback, man! I’m trying to determine what value the RSS tracking like Feeburner brings to my readers. If it’s just another annoyance, then I’m better off the way I am now. I find the standard RSS works fine for me and have never signed up for what Dawn has. Though, I’ve seen her at cons collect a lot of names and there is value in marketing the comic & products that way. So, I’ll have to experiment and see what it takes for me to do it.

      Thanks for listening!

  2. Fun all around this time, folks. I’ve got to say this though, no disrespect to anyone is intended, but the Antoine-bashing is getting kind of tiresome. I don’t know Antoine personally, but I feel for him at times. I was especially stupified when his English was ridiculed. I believe he has a great mind and a lot of great opinions, and his message is important, so why sabotage his delivery? None of my business how you guys run your show, but potshots at each other doesn’t seem too productive.

    It’s nice to hear that getting comments is daunting for others as well. People read the strip, but don’t particulary want to take the time to respond. There were some cool suggestions made. I know some people have widgets that pop-up to welcome new readers and things like that and wondered if someone could do a pop-up comment box. What did you think of this strip? Don’t know if it would be feasible, but I’d be interested in what other people have to say about it.

    • While I am usually on board with Antoine bashing, I can’t ever really bash his English, since he speaks at least one more language than I do.

      I do think however that they bash one another a lot. It’s obviously meant in jest but I can see where it could be off putting to some. I kind of like it, but it goes along with my acerbic personality.

  3. Found Webcomics Alliance through Kurt at TGT and am very excited to go through all this awesome content!! Had some thoughts on this podcast (and, much like Byron I like to talk).

    **Blogging Issue**

    The type of person you project on the internet is the type of person you attract. The blog is the primary place where this projection takes place, as it is independent of the content in the comic and the characters that mask your personality underneath. If you are very quiet, so too will your readers be. I learned this lesson the hard way! Part of my recent search for communities (which lead me to Kurt, and now to WA) is because I realized my hands-off approach to internet community involvement resulted in very hands-off readers.

    Bigger comic artists may not blog, but that doesn’t mean they’re not projecting their personalities. Instead, they have created other avenues of self-characterization. For example, the Circle of Four (Scott Kurtz, Dave Kellett, Brad Guigar, Kris Straub) have their Webcomics Weekly podcast. Scott & Kris are extending their presence into a reality TV show. Brad and Dave are very active on Twitter and Dave is working on a documentary. They all have other methods that they use to make themselves “real” to their readers.

    Problems are another way that you can flesh out your projection, but Ken is right about people not wanting to hear a list of woes. Complaining rarely earns anything but pity, if you’re lucky. However, there are ways to make problems either entertaining or interesting. Many comedians make their misfortunes the bread-and-butter of their routines. Take a recent article by John Cheese at Cracked.com about a visit to the Hospital. Definitely not a desirable experience, but he made it entertaining! If he wasn’t a comedian, he also could have turned the experience into a more serious discussion, delving into his thoughts on the state of health care, for example.

    Even if a person isn’t a comedian OR interested in politics OR a philosopher, there is always just raw, simple honesty about one’s life, fears, and state of mind. As long as it doesn’t cross the line into whining, all of these methods are ways to bring value to a reader and help them to connect to the creator as a human being. We can’t force ourselves to write something against our own natures for very long, but we can bring out who we are and share it in our blogs!

    This is something I’ve struggled with for years, so this topic struck very close to home. I’m still trying to find what works best for me, and to uncover my voice outside of my comic. If Ken finds something that fits for him, I’d be interested in knowing the process he went through to find the right fit! (Hey, it might even be a good subject for a blog…)

    **Adult to Youth Transition**

    Thoughts on Antoine’s issue — Maybe promote under a different brand? Like White Wolf vs Black Dog publishing. White Wolf was all their publicly acceptable titles. Black Dog was…most decidedly not publicly acceptable. Both were in the same universe, but the change in name created a mental separation of the brand. DC used a similar method when they created their imprint, Vertigo, although Vertigo titles are typically not in the same universe.

      • My pleasure! These podcasts have really got my brain churning! I was so inspired by one of them that I’ve started working on an article about long-form vs. comedic storytelling rhythms. There will be graphs and everything!!

    • indeed, some great thoughts and points, thanks for sharing. Amazing how much you have to invest in “projecting your personality” in this business. I’m sure for some it makes you crave the seclusive life of the old-time newspapers cartoonists… just drawing cartoons- no business, no marketing, no promotion, no social networking. But yknow… I DO enjoy contact with my readers… it’s what keeps me going during those sleep-deprived days when I could easily just take a nap instead.

      • Personality Projection is something I am fascinated with, in part because I’m not very good at it. I’m trying to learn to be more outgoing, more positive, and more open, because being a cantankerous shut-in didn’t really pay off in my last project. 🙂

        Trying to juggle learning those skills AND the actual production of the work is a struggle, but I do believe quite strongly that the reader investment in the creator is crucial to long-term success. That’s why I find things like PA-TV brilliant and fascinating, because it improves that bond. Same with the podcast you’ve created. There’s something about hearing a person’s voice that makes them seem more real and easier to relate to. Which, considering the artificial nature of the Internet, is a rare commodity in itself.

  4. Great show gang, still getting caught up.

    Ken, I have to second the opinion that Antoine asserts: the blog post doesn’t have to be something you need to spend an hour on.

    If you craft your comic writing to succintly express your point, the blog can be related content that you dash off using those same editing/writing skills honed from the strip.

    For some reason,, the audience wants to learn more about the creators (as RobinofLeyLines says well). I’m kind of old school and have learned that that’s the nature of the beast.

    Keep up the good work all.

  5. I’m a new listener to the podcast and slowly making my way through the archives (great stuff so far you guys!).

    I have a few comments on the blogging issue. As a Reader I love reading the creator’s blogs. It extends my enjoyment each updates (even more so if the page updates are not so frequent). Usually it doesn’t really matter what they talk about, as long as i can discern that they are living breathing people who care about what they are doing.
    As a creator myself I try to take a little time to blog with each update. This can be difficult for me because im a pretty shy person normally. Something that helps is a I keep a list of potential topics that i come across while at work/on twitter/talking to other artists. The subjects vary from an interesting news article related to the industry, talking about my influences, recommending comics that i read myself, ect. Having a list of ideas prevents me from staring at my screen for an hour trying to think of something to write.

    just a thought.

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