Webcomic Workshop Podcast 68

Solving Webcomic Issues We All Face.

This podcast we discuss:

Byron — Re-launching the comic has begun, but now I am looking for new advertising opportunities besides Project Wonderful and Facebook (which I believe has a low ROI anyways).

Dawn — I’ve had 2 off-seasons of promoting my limited-time exclusive eBook for Z&F ($3), which has brand new never-seen-before comics along with all of the past season’s, for those who missed them. Both times, the exclusive comics actually finish a story line, adding more intrigue and value. However, I haven’t been getting much of a response, and most of my fans who say they WOULD HAVE bought it never seem to be aware of it…. despite repeat social media posts, blog posts, etc. SO.. what am I doing wrong, not enough of, or is this just not as valuable a product as I thought it would be? Or is this another case of having more passionate fans at cons vs online? Point being… should I bother? Or just keep those extra “new” comics for the books and hope everyone was holding out for the actual book?

Robin — I want to go to more cons, but I’m running into a limitation of funds. Going as a guest seems like it might be a good solution, since I believe they often waive fees or help with travel or lodging. How one goes about becoming a guest at a convention? What is expected in return?

Chris — I just started a newsletter (Mailchimp) as a way to help promote convention appearances, commission sales and other things like that. I’m going to send a new newsletter out once a month. What are some other creative things I can do with it that can make it different than my 3 times a week blog post I add with every strip I post? What are some other creative online ways I can try and get people to sign up for the newsletter as well?

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25 Comments

      • I have an iPhone 4, accessing the iTunes store through the Podcast app.

        If it’s just me, please don’t worry about it too much. I don’t want to waste your time.

        Thanks for your response though.

        • I was using iPhone 5 and I have the Webcomic Alliance set-up for automatic download to my iPhone in the Podcast app when I am connected to a wireless network.

          MA, are you having trouble streaming or are you having trouble downloading? Not that I can help you either way. Just curious why we have two different experiences.

  1. Byron, I am surprised to hear you say that Facebook is low ROI. Although, it may be true now with some the changes that FB has made BUT Salt Lake City Comicon did all their marketing on FB last year to launch an overyly successful first con. Here are some lessons they learned. I like number 2.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2013/09/18/salt-lake-comic-con-sets-record-by-leveraging-social-marketing-trends/2/

    Marketing Lessons Learned

    As he reviews the event in hindsight, Brandenburg shared the following words of advice to online marketers about the lessons he’s learned from the initial Salt Lake event:
    1.Understand at a visceral level the wants, needs and desires of the target customer.
    2.Take advantage of an oversupply of ad inventory on social media platforms such as Facebook. What isn’t sold is thrown away each day so buy it for pennies on the dollar.
    3.Focus on the prime demographic and create content your fans want to share. They will be your evangelists for viral and word-of-mouth marketing.
    4.It’s the “Me Generation”. What does your fan page, product or service do for the customer to positively change the way they feel? Most people are addicted to feeling good.
    5.Speak into the customer’s listening. Engage and entertain rather than sell, especially on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
    6.Entertain for 1001 posts. Convert strangers into fans and fans into customers, one post at a time.
    7.Create contests that offer the product you are marketing as a prize. This helps you continually to identify and qualify the desired prospect. Then convert a desire to win into a need to buy, one post at a time.
    8.Leverage the power of association. If your product or service is related to a potent brand, concept or image then co-brand where possible while engaging and entertaining your prospects.
    9.Use subtle buy messages in your posts, almost like an afterthought. It adds up over time.
    10.Make decisions that benefit everyone involved in your business, from customers, fans, employees, partners, etc. If you’re focus is only profit, you’ll get far different results and long-term success then demanding win-win relationships across the board.

    • I hit #2 and went “What?” I have never seen ANYTHING on Facebook that allows that type of purchase. If so, point me. If this person bought threw an agency (agencies do large “buys” of ad-space at typically 20-30% discounts so they can mark it up to their clients). I need information on that, as that changes the tune.

      I did two tests. Both for $30. Not a lot of money, but then, I am an artist. Both times I had landing pages with a call-to-action. Very clear and concise messaging. Nada, nothing. Not one sale. The posts were “seen” by many thousands, but no one was buying. So, that’s the basis of my opinion.

      By contrast, I just post on Twitter or Facebook that I have items for sale, and BAM! I get some sales. Posts are free. Tell me what I did wrong and I’ll change my opinion about the ROI of Facebook.

      For large buys, like a comic con, there may be a decent ROI, but what artist out there has that kind of buying power? For the average artist, like myself, I stand by my opinion.

      I’m not trying to jump down your throat, I just like to compare apples to apples, not Apples to PCs… 🙂

      • Byron, I am no expert at FB marketing. I just had this article bookmarked for the day when I would start. What is unclear to me is what their advertising was doing. Was it aimed at driving traffic to their site to buy tickets as you seem to be doing in your ad campaign? Or were they driving traffic to their FB Page and converting them there? Based on number 6 I would guess the latter

        “Entertain for 1001 posts. Convert strangers into fans and fans into customers, one post at a time”

        So then when you do post on your FB page you get the results you seem to be experiencing

        “I just post on Twitter or Facebook that I have items for sale, and BAM! I get some sales.”

        Also, according to the article, they claimed they spent $2K to $4K to generate $250K. Nice ROI if you can get it. Which is why I bookmarked the article.

        • I’m not a Facebook expert either, but I do have nearly 30 years experience in marketing and advertising my own company and my clients. Spending $4K on Facebook and claiming $250K return seems, well, unbelievable. Now, did they generate that $250K from ALL their advertising and marketing? Probably a much more believable answer.

          Facebook IS an advertising opportunity, but it must be done in conjunction with a total marketing/advertising package. I will not advertise in one place, so I will invest some money over at Facebook.

          My total campaign I may spend $300 (my usual budget) and from my past experiences, I make that back easily while also growing my readership.

          I’d love to spend $4K and see what happens, but that’s not in the books at the moment. 🙂

    • I’m just beginning to look at advertising for my comic and I accidentally stumbled into testing FB’s ads. I have a FB fan page and was just clicking through and mocking up an ad to see how the tools work etc., but didn’t pull the trigger on actually buying the thing.

      Next day FB sends me a coupon code for $50, so I went back in finished the ad and set my ad budget for that amount. I did get about 120 new ‘Likes’ for my fan page over the 4 days the $50 lasted, and the traffic on my comic has ticked up by a small (but noticeable) amount over the last couple weeks since running the campaign. We’ll see if the numbers hold over the next few weeks, I guess.

      I don’t know what FB’s criteria is for sending out the coupon codes, but it might be worth starting an ad and not buying it to try to game their system for a few bucks and maybe get yourself into a few new timelines.

  2. I think a great way to get people to sign up for your news letter is just extra “exclusive” comic strips. I did this when launching my comic book and it helped.

    You could even promote it like Dawn is with her eBook. Start a story and have the characters say that to read the rest, they need to sign up for the mailing list.

    I think a mailing list is a great idea. Even if you only use once in awhile.

    • Exclusive content is a GREAT way to entice folks to sign up. I used to run a Member’s area, and for a small annual fee, the members got comics and content others did not. It is a great motivator IF you have time to create the content.

      Mailing lists are POWER. They can entice comic cons to invite you as a guest if you can say “I have 10,000 subscribers on my mailing list and will promote the convention to them if I’m a guest”. Which is actually a good answer to Robin’s issue too. I am not fast enough sometimes with my thoughts!
      😛

      • It must be all that Rock n’ Roll slowing you down.

        I didn’t even think about the fact that having a huge list can be a selling point to conventions. I will have to store that one away so if I ever get a large number on my mailing list.

        If you test out some of the different ad options mentioned, I would love to hear which of the ads companies give you the most return for your money.

        I am launching my zine style webcomic in a few months and I’m thinking about sharing my numbers publicly on my personal website. It would be good to know what sites worked for you so I can put them at the top of my list.

        • Yeah, I was thinking of doing an article about my trials with the advertising. Quite a few options and I want to see what turns into readers and then sales.

          I will keep everyone posted.

  3. Another great podcast, thanks gals and guys! Just listening to you all air your questions/problems and shoot out different ideas/solutions gets me thinking up ideas/solutions for myself. It’s a great help to hear others doing a comic and all the trials we all share! My only concern is whenever I answer one of you out loud here at my desk as if I’m part of your conversation (gotta work on that!) 🙂 Thanks again!

  4. I love marketing Tweetcrafting, so I had to pitch in some ideas for Dawn’s eBook.

    I dislike the words “Exclusive Content” – too many characters for not enough meaning. I don’t know if “content” is a wallpaper or a video game. These are not-public pages, so I’d try to build in the idea that they’re getting “lost” or “discovered” content.

    Creating a sense of urgency is good, but two months seems like all the time in the world. Don’t come from that angle until you’re down to the last two weeks. Byron’s suggestion about reducing the price might be good, but I’d save that until the end as well.

    I also love self-explanatory URLs. You can just make a directory and have it redirect to where you want it.

    Examples:
    – Want to read the Z&F SUPER-SECRET ENDING? Available for 7 days only! [URL]
    – Z&F – The Lost Pages available now: [URL]
    – The adventure continues! zfcomics.com/thelostending
    – Last week! 33% off the Z&F MYSTERY ENDING. [URL]

  5. I’m just going to spit in the wind and see where it lands, but, how profitable are print books for comics in general? In my mind, I can read any archive of any comic for free, as long as I have internet service. Personally, I’m more inclined to buy original pieces of art from a comic creator, whether it be limited edition merchandise, a cartoon cell from an animated series, or an original comic drawing, etc.

    Before the internet [and yes, I was a live boy before it existed] you read the comics in the newspapers, outside under a tree and bought the books to have the archives to read in the winter by the fire, it was the only way to have them back then. Now, its right there for me to read from day 1 to its current day, or the day it ended. It’s the merchandise and limited edition product that seems [to me at least] to be driving sales, at least out of my wallet into others. I can’t even remember the last time I bought an actual print book of any comic I read. I hate saying that out loud, considering I’ve made comics myself and found myself wondering why I’d want to make books from them, when in my mind, I don’t even subscribe to the idea of them. Yeesh!

    Maybe to make the content you have more viable to sales, is to limit the size of your archive and make the older work available via print or e-book. Your current work would be your “sample work” and anything older than say, a year [or less], goes behind a pay feature? Although, as I say that, for newer comics, people would be seeing all the content you’ve got going. You’d need to invest a few years and build a readership [and archive] interested in the older work they’ve not yet seen for this concept to work.

    As I said, spit-balling in the wind! If I can’t get your older work any other way and I know I’m missing out on something enjoyable, I’m more likely to want it, cause I can’t have it any other way. As it stands right now, all of you making comics, I don’t need your book, I’ve got your archives. Why buy the milk, when the cow is squirting it all over the place for free?!?

    • Thank you for hitting the nail on the head and having the guts to say what I’ve been thinking for nearly 7 years now. Which is: screw making books (in an attempt to make significant profit).

      As a fellow old fart, I agree with you. I have produced a couple books and they were met with “bleh” response. I too am of the same opinion, “Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?” My biggest money maker is commissions, bar-none. I waste a lot of time going to conventions to try and drum-up book sales, when in fact most of my conventions are money-losers (from a product stand-point, from a networking point-of-view, they’ve been invaluable).

      I think most (note the qualifier “most”) of us webcomic creators would benefit from taking on the new model of giving the comic away for free and producing custom product: art, toys, posters, etc. And do conventions only for brand building.

      I have bought book collections ONLY to support my fellow artists. I don’t have the time to read them all, but want to show them I am in their court. I’d rather buy a Zorphbert & Fred plush doll, or get a commission from Dawn then buy a book of comics that I can get on-line any time I want.

      The time I invested last summer organizing, editing and spending the money on printing books was, for me, a complete waste of time given my audience.

      I am going to make this a Chat topic for our next podcast as this just rang a real chord with me and I need to vent this one out.

      Thanks for the clarity, Mr. Jynksie! 🙂

      • [quote]I think most (note the qualifier “most”) of us webcomic creators would benefit from taking on the new model of giving the comic away for free and producing custom product: art, toys, posters, etc. And do conventions only for brand building.[/quote]

        THIS, I agree with. Most of the conventions I’ve been to [mind you, very few], were merely to observe the purchasing habits of those in attendance and the majority of what I [personally] saw people purchasing, were the things you listed. My sense was, if I’m not buying certain products, is anyone else buying them and is it just a “me” thing. Its one of the few times, it wasn’t just me, it seemed to be a normal pattern of purchase.

        Its easier to point this revelation out, when I don’t have a comic in the fight to find revenue producing methods for! [wink]

  6. Dawn,

    Listening to the podcast, I have all kinds of issues with the entire strategy you laid out. Now, I love experimentation and trying new things, and especially love the sharing of thoughts, ideas, and results on the podcast. But here are a whole bunch of things I see that are problematic with what you’re doing.

    1) “Exclusive” and “Limited-time” deals are generally pretty good tools to use. But a limited time e-book seems like a waste of the medium. One of the benefits of e-books is that they have unlimited shelf-life. They can literally never go out of stock (unlike physical books.) So, you’re artificially creating scarcity of something that shouldn’t necessarily be scare.

    2) It seems like you’re putting a TON of effort promoting something that, even if successful, would generate very little return. The hardest thing for us as creators to do is get people to open their wallets. You could drop the cost down to $.99 and I’d bet you’d get the same general reaction…to spend time and social media capital raising heckles for $3 a person just seems like a waste of time and energy.

    3) It sounds like you’re weakening your webcomic in order to try to sell a product that you have no evidence that your core audience wants. Pulling key comics from an ongoing storyline that then make the webcomic experience choppy for new or longtime readers doesn’t seem like a strong strategy. “Pay to finish this storyline” might alienate. I’d much rather see a self-contained bonus storyline as exclusive, than something gutted from the stuff on the web.

    Here’s what I would do:

    — Stop chopping up storylines between free and paid. I should be able to read Z&F on the web and not wonder what happened to xxx.

    — Release these e-book compilations (with some exclusive content) on Comixology, as well as your own site. Forget about throwing a limited time offer as a selling point, though.

    — Stop going into full on promotion mode for small things…and rather focus effort on planning something that could make a big difference in your bottom line/ future of Z&F, like a Kickstarter campaign for an Ultimate Collection, or something similar.

    • Thank you for articulating what I wasn’t sure how to say.

      I’ve listened to these podcasts in the past (not this particular one), and I never know what to think. Different strategies (like the one Tyler describes above) are presented, but it never seems like there’s a broader perspective what the end goal is. If you have some big plan, and even if it works perfectly you’ll net a couple hundred extra bucks, how is it worth all that time and energy?

      In these cases it seems like your time is better spent either planning something bigger, or just producing more content. Isn’t producing comics what we really want to be doing with our time anyway? I’d rather draw another comic than put together an e-book, and unless I’m making thousands of dollars from that e-book, that comic I draw, and the potential it has for reaching more readers, seems more valuable anyway.

      Finally, even if it did work, even if you were making good money by chopping up your storyline between the website and an e-book, is that fun for you? Can you stand to draw a story, and then not let your readers finish reading it?

      If I draw something, the most important thing to me is that people get to read it. And if I spent all the time to write some great multi-strip story (although I’m not a good enough writer to do so like Dawn is), I’d want to share it with the world! It seems like it would be counter to my own artistic fulfillment to not be able to present my work in its entirety. And isn’t this the real reason why we’re slaving away at these comics?

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