Webcomic Workshop Podcast 69

Solving Webcomic Issues We All Face.

This podcast we discuss:

Chris: All of a sudden, I have become inundated with a handful of freelance projects. That’s causing my time to be very, very precious. My feeling has always been that freelance PAYING gigs always come before the free strip. Do you guys agree?

Drezz: The new Social media landscape – is it better to cast a wide net on all platforms or focus on one or two and branch out. Times have changed and so have people and how they soak up content on social media. What approach has been most successful for you?

Dawn: Is color worth it anymore? My print books are B&W and they are what sell.

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Posted in Featured News, Podcast.

13 Comments

  1. Haven’t listened yet…but a few quick thoughts:

    Chris – Depends if you’re focused on building your freelance gig business…or if you’re focused on building the strip. If the strip was a means to an end (building the demand for your freelance art) then yeah, now that it’s coming in, it makes sense to throttle the strip back for that. But, if you’d rather be doing the strip, and the freelance work isn’t all that appealing…and feels more like another day job, then you might have to reconsider.

    Drezz – I think it’s good to understand all-platforms, but focus on a couple that you’ll excel at. Some people are going to suck at blogging, but be great at making youtube videos. Some are going to love Facebook…other’s get Twitter. Personally, I think I having a presence on Twitter and FB is absolutely crucial…anyone who’s run a crowdfunding campaign will find big % of backers coming from those 2 platforms. As for everything else (Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, Vine, etc.) it’s probably worth spending a little time to figure out what they’re all about and if that medium suits you personally. But doing a few things very well, or everything half-assed…well, we know which one is going to win out.

    Dawn – Is color worth it anymore? Does this presume that it used to be worth it, but now isn’t? I think it depends on the product and the audience. Great black and white is better than crappy color. But there are some things that simply need to be in color…superhero books, by and large. And I think you’d probably see a lot more sales (and be able to charge a higher price point) if you kid-friendly books were in color.

    • Yeah, I was conducting a little experiment using social media. I cut off everything – no FB, Twitter, etc for promoting links. Then I decided to put out a few pics of side things I like to do (portraits, games, pixel art etc) and noticed that those posts exploded because it was something new and not the same old same old.

      It made me rethink my strategy for social media updates.

      You CAN hit every single platform provided you feel comfortable with them, as you said. But users are fickle and popularity waxes and wanes – some months, Twitter is king – others FB, other months Tumblr and so on.

      It’s all about being scheduled and regimented in your approach. Finish comic, write up a leading statement with a link to your comic to get them interested in your work and post it to every single platform. There may be a few folks who follow you on every single platform, but those folks are few and far between. The wide net gets cast, and gets wider as you interact with like-minded folks and follow them/followback.

      People won’t always come to you – you have to go to them. And that’s where the EXTRA leg work comes in. But it’s worth it if your goal is attracting eyeballs to your pages.

      The argument comes in that you should always funnel everyone to your site. I’m experimenting with shotgunning and see how well that works. Same amount of time spent, different approach.

  2. Ugh, freelance work always seems to be feast or famine. I think my graphic design clients talk to each other and try to coordinate their projects so I have nothing to do for 3 weeks and then 80 hours of work in one weekend. As a full-time freelancer, I do have to set aside comic and drawing time for myself or I burn out, but that can often be at the expense of family time. The balance is tricky. =

    Regarding social media, I agree with Tyler in that you do have to spend a little time in each pool to tell the temperature and what kinds of messages are gonna float (full page uploads, teaser graphics, etc.) and get to know people instead of dropping links and running. But yeah, I’ve been in marketing departments where that’s literally a full-time job. Again, balance is tricky.

  3. Re: Social media

    Back when they changed all the facebook groups stuff, I said screw it, got rid of my facebook page and made a second account, which I have had a lot more luck with. It’s separate from my main account, and serves three purposes, the first being that it keeps internet strangers from snooping on my life too hard (because who wants to see candid photos of me at a family reunion?) and from knowing my physical location, and the second is that it keeps me from bombarding family members and friends who don’t like comics and do not want me to be spamming them with it by letting them have the option of just not following that second account. The third reason is the biggest, and that is that facebook accounts are easier to use consistently and reach a larger audience than pages are.

    I find I get way more interaction and discussion through facebook now than I did when I had a page, and here is why: TUMBLR.

    Tumblr has made it REALLY easy to chain my social media stuff. I gave my tumblr permission to post to twitter, and twitter permission to post my non reply tweets to facebook. While tumblr does allow you to hook your tumblr page up to facebook, your facebook hookup expires every week or so and you need to remember to reconnect it. Twitter doesn’t have that issue, so it was easier to chain them this way than to just make Tumblr a central hub.

    Now, the beauty of hooking Tumblr up to twitter is this–it lets YOU craft the tweet that will go up when you post (it also lets you decide whether you want to tweet at all, which is handy if it’s something you don’t really want to put up on facebook).

    The default format is the url to the tumblr post and then any text from that post in front of the url until the character limit runs out. That’s fine if you are just posting art up on tumblr, though you might want to edit the text portion of the tweet to something that doesn’t trail off suddenly, and maybe add some hashtags. The result is that twitter tweets about my new tumblr art or text post, which is then posted to facebook with a preview image and a link to the tumblr post.

    Conversely, for new comic updates on tumblr, I’ll post a preview image of a panel, and in the description it gives people a link to the first page, the latest page, and if I do a patreon or something at a later date, you can add all that stuff in, too.

    In the tweet, however, I edit out the url to the tumblr post and replace it with my website’s url, shorten the text and add some relevant hashtags (usually #comic #update #scifi and #lfwc) and instead of posting a link to my tumblr page to twitter, which people would have to click through to and then click something on my tumblr post to reach my comic, it posts a direct link to my comic for people to click, and then that same tweet is posted to facebook with also a link to my comic and a preview image of the latest page.

    So how do you keep track of and interact with people if you’re only using tumblr? Smaaart phooone.

    For my personal, family facebook, I use my computer only. It serves the dual purpose of keeping my from bombarding my family with pictures of my lunch or cats as I take them (because I’d need to load those pictures on to my computer to post them, so I usually decide it isn’t worth the effort, haha), and letting me use the facebook app on my phone for my public artist account only. This means that whenever I get reblogs (tumblr iphone app) likes or replies (facebook iphone app) or tweets (twitter iphone app) my phone buzzes and keeps a log of them for the day so that I can respond and interact immediately OR later without having to have each of them open in a tab on my computer that I need to repeatedly refresh to see if any new interactions are there.

    Not only is it saving me from having to constantly check if people are chatting with me, it has made it a lot easier for me to limit my time on social media when I am working on my computer–if you don’t want to be disturbed, just turn off alerts in your phone’s settings for a few hours.

    I also have a wordpress app on my phone that alerts me to new comments on my website, though, since switching to disqus for comments, I’m finding it a bit more difficult to respond. I’m actually going to go and see if I can find an app for disqus, now that I think about it. That would really just be the final puzzle piece.

    • The Tumblr queue/Tweet combination has worked gorgeously for me, too. I’m considering the second Facebook account versus the page option, as well. Do you “friend” anybody back when they follow your artist account on Facebook and interact from that at all, or do you save that for your personal account?

      • On my artist account, all posts are posted to the public, so even if people don’t want to add me, they can see stuff I’ve posted if I link to it somewhere. I also add anyone who adds me (unless they’re an obviously fake account–I sometimes see women adding me who appear to maybe not be real and exist for promoting live cam porn websites O_o). I’m mostly friends with other creators, but I actually have a pretty big group of non creators who interact with me, even if they’re not all on my friends list.

        My personal account is pretty much only for family, friends and artists I’ve met at conventions irl at some point who want to keep in touch. I’m pretty much an open book when it comes to my personal life, but I feel weird about posting things that betray my physical location in anything less than the vaguest terms to strangers because I’m in a pretty isolated area and have a young child.

        While I might not personally post a lot of things like that on my personal facebook account, I can’t guarantee that my family members will not tag me at certain locations or talk about the street I live on. That’s not to say I’m paranoid and think that someone will use my facebook info to case my house or kidnap my kid, but on the offchance, I’d rather be safe than sorry, I guess.

    • Thanks for describing your process in such detail. I, too, have found it’s better to use a public “profile” instead of a “page” on Facebook. Your tip about linking the accounts so there’s no need to renew every week is quite valuable as well!

      • I don’t understand this stuff at all. Isn’t there a limit to the number of friends you can have on a regular Facebook profile? I thought this was the whole point of doing a page for your comic, so you can actually reach more people.

  4. I really appreciated Byron’s comments near the end about Dawn’s comic Zorphbert and Fred. I thought it was thoughtful of him to point out the quality of her work and that she shouldn’t be so down on that. That said, after hearing Dawn’s response, it seems like she’s been rethinking the comic quite a bit lately. It’s too bad her audio was getting bad, because it was obvious she was getting passionate about this.

    I think this would make an interesting topic for a future podcast. In particular, Dawn has said a number of times that Z&F is not an ideal online comic. She’s also stated that Z&F was started with the goal of syndication. It would really be interesting to see what kind of comic Dawn would draw if she just forgot about syndication, popularity, color vs B&W, or anything else and just drew the exact comic she was most passionate about (especially because there are inklings of a more political side to Dawn that sometimes comes through in Z&F but doesn’t seem fully developed).

    Who knows. If Dawn started drawing a comic that she was super passionate for, it might catch readers in a way her comics aren’t now.

    • Thanks for the compliment on my comments to Dawn… I meant every word.

      You make a good point. Dawn should do a comic that SHE wants to do. Forget all other things: what does her heart want to do? If that passion is evident, then I think it would become popular on that alone. Her talents speak for themselves, so this would make an awesome comic in my opinion.

      I’ll go bug her and see if we can make this a Chat topic. Thanks for the comment and inspiration! 🙂

      • Yeah, I don’t want to push Dawn into something she might not be comfortable with. But I think a lot of people will be able to relate with Dawn on this (well, except maybe the great art part), so it would be a really useful conversation.

  5. So, I’m listening to the podcast in the area of Dawn and Byron, regarding Dawns comic. Some of this is questions, some this is observations, but here you go.

    Dawn, if Z & F primarily makes its money from print books, how are those consumers finding you and where specifically are they buying the books? Do you sell the books more online than at brick and mortar locations [conventions and what not], or the other way around? I’m wondering if -maybe- you are focusing on the wrong marketing medium for this comic? If the comic is doing better via the “in location” venue, then maybe the website and social media should only be used for promotional aspects. You make a book, you post a limited amount of its content online all at once and the rest can be seen via book only. Period. The next time new content comes out, its because you have your next book ready. To me, Z&F has the same schematic as Kelletts Sheldon, so really, to me, it has to be a question of promotion, not content.

    If you want to let Z&F go, well, Let It Go! [sing it now- I’m sick of hearing the song, but go ahead… I’ll endure it.]. End it in a way that wraps it up, but leaves a door open for possibilities, just in case. I’ve always said, it’s not the comic, or the content, its the promotion of it that seems to have you stumped. I confident of that. Its why I said it twice! Okay, maybe 3 times, my math is fuzzy.

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