I’m ServerPanda. My job as a professional Graphic Designer, 3D designer and advertising specialist has taken me to a lot of places over the past 8 years. I’ve worked in newspaper offices, print companies and currently I’m making my way into the employment of a large scale construction company as their lead designer and advertising specialist.
Today, however, I’m honored to be here to teach you all a little inside knowledge about the advertising industry and how it can apply to webcomics.
Advertising a webcomic outside the circles of fellow creators has proven a daunting and almost impossible task for many. Solutions seem magical and hard to pin down. Few really know what they’ve done correctly even after they have achieved it. Many attribute it to luck.
Luck may play a role. Careful planning and determination can take you much further, however! Which is why right now in this article I’ll be dissecting the how and why advertising works and teaching you to apply it to new sources: taking it outside your comfort zone and into a bright, new world! You can do this!
Did that second paragraph sound fancy and make you excited? Was it a little corny too? That’s what advertising does.
They’re called ‘Ad Words’: Words meant to be persuasive, powerful and kickstart viewers into clicking your advertisement to find out more. Usually quick and to the point, these words are made to excite people. Below I’ve assembled an image of a few of the most popular Ad Words so that you can see them. Apply some of these to your advertising campaigns (or think of a few more yourself!) and I can guarantee that people will click your work (see what I did there?).
Next we’ll dive into a category format. I’ve had my fun with you all! It’s time to work.
PICK AN AGE RANGE, NOT A GENRE
The timeless battle of genre vs. age. Sometimes people combine the two. They do it in popular media all the time. A perfect example is any Disney animated classic: usually Fantasy for children. There isn’t inherently anything wrong with that when the audience is worldwide. Except… in webcomics an issue does unfold. The problem with us following that format when advertising outside of our comfort zone is that we sadly cannot afford to. Webcomics are already a niche: a small bite of a much bigger market. The more a creator limits their audience when they try to reign in new readers, the less success they will have. So therein lies a choice: pick between age or genre when advertising. My strongest advice is to pick the one that will offer you the highest potential readership. How will you know? Market trends! We’ll cover that one next.
FOLLOW YOUR STATS, FOLLOW TRENDS
Stats are the most important and most ignored tool available on advertising and social media sites around the world. I can’t blame people. They’re a line on a graph or bars going upwards at best. Maybe some numbers underneath. At the same time, these can become your saving grace if you keep an eye on them. If they’re low to non existent, chances are it isn’t that your webcomic is bad, it’s that there’s something ineffective about the ad. Or perhaps the chosen advertising location is a poor one. Fluctuating numbers depending on the day mean that certain days draw more people than others. On average, weekends are actually a poor choice to advertise since people are busy doing other things. The best day? Monday! People are most likely to slack off at work and check the internet at the beginning of the week! Top Tip: Keep an eye on your click throughs! You can get more if you use well placed Ad Words on your shiny graphics!
ADVERTISE OUTSIDE OF OTHER COMIC SITES
This is a hard habit to break. Even I didn’t want to do this. I mentally grumbled. I sighed. I rolled my eyes. We all want to advertise on each other’s sites and on social media exclusively, and I do understand the personal appeal to it as an idea. Growth, however, dictates that we do otherwise. Sites such as Project Wonderful have categories like: Art, Books, Film, Games, etc. It’s a good place to start to get your feet wet. Alternatively, place ads in online magazines and newspapers if you have the funds for it (which not all of us do, and that is quite fair). Other free methods can include taking a physical advertisement for your comic to game and comic shops in your local area and posting it up on their advertisement board. Or even utilizing multimedia. Streaming art has found huge success and YouTube is a great place for that. Or Twitter’s Periscope. Top Tip: I’ve had the best success with Periscope! The viewers on there come from all walks of life AND they love to comment, interact and give you lots of likes. It will also stream direct to your Twitter feed!
USE SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media is a long haul commitment. This method requires forging bonds with people. Those bonds are worth it, however, and your readership coming out of this method will be the most loyal. The more time you put into something, the more you get out of it. Out of all of them, I’ve found Twitter to be the most effective with Tumblr coming in as a far back second if you use the hashtag system to its most effective abilities. That said, I could write a full article alone on how to use Tumblr hashtags in order to get noticed. Twitter is easier and provides the opportunity to interact with readers on the fly. Use your social media to advertise updates, talk about WIPs, post art streams and just be a generally nice person! It also doesn’t hurt to do a little promotional event once in a while. Top Tip: Do a contest! Have folks like and share your comic to be entered to win a little something! An online gift card, some art, etc.!
DON’T STOP ADVERTISING
Advertising as a whole is a long term job. It goes hand in hand with making your comic and should be part of the process. Success at advertising won’t come overnight. Persistence is the key to this endeavor and there’s actually a logical reason for that! On a website advertisements are second to the content. That is a known fact in the industry. Readers will skim them at first glance and without a second thought. Because of that, one time or even twice is not enough. Repeated showings are the key to easing potential ‘customers’ into noticing your product. It’s the same as when a brand promotes to you on a social media site based on your online purchasing history. You see the ad several times. Over time it wears you down and sticks in your head, doesn’t it? You contemplate the product, or at least remember it. Our goal here is ultimately the same. We want people to remember webcomics in the same way as we all remember product ads. We want people to have our comics come to mind when they think of specific things. Persistence and persuasion are powerful tools.
In conclusion, let’s summarize everything you’ve learned today:
Ad Words: Short, powerful words made to excite and persuade.
One Not Both: Pick an age range or genre when advertising. Don’t use both.
Follow Your Stats: Stats and trends are important! Monday is the best day to advertise.
Other Methods: Use places other than comic sites to advertise on. Stream art. Use physical advertising.
Social Media: Slow and strong. Use it for contests to promote your comic!
Don’t Stop: Persistence is the key! Persuasion is powerful.
Right then! Get out there and put what you’ve learned into practice! Don’t be scared to experiment. Advertising is half figuring out trends and half keeping up with the actions themselves. Experimentation will be the best teacher in this field. On the other hand, I’m also available on Twitter to answer any questions you may have!
Twitter: @ServerPanda , @InkUnder
Stock images are from http://www.freeimages.com