In the previous blog post, we proposed that comics creators can start building an audience by creating and sharing comics blog posts as an alternative to the usual text posts.
The idea is that when a comics creator creates engaging comics blog posts, these posts have a high chance of being shared.
The shareability of a blog post is important. When people like something they see on the Web, there's a good chance that they'll share it, which leads to the comics creator's website getting more visits. This is an important step in attracting fans.
But what kind of blog posts gets more shares? It boils down to three things: Topic, Format, and Takeaway.
Topics for Comics Blog Posts
To know what topics are good for comics blog posts, we only have to look at our Facebook news feeds to see what people are sharing. Usually, these are general-interest topics, or topics that a wide audience is interested in:
Dating and Romance Career and Making Money Fitness and Health Parenting and Home Life Self-Help and Practical Psychology Gadgets and Consumer Technology Pop Culture Politics and Society Sports and Recreation
So it boils down to anything you want that's relevant to the general public. And that's the beauty of creating these comics blog posts. You don't have to create characters, or choose a genre. Your source of inspiration is your life and subjects that interests you, as long as the general public can relate to them. (If you're interested in nuclear science, that may not be a good topic to start with.)
Choose a few general categories that you feel comfortable talking about. In my case, for instance, I like talking about working out (or the lack of it), cooking, self-help, and writing. So I can create comics blog posts around these topics.
When you begin to focus on a few topics and regularly release comics blog posts that talk about them, you're building an identity. You're beginning to build a brand around yourself as a comics creator.
Format for Comics Blog Posts
Here's a list of formatting options for comics blog posts, based on information from marketing experts:
For Example: Five New Uses for Your Obsolete Mobile Phone
For Example: The Quickest Way to Pack for a Month-Long Vacation
3) What Ifs
For Example: What If Famous Historical Figures Could Tweet
For Example: Why Fairy Tales Should Be Banned
For Example: What You Didn’t Know About Nursery Rhymes The advantage the comics creator has in creating blog posts like these is that these posts are image-driven, and image-driven posts perform better overall compared to posts that are in plain text.
Takeaway for Comics Blog Posts
The Takeaway is, essentially, what is it that you want the reader to take from your blog post. The key here is providing value. If the reader doesn't see any value, if your blog post doesn't affect the reader in some fundamental way, then the reader may just move on.
1) Useful information. The takeaway is utility. Examples of this are wikiHow, HowStuffWorks, or websites and blogs that specialize in practical solutions. People visit these sites because they have a problem that needs a solution, even if it’s as simple as teeth whitening, removing a stubborn car stain, or which tools are best for inking comics art.
2) Cautionary information. The takeaway is also utility. These articles play on audience’s fears by essentially saying, “You have to read this or else...” Health and money articles are more often structured this way to encourage clicks.
3) Insight. The takeaway is a different way of looking at a life concern. Examples of this are Upworthy, ThoughtCatalog, or websites and blogs that provide inspiration, spiritual guidance, or a unique point of view. Commentary and opinion articles also fall under this category.
4) Positive Emotions. The takeaway is humor. These are your Buzzfeeds, 9gags, and CollegeHumors. Their main focus is not useful information or insight, but more on giving people something to laugh about, or at least something that’s not sad. Choose a Topic, Format, and Takeaway to Make a Comics Blog Post
So, for instance, you're the guy who doesn't have a lot of time in his hands and you find yourself using the microwave a lot for your meals. That's something a lot of people can relate to. What kind of comics blog post can you create from that?
1) You could create a List post containing Useful Information, like Three Quick Microwave Meals For The Time-Starved Artist
2) Or a How To post to elicit Positive Emotions, like How To Microwave A Zombie For Dinner
All it takes is a little creativity, and a desire to provide value, even if it's just something that gives a good dose of amusement.
Add an Intriguing Headline
Look at the examples of headlines I've given above:
Five New Uses for Your Obsolete Mobile Phone The Quickest Way to Pack for a Month-Long Vacation What If Famous Historical Figures Could Tweet
Personally, I dislike click-bait headlines, or headlines worded in such a way that they compel you to click on them. But I only dislike them if I don't get a good pay-off.
So make your headline intriguing enough, but at the same time deliver on your promise.
This is a continuation of the previous blogpostabout a comics marketing framework that indie comics creators can use. One of the first things mentioned in that post is the use of comics blogposts to attract audiences and build your author brand. A comics blogpost is simply that: a comic that’s 12 panels or less. You can make a comics blogpost about anything. It’s really no different from comics strips, except that you’re not limited to the usual three to four panels. It’s more flexible.
Using comics blogposts is a content marketing tactic comics creators can use to build their author brand. The benefits are:
1) The principle of low commitment. This is the biggest advantage. People on the Web are generally looking for quick reads when they’re on social media. If you post 22 pages of a comics story online, there are very few people who will take the time to read them all. With a comics blogpost, a reader can dive right in and get the whole “story” in around a minute or even less. It doesn’t waste people’s time, and gives them something to laugh about, if not a brief epiphany. This is why we’re looking at 12 panels or less. It’s short and sweet.
2) The illustration style isn’t too complex. In fact, the rule of thumb is to present information cleanly and clearly. The highly-rendered and detailed, multi-camera angled, color-saturated styles won’t work for our purposes because you’re asking a reader to process too much visual information. Stick figures, royalty-free clipart, or even photos you’ve taken can work.
Dinosaur Comics uses the same dinosaur clipart with every strip, and people don’t mind. For the general audience, it’s not really about how good the art is, but what the comic has to say. Clean and simple art also means comics shorts are relatively faster to do.
3) People get to know who you are and how you think. You don’t have to create new characters or a storyline for these comics blogposts, because what we’re highlighting is you as a creator—your opinions, your ideas, the way you look at the world, your style. It’s like writing in your blog, but using comics instead of plain text. And studies have shown that blogposts that are image-driven have a higher chance of being read.
When you regularly create and publish comics blogposts, you slowly but surely build your author brand, or what makes you unique. People are drawn to the brands that they like. And when people like you and your work enough, there's a higher chance that they'll buy something from you.
4) Eventually, you can leverage your fanbase and sell books, whether they be compilations or original material. If you build an audience using comics blogposts, you’ll have an easier time selling your longer stories, and even have an instant well of support if you want to do a crowdsourcing activity. Also, if you want to try releasing a book through a traditional publisher, having an large enough audience tells publishers that you have a ready market. “But I don’t have time!” While comics strips are usually published everyday, you don’t have to do the same with your comics blogposts since you’d want to be known more for your long-form work. Weekly or bi-weekly is good enough, and you’ll have enough time to make them really worth reading. What’s important right now is to try it out and see the results. Every kind of marketing requires work—there is no magic formula. But when you get it, it’ll feel like magic! EXAMPLES FROM THE WEB
“Facebook Is Like Dating”
As of this writing, it’s been shared over 70 times on Twitter and Google+! C-Section Comics is managed by cartoonist Idan Schneider, and his cartoons have been featured in many websites. There are over 100 short comics in his website, and his Facebook fanpage has over 19,000 likes!
I did this little experiment some weeks ago. I created an account in the webcomic platform Tapastic and posted this short comic. Then, I shared the link only to my Facebook and Twitter followers. The comic got 16 shares in less than 24 hours.
So it’s not impossible to build traffic to your site with some comics.
The key to the success of a comics blogpost is its shareability. Notice that the three above examples are self-contained short bursts of information on topics that are of interest to the general public. They don't feature particular characters or a specific genre, but still have been shared.
To maximize the shareability of the comics blogpost, create an effective headline that will make people curious enough to click on it when they see it in their social media newsfeed. And if your content has value, then there's a higher chance it will be shared.
In the next post, I'll share with you what kinds of blogposts have a higher chance of shareability.
The image gives an overview of the marketing funnel as described in the previous blogpost.
It's based on the hundreds of podcast episodes I've listened to over the past year on online entrepreneurship, online marketing, and self-publishing. Because there are very few resources out there that talk about these topics as applied to the comics-making space, I decided to think just a bit too much and come up with something.
In a nutshell, it's a proposal for the indie comic book creator on how to attract audiences from both the general public and the comics crowd to visit a comics website and lead interested visitors into sampling/buying long-form comics.
(brief explanation after the graphic)
For the general audience, use comics blogposts, or blogposts that are in comics form. A comics blogpost is a kind of webcomic, but the main difference is that it showcases the author instead of a specific storyline, genre, or set of characters.
Comics blogposts would be twelve panels or less, using a simple drawing style, on topics that are of general interest. Because they are presented in very few panels, there's a good chance readers will read it as opposed to lengthier works. The objective of these posts is shareability.
This tactic is similar to what webcomic and comic strip creators do. When an author posts comics of this sort on a regular basis, he can start developing a fanbase. A fanbase would be more open to reading lengthier works, like comics singles.
For the comics crowd and for the fans of comics blogposts, use comics singles. These are short self-contained comics stories that are 12 pages or less. Unlike comics blogposts, comics singles now allow the author to showcase his storytelling skills in a genre of his choice.
For the fans of comics blogposts, comics singles present the idea of longer stories, but don't require a huge time commitment to read.
For the comics crowd, comics singles introduce the author without asking them to commit to reading a series. The comics crowd will be able to read a complete story and immediately assess the quality of the author's skills.
Those who like the author's short comics can now be led to reading the series, which can be the first issue posted for free reading. They like the author's style enough to invest some time reading a much longer work, and are generally a few steps closer to buying something compared to those who are visiting the site for the first time.
The Email List
Most marketing experts recommend building a mailing list of subscribers, those who like the author's work enough that they're giving the author permission to contact them directly. The author can then tap into his subscriber list for more direct feedback, as well as give bonuses and privileges or inside information.
Calls to Action
Calls to Action, or CTAs, are important to include in a every website page. CTAs lead site visitors from the blogposts to the singles, and prompt visitors to subscribe to a mailing list. Without CTAs, there's a higher chance that a visitor will leave the website without further exploring its contents.
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I'll be tackling these items in more detail in future posts. But it would be nice if you could give feedback on the above information. Thanks so much for reading!
For the past couple of months, I've been putting together an ebook, "Website Traffic For The Indie Comic Book Creator," which is a method that indie comic book creators can use to generate website traffic and build an audience. I dunno if it's going to work, or if the information is valuable enough.
But I've let a few indie creators read the first couple of drafts and so far the response has been positive. I was thinking of putting the ebook up for sale, but I'm still iffy.
So I've posted the first ten pages here. Anyone can read through this and tell me if it's interesting enough. I might just post the whole thing online for free reading, and sell the compilation (with bonus material) later on.
Note that the pages below don't have much when it comes to illustrations. I want to put some drawings in there for a later draft, just to make it more visually appealing. Plus, you might catch some typos.
Hello all. This blog has been around since the mid-2000s, and right now it's all over the place, content-wise. I've posted my comics here, as well as my thoughts on writing, marketing and making comics, a few reviews, stuff that's happened in my life, as well as whatever topics that I felt best to "put down on paper."
It's not the best way to go about a blog. And as a former employee of Summit Media, I feel like a novice by not following Publishing 101.
So now I'm wondering this blog is supposed to be about? What is it supposed to contain? Right now, this blog has 113 Followers, based on the widget on the lower right section of this page. A number of you have been regular readers, while most of you have perhaps migrated to Facebook.
I'd want to be a little more consistent from now on. If my blog were a magazine, what kind of magazine would it be?
Here are some of the top blogposts based on my Analytics data from the past four years.
Hmmm.... So I get more traffic when I post comics pages and a bit about how to make comics...
Looks like this should be a comics blog from now on. (And I'm hearing some people say, "Like, hello!") :-)
Yes, you might have seen this short comic before. I'm posting it again because I'm trying out this web service called Tapastic. Tapastic is a platform for indie comic book creators and enthusiasts. As of this writing, I've only been on the site for less than thirty minutes and I'm loving it already.
Comics enthusiasts can register on the site, browse through the catalog of comics and subscribe. Subscribers are immediately notified if there's an update, and they can read comics using the Tapastic app (Android and iOS). They can also donate money to their favorite comics creators.
For indie creators, however, this looks like a really great tool. Not only can a you post your comics series on Tapastic, readers can comment and share your work to the more popular social media platforms, plus Reddit, Tumblr, and StumbleUpon. Another feature is your ability to embed your Tapastic comic into your blog or website.