When to start advertising?
  • 340 Posts
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    This is something that has been on my mind for awhile now... When should one start promoting their new webcomic? Last time around, I started trying to push my last comic WAY too early... I had maybe 3-4 pages up and in the end, I think my haste ruined that "new car" smell and my traffic retention was nearly zero.

    This time around, I'm aiming for one chapter to be complete before I promote the book to anything more than a few forums and circles (right now, I'm pushing a few sample pages here and there to gauge community feedback). The first chapter clocks in around 10-11 spreads (in print, 20-22 pages). Too much? Too little? Thoughts?
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    I too have jumped the gun and advertised my comics way too early.  I think for a humor strip in particular you can ruin your chances of engaging your audience if you don't have a decent sized archive.

    For a long form saga, I'd personally aim for either a full chapter, or as long as it takes to have introduced your main concepts/characters.  For me personally to return to a site, I would want a story driven comic to have laid out its basic setup and gotten to the "meat" of its storyline in order to want to return to it. 

    For humor strips, probably 20-30, enough to have chuckled a few times and feel certain I'll be entertained when I come back for more. 

    It might also be wise to start advertising it one site at a time, and if the response at one listing is underwhelming, then wait until you have more material before you advertise at the next.  That's what I wish I'd done.
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  • 340 Posts
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    Good point. I hadn't thought of staggering my advertising "launches".

    I'll have to think it over a bit more. Maybe 10-11 spreads isn't enough. I wonder if I should finish the first two chapters and then promote the book...
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    When I first got involved with webcomics, I remember running into someone who was promoting their new webcomic, and linking to their page. I clicked on their link and it had two pages. One was the cover, and the next page was all black with the words "Chapter One" on it. And to make things worse, the next strip wasn't going live for another week. I remember thinking to myself, "Is that it?" I knew at that point that if I ever did a webcomic of my own, I'd have to start it with multiple pages. I wanted to at least give the readers a decent grasp of what was in store for them.

    My first webcomic I launched with a 12 page prologue, and that actually got it off to a good start. Three years later, and I still see many of the same readers that commented that first week. I just started my second webcomic less than two months ago, and I launched it with the cover and a 6 page dream sequence. Though it's still early, it seems to be doing the trick again.

    I honestly don't know how many pages would be best to have available when you start advertising. But I do think you are on the right track in making sure your future readers have plenty. I started promoting and advertising with seven and twelve pages. Perhaps I could have done even better by having the first chapter done first. But I just know that I'm glad I had plenty available when I did move forward with it.

    Hope this helps a little. This is just my experience.
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    ink SUPPORTER
    I didn't advertise my comic for two years.

    I guess I'm on the other end of the curve.
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  • 296 Posts
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    I didn't start advertising until my second year, when I moved from having my strip hosted at drunkduck and went to my own URL.
  • 340 Posts
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    John... WHOA. Two years? That's crazy.

    But when you did advertise, I'm sure you had A LOT of content for readers to enjoy.
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    *edit 

    oops, posted twice on accident!
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    I started using Project Wonderful to Host ads for a while until I got the hang of it. Then I took the money I earned and used it to pay for my own advertising. I told myself that I wasn't going to put any money into it and only use what I earned.

    But then I started seeing how much traffic I was getting from it and allowed myself an advertising budget.
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    I've pretty much decided that I won't advertise the comic publicly until the first volume is done (64-68 pages, 32-34 spreads), which should happen some time in the late summer. I think it's better to wait and try to accumulate a lot of content before jumping into public advertising.

    I'll probably post on G+, Twitter, and Facebook before that time, though... This webcomic isn't going to have a set schedule. I'm leaning toward batch-updating with multiple pages as they are completed (or posting multiple times a week for short periods of time). I find the "update once a week" thing to be really draining and I'm not really fond of releasing content in such small doses. It works great for strip-style comics but for longform comics, I'd prefer to give something a little more substantial with each update.
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  • 22 Posts
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    ink SUPPORTER
    With my long form comic- I advertised right from the start. I didn't find it damaged the retention for readers at all. I think the sooner you start building your audience, the faster you can get the comic to a point of being self-sustaining.

    I think many people also underestimate the attention span of long form readers. They are there for the story, and as long as their attention is caught by the first few pages, they'll stick it through.

    I think part of the trouble with waiting too long, is some readers might feel overwhelmed by a large archive. On the flip side, you don't want them to feel underwhelmed either. I think what I would suggest is advertising from the start, but have a week+ worth of backlog where you can make an event with daily posts, to really string them into the story before transitioning into your regular update schedule.
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    Hmmm. Something to think about there, too. I hadn't really thought of it that way... An archive being "intimidating".

    Maybe I'll just ease in over a period of 4-6 weeks. I'll have to think it over some more.
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    It's funny, I won't even bother trying a long-form comic unless it has a decent archive.  I don't find it intimidating, I find that it shows that the artist has committed to the material and is thus less likely to abandon it, and it also gives me the opportunity to bond with it.  If I bond, I come back.  With fewer pages, the level of interest is never going to rise above "intrigued", which makes it much less likely that I'll return.

    Not saying Faye's wrong, though.  I'm saying that the answer may be that there is no clear answer to when the "best" time to advertise is.
  • 340 Posts
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    Yeah, I think it probably depends on viewpoint. I'm going to think it over some more but maybe I should try the approach you mentioned earlier (advertise on one site at a time).

    In any case, this is nothing I'm ready to start doing for at least another month. I only have 2 spreads posted right now with two more completed but not posted online. I'm not going to advertise anywhere until I have at least ten spreads (20 pages) posted. Anything less than that doesn't tell enough story to be worth a reader's time, IMO.
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  • 2


    ink SUPPORTER
    I only JUST started posting comics last week and the only advertising I've been doing is through social media. My first day I had just about 1k hits, and it's dwindled down. This is probably because I only had ONE comic posted so there's no retention if you didn't like the first one.

    I'm only updating twice a week right now, but I was thinking of starting to pay for ad space in July or August. So there'd be 3 months of backlog, or do you think that archive would be too intimidating?

    ALL of the responses on this thread are fantastic btw. As a total newbie I absolutely appreciate it. Thanks!
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    While I can't say much for humor or stand alone daily comics, for long format I find that it really varies and seems to be more about how you do it, rather than how many pages you have first.

    I've seen comics advertize that nothing but a cover splash, and I find myself less elicited to check back after being let down by the promise of a story. But I've also seen artists I follow start pre-advertizing a comic by sharing artwork of the characters, and in that case I've found myself getting preemptively ready for when it does start in story form.

    Just don't advertize in a deceptive manner, if there's no comics up yet, share some art about the cast, world, and so on, and just say 'hey this is going to be a webcomic soon'.

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