I began Homebased as a personal project, but also as an experiment in marketing an idea via the internet. As most of you are aware, things are always changing. New ways to distribute, share and promote your work are always cropping up, and older ways become obsolete. I’d like to share a few preliminary results on the handful of comics I’ve so far released, how they’ve been received, and where most of the traffic is coming from.
Where I’ve posted:
I judiciously chose social media and platforms that would target my base audience, as well as reach out to people who read comics. The results have been surprising, but also encouraging. I use Facebook as a communication tool to share with other artists and friends I know and trust, and who are eager to see what I am working on. Naturally, a large number of page hits comes from here. What has surprised me is the number of friends who are not into comics at all (but who relate with the content) who are not only reading it, but also sharing the posts.
I decided to try Reddit – even though I hear it’s a bit harsh and competitive, especially for comics. While the votes fluctuate, and the numbers really don’t peak above 10 up-votes, despite the odd down-vote I actually get a few good comments. I’m also getting almost as much traffic clicking through from the two Sub-Reddits I’ve reposted on – R/Comics and R/Webcomics. This only encourages me to keep posting to Reddit and weather the storm.
Instagram has an interesting new function which allows you to post a series of pictures, and for the shorter comics that are all square panels, I’ve re-edited the comic to post to this format. While not all the comics get re-posted, I’ve gotten a really good response over there. I also happen to like Instagram as a platform for sharing select photos and sketches.
Finally, the two social media platforms I’ve tried but have not cracked are LinkedIn (fairly obvious that it’s possibly the least suited to post to) and Tumblr. Getting crickets on Tumblr is surprising, as I thought a focused, webcomic microblog with popular hashtags would do well there. I’m getting virtually zero activity on Tumblr.
Two apps/platforms that were not around several years ago when I first tried releasing a webcomic were Tapastic and Webtoons. I’ve found these platforms to be surprisingly easy to post to, and the audience response – much like Reddit – has been over-all pretty good and made up of virtually no overlap with my usual base audience. These apps are free to download, easy to navigate on mobile devices, and comics can be bookmarked and enjoyed on the fly. At first I thought the resolution would be a bit too low for my comic, but I tried it out. I only had to adjust the text size up a point or two, and was pretty happy with how it looks on a phone.
Keep in mind, I only told the base audience about the comic (these are people who’ve followed me for years, since Pandeia and some even before that). These are preliminary stats for the first 6 weeks based on click-throughs from Facebook and Reddit mainly.
Now Tapastic and Webtoons log their stats separately. Unlike Reddit, they seem to be more positive environments where artists and fans alike are on the whole nicer. If they don’t like something, they just ignore it and move on. So these numbers are pretty much complete strangers using the app, and finding me through the platform alone (the overlap exists, but is negligible).
They’re modest, preliminary, and it’s certainly no “Lunar Baboon” or “The Oatmeal”, but it’s probably worth pushing a little further with this.
I wanted to see how this would be initially received. the surprising thing is that the comic has gotten people who don’t normally read comics looking at it; strangers have discovered it via Reddit, Webtoons and Tapastic, and the reactions I’ve received have been largely positive. It was a good idea to put up a substantial buffer of 21 strips, and since those initial comics were drawn, I’ve been keeping a running list of ideas that I shape into strips as I go. I’m pushing slowly towards 50 ideas jotted down, and in various states of script development – which I will be very happy with, but if I hit 100, then that would be a substantial book for this.
I’m considering marketing and promotion options, but much like the release and distribution in today’s internet environment, it’s something I’ll have to research before going ahead. I’m always open to ideas – does a video preview work? Where do targeted ads come in, and what is a worthwhile ad-spend? Where are people seeking new content? How do I get on the front pages of Tapastic and Webtoons? All these questions are what I’m now seeking answers to, so in the meantime, while more comics get queued and released online, it’s what I’ll be busy working on.