Friday, February 22, 2008

The Secret to Making People Actually READ your Webcomic.

You asked for it -- or at least searched for it! Since so many folk are (at least according to Google) searching for how to get people to read webcomics, who am I to argue? (Especially since writing articles based around webcomics is far more enjoyable than just writing about bloggers, no matter how similar they seem.)

There's a lot of different things people like in webcomics, if only because there are so many different types of webcomics. Make sure you at least have the basics down, though:
  • Consistent Updates.
    New readers may be hooked, but if your comic's not updated regularly (or worse, defunct), they won't know when to return to get more. Quantity is one thing, but a properly addicted reader will want their regular fix.
  • Some way to explain 'gaps' and inconsistencies.
    Confused readers don't read further. This can be countered with an especially large archive, as people start to see that the quality of the story and the art improves, but when you're starting out, the best way to counter this is with Archive Enhancements like cast pages, artist's commentary (especially on early pages), and even frequently asked questions.
  • Enough archive to get them hooked.
    The minimum archive you need depends on the story you're trying to tell -- and admittedly in my case, is something that needs to be worked on pronto. 20-30 pages is sort of a bare minimum, and it's only when you start getting into the hundreds of pages that you have enough pages to be immersible. (and yes, I know Last Resort isn't there yet. It should be pretty close by the end of the year though.)
  • Forums (or at least some clue they're not shouting into the void)
    Again, don't do this until you have something resembling a following already, but even a pair of die-hard fans can be enough to start a following. People attract more people, simply put.
  • A halfway decent comic to begin with.
    Don't think good writing makes up for bad art, or vice versa. If you're not putting whatever effort you've got into this, it's not going to make up for itself, no matter how many strips, cast pages, or whatever else you've got. Yes, good writing can counter minimalist art. Not bad, minimalist. If you don't know the difference, your writing's not going to be good enough to make a difference.
And most importantly: Your webcomic (and its website!) is its own best advertisement. Take a good hard look at what your comic says about itself and about what you're willing to do for it. Get a friend to help redesign it if you need to. Switch hosting, lose the crappy ads, get better ads, do what you need to, but make it look like you actually take pride in what you do. You need to make sure you have the foundations laid down before you can expect a fandom to build off of it, after all.

Of course, these are only the basics... you'll want to subscribe to the rss feed to make sure you don't miss all the good tips that have to follow after this. Or maybe you want to go ahead and tell me if I missed one I need to include for later?

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At February 23, 2008 at 10:18 AM , Blogger JK said...

I realize it should be obvious, but I think you need to add two additional points. Navigation and display of the web comic are very important considerations. All too often I have encountered poorly laid out web comic sites where the art work was not published in an easy to read size and /or the navigation system for following the comic or new reader orientation was and after thought. Let's face it, publishing on the web creates an expectation of ease of access and things that help readers to view the comic should be incorporated up front in the thought process. Another great post, thanks.

At February 23, 2008 at 12:46 PM , Blogger Rachel Keslensky said...

See? Realizing I left stuff out already!

Ah well, that's why this is a blog. There's always more to say. :) Of course, Navigation is always a tricky one to settle on...


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