If Your Comic Isn't Popular In A Year Will It Ever Be?
Submitted by Xaviar Xerexes on January 6, 2006 - 13:16
I'm going to copy and paste in some stuff from a monster thread on the old boards that was inspired by the webcomic equivalent of "knowing when to hold 'em and knowing when to fold 'em."
Just something I've been thinking about lately. It seems like all of the giants of the webcomic world reached a decent size (10,000+ readers) within their first year. So instead of telling newbies to be persistant, should we be telling them to give it a year, then try something else?
If you are in this just for readers and money, I would be one to tell you you shouldn't even wait a year before stopping, but not because I'm Indie Rock Pete. Webcomic success stories are so seldom, you know, and maybe they happened to those guys because they didn't care about it at all, and did what they do primarily for fun and love. But I understand what your question is, and to answer it in a proper way, I get the feeling some people on Keenspot didn't have 10.000 daily visits during their first year (Sortelli, McBean although he's not on Keenspot but Keentoons). Yet they made it, if you ignore the fact that they can't still make a living on the amount of money they make.
I quit my day job and COTC in under 10,000. I also have an extra comic as subscription only. Incidently, COTC's uniques continue to rise after nearly six years. Of course, COTC only updates 3 days a week and if you add the uniques per comic, then it is over 10,000. Go figure.
You gotta love what you do first and just have fun with it and not worry TOO much about turning a buck.. you know? It's all about SUPPLY and DEMAND. -- You'll know things are popular when people start asking you for stickers or shirts of whatever it is you're drawing, and you suddenly go-- "How am I going to afford to make that?" -- then you start thinking numbers.... and you can build slowly. I've seen so many people just come on the scene and say -- HERE'S MY BOOK! BUY BUY BUY!--- and then they're down when no one buys it, or sales and traffic are down. Make something YOU love and Make something people HAVE to talk about.... thats a good thing to keep in mind.
As someone who's observed webcomics a couple of years, I'd say the hypothesis of this thread is inaccurate. The big names everyone flocks to these days when they think of success didn't start out as big as they are now. Most of them have been doing it for 6-7 years. How many of us even knew webcomics existed before 2000? In the short time I've been reading them, I've seen tiny strips get popular and I've seen huge sites dry up. You can't go judging success by all the PVPs and PAs out there. That's like judging American business by all the McDonalds and the Nikes.
William brings up the "unserved audience" point. It is true there are lots of gamer, manga, etc comics out there. How do they survive? They have a subculture that venerates the internet and uses it frequently. The love people have for the subculture spawns more comics about it, and also is set up for sharing info about it.
I beleive CAD actually had around 30,000 readers daily at the one year point. Errant Story has been at around 10,000 readers a day since it started, thanks to Poe's previous comic. I don't know the numbers for Megatokyo, but they got linked from PvP pretty early in their run. It'd be easier to objectively discuss this if everyone had an Extreme Tracker link on their page. I'm almost tempted to log in to Alexa and research a random sampling of comics and whip up some pretty scatter plots and R values, but then I remember how lazy I am. There are a few examples to the contrary, but I still think for the most part it's possible to predict the long-term growth in readership of a webcomic by the growth in its early stages.