Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns
It's back to school time, which has me hopping around like a bunny on crystal meth. I work at a school, so had many, many long days behind me. For most of the rest of the world, however, August is a time of bittersweetness. Even folks who don't operate on an academic schedule any more know that summer is waning, and autumn is coming, and it's time once more to prepare ourselves for a slide into winter.
For much of the webcomics world, September means the new fall season. Suddenly, page views begin to go up and comments on forums increase. A whole new generation of newbies begins to sprout, desperately avoiding classes, refusing to deal with the fact that they don't want to go outside because it's not summer any more. This is the most fertile time of year for recruiting readers. This is the time of year when word of mouth works most effectively, for that matter. People are used to new situations (and, in North America, new television shows), and recommending your new finds to others is seen as its own reward.
So, in a way, this is the time of year when webcartoonists want to bring their 'A' game. And it's the time of year that they want to get the word out -- after all, if you can catch this sense of new energy now, you can hold readers a lot longer than you might in the dead of winter or the heat of summer. Right now, people are up for new challenges. Right now, reading three years of archives in one sitting feels like a great way to avoid doing work instead of a slog.
So, the question is this: how do you tap into word of mouth? How do you get that buzz generated? How do you actually do all of this?
It's a good question. I wish I had an answer. For one thing, I'd apply it to my own webcomic.
Obviously, you want to do the best practices that help build readerships up in the first place. You want to post new strips on time every time, regularly enough that you encourage readers to set a habit. You want to be talking your strip up in forums where it's appropriate, and at the least setting your signature appropriately for where it isn't. You want to be finding the right advertising venues and dropping a few cents on said advertising. And if you have contacts, you want to be
exploiting them soliciting their advice and assistance.
Clearly, I'm thinking about all those things with Gossamer Commons. I want some of that sweet, sweet back to school/new fall season buzz to go to me just like the rest of you. I'm thinking of where I can spend a few shekels to advertise. I'm thinking of where I can make a nuisance of myself without annoying people. I'm working out who I can call and talk up linkage. And Greg and I are bringing our 'A' game. The story is going great guns, and Greg's art is hitting on all cylinders. If we get people looking, they'll be happy with what they see, I think.
In the end, what we want more than anything else is to be read. To have people come to our comics and read them. And this is the time of year to start snagging them. I wish you all luck with it.
Oh, and if you happen to have a Comixpedia column? This is probably a good month to use it to pimp your own strip. You know. Theoretically.