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09/17/2012

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Richard J. Marcej

I can sympathize with Sarah (and yes, I'm one of those 1,000 weekly hits as I too check in on her site) but I'm envious too. 1,000 weekly hits? I'm LUCKY to get 6-7 hits a day! And I've been posting my daily comics for nearly three years now. (and I update daily)
http://www.theblabbingbaboon.com/

Like Sarah, my work isn't cute, though I'm over 50 and a single male. I think these days if you want an audience for a web comic you probably should be in your 20's, talk about sex and (maybe) drugs a lot and yeah, I guess it wouldn't hurt to be cute too.

Brian Fies

I think anybody who's done anything that's fallen short (FAR short) of the bestseller lists looks at the top and thinks "I busted my butt, poured out my heart, and THAT'S what people want to read?" It can be pretty discouraging, and it's natural to wonder what exactly you'd have to do to join them.

People say--and I *think* they're right but not sure I agree 100%--that's a fool's game. That all you can do is do your best work, bare your soul, and see if anyone wants to pay money for it. On the other hand, as Mike says, cynicism can succeed. It is possible to manufacture a hit (recruit a boy band, shoot a movie based on a 30-year-old toy franchise, study demographics and determine that what the comics page needs is a fat cat who hates Mondays). Envious? No. Yes. No. Well...yes.

I think there's a good spot in the middle where you do the work you want to do but be smart about it. Maybe your passion is Mason Jar lids but the smart money says you'll never sell a million copies of your Jar Lid Collectors' Guide (on the other hand, with a little humor and luck, something oddball like that could really take off and you'd create the next Pet Rock--this is the mystery and frustration). "Who's my audience?" is a fair question, and it's not selling out or betraying your artistic vision to face it as honestly as you can.

I've come to believe it's simply Darwinian, with no reliable way to predict which mutations will confer an evolutionary advantage. A thousand people create a thousand things and two or three of them hit the public just right at the right time. If there were a sure-fire formula, someone would be exploiting it. (Yes, there are writers who crank out dozens of bestselling mysteries, legal procedurals, fantasy novels, etc., but that's THEIR formula. It wouldn't work for you.) Just do your best, most honest and sincere work, get it out into the world however you can, then do more work. If anything gets traction, do more of that. Otherwise, lather, rinse, repeat.

MaggieZ

I read my daily dose of comics strips in this order: newspaper, Daily Ink, Go Comics. Then I check out For Better or For Worse, Arlo 'n Janis, and save Comic Strip of the Day for last. Along the journey I like to guess what strip you will feature today. Now and then--a very now and then--I guess right. I read your discussion, too. I found you by means of Jimmy Johnson's comments on his website. I mention your blog name whenever possible, so if you get two or three more hits, you are welcome! I enjoy the variety of your choices and the intelligent discussion.

Richard J. Marcej

Brian, I agree 100% with just about everything you say. I realize that what I write/draw may or may not appeal to thousands, but like what I posted on Sarah's blog, you need to just be you.

Write what you know, what you are. Draw that same way. To try and be something or say something that you're not, will never work out in the end.

Perhaps my biggest frustration, as a fellow online cartoonist, is the lack of feedback. The lack of comments. IMO, feedback, ANY feedback (pro or con) can only aid the creative process.

Dave from Phila

Just wanted to add that the above-described frustrations are not limited to comic strips. I direct an auditioned civic concert choir. www.TheChoristers.org. We literally kill ourselves to find and perform undeservedly, under-performed choral works (this season’s example … Gartenlieder (Garden Songs) by Fanny Hensel (sister of Felix Mendelssohn who is now regarded as a musical equal to her brother and other male contemporaries like Robert Schumann)). We’ll spend over $1K in advertising and publicize the concert in multiple ways. We might get 250. Another local group will perform the 20th performance this year in the Phila area of Mozart’s Requiem … they will sell out. Very, very frustrating. But – I would not change my programming for anything, and I consider myself terribly lucky to have 55 – 65 voices who follow our shared vision.

Mike Peterson

One of the most valuable books in this area is "How to Make Web Comics," by Dave Kellett, Scott Kurtz, Brad Guigar and Kris Straub, which talks at some length about the groundwork you have to lay in order to create a platform that will allow you to be popular. A lot of marketing goes into it, and not everyone is built that way.

For example, I should probably respond specifically to each of these comments, rather than making some general remarks that kind of wrap things up. And that's only one of my shortcomings in this regard.

Content is king, but it needs a Talleyrand or a Potemkin or, if all else fails, a Cheney to make the throne viable and meaningful. And, as Dave notes, you can promote like hell and still not attract the masses. And I say that as someone who really likes broccoli and doesn't think you should have to advertise it at all -- but recognizes that advertising isn't going to help sell it, either.

So, am I the only person who, when he looks at the TV schedule and sees something on PBS that he might actually really want to watch, says, "Oh, wait. They must be fundraising," and invariably turns out to be right?

If you can only attract people by promoting something you don't normally offer, well, you need to look inward. As Dave suggests, you need to be proud of what you do and content with whatever notice it attracts, while not sitting back expecting people to find you on their own.

Nostalgic

In re: the large percentage that don't stick around long enough to read the whole post: I can read it entire, on my RSS feed, without coming to the site, and i'm pretty sure you don't get an analytics hit from someone reading it on their igoogle page (at least, when i tried it on myself for my own blog, no hit showed). Typically, I do that earlier in the day, and then come to the site later to give commenters time to leave comments, which do not show up on my igoogle page. People who do that might account for some unknown percentage of the brief hits.

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Independent publishers

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Blog Roll

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GoComics.com

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Comics Kingdom

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