How to Market Your Webcomics

The absolute biggest challenge you’ll have as a webcomics creator is getting people to read your comics.  There are well over 35 thousand comics available online.  Some long running comics have hundreds of thousands to millions of readers.  If you ever get to this level of readership you can likely live on the earnings you make from these readers assuming you’ve created the multiple streams of income we’ve discussed in previous weeks.  This includes merchandising, affiliate marketing, and making money by allowing others to advertise on your comics.

The key problem is that none of this works unless you get readers to look at your comics…and lots of them.  XKCD, Questionable Content, Penny Arcade, Dr. McNinja  and others have become successful because their creators have managed to get people to read them.  Sure, they are excellent fun to read, but quality is not enough.  You need your audience to find you.  There are plenty of high quality comics that never get the readership.  Sadly, these comics may never get enough readership to become self sustainable.  So, let’s talk about some of the methods you can use to start getting more readers and start on the path of building a popular webcomic.

Advertising with Adwords

Google is the absolute and unchallenged leader in online advertising.  Showing up on the first page of a google search can take years of hard work, and in fact, may be achievable if there are too many people competing for the same keywords, or offering the same products or services.  Let’s say you want to advertise your comedy webcomic about two gamer buddies who live together.  You might find that the competition for this genre is steep.  So, what can you do.  Enter Google Adwords!  Google has, with adwords, given you the opportunity to bid for positioning using their Adwords platform.  Adwords is a comprehensive advertising platform.  It allows you to choose keywords, and control how much of a budget you have.  For example, you can choose to spend $1.00  a day.  You can choose your bid strategy, and you can even choose how much to bid for each specific keyword.  In addition, you can even choose to take advantage of Google’s massive display network.  This will allow you to use graphics and images to advertise on the millions of sites that google has worked with to allow this.  Budgets and bid strategies work her as well.

Advertising with Project Wonderful

If you are in the world of Internet Webcomics, you will eventually find yourself coming across sites that use Project Wonderful.  Project Wonderful allows you to publish comics on thousands of different comics sites like the one you’re creating.  You might think this is weird, but where else do you think you’ll find the best comics readers.  Sites like Questionable Content allow you to advertise your webcomic to their thousands of readers, albeit, for a cost.  The more readers those sites have, the more expensive it will be to advertise on those sites.  Over time, readers from these sites can become regulars to your site.  In time, as your readership grows, so too will the word of mouth.  This is what you’re really going to need for your site to get to those really high numbers.  People will need to talk about your site.

Getting listed on Webcomics Indexing Sites

There are also numerous sites that have been designed to index the myriad of werbcomics in existence.  Sites like Topwebcomics.com, TheWebcomicList.com, BelfryComics.net, ComicBasement.com and others allow you to index your site on their boards.  This allows readers to find you.  Readers who are interested in a library of comics will use these sites to find new comics, and track their favorites.  Some of these allow voting, and in time, with enough votes, you can rise through the listing to get more and more readers.  This takes time, and effort.  You have to produce a quality comics, and make sure that your listings are well designed, and attract attention.  Some sites, like TopWebcomics.com allow you to offer incentives for people voting.

By far and away, the top listing site is TopWebcomics.com, with theWebcomicList.com coming in second.  Get on these first.  You may be able to get to better rankings on some of the other sites, but these two are the ones that offer the best exposure.

Getting Readers Through Social Networking

There’s just no avoiding it.  The use of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others are absolutely crucial to building your online presence.  Readers can interact with you and can share their interest in your comics with other readers through these sites. Join in the fun, and socialize with your readers.  These are after all, the ones who will spend years reading your comic if they like it.  You should let them get to know you.

First thing’s first!  Get a Domain for your webcomic!

Of course it all starts with a good domain name.  Let’s say you want to create a webcomic called MyWebComic.  What would be easier for your readers to remember: www.FreeHosting.com/members/MyWebcomic or MyWebcomic.com?  The importance of a simple and catch domain name can not be overstated.  It’s arguable that QuestionableContent.net and Amazon.com found their success as a result of great domain names.  I recommend you do the same.  Buying a domain name will allow you to host your own site, and take complete design control over your webcomic’s look and feel.  In time, of course, you can leverage your registrar’s other features like setting up an online store to sell the merchandising we talked through on one of our earlier blogs.

Again, I recommend Bluehost for this.  Bluehost is one the most affordable and reputable web registrars out there.  It also offers a very reasonable rate for hosting, which will make your initial spend very low.  This is crucial!  Keep your costs low, until you start making money.

Good luck out there!  Let me know when you’ve gotten your webcomic site set up.  I’d love to read it!