The webcomics blog about webcomics


We had that question last week about using social networks to build audiences, but there’s another issue I’ve been thinking about since then, and that’s converting that first-time visitor (which is what you’re seeking at said social network) into a committed fan. The bulk of your success in conversion will depend on the quality of your product, but there are other things that you can do and some of them are so subtle, the reader almost won’t notice it’s being done

Case in point: Dave Kellett, who on Tuesday wrote the following under his strip:

If you’re diggin’ the Star Wars strips, you may want to read this two-week story arc from a year back, where Sheldon and Arthur go to the “Lame Sci-Fi Characters & Sidekicks Convention”.

It’s all the Sleestaks, Ewoks, Tom Bombadil, and original Cylons you could ever ask for … all standing side-by-side.

This is my favorite one from that storyline, I think.

See what he did there? He’s just convinced me to click back through two weeks of storyline, generating pageviews for his advertisers; I wouldn’t have done that otherwise. And if the content he sends me to is compelling enough, I’ll keep clicking. Also: note that the storyline he links to — it’s short enough to read in a few minutes, long enough to capture interest, and doesn’t require any backstory to get the jokes. It’s the perfect hook for a first-time reader.

Next thing you know, they’re stuck reading the whole damn archive, and Kellett’s advertisers suspect him of fraud (this happened last year, when many Sheldon readers — new and old — sat down and read through the archives in one go, sent the pageviews through the roof and Google got all suspicious). Kellett’s been doing this regularly since he left last Fall (and thus could open up his archives), and it was only yesterday that I realized what it was he was doing.

Think you’re immune to the lure of “just one more page?” I spent the past several days comprehensively reading the archive of a blog called The Comics Curmudgeon. Okay, it’s not about webcomics, but who knew that Mary Worth was full of stalkers, Southeast Asian hell-holes, and meth labs? Apartment 3-G? Kidnappings, forced labor in sweatshops, and finger quotin’ Margo. Foob? Utter hatred of Michael’s book deal and Anthony. It’s crack-tastic.

And there’s the rub — if your content isn’t crack-tastic, and if you don’t have enough to really rope in the new readers and make ’em figure, Well hell, I’m committed to it now, then this doesn’t help you. So it all comes back to what we’ve been told again and again — update regular, update as much as you can, make the content as good as you can.

Crack to whom? That’s the question.

A smaller sized webcomic with an absolutely devoted fanbase can, in theory, be far more successful than a larger comic (in terms of visits per day) simply because the fans are committed enough to the comic to keep it running.

On the flip side, you can have a comic that has a large audience full of people who make sure to read it every day, but it’s not their “top tier” comic. Converting visitors to returning audience is important but it’s only part of the story.

I think we all know that “crack-tastic” is defined as “As much like Help Desk as humanly possible.”

All I will say in response is “making your comic more like Help Desk is probably a bad business decision on your part.” :)

Myspace is one of my top 10 referrers every month. When people stick you in their top 8, they always remember to check the website and comment what they think of the current story. Would recommend!

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