Yeah, I can see your point -- but web comics and bloggers are still interest groups which come together partly based on the interests of the producers rather than the audience.
Not that I'm against doing such things, don't get me wrong. I actually think that all of the ideas thrown out here are good, and are pieces of a puzzle. And I completely agree with you that we should look at such things as web comics and bloggers to see how they draw in their audience.
So yeah, we have a lot to learn from them, but when it comes to sharing an audience -- that is trying to leverage the followers of web comics -- we shouldn't be looking at them as a group, but rather making connections with individual web comics and book bloggers who have the same sensibility and same audience. Not just by genre, but by tone. Sometimes a funny horror web comic might have most in common with a funny action web serial.
The individual approach is a lot of work, but honestly, we can help that as a group just by sharing our intellect with each other.
Here are some thoughts of my own -- coming at this from a slightly different angle. Okay, I'm coming at it from a Bass Ackwards angle. Keep in mind the following two things:
*I'm not looking for things to use to get people to my web fiction, I'm using web fiction as a part of a larger strategy to get people to my blog.
*My strategies are looking to win over new audiences. This means people who don't read web fiction, who don't read my work... or maybe even people who don't read fiction at all. (Who watch TV or movies or read comic strips.)
So with that in mind:
I want to create a publication that will entertain and attract the readers I'm interested in - repeatedly and frequently. I'm only getting started on that, just now learning the ropes, figuring out what works for me as well as what doesn't.
My biggest challenge here right now is weaning myself of "writer addiction" -- that is, the ease of attracting writers to my blog with material which isn't of much interest to readers. I suspect my best material will be in an overlap area, but I don't know yet.
My main strategy is classic Blogging 101. (Not fully into gear on it yet, but moving in this direction.) Frequent posting. Variety of posting. Posting about subjects my target audience is likely to be looking for and interested in, so that the right audience has a chance to find me via search engine.
My work, for instance, is very old fashioned, so I tend to write reviews and literary discussions of classic books and old movies. I talk sometimes about old time illustrators and pulp magazines. I try to keep my blog easily browseable -- or at least aim at it for future. Certainly the fiction and cartoons are short, and I try to keep them easy to dip into. I'm working on making the whole thing moreso.
In short, I concentrate on making my blog into a magazine, and if I had money to hire people, and pay contributors, I would post multiple times a day like the big magazine blogs do. The goal would be to be a place where a reader could be guaranteed of finding something new and entertaining.
Could a group do that cooperatively? Well it would split the work and ramp up the output.... but a magazine works partly because it's curated. It has the stamp of the publisher, and the audience can count on certain flavor and style. Somebody has got to be able to say no to material that doesn't fit the house style (not just based on "quality of work") and that seldom works with a group. You get that Dilution of Interest thing going again.
But... I think that principle is still useful for a group. (For instance, if folks made an effort to keep this site's front page more active, it would help this site gain more traffic.)