Web Comic!

So, I've tossed myself into the waters based on the recommendations of my fans, who wanted to see my business column for artists rendered as a web comic:


Since so many of you were involved in web comics (or are still!), I thought I'd toss that out there. Out of curiosity, if you have a web comic, how do fans tend to follow it? RSS? Site visits? (Or if you follow web comics, how do you consume yours?)

I follow web comics. I have a page on iGoogle with bookmark links to the various stuff I follow every day, and click on them to open a dozen tabs and read them before I start my day. I have an RSS feed for the comics that update slowly enough that checking in daily isn't worth the time (Chaos Life, for example).

Gave ya a plug on my site. :-)

As to how they follow it, it's majority direct visits but there's a significant minority (about a third of my direct audience) who follows my stuff via the RSS feeds. It wasn't until I started using Feedburner that I really got a handle on that, but it's nice to know.

Wow, that's some of the nicest stuff I've ever seen anyone say about me. o_o

Thank you...! >.<

Gah I love your style! And an interesting topic too haha. I tend to subscribe to comics through RSS. Just makes my life a little easier since I follow so many. I'll definitely be following this :)

I tend to follow most things via RSS -- usually kept in MyYahoo pages. (Which don't aggregate the whole content, just titles and summaries, and I click through to look a the page directly when I want to read.)

I also book mark some sites. And sometimes I'll follow something in a non-standard but convenient way. For instance, I advertise on Project Wonderful (mainly to support sites I like) and I have followed some webcomics by clicking through on the link there when I check my stats. The problem with this is that, when I'm short of cash and stop advertising, I lose track of the comic.


I'm planning a few Project Wonderful ads once I have more content on the site. I have... *checks* 37 pages already done, so I'm set for the next three months or so, with story lines about bad contracts, publicity, calculating your cost-of-business per hour, and some strictly humorous gags, so I figure about a month's worth of stuff should be enough to start advertising. :)

I write for antiheroescomic.com , and I don't have access to the traffic figures. I'll let you know with my new comic coming out this month, www.disrealitygears.com , as it progresses. will be following the webcomic version!

the rss feed for threejaguars seems broken

This XML file does not appear to have any style information associated with it. The document tree is shown below.

I think only certain age groups/internet user types follow RSS. MOst of the GenY crowd use social networks to announce their updates.

Almost all comic artists tweet updates to their webcomics and also post a link/update on tumblr. Artists (who follow other artists) hang more around twitter and tumblr than other places.

Also a large number of comcis that I follow are making sure they're registered in all the webcomic portals and then some. Among the ones that you shoud add to whatever shows up for "top webcomics," "webcomicz" and other matching directories would be inkoutbreak.com and comic-rocket.com

I do often see updates on twitter, but I like RSS because I can go in every few days and have a log of what I missed. plus, i can really quickly rss bookmark something that I dont have time to go therough the archives of, and be able to access it anywhere.

SgL: the problem with social media is that it's hit or miss, especially if your readers are very active. I mean, yeah, I do "follow" some things via social media, but that means I'm not really following, I'm just hitting things now and then among the million things that pass by my eyeballs.

If you want to actually follow something, especially if you have a lot of sites you want to follow without missing anything, you've got to use something like RSS. Or you have to just go there every day, and not rely on anything else.

And that may be generational: that "the kids" don't really get into close following except when they are so enthusiastic they do it manually. They don't mind missing things. (The great thing about web comics and serials is that you can freely miss things. You can catch up any time.)

One thing I've noticed, on my own and also talking with others who use multiple trackers to observe: that RSS is just about the most fruitful sources of regular readers. Those readers do not comment or interact as much, perhaps because some of them read via an RSS reader instead of directly on the blog.

A surprising number of direct hits, though, actually come from RSS feeds. This can be hard to see because they're invisible to some stats trackers (it's seen as server traffic or something). Plus there are things like Kindle Feeder, which is not at all visible to the trackers as far as I can tell. It aggregates your RSS feeds and sends them to your Kindle. (Not good for webcomics, though, because there is a file size limit.)

I still haven't found out how Paper.li works, but I presume that's another source for people to follow what you do.

Daring Novelist brings up an excellent point. Many of my RSS feeds are either a link back to the main website, or they just post the comic or update whole on the rss feed. A few post a small excerpt of text, or the first panel of the comic, with a link back, but some people have issue with that, as they prefer to get it all in their RSS. To combat the loss of eyes on ads and such, some comics have instituted ads IN the rss feed (Questionable content being a notable one. )

I for one would like to see more blog posts under the comic or main posting, and I would love to see people put links to comments and such as well, to get people to move from the RSS feed to the website. I think something as simple as a link IN the Feed saying, click here to comment on this comic, might help raise and drive interaction from the RSS users.

Daring Novelist: I haven't yet found anything data-worthy to suggest which way the RSS trend is going. Only a few sites have dared to suggest its importance is declining relative to other channels and my stats are too small to make any conclusions. (These are kind of cool articles to ponder however -- http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/03/techcrunch-twitter-facebook-rss/ and http://techcrunch.com/2012/11/18/if-rss-is-dead-somebody-forgot-to-tell-mediafed/ are pretty interesting stories in themselves. )

Yes it's true that social media is hit or miss but its still an accepted promotion tool for artists and better yet, for curators. Although only the most popular artists have a few hundred followers, the discovery/meme likelihood really seems improved for artists who spread themselves across Tumblr, Twitter, and the comic directories.

Very rarely do I get much retweeting or promotion from the webfic comm when I post an update, but the comics folks (like comic rocket or inkoutbreak) often reshare messages about updates from members in their network. I'm extremely grateful to comic rocket for even retweeting my stuff. I've seen retweets/reblogs happen a lot more at least with art vs. fiction.

And Alex: Yeah - I completely understand why comic feeds have gone to linking versus directly showing the page. One other recent development is that Google disabled Adsense in Feedburner so there's going to be a strong shift to moving people back to the website.

sgl, something ive been pondering is using images as a link into the text, even images thats just the first sentence of the update in text on a colored background as a jpg, because that gets more shares than straight text.

For a webcomic,you could crop in a panel or a portion of an image that has enough "mystery" to draw the curious out. Certainly beats seeing a plain old text blurb in RSS or on twitter...

SgL: images in Twitter or RSS feeds:

Heck yeah!

The problem right now is that many feeds (not just RSS, but also automated "blogrolls") is that they do not give you the opportunity to control which portion of the picture shows. That's one of the reasons why I went for small square images for the illos on Test of Freedom -- they are more likely to show something interesting in in image previews.

It can throw off the design, but if you can find a way to put a tiny interesting picture as the first image in a particular blog post, that will get seen in more shared ways than a larger image (which will be cropped down to some random spot in the middle, or resized in unexpected ways).

The thing I haven't taken advantage of yet is titling. Titles of posts show up in various shares and RSS feeds, but I've been using vanilla ep titles ("Test of Freedom - Episode 3"). I do this for consistency of the URLs, but I think it works against me. Titles are the best teaser tools we have. I've noticed that again and again.

With Miss Leech, for instance, I do put in a post title for each strip. That seems to get attention. Also, if I have a good title for an episode, I get a rise in hits that come from sources where the title is mentioned.


And to continue the discussion of social media vs. RSS:

Yes, social media is a promotional tool -- but that's a small part of marketing. Promotion is about finding new readers, not keeping them. It doesn't matter how many eyeballs you get on something if you can't convert.

It's unfortunate that there is so much emphasis on "promotion" that nobody realizes that it's actually the least important part of the marketing picture. Sure, it's great to promote... if you have the structure in place to support the attention you get. If you don't have that, then promotion is a waste of effort.

That infrastructure that supports the attention you get? That's what RSS and other aggregation tools are all about. It's designed to keep the readers you've got. Is it old tech? Well, sort of, but it really hasn't got a replacement yet, and maybe it never will: because it's also one of the foundation technologies for other newer ideas. (And often, users have no idea they are using RSS at all. It's the basis for something newer and cooler.)

In an overcrowded universe, where finding your own house can be darned difficult, user-curated aggregation is critical. It's a different thing than social media. They are apples and oranges. Whether it's RSS, or some new tech that hasn't made it to mainstream, it's necessary.


Ouch! My web comic is only a week-old and has all of two pages but it's already got more page views than my fiction serials... any of them. And I've been running fiction serials since 2004. -_-