Webfiction readers verses webcomic readers

This is something I've been thinking about for a while (years, actually), and it's come up again recently with all the talk on stats and my attempts to analyse my own. In particular, how the viewing stats from webcomic readers compare with those coming from sites like WFG/TWF. Basically, there's a pretty striking difference to how they behave (and, indeed, the raw numbers). I'm basing this on figures from both my current serial (which hovers around the five thousand views/month level) and my old one (which would bounce from fifty to a hundred thousand a month).

Boiling it down to percentages, people from webcomics are more likely to stick around, but even those who don't will read at least a short way into the story. On the other hand, readership from webfiction sites drops sharply within the first couple of (story) pages (from the first page especially). Now, I'm not sure this is because the webcomic audience is more curious, coming from a visual medium to a written one, or if webfiction readers have very specific tastes/expectations. Maybe it's both. Maybe it's neither. The first page of my serial involves animated text. Are webcomic readers more open to something visual? It's hard to draw conclusions when I have only my own analytics to go on XD

Something else I've noticed is that breaks in my schedule don't lead to drops in readership. Again, this is based on stats from both old and new sites, both of which have a high chapter-to-chapter retention, even during those times I've missed an update. Ending major story arcs can see that retention drop as low as 90%, but not updating for a week? Nope. Looks like people just pick it up later on (I've noticed a big trend in binge reading across both serials). So, again, is this a demographic thing? Are certain audiences more likely to ditch a series for missing an update? Or are webcomic readers simply used to irregular schedules and binging the archives?

At the very least, however, I think this demonstrates the importance of looking beyond what you believe to be the "obvious" audience for your serial. I've never really done any promotion around social media or communities like Reddit, so maybe they would offer up different patterns, too. It would be interesting to get an idea of what the current "webfiction demographics" are, though, at least those coming from and using sites like this and TWF, so it can help people searching for their readers (and bolster the hopes of those who got themselves listed and saw little returns from it).

Unfortunately, my experience has not been the same as yours.

I've published a webcomic since 1996, and webfiction since 2011, so I have some familiarity with both worlds. And in my own case, there's not a lot of crossover: fans of my webcomic aren't any more likely to read my fiction than people who have never heard of me. All of my traffic stats favor my webcomic, even though I rarely update it any more. And my comic isn't one of the popular ones.

In general it appears that it's a lot easier to get people to read a webcomic than it is to read webfiction, and the reason, in my opinion, is pretty simple: for the most part it usually takes all of twenty seconds out of your day to click a link, look at a comic, and move on with your life. If it's a good comic and you enjoy it, that's twenty seconds that have provided an enormous return. If it's a lousy comic... well. It's only twenty seconds.

For fiction? Twenty seconds won't always get you through two paragraphs.

Webcomics have an enormous advantage where investment of time translates into reward compared to webfiction. In the space of reading a webfiction update--even a short one--you can burn through 10-20 different webcomics and have time to spare. The only thing that holds you up is the speed of your connection and the loading time of the serving page.

All that said, it may be that lumping "webcomic readers" altogether is too general, and that webcomic readers who prefer specific kinds of webcomics over others are more receptive to webfiction. My comic is/was a tech comic, and perhaps people who are actively looking for tech comics are looking for things that don't carry over well to webfiction.

Absolutely, in terms of attracting readers, webcomics have it a lot easier than prose. I mean, I know from real life experience that people associate me more with illustration work than writing, even though I've not touched a pencil in two years, simply because images are more accessible than words. On the other hand, webcomics also suffer from serious pacing issues, so although it might be possible to binge the archive in an afternoon, that archive covered five years of work and you've now got to wait months, if not years, before you can binge again XD

Obviously demographics are going to be more than "webcomic readers" and "webfiction readers", but that's kinda what I'm trying to figure out. What are those demographics and where is the crossover?

I tend to read more web-comics than web-fiction and it's not because I've very specifics tastes in what I want to take my time and read. With web-fiction it isn't that easy to find what I want and it takes a little longer. It's about the same with web comics but a little different.

The one thing I don't like is an irregular schedule. I will stop reading a comic that does. It's gotten to the point before I invest time into a new comic that I look at the last update a comic and two month before that update to see how consistent they are. I mean if they were updating 5 days a week then went down to two or three days a week it doesn't matter so much. They are clearly updating. However, if are week gaps between updates. Have two weeks here, a week here and then a month, and two months between updates. I will ignore it. Usually sporadically updating comics to me is a sign that the comic is going to be abandoned and I really dislike incomplete stories.

I usually only binge read web comics to to catch up to current updates and then I follow alone reading them on release.

I'm not really sure how you'd generate/initiate crossover to even test, unless you're advertising your serial on a webcomic site and vice versa... and while I agree that you should look beyond an "obvious" audience, I think people's interest would be tied more to genre or author than a predisposition to a "type" of reading? (I mean, maybe they're clicking not realizing they're heading to a serial, so you lose them?) Not that I'm any sort of expert.

I'll offer what I know, namely that after writing the self-illustrated math serial on a blog for years, and getting 40-50 views on any one post, I stopped for about 14 months. Then restarted it as a webcomic. After an initial bump of around 100 views on a post, almost a year in, I've settled into about 60-80 views per post. Meanwhile, my serial writing site was created separately over 18 months ago, which gets 15-20 views on a post. I only know of one person who reads both... there MIGHT be two. And I think that's tied to me, rather than the content, since it's very different... urban fantasy versus personified math humour. No real crossover at all. (Can't speak to the irregularity of updates, I don't miss them, for all the good it does... and in my own reading interests, I tend to fall behind, and it's more based on genre.)

But that's the thing: you would assume that visitors from webcomic sites would drop off faster than those coming from webserial sites, because they're expecting a comic, not prose. Yet it's the other way around. That's why I'm wondering what the difference is. Why are those clicking through from webcomics reading deeper? Is it a demographic thing? A question of style or content? I remembering surveying the readers of my previous serial five, six years ago (there was somewhere between 1,500-1,800 of them), and almost all found me through webcomics, and the majority didn't read any other (prose) serials. My current (much smaller) readerships appears to be following the same pattern. It's strange!