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Starting a Webcomic, Part 2

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Okay, analytics time. Starfallen started from absolute zero (no social media leveraged, no ads, no nothin’) and is now sitting at around 420 subscribers.

The most dramatic jump in viewers and new subscribers happened in December 2020 to Janurary 2021. A couple things happened around this time:

  • I introduced a little extra fanservice in a comic or two, of the cheesecake variety.
  • I gave the comic cover an update on Tapas, with better art.
  • In January 2021, I added an image asking people to like and subscribe to the comic.

Of course, I made other improvements to the comic, too:

  • My art in general improved. I also made the switch to color illustrations instead of black and white.
  • Once in a while, I started posting a few multipage comics per update (the original update schedule was a single page on Monday, plus a single page on Wednesday).
  • In February 2021, I started posting my comics in Webtoon format, optimized for vertical scroll. I also changed the schedule to posting the entire week’s comics on Mondays instead of spreading them out over the week.
  • I posted some mature pages with extra fanservice. These got a few nice comments, but I don’t think they were vast jumps in popularity — more of a nice payoff.

However, these were mostly spread throughout 2021, and not accompanied by big jumps like the first three. For this reason, I believe the two most important factors were the comic cover and asking people to like and subscribe. In fact, I recently updated the comic cover again and saw an immediate jump in views/subs which, although modest, seems to have popped it out of a plateau in new readers.

So none of the other changes led to immediate juice in popularity. And there are still weird little hiccups I can’t explain, like the big jump in likes in July 2020.

One might take that to mean:

Wow! I should invest in my cover and begging for likes, and who cares about the rest?”

But I don’t think that’s the right idea. Even without I believe the other improvements were a lot like quality of life updates for a video game — no one goes nuts for them, but they make the reading experience more pleasant. For example, I started doing single page updates twice a week because I wanted to get as much visibility as possible in the “Fresh” section on Tapas, especially since I had no existing readership. However, I believe that I was able to offer more substantial updates once I moved to a weekly schedule. Did I take a discoverability hit from that?

Well… it’s possible. But I believe the quality of each update increased significantly. It doesn’t matter how many people click on an enticing thumbnail if the comic’s no good.

Looking back, a lot of the changes I introduced along the line were things I added as I could handle them. If I’d tried to start in color, I think I would have been overloaded. And I had to be convinced that vertical scroll format was the way to go.

But over time, I think the approach of simply jumping in, getting the practice in, and improving over time has been really valuable experience — something I couldn’t have gotten in any other way.

Conclusions

  • Make a good comic!
  • Make sure you have a nice comic cover/thumbnail with which to show your comic off! (Or at least update it once you can afford to.)
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for some likes 🙂

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