It’s true. Project Wonderful, a long standing backbone for the webcomic industry, has closed their virtual doors, leaving webcomic creators everywhere floundering. The biggest question on everyone’s minds remains the same:
Where do we advertise now that Project Wonderful is gone?
That… isn’t an easy question to answer, and I wish it was. Webcomics aren’t the simplest to market in the first place and the loss of such a prominent resource makes it just all the more difficult. I wish I could say this article was going to be your saving grace with a quick and easy solution, but it isn’t. Instead, I’m going to give you options and the pros and cons to each of them, letting you pick which one is the best for YOU.
In a previous article we did explore the basics of the advertising world– places to advertise— but we didn’t dig too deep. As a service to webcomic creators everywhere after the loss of Project Wonderful, I (ServerPanda) want to sink my hands into this topic a fair bit deeper in the hopes that it aids you all in finding a measure of relief. This is also revising previous thoughts on advertising hot spots after having spent a fair bit more time as the marketing lead for a comic collective myself. Therefore you will find that my opinion on certain places may have changed depending on the application!
So without further ado, let’s move into the list.
GOOGLE ADSENSE / ADWORDS
AdSense and Adwords are a bit of a packaged deal as you need both of them to effectively run a campaign for advertising. One is the platform for actually sending your ads out into the world, and the other is your program for gathering statistics to monitor how well they’re doing and all that jazz (which is also super important, mind you!). But here is what bothers me: they’re two different programs for one job. As a marketing professional, I find that clunky and more than I would wish to get into. Google does know how to get you views and overall money. I’ll give them that much. But their program is… really bad? And I’m computer savvy. Really computer savvy. It’s just a lot of bouncing back and forth that shouldn’t be required. Not only that, but they won’t take anything that even smells like it may have a hint of mature content, and their algorithms reject the oddest words, like ‘sword’. Then you have to call Customer Service and fight.
Panda’s Take: Try it if your comic is entirely kid friendly and you use neutral wording. The views and money are worth it.
Ah. The old standby for webcomic creators everywhere. So why is it on this list? Because I feel I could expand a bit on it and say where it works and where it fails, allowing some less social media knowledgeable folks to get in on the green side of this platform.
Twitter fails when you ignore it. It’s a super simple concept. Use it. Use the crap out of it. Hashtag everything. Use popular hashtags that have everything to do with your work, you and what you want to promote. Tag promotional accounts. They will retweet you! In fact, I’ll give you a few popular hashtags here to use for your next promotions: #webcomic #webcomics #indiecomic #makecomics #WebComicChat #comic
Along with those hashtags, here two accounts that will retweet your webcomic work: @promotecomics @InkUnder
Panda’s Take: Twitter is an exceedingly powerful tool if you use it right! Be bright, engaging and use those hashtags and promotional accounts!
This platform is a messy beast, and I can’t even lie about that. Their reporting is… have they fixed it yet? I’m not sure. Either way, you may potentially be in the dark statistics wise. Tread here if ye dare, but reap the rewards from the toxic wasteland for doing so. Tumblr is a goldmine for those who navigate the hashtag system, do some fanart on the side and find a group of people to fit into that will have your back. You need the backing here for it to work. Fanart is a requirement. Don’t come here if you can’t produce that or exceptional original art in your spare time. Promotion alone is not enough to tempt this beast. It requires a far more delicate touch considering the system is so unreliable. It isn’t by necessity the fault of the people using it. The search system simply hasn’t been updated in a dog’s age, and that means it’s outdated and glitchy as all get out.
Panda’s Take: Getting attention here is difficult but rewarding. What works one day may not work the next considering the system is outdated and hard to navigate.
FACEBOOK ADS / PAGES
I had once said these were a poor idea, but have changed my opinion on this since the fall of Project Wonderful. Without that to use as a money system and with Google’s system being so… well… what it is, I’ve changed my mind. I think it may be our best option. It can be expensive, I won’t lie. Facebook ads, if you don’t put a cap on them (but you CAN!) will get out of hand on you payment wise. Thankfully they do have a system in place now where you can choose how much you spend, and if you couple it with owning a Facebook PAGE and if that page does well, they will send you digital vouchers for $5, $20, etc. for their online advertising system! That’s free advertising and their system is pay-per-click, so it your ad stays up so long as people aren’t using up the clicks (though of course you want them to be!)
Panda’s Take: Make a Facebook Page instead of a Facebook Group. If you have the funds, use the advertising system or wait for a voucher for free advertising. Link to a Twitter account as well. I think this is a top-tier combination for webcomic advertising after the fall of Project Wonderful, providing you aren’t worried about letting your friends and family know what you’re up to!
Honorable Mention: Instagram: Why isn’t Instagram on the main list? Because Instagram is an image based site! They’re quick, mobile-based and don’t take favorably to promotions and links. Instagram was built as an image sharing platform, so promotions and linking to outside sources is foreign to the user base there. Try it as a supplement if you wish, though relying on it may potentially be a poor choice unless your following on there is huge. People with smaller fan bases likely won’t get good results and may even be questioned for their attempts.
End Note: Back in 2012 (I believe) Facebook did buy out Instagram. So what does this mean? AUTOMATIC CROSS ADVERTISING. Whatever advertising campaigns you set up on Facebook and utilize through their paid system will also show up on Instagram as part of THEIR paid advertising system. This means you do NOT have to run two accounts to get the same coverage! One Facebook page will cover BOTH if you use the paid system!
I’ve already sampled this system myself with my day job (of which I am also the head of Advertising & Marketing). The results are phenomenal. Spend a little to get a lot. Two platforms on one system? Yes, please! Look into this yourself to see how it can benefit you and your project best, and feel free to come forward and contact me (ServerPanda) here at Under The Ink if you have questions about the system! Alternatively, the team at Facebook itself is always willing to help!