Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

SM's comic advertising workshop
ShadowsMyst at 2:19PM, Feb. 16, 2011
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posts: 218
joined: 1-9-2006
So there's the other thread for analyzing audience, but its kinda stalled and getting a little overwhelming. People were posting, but no one was analyzing, so there was just one big list of comics, many young to really do anything with. So here's the deal for this thread.

Post your comic here AND your advertising banners for analysis. I will analyze the comic and figure out a number of promotion relevant factors as well as target audience type and give recommendations for where to go to advertise and promote that will have a higher chance of liking your comic AND look at your banners/promotional stuff and give you some graphic design-ey suggestions on how to improve it.

BUT, before you put things down, I've got a few RULES. Just to keep things from going nuts. I like helping, but I don't want to drown, you know?

1) Your comic MUST have at least 20 pages. At a M/W/F schedule, this is just around two months of life for the comic. You should have at least 20 pages before you start thinking about serious advertising and promotion. I also can't get a very good sense of you until I see at least this many pages. 20 pages also shows you've got some devotion to your comic, and that people coming to see it will have an archive to go through. This is important.

2)Give me the URL to your PRIMARY comic site. If its Drunk Duck, that's cool, but if you are using DD as a mirror, and plan to drive people to your main site, please give that to me instead. I need to see where people are going to go primarily.

3) I want to see ALL the banners you are using (or plan to use). from buttons, to banners, to squares. I need to see them all. You should have at least one banner to show me. I'm going to give advice, but I'm not going to do it for you. Link me to photobucket or post them in your thread with your application.

4) For your comic to be analyzed, I need some information. You need to fill this out with your post. There are no right or wrong answers, but these are factors I need to know to make relevant recommendations.

Copy and Complete this into your reply:
———————————-
Name:
Comic Primary URL:

1) How long has your comic been around?
Answer:

2) have you done paid advertising before (ie: something like project wonderful)?
Answer:

3) Are you willing to spend any money on advertising/promotion?
Answer:

4) What is your update schedule?
Answer:

5) Do you frequently miss updates?
Answer:

6) Do you interact with your readers regularly? (example: Do you recognize each commenter in your blogs? its okay if you don't, just be honest.)
Answer:

7) What programs to you use/have access to for creating ad graphics?
Answer:

8) What is your current readership (approx) and what would you like it to be?
Answer:

9) Please link your current advertising banners/materials here:


Okay, have at er. I'll start in on this thread later if anyone wants to take me up on this.

_____________________________________________________
I have a webcomic making blog! Check it out.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:32PM
BlkKnight at 12:30PM, Feb. 27, 2011
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posts: 1,101
joined: 5-28-2007
Guess I'll step up to this.

Name: Crossing Death
Comic Primary URL: http://www.crossingdeath.com

1) How long has your comic been around?
Answer: A little over 3 years

2) have you done paid advertising before (ie: something like project wonderful)?
Answer: No

3) Are you willing to spend any money on advertising/promotion?
Answer: Possibly

4) What is your update schedule?
Answer: Once a week

5) Do you frequently miss updates?
Answer: There may be delays, but nothing that pushes it outside the once a week schedule.

6) Do you interact with your readers regularly? (example: Do you recognize each commenter in your blogs? its okay if you don't, just be honest.)
Answer: Yes

7) What programs to you use/have access to for creating ad graphics?
Answer: Adobe CS5

8) What is your current readership (approx) and what would you like it to be?
Answer: 40-50

9) Please link your current advertising banners/materials here:
http://www.crossingdeath.com/links.php (Last tab)
http://www.crossingdeath.com/Banners/CD-SkyFil.png
That's “Dr. BlkKnight” to all of you.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:26AM
harkovast at 1:37PM, Feb. 27, 2011
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posts: 5,197
joined: 10-12-2008
I'll give it a try.

Name- Harkovast
Comic URL- http://www.drunkduck.com/Harkovast/

1) How long has your comic been around?
Answer: Just over two years

2) have you done paid advertising before (ie: something like project wonderful)?
Answer: Yes

3) Are you willing to spend any money on advertising/promotion?
Answer: Yes

4) What is your update schedule?
Answer: Once a week

5) Do you frequently miss updates?
Answer: No

6) Do you interact with your readers regularly? (example: Do you recognize each commenter in your blogs? its okay if you don't, just be honest.)
Answer: Yes, I have a forum for that express purpose.

7) What programs to you use/have access to for creating ad graphics?
Answer: Photoshop

8) What is your current readership (approx) and what would you like it to be?
Answer: I am not sure how many readers I have in total. I get roughly a 1000 hits a day, if that's any help. I certainly want a lot more!

9) Please link your current advertising banners/materials here:
http://www.drunkduck.com/community/view_topic.php?cid=4164&tid=48424&comic_id=31674&pid=682589#682589
I have a few other adverts that aren't on there, but that's the bulk of them.

Any suggestions to increase my readership would be greatly appreciated!

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:45PM
SoulSymph at 4:29PM, Feb. 27, 2011
(online)
posts: 3
joined: 3-28-2010
Name: Soul Symphony
Comic Primary URL: http://soulsymphonycomic.com/

1) How long has your comic been around?
Answer: Exactly 1 year as of March 1st.

2) have you done paid advertising before (ie: something like project wonderful)?
Answer: No.

3) Are you willing to spend any money on advertising/promotion?
Answer: To be honest, no.

4) What is your update schedule?
Answer: Every Monday and Friday.

5) Do you frequently miss updates?
Answer: I've missed approximately 5 updates this entire year.

6) Do you interact with your readers regularly? (example: Do you recognize each commenter in your blogs? its okay if you don't, just be honest.)
Answer: Yes, in terms of commenters I have like 10-15 avid fans who chime in pretty regularly, many of which I know personally. I comment back if I have something to say, which is semi-often.

7) What programs to you use/have access to for creating ad graphics?
Answer: Photoshop CS3 and Flash CS5

8) What is your current readership (approx) and what would you like it to be?
Answer: Main site and DD combined, approximately around 100-120 readers. Because many of the main site readers know about it because they know me in real life, I would prefer for it to be around 200.

9) Please link your current advertising banners/materials here:
Currently I only have this, which I made last year:
http://img822.imageshack.us/img822/8502/sjbannercopy.png
I plan to make a new one with my improved art, and maybe make multiple sizes.

Thanks for any help you can give! This workshop's a great idea!
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:50PM
elektro at 8:32PM, Feb. 27, 2011
(online)
posts: 807
joined: 6-18-2009
What the hey. I'll bite.

Name: Negligence
Comic Primary URL: http://www.drunkduck.com/Negligence/

1) How long has your comic been around?
Answer: Since August 2008. Been on Drunk Duck since June 2009.

2) have you done paid advertising before (ie: something like project wonderful)?
Answer: Yes

3) Are you willing to spend any money on advertising/promotion?
Answer: Already have

4) What is your update schedule?
Answer: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

5) Do you frequently miss updates?
Answer: No

6) Do you interact with your readers regularly? (example: Do you recognize each commenter in your blogs? its okay if you don't, just be honest.)
Answer: Sometimes. I usually interact when something is said other than the rating number, though.

7) What programs to you use/have access to for creating ad graphics?
Answer: Adobe CS2

8) What is your current readership (approx) and what would you like it to be?
Answer: According to the Google Analytics I set up, I've had anywhere from 11 to 51 unique visitors in the last two months. I would like to break 100, if not higher.

9) Please link your current advertising banners/materials here:
https://www.projectwonderful.com/img/uploads/pics/39114-1253768642.jpg
https://www.projectwonderful.com/img/uploads/pics/39114-1254116118.jpg
https://www.projectwonderful.com/img/uploads/pics/39114-1254971085.jpg
https://www.projectwonderful.com/img/uploads/pics/39114-1256179552.jpg
https://www.projectwonderful.com/img/uploads/pics/39114-1260513606.png
https://www.projectwonderful.com/img/uploads/pics/39114-1274667941.jpg

Hope this helps.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:21PM
Abt_Nihil at 6:27AM, Feb. 28, 2011
(offline)
posts: 1,212
joined: 8-7-2007
Name: HOLON
Comic Primary URL: http://www.drunkduck.com/holon

1) How long has your comic been around?
Answer: since July 2010

2) have you done paid advertising before (ie: something like project wonderful)?
Answer: Yup, project wonderful. I advertised on some other dd comic sites.

3) Are you willing to spend any money on advertising/promotion?
Answer: A bit, yes. Certainly not a lot more than $10 a month, except if it would mean a huge increase in readership, obviously.

4) What is your update schedule?
Answer: Mondays and Thursdays

5) Do you frequently miss updates?
Answer: No. I missed one or two since the comic started (8 months)

6) Do you interact with your readers regularly? (example: Do you recognize each commenter in your blogs? its okay if you don't, just be honest.)
Answer: I reply to each commenter, read some of their comics, and interact with them on the dd forums sometimes

7) What programs to you use/have access to for creating ad graphics?
Answer: Photoshop 7.0.1

8) What is your current readership (approx) and what would you like it to be?
Answer: I get maybe 100 hits per day, and five to ten comments/ratings per page. I have no idea what the “silent readership” amounts to. As for how many readers I'd like to have, I'll just go with Harkovast and say more. I have no clear numerical goals here.

9) Please link your current advertising banners/materials here:
Banner A
Banner B
Banner C
Button
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:44AM
ShadowsMyst at 2:25PM, Feb. 28, 2011
(online)
posts: 218
joined: 1-9-2006
Be warned, my answers for each comic are VERY long.

If you have any questions regarding your analysis, please feel free to ask.

Crossing Death Analysis

Audience
Webcomics it reminds me of: Order of the Stick, A modest destiny… sort of.
Genres: Roleplaying games, fantasy, online MMO, mythology
Art Genre: Stick men, minimalist, very cartoony
Primary audience gender: Likely male
Most likely audience age group to hook: 10ish to mid teens

Initial Impressions

Website Analysis from a new comer’s perspective:
The website was kind of sluggish, when attempting to read the first several comics, the site timed out more than once (and no it wasn’t my internet). This made it very hard to read the first comics efficiently. This could be possibly due to too many advertising areas. To make these perform better, it would be best to remove some and only keep one. This would probably also have the ad areas perform better if you want to make some cash on them. Reducing the ad space available on your site, drives up the value of that space because there’s less of it. I’d suggest removing the small banners under the comic and the buttons and keeping the skyscraper. Or remove all the ads but the two half banners under the comic. Skyscraper ads tend to command higher values, but the ads directly under the comics are useful in that they are ‘above the fold’ and likely to be seen. However, you generally don’t want to send people away from your site when they are reading the comics, so I’d personally suggest avoiding the temptation and just keep the one skyscraper ad where it is.

If you have mirror sites, make sure your PW ads are on them as well. (not new ones, to be clear, the same ones that are on your main site) It helps with traffic which keeps the value of your box up.

Another consideration is putting the comments made above the “leave a comment’ form block. People generally feel more comfortable interacting when they’ve seen other people have done it first. It also makes the commenter feel more visible and thus more appreciated.

Hooking/first five pages:
When I went to the first part of the archives, found the strip to be drastically different with no warning, also very small. Personally found it somewhat difficult to read. If text could be clarified on early strips, enlarged strips for easier readability it may hook new readers

Updating:
At the current level of art and storytelling and with the general genre of the comic, I believe that a once a week schedule is not optimum for this comic. The look of the latest comics suggests to me that the comic is done digitally using a vector based drawing program.

Art Notes:
The art style and focus seem to shift about half way through the comic from a sort of gag-a-day with a storyline, to a more long form format, but the pacing doesn’t change to a more long form match. Also some of the earlier hand drawn(?) strips are more expressive and have what I feel is a more accessible style. While the vector strips are clean, it suffers a bit from ‘sterilization’ which is common when vector is used and that factor isn't really accounted for. What I would suggest is to work on blending the old and the new, and really working on the expressions of the characters. (such as openning people's mouths when they talk and more aggressive with eyebrows, don't be lazy.)This is a particularly awesome reference for expressions for example. People gravitate towards faces, and the better your faces, the more people are going to be attracted to stay when you get them to your comic.

The problem with only updating once a week, is that the art and story really have to have the pacing and wow to support it. You need to really put your everything into those pages, something wow, something new. If nothing just to push yourself. If you want some tips on how even some subtle changes to your vector lines could really bring new life to the characters, let me know, I have a ton of vector drawing experience.

Metrics
I noticed Comicrank was being used to measure audience. Judging from that you’ve got an audience of about 50ish people . You weren’t specific about where you wanted to go, which makes it hard for me to make any suggestions, so I’m going to venture you’re going the long tail, and just slowly want to gain readers over time. I don’t know if you have a goal, although goal setting is important in marketing in general to see if you are actually making progress. I suggest setting a goal and a time frame to meet it to see if your efforts are generating any progress. Generally it also feels good to meet goals. A failure to meet a goal possibly means you might have to change strategies, and do so as many times as it takes to find one that works.

You probably have other metrics. Such as Google Analytics or webalizer on your webhost. Look at daily unique visits. That is an idea of how many actual people come to your site, not just page views. Keep an eye on the trend. The exact number will vary, but what you want to look at is trend. Are the numbers going up? or are they generally going down? If you make a chance to the website or to the comic art, where do the numbers go? It generally takes at least a month to watch a trend, but you need to continually experiment. Watch for things that seem to spike the trend upward. Just advertising isn’t enough, you also keep having to look to add value to your comic by continually improving the main content. But audiences are fickle. this is why you have to be on top of these numbers.

Interaction/Social Advertising
There is a facebook and twitter account, but the twitter account is not actively maintained and the button on the comic isn’t ideal for social media trends. Honestly, you should put a facebook ‘like’ button at the top of the page right next to your RSS link. It has been shown people don’t tend to click it otherwise. And you need to plug it in your daily comments. Everywhere. Twitter works best if you treat it as much as an IM tool to connect with audience and other authors rather than just as a glorified RSS. You need to inject your personality here, to make people care and thus, your work. You seem to just use it to plug your comic, and it doesn’t really take advantage of what twitter can do, since the value tends to actually come in retweeting other people’s stuff so they retweet yours, or having conversations so people want to help you by retweeting your updates or notices. Right now both facebook and twitter I feel are being underutilized as advertising tools.

Webcomic Lists
I noticed the webcomic list isn’t checking your site for updates, but you do have their button. Its probably on account of your CMS (which i understand you developed yourself?) You might want to look into making it compatible with their crawler, since you are missing out on alerting the readers on that site. You need to keep advertising to your ‘coverts’ too, keep reminding them in the places where they live that you exist.

Webcomicz I understand is pretty dead. You probably want to remove the button for voting, improve load time and lose a dead site.

Advertising material review

Current materials analysis:
Most of the linking banners appear to be old, and while the little blobby guy might be good on one, he really doesn’t speak to why readers should be interested in your comic. As a new reader, I’m not familiar with his character and he’s not really interesting enough on his own to provoke me to click. Which is the main reason for the materials. Your banner with the two guys reflects your old art style, not your new one, which is kind of deceptive. I’d suggest updating your materials to reflect your new art, so that when they arrive at your site, everything matches and readers aren’t like “wtf? is this a bait and switch?” The slogan you have “Adventurer tested, Sir Reginald Approved” doesn’t really work for me either, because it doesn’t say why *I* should read your comic. A lot of people use slogans inappropriately in marketing (trust me I see it every day at work.) and its unhelpful. You have to ask yourself “Why should a reader care?”. Slogans need to address the reader. A better version of this slogan would be something like

“Join the adventure, Sir Reginald style.”

You want to kind of woo the reader and give them them an action to follow. People need something called the “Call to action” which is basically telling someone what you want them to do after viewing your ad.

If you did have the Sir Reginald guy as your ‘mascot’, I’d suggest making him visually more interesting. Tilt him, Zoom into him, give him a more snooty expression. Something than just viewing him strait on. I’d also suggest doing more with him on your site than just the RSS feed. You need to make the little blobs more a part of the comic’s look and feel if you want to use them as an advertising hook.

The skyscraper banner you linked is much closer to what I think is more effective on a general level, also more honest about what your comic is like, although the character/pose in question is probably not the best choice. You aren’t very strong in foreshortening, and it shows. I think a three quarter or front pose from some of your main characters might be better (in their current incarnations). You may actually want to draw some splash art specifically geared towards the ad/banner formats. I don’t think that you really need to

Recommendations for ad material: Refresh your banners prior to using them to advertise with a stronger call to action, keep the text to a minimum and show more current art style. Possibly do some art, in the strongest poses you can draw, specifically for advertising banners (long thin orientations)

Advertising opportunities
Paid advertising - Project Wonderful
Since you have project wonderful, you do have the opportunity to use the money you earn from that to promote your material. I’ve found that particularly button campaigns can be very cheap ( like less than a dollar a week) if they are set up correctly. These are good to keep up a steady trickle, but work best when you have at least 7-8 different buttons graphics to rotate. The more the better, as it prevents ‘banner fatigue’. Basically where people get sick of seeing your ad. A fresh ad can often provoke a click when another button is under performing due to overexposure.

Half banners and regular banners can be very effective too for very cheap (like .01 cents a day)

There’s another strategy here, and that is to watch for any site that sends you a lot of hits. When you do a larger banner campaign, you need to have something like analytics or webalizer watching your referrers, and anything that sends you 10 or more visits should be flagged as a good site for advertising for you. It means that your style is jiving with that comic’s audience. At that point, if they have a leaderboard or skyscraper, you might consider doing an ad there, but ONLY on the days you update. That keeps your costs down, and the material fresh. Never advertise for more than three days after an update. Retention goes down, and often you are attracting the same people, so they won’t stick around if there’s nothing new. But if you only advertise when you update, people will begin to know when they see your ad, there’s an update.

Since you have your own domain, you might also consider PW ads on networks, like Palace in the sky, other free hosts like SmackJeeves, or ComicGenesis. Their ads are expensive, but if you set a limit (usually the minumum is 1.00, its in the extended menu), you can still pick up a lot of exposure in a very short period of time, and you are being seen over a lot of comic sites for only one ad.

You can also create targeted campaigns at certain domains, like drunk duck. On average, most drunk duck sites have reasonably cheap or free ad. Just specify the domain when you are doing the initial search for advertising in PW when you are starting a campaign.

I’d suggest primarily targeting American traffic if you pay for it. If you can get almost free or free advertising on european or canadian traffic, it can be alright to go for it, but if you are paying US traffic tends to deliver more bang for the buck.

If you are willing to bid on sites by hand, you can do a lot of free advertising by simply bidding 0s on low cost ads like buttons. Try to keep as many of these going as possible. Free bids only last 2 days, but if you juggle them you can advertise for free on a lot of sites.

When it comes to advertising, you will notice a surge while you advertising, but when you stop, things will peeter out. Hopefully though, you will see a slow retention, a few people stick around, particularly if you mention them in your blog, making them feel welcome. I see you do say hi to commenters, which is a good practice.

Other low cost advertising
Link Exchanges - I notice your active comic links are looking a bit thin. I’d suggest finding other people with similar art style or genre to yourself, and asking to exchange links. If you don’t feel comfortable putting it in an active comics area, make an area for link exchanges. The more link love, the better.

Comment on other comics that are larger than you but similar - Go around and find some of the biggies that have a similar art style or genre. The two biggest ones your comic reminded me of was Order of the Stick and a modest destiny. Order of the stick has forums, you could join, become an active commenter and put one of your new banners in your sig. Don’t go there to flog your comic, go there to become part of the forum community. Its fairly large, so you could probably pick up readers from there over time as you get known.

Comment on other comics - A lot of comics these days allow comments, not just on DD but on main sites. Since you run one, its good to comment on these sites if they let you leave a URL. Get a gravatar and leave a helpful/nice comment. This helps two fold. One it provides a legit link back from a comic, which helps your google pagerank, and it leaves a link to your comic so if people like your comment, they’ll check you out and hopefully stick around.

Comment on other comic’s facebook pages - This exposes you not only to the comic author, but to all the fans of that other comic. Its a good way to show good will and slyly show yourself off at the same time.

Fan Art - Do more fan art for comics that are similiar but bigger than yours. On your DA it can get you more followers, and if its of another comic it might get you a permanent link back if you give it to them. Most comics that aren’t huge will link back in their fan art section.

Final Thoughts
My primary recommendations for this comic are:
- Work on the art to regain more of the hand drawn fluidity and expression, and less vector stiffness
- work on updating more frequently or adjust the page pacing to support a once a week updating schedule to keep established readers coming back more often and bringing their friends.
- Get more involved on a personal level with other people in social media and forums of comics bigger than you to draw people to your work
- Use broad but cheap button campaigns with new banner/button artwork in PW to keep a steady flow of new visitors to the site.

_____________________________________________________
I have a webcomic making blog! Check it out.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:32PM
harkovast at 12:37AM, March 7, 2011
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posts: 5,197
joined: 10-12-2008
Is this still going on?

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:45PM
Genejoke at 1:40AM, March 7, 2011
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posts: 3,031
joined: 4-9-2010
I think it is just taking him a while to analyse all of you many many advertising and promotional methods. You did give him a mammoth task.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:34PM
harkovast at 9:08AM, March 7, 2011
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posts: 5,197
joined: 10-12-2008
That's true, I sure do love my shameless self promotion.
I am on the belfry, webcomic list, topwebcomics, tv tropes, wikifur, fur affinity, deviant art and probably some other places I am forgetting and I have a banner exchange thing on my site AND I do link exchanges in the authors notes.
And I throw out shameless plugs for my comic when ever I get chance…like right now!
READ HARKOVAST!

And yet I still dont seem to have very many readers! Damn it!

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:45PM
ShadowsMyst at 11:24AM, March 7, 2011
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posts: 218
joined: 1-9-2006
It is a rather monumental task and its taking me a little longer than I'd originally intended. I'm trying to be as complete as I can with my analysis. And Harkovast does do a lot of promotion, I want to make sure I've covered my bases. RL has also been a bit intrusive. I AM about half way through. I should be able to post it soon.

And her. You gave /her/ a monumental task. :) I'm a girl. XD


_____________________________________________________
I have a webcomic making blog! Check it out.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:32PM
Genejoke at 12:53PM, March 7, 2011
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posts: 3,031
joined: 4-9-2010
Someone
And her. You gave /her/ a monumental task. I'm a girl. XD


I did consider making it sound more vague but i thought “Nah, it's obviously a bloke.”

Next you'll be telling me Hark isn't a cat.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:34PM
harkovast at 12:06PM, March 8, 2011
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posts: 5,197
joined: 10-12-2008
Wait, a girl?
But girls have cooties!
Do girls even read comics?
Do they make comics about ironing?
(Kidding! Kidding!)
I'm really excited to see what you make of it shadowsmyst.

Genejoke- I am 100% kitty here, don't worry about that.

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:45PM
ShadowsMyst at 3:25PM, March 8, 2011
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posts: 218
joined: 1-9-2006
Okay, here it is. I've had to break it up into two parts.

Harkovast
Part 1

Audience
Webcomics it reminds me of: None really, although it vaguely reminds me, art style of maus, but not storywise. Has a quazi indepentant/euro comic vibe.
Genres: Furry/Anthro, Fantasy, Historical
Art style: Traditional, Independant,
Primary audience gender: Likely Male
Most likely audience age group to hook: Youth to young adult

Retention
Website first impressions:
While the site is fairly functional, its a bit on the busy side. The artwork of the comic itself is somewhat busy due to just the nature of traditional pencil work. I felt the page didn’t direct the flow of my eye very well. I think removal of the black and white artwork from the background and using a more plain or neutral background without the lineart would put the focus back onto the comic. I’d also suggest Improving the header, as right now, it is almost too plain.
I would also note, not as any sort of downer to drunkduck, but on average most free hosted sites do not see the same kind of traffic your own domain/privately hosted website does. For some reason people just don’t be as willing to go. Its also more difficult to keep track of conversions and campaigns and such as you are limited to what metrics you can use. If you are serious about raising your profile, and you are willing to spend money, I’d suggest getting your own domain and hosting and use DD as a mirror. Also, the ads at the top span too far. They should probably be stacked at the bottom of the comic page rather than above. You want people to get to the comic first. That or switch the half banners to a single banner or leader board and place it above your comic’s title banner. Keep the title and the comic together. Don’t separate them with ads. It breaks up the flow of your site in a bad way, design wise. Remember, ads send people away from your site. Either keep them at the very top (for the value) or below the fold so people have already read through your stuff before they see something distracting and click-able.

Hooking/first five pages:
Loading time issues. It was PAINFUL for me to get into the archives of your comic. The pages from Harkovast, even on a fast university connection load ridiculously slow. After checking one of the most recent pages I determined that it was over 700K! These pages need to be optimized for better loading times or people are just going to get frustrated and leave after attempting to read only one or two pages. I verified this in Photoshop using the ‘save for web and devices’ dialogue (not the regular save dialogue) and found that I could compress the JPG to 60 quality with little discernible quality loss to reduce the file size to 179K. Even at 80 quality the jpg was reduced to a much better 302K. Save the higher quality JPGs for the printed book, this is the web, make sure your jpgs are optimized! With more and more people using mobile devices and networks for browsing the web, keeping filesizes manageable is becoming more important again. Your audience is impatient and has the attention span of the roadrunner on speed with a serious case of ADD. If your stuff isn’t loading as fast as it possibly can, then you are going lose people before they get started.

Type issues. There’s a LOT of fonts used over the course of Harkovast, and and generally, (this is coming from a professional) in the rules of typography, in any one work, you should limit yourself to a total of three fonts. For comics, this usually means one main ‘dialogue font’, one ‘special’ font for things like title pages, or narration, and usually a couple of ‘sfx’ fonts (where you can get away with using crazy fonts). With the rather busy nature of your artwork (especially since its got a boatload of texture being colored pencils) the serif typefaces you use, particularly since you neglect the use of text bubbles to quiet the area around the text make it more difficult and well… just unpleasant to read. I notice in some of the later pages you’ve got a glow around some of the text, which helps a bit, but still isn’t as good as it could be. You should be accounting for the quiet area for the text in the color pencil work as a part of the layout. I’ve made this mistake in my past, bad type, and it hurt my comic’s potential to hook readers a lot. The serify/scriptish fonts also tend to have to be larger to be legible which means obscuring MORE artwork than necessary. I’d highly suggest moving to a sans serif font for your exposition in the first several pages (which is kind of a no-no when ‘hooking’ in comics, show, don’t tell, but that’s a totally different discussion.) and onward through the comic. I also suggest standardizing your dialogue font. Since you hang your hat on a medieval theme, I’d suggest using fonts that support that, rather than detract from it. And generally speaking, nothing that comes with your computer is a decent font. There are so many better free fonts out there.
Dialogue font ideal size on a computer screen is about 9-10 point. You shouldn’t have to go bigger than 10.5pt or its not really a good pick. And please, never use Papyrus for anything ever again. Its just… terrible.

Fonts that I would suggest to you for an exposition font (pick one) would be:
Chronicles of a Hero (this one is nice in that it has upper and lower case)
http://www.blambot.com/font_coah.shtml
Ale & Wenches (its a serif but its got enough punch to be readable in a block) http://www.blambot.com/font_aleandwenches.shtml
Dragon Bones (an interesting font that’s got a bit of a fantasy/medieval feel to it)
http://www.blambot.com/font_dragonbones.shtml

If you hate comicish fonts try:
Qlassik - Very interesting descenders
http://www.dafont.com/qlassik.font
Amerika sans - a sans with a slight fantasy bent, again, interesting descenders on letters like g.
http://www.dafont.com/amerika-sans.font

For maximum readability for the readers, dialogue should be reasonably uniform. Again, using fonts designed for this purpose is better than using standard ones if you aren’t a professional typographer. I’d suggest using a single font for ALL dialogue EXCEPT characters of particular note (such as a main villain) who might have a very distinctive voice. A disadvantage to not using proper text bubbles is you miss out on using them as an expression of voice. If you feel you need to use type to distinguish your character’s voices, and can’t rely on your visuals to keep them distinct, then there’s a problem with your visuals. If you do continue using different faces for say different races, make sure they are all similar in terms of their font family (all dialog fonts for example, all sans, etc) and don’t mix more than three faces on a page.

Recommended type faces for dialogue:
You’ll want something reasonably bold and easy to read, because your artwork is so busy and textured. I’d suggest using bubbles, or at the very least, keep up with the glows. 10.5pt is the max size for a dialogue font.
Alter Ego - http://www.blambot.com/font_alterego.shtml A nice bold dialogue font, it would work very well, but its a pay font.
Anime Ace 2 - Don’t let the name fool you, its a very good dialogue font with a sort of fantasyish flare with its curvy nature. Like the other one, its pretty bold. And its free. -http://www.blambot.com/font_animeace2.shtml
Manga Temple - This is one of those really good ‘bad guy’ dialogue fonts. Its highly readable, bold, but looks mysterious and just… well badass. http://www.blambot.com/font_mangatemple.shtml
Unmasked - Another good bold, slighly unconventional dialogue font. Its got a good roundness to fit more in your genre. http://www.blambot.com/font_unmasked.shtml

For your identity font, to do your title, if you are going to go with the medieval flare go all the way. Don’t take a war and make it all fluffy. Curly/scripty fonts tend to say fluffy. We also need distinctive! This is a brand, and brands are distinctive! All fonts in a brand are carefully chosen. I’ve chosen these for both their readability and style. A lot of blackletter-ish fonts are illegible, but there are some gems. If you don’t like my selections I suggest searching “free blackletter fonts” for yourself and hunt down a good blackletter font for your title. Just make sure its readable.

Ideas for main title font:
Kells Uncial:
http://www.fontspace.com/digital-graphics-labs/kells-uncial
Deutsch Gothic
http://www.fontspace.com/james-fordyce/deutsch-gothic
Magda
http://www.fontspace.com/barmee/magda
Caslon Antique
http://www.fontpool.com/fonts/grouptype/caslon_antique.html


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last edited on July 14, 2011 3:32PM
ShadowsMyst at 3:26PM, March 8, 2011
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posts: 218
joined: 1-9-2006
Harkovast(cont part 2)

Updating:
Updating for this sort of long form, once a week can keep people coming back as long as you’ve got the right pacing, and there’s some evidence the pacing is alright. Of course, the more pages the better, but I completely understand if long form is only once a week manageable. Particularly between two people with five kids. One thing that is usually recommended to keep up site traffic is content between updates that might be related but not actually comics. I see you do some of that in terms of what’s on your forums, but its really hard on DD to put up blogs or extra art that doesn’t interfere with the main story. You could get around this on your own website, but its hard on DD.

Art Notes:
I don’t want to get too much into the semantics of art, but I’ll state some facts that I’ve learned over my decade plus in webcomics in relation to popularity and the gaining of readership in relation to art, style, and mediums. Like it or not, there are some universal truths. Indie art styles (such as the one Harkovast uses) will not readily attract /as large/ of an audience as more popular styles and techniques in any given genre/demographic. Also, in online comics, traditional media, unless you happen to be an art god (and even then, because comic readers aren’t used to it), don’t attract as well as digital styles. There is a reason why most comic makers don’t use traditional mediums anymore. For example in my old comic, Shifters, I switched from using pencils to digital greyscaling and saw a significant jump in readership retention. And I didn’t have nearly the tools for advertising we have today. I saw another significant jump when I went from traditional line work to digital line work.

When you choose an indie style, particularly for something that already has established lines of popular styles (such as in the furry art community, although not so much the fantasy art community), and kind of fly against those lines, you will find yourself ice skating uphill, figuratively speaking, when it comes to getting your ‘conversions’ up. Conversions are when a visitor becomes a permanent reader. While you might get a lot of visitors with your marketing, if they aren’t converting and sticking, then there’s something going wrong at some point in the conversion process. The webcomic audience just don’t seem as attracted to certain looks, and you have to kind of make a decision about where to spend your money and time. Obviously one of the great things about webcomics is that we don’t have editors or anyone telling us what we HAVE to do, but at the same time, it means we have to make these kinds of decisions for ourselves. To get as far as you have with what you are working with is testament to your ability to market yourself.

All the marketing in the world will not move a product that just doesn’t fit its audience. You have to accept that this type of artwork has a limited reach and you cannot expect fast growth no matter how much marketing you do. If you want to attract more readers faster, you may have to look at improving the product to match expectations of the audience you are trying to reach, or distinguishing why people should find value in your product. I read in your forum you are a self trained artist, and as such I highly suggest that if you are willing to invest in your comic for marketing, that you also invest in yourself as an artist. If you can take classes or do workshops with other artists, particularly in studying anatomy and movement, and for your lady in working with the medium of pencils from those that are more skilled and can introduce her to more techniques particularly in the areas of lighting and color theory. If you are bound and determined to work with traditional mediums, you have to work on truly mastering them and bringing serious wow factor. You might also consider mixing mediums, going truly hard into the traditional side of the spectrum working with watercolor pencils or markers in addition to pencils. While you might very much enjoy the work you are doing now, popularity is not about you. Its about what the audience will be gravitated towards. Popularity and artistic integrity do not always mix. You have to make a choice as to which you want to pursue in earnest.

One of the side notes, I’m not sure if you know, is that traditionally most comic artists have always used markers for coloring because they tend to reproduce better (scans and prints if you ever intend to do a book) in terms of being brighter and provide smoother, cleaner color. Of course you need to use decent markers, such as prismacolor markers or copics, which are blendable. Many people use markers as a base for larger areas of color or areas that need smooth blending such as skies, and only use pencils for texture and shadow. It would reduce some of the busy texture of the art, and establish more focus. Its also easier to light with the ability to wash color.

Metrics
Comicrank indicates a readership of about 360 currently.
According to the metrics I can access, like project wonderful stats, Harkovast is seeing about 1000ish pageviews, but that’s from about 200-300 uniques, so I’d say that Comic rank’s estimate of your audience is looking fairly accurate. Its hard to get good metrics on DD as the traffic thing only shows page views not uniques.

Because I don’t know much about where your traffic is coming from, I can’t see what your ratio of conversions is, or get any idea of how much traffic you are getting vs retaining. That ratio tells you how well you are doing for keeping the people you do attract. I know that comic rank does tell you your conversion ratio, and ideally it should be around 30-40% and if its lower than that, there’s something going a bit sideways. Since you don’t have your own host, I’m guessing you don’t have anything like google analytics active on your site.

Good metrics can tell you how well you are doing in terms of targeting and how effective your advertising materials are.The more you have numbers, the better feedback you are getting on how your money is being spent. Your main concern though is ROI, or return on investment, if you are spending money. How many people are you getting converted, versus how many people are just visiting and leaving. The conversion ratio will dictate how well you are actually doing at hooking readers. If you are seeing a lot of visitors, but a low conversion ratio, you need to really examine stuff like layout, and the execution of your first five pages for hooking new readers and upping the accessibility of your story to new readers. A reader will not wait 10, or twenty or thirty pages to get into the story. You’ve got five pages or less to convince a new reader that its worth continuing.

Interaction/Social Advertising
Social media buttons are lacking from the website. I don’t see a facebook or twitter button, I do see a stumbleupon button but its buried at the bottom of the site. Its probably not doing much good there. Like it or not, social media is becoming key to people finding sites of interest on the web.
I did locate the facebook page but its not easily accessible from the website. There should be a like button on the website, top right hand corner, or at least a series of icons. The FB page only currently has 5 likes, which isn’t enough I think to get a custom URL, so you should be getting people on that so that they share it with their friends and you can build relationships with your readers there as well as on your site. Don’t underestimate the power of facebook. I could not locate a Harkovast twitter account. Given that the webcomic community has such a strong presence there, its a huge missed opportunity.
I did find your DA account, which hasn’t had a new journal post since 2009, which may lead people to think that the account isn’t being maintained at first glance. I also notice you post entire pages on these other art sites. Its actually better to post a teaser panel, and drive them to your main site. This way you can track them. otherwise readers can get lost, just by the virtue of they are following you in too many places and they aren’t making it to your main site to be counted. I would advise the same on your FA page. It would be good to maintain a little more than just a comic dump if you want to get the most out of these pages, and keeping them current is a must. Letting things like journal posts languish suggests that you aren’t there, paying attention to your watchers. In this day and age its as much about reaching out to them, as them reaching out to you. I also notice you dont’ tend to post in much art aside from comic work. There isn’t even anything in your sketches. I looked in your forum, and see you’ve done fan art, and incentive sketches and maps, but I didn’t immediately see those in your other galleries. I think you are losing opportunities there to catch eyes.

Webcomic Lists
Harkovast seems to be listed in most of the comic lists that matter. This seems pretty well covered.

Advertising material review
Current materials analysis:
Looking over the current material, once again I’m going to recommend the use of a sans serif font for everything BUT the name. It’s just taking up way too much of the space when a sans would be equally readable, and be able to be much smaller.

Generally you tend to advertise/promote a LOT consistently which results in swifter banner/ad fatigue than those who promote in bursts. This means you need a larger amount of banners and variety than other people. You also tend to focus on the animal people of the comic, but your armor designs are actually generally better rendered and more interesting than your furry figures. While its good to have some showing the furry side of your comic, you should also show case the other side, namely the armor design. This might also appeal to people who are not furries who may also find your comic interesting, such as history enthusiasts.I also suspect you did these banners a while ago, some of the art seems older. Again, with the amount you advertise/post/promote, you need to refresh these regularly.

You seem to lean towards the writing side, as you tend to be very wordy. You need to really cut this down, particularly in banners. No one really cares to read much on them. You’ve got about four words and your title. I think the first skyscraper is one of the more effective images, although with the text it seems odd to have green blood. Just as a note as well, more people find faces more attractive when they are looking at something obvious, such as the reader. Its naturally engaging. It would be better to do some splash art where the figure is clearly looking at the intended reader as a target, and use something short and punchy if you feel the need to use a tagline. Use four words as your guidelines and try to avoid cliche sayings. For someone who seems to hate cliche fantasy stuff, the lines on your banners are pretty cheesy. Try approaching writing banner ad copy as addressing a person and saying in less than five words why they should care about your comic. For you, even just “Harkovast: Read it” might work. I’d say avoid any sort of tagline on anything other than skyscraper banners. If you do write a tag line try to match the expression of the characters with the tone of the line. The fox skyscraper banner falls flat because the tagline doesn’t match the rather serene looking fox. You’ve also mentioned that you don’t do the chicks in chainmail, which is unconventional as far as most fantasy works are concerned. You should show that sort of thing rather than some otherwise un-combat related fox woman.

Recommendations for ad material:
Many more variations to avoid banner fatigue, showcase more of the armor designs than just focusing on the figures/faces; avoid too much text on banners.

Advertising opportunities
Other low cost advertising:
You are already doing alot of the low cost stuff. Link exchanges, using your readers, even fan art, although you can always do more. I think you should look at more social media. Also, because you use an art style that is non traditional to comics, you need to seek non traditional comic readers. One group of people you might look to tap are people into more historical themed stuff, those who might be a part of the SCA or attend Renfests. You also would probably have more luck sussing out audiences from other alternative or independent comics, because they are more willing to accept your sort of art style.

Paid advertising
I’m sure you already do work through project wonderful, you might also consider including sites that deal with armor, weapons, or medieval history (blogs and that sort of thing) in your campaigns. With an increased number of banners in your rotation, you’ll avoid banner fatigue a lot faster and it gives you a chance to watch and see which banners work the best. Remove under performing banners and replace with new ones as required.

Another opportunity you might seek out is putting your comic into Renfair programs, perhaps even as a sponsor, or going to places like those sorts of faires and seeing if you can hand out fliers or put some on the table for people to take. Make sure if you are targeting that audience, you focus on your armor designs as imagery as it is more likely to resonate with that group.

You might also consider making ashcans and handing them out, particularly at cons as traditional mediums tend to read better as paper, and less online, since that’s more what they were designed to be enjoyed as. With pencils though, make sure you really watch your color, and don’t be afraid to apply a bit of Gaussian blur to avoid over texture showing.

Final Thoughts
Choosing to go traditional over digital is a tough sell and is a bit of an uphill battle, particularly with modern online comic readers. While you seem very happy with your work, there are certain challenges that need to be over come if popularity is in fact your goal. Finding non traditional audiences for your comic will likely be essential as most traditional comic readers have moved to favoring digital styles, and you need to continually work to master your chosen medium and not be afraid to experiment with mixed and other traditional mediums, particularly being self taught artists to continually improve yourselves and your comic making skills. I do seriously encourage you to try markers in addition to colored pencils.

There are some major technical issues with your comic site at the moment, technical issues with your page file size, excessive font usage which decreases readability, and a certain busy-ness to your artwork that needs to be addressed by quieting space around the text and quieting the website around the artwork. These technical issues actually can prevent readers from engaging. It was bad enough for me as a reviewer to become very frustrated, never mind a casual reader. This is hurtful to conversions. You may also want to consider when you want to ‘go to the next level’ and get your own site/domain, or if you are content with where you are.

Social media seems to be highly neglected with your comic, and being as that more and more people are using it as a means to find content to read and ways to share with others, its important that you learn to manage this along with other promotional/marketing strategies. You’ve also seemed to let some of your art sites fall a bit under the way side, try to make sure you get your materials like sketches, maps, and fan art at all your art sites. And instead of updating full comics, upload teasers and previews and drive people to your primary comic site so you can track them.

With the amount you promote yourself, refreshing your visuals regularly and promoting your most recent artwork is important. Make sure you, or get some of your readers to help, designing many banners and change them in and out frequently to avoid ad fatigue and also show your newer, improved art.

Primary recommendations:
-Fix technical issues with oversized files, bad fonts/difficult readability, and busy site.
-Get on the social media train
-Keep current art outreach sites current with stuff other than just comics
-If traditional medium use is vital, make sure you invest in courses/workshops/artist get togethers to increase your artistic knowledge of traditional mediums to stretch and grow as artists. Otherwise consider doing more digitally. It does help with avoiding the pencil shaving debacles.
-Consider experimenting with markers in addition to pencils.
-Make newer, more appropriate and very numerous banners/buttons for advertising and swap them often depending on how frequently you run advertising.
-Look for more audience outside of the furry community, using your medieval influences to your advantage, and use traditional mediums like paper at real venues to garner interest with unconventional audience groups.

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last edited on July 14, 2011 3:32PM
harkovast at 5:13AM, March 9, 2011
(online)
posts: 5,197
joined: 10-12-2008
Wow, you really went in depth there.
The image file size thing had not occured to me. It should be relatively easy to fix though, so that should be one thing done right away.

I got the sense you didn't like the comic much at all there (in fact I get the feeling you absolutely hated it!) so thanks for sticking with it enough to work all that information out. I felt a few times there you were struggling for a nice way to say “This is crap! Why would anyone do something this way?”
I guess pencil art is not for everyone. I like how it looks, and its kind of the unique thing of the comic is that it looks a certain way, so I really cant imagine changing that. I might get less crappy at drawing over time, but the way its made is likely to remain unchanged.

I will chew over your points in more detail later when I have more time.

But thanks again for your input.

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:45PM
ShadowsMyst at 11:16AM, March 9, 2011
(online)
posts: 218
joined: 1-9-2006
Keep in mind that when I write these things I really do try to look at it from an impartial marketing perspective. If I came across that I hate your comic, I apologize. I don't hate it, but I can't say it would be a regular read of mine. But do keep in mind I can be in love with something and still rip it apart. To be honest, it kind of reminds me of my old artwork when I was in highschool, and I can see clearly all the glaring mistakes. But if you think I'm being hard on you, consider that I'm at least five times that on myself.

Although seeing as you seem to be chasing popularity, I wrote my analysis from the point of view of both my experience, and the general market trends. I've worked in marketing for almost 8 years now, I sort of have an idea of the way things trend. I've had an interest in ‘what makes a webcomic popular?’ for over a decade. And I'll tell you, that if you think I'm being harsh, the ‘crowd’ is a far harsher critic than I could ever be.

I am a professionally trained artist and graphic designer, and I've made every mistake you've made and more. I started in webcomics in 1998. I've been screwing up for over 13 years now. :P I don't begrudge anyone their learning curve.

I don't want to derail the thread, but although I might seem a little hardline, I don't hate anyone's work. I can see merit and room for improvement in everyone's creative works, especially my own. I don't want to derail this thread though, so I'll send any further feedback via PQ.



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last edited on July 14, 2011 3:32PM
ShadowsMyst at 3:20PM, March 15, 2011
(online)
posts: 218
joined: 1-9-2006
Soul Symphony

Audience
Webcomics it reminds me of: 1977 the comic a little, but very different demographics and stories. Otherwise, not much save for 1980s some 1990s cartoons….
Genres: modern, magical girl, adventure, highschool, magical pet
Art Genre: North American, cartoony/animation
Primary audience gender: Most likely male just due to percentage of male to female readers, although I could see there being a higher percentage of females than usual on this one.
Most likely audience age group to hook: early teens to mid twenties

Retention
Website Analysis from a new comer’s perspective:
The main site is a standard comicpress/wordpress setup with little customization which makes it a bit bland and stark. I would suggest perhaps revisiting your header banner to include your main characters rather than the musical instruments that you have now, which makes it feel a little more like a music lesson site. I’d also suggest, at least for the header banner to avoid strait across music lines. Tilt them or find yourself some free vectors of music notes (Example: http://www.designfreebies.org/free-vectors/free-vectors-colorful-musical-notes/) to put in the background that are a little more dynamic and hopefully include at least your main characters. Strait lines are kind of dead and it makes the site feel very boring on first glance.

Hooking/first five pages:
Within the first five pages we have the setting, characters, and basic plot clearly established. The fonts are readable the artwork is reasonably clean and easy to follow. The first five pages also avoid many pit falls of other comics such as walls of text and clearly show what’s going on without resorting to telling the audience what’s going on. This is a good thing. Well done.

Updating:
Updates seem pretty regular although the actual number of panels in an update can vary wildy, particularly in the beginning. You might consider standardizing your panel layouts and if you do more panels than you need (4-5 panels a ‘page’ is usually standard), divide it into two and do a bonus update. More updates if you can do it, tends to equal more readership over time. A lot of pages could be easily broken up into two updates. Doing that you would get the holy three updates a week. Mon/wed/fri is the ideal updating schedule. But its not necessary, just a suggestion since it wouldn’t add to your workload.

Art Notes:
The art is reasonably well styled and clean, although the page/panel numbers vary wildly causing the reader to have to scroll down a lot sometimes. While its not too bad, it is a little annoying. If you do ever intend to collect your work into a book, it’s going to require some rejigging. You may not have considered it yet, but most webcomic artists do consider doing a book at some point. In terms of merchandise and reach, its our #1 marketing tool in the non digital world. I see some attempt at being more consistent with later panels, but its still pretty variable.

Also as a note with the recent flash page, it is a best practices thing to include a static page so that people who are on mobile devices, at work, or simply run without flash don’t miss out. (and aren’t forced to watch it over and over when visiting your site) Making the flash file viewing mandatory is a bit of a turn off for a lot of viewers. If you want to continue using flash, I’d suggest having a static comic page created from scenes from the flash file with a link to view the flash version of the comic as an option, not a mandatory.

Metrics
I couldn’t really locate any metrics outside of whatever your server must have or if you have analytics on there. I usually advise at least two different analytics for comparison as they can vary very widely. I know comicrank is behind on adding new comics, but if you can get on it, its good promotion and a good way to track readership.

Another thing you are going to need to gleen from your metrics is how people are finding you. Specifically, what keywords they are using. If you want to be found by readers, you’ve got to hang your hat (figuratively speaking) on some keywords relating to the subject and feel of your webcomic. Very few people are going to put “Soul Symphony” into a search engine. ( although, notably you came up on google’s first page for that), but are more likely to search for “Music webcomic” or “Adventure webcomic”. You need to find some more common key words that describe you and make sure you incorporate them consistently into your site. Likely in your title of your page would be best.

I did find what appeared to be a dead SmackJeeves site. If you are going to abandon a mirror, its best to get rid of it completely so that people go to the site you want them to go to. Otherwise if that’s their first impression of your comic, they might think its just another dead webcomic and not know its a mirror or that you just aren’t updating THAT site anymore. Having too many of these sites also kind of dilutes your fan base so its harder to track your actual readership. Comicrank is good to help with that, but its hard to get onto right now.

Interaction/Social Advertising
A twitter link and TVtropes link is visible from your page, but you don’t have a facebook page link. It’s a general fact that most readers are more likely to follow you on facebook than twitter. Twitter tends to me more creators, less readers. Also, more people are likely to share you on facebook. On a recent survey on my own website, facebook was used over twitter at nearly a 10:1 ratio. If you don’t want to spend money advertising, you need to use the big social media to your advantage. In general you seem active on twitter, but you need to get your followers up. Best way to do this is to start locating other comic artists and networking by following them. A lot will follow you back. Also, retweeting other people’s comic updates you like may get yours retweeted by people with larger followings than you. The retweet is very important.

Webcomic Lists
I found a listing at thewebcomiclist.com and deviantart (it seemed a bit outdated on the journal), but I didn’t find a listing at onlinecomics.net, nor at http://belfrycomics.net/. You might also consider putting a listing at the Webcomics Wiki http://www.comixpedia.org and Topwebcomics.com. I know that a lot of people don’t like topcomic lists, but there’s a lot of traffic through tobwebcomics, and it can be worth it for the traffic alone. You might not rank high, but you’ll probably still catch some curious readers.

Advertising material review

Current materials analysis:
In a word, thin. There isn’t much to talk about as there isn’t much there. You should, at the very least, have one banner for each of the standard banner sizes. Ideally you want more than one, so that if one image doesn’t grab, you have a chance with another variation. This isn’t just for advertising, but for people who want to link to you. Banners tend to be better than pure text links with visual stuff because it gives you a chance to show your stuff. People are more likely to click on a link with some kind of preview than just a plain text link. Show your stuff!

Since you don’t want to spend a lot of money on ads, you need to get the most you can from people linking to you and thus you need to make it easy as possible by providing the most popular link banner sizes:
468x60 (full banner)
234x60 (half banner)
200x40 ← this is generally most popular in terms of size
117x30
88x31 (micro button)

You should endeavor to have at least one of each size available from your links page. In this day and age, people are less likely to ask to link as to just do it. You want to make sure they have all the tools they need to present your comic to their readers as favorably as possible.

Recommendations for ad material:
Make more of it. Use newer art and make several buttons and banners and encourage people to use them to link to your site.

Advertising opportunities
Other low cost advertising:
You don’t have much going on your site, its pretty sparse. This does mean you do have some space to put some stuff if you wanted to. Banner exchanges are still out there you could join, such as http://exchange.kappukoohi.com/, or http://mystarship.com/banner_exchange.html. There are others if you do your research. Link exchanges with other ‘bigger than you’ comics are also important, but you want to try to make sure that you are hitting on comics that will share some of your demographic. If you aren’t sure who’s all reading your comic ( age, gender, likes, dislikes), get a poll widget for your wordpress blog and find out! The information will help you target other people who are similar who will like your stuff. Another source of traffic can be other comics you like, especially if you take the time to comment on them. Most comics these days have comments, and it also nets you linkbacks to your own site most of the time. If you have a nice avatar, and you seem intelligent, people might click your link. Working on your SEO for your page, making it easier for people with the right interests to find you, will also help.

Paid advertising:
Unlike most comics these days, you don’t have a single project wonderful ad box on your site. This might be a conscious “ I don’t want ads on my site” decision, or maybe something you just ‘haven’t gotten around to’ or maybe don’t have the technical savvy to do. Fortunately, there is a simple plugin for wordpress that will handle your PW ads as a widget. Just install it, give it the information it wants and place it like any other widget.

Like it or not, ads, specifically PW are one of the fastest, best ways to gain profile and readership these days. Having a PW ad on your site will allow you to earn a little money, which you can then, subsequently use towards advertising on other sites. You can also advertise on a lot of PW sites for free as long as you are willing to babysit your ads, since you can only bid zero for two days and you can’t use campaigns to do this. But you can make a few cents go a long way on project wonderful. If you don’t want to have a lot of ads, but still want decent revenue, pick one of the larger formats (leaderboard or skyscraper are the most popular) and place just one on your site. this keeps the value of the box high since you only have one box, and keeps your site relatively uncluttered. I’d suggest a skyscraper box on the left side of your blog, or put the ad on the right side of the blog, and move your buttons and calendar to the left. Since its under the ‘fold’ it probably won’t detract from your comic. Ultimately, its possible to get paid advertising on PW without any money out of your own pocket.

Final Thoughts
There’s a lot of good stuff going on here content wise. Clean art. Readable fonts, decent story, etc, the only problem is that its a little generic right now and thus a little lost in the throng of the web, and the ever growing pile of webcomics. Its got a little highschool adventure, a little magical girl/pet action, some magicalness, highschool angst, little of this, little of that. What Soul Symphony needs most is focus in its identity so the world can find it. There needs to be some strong keywords defined for the purposes of helping people who’d like to read it, find it. And these need to be properly positioned technically for that search engines can index them. So when people type in “Music webcomic”, Soul Symphony is going to pop up on that first google search results page. This genericness carries through into the webdesign, which needs a little more love to be interesting. Even the name itself is a bit generic, as there are many Soul Symphonies out there, you need to distinguish yourself!

They key with this comic is ‘getting out there’. There’s a lot of missed opportunities on webcomic lists, facebook, links, etc. While there’s some action on twitter, you want to work on increasing your followers and build your retweet karma. Twitter is about relationships. If you can’t handle a lot, use lists and use something like tweetdeck. Its makes twitter a lot more managable. There’s also other things like Tumblr which are gaining traction in social media/networking.

You don’t have a lot of stuff to show yourself off with, a single banner is a bit thin advertising wise, even if you aren’t doing paid advertising. You should provide a variety of materials to your fans to let them help you spread the word.

Primary recommendations:
- figure out your market positioning and search keywords that describe your comic so people can find you in a search engine without knowing the name of your comic.
- Get listed in as many places as possible that make sense for your comic to be listed. The big comic lists for sure.
- Get on facebook, utilize twitter more to build following, network with other creators and build retweet karma.
- Build a proper suite of banners for both your readers to link, for use in banner exchanges, and consider trying some of the free aspects of Project Wonderful, possibly put a single ad on your site to earn some revenue to reinvest in ads so you aren’t paying for anything out of pocket.

As usual, if you have any questions or want to discuss in detail any parts of this review, please feel free to PQ me, as not to derail the thread.

_____________________________________________________
I have a webcomic making blog! Check it out.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:32PM
kyupol at 6:11PM, March 23, 2011
(online)
posts: 3,712
joined: 1-12-2006
Name: MAG-ISA
Comic Primary URL: http://drunkduck.com/MAG_ISA/index.php

1) How long has your comic been around?
Answer: Since 2007

2) have you done paid advertising before (ie: something like project wonderful)?
Answer: Yes. Project Wonderful.

3) Are you willing to spend any money on advertising/promotion?
Answer: As long as I get more bang for my buck.

4) What is your update schedule?
Answer: Mondays and Fridays. I wish it could be more but due to time constraints that is almost impossible. I'm also a businessman involved in other business that is totally nothing to do with webcomics.

5) Do you frequently miss updates?
Answer: Sometimes.

6) Do you interact with your readers regularly? (example: Do you recognize each commenter in your blogs? its okay if you don't, just be honest.)
Answer: Very regularly. I answer every commenter who posts in my comment box. Because I get around 10-15 comments a day on average. If I'd had 50 people commenting it would be virtually impossible to answer them all individually.

Also, I sometimes interact privately with readers. Heck. Thats how I met one of my girlfriends (ex now. lol)

7) What programs to you use/have access to for creating ad graphics?
Answer: Photoshop

8) What is your current readership (approx) and what would you like it to be?
Answer: 1000-5000 hits a day. 331 people on drunkduck added it to their favorites.

9) Please link your current advertising banners/materials here:
https://www.projectwonderful.com/img/uploads/pics/45019-1293373076.jpg
https://www.projectwonderful.com/img/uploads/pics/45019-1291611708.jpg
https://www.projectwonderful.com/img/uploads/pics/45019-1273510282.jpg
https://www.projectwonderful.com/img/uploads/pics/45019-1265696576.jpg


NOW UPDATING!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:27PM
ShadowsMyst at 1:38PM, April 5, 2011
(online)
posts: 218
joined: 1-9-2006
Negligence

Audience
Genres: newspaper strip, independant, daily funny, story driven daily
Art Genre: North American ‘newspaper’ cartoon
Primary audience gender: likely male
Most likely audience age group to hook: 12-16

Retention
Website Analysis from a new comer’s perspective:
The first thing I see when I enter the site is nothing but off center ads and a banner that really doesn’t tell me much. Generally its a design faux pas for strip comics in particular not to show above the ‘fold’ or the bottom of the page. If you see it, remember not everyone browses full screen or has a big monitor. Even if I make the page bigger, the before next buttons show before the strip. The header area needs to be tightened up so the comic strip is higher. Remove one set of banner ads (keep the leaderboard), and make the title banner narrower. It’s about 270 pixels high right now, narrow it down to a bout half that. I would also urge you to consider a type face instead of hand drawn type for the title in particular as you clearly aren’t a typographer or letterer, and as a rule, unless you fall into one of those two professions, its probably best to simply use a clear font. The hand drawn thing isn’t doing anything positive for the first impressions. If you are looking for free fonts, try dafont.com, 1001fonts.com, or Blambot.com.

As I scroll past the comic, I’m assaulted with more ads and four very large images advertising your stuff for sale. As a professional graphic designer, I’m going to share a tip. Bigger does not equal better or more visible. Its actually just garish, ugly and annoying and people will actively tune it out. So not only are you not communicating your message to your audience, they will actively ignore you and what you are selling. You need to reduce those icons to something more punchy, simple and readable. Try to work in 150 px square or 200 px square.

At first I actually didn’t realize the text below the banner was, in fact a menu. You need to redesign this to be more… well clearly menuish. The type is all different sizes, its outlined, and its not in a colored bar or anything to distinguish it from the background. Whatever size of type you use, it should be uniform. I also suggest shortening the titles. It should just be “Cast” “Other art” “Ask Dranick”, and “Tony’s website”. Keep it short, put at least sufficient space between the buttons or space on either side of the image button to space the words out. It works best to make your buttons based on the largest number of words , and then use that button as a template. Justify to the left for the menu under the centered title banner for better readability. I’d also suggest not outlining the text, just pick one color for the text, preferably a light one like white or light yellow on a dark background.

I’m also going to recommend you parse your ads down. You’ve got a lot there and its probably actually driving down your ad rates and your loading times. I notice your page loads a bit slowly, and I honestly think its because of the ads. You should probably be only running one or two ad slots tops. Leaderboard and skyscraper banners tend to command the best prices. I’d suggest keeping the ads below the ‘fold’ so under the comic, particularly if you still want a larger banner. Your ad space actually becomes more valuable the less of it there is.

I also found your Forward/back navigation images to be a bit on the large size. They could be reduced to save space and not push your comic down so much. Your comic is short enough in pixel hight you could probably get away with just navigation underneath.

Hooking/first five pages
The hand lettering of the first few strips is off putting. Its difficult to read, and most people are actually generally put off by hand lettering, this corrects itself later on when a font is clearly used, but as a rule of typography, scripts (hand writing like fonts) are more difficult to read than a sans serif of some kind. I would personally suggest the use of a font like webletterer, Digital strip, comicgeek, letter-o-matic, or another sans dialogue font from somewhere like Blambot.

Don’t underestimate how much bad type can turn off new readers. It might be worth it to redo the lettering on your first five strips. If readers have to work to read your strip, they won’t bother.

Updating
Seems to update fairly regularly. Has a large archive of over 400 strips, which provides a lot of archive material.

Art & Writing Notes
Once again, I don’t really want to get into an art crit here, but the art in the strip is difficult to get past without at least a few words (also since the author has a BA in lllustration… I feel like I can smack this around a bit). Humor strips often rely on expressions and body language to tell the story. I see that there is some Calvin and Hobbes inspiration to this strip. It kind of feels like an attempt to marry Calvin and Hobbs and Boondock saints or something with some kind of weird teenage angst and a lot of raunchy/tastless sort of humor thrown in, but kind of failing at it. The figures are not expressive, or even well drawn. Their bodies rarely deviate from some set poses, its rare to see them emote with their eyes and they don’t even have mouths most of the time. The art seems to be a lot of pen work, but without a lot of skill behind things like crosshatching or lines, it just looks like scribbles. It screams childish and amateur. The art would probably actually look better with pure black and white. Anything you’d hatch, instead fill in with a black felt. Or don’t bother filling it in. Keep hatching to small areas. Its actually better to draw in just a few blades of grass here and there than hatch it all in. Keep the art clean. It actually tends to look better when the art is flatted in color and hasn’t been all filled with what appear to be haphazard lines. I’ve seen the artwork for the ‘animated’ version of Negligence. Its LEAP YEARS beyond what’s being currently produced, which suggests to me that the author is just being lazy about the artwork. I would highly suggest switching over to the animated style as soon as possible for the strip. Currently, I feel the level of effort in the artwork is holding it back. You can do better (i’ve seen it), and more effort to the art will equal more readers.

Now there are comics out there with less than stellar art. XKCD has stick figures and what looks like a doodle on the back of a napkin, but its the writing that carries. Negligence seems to borrow from a lot of sources, but isn’t really written in a way to target the humor of a particular audience.
Negligence is a comic that is floundering in its focus. It’s topic and humor style is of a type that would appeal to teens, but there are periodically stuff that only adults would understand and its not really told in any sort of clever way (the credit card interest rate comic for instance). And then inappropriate/sick humor isn’t particularly cleverly delivered, or the way the kids (and parents) are written would probably turn any parent off, as the characters appear to be 5-7 years old, and they don’t come off as that age group, they come off as much older. The author either doesn’t have kids, or hasn’t spend any substantial time around them to write them in a way parents could buy it. I’m not even a parent, but an adult who’s been around kids that age, and *I* couldn’t buy it. There were actually instances I was so annoyed, particularly by the parent figure’s dialogue, that I had to leave and come back to keep going through the archive for this review. Most people wouldn’t. To me it seemed like Negligence is the author’s “sock puppet” or soapbox for their own angst and sort of tasteless humor. Which is fine, but, it’s trying to hide that under a guise of story that I think distorts the message and any humor in it. If its a soapbox, make it a soapbox, if its a story, make it a story. The comic is also maturely rated which alienates a good portion of the audience that WOULD buy into the comic’s premise. Aside from the language issue and some of the more tasteless jokes, I don’t see why it requires a mature rating. You might want to consider simply using different language for the swearing ( using #&*$ or just saying things like “Crap”, “Snap” or find very creative swearing. One can be extremely offensive and not use swearwords. This would allow one to start broadening your audience to younger teens, maybe go to a PG rating. I don’t think the swearing adds anything really, and the comic would benefit from more exposure to people who probably would be more likely to get what it is trying to offer. I notice is the comic dialogue is often wordy and loses its punch. The comic should be showing, not saying. Dialogue need to edit stuff down to be snappier and make the kids a bit more contrasting in their attitudes and speaking. Say more with the drawings, less with words.

Negligence is also a strip that tries to be a long form comic. It’s got a definite storyline(s), that isn’t badly paced, but the visual format is that of a daily strip and that comes with some expectations from readers. Namely that each one should be funny and still stand on its own. Many of them are moving storylines along, but aren’t overtly funny on their own. I would probably suggest either moving to a long form format with a larger page/more panels, or try to achieve a joke per page while also still advancing the story.

_____________________________________________________
I have a webcomic making blog! Check it out.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:32PM
ShadowsMyst at 1:41PM, April 5, 2011
(online)
posts: 218
joined: 1-9-2006
Negligence

Audience
Genres: newspaper strip, independant, daily funny, story driven daily
Art Genre: North American ‘newspaper’ cartoon
Primary audience gender: likely male
Most likely audience age group to hook: 12-16

Retention
Website Analysis from a new comer’s perspective:
The first thing I see when I enter the site is nothing but off center ads and a banner that really doesn’t tell me much. Generally its a design faux pas for strip comics in particular not to show above the ‘fold’ or the bottom of the page. If you see it, remember not everyone browses full screen or has a big monitor. Even if I make the page bigger, the before next buttons show before the strip. The header area needs to be tightened up so the comic strip is higher. Remove one set of banner ads (keep the leaderboard), and make the title banner narrower. It’s about 270 pixels high right now, narrow it down to a bout half that. I would also urge you to consider a type face instead of hand drawn type for the title in particular as you clearly aren’t a typographer or letterer, and as a rule, unless you fall into one of those two professions, its probably best to simply use a clear font. The hand drawn thing isn’t doing anything positive for the first impressions. If you are looking for free fonts, try dafont.com, 1001fonts.com, or Blambot.com.

As I scroll past the comic, I’m assaulted with more ads and four very large images advertising your stuff for sale. As a professional graphic designer, I’m going to share a tip. Bigger does not equal better or more visible. Its actually just garish, ugly and annoying and people will actively tune it out. So not only are you not communicating your message to your audience, they will actively ignore you and what you are selling. You need to reduce those icons to something more punchy, simple and readable. Try to work in 150 px square or 200 px square.

At first I actually didn’t realize the text below the banner was, in fact a menu. You need to redesign this to be more… well clearly menuish. The type is all different sizes, its outlined, and its not in a colored bar or anything to distinguish it from the background. Whatever size of type you use, it should be uniform. I also suggest shortening the titles. It should just be “Cast” “Other art” “Ask Dranick”, and “Tony’s website”. Keep it short, put at least sufficient space between the buttons or space on either side of the image button to space the words out. It works best to make your buttons based on the largest number of words , and then use that button as a template. Justify to the left for the menu under the centered title banner for better readability. I’d also suggest not outlining the text, just pick one color for the text, preferably a light one like white or light yellow on a dark background.

I’m also going to recommend you parse your ads down. You’ve got a lot there and its probably actually driving down your ad rates and your loading times. I notice your page loads a bit slowly, and I honestly think its because of the ads. You should probably be only running one or two ad slots tops. Leaderboard and skyscraper banners tend to command the best prices. I’d suggest keeping the ads below the ‘fold’ so under the comic, particularly if you still want a larger banner. Your ad space actually becomes more valuable the less of it there is.

I also found your Forward/back navigation images to be a bit on the large size. They could be reduced to save space and not push your comic down so much. Your comic is short enough in pixel hight you could probably get away with just navigation underneath.

Hooking/first five pages
The hand lettering of the first few strips is off putting. Its difficult to read, and most people are actually generally put off by hand lettering, this corrects itself later on when a font is clearly used, but as a rule of typography, scripts (hand writing like fonts) are more difficult to read than a sans serif of some kind. I would personally suggest the use of a font like webletterer, Digital strip, comicgeek, letter-o-matic, or another sans dialogue font from somewhere like Blambot.

Don’t underestimate how much bad type can turn off new readers. It might be worth it to redo the lettering on your first five strips. If readers have to work to read your strip, they won’t bother.

Updating
Seems to update fairly regularly. Has a large archive of over 400 strips, which provides a lot of archive material.

Art & Writing Notes
Once again, I don’t really want to get into an art crit here, but the art in the strip is difficult to get past without at least a few words (also since the author has a BA in lllustration… I feel like I can smack this around a bit). Humor strips often rely on expressions and body language to tell the story. I see that there is some Calvin and Hobbes inspiration to this strip. It kind of feels like an attempt to marry Calvin and Hobbs and Boondock saints or something with some kind of weird teenage angst and a lot of raunchy/tastless sort of humor thrown in, but kind of failing at it. The figures are not expressive, or even well drawn. Their bodies rarely deviate from some set poses, its rare to see them emote with their eyes and they don’t even have mouths most of the time. The art seems to be a lot of pen work, but without a lot of skill behind things like crosshatching or lines, it just looks like scribbles. It screams childish and amateur. The art would probably actually look better with pure black and white. Anything you’d hatch, instead fill in with a black felt. Or don’t bother filling it in. Keep hatching to small areas. Its actually better to draw in just a few blades of grass here and there than hatch it all in. Keep the art clean. It actually tends to look better when the art is flatted in color and hasn’t been all filled with what appear to be haphazard lines. I’ve seen the artwork for the ‘animated’ version of Negligence. Its LEAP YEARS beyond what’s being currently produced, which suggests to me that the author is just being lazy about the artwork. I would highly suggest switching over to the animated style as soon as possible for the strip. Currently, I feel the level of effort in the artwork is holding it back. You can do better (i’ve seen it), and more effort to the art will equal more readers.

Now there are comics out there with less than stellar art. XKCD has stick figures and what looks like a doodle on the back of a napkin, but its the writing that carries. Negligence seems to borrow from a lot of sources, but isn’t really written in a way to target the humor of a particular audience.
Negligence is a comic that is floundering in its focus. It’s topic and humor style is of a type that would appeal to teens, but there are periodically stuff that only adults would understand and its not really told in any sort of clever way (the credit card interest rate comic for instance). And then inappropriate/sick humor isn’t particularly cleverly delivered, or the way the kids (and parents) are written would probably turn any parent off, as the characters appear to be 5-7 years old, and they don’t come off as that age group, they come off as much older. The author either doesn’t have kids, or hasn’t spend any substantial time around them to write them in a way parents could buy it. I’m not even a parent, but an adult who’s been around kids that age, and *I* couldn’t buy it. There were actually instances I was so annoyed, particularly by the parent figure’s dialogue, that I had to leave and come back to keep going through the archive for this review. Most people wouldn’t. To me it seemed like Negligence is the author’s “sock puppet” or soapbox for their own angst and sort of tasteless humor. Which is fine, but, it’s trying to hide that under a guise of story that I think distorts the message and any humor in it. If its a soapbox, make it a soapbox, if its a story, make it a story. The comic is also maturely rated which alienates a good portion of the audience that WOULD buy into the comic’s premise. Aside from the language issue and some of the more tasteless jokes, I don’t see why it requires a mature rating. You might want to consider simply using different language for the swearing ( using #&*$ or just saying things like “Crap”, “Snap” or find very creative swearing. One can be extremely offensive and not use swearwords. This would allow one to start broadening your audience to younger teens, maybe go to a PG rating. I don’t think the swearing adds anything really, and the comic would benefit from more exposure to people who probably would be more likely to get what it is trying to offer. I notice is the comic dialogue is often wordy and loses its punch. The comic should be showing, not saying. Dialogue need to edit stuff down to be snappier and make the kids a bit more contrasting in their attitudes and speaking. Say more with the drawings, less with words.

Negligence is also a strip that tries to be a long form comic. It’s got a definite storyline(s), that isn’t badly paced, but the visual format is that of a daily strip and that comes with some expectations from readers. Namely that each one should be funny and still stand on its own. Many of them are moving storylines along, but aren’t overtly funny on their own. I would probably suggest either moving to a long form format with a larger page/more panels, or try to achieve a joke per page while also still advancing the story.

_____________________________________________________
I have a webcomic making blog! Check it out.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:32PM
ShadowsMyst at 2:19PM, April 5, 2011
(online)
posts: 218
joined: 1-9-2006
(cont)


Metrics
Its hard to get metrics on the site, as the only thing I could really look at was the project wonderful banners. I notice spikes, which I assume is when you are advertising. II also noticed you have the comics posted on different sites, like SmackJeeves and Comic Fury. SmackJeeves I notice blanks all your pages because of the maturity setting, so you’d have to login to see it, and thus losing out on casual google traffic. This is one of the reasons I highly suggest moving to a more PG rating. Its also hard to track readers over multiple sites and you are splitting your efforts trying to promote multiple sites. You don’t appear to have a main comic site, working between two freesites. If you are serious about your comics, at any point (and your website, if you plan to do business as an illustrator) get yourself a proper webhost and set up a proper privately hosted website. It will streamline any promotional efforts you do by driving people to one site for all your comics and your resume. Bravehost was so 1998. You need to update to something modern.

The other thing you need to make sure you are doing is figuring out how people are finding you. The word Negligence on its own is very common, and does not bring up your comic when typed into google. You need to incorporate words into your websites in their about pages, or in your blogs that will help people find the comic based on subject matter. “Sarcasm comic” or something like this. Unfortunately its very difficult to optimize your search terms on any free website, but by making sure you incorporate them in text somewhere on your main page, it will help google index your page better and serve it to people who are looking for subject matter your comic has.

Interaction/Social Advertising
I found a TINY little button for twitter, which probably isn’t helping too much. No facebook ‘like’ button is on the page, and its generally a rule that more people prefer facebook to twitter as far as reaching readers go. I see that the author is quite active on twitter, but its mostly plugging the comic. Twitter works best if you have conversations ( a lot of @author posts) and build some retweeting karma by retweeting other people’s comic news and updates. The only trace I found on Facebook was a comic for the online comic con, but it seemed more towards the author than the comics. I would highly suggest making a proper page for the comic and driving people to like it with a like button up near the top of the site. Preferably either in the menu or above the comments area.
I’m doubting you have a tumblr account, which might be something to consider, being that daily strip type comics are often shared across the network. If you move to a more daily format, something like Reddit or Stumbleupon might become more useful as a promotional tool, but for anything remotely long form they tend to fall down.

Webcomic Lists
I found Negligence listed on The Webcomics List. I didn’t find it on onlinecomics.net, belfrycomics.net, or comixpedia.org. I did notice a top webcomics button, and you might consider doing some incentives to get your ranking up for more visibility. I found a Deviant art page for the author, seems to have activity. Although the account seems primarily filled with photography with hardly a stitch of artwork. It might be worth it to sort your photographs a bit and make some artwork for your DA to promote your comic (s?). Otherwise the DA won’t help much for getting readers to check out your comic.
I would suggest at least listing it at the sites above where it isn’t yet listed.

Advertising material review
Current materials analysis:
Looking over the material some of it is pretty old and very little of it actually communicates anything useful to a potential reader about the comic. The skyscraper banner is the only one with any significant information, and then its too much.

When you are designing banners, you have to keep in mind a few points. One is that you have less than three seconds to impress or intrigue a viewer. Two, most ads appear on already busy pages, so you need to isolate your ad by design, make it pop and make it highly readable. and three they have to be punchy and ask the viewer to do something. This is called the ‘call to action’ in advertising lingo. I’ll do a little crit on each banner to tell you what’s wrong with them from a design point of view.

https://www.projectwonderful.com/img/uploads/pics/39114-1253768642.jpg
This square ad is not only boring, its being wasteful in terms of space. There’s a large amount of unused space to the left and the white background is plain with no form of border to frame it. The text is aligned to the left while the image is aligned to the right. If you are going to align to the left, align EVERYTHING to the left. Once again I’ll reiterate that serif fonts are a poor choice when you need someone to read something quickly. The only information presented on this ad is the name of the comic and the authors name. Let me state very clearly that unless you happen to already be a famous author, no one cares. You need to intregue based on your content and subject matter. The expression on the character is also very ambiguous. People are intregued by emotion. He could look mischevious or bad, or naughty, or anything, but it has to be clear. Saying something like “ For sarcasm & chaos, click here” is far more intreguing than simply a name and title. Remember, you are competing with everyone else for readership and people’s time. You need to give them a reason as to why you are important. I should also point out that black and white, unless skillfully presented does not attract as many eyes as colour.

https://www.projectwonderful.com/img/uploads/pics/39114-1254116118.jpg
Hand lettering unless you are a typographer is a no no. Don’t use it. Also, you’ve cut everyone’s heads off. that’s kind of disturbing and not in a good “i’m going to click on your banner” sort of way. It looks half assed. People in the world are very ad savvy these days, they avoid stuff that looks like this because they don’t feel its worth their time. It also feels very juvenile, and not in a good way that would bring readers to your comic. Ditch this ad and do a new one for this size.

https://www.projectwonderful.com/img/uploads/pics/39114-1254971085.jpg
This ad is huge but the space isn’t well used and once again that horrid script pops up and this time you’ve squished it! UGH! Ugly! Don’t do this! Its bad typography. This ad contains more information, but again space is wasted on this ad. The artwork should take more predominance over the type. There’s also something called “hierarchy of information” which is generally lacking in your ads. This is how big the type is in relation to how important it is to the reader. if you absolutely insist on putting your name in, it should be tiny, under the comic title. The comic title should be clearly the largest thing on the page. I also think the text on the ad is misleading, given the topic of your comic. It appeals to heart strings of people who like kids. I think people who like and care about children are going to be generally offended by the content of the comic. I don’t think this is going to attract readers who are going to stay around. The idea of using yellow on blue is good for punchyness, but you need to desaturated the yellow of you go that route. Pale yellow on dark blue reads better. A more appropriate line for this ad might have been “ Drannik is sad. He ran out of cough syrup. Get your fix, read Negligence”

https://www.projectwonderful.com/img/uploads/pics/39114-1256179552.jpg
I should probably note, orange, while highly visible does not have a high appeal factor. Most people don’t particularly like orange as a main color and will avoid it unless very skillfully used. I’d suggest changing the banner color. While closer to appropriate messaging, again, that heirarchy is messed up. The largest word on the page should be Negligence, and your name should be smaller under it if you insist on putting it there. The most important thing is the comic. The line could be much smaller, and i don’t think the images selected reflect the word ‘cute’ particularly well. Again, the line needs tweeking. Something like “ the adventure of two little bastards” might be more appropriate.

https://www.projectwonderful.com/img/uploads/pics/39114-1260513606.png
This banner is almost impossible to read. You are covering the artwork with type and that’s not good because it makes everything wayyyy too busy. In this one the type should all go to the left and stack and the artwork should come over to the right and be shrunk so its properly visible. This orange is more appealing than the previous orange and with the blue type it offsets it so is alright, but right now in this configuration, its not effective.

https://www.projectwonderful.com/img/uploads/pics/39114-1274667941.jpg
Of all the ads, this one is probably the best. But there is a LOT of text. And its not particularly effective. Its actually best to simply pose the question and intregue the reader. Asking questions inherently provokes the reader to engage by mentally answering or seeking the answer. Parsing down the text to “ Left to his own devices, what do you think he’ll do?” Makes it a lot more punchy and provokes the viewer to respond. You want to tease the reader a little. You might want to make the “Chaos rules” line something on his shirt, which makes the message more subtle, but obvious at the same time.

All of the ads tend to use older art material, which is inferior to the newer style, which you use as your buttons.You should probably work on new splash art for your ads, with poses and expressions specifically designed for the advertising material sizes.

Recommendations for ad material:
- Generate new ad material for most sizes.
- Use a clear font, and do not put it over top of artwork, particularly do not put it over faces.
- Use the space effectively, don’t leave big holes
- Use the proper hierarchy of information. Comic name should be the largest font on the ad, followed by buyline/tag, then author name. Each should be at least two point sizes less than the other.
- Intrigue the reader by asking them questions or stating things that are related to your comic’s humor and subject matter. Don’t mislead readers or they won’t stick around.
- Be punchy and brief.
- Use newer artwork, preferably expressive artwork.

Advertising opportunities
Obviously you are using project wonderful which is a good start, but you don’t seem to network with your fellows beyond that. You might want to find some link exchanges to become a part of, or at least do some link trading with comics that are in the same vein as yours. You might also consider commenting actively on other similar comics to yours, to spread your name and comic in a more subtle way. If you are on any other forums or social networks, always include your comic in your signature as well.

Paid advertising:
Project wonderful is great, but you won’t get much mileage out of it without banner tuneups. I also suggest you make more than just one of each banner type, and get familiar with campaigns. Running long term cheap campaigns can be better for raising awareness of a comic like this, particularly using skyscrapers or leaderboard ads. But to avoid banner fatigue, you need to have several variants so that project wonderful can rotate them. Make sure you track where your hits come from, and use that data to better target sites to do more advertising on. Also watch where your audience is from. Remember, PW now targets by area, so if you are getting a lot of European readers for example, consider advertising more heavily on the european or ‘other’ areas.

Final Thoughts
Its going to be tough in the long run to track readership over multiple free sites without a tool like comicrank, so it might be worth it, at some point to get your own proper site and dump the multi-site approach unless you can get onto something like comicrank. Most hosts are pretty cheap these days and very worth it if you are serious about your comic.

Negligence, as it sits, is a comic with a wavering voice that isn’t addressing any particular audience. Its not completely sure what its supposed to be, and its reflected in the writing, which makes it hard to get over the overall low quality art. This makes it extremely difficult to keep people reading. Most people who are going to connect with it as it stands are people who are very like the author, probably younger, disillusioned, angsty teens who might find humor in the vulgar nature of the comic. The maturity rating, again, conflicts with this, since its rated mature, most of the people who would be the audience are probably alienated.

Ultimately, the author is going to have to make some choices about the general feel and look of the strip if they are serious about growing their readership beyond a few hundred at any reasonable pace. As it stands, there is a serious disconnect with the audience and the strip in terms of expectations and quality of the material being delivered which is just going to make the mission of finding more readers that much more difficult. This is also reflected in the advertising materials, where there is a disconnect between messaging, audience, and the actual product being delivered.

It needs to be decided WHO the author is trying to appeal to (and don’t say no one or you won’t care about marketing or getting readers…), WHAT they ultimately want the comic to be (longform vs strip, daily funny/vs story vs soapbox, and teen vs adult readers), and work on learning to write for that audience and format. Making these as conscious decisions will help focus and define the audience and market thus also defining the messaging and targeting for the advertisements.

Primary recommendations:
- Move to the new style of art, asap.
- Decide on if the comic is longform or strip, and adjust writing accordingly.
- Decide if the comic is funny vs story vs soapbox and adjust writing
- Decide if you really need to be a M comic or if you could go PG for a broader audience.
- Adjust your banners to reflect your comic’s actual content and subject matter, according to recommendations.
- Clean up websites and make alliances in the form of link exchanges to boost traffic
- Consider consolidating all your websites into one.

As usual, if you have any questions about the review, do feel free to PQ me and ask.


*** Standard Disclaimer: Please note, while these reviews can seem harsh, I do not hate your comic. I am just looking at it extremely objectively as one might a product to be marketed, and sometimes the news is good and sometimes the news isn't good. DO NOT take these reviews as a personal attack, please look at them more as a chance to improve your comic and get more readers. Everyone has areas that can be improved upon, and if you want any suggestions for improvement beyond what I've covered here or more in-depths, I'm more than happy to help if you ask. ***

_____________________________________________________
I have a webcomic making blog! Check it out.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:32PM
Evil_Hare at 8:27AM, April 24, 2011
(online)
posts: 183
joined: 9-28-2009
Ok, here's my stats :)

1) How long has your comic been around?
Answer: On DD, 1.5 yrs, on the main site, 3 months

2) have you done paid advertising before (ie: something like project wonderful)?
Answer: Yes, Project Wonderful and some ads on thewebcomiclist.com

3) Are you willing to spend any money on advertising/promotion?
Answer: Yes

4) What is your update schedule?
Answer: M/W/F

5) Do you frequently miss updates?
Answer: NEVER :) I have a huge buffer ;)

6) Do you interact with your readers regularly? (example: Do you recognize each commenter in your blogs? its okay if you don't, just be honest.)
Answer: Yes, via comments, FaceBook and Twitter

7) What programs to you use/have access to for creating ad graphics?
Answer: GIMP

8) What is your current readership (approx) and what would you like it to be?
Answer: Hard to say… I get about 5k hits/day, maybe 1k/day are repeat visitors… ComicRank puts the regular readership anywhere between 80-100. Google Analytics shows about 300 people visiting 12 or more times per month. I'd love to get to 10-20k hits/day, and 1000+ ‘readers’ on ComicRank.

9) Please link your current advertising banners/materials here:
http://jaketheevilhare.com/ad-banners

It's a gallery, click on any image and then you can scroll through them all :)


Thanks a bunch :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:24PM
Scorpion451 at 5:39PM, May 8, 2011
(online)
posts: 51
joined: 11-19-2010
Name: The Greening Wars
Comic Primary URL: www.greeningwars.com (www.thegreeningwars.com redirects there also)

1) How long has your comic been around?
Answer: a few days shy of six months

2) have you done paid advertising before (ie: something like project wonderful)?
Answer:Yes, for about two months on Project Wonderful

3) Are you willing to spend any money on advertising/promotion?
Answer:Already am, and seen an uptick I'm looking to sustain.

4) What is your update schedule?
Answer:Weekly, on Tuesday

5) Do you frequently miss updates?
Answer:I've missed exactly one since I started, and I posted an explanation and apology beforehand.

6) Do you interact with your readers regularly? (example: Do you recognize each commenter in your blogs? its okay if you don't, just be honest.)
Answer: yes and no, the couple of regular commenters that I have I recognize and try to reply to in a timely fashion, but I have been having a problem with getting readers to comment the first place.

7) What programs to you use/have access to for creating ad graphics?
Answer:Gimp, Inkscape, Corel Sketchpad, Photoshop Elements 9(the last two are the cheapo versions that came with my new table)

8) What is your current readership (approx) and what would you like it to be?
Answer:Not really sure to be honest, prior to beginning to advertise seriously I had a readership of between 20-30 regulars judging by the page hits I got, but this has grown significantly and I believe I now have between 60-90 regulars at the current moment, judging by the unique hits on my project wonderful ad. I want as many readers as I can get. In my wildest dreams, I'm shooting for the readership of comics like Twokinds or Girl Genius, and I'm ready to slog though as long as I have to to get there. In the meantime, I'm shooting for at least a thousand regulars by the end of summer for starters. Probably unrealistic, but its a goal.

9) Please link your current advertising banners/materials here:
The two ads I'm currently using on project wonderful
http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z16/scorpion451/TGWskyscraperbanner1.jpg
http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z16/scorpion451/TGWskyscraperbanner2.png
The webbanner I'm using on TopWebComics.com
http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z16/scorpion451/Webbannerforthegreeningwars.png
My Link Button:
http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z16/scorpion451/largelinkbutton.jpg
Updates every Tuesday!

Visit my deviantArt page to see some of my artwork and what I'm up to when I'm playing the not-working-on-my-webcomic game
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:24PM
JillyFoo at 12:23PM, May 11, 2011
(online)
posts: 626
joined: 1-2-2006
Name: The Planet Closest to Heaven
Comic Primary URL: http://tpcth.thewebcomic.com/ http://www.drunkduck.com/The_Planet_Closest_To_Heaven/

1) How long has your comic been around?
Since July 2004.

2) have you done paid advertising before (ie: something like project wonderful)?
Answer:Yes on and off. Currently no. I also promote at anime and comic conventions. About 4 a year.

3) Are you willing to spend any money on advertising/promotion?
I have done so.

4) What is your update schedule?
I try for weekly, but have been on and off hiatuses.

5) Do you frequently miss updates?
These past two years yes.

6) Do you interact with your readers regularly? (example: Do you recognize each commenter in your blogs? its okay if you don't, just be honest.)
Yep through drunkduck and deviant art. Do conventions count?

7) What programs to you use/have access to for creating ad graphics?
Photoshop, scanner, and traditional media.

8) What is your current readership (approx) and what would you like it to be?
Current readership. Nothing really on smackjeeves. Totally overshadowed. Maybe 100 hits on both sites. Returning readers maybe 5-10.

I would like it to have a fresh readership again… that feeling of a new comic. Where you get new people checking it out and comments. Hits doesn't matter as long as there are returning readers.
I've been considering redoing the first couple chapters.

9) Please link your current advertising banners/materials here:
With this comic I really don't have many ideas how to advertise it. Most have been laughably bad.
These are the ones I'm using now.
Forum sig: http://i344.photobucket.com/albums/p339/twistedflesh/tpcthwebcomic.gif
smackjeeves: http://www.smackjeeves.com/profile.php?id=1930
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v734/JillyFoo/thumbtagpepe.jpg
http://www.drunkduck.com/Demon_Eater/gfx/theplanetclosesttoheaven.gif

I remember starting that old ad thread way back as a way to get mine reviewed someday. Too much craziness happened I guess. It would be totally sweet if this thread works out. But with me finally getting the guts to post… I don't think my luck's going to pan out…


last edited on July 14, 2011 1:08PM
Scorpion451 at 4:57PM, May 12, 2011
(online)
posts: 51
joined: 11-19-2010
I actually just emailed Shadowsmyst and she said she is going to be doing more reviewing but she's been having issues accessing the site lately, so she's waiting for the changeover to do anything more on the thread.
Updates every Tuesday!

Visit my deviantArt page to see some of my artwork and what I'm up to when I'm playing the not-working-on-my-webcomic game
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:24PM
ShadowsMyst at 2:50PM, May 19, 2011
(online)
posts: 218
joined: 1-9-2006
Scorpion's hit the nail on the head. I was hoping that the site would have switched over by now, but it hasn't. I'm having a lot of issues with loading times with DD and its hard for me to go through archives on DD. if you have a site off DD and want me to do the analysis via email, you can email me (shadowsmyst at Gmail dot com), otherwise, I'll start up again once I can access the duck again with reasonable speed.

_____________________________________________________
I have a webcomic making blog! Check it out.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:32PM
skoolmunkee at 1:36AM, May 30, 2011
(online)
posts: 7,058
joined: 1-2-2006
Yeah, unfortunately the site won't be changing over til July 1st now (and even then I wouldn't expect that to go without a hitch).

I've done a quick check and none of the comics waiting are on the preview site, but that one is MUCH faster. If someone doesn't have a mirror site, but does have a reasonable number of pages, maybe they would consider uploading their comic on the preview.drunkduck.com site - I think you can upload up to 10 pages at a time currently?
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:44PM
Scorpion451 at 7:42AM, June 3, 2011
(online)
posts: 51
joined: 11-19-2010
Ya know, honestly hadn't thought of that XD
Might have to do that when I get the chance.
Updates every Tuesday!

Visit my deviantArt page to see some of my artwork and what I'm up to when I'm playing the not-working-on-my-webcomic game
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:24PM
VictoryPrime at 10:19PM, Sept. 16, 2011
(online)
posts: 5
joined: 6-23-2010
Name:
Victory
Comic Primary URL:
http://victorycomic.comicgenesis.com/

1) How long has your comic been around?
Answer: year and a half.

2) have you done paid advertising before (ie: something like project wonderful)?
Answer:
no

3) Are you willing to spend any money on advertising/promotion?
Answer:
no

4) What is your update schedule?
Answer:
M/W/F

5) Do you frequently miss updates?
Answer:
I didn't update for 10 months.

6) Do you interact with your readers regularly? (example: Do you
recognize each commenter in your blogs? its okay if you don't, just be
honest.)
Answer:
no

7) What programs to you use/have access to for creating ad graphics?
Answer:gimp

8) What is your current readership (approx) and what would you like it to be?
Answer:
comicrank says i got like 20 readers. i would like to get 300 visits a day or more.

9) Please link your current advertising banners/materials here:





last edited on Sept. 16, 2011 10:22PM

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