When you’re a comic creator, chances are you’re poor. Chances are, you don’t have thousands of extra dollars to plunge into a marketing campaign that will put your comic on the cover of every major media entity and get you talked about in major media. You are therefore forced to start a grassroots movement to sell your comic book, not because it’s fashionable to do so but because it’s the only way to reach people with the resources at your disposal.
Naturally, the smart creator will turn toward social media. Social media is mostly free and fairly effective if you find the right niche. So let’s explore how you’re going to navigate this time-sucking portion of selling your comic without getting caught up on the Internet and missing your deadlines and without shooting yourself in the foot.
Examine What You Have
Right now, you probably have some personal social media: A Facebook account, maybe Twitter, and possibly Reddit— depending on your age and your circle of friends. Take a hard look at these accounts and ask yourself, “How would a total stranger react to them?”
In the volatile sphere of social media (especially these days), you can count on fans drilling down into your past to see what you’re about. This isn’t always a nasty thing to get at you, but it will sometimes be used against you— Especially if you have strong opinions like me.
What you want to think about is your brand. What is it? Is it part political? Religious? Do you revel in bashing famous artists and writers for their mistakes? This can all come back to haunt you and get you caught up in online arguments that are just going to waste your time and energy.
Look at your pictures. You might have some goofy or embarrassing pictures you and your friends took. Maybe that’s fine for you or the person you were, but is it fine for what you’re presenting to the public?
I had a friend’s girlfriend obsessively take pictures of us over a winter week when they stayed at my house. She tagged me in dozens of unflattering photos over the next week where I looked fat and sloppy. (Hey, I was at home!) Eventually, I untagged myself from all of them.
Social Media Purge
The extreme solution is to purge your social media. There are several programs to do this for Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter— Pretty much all of the major platforms. It won’t delete your account, just everything you posted. If you’ve been online since the beginning of the Internet (as I have) it might not be a bad idea to make sure a spicy tweet doesn’t start something.
The Good: Most people who use social media use it. It’s a well-known platform that’s easy to use. You can make pages just for your comic book or a fan page for yourself as a creator.
The Bad: The reach isn’t what it used to be. In the old days, you could go viral and get thousands of likes on some random picture or post. These days, FB seems to control the amount of reach you can get on the social media platform, even amongst your own followers.
What was once young and hip is now the place to post pictures of your kids, grandkids, and obituaries. My pages ground to a halt in terms of growth sometime around 2009. You can pay for Facebook ads to get more reach, but I question the value of such a purchase even if you have the money.
Strategy: I think Facebook is fine to repost whatever you’re posting on other platforms, but I wouldn’t put any extra time into it.
The Good: It’s still a large social media platform, and thanks to Elon, it seems to be growing again. I’ve heard mixed reviews on pay for the blue check, but with the incoming innovations, it could be the place to post. It’s extremely easy to use, and, like FB, you can post pictures, videos, or just your random thoughts.
The Bad: Twitter still has a hangover from the bad ol’ days of the previous regime, which seemed to persecute anyone that didn’t support Leftist causes. There are blacklists, especially within the comic book sphere, and Leftist creators that used to go on unhinged rants still do so on occasion. (Fortunately, much of that seems to have died down.)
Elon recently hired a new CEO who is an officer in the WEF. Without diving too deep into that rabbit hole, let’s just say I don’t think she’s a fan of the Freedom of Speech that Elon seems to champion.
Strategy: At a minimum, you should announce important updates on Twitter. Whether or not you can build a community of fans depends on how much time you invest in tweeting other things. As for politics (which we’ll talk about broadly later in the column), either be prepared to take a position and defend or constantly put people off by ignoring the politics. If you’ve ever seen my Twitter account, the latter is definitely not my M.O. Tweeting politics these days is not for the faint of heart.
The Good: Reddit is a giant message board with “rooms” on a variety of topics, including comics. The comics and webcomics room on Reddit still have a decent following.
The Bad: Reddit is a late-stage message board, meaning that it’s far past the time when it was a small, happy community. The vicious in-fighting on Reddit, especially regarding politics, is legendary. I think this is mostly because Leftist college kids dominate the site with too much free time and too many half-assed opinions.
Worse, Reddit has “mods” or moderators that are supposed to be there to police the site for spam or things that go off-topic. Since they don’t pay mods, you can imagine the kinds of people that sign up for this duty. “Brigading” has been a problem on Reddit (where a mob of people floods into a room or a thread to take it over). Mods with delusions of grandeur have run amok more than once.
I used to get thousands of hits from posting my webcomics on Reddit boards, but now I barely bother. These days, I dip in and out to stay away from getting involved in another online argument. If Crazy were a crayon, Redditors would now be “Dark Crazy”.
Strategy: I say follow my lead. Dip in and out by posting major announcements in r/comics and the like. If you can find a subreddit that hosts a topic related to your book or comic like I do in r/SouthJersey, that’s even better. However, don’t overdo it. It’s best you stay under the radar of the Reddit mods since some of them are batsh*t insane.
The Good: It’s picture-based, so this is good for artists. The videos are short, and engagement is still pretty high, despite being owned by Facebook. Still relatively popular amongst younger audiences.
The Bad: It seems to be heading down the same route as Facebook, only much slower. It’s mostly for hot girls to take pictures of themselves, so good luck monetizing your account. Everything is sized for a phone, so you have to shrink and/or break up your panels accordingly if you want people to read them.
Strategy: It’s good for posting artwork and the occasional highlight from your YouTube Channel.
The Good: It’s still insanely popular with the younger fans.
The Bad: It’s owned by a Chinese company and is said to have an incredible amount of invasive software to collect your data. Since it’s based in China, the rumor I’ve heard is that the subscriber count is wildly inflated to keep users making content. It has also been rumored to be a haven for thousands upon thousands of bot accounts.
Strategy: Don’t use Tik Tok.
The Good: Several creators (including Eric July, Ethan Van Sciver, Raz0rfist, etc.) have monetized their audiences and done very well for themselves in publishing. Fans get to see you, which personalizes your project. Despite YouTube’s decline, it’s still a huge platform with a lot of reach if you can make enough content. If you make videos on the regular (like I do) you can even make some money on the side.
The Bad: YouTube seems to game the algorithm for their chosen few. (You probably won’t be one of them.) It requires a big time commitment to make videos on a regular basis if you want to build the audience there and eventually monetize the views. (It took me about a year.) Even when you do, YouTube’s vague and often-changing Terms of Service can get you banned. (I’m currently in YouTube jail until 5/27/23.)
YouTube also pushes shorts and live streams, which is currently the only way my channel grows significantly. Good if you have the time and energy to do them, bad if you don’t.
Strategy: This is not a platform you want to half-ass. Make a commitment to do regular updates, I would say a minimum of three times a week. Ideally, five times or every day. Not every update has to be spectacular. Fans do enjoy videos where they watch creators draw, and if you can talk a little while you’re doing it, so much the better.
For a big mouth like me, it’s worked out well. My channel has over 3000 subscribers, but my big mouth also gets me in trouble sometimes. My experience in broadcast radio and TV helps keep my delivery professional, but that can sometimes be a turn-off to fans who want something more “raw”. Once I bought the camera and the mic and got into the rhythm of doing it every day it became easy. You just have to find a niche in something you can talk about.
Special Note: Protect your investment! If you do decide to start a YouTube Channel, make sure you also post the same videos on sites like Odysee, Bitchute and Rumble. Rumble is poised to be the next YouTube, and if you go to YouTube jail, you will have alternatives. Speaking of which…
The Good: Minds is a platform that’s a lot like Facebook without the games or the limiting reach. You can also make a little bit of money from your feed. It’s still a pretty friendly community.
The Bad: It’s growing, but it’s not that big yet.
Strategy: Cut and paste whatever you’re posting in here too. The hope is, at some point, this platform will “hit”. My engagement seems good with my followers.
The Good: Gab is probably the most pro-free speech platform. So imagine Twitter with no censorship. While the bigger platforms tend to lean left politically, this one leans right, and there are a lot of openly religious users. This can be a boon if your comic book has a religious bent, especially one that’s Christian.
The Bad: Some crazies do dwell here, and due to the open nature of the site, they say some pretty spicy things! It’s not much of a problem since you can just block them.
Strategy: Like Minds, it’s a smaller audience with a higher engagement. Once you have an account, you can always repost it here.
The Good: It’s a Twitter alternative. Similar to Gab but with fewer crazies.
The Bad: Smaller audience, higher engagement.
Strategy: Repost here.
The Good: Another Twitter alternative, but this one is full of Trump Supporters. Tends to lean right politically and is very pro-American. This can be very helpful if you have a comic that appeals to this audience.
The Bad: Smaller audience, higher engagement. Out of these three Twitter alternatives, I think this is the largest.
Strategy: Pro-American posts do very well. Negative Trump posts do not.
The Good: This YouTube alternative is based out of the UK. Engagement is usually very high for me, and it reminds me of the old days of YouTube.
The Bad: Smaller audience, really good engagement. In the past, some platforms refused a Bitchute link. The sorting function is a bit clunkier but improving. You can only put three words for the search engine regarding your video.
Strategy: Repost your videos here. It’s a good backup platform.
The Good: This is platform is poised to be the next YouTube and extremely well-financed. It prides itself on Freedom of Speech and has a few common sense restrictions on content. You can monetize almost immediately. Like YouTube, it has a live stream function and is rapidly growing with the addition of bigger YouTubers arriving.
The Bad: Engagement doesn’t seem as high as Bitchute, and so far, monetization hasn’t paid off for me since the money has been so small for my videos.
Strategy: Repost your videos and when you’re thrown in YouTube jail, make sure your fans know you’ll still be here. As YouTube slowly morphs into a pay-only site, Rumble is likely to be the top choice for the homemade video content maker.
The Good: Another YouTube alternative. The videos tend to load very fast.
The Bad: It’s the smallest of the three YT alternatives. Engagement is still low for me, but I haven’t been on it very long.
Strategy: Use it as a backup for your backups and post here. You never know which platform will hit your videos.
The Good: A Reddit alternative that hasn’t descended into Communism and mod drama. I’ve found the people on it to be very nice, much like the early days of Reddit.
The Bad: It’s small, but engagement is positive.
Strategy: It’s worth posting, but I wouldn’t post more than once a day in the same room.
The Good: Patreon has a blog of sorts that allows you to post pictures and videos. You can also make exclusive posts to your subscribers. Subscribers can be monetized. I make a few dollars from it a month for my webcomics.
The Bad: Patreon got political a few years ago, and it’s never been quite the same. There are Patreon alternatives, but the platform is still around. I’ve heard SubscribeStar is better, but I’ve never been able to get my account approved.
Strategy: You might be better off with a crowd-funding platform for individual projects; however, if you produce regular content, it can’t hurt to repost here.
And the Rest: LinkedIn, ReTalk, MeWe, Tumblr, etc.
The Good: Some of the smaller platforms are so small just a little engagement can make you one of the top contributors.
The Bad: They either have very small or dying audiences.
Strategy: If you’ve got the time, it never hurts to repost your stuff.
Strategy for Politics
There are two choices when dealing with politics on social media. The first and easiest is to stay out of politics. If a fan or user tries to get you to answer a question or insist you’re taking a side, either ignore that person and then ban or block them if they persist. However, the ideologically possessed are quite numerous these days, even if you keep saying, “I’m not political. This comic isn’t political.”
Fortunately, everything on the Internet eventually runs out of gas. People get bored and leave. Never feed the trolls, and they will get bored and hungry to go bother someone else.
The second choice is to engage very smartly. Depending on your politics and how versed you are in the political climate, this can bring you a lot of attention but also a lot of heat and backlash. You need to be made of stern stuff to weather the slings and arrows of the Internet these days.
Currently, the Lefties tend to be the aggressors. And since the Left can’t meme, meme replies are often a good strategy. The more radical ones are easily triggered, so feel free to make fun of them if you have those comedic skills. Just be prepared for the flack if you wade into the battle. Some Internet trolls are persistent and crazy. And if you’re unfortunate enough to tweak one that’s a hacker, you may find you’re having problems with your website or get your entire account hijacked.
There’s also a flagging system on some sites, so it’s best not to poke the bear too hard. My rule of thumb has been to engage, warn the troll that I don’t tolerate impoliteness, and try to keep the discussion civil. However, some people are just a-holes. It’s better to ban them quickly before the discussion gets far along than to get emotionally invested.
Don’t insult them. Just ban them from your channel/feed/account or whatever. If they consistently return and harass you, report them to the platform and ban them again. Don’t engage.
If you do engage, know your positions and know the basics of your ideology. Don’t get caught flat-footed in a lie or in not knowing what you’re talking about. Unless you’re in a live stream, there’s always time to do some more research. Ultimately, Internet arguments gain you little, so try to keep the discussion light, and if you have to end it, just say something like, “Let’s just agree to disagree. I’m not really interested in discussing it further.”
Haters, Trolls— They’re all the same. The good news is you’re probably doing something right if you have one. The bad news is some of these people are quite insane. Ban, block, and report them if they get too aggressive; don’t wait, and don’t engage. The less attention they get, the more likely they’ll get bored and go elsewhere.
Keep your posts consistent. What you do on one platform, repeat on the others where appropriate. Most pictures and videos can be posted on all platforms. What I usually do is make a post that I know I can cut and paste on all the platforms and then do it.
For the smaller platforms, don’t flood them with posts. They may not get enough traffic for you to post more than once a day. I backed off on posting on Saidit for this reason, even though my engagement has been very positive. I didn’t want to flood the message board with my posts.
The object of your posting is to create an information network that your fans on all the platforms can access and find out about you. You may have to post other things that aren’t about your comic in order to keep engagement with your fans. If you do this, feel free to post it on other sites as well. On some large platforms, your post may quickly disappear, but constantly flacking may turn off your most loyal supporters.
Doing your social media can be a time-consuming process that takes you away from making the very comic you’re supposed to promote. However, if you get skilled at making posts, tweets, and short videos, you’ll find the amount of time commitment is minimized and that the return is good. Creators need exposure for little or no money, and there is no better investment currently than social media.
Until next time fanboys, see you at the con!
For more Comic-Con 101 guides, check out our previous article; it’s all about MERCHANDISING!
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