Friday Archive Dive: Don’t listen to one reader… listen to them all
I’d like to try something new in today’s Archive Dive. I’m going to release the entire post. If you’re wondering about some of the subscription content that you’ll get as a member of Webcomics.com, this is a good example. If you know someone who is considering a membership, please point them in this direction!
As always, you can sign up for an entire year or you can get a Trial Membership for $5. That trial lasts for 30 days — with no strings attached. You will not be re-billed unless you choose to subscribe!
In the Private Forum, a member asked the following:
If you’ve been following a webcomic and you don’t like the direction it is taking and eventually it gets to the point where you’re not enjoying it and decide to stop reading it, as a good fan should you politely just forget the comic exists or should you tell the creator why you have decided to stop following his/her’s work?
I’d like to address this subject from the standpoint of a comics creator, and from that perspective, the answer is clear. The fan is more than welcomed to send the e-mail, but any cartoonist worth his or her salt is going to promptly ignore it.
As a creator, you have to learn to tell your story… the story that you want to tell. That means writing humor that you find funny… or horror that scares you… or drama that compels you.
In my opinion, it’s the best way to get great results.
And you can’t harness your best creativity if you allow yourself to be run in circles by listening to individual voices.
Because each of those voices is going to give you conflicting feedback.
You cannot possibly take each of the comments to heart.
So, how do you tell if you’re on the right track? One suggestion is to stop listening to each of your readers and listen to all of them instead. You do this through your Web site analytics — your traffic statistics.
Are you steadily building traffic? Is your work being shared on social media? Do you have a steady supply of new visitors to your site? These are all indications that your writing is striking a chord with readers.
Will some of them fall away? Absolutely. And for a plethora of reasons — some of which have nothing to do with your comic.
But if you start to see your numbers flag, then it’s time to start asking why. Comic conventions are great for this kind of market research because you can talk to existing and potential fans alike — and really interview them about how they’re reacting to your comic. Surveys are also useful.
Keep in mind that the real reason may be that your work is simply not reaching the target demographic that best suits it. Ot it may be that your site doesn’t do a good job of promoting social-media sharing.
Or it could be little bits of all of these variables (and a few others).
At the heart of it all, though, you have to tell your story — and tell it unashamedly and confidently. If your comic is a anthropomorphic steampunk novella that parodies he works of Kafka, then you should be The Definitive Kafkaesque furry steampunk novella — leaving no room for someone else to be “that thing... only moreso.”
One thing the Web has showed us is that there’s an audience for every niche. Stop worrying about pleasing individuals and focus instead on telling your Best Story.
Everything after that is academic.