What if I offered a small promo box that participants could add to their site. The box would randomly generate a small banner and link to comics from other participants.
Are you in or out?
I think the answer should be out.
Why aren’t you asking these questions?
If your first response is to jump into this arrangement, you’re making a poor self-promotion decision. I discussed a couple of the worst in this episode of Webcomics Confidential…
Instead of jumping right into this arrangement, your first instinct should be a barrage of important questions:
- Who is going to be accepted into this group?
- On what kinds of sites will your ad appear?
- Who will enforce compliance?
- How can you avoid inappropriate content on your site?
- How will you handle the perceived endorsement that such promotion implies when your readers find inappropriate or low-quality content there?
And that’s just the initial salvo. Let’s cover some of the standouts.
You are judged by the company you keep
This is the primary reason to avoid such an arrangement. Many of these questions boil down to one central issue: You’re judged by the company you keep. Your comic appearing on a low-quality webcomic makes your comic look amateurish. Don’t fool yourself. That’s why I always advocated against hosting your comic on sites like Drunk Duck (are they even still around?) and Smack Jeeves. If you allow your product to be showcased along with low-grade content, then you will be perceived as being low-grade. It’s pretty hard to escape.
Here’s the other side of that coin — when you endorse a low-grade comic on your site, you are putting yourself in that same company. You are telling your readers who you are — and it’s an insult.
I know. I know. There’s gonna be someone who says…
“Hey… anything to get my work out there!”
That’s pretty pathetic. It’s the thinking of an amateur. And it’s a great way to ensure that you’ll never progress beyond that point. What you become is a direct result of how you think.
Oh, sure. I’m sure they’ll keep out porn (those monsters) and excessive violence. But what about politically-charged content? If your comic embraces philosophies from one end of the political spectrum, how are you going to feel when you see ideals from the other side of the spectrum appearing on your site? Worse — how are your readers going to react?
Although it’s completely dishonest and shady, I’ll tell you the only “good” way to participate in this kind of arrangement. Submit a promo, engage in the system, add the widget to your site, let it run for a couple weeks, and then quietly delete it. Your ads are now in the system, being distributed by the saps, and you don’t have to run their crap on your site.
I’m a complete moron and I figured that one out in about thirty seconds. How many of the people in the group are at least as smart as me?
And although some of those people may be uncomfortable with deleting the widget entirely, how many of them are going to quietly slide the promo box further and further down their page over time?
Let’s say two people participate. One has been doing webcomics for five years and has a strong daily readership. The other started yesterday. Who benefits from that arrangement.
The person who brings the most to the table gets rewarded the least.
Sorry, folks. Good promotion takes a little more time than plopping some HTML onto your website and hoping for the best. Having your comic’s promotion appear anywhere isn’t nearly as effective as honing a message and aiming it at a carefully targeted demographic. But the former takes about fifteen minutes, and the latter takes much, much longer.