Webcomic Kick-off: A Soft Launch Post-Mortem
The day before yesterday, I flipped the switch and went with a “soft launch” on my webcomic My Life In The Trenches. It’s a semi-autobiographical strip that publishes weekly on Tuesdays.
Here are some thoughts and some webcomic production lessons learned:
- The personal excitement and emotional investment was akin to having another child. In fact, it proved to be harder work than actual childbirth; at least my contribution(!). The great WordPress plugin ComicPress release a major, feature-rich update to a heavily widget-ized version that simply “broke” my comic. I was able to roll-back to the previous version, and may still want to explore this when time permits; just not on launch day.
- I’m an infrequent Facebook updater, but I thought it important enough to inform my friends and family about this new chapter in my artistic life. My announcement netted comments and “thumbs up” from about a third of my close friends and family.
- It doesn’t make much sense to start paid advertising campaigns until the archive is filled beyond the intial kick-off comic. Let’s face it, word of mouth alone isn’t going to cut it. What that magic number of strips is, I’m unsure – but I can create the banners in the meantime. Seems Project Wonderful is better for my intended audience than Google Ads.
- Finally, as a follow-up to my post that explores webcomic workflows, my initial hunch to flatten the process and keep everything in Photoshop is the way to go. I may someday write the Part II to that post, but suffice it to say that after watching a streaming demo by a leading webcomic artist about how he achieves his crisp lines, it’s simply easier (read: more fun) to stay inside one graphcs program from beginning to end.
I’m planning for a bump in website traffic with a promised guest strip that I recently did for one of my favorite webcomics, Jefbot by Jeff Schuetze. The practice of guest-strips is a free marketing technique to drive traffic, insofar as the time is donated on spec that the strip will reach a larger audience. In fact, this was the reason for launching slightly sooner than planned. It was a lot of fun to draw in the style of another comic artist whose linework I love.