Finding Your Target Audience
The marketing side of making a comic is an intimidating step for a lot of creators. The idea of having to sell something you created to a complete stranger still gives me the shivers.
When I was first starting out, I absolutely hated the whole process. Marketing made me feel dirty, like I was selling a part of myself along with my comic.
Even worse, despite the many, many hours I spent writing all kinds of promotional posts, I got nothing but crickets. I would post on as many different platforms as I could find but nothing really got any attention.
It was really demoralizing. Not only was I doing something I strongly disliked, but it wasn’t even giving me results.
Then, one day, something changed.
I was posting a promotional update to a subreddit that I frequented. The update itself was nothing special but to my surprise, I was all of a sudden getting replies. Not only that, people were saying they were super excited for the comic! Admittedly, it was a tiny group of people at first, just two or three, but at least they seemed genuinely interested in my story.
From then on, they would reply to all my posts and we would talk about the details of the story and all the topics the comic addressed. That’s when things started becoming enjoyable for me because I was actually getting people frequently replying to my posts. It was primarily that same little group I started with, but I didn’t care, people we’re engaging with my content!
After a while, I began writing all my promotional material as if I was writing it for them specifically. That’s when things really started taking off. Those people bagan sharing my posts with their friends because they liked them so much, and I found I was gaining supporters at a more rapid pace than I was before.
I’m not going to pretend like I have a massive audience yet (in fact, it’s still rather small), but I still think there’s a major lesson to take away from my experience. I found that to have a successful marketing campaign, I had to find my target audience. I had to seek out the people who were just as passionate as I was about my comic.
What I failed to notice at first was that I was making my posts too generic. I was trying to reach as broad of an audience as I could, and in doing so, I wasn’t really appealing to anyone in particular. Once I started constructing posts that would target my core audience, the people who were looking for exactly what I was giving, only then did I start receiving a positive reception to my posts.
And it was at that point that I realized something: I didn’t actually hate marketing, I was just targeting the wrong people. I hadn’t found my audience.
That’s great for you, but how do I know who MY audience is?
Know Who To Sell To
Think back to the section about your story’s purpose (and if you skipped over that section, now is a good time to check it out).
In short, your purpose is what you want to achieve with your story.
My comic More Than Men has a few core purposes:
- To get the reader thinking about societal problems like political and economic inequality
- Create an engaging character drama story
There are also a couple secondary purposes:
- Provide a meta commentary about the state of the superhero genre
- To have exciting action sequences
Whether it be to make people laugh or make them cry, every story has (at least one) purpose and now it’s time to apply that purpose to start gathering your fans.
Remember that just like you, your audience has a purpose too. I’m sure some of you who read those bullet points above think that story sounds interesting. I’m also sure there are some of you who think it sounds terrible and wouldn’t read that story in a million years.
Different people are looking for different things in their stories. The key concept is that your most loyal followers, the ones who will actually be engaging with your content, will be those whose purpose syncs up with the purpose of your comic.
If the purpose of your story is to teach others about astronomy, trying to sell that story to people who are looking for a straight forward action story is not going to get you a lot of responses. You’ll have much more success if you instead target people looking to learn more about astronomy.
It may seem straightforward but I found that it’s easy to lose track of who your audience is.
Okay, but where do I even find these so-called “loyal supporters”?
Social Media Platforms
Facebook was very important for me when I first began promoting my comic.
Most of your Facebook contacts are probably your friends and family. Those are the exact people you want to target when first starting out because they’re the ones who are going to support you no matter what you create. They’ll be the easiest people to convince to follow your stuff. When I created my Facebook page for my comic, almost all of my initial followers were friends and family.
Facebook is great for:
Gaining an initial following. Make sure to invite your friends and family to come support you!
Sending updates to existing followers. While not the best, the average Facebook newsfeed is less crowded than other social media sites.
Facebook ranks posts based on engagement. Try to create posts that get your followers liking, commenting or sharing them. Ask questions to your audience, get them to vote on things with their “likes”, host contests where they can win something if they share your page…
Facebook ranks visual posts (photos, videos) higher than pure text posts. Spice up your basic text posts with an image to show up in more news feeds.
If you have a special event coming up, create a Facebook event for it through your page. Everyone who signs up will get notifications for it and will be able to follow it back to your main page.
If you have a website, add links to it on your main page and in the description of your profile and cover photos. You want people to have easy access to more info about your comic. Some creators add a “Click here for X” message to their cover photos to get people clicking on them so that it pops up the description that contains links to their site.
There are also quite a few Facebook pages dedicated to promoting comics:
As my following grew a bit larger, I found that Facebook worked nicely for sending updates to existing followers but it was less helpful for gathering new supporters. This is where Twitter excels. I found Twitter to be one of the most useful platforms for gaining new followers and supporters that aren’t your direct friends and family.
The advantage Twitter has over Facebook is that it is far easier for new people to come across your stuff. This is simply because there’s just a lot more content on Twitter. The average person posts way more frequently on Twitter than they do on Facebook. Unfortunately, this results in news feeds that are absolutely crowded with content making it less likely that any given post gets seen by your existing followers.
Twitter is great for:
- Picking up new followers. Like I said, people are more likely to share each others stuff on Twitter so you’re more likely to appear on other people’s newsfeeds
Follow and engage with people who tweet similar content to you. By commenting on someone’s tweets, you’ll help with their engagement, introduce yourself to their audience and most importantly, potentially make you new friends. Be genuine though and only comment when you actually have something to say. It’s really easy to spot the intentions of someone who’s chatting with you simply to increase their audience.
Don’t bulk follow random people. Following 10,000 randoms in the hope that they follow you back is a waste of time. Even if they do follow you back, unless their purpose aligns with your brand and purpose, they won’t ever be engaging with your content. It also looks really bad to see an account that follows so many people.
Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself. Because Twitter is so crowded, people will often miss your posts. If you have important information to share, retweet it again the next day! Again, just don’t be obnoxious about it.
Use those hashtags! Using hashtags like #indiecomics, #comics, #webcomics… will help your posts be discovered by more people. Avoid clogging up a tweet with them though, or Twitter might think you’re spamming and lower the score of your post.
Pin important posts to your page. Got a Kickstarter running or a new piece of art to sell? Pinning key posts will stick them to the top of your page, ensuring more people see them when they click on your profile. Many people use their pinned post as a mini portfolio, often linking to other social media accounts, or websites where people can buy their products.
Make polls. Twitter polls are a great way to engage with your audience since they take a low amount of effort to participate in.
Examine the posts of successful accounts. Accounts with thousands of followers have them for a reason. By looking into their posts, you can hopefully learn a few strategies that you can implement in your own posts. Also…
Examine the followers of those successful accounts. Twitter lets you see the followers of other people. Go to the pages of successful accounts that align with your brand and purpose. What’s common about their followers? How can you appeal to them as well?
I haven’t used Tumblr much (and I hear it’s been on the downhill lately) but I know a few creators who use it to post art or weekly strips. Some even use it to host their webcomics.
Another platform I have little experience with. Instagram is (from what I’ve heard) one of the better social media platforms out there for artists. Instagram is heavily focused on visual art so is less useful for pure writers (unless you can get creative). That said, I have heard of a few writers having success there.
Reddit is a giant message board with a bunch of sections (subreddits) designated to specific topics. There are tons of subreddits out there that you can use to promote your comics.
Comic Book Collabs: Reddit forums primarily for finding collaborators and getting feedback but also a great community for help gathering new followers.
FreeEBOOKS and eFreebies: Great for gaining new followers if you are willing to share a free copy of one of your stories (I link to my email list signup form where people can trade their email for issue 1 of More Than Men).
Zwol: An old forum that has recently started regaining steam. Gets a solid amount of eyes.
Comic Book Hour: One of the newer forums. Lots of collaboration going on here.
Digital Webbing: Long lasting and still quite active comic forums for writers, artists, letterers and other creators. FANTASTIC for finding collaborators.
ComixCentral: A quite new digital comic publishing platform with their own dedicated forums.
Wattpad: “The world’s largest community for readers and writers” (according to them at least).
DeviantArt: Not specific to comics but houses a massive collection of artists. Also has writers though they are less common.
Mastodon: Social media site with curated news feeds dedicated to a single topic like art or writing.
Table of Contents
- It All Starts With An Idea
- Thought Dumping
- World Building
- Writing Scenes
- Breaking Scenes Down
- Choosing A Title
- Writer's Block
- Sorting Out Your Budget
- Writing A Solicitation
- Where To Find Your Team
- What Makes A Good Partner
- General Tips
- Standard Black vs Rich Black
- Choosing A Font
- Font Types
- When To Bold Text
- Sound Effects
- Getting Print Ready Files
- Offset vs Digital Printers
- Why Page Count Matters
- Book Formats And Binding Types
- How Many Copies To Print
- Tips For Saving Money
- Printer Comparison Table