TL;DR: I hesitate to post this post Cause I don't want to argue over opinions cause all of this is seriously my opinion but since I saw Doki mention premium creators should offer their perspective... ooph here I am. Gonna say this now, I'm happy to have a dialogue, but i'm not gonna argue to change anyone's mind; that's not my purpose here. I think i spent an hour crafting this and if there are any issues/mistakes, I apologize. I'll edit it later.
Outlier Opinion: Disregard desire for outside forces giving you visibility and master your storycraft to entice and keep readership. You have to take responsibility for your growth and the quality of your story. Suck it up and realize it'll take a long time and a lot of smart, deliberate work to succeed in the long haul.
I cannot express just HOW MUCH goes into being a successful storyteller. But here goes.
I like this topic. So I've got... I suppose an extreme or outlier opinion on this whole Visibility demanding thing. I've been thinking about it for a long while and it'll be nice to get it off my chest.
I honestly don't care how Tapas changes its UI. Are there things that can be improved? OF COURSE. And a lot of the bugs and concerns have been quite vocally and sometime vitriolically expressed by plenty. I don't need to do it here.
Why do I not care? It's not in my control. And whatever they do isn't going to affect my gameplan. Because the story is king, and story can and will win out under any algorithm or perceived slights to 'small creators'.
(Aside: I also hate the mentality of "small creator". If you think of yourself that way, how can you become big? Treat yourself like a professional creator and hold yourself up to that standard, DO what a professional creator would do, and the success will follow that because you'll take the steps needed for bigger success; i.e. Study your genre, read widely, consume good stories widely, master your craft, be honest with yourself and self-aware enough to express your Truth through the story; just tell the damn story and not care what people will think 'cause if you're genuine, others WILL resonate with that. The story you tell will reveal what kind of person you are anyway, might as well make it a deliberate and conscious choice.)
I believe that a creator is wholly responsible for their creations. It may not be your fault if an algorithm or being in a niche genre means your readership pool is smaller, but it is your responsibility to deal with it by focusing on what you can control= Making a damn good story.
Contrary to the opinions I've seen, the audience knows a good story. They're not stupid and they're always hungry for stories that tap into the capital 'T' Truths of human experience.
Our audiences, with their hive mind, is smarter than the sole creator, and it takes every ounce of our wit and honesty and self-awareness to create a story that will resonate with others.
Do you think people don't actively search for stories they think they'll enjoy? Maybe some, but most will AT LEAST sort by their favored genre and begin sampling. Cause hell, I do this whenever I want to consume a good story and if I do it surely I'm not the only human being ever that does it. I'm not nearly that special.
I will never doubt that people always want a good story and they will engage with good stories if encouraged to do so. You have to give the audience at least that much respect.
Regardless of any front page fresh/trending/popular boosts, New and Noteworthy, Staff Picks, or Daily Snacks, in the end how well your comic does is entirely your responsibility. If you don't make a good product you can't expect outstanding results. I don't care how many times you become visible to the vast majority of the readership.
And if you can't recognize what a 'good product' is, then you have to study the craft, study other successful works that have stood the test of time and not just brief trends, and learn to recognize what a good story is. People who say they don't read or consume other works in a variety of media aren't doing the job of a successful creator. How can you create when your inspiration well is dry?
And say you DO stumble upon that visibility, now you're in the domain of democratic choice of the audience. Their support or lack thereof is taken as an indicator of the quality of the execution of your story.
It's not about the art, or even the content sometimes (there will be a section of humanity that will disagree with your story's content and there's nothing to be done about that; however you should never give them a chance to say that your story is a muddling vague mess); it's about how clearly executed the story is.
I'll say this frankly. No one is owed anything. Just by making a story, you're not owed readership or Visibility. Nor do you get to have any control over the audience and who will and won't like your work.
The only thing you get to own is your efforts and the story you create. You become successful only after you master the basics of telling a good story (notice I didn't say getting good at art or drawing or technical writing skill), and never before.
The level of success will be determined by how well you can tell the story and how consistently you can continue to do so with future stories if you want a career in this.
Trying to assign value to yourself based on the response to your story is a dangerous thing because it can be volatile and unreliable.
You have to define your value and worth based on what you have done, what you know you can do now, and what you know you can do next to improve. Because those things are in your locus of control, and nothing else is. Therefore all those other things--unless you allow them to--can not define you.
I'm not a high tier creator. Even my Tapas Original comic was a bit niche compared to others in the Fantasy Romance Genre. Even with promotion it didn't exactly 'go viral' let's say, and it had plenty of promotion. And I own it, cause it was a very particular story that I knew I needed to write and it was my first time learning to execute a professional comic while simultaneously teaching myself more about storycraft.
I'll forever be grateful for Tapas for investing in me and that story. And it was only because I was able to rise to the occasion of doing my work well that I have my current freelance work with Tapas that allows me to work comics full time. As an assistant for now but at least my foot is in the door.
Before that comic's opportunity, I didn't have any significant success from when I joined Tapas in Jan 2015 to July 2018 because I didn't have the skills or expertise to make a well-executed story in a comic format. I can't even read my one-shots anymore cause i'm too embarrassed about who I was back then.
Only starting in 2018 did I seriously began studying my craft. I studied everything from prose (literature, grammar, rhetoric), film (screenplay, Camera angles, composition, storyboarding, acting), to all things drawing and coloring related.
I studied and trained and kept evolving my art style to find the most effective way to create art quickly and well. All of my focus was on deliberate practice. I dragged myself hand over hand to where I am now. I'm still doing that.
Now, present day. My only concern with a comic is how well I can connect, on a human level, the drama of my comic to my audience. Will my audience recognize the humanity I fold into the story and how the plot unfolds? Do my characters come off as genuine? Am I telling the story honestly, and without a thought to anyone's opinions but just trying to express, through the drama of the plot, how I see the world? Am I brave enough to tuck into the story what I truly believe?
An honest desire to connect with the audience is key. You're taking the reader by the hand and saying "let me tell you a story, I promise it won't waste your time cause this is a story I love." Everything else is secondary.
This may come off as boasting, and if it does I won't apologize. I've worked too long and too hard to feel bad that things are finally rolling my way:
Bone's Tarot is my current comic. After Swaha completed I developed it into a Premium Pitch.
It didn't get chosen.
Not for lack of ability to tell a decent story no, it was a marketing sort of thing, as far as I understand. My story was a cross-section of two genres that did not fit neatly into the trends that readers currently respond to. It was too BL for Fantasy and too Fantasy for BL, essentially. I knew the editor I had passed the pitch to had done her darndest to persuade but in the end, it wasn't chosen. Fair enough; it was Tapas team's choice in the end.
So I shrugged, thanked her for her efforts, and began plans to start producing it anyway. I let myself mope of course, but I moped while I did the work. I'm only human, of course it was disappointing not to be chosen . And then there was the part of me that said BT would be a good opportunity to finally get a dang Patreon going. I had to find a way somehow.
I made my production workflow, schedule, and goals. And on New Year's day 2020, I published the first 9 pages on Tapas, and for the first time ever posted on Webtoons, where I was truly unknown.
I posted 3 pages a week MWF after that first big upload (cause a nice first impression is how you keep readers), every week for the last 2 months without skipping a day or skimping on my freelance work that I do for Tapas now. I think I regularly draw 6-9 hours every day (not counting mealtimes or breaks). I also got bored of posting on social media so after the first few weeks I just stopped and stuck to Patreon, Tapas and Webtoon uploads.
Here's the results:
on Tapas: First week: 500 subs. Then, I was on Staff Picks for a week; I got 5k subs from that and honestly did not notice if anyone had left.
All I knew was that with every update, I shared a bit of BG info on the world or the characters that weren't important to the plot and asked my readers questions they could answer in the comments. I replied to everyone I could and created dialogue with them. I could ONLY do this cause I know my entire story, start to finish, inside and out. And I was excited to share it with everyone cause I really freaking love this story; I enjoy the hell out of it.
Presently I've earned 7.6k subs in 2 months, with 24+ regularly updated pages. Apart from that week on staff picks, I credit the execution of my story that encourages my readers to interact with me in the comic that keeps them reading. It's that interaction that propels BT regularly up the ranks of Popular. Not to the very top but high enough.
On Webtoon: This one surprised me. I split Tapas' Episode 1 into 3 parts and made it so Webtoon is one week behind Tapas...because i'm petty, I don't like Webtoon and figured if I could get enough views, that Creator Credit of 100 bucks a month isn't something I'd say no to. It was also an experiment to see how many readers I could pull to Tapas just by enticing them with the story (and pages that are censored by WT guidelines but not Tapas').
Same publishing pace, one page per MWF. And in 2 months I've gotten 19k subs, with virtually no promotion.
I think BT made it into 'recommended reading' on canvas for 1 day; because WT has terrible stat tracking I can't recall if that boosted me any; and I think I was on 'up and coming' in the bottom corner for a week but again, I didn't see any measurable increase in those early days as it's only picked up steam in February with 0 promotion from Webtoon's side, just feedback from the audience.
If you read through the whole post, then take these results as you will. But please, don't think blind luck is what got me here. I aggressively made sure I had the skills necessary when an opportunity presented itself. And I've still got a very long way to go.
I think relying on outside forces for your big break is the biggest mistake any creator can make. I don't believe in luck, only the ability to recognize opportunity and making sure you have the skills to take advantage of that opportunity when it presents itself.
I'll go hide in my hermit cave now. Cheers.