The purpose of this thread is to gather a collection of marketing tips and strategies to best promote your comics
Note: The strategies that I myself am posting here are mostly strategies that I've gathered from successful online business outside of comics. But I want to put them up here as a way for all of us to test out and experiment with. Then, if they prove to be successful even in the webcomic industry, then HURRAY for us!
So, if anyone has tried (or is going to try) using these strategies, please give us some feedback on how it has worked for you? What were the results?
This is something I learned from Seth Godin. (He has a book about it with the same title, if you want to check that out).
Anyway, Seth's main point is that marketing is most effective when you have permission.
Unlike Interruption Marketing, where we are constantly interrupted from watching our favorite TV shows with ads and commercials, Permission Marketing suggests that the customers themselves are the ones that give creators permission to be marketed to.
Think about subscribing to your favorite blogs, or choosing to receive notifications on Facebook for when your best friends of favorite FB Pages & Groups have updates. Permission marketing, then, suggests that when you market to those customers that want to be marketed to, you're more likely to get a more favorable response.
In the indie author space on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo, for example, many indie authors place a link on their ebooks for readers that want to subscribe to their email newsletter. In the newsletter (because they're self-publishing a sci-fi/fantasy trilogy or series), subscribers are informed about the progress of their upcoming books, launch dates, promotions, and sales.
Because these readers have given these authors permission to be marketed to, the response is amazing! These indie authors actually make a living, earning at least five figures every month from their book sales. These authors include: Hugh Howey, Joanna Penn, the guys at Sterling & Stone, Lindsay Buroker, K.M. Weiland, and many others.
So the question is...
How do we get permission from readers to market our comics?
One thing every single online business constantly reiterates is that...
The money is in the list
By that, they mean email list.
- Because if/when Facebook, Twitter, or even Tapastic dies, how will your readers find you?
Best way: through email.
- Because everyone has an email. Not everyone has a Facebook/Twitter account.
- Because one's email is private and personal. Meaning, there's a much greater chance readers see your updates if it goes into their inbox.
- Because the mere fact that someone gives you their email address, proves that they're giving you permission to send them a letter if whenever you come out with something new and exciting.
In my case, I loved the fact that I got an email from Jason Brubaker whenever he announced that he was starting a Kickstarter, and also whenever he announced that he was coming out with a new book.
For both fiction and non-fiction authors, the response to these kinds of emails is mind-blowing. The bulk of the sales on their books, come from people that are subscribed to their email list. It's how they go up the charts on Amazon within days! Because they build up anticipation for a new book through their email list, and then once it's out, hundreds (if not thousands) go out and buy it within the first few weeks, placing their book higher up the rankings on Amazon.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This kind of email marketing works because these are fans that have deliberately chosen to follow your work and your career. In other words, these are people that WANT to hear from you.
For the purpose of discussion, I have a few questions for those that would like to answer...
- Do you currently follow anyone's (anyone at all, whether inside or outside of comics) email newsletter?
- Have you yourself, started building an email list?
- What has been your experience with building/managing/participating in a comic creator's email newsletter?
Don't Spam... Instead, Build Relationships.
Of course, just because you're able to get permission from people to email them, doesn't mean that you spam them. One thing every successful online entrepreneur repeats is that it's about building a relationship with your audience.
That means, serving them. Here are a few suggestions on how to do that (based off of how other successful writers do it)
In his book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, Gary Vaynerchuk (here's a video review of the book) uses the boxing metaphor as a way to suggest that before you ask your audience for anything, you have to give, give, give, first. Hence, jabbing more times than throwing right hooks.
- Be Helpful
- Recommend books/products/articles that would help others
- Recommend books/comic that they would enjoy
- Help other creators gain an audience
- Make them a part of your creative process
- Find beta readers for your comic script, if possible.
- Let them in on what's happening in the story.
- Ask for feedback. Ask them what they'd like to see happen.
- Have them choose between two cover designs
- Let them in on how you came up with your ideas
- Update them on the latest news, or about your progress
- Let them know if you're working on a new book/project
- Show them behind-the-scenes sketches and artwork
- Let them know if you're attending a particular convention
- Be generous
The single most important thing I've learned so far about effective marketing is that being generous works a thousand times better than being selfish.
Also, I know of this one cartoonist that makes a living off of emailing people inspirational pieces of art every day. She earns a living mainly through donations from her audience. But yet again, she earns through her email list. She is generous in the sense that she deliberately goes out of her way to help others by inspiring and uplifting them. She is generous because she does it all for free (and people respond to that).
What does this mean for us?
- Most online entrepreneurs offer a free ebook, workbook, cheat sheet, or tool to those that choose to subscribe to their mailing lists.
- They use their blogs and social media to serve their readers (by giving away free marketing & writing advice, tips, case studies, etc.).
- They use social media to share and recommend useful content created by other authors.
- They give away a ton of free stuff to their audiences. Some indie fiction writers often give away their first book. Others make them permanently free on Amazon.
- They build a community around their brand/book, a community that helps one another out.
For us comic creators, I believe a quick and cheap way to show generosity is by offering free downloads (desktop & mobile wallpapers).
Social Media Tools You Should Start Using
I learned about these tools from following several successful bloggers and writers. I even use them myself, and they're incredibly helpful.
This is an automation tool that allows you to schedule posts ahead of time (like hootsuite, but very different). The best feature Buffer has that's above and beyond all the rest is that...
It's a bit difficult to explain, but think of it this way...
You don't have to constantly set the date and time you want to post. Instead, you first setup a schedule (think of it like your daily class/work schedule). Every class/period is fixed. The only thing that changes is what you post on those blocks of time. This way, you can just constantly upload post after post onto those blocks of time (top up your buffer, so to speak).
You can do this at the beginning of the day (since free accounts only give you up to 10 buffers for two social media accounts), so that throughout the entire day you know that you'll be posting something to your fans online (without you having to go online and post it yourself).
This is perfect if you're out the entire day, and don't have time to go online and tweet your latest comic page. It's also perfect for re-posting your latest page several times throughout the day (especially since the speed through which tweets are seen on Twitter is fleeting).
In fact, Buffer fits perfectly with...
What Tweriod basically does is that it gives you statistics on just when exactly are the best times for you to post on Twitter. These times are based on just how many of your followers are online at a given time. What’s more, you can automatically sync these stats with your Buffer schedule.
3. Meet Edgar
Meet Edgar is the perfect tool for posting and reposting content onto Facebook and Twitter. It collects all of your previous tweets and updates into a neat database. It can organize those updates into categories, and shuffle up which tweets are set to be reposted. So if you have a database of over a thousand different quotes from authors or artists that you love, or if you simply want to keep on promoting the most popular posts on your website, you don’t have to worry about coming up new copy every time you re-promote something.
So these some of the basic marketing strategies that I've learned work throughout the online business world. Somehow, I feel that if fiction and non-fiction writers are able to leverage their email lists and make a living by simply focusing on building a relationship with their audience, why not comics too, right?
Again, these are some marketing tips I've learned from industries outside of comics. I'm wondering if anyone has tried them out, or knows of anyone that has, and how effective it is inside of comics.
Also, it'd be nice if some of us (especially those with a large number of subscribers here on Tapastic) could experiment with some of these methods. That way we'd know if they'd work just as effectively.
Also, feel free to post some of your own best practices when it comes to marketing your comics.