In Retrospect: Timeline and Investments
Jun 30, 2016, 12:00:18 PM
A note about the timeline in the infographic: The size of the circle represents how big that chapter was page-wise in the story.
The comic launched September 5, 2013. I talked about the "Netflix model" of dropping all the pages for a chapter so readers could binge it.
Not a great idea, but that's what I went with all the way up till the end of "The Storyteller" which was published in March of 2014. I wasn't doing social media, advertising, nor did I have comments, and nothing was happening. I was enjoying producing the comic, but I wasn't getting any popular or critical feedback.
At the end of March, I was burnt out from drawing.
A break was in order.
I needed to see the big picture again and focus my time on the other aspects of the comic such as the website, exploring future stories, and most of all, trying to gain some traction in terms of readership. If I didn't stop, I'd have horse-blinders on and I would end up plowing all the way to the end of the comic with no measurable increase in readership, or any idea of what the future should be for this thing.
I see the work I did in the period from March to November 2014 as an investment.
A Technology Investment
My attention first turned to beefing up the website.
I knew I needed share-ability and worked to build my own social media buttons. An improved art gallery. A better comic reader. Comments? Yes. This would be an investment in my own tech. Something I would own going forward and would also be apart of what This Mortal Coil is.
A Storytelling Investment
Speaking of technology, The Shrine was an experiment I created around this time. It's a visual novel live on the web 24/7. You could visit the Shrine and meet characters who appear there throughout the day. If I grow this in bits and pieces eventually it could be another platform to express stories through. At least that's the idea.
A Shareable Investment
While I did this, I began to explore serializing the comic on other platforms such as Tapastic and Inkblazers (which is defunct now).
On Tapastic I tried different formats. I heard from a Tapastic employee that the site was bigger on mobile than desktop and folks favored a vertical format. I began to chop the pages up vertically and present it that way on Tapastic as opposed to a manga page format on the home site. Also on Tapastic, I spread my updates out over the week as another experiment to see if I could gain traction on that site (not really worth it).
A Money Investment
It wasn't only time I needed to invest, but money too. I advertised through Project Wonderful and TopWebComics and advertising above all else, got me readers. I didn't know who they were, but they were reading according to my Google Analytics. I voted up my comic on TopWebComics and eventually other folks were as well. We never got into the top 100, but it helped get some traction. I entered contests with TWC and earned free advertising that way too.
A Social Investment
I joined a group called Webcomic Underdogs and started to chat with other creators.
I learned how to use Twitter and shared my work over it. At first it wasn't going anywhere, but as I got better and met people on the platform, I began to get some traction. Nowadays, I enjoy Twitter over Facebook because you really can have micro-conversations with new people.
After all of that, I went back to the comic.
"Lost and Found" came out in November and I began to serialize the comic weekly.
I experimented with a lot of different formats to present my work and build readership -- I was getting heavy into the SEO stuff at the time. Write blog posts. Use and test keywords, Advertise. Social Media. This was a big hole in my education that I was now putting time against.
Did it pay off?
Not right away.
Like everything, it's a long term investment. It doesn't pay off now, but the skills I learned and the seeds I put into these various other avenues will, I hope, make the comic blossom in the future.
Once I understood where I could post my work, I began to assess where my time was best spent. I was posting to tumblr, deviantArt, Tapastic, my site, Twitter, Instagram, but where's the biggest bang for my buck? What platforms work the best?
Tapastic and my site were great for the comic.
tumblr wasn't useful for presenting the comic. I gained no traction so I stopped posting it there weekly. Instead I posted standalone artwork related to This Mortal Coil and Lolita fashion. In preparation for the next story, in late 2015 I began to draw Kamiko dressed in different Lolita dress styles. I wanted her to look better/more fashionable in the next story. If James Bond has his tuxedo, then she's got her frilly dresses as her armor. That was content I could also present elsewhere such as on tumblr and Twitter to greater effect, and it has helped make those platforms useful and even attracted a minuscule amount of attention back to my comic.
I also did get one lolita fashion drawing to go somewhat viral on tumblr.
It was fun talking with friends on Twitter and coming up with designs for artwork there. I began to do #webcomicchat on Saturdays and Sundays which also allow me to meet other creators and to get my voice heard.
Sites like deviantArt I dropped.
There's Still More I Can Do...
Recently, I also began to do reviews of other webcomics for the Strip Show Revue. It's a good excuse for me to be reading the vast constellations of work that exist on the web.
I'd love to do fan art of other people's work, especially if I enjoyed them.
I'm learning, adapting, and growing, and I did that while I headed towards the end of the comic's serialization.
The production ended March of 2016.
The last page of the comic was posted on May 17, 2016, which is a day off-schedule, but it was my birthday, and what better way to end the story, then on the day I turned 36.