Build an Audience of Comic Book Fans Faster with Far Less Struggle.
ARTIST, ILLUSTRATOR & WRITER
Struggling to find people willing to read your comics is one of the most difficult challenges as a creator.
I was never a popular kid in high school. I have never been one for popularity contests. But as an artist who relies on comic conventions and social media to create an audience for my art many days, it feels just like being back in school.
It feels that way.
In reality, it’s not. I’m not in the geek click wanting to be in the popular kids’ click. I’m not being kept out of sitting at the cool kid’s table or anything of the sort. Some days it may feel that way but it’s not the case.
The reality is that I create the work I enjoy. It’s quality. It’s getting better all the time.
One of the hardest struggles as a comic book artist is growing your audience.
If you’ve not done work for one of the major publishers you are probably struggling to build your audience.
The catch-22 is that the larger publishers prefer working with people with a built-in audience. It helps sales. So it quickly becomes a chicken or the egg situation.
How do I build an audience when I need to work with a major publisher?
How do I work with a major publisher if I don’t have an audience?
Luckily I have learned a few time-tested methods for growing my audience and in the last year, I have doubled my audience on three different social media platforms all by putting into effect a few amazing strategies.
Building a following usually requires one of two things: Time or Money.
There are two time-tested strategies for building an audience that most of us just can’t afford.
We can spend money on advertising. The money we normally just don’t have. And frankly, many times is just wasted if you don’t know where and how to spend the money.
We can play the long game. And build an audience over time. Produce enough content over time and you’ll build an audience. But doing work for 20 years just to get the audience some people achieve in a few just isn’t acceptable.
We want that validation now.
Focus and Find Your Niche
This is perhaps the hardest thing for many creators.
It certainly was hard for me.
It was only recently that I even understood what my niche was.
You see we are all good at making comics. But if we just say we are good at making comics we are competing with all the other people who are good at making comics.
But take for instance the amazing Mike Mignola. Mike Mignola doesn’t just make comics. He makes dark gothic comics.
Here is another example. Jim Zub. Jim Zub has written all types of comics. But he positions himself as a fantasy comic writer. He’s built such an audience behind that niche that he was asked to write the Dungeons and Dragons comic.
The beauty of discovering your niche is that you can always focus now and change later.
But focus and be consistent with your focus. Which brings us to the action item.
Curate what you show the world.
When you’ve decided on your niche, your focus, it’s time to be consistent with your message.
For instance, if you want to be known as a Pulp Comics Creator… then show pulp comics work.
Don’t show pictures of your food.
Don’t show pictures of your cat. Unless it is relevant to Pulp comics don’t show it.
Now if you show a picture of your comic and your Cat just happens to make it in the photo…that… that’s okay. Because it’s relevant.
Just remember you don’t have to show everything. You don’t even have to always show your thing. Just focus your content on your niche.
Show only work that is relevant to your niche!
If you are drawing Fantasy comics for instance. Show fantasy comics work. Share other people’s fantasy work.
Share articles about fantasy stories. If you are inconsistent in your message you won’t reach the people who want to read stories that are like what you are creating.
This doesn’t mean you can’t share important articles or engage in social conversation…
ABSOLUTELY DO THAT.
But when showing your work. Or posting your content. Your content must be relevant to your niche.
It’s even better when the majority of your content relates to your nice and provides value to the people you share it with.
Provide value to your niche.
What is the value?
First off your comics are value. Share art, in-progress work. Case studies. All of it.
Document making your comic.
Document your life as an artist. Your struggles.
Show people what you are working on.
Value is giving people what they need/desire or helping them with their struggles.
Start a discussion with people in your niche and ask them what things they struggle within your niche.
For instance, if you draw gritty crime comics ask “What do you think is missing from crime comics?” then incorporate that into your content or “What are your favorite crime comics” and do some fan art of that.
You can also write a blog post talking about your favorite gritty crime comics other people are.
If you are doing fantasy you can share a blog post where someone talks about different kinds of swords in fantasy.
Or perhaps you can curate a list of the top ten wizards in fantasy.
The idea here is to curate and share content that again is relevant to your niche.
This content will help draw and attract the people that will want to read your comic.
Your building fans out of people who already are fans of your niche.
So you have discovered your niche. And you are providing value. But are you being consistent?
What does a consistent mean?
Pick a day. When you are starting, pick one day.
Let’s say Monday.
Every Monday I drop or do something with my comic Moon Hunters. I call it #moonhuntersmonday.
I drop some piece of content related to Moon Hunters every Monday.
You can do it more than one day a week but you have to be consistent.
If you run a webcomic drop your pages on the same day or days every week. Don’t deviate from this. Your readers will eventually come to expect that content and your consistency becomes a value unto itself.
Also, it helps to have a backlog of content. So build at least four drops worth of content for your day. If you drop twice a week have eight drops worth. Three times a week 12 drops.
That way if life gets ahead of you then you can feel comfort in knowing your content is ready.
Build and discover the power of an email list.
This is one of the major essentials to building an audience that frankly most comic book creators completely overlook.
Stop now and go create a MailChimp account. You get 2000 a subscriber limit for a free account and if you can build a 2000 subscriber list then you HAVE a following to be proud of.
Go. Now! Do it!
Okay now that you’ve done that. You did that, right? I can’t stress this enough.
Okay here’s why. When you post on Twitter or Facebook maybe 2% of your followers see your post. That’s it. Sometimes a post will get better depending on how quickly your posts get engagement but the sad fact for most posts that’s the reality.
Email, however, gets upwards of 20% on average open rate.
So with Facebook if you share your post and you have 600 followers you get maybe 12 people with eyes on the prize.
Email, on the other hand, would be 120 people.
There are two great ways for creators to build their mailing list.
Build your mailing list person to person.
The first is by just asking people at conventions. If someone stops by your booth and you engage with them, perhaps you even make a sale. Ask for their email.
You know they are already interested in your product. So the idea that they would be a possible fan is encouraging already.
Build your mailing list by providing value.
The second great way is to give something away for free on your website in exchange for your email.
For comic creators, a free copy of your comic or a free chapter of your graphic novel is a great way to give value. Marketing professionals and website designers call this a lead magnet.
You offer something of value in return for something of value. Combine this with a blog post that offers something of value and you get an audience building practice that works almost on autopilot.
For instance, create a blog post that is relevant and gives value to your niche audience.
This draws people to your site where they digest the value. Once they have the value
Ask for their email in exchange for something else of value- for instance, you’re free comic.
This entices people who are ready to become your fans. Not only have you given them value in the blog post, but now are offering them more value for something a simple as their email.
Now you can set up an automation sequence in MailChimp to not only send them your comic but to introduce yourself. This gives them the value of your comic and puts them in the top of your mind.
You can tell them also that they can expect to get your email once a week (on that day you chose). Then on that day, send an email to your list that either gives them that content or provides a link to it.
Not everyone will open it. Some will opt out of your newsletter. Many will ignore it.
But that 20%. That 20%, if you are consistent, will become those rabid fans.
And there you have it. My most successful tips for creating fans of your comic.
Oh and if you found this valuable don’t forget to enter your email below and I’ll send you a free copy of my comic Moon Hunters 😉
Want to learn more about audience building? I learned from the best. Check out this amazing course on how to build a rabid fanbase for your creative project.