It’s officially been two weeks since I started back from hiatus. Two weeks since I pulled the switch and said to myself, “I am ready.” There has been some web tweaking, and other polishing that I thave worked on but, for the most part. it was been two solid weeks of “Here I am world … again!”

In an effort to revitalize the comic, by adding new readers I have taken a more proactive approach to web marketing than I have in the past. This is all in the beginning stages but I think it is worth listing, if only as a baseline for later dissection. First, I think I should mention that I started off at Zero. After almost a year I had built a webcomic with decent readership,  and because of real life intrusions, I not only let it die, but I beat it down with a stick. The following is a list of marketing “electrodes” which I have attached to AG’s neck, in hope to reanimate its lifeless form.

Facebook — Personal
I believe in the power of social networking. It makes me thousands of dollars in my illustration studio with very little effort. I don’t spam people or their wall, I just let people know what I have been doing and what I am up to.

In a similar way, I use my personal FB account to direct people to my newest comic updates. All FB updates are woven into the real fabric of my life. Since my FB page is limited to about 150 “real” friends and family, I get a significant bump from this select group. Oh, it should be mentioned that my privacy settings are wide open. I follow the simple FB rule; if you don’t want people to know about it, or see it, don’t post it. Because of this I get a lot of cross post traffic. FB is institutionalized stalking, I give my friends, and my friend’s friends something to look at, and I encourage it.

Facebook – Fan page (Like)
They used to be called Fan pages. They are now called “Like.” The benefit of a “Like” FB page is that you have no limits for the number of people who can be on your “Like” list. Also, you don’t have to “friend” or accept friendship from these strangers (potential readers.) They click on a button and they are part of the group. A “Like” acts sort of like a bulletin board for your comic. It is a community of people who “Like” the same thing. Because it is tied to FB accounts, people get updates without having to subscribe via a RSS feed. My like page is tied to my current FB advertising efforts. I will talk more about this in a minute.

Twitter is the daily record of the minutiae of my webcomic life. People give twitter a lot of grief, but it works, and let me tell you why. Twitter does not have the depth of a blog, nor the personal connection of FB. It is 140 characters of passive whispers in the ether. Twitter ties together this shared group experience within the paradigm of an on going conversation. Onto this, Twitter gives us the ability to “follow” people within this conversation. Tweets can also be passed from one person’s followers to another. Twitter is the blood of viral marketing. Never underestimate the power of a casual string of 140 characters.

Web forums
I am not a fan of web forums. They tend to be populated by people without a life who have nothing better to do then bait people into arguments (trolling). However, as a community building tool, they can be quite effective; especially in niche communities like the South Jamaican Scuba Diving forum. I belong to four or five community forums. Most of these communities allow their members to have something called signatures. These signatures are three or four lines of text or image links where a member can generate a fair amount of traffic simply by participating in the forum. Remember, posting for the sake of traffic is spam, and it is almost as bad as trolling. Getting traffic because you are a contributing member of a forum is marketing. There is a difference.

On a side note: because my comic is sort of eclectic, individual comics often get picked up by forums for which I have no affiliation. This week I had over a hundred unique visitors from a particular forum interested in one of my comics. You can’t really control this kind of event, but it is powered by web forums.

Simply put. I buy readership with ads. This takes money, but even here there are some strategies that bear repeating. I build a fair number of web sites. I am not a web guru, but I know basic HTML and CSS coding. I host most of my sites with Godaddy. Every time I set up hosting with Godaddy I get “Ad credits.” Generally this equals $50 from Facebook advertising and $75 from Google Ad words. This might not seem like much, and honestly it’s not. But why have it sit out there doing nothing when I can leverage it?

Google Adwords. Since the free credits I earn are limited I try and stetch it out as far as I can. $75 over 18 days is $4.00 a day. I have created a standard 160 x 600 skyscraper ad. I select key words, and I have Google auto bid on spaces. By setting a daily budget I can force the money to last a bit longer than a couple of days, which raise my impressions, which raise my click throughs. My cost per click is about .21. So far I have 162 clicks and I have about half the credit allowance left. That projects out to 325 visitors to my site that are brand spanking new and essentially Free!

Facebook. Facebook advertising works within its own network. You have two choices; link to a outside web site, or link to a Facebook page. At first I thought that I am looking for web traffic so directing them to my website made a lot of sense. But noticed my bounce-rate rise. These are people coming to the site once and then leaving. I then thought, you know … directing them to my Fan (Like) page makes more sense. If I can capture the “Like” then I will have multiple opportunities to interest them in later pages. In this regard, a “FB Like” page acts like a bookmark. The conversions may be lower but those that stay (who actually click the Like button) are worth a lot more. I have a 2.00 daily budget for about 30 days. I have 41 clicks off of it, at about .49 a click. I don’t have “like” page conversion numbers yet. We will see how that test turns out.

Project Wonderful. PW is not new to webcomic folks. You set up a budget, set daily limits, select an audience, and let it run. But wait! I also can host ads. Hosting ads on my AG site earns me PW credit. PW ads work, and because of their unique bidding system I sometimes get free ads. I started out with 10.00 in my PW account. After two weeks,  I now have $7.50 and have 232 click throughs to my site. so I am paying about .03 CPC. My budget limit with PW is .35 per day. By hosing ads I make about .10 a day. With higher traffic to my AG site I hope to have this equation cancel each other out before the end of the year.

Banner Exchange and webcomic lists.
I am not sure of the effectiveness of traffic coming from these lists. And there seems to be a LOT of them. I have been with The Webcomic List since the beginning. Since my rebirth I have had 72 hits from them. Not great. But not bad either. According to their web count. I am #840 out of 16,052. I have no idea what this means, but the number keeps coming down so I suppose thats good. I have started listing with a new site called Comic Hovel. Out of 293 listed comics, I am 292. They ahave a banner exchange program that I am just starting. I like the nice wed design comapred to TWCL. But it’s hard to fight basic numbers. We will see how it fairs over the long haul.

This is a very important rat hole. I could spend 24/7 massaging this to make my numbers great, but I try to do the basics. I use Google XML site maps plug-in for WordPress. I am also using Google Analytics for WordPress plug-in. I use excerpts, and transcripts, and tag every post. I am sure there is more that I could do here … which will come as I learn … in time.

So were are my number now? After two weeks I am up to 150 visitors a day and climbing! I have over 5,200 page views with an average of 6 pages a visit. I have no average because each day it goes up by a little bit more. These are not great numbers, but considering the overall picture, I am pleased. I have only spent $10 in advertising with Project wonderful, but it is looking like it will last me a couple of months. I have set no real goals yet as to what numbers I want to hit with my comic. It is a bit early to make goals when I have no idea how far, or high these numbers will fly.

I hope this is helpful to somebody other than myself. I am grateful for every reader out there who contributes to the continued success of AG. Creating it brings me great peace and joy. The gamer in me loves to look at the stats and tweak performance. But it is the creative work and the reader that makes it all worthwhile. Thank you for your comments, and grammar corrections, and enthusiasm.