Thursday, 26 October 2017

Mixed Blessings - Promoting Your Comics on Reddit

Moving to A Bigger Audience

Trying to grow your comic audience is a big challenge to most cartoonists, you can create the greatest material in the world, but if nobody sees it then you might as well not bother. Most artists find one or two comic hosting sites to post to, and find they can easily get some followers and readers from amongst their peers. But you always want more, which generally means promoting your work elsewhere.

I’ve experimented with a few such as Ello and Tumblr, but by far the biggest impact I’ve had so far is with Reddit. The first day I posted five old comics and pushed my site page hits to just short of a thousand, but it’s not without its problems.

Posting Cartoons To Reddit

My teenage son was surprised when I told him I’d started posting cartoons to Reddit, like he knew something that I didn’t. I could tell something wasn’t quite right because of all the Reddit user advisory notes down the right hand panel on the /r/comics sub-reddit page.

There's stuff about General Conduct, What's OK to Post, What's NOT OK to Post, and some tips for artists. There's similar in most of the other sub-reddits, so you get the impression there's been abuse of the system in the past.

The Bad

It's best to think of /r/comics like a toxic tank full of piranhas, but if you decide to risk it you can get incredible levels of page views. In my experience they’ll either swarm all over you or ignore you completely. (mostly the latter) This week however, I did have a cartoon that went surprisingly well. It was a bitter-sweet moment, and probably something I'll cover in another blog.

Let's just say I learnt a few things.


Let's for a moment consider reader's comments on Reddit,...
  • Don’t feed the trolls, try to take a back seat and don't get drawn in.
  • Some may be pedantic or picky about certain details in your work.
  • Some have a Asperger's level compulsion to correct anything they consider incorrect.
  • Any sort of self promotion, including posting a link to your site may be voted down, possibly with a few snotty comments.

Down Voting

If you've not seen Reddit before, you should be aware that user posts are up or down voted by the readers. Up-voting makes your cartoon more visible and down-voting has the opposite effect. So you may find that a perfectly good cartoon (one that’s been received OK elsewhere) immediately gets a few "down-votes" and ultimately bombs. This can be highly frustrating and may be an indication that your cartoon isn’t so well suited to this audience.

It’s well worth taking a look at the more successful cartoons, the crowd is “laddish” or in the US you’d call them “Bros”, so you might want to consider whether your cartoon is suitable.

Coping With The Swarm

Getting onto the ‘Hot’ page is not a simple matter and in my experience it involved a fair bit of luck. I found it helpful to consider every new submission to be an experiment and not get too attached to the process or the outcome. Your work is likely to fail here, but that doesn't mean it’s a bad comic. (keep that in mind at all times!)

Use the "[OC]" tag in the title and request “Artistic Flair” from the moderator. This generally involves putting a link back to your Reddit user page from your cartoon site (you can always remove it again afterwards). This highlights your posts with the name of your comic, but don’t expect this to grant you better treatment.

Most people don’t want to leave a comment, it’s just a fact of life, but some will be compelled to type these sorts of things:-
  • Witty comments (some are quite funny).
  • Corrections to your work that they feel would improve it.
  • How your work relates to them directly.
  • Reactions to other people’s idiot comments.
  • Thoughtful side discussion topics.
  • General scorn.
(It's a real mixed bag with a fair amount of negative stuff there.)

My son advised me to never reply or react to any comments. This seems very alien when elsewhere it’s encouraged, but based on my own interactions on Reddit I’m inclined to agree with him. Some comments may question you directly, but it’s best to sit back and see if somebody will answer on your behalf.

Here’s one of the comments I received when I tried to defend my posting of the comic site url..

OnlySaysHaas “You make some whiney-arse comment in every one of your comic submissions about people not having a sense of humour, or being downvoted. Grow up and take your criticism.“

Okay, you can block users who give you a hard time, but it’s best to stay out of it and let the chimps play.

(Go to part 2)

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