Friday, September 24, 2010

Marketing Strategies For The New Comic Artist

People often come up and ask me at conventions, “How do you get your web comic out there?” To be fair I’m not famous…yet, but I have become a little more known with a few marketing strategies I’ve discovered through trial and error. I took Fine Arts Advanced in college and they teach you a little bit about how to market yourself as an artist, which has been helpful, no doubt, but once I got into the real world and realized the competition and how fierce it is I soon had to rely on my creative skills to stand out above the rest. Plus I find a lot of these strategies work well online, which is what you want when you’re a web comic creator.

Business Cards: One of my favorite old fashioned strategies has always been the business card. I’ve tried many printing places and they were all well and good, but at one particular convention I saw one man’s cards that stood out above the rest. He had these tiny cards, about half the size of a regular one, and he had many different images on them. I thought they were adorable and showing off numerous images as if to have a mini portfolio seemed like such a wonderful idea. I quickly asked him where he got them printed. He said, “Online at” He then proceeded to tell me how cheap they were to make. I joked with him about possibly working for them and he assured me he wasn’t. I took a card and remembered the easy-to-remember web address when I got home and looked it up. Such a fun site it was too! I made some cards with their wonderful “printfinity” function to showcase a few of my different styles I use. I’ve gone to them several times for mini cards too, because I find they actually arrive quickly and in a cute, little protective box. Whenever I hand them out at conventions I suggest to people to use them as bookmarks for their graphic novels they’ve just purchased. They’re such handy little things. Plus not only can you make business cards but you can make postcards, stickers, greeting cards, etc. Another great thing about moo is if you join their newsletter they will keep you updated on cool events, contests and the best is their marketing strategies. They sure know how to market (it is their job after all) and man, I’ve learned a lot just from reading their newsletter updates!

Edible Business Cards: I find people really seem to like free food at cons, not all mind you, but most. Plus, if the con was anything like last Fan Expo where it was impossible to get food because of the long lineups people will be thankful for it. I had an epiphany one day about the best food that would get messages across to people and I thought, ‘Of course! Fortune cookies!’ I swiftly began searching for sites that provided great deals with Fortune cookies and one place has served me well. had the best and coolest deal! The site may look a little sketchy, as well as the box the cookies come in, but believe you me, they make them fresh and delicious, and they’ll get them to you on time! I’m not one to procrastinate so I like to order them way before I need them, and they don’t go stale for about 3 months or so. You can set the date for when you want them delivered by, and you’ll bet they get it to you. Best part, you can write your own fortunes! I like to get huge amounts of them for a fairly good price and I write 17 different fortunes (all having to do with situations that happen in my comic on them) then I put my website underneath the fortune and tell people to go check out my comic from there. Another cute option they have (perfect for the artist with the cool style) is you can put a logo on there for free with a big order. They have different deals going on but I know they can do it, just make sure there’s no writing on the logo because it’s so small few people can read it. Leave the written anything to the fortunes themselves. Now, this business card method doesn’t always work mind you, some people are superstitious when it comes to Fortune Cookies, or have food allergies, that’s where backup cards come in to play, and you can rely on your moo cards in that case.

Be A Walking Billboard: Okay, so I have come up with so many kinds of clothes to wear in the past it’s ridiculous! The old fashioned t-shirt logos work wonderfully, don’t get me wrong, but I also find other types of clothes, the ones that you can’t find at a normal convention also make you stand out. Remember: If you’re doing a different comic, one that has barely been established it’s best to do something different so people will take notice. Sometimes causing a scene works but people see through it and it seems hokey. I like checking out different product ideas I could do that will also showcase my stuff long after the convention is over, so if people want to purchase something online, they have the option to. I once wore a tie with my logo on it and people seemed to love it! You can always shop around to see what sites work best for you, but for now I’m using to make numerous projects, including skateboards, doggy shirts, hats, purses, ties, shoes, stickers, magnets, posters, and so much more! You can do so many cool ideas with it! You can customize your store too if you’d like, just play around with it. Fun to make new and unique products! You can also make shirts on Zazzle, but I like to go to a Canadian site called where you can change the colour, style, brand, size, gender and if it’s an adult, child or baby shirt to suit your needs. You can also opt for an environmentally friendly organic blend shirt for those who like that sort of thing. The quality of shirts is excellent. I like to wear the shirt randomly out, or to comic related events. If I do a bulk order of shirts I ask friends if they want to wear them at the table with me so not only is the order cheaper and you know they’ll be bought, but your friends can advertise the different styles that suit them made specifically from the site. I also have a few shirts at the table for people to pick up in case they want something now. Getting a size people will want is tough though, but through trial and error I find the bigger the shirts the better, not everyone can fit into a small and some people would rather wear a big shirt than a tight one, you can wear it as a shirt to bum around in at home. Another new product I wanted to do because my site is a bit edgy was make temp tattoos. They’re fun at conventions. They’re a little different than some products too so they stand out and if you go to you can make any image into a tattoo and you can re-size it to suit your budget so you can either make one big one for you or a bunch for conventions! I made a bunch of Jack the ferret from my comic; I think he worked out well. Also, there are a lot of people who are crafty and make one-of-a-kind customized products. My friend Valerie Scovill just created some beautiful jewelry for my comic and if they don’t do well at this next convention I go to I’m thinking of putting them for sale on which is fabulous for any kind of unique, handmade trinkets. Also, my moo business cards ended up being wonderful for making jewelery! Valerie realized the cardboard they used to make the business cards were perfect for being suspended in resin. The cards were the perfect thickness and lightweight enough to not be too bulky. The cards at the bottom were used to make pins to put on your clothes!

Social Events: If you have the money for it, go to conventions, trade shows, and any related event that has to do with your audience. If you can afford a table by yourself or can share some with friends please do. If not, fliers or business cards at these events are also a good idea for getting it out there. Unfortunately you can’t be shy here, this is where you must hone in on your social skills or at least appoint a friend who has no fear going up to people who supports your business choice. If you don’t approach people and let them know what you’re doing, word of mouth can’t develop and your creation won’t get out there. Go to as many art shows as possible too. There are lots of free events in the summer time especially that may have people that are interested in the same things as you. Research online. You can also make your own event, with the power of Facebook invite friends to a gathering you made up. Hold it at your house or a public place like a pub, restaurant where you can talk with people. Maybe see if there are any art shows involving comics or even approach restaurants that look like they're artist friendly to see if they'll hand out fliers for you or showcase some of your art to possibly even sell. If you have a book you've published go ask your local comic book store if they accept books from Indy comic artists. See how they do business if they buy your stuff outright or do commissions, a lot of stores do things differently. So if your comic features music in it ask a local music store if they can take some of your books to sell. Try to find local Indy 'zine creators to see if they'd like to showcase your art or comic in their magazine. It helps get your name out and you're checking out the cool community and what they're doing too. People may even give you some of their business advice while you're at it.

Online Marketing: Well if you’re just starting out with a new comic it is hard to get it out there. What I like to do (especially if you’re promoting a web comic) is check out different online forums, maybe ones that are specifically art, comic related or would appeal to your audience, for example, (again I'm using music as an example)if your comic is about music, try to check out some music forums as well. I’ve tried forums like the comic book website in the Indy comic section and also to show off what I’ve done. They’re free for the stereotypical starving artist and it’s online so it’ll be easy to access. You’re zeroing in on your target audience too so you’re bound to get some interesting feedback. If not, just remember not everyone will like your comic, especially at the beginning stages, so don’t be so sensitive to harsh criticism, some people don’t know what they’re talking about and just want to insult or some people just want to help so you can heed some of the advice if it seems necessary but remember this will happen a lot if you’re getting your art out there so it’s good to develop a thick skin now, which is something some artists have trouble with I’ve noticed. If you have passion and drive for what you do and feel you have a lot to say I think you should keep going with it. If it’s something you want to make money off of, don’t expect anything right away. I find the people who do it for fun because they enjoy it and they don’t care about the money portion of it have the right idea. Also ask the web comic creators that inspire you if they can help you advertise your stuff on their site. Sometimes they're nice and have been in the same boat as you so they may help you out, if not you tried and if they have forums on their site post on there for others to find or even create some advertising by making banner ads to post on your site or others. Also you can try to get other people to advertise on your site, and join affiliate programs. It may help you earn a little extra income to maintain your site. Adding a button from paypal to your website in case someone wants to donate to you for all your hard work doesn't hurt either.

Other Marketing Techniques: If you do happen to get a table at a convention or trade show I’ve seen different strategies, some work, some don’t. I haven’t tried this yet but I want to either get a large cardboard cut-out of one of my characters or buy a cheap mannequin (maybe at a flea market) I can dress up to look like my character and put a wig on, paint her face and maybe add some of the merch I’m selling, like buttons, jewelry, t-shirts whatever to give an interesting display. So many people have cool ideas at these things. I have also cosplayed as my character before, or if you have friends that like to cosplay maybe you can ask them to dress up as a character from your comic for you. I once did a photo shoot with a bunch of friends of mine so I had a photo album to show at these conventions and during the shoot people were wondering what we were doing so we did a little promoting then. You can do it any time during the year; you just need a little creativity with your promotional methods. Of course Facebook, twitter, blogs and a whole plethora of social network sites are right at your fingertips too so take advantage of the free advertising methods and if you have the time try to look into new ones and see what's gaining the most audiences.

There are lots of different methods that work for different people; again it’s all trial and error as you go. If you don’t mind doing a little shameless self promotion and if you also have friends who support what you do they can help you and you have some of the ingredients to be successful. These are just some tips I have used that have helped and stuff I’ve noticed other people have used. It sounds like a lot of work and some of the tips may cost money if you really want to get into it, but if you display stuff online and keep it simple by directing people to your website where all this stuff is, they’re bound to stumble across it and enjoy it. Most of these ideas are either free strategies or fairly cost effective so have fun marketing!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Blog About a Blog

So I already enjoyed the idea of the wonderful blog T-Dot Comics before because it's all about the rich comic industry in Toronto and we have a lot of cool and interesting comics here. Let's face it, people come from all over the world just to enroll in Sheridan College which has proved to be a tremendous school for animation and sometimes those honor students get picked to work for Disney...or at least they used to. Not only that but we have countless new schools popping up randomly to teach people how to draw cartoons properly, what with Max the Mutts Animation School as well as Ty Templeton's Comic Book Boot Camp! So not only is the idea behind T-Dot comics a fabulous one but I like it even more now that there has been a video interview of myself posted on there (call me self indulgent, call me what you will, I still think it's pretty cool) along with a number of very cool artists like my friend James Turner who has a link to the side of this blog if you notice. If you'd like to visit the blog please feel free to go there at: but if for some reason that doesn't work you can always check out the side of this blog and click there under the video posted or you will notice a link has also been established for the blog itself.

On a sad note, today is the unfortunate anniversary of my mother's passing. Four years ago today she had ended her 5 year struggle with cancer. Before she got to the point of not speaking because she was on so much pain killer medicine she told all three of her children that she wanted us to do everything that we wanted to do with our lives. That was one of her last spoken wishes. She was a very unselfish woman, one who always encouraged artistic endeavors and creation in any way. She was an amazing artist, as well as a great fashion designer and I always admired how she was always positive no matter what happened during her life. She was my inspiration and the inspiration of all of her children, as my older brother pursued his dream of working in the film industry and my younger brother still plugs away recording for his musically talented friends. She will always be in my heart and I think it is one of the reasons I keep on going with this comic as much as I do, I not only want to fulfill my dream but I want to make my mom proud as well. I'm happy with all that I have accomplished, and must say I never thought I'd get to where I am today if it wasn't for her. Miss you mom!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fan Expo

Well I attended Fan Expo at long last. Shared a table with the wonderful troop at Nerdgasm Comedy! Joined the Nerd Girl Pinups on occasion too so it was a tremendously busy convention to say the least. Especially since no one seemed to know that there were 3 levels to the con unless they went downstairs to attend a panel. I was located on the 100th floor and it seemed to be the worst location for activity. Which was odd because on Saturday the convention was at maximum capacity so you'd think we'd be working our butts off, but no sir, it was dead then busy, then dead then busy, etc throughout the day. People were so annoyed with the con, in fact, that the attendance for Sunday (at least where I was) was minimal and I refused to travel far from my table assuming a security guard would not let me back to my merch. It's rough advertising for a comic by yourself that few people have heard of, that's why I stayed put unless nature called. I was lucky that the cool people at my table provided me with beverages and food (something I forgot to bring along)so I traded them my fortune cookies I made (or my edible business cards) to thank them for their generosity. The whole con was frustrating and also fun but tiring as well. Lots going on before the con and after the con. I went to the first Annual Questy Awards on Friday night and was going to go to a Nerd Girl Pinups party but became suddenly drained of energy when I was done the con on Saturday, Sunday night I got up enough energy to attend a DVD taping at Nerdgasm comedy. It was a lot of fun! Sunday I also had a video interview with the cool/lovely Alice Quinn of T-dot Comics which is a blog for all your Toronto Comic needs! My video interview shall be posted in a few weeks, will let you know when it is. In the meantime check out their site:

There is tons to talk about on this blog and lots of pictures to post, however, I don't have all that much time to do that at the moment. Maybe another day I will post them, until then, keep reading Tom Boy Tara, the recent comic brings up the good question, "What's going on with Tobey right now?" So if you missed Tobey you should check out my latest comic.