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Author Topic: Does the update time really matter?  (Read 2179 times)

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Offline Cary

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Does the update time really matter?
« on: June 06, 2010, 05:54:39 PM »
Ok so when I set my webcomic up I kinda arbitrarily decided to have my stuff auto update at half past midnight, or 00:30 for you military time freaks. I figured it would be fairly easy doing it that way, keep it standard and play to either the late night crowd up way beyond their bed times, or the early bird insomniac folks who stare at the screen like unto a thing of death until they finally fall asleep. After that, I didn't think much about it.

Till today. I'm catching up on a webcomic that is literally thousands of strips old and in several places in his new/blog posts that accompany the strips he's apologizing for the strip being a half hour late updating. That got me to thinking wow, are people that serious about the actual TIME of the update? I get that if I show up on a Friday and I don't get my Freakangels fix I'm a little cross, because I generally wait all freakin week to see what's next with that crazy story, but seriously, would it matter that much if they posted it at 6 am vs 5 am?

So what do you think? Do you have a set time you update, and do you think it makes any difference in the grand scheme of things as long as you hit your update day at some point during that day?

Offline Gibson

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Re: Does the update time really matter?
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2010, 06:15:23 PM »
Normally, I update Pictures of You at 12:01 AM in whatever time zone where I happen to be living. On occasion I will be burning a little midnight oil to get the page finished and it goes up late, whenever it is that I finish. It's been 12:15 and it's been 3:30PM the following afternoon and any time in between. If I'm considerably late with a page (sunrise or later) I'll usually apologize as a courtesy to the readers. Generally, no one says anything as long as it's up on the day, but I know there are people who look for it at specific times because the rate of my page hits doesn't differ significantly between having an update and not.

Different comics have different patterns of viewing, and I can only speak to my own readership, but I've found there are two distinct times when traffic is heavy. The first couple hours past midnight and between 8AM and noon, CST. Most comics I know that have a consistent schedule will post at midnight (or thereabout) in their own time zone, and I think people have come to expect it as a webcomic norm. If you have a Monday update, they're going to look for it as soon as Monday hits, and the ones who aren't online at that hour are looking for it first thing in the morning, when they get to work or school.

On a slightly related note, I've found weekend traffic is significantly slower than weekday traffic, so weekend postings are good to avoid.

Offline Rob

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Re: Does the update time really matter?
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2010, 08:26:58 PM »
Yeah weekends would be the last thing I would add to my schedule. I might even be inclined to add a new weekday comic before I added one to the weekend.

As for timing.... man I don't think there is anything wrong, and probably a whole lot right with training your audience to look for updates at a specific time. I know that there are a certain number of comics that I can check out if I'm burning the midnight oil and I tend to be a good deal more loyal to them than I am the ones that update at random times throughout the day.

Is it a huge deal? Probably not. Updating on your update day is probably the most important thing. Is it an edge? I think so.  ;)

Offline Alectric

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Re: Does the update time really matter?
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2010, 11:48:49 PM »
I'd say the actual time isn't as important as simply being consistent.  I find myself often staying up late enough to catch recent updates just after they happen, and I've come to expect certain comics to update at certain times.  If they haven't, I'm a bit disappointed, but honestly it's not a big deal anyway.  Still, even though I don't expect an apology or explanation if they're a little late, I can still appreciate one.

Oh, and I choose to update my comic on Sundays specifically because it seems to be the least common update day.  I look forward to viewing the webcomics I read every day, and there are a dissapointing few on Sunday, so I wanted to contribute to it.  I get viewers coming in every day, so it doesn't seem to matter much if the traffic is busiest when I update.

Offline Cary

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Re: Does the update time really matter?
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2010, 11:57:57 PM »


Oh, and I choose to update my comic on Sundays specifically because it seems to be the least common update day.  I look forward to viewing the webcomics I read every day, and there are a dissapointing few on Sunday, so I wanted to contribute to it.  I get viewers coming in every day, so it doesn't seem to matter much if the traffic is busiest when I update.

See, that's the biggest reason I chose to update on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Everyone else seemed like they were doing MWF and I kinda figure hell, why not offer something up on the days they AREN'T reading the other ones, you know? Seems to be working well enough for the moment anyway. I'm not tearing down any records on site traffic, but I AM building more traffic every week, so something has to be going right on that front!

Offline Rob

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Re: Does the update time really matter?
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2010, 01:08:46 AM »
There are actually quite a few comics that update on Tue and Thur. A couple even in my weekly follow. Punch an' Pie comes to minds. Goblins generally updates Tuesdays. Looking for Group updates Monday and Thursday. I suppose choosing a day that is less updates is not a bad idea and if you are only going to update two days a week I'd say Tue-Thur is a no brainer. But I'm not convinced it's an edge.

Offline Gar

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Re: Does the update time really matter?
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2010, 06:21:04 AM »
I'm on tuesdays/thursdays myself, although I tend to finish the comics on those nights and then put them online, so in real terms it's more of a wednesday/friday thing.

I'm not sure time matters so much. A lot of the webcomics audience would be people who are bored at work/school/college, so in the morning when people come in and get their comics fix before getting on with the business of the day, or in the afternoon when people have run out of stuff to do and are killing time until they can leave would be 'prime time'.

I don't think update time really matters so much as long as you get stuff up on your advertised days. It's a static medium, so start time wouldn't be much of an issue. 

I'm sure there are obsessive readers for some comics who keep refreshing their window every thirty seconds with ever-increasing nerd-rage as that midnight deadline drifts into the past, but struggling to make such people happy is an exercise in futility  ;)

Offline Gibson

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Re: Does the update time really matter?
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2010, 09:56:05 AM »
For the first couple years of PoY, my schedule was "every two days" which meant I was always posting on at least one weekend day. It didn't matter about anything else, those were always the fewest readers. Through the week, the highest viewed days were always update days, but I never noticed a huge difference between MWF and Tues/Thurs. Now that I'm on MWF, which I chose only because it spaces out three comics per week as evenly as possible and avoids the weekends, my unique hits stat has a definable,if rising, pattern.

Updating on a Sunday isn't going to net you an appreciable amount of readers. I understand your logic, but it presumes that most people read webcomics every day. They don't. It turns out that most people read webcomics at work or at school, or at night when most comics update. Plus, when people read webcomics they tend to do it in bulk. They don't read one comic, they read a bunch of them at once, so being an outlier isn't necessarily a good thing. This isn't to say a Sunday comic will never have a bigger audience, readers will just read it on a different day, but that Sunday just isn't a day when people read them or go looking for them, and not because they aren't there.

Tuesday and Thursday comics are rarer update days than MWF but there are still a lot of them. If you want a lot of hits on the day you post, any weekday seems to be fine but weekends are going to be a bust. If you want people to be sitting at their computers, waiting for that moment when they check to see if the new comic is up. And that is what you want, you want people to be anticipating the new page, you want it to be a markable event that has them clicking their mouse eagerly. If their mindset is that they'll get around to it, y'know, whenever, then their excitement about your comic is low. Most of the bigger comics and the dailies update on their author's midnight, which is usually midnight EST or CST. It pays to be a part of that traffic.

The day that you update has some importance but the time you update has a lot of importance.