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Author Topic: State of the Sites Address  (Read 5313 times)

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Offline Rob

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State of the Sites Address
« on: June 28, 2010, 12:33:37 AM »

It's been just over six months since this website was launched and I thought I would talk a bit today about where we are and where I hope to be in the future. I may name some names here but keep in mind I'm saying what I'm saying because I'm proud of what we have all accomplished here and not looking to disparage others.

When we started out I wanted to do an article three times a week and a community comic update on Sunday. It was pretty crazy. Most of us and certainly me, don't have time for all that critical thought. We've pushed it back to two articles a week, usually including a site review from Dragon on Friday's and I think that we have found our schedule. It allows for our users to really chew over an article every week and allows contributors plenty of face time. I had to remind myself that this was not a comic I was putting out there. If it was I would be unhappy with a two day a week update schedule. As it is I think this is working out just fine.

There may be no update the weekend of July 9th-11th because of my convention attendance (Connecticon) but there is a trade off for that that I think you will all appreciate. When I get back to updates I will have some actual experience with a convention and I plan to spend as much time as possible talking to my fellow webcomics people and soaking in the info. So after the convention you can expect to see some articles from me on table setup, con registration, venue services, product reports and so on. I should gain a wealth of information during this convention that I plan on passing on, to you.

The advertising service we offer to our active members, I think is a pretty nice benefit. Our traffic has been pretty good and pretty consistent. We regularly see a touch over three thousand unique users a month and well over fifteen thousand page views (this all according to Google Analytics). We'll be adding some Project Wonderful ads to the site soon but the front page top skyscraper will always be reserved for the exclusive use of our active members.

We'll also be adding on site chat functionality soon. Stay tuned for that.

Amanda has been doing a wonderful job on the interviews she has assigned herself and I'm told she is working on a couple more that will be forthcoming. The people she has interviewed are giving us insight into the world of webcomics from the perspective of someone who has already attained a measure of success. We can all learn a lot from these folks and I hope to hook her up with some good interview subjects (and if she's busy I may conduct some myself) at Connecticon.

DrBlkKnight and the rest of the staff have done a superb job keeping the spammers out. We've been very lucky in that respect. I've been very lucky in that respect. From the staff members that I started with to the folks that are still on the beat now I've been very fortunate to have enthusiastic, resourceful people who can think for themselves and bring something to the table more than just their moderating prowess. Thanks guys.

When we started out all I wanted was a place to hang out with other webcomics creators that wasn't going to go away. Webcomics.com was always the most popular spot for that thing but it was always under the control of someone else and it was routinely denied to me as a meeting place. I wanted a spot I could share information about the business that I knew would never go away. With over two hundred members, thousands of posts on hundreds of topics, a dedicated staff and a relatively constant flow of articles on interesting topics I'd say we have exceeded my goals. So thank you, to all of you for helping to make Webcomics Community what it is today. A great place to learn about making webcomics but also a great place to network and make friends.

The last iteration of Webcomics.com divided webcomics creators into two groups, those willing to pay for the expertise and advice of the people behind the site and those who were not. From all indications Webcomics.com has been a rousing success and I congratulate the folks running things there. But we aren't in competition with them. We aren't in competition with anyone. You can be a member of any or all the other webcomic instructive sites; you can even go there and tell them about what we talk about here. I won't stop you and I won't hold it against you. I encourage you to do so. Remember that my goals for the site include the sharing of information. I'd rather it was all done here. I'm glad if it get's done any which way it can. So for six months I've avoided worrying about how other "similar" sites are doing because the only thing I'm interested in is doing what we want to do to make this community great.

When I first created this site however, I made the rounds to see what other sites that offered similar services were doing right and what they were doing wrong (in my opinion). I may not consider them "competition" but I figured I could learn from them. When Webcomics.com announced the pay wall it didn't launch a thousand webcomics creator sites. In fact it only launched two that I know of. But those that were previously in existence did make an effort to draw in new members and contributors. Today I take a brief moment to see where those other sites have gone in the last six months. To see if there is anything more that can be learned from the hard work those creators and community members have put into their sites (spoiler alert... the answer is yes).

Webcomics Inc. has moved from it's old domain to a Ning page from what I can tell. http://www.webcomicsinc.com/ does not work but http://webcomicsinc.ning.com/ still does. The artwork and at least one of the articles are done by the amazing Dave Reddick of the webcomic "Legend of Bill" and the PAWS (Garfield) properties. I don't know how much Dave has to do with the site (I know Dave from another project that I'm working on that I can't talk about much but will discuss at length when it's published and he's super nice). The Ning page was not created by him. And I can't tell you what the purpose of the site is. There is no "About" page and no clear indication of who is in charge. The forums are riddled with spammers. I have to admit I've never "gotten" Webcomics.inc. It seems like it wants to be a Facebook type social network for webcomics creators with elaborate profile pages but with very little of the interaction between users you see on Facebook. The presence of one or more articles by Dave Reddick makes it worth reading.

Webcomics Planet has been redirected to the blog page of one of the (until his recent retirement announcement) founders/programmers of the ComicPress plug in for WordPress; Philip Hofer or "Frumph" as he's known on the web. I don't clearly remember what Webcomic Planet was. But I can tell you now that if you use the ComicPress plug in for your site there probably isn't a better place on the web to get info about improving your site. Other than that I don't see much other information on the site and am not aware of Frumph's experience, if any in webcomic creation. But there may be more to come. The change was recent and Frumph is generally considered an authority and great asset to the community because of his work on ComicPress.

We Make Webomics was down at the time of this article creation but I was able to access a Google cached image of the site that was created three days ago. I remember the site made a sincere effort to update it's front page with new, relevant content last January right around when we launched and I remember a couple of the articles looked pretty good. It looks like that effort ended last February with the most recent article, an interview. The page does not appear to have been updated since then. However, a cached image of the forums shows that the operators kept the spammers at bay and the subjects being discussed were on point with webcomics creation. I hope the site comes back. Some of the things they seem to be discussing on the forums are things I'm interested in.

The Webcomic Builder is a (mostly) one woman operation. Zoe Kirk-Robinson has done a herculean job running the show over there by herself. She has drawn some impressive names from the community and has written some insightful articles on the craft. Of all the sites I've looked at that are webcomic specific hers seems to have the most steam. It looks like Zoe has settled into a two article a month update schedule (there have been two articles added to the archive for the months of May and June) and she seems to have a decent amount of discourse in the comments section for the articles. Tony Piro of Calamities of Nature has several tutorials there that are of particular use.

These are the slowest times of the year. Summer is in full force. The kids are out of school. If you aren't going to work you're probably headed out somewhere (maybe a convention), maybe outdoors, maybe somewhere with air conditioning and ice cream. This is also the webcomic busy season as convention season is in full swing. So the activity on these sites may fluctuate based upon the time of the year. All of that said I recommend joining all of these sites. All of them. Join them, repost our articles there (get the author's permission first but you can assume any article that I wrote as free to use). Tell them about us. Collect the information they have and add it (Borg like) to your distinctiveness. Come back to us wiser and more informed (I am not advocating you steal info from those other sites and repost it verbatim here just to be clear). Inform other creators.

My goal with this site has always been a place where users can share information on webcomics. The more information we all have the more we can share and the more we all benefit from the collective knowledge.

That said I think we are doing pretty great right now and I'm very excited for what the future holds. I think the webcomics community as a whole is expanding, getting better, more professional and sharper all around. And I'd like to think in the last six months we've contributed to that.

Offline klingers

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Re: State of the Sites Address
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2010, 02:35:55 AM »
Congratulations on the aniversary Rob.

There's sometimes been gaps of a few weeks when I haven't really had much time lately to visit some of my favourite sites, but when I do this site it at the top of my list!

I've gotten a real kick out of the articles which have had some really relevant and varied content, and forum community is a friendly and interesting bunch of folks.

Yourself and the rest of the staff get an e-pat-on-the-back for some really interesting and well-written articles and kudos to everyone from the community as well for some discussion that makes for great reading.

I'd say you've definitely succeeded in your goal.  Well done! :D

« Last Edit: June 29, 2010, 02:37:29 AM by klingers »

Offline GaNda

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Re: State of the Sites Address
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2010, 05:18:16 AM »
Rob,

I can say that this site is the best for me!
I learn from it and enjoy it.

I got feedback on my stuff from some nice people here...
I really enjoy being here, I also hope to some day contribute better to the benefit of all artists here once I get myself straight!

So keep you the grand work Rob! :) :) :)

Offline JGray

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Re: State of the Sites Address
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2010, 07:24:54 AM »
This is my community webcomic home, dude. You're doing just fine. Thank you.

Offline Gar

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Re: State of the Sites Address
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2010, 08:10:02 AM »
'tis a good site, and I am pleased.

And to celebrate six months, here's half a panda!


Offline Rob

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Re: State of the Sites Address
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2010, 08:30:25 AM »
'tis a panda at war with itself surely!  :D
« Last Edit: June 29, 2010, 12:48:20 PM by Rob »

Offline mcfadyn

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Re: State of the Sites Address
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2010, 12:46:07 PM »
Yeah, this place is the tits man.  I don't usually DO the forum thing.  It's usually a den of anonymous shit heads who are only out there to try to make other people feel like shit.  This is different.  Now it's about webcomics and people trying to make you feel like shit.  HA kidding!  But yeah, nice place you got here.
Sometimes, you have to take a step back and access the fact that you're a moron.  What?  Well you ARE.

Offline Gibson

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Re: State of the Sites Address
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2010, 01:28:49 PM »
You know, I'm not patient enough to deal with more than one forum at a time. This is the one for me, at least for now. Keeping the membership to (mostly) comickers makes a big difference for me. I like the variation of topic and the breadth of users without getting lost in a sea of them like a larger site would almost have to be. I can't say I visit the main site that much, since I can read everything in the forum, but I do read everything.

Offline Rob

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Re: State of the Sites Address
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2010, 02:07:28 PM »
From a coding perspective the two sites are pretty much one and the same. I rarely visit the front page myself (except when I'm putting an article up, although I am a little surprised how much we are getting for our ads on day 2 already). So don't feel bad. I consider that the "face" of the site for people who are new here or aren't members. We all know where the rest of the body parts are.  ;D

And it has always been my philosophy to restrict membership to webcomics creators and those who offer support and serves to the same. I think everyone here matches up with that description.

If the fans ever start to show up here I will most likely start asking for a proof of site ownership or something proving they "belong."

This is our secret clubhouse. They can watch if they want to but this isn't the place for fandom run a muck.
 ;D
 

Offline mcfadyn

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Re: State of the Sites Address
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2010, 02:56:40 PM »
All good points guys. I never really noticed that most, if not all, of the people on here are comic creators themselves.  That was another thing about other forums.  I would find too many people going 'HEY, I love your comics! Look at me, look at me!'  Not to dump on fans, but every time I go online, I don't want to be hit with a bunch of messages like that.  Like I said, it's nothing against them.  It's just nice to hang out in a place where other creators come and chill and talk about creative things and issues that we all deal with being webcomikers.
Sometimes, you have to take a step back and access the fact that you're a moron.  What?  Well you ARE.

Offline Dragon Powered

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Re: State of the Sites Address
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2010, 03:42:49 PM »
Rob, I think you've done great with the site.  I regularly visit here every day and peruse the posts, gaining insight from the advise of many of the members.  I'm glad you value some of my own offerings enough to allow me to be a contributor.

I'm probably one of those few that are viewed as not being a webcomic creator, but I actually am.  The projects I'm working on just aren't updating at present because I'm in the re-writing process and I need to learn more on the graphics side before putting them out there, once again, for the world to hiss at.

But here, yeah, I like this place.  ;D