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Main Content => The Business of Webcomics => General Webcomics Business Topics => Topic started by: Kate on July 31, 2010, 05:39:33 AM

Title: Posting Schedule
Post by: Kate on July 31, 2010, 05:39:33 AM
I'm not certain if this is the right part of the forum for this, but it's my best approximation.

I have a confession to make: I don't like following webcomics. I *love* reading them. But I don't like following them. I can never bring myself to keep checking back once, twice, or three times a week for 1-3 pages of updates. At one time I seemed to be fine doing this, when I was following Inverloch back when it was updating, but nowadays, I just won't do it. But when I get ahold of a new webcomic I like, I'll read through all of its archives and sincerely enjoy it. But I won't come back. Not until I'm reminded of it many months later (if I'm reminded of it).

Here's my issue with it: I like story-based comics. Sure, I'll pick up xkcd or something else once in awhile when someone links it for a laugh or a bit of poignant hilarity, but when I really get into anything it's because I enjoy the characters and the story that's being told. I love long-form stories. I don't mind getting to know characters for quite awhile (if I like them, that is). So when I try to read a story-based comic week by week, one that may work very well pacing-wise when you're reading it all at once, I end up feeling unsatisfied with the amount of new information I'm given. It's like sitting around a fire listening to a storyteller who stops after a paragraph and tells you to come back next Monday. Or grabbing my favorite manga or comic book, reading a page, and then putting it down.

I had thought about, with CyberGen 2027, updating once every two months or so with an entire chapter. On the one hand, this would cater well to a person like me, and many print comics like say Buffy the Vampire Slayer come out on schedules like this and do well. But, well, they have brand names and larger established companies behind them whereas I do not. I imagine that, unless people immensely enjoyed the comic, they might forget about it in those two months and not come back when it updates again (unless they sign up for a service that tells them when it updates). I figured I'd probably be better off sticking to a webcomic schedule in order to build an audience - after all, just because I don't like checking back every week doesn't mean everyone else on the planet has a problem with it. But I've never quite gotten over this nagging feeling of, "Hm... my webcomic might really be better suited to post much slower with larger updates."

Does anyone know of any comics that go for a schedule that doesn't update weekly but rather in larger bits? Or perhaps any other suggestions or thoughts on the subject?
Title: Re: Posting Schedule
Post by: Rob on July 31, 2010, 07:48:28 AM
Meredith Gran of Octopus Pie (http://www.octopuspie.com/) rather famously decided to buck the trend and went to a once a month schedule with her updates. Supposedly she was doing very well with the format.

Yet recently she announced she was going back to 3 days a week. (http://www.fleen.com/archives/2010/07/28/backloggin-part-one/) (it's the 3rd story down... or 3rd bullet point if you will).

Brad Guigar likes to say updates should be "frequent, consistent and significant to readers."

My own personal mantra, created before I had heard Brad's is "Consistent updates of engaging content."

You'll notice a difference there. I don't include the Frequent.

Personally I believe that engaging content trumps all. That you can overcome just about anything with it. I even believe you can update inconsistently and still be successful if your content is engaging enough.


If you want to build a regular audience I think consistency is far more important than frequency. FreakAngels for example is an amazing comic but it only updates once a week. With 6 pages though. And even though I know my comic would wither and die if I only did one comic a week if I updated once a week with 6 comics I'd probably be just fine.

There's a couple things to building that audience though and it's consistent updates and providing value to the visit beyond the comic.

I have movie, game, TV and book reviews. We do a blog. I even highlight other websites. And soon we'll have some animation. And we're launching 2 more comics in addition to the 2 we have already. So I'm offering more to the visitor, and giving them more motivation to return.

But all of this is because I'm trying to build a regular audience so that I can make a business out of this.

If your goal is to use your webcomic as a hobby, creative outlet, soapbox or launching pad you may not want to be as concerned about getting that large, regular readership.

So it all depends on what your intentions are for the project.

For me the webcomic hierarchy goes something like this:

Gag a Day comics > Long Form Comics
Color Comics > Shaded > Black and White
Good Writing > Bad Writing
Consistent Updates > Unpredictable Update Schedule
Great Art > Bad Art
Frequent Updates > Less Frequent Updates
And lastly Great Writing can overcome Bad Art but Great Art cannot overcome Bad Writing.

And I should add that there are exceptions to all those rules but for me that's my recipe for success in webcomics.

So my advice to you is that if you want to get people into the habit of coming to your site then you need to update consistently and the more frequently you update the better. However if you update with a large amount of content you can update less frequently without suffering any ill effects from the fewer updates.

But this depends on what you want from your webcomic. If you don't care about advertising revenue for example... it may not matter to you to get those readers to your site often. Having them check back once a month and maybe make a donation or buy some merch may be enough for you.

Hope that helps.  ;)
Title: Re: Posting Schedule
Post by: JGray on July 31, 2010, 08:23:00 AM
I have some readers who check back every day, some who read once a week, and some who check once a month. Some prefer the immediate update. Some prefer waiting and getting a big chunk at once. My advice?

Let your readers decide how they want to read the comic. In other words, stick to your regular posting schedule and let the individual decide if they prefer to read it update by update or once a month or whathaveyou. Give them the power to read the comic how they desire instead of how you desire.
Title: Re: Posting Schedule
Post by: mcfadyn on July 31, 2010, 02:28:15 PM
For us at LtB headquarters, we have a update schedule of Tuesdays and Fridays.  We've operated that way since last October-ish?  I can't really remember our own launch date... :P  But yeah, that works for us.  It's not that we couldn't work on a Mon-Wed-Fri schedule, but I worry about quality issues and you know how life gets in the way.  For me?  I like gag comics more so than long form story.  It really comes down to, yes I enjoy the comic, but I don't want to read a graphic novel page by page, once, MAYBE twice a week.  I find it too boring, and it really ruins the pacing for me.  I mean, if you update like Mer, I s'pose it works... but even so, there's just one thing every month.  That's the nice thing about webcomics vs print... constant product is coming out.  Now I can't vouch for the quality between the two :P BUT if you're doing it right, there should be consistent content for your readers.
Title: Re: Posting Schedule
Post by: operationremie on August 01, 2010, 02:19:02 PM
this has actually got me thinking about what i need to do with mine. my first one i did was once a week and back then, i was doing it totally differently (you don't wanna know how long it took to color everything with markers and then scanning it. i didn't have PShop). my 2nd/3rd comic was a once-a-week comic until i decided to do 1/2 comics that came at the end of the week. i actually enjoyed doing those. i'm considering doing those again once the new comic starts back up again.

that's where i get to my predicament. do i update my main content once a week or twice a week? doing the art and writing takes me longer than usual with school and work taking up most of my time (even though I can get some scripts done at work). i figured if i did once a week, i could at least get some viewers started until i could actually bring back the 1/2 comics again.

part of me feels that once-a-week would be better for me, allowing me to actually take my time through each comic and not rush them.

sorry about the constant mention of 1/2 comics. when i use to do my last one, it was pretty much just a side comic that played into from the one that week. i think i'd really do some sort of silly comics that would fill in the other half of the week for the new one.
Title: Re: Posting Schedule
Post by: mcfadyn on August 01, 2010, 07:50:02 PM
The most important thing, next to good content, is keeping up to the schedule that you set yourself.  Whether it's once a week or every damn day.  Your readers expect you to be there and it's awfully rude to let them down  ;D It puts credit to your name and lets them know that you are someone they can rely on to bring the funny/epic story.
Title: Re: Posting Schedule
Post by: Alectric on August 02, 2010, 01:23:45 AM
This always seemed pretty straightforward to me, but apparently not as much as I thought, so allow me to offer my opinion.  What I say is, condense as many pages into an update as needed to make that update satisfying.  There are several good examples to look at.

You've got typical gag-a-day comics, like SMBC or XKCD, which, aside from having almost no continuity, offer a joke with each comic, so keeping with one comic per update makes sense.  Then you've got comedy strips with plot, like, say, Accursed Dragon! or Slightly Damned.  While these can certainly be considered longform comics, they tend to offer something humorous or exciting with each page.  So having one page per update works for them too.

Then you've got not-as-humorous longform comics like The Phoenix Requiem, Freakangels, or Joseph & Yusra.  These comics have a lot of pacing, and don't offer something satisfying with each page on its own, so they instead update with multiple pages at once in order to better ensure that the update will be satisfying all together.  They update with about 3 pages twice a week, 6 pages once a week, and maybe 30 pages once a month, respectively.

So it really comes down to knowing what type of comic you have.  Does it offer a joke or revelation with almost every page, or do a lot of them consist of splash pages, battle scenes that don't really get anywhere, or unhumorous exposition?  Simply offer as many pages per update as needed in order to make the update satisying.  They don't have to be entirely consistant either...if your comic is normally fast paced but when it gets to a battle scene the pages consist of only action poses (like maybe Rival Angels), then don't be afraid to update in bulk for those sections only.

And well, that's pretty much it.  Like I said, pretty straightforward.
Title: Re: Posting Schedule
Post by: Gibson on August 06, 2010, 04:15:09 AM
Great Writing can overcome Bad Art but Great Art cannot overcome Bad Writing.

I agree with this completely in terms of what makes quality, but I know from looking at way too many really shittily-written, well drawn and immensely popular comics that this doesn't always hold when it comes to popularity. In fact, there are a handful of immensely popular comics that aren't even that well-drawn. But anyway...

I've struggled with exactly this issue before. Pictures of You was written originally to be a print comic, and I did absolutely no rewriting to fit the form when I started posting online. I was lucky in that I've always envisioned a comic page as a single entity (thanks to Wil Eisner) and that a page should be equatable to a paragraph. That made it a lot easier to post a page at a time, there a sense of completeness. Still, it was meant, and is still meant, to be read in chapters if not books. To get the full sense of it, it should be read in chunks. In the early days, I found a loyal audience that didn't mind coming back every couple days to see the new page, but there were others that wanted it in those chunks.

For the first couple books, where the script had been written out for a few hundred pages in advance, I came on the idea of posting a chapter schedule, listing the date on which every chapter posted its final page. That way, people knew in advance when they could read a full chapter, but the comic was still updating every two days, which is what most readers want or will accept. With the third book (which is what is posting now) I wasn't able to do this for a variety of reasons. The readership has continued to increase and people are still (or maybe moreso) eager for the next update, but I've felt guilty that I haven't been able to offer that feature. After all, I'm the same way, I find it difficult to follow story comics online...there are one or two that are made by friends of mine that I check regularly, but others I will go weeks without reading. If I were just a reader of it, sometimes I wonder if I would bother reading Pictures of You. (I totally would, though, cos it's superawesome.)

It is important to have consistent, frequent updates. Most webcomic readers have a routine, they check their favourite comics whenever they update, and that's how they're used to reading them. If you want to build a base, it's much harder to do without that regularity. I've seen comics that post in chunks, but they never seem to gain any ground as far as readership goes. Also, somehow they seem harder to read, since so many story comics make the mistake of having the last page on the main landing page and not only is the ending spoiled, but you have to backtrack through the archive.

The solution I've come up with, though I haven't completely figured out how to implement, is to offer readers who would prefer to read by chapter, to sign up for a mailing list or something like it. Every time a chapter would end, an email would be sent to everyone on the list announcing the new chapter and linking them to the first page of it.

But this is maybe the biggest reason why gag-a-day comics have such an easier time gaining popularity over story comics. Story comics require more of the reader and they have to be that much better to keep an audience.
Title: Re: Posting Schedule
Post by: Kate on August 09, 2010, 05:26:50 AM
Thank you all for your replies. You've definitely given me something to think about. I think this is a problem that weighs on the pacing of a lot of story-based comics, and I think there's probably no easy answer. If I come up with something new that I think I'd like to try out - other than posting in larger chunks, moving to print, or just sticking with my schedule as is - then I'll definitely post again and see what you all think. It's something worth exploring for those of us who don't have a punchline on every page.  ;D
Title: Re: Posting Schedule
Post by: Gar on August 09, 2010, 06:22:03 AM
It's kind of a tricky medium for long-form comics. You can spend a page building suspense, and it'll work for pacing when people are reading through the archive, but you need to upload the payoff page pretty hot on its heels for the daily audience.