This is a question we asked ourselves when we decided we wanted to make comics. Do we create a website for each webcomic series we make, or do we create a single website that hosts all of our comics series all at once?
There are pros and cons to both options. In the end, though, it all depends on what your goals are.
For us, we decided that we wanted to do this long term. And so we figured that the best way to go about it would be to create a brand around our stories and our art. We decided that we didn’t want to create several websites, and have the readers of those websites go through loops to find our other stories. Of course, you could always link all of your series together. But somehow, when it came to creating a brand around our work, that just didn’t fit.
So here’s a list of pros and cons you should think about when deciding which direction would be best for you to take.
ONE WEBCOMIC WEBSITE (BUILD A BRAND)
PRO: Essentially, what we decided to do was create an imprint around all of our comics. That imprint is Hawkers. We could create a logo and a brand. In essence, we saw ourselves more as publishers than just individual creators. And that, I think, is a good thing. It’s easily recognizable, for one thing. The one advantage comics publishing has over fiction is that comics readers also take into account who publishes their favorite comics. Every publisher, in essence, has their own thing, their own unique identity.
When it comes to fiction and non-fiction, readers don’t generally buy a book because it was release by a particular publisher. No. Instead, they care about the author.
Not so with comics. With comics, you essentially know what to expect when you buy from a particular publisher. So when it comes to branding, then, it helps because your existing readers will know what to expect from you. They know your mood, your tastes, and the types of stories you release.
CONS: You have to (well, not really “have to”, but, it would be better to…) stick to that mood, genre, and taste. Granted, you could have books that are scattered all across different genres. The problem with that, though, is that your readers for one series aren’t exactly the same readers for your other series.
There’s something that Sean Platt, David Wright, and Johnny B. Truant of The Self-publishing Podcast did that I like, though. It’s that they created several imprints, each one with its own genre, and its own series. All these imprints, on the other hand, are underneath a single umbrella that is them and their authorship. That’s one way of solving this problem.
But the problem with having multiple genres in a single website (especially if your website isn’t laid out or organized properly) is that it might confuse your readers. Now, that’s just something you have to accept if you’re the kind of artist or writer that has a lot of very diverse interests. But it’s not necessarily a huge drawback. You could always create the other series of books under an alias.
MULTIPLE WEBCOMIC WEBSITES (CREATE AN EXPERIENCE)
PROS: The good thing about migrating readers from one webcomic series to another is that you can give each series a certain feel and texture. You site blends in with the comic, and so the experience is more immersive.
Your readers are less distracted by the fact that they’re on that website just for that particular series. The people that are on that website love that series just as much as they do. This gives them all the opportunity to interact with one another without having to worry about people from your other series leaving unrelated comments.
Of course, that would be a pretty rare scenario, but just the fact that there’s one website dedicated solely to that one webcomic series makes the entire reading experience all the more clear and focused.
CONS: What happens if you decide that you want to end your webcomic series? Or rather, what if that series is really just one graphic novel, or a series of graphic novels, and has an ending? What happens then?
You stop updating the website. Those that have already read it stop visiting. Maybe they recommend it to their friends, and it gains a new reader every now and then, but the fact that it’s done, and there’s nothing more to expect from that website, puts you in a very awkward position.
Add to that the fact that you have to pay for hosting for each of your webcomic series. But what if that site isn’t generating any money for you (especially after you’ve finished posting all the pages)? How are you going to pay for the hosting expenses for all of those websites?
More importantly, what are you going to do about the readers that loved that series? How will they know if you’re coming up with something new? How will they know whether you’ve given up on webcomics, or if you’re in the process of starting another one?
SOLUTION: Of course, the solution to this is pretty simple. Build an email list. That means that while you’re publishing one webcomic series, make sure that you get your readers to subscribe to your email list.
For one thing, to stay in touch. They don’t have to visit your site to check if there are any new updates or pages. Instead, you could send them an email whenever a new page is posted, or whenever you have some news you want to share.
Jason Brubaker (reMIND) did this, and it’s incredibly useful. It’s how I found out he started a Kickstarter Campaign. It’s how I found out he was starting his new book, Sithra. In fact, the email list is the single most important thing your webcomic site should have.
All professional bloggers attest that, “The money is in the list.” The one big reason they’re earning so much every month is because they have an email list of tens of thousands that are just waiting to hear from them. When they release a new book, a new course, a freebie or giveaway, they’re the first to know about it, and they’re the first to help spread the news about it.
So, essentially, it’s okay to have multiple websites for every one of your webcomic series. Just make sure that you have an email list to help keep in touch with your readers.
Ideally, both strategies require that you build an email list. The thing is that it becomes even more important when you’re planning on creating a single website for each of your webcomics. In fact, I believe you can even go a hybrid route.
First, create a website for the imprint through which you’re publishing your comics. In other words, create a hub where people can go to find your books, your webcomics, and news about your, the creator. Afterwards, create a site for each of your webcomics, and link them all together. That way, you create a web around your brand and your stories. It might be confusing, and it might be overwhelming, but that really all depends on how well you layout and structure each of your webcomic websites.