Even though this is an article about webcomics, I’m probably going to have to break the “Don’t blog about blogging” rule here. This is because, at the time of writing this article, it’s been quite a few months since I last worked on something resembling a regular webcomic.
So, since the only regular thing I tend to post online these days is my art and these articles, I thought it would be better if I spoke from my more recent experiences.
But, it doesn’t matter – the principles I’m going to describe here can easily be applied to webcomics, episodic fiction, Youtube videos etc…. Basically, anything that you post online on a regular basis.
Anyway, if you’re posting your creative work online on a regular basis (and keeping to a schedule), then you’re going to produce something crappy every once in a while. Trust me, it happens to all of us. No-one can keep to a regular schedule and be at 100% of their creative capabilities literally all of the time.
So, every once in a while, you’re going to produce something mediocre, lacklustre or downright terrible and – because you’ve got a schedule to keep, you’re probably going to have to post it online (or risk falling behind).
And, as counter-intuitive as it may sound, it is always better to post something mediocre online and on time than it is to post nothing at all.
Of course, if you’re anything like I was for quite a few months after I started this site, you’ll probably be thinking something like “Oh god, everyone will hate it! I’ll lose my audience! People will desert my site in droves!”
I’ve got news for you, they won’t.
Why? Well, it all comes down to the fact that you’re keeping to a regular schedule. There are two reasons for this and they each apply to different types of readers (eg: new readers and long-term readers).
1) Your Back Catalogue: First of all, if you’ve been keeping to a regular update schedule for a while, then you’re probably going to have a large “back catalogue” of material on your site that people can view.
Whilst you will hopefully have at least a few regular readers/ viewers who might be annoyed when you post something crappy on your site, not everyone who visits your site is going to see it.
Why? Because people don’t always look at websites in the “correct” order and they don’t always start by looking at the latest thing that has been posted. This is especially true with “narrative” webcomics, where most new visitors to the site usually have to start at the beginning (and not at your latest update).
Likewise, people stumble across random old pages from websites accidentally when they’re searching for things online, people visit random pages from links on other sites etc… I’m sure you get the idea.
As long as there is at least some good stuff on your website, then there’s a good chance that new visitors will see that before they see the crappy thing that you’ve just posted. So, there’s a chance that they will already love your website (and see you at your best) before they stumble across your latest update.
Of course, the best way to make sure that this happens is to ensure that your site contains a larger amount of good stuff than crappy stuff.
To use an example from this blog, I have a few really old posts from last year which pull in a modest number of views on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter if my mind has gone blank and I’ve had to scan a few random pages from my sketchbook and cobble them together into something resembling a blog article, people will still regularly look at those old articles.
So, if you have some good stuff on your site, then it will keep people interested on the days when you are unlucky enough to produce bad stuff.
2) The Future: Yes, you might not have to worry too much about new readers if you keep to a regular schedule and produce something crappy every once in a while, but what about your regulars? What about the people who look at your site everyday and absolutely love it?
Will they be disappointed if you post something crappy? Possibly.
Will they abandon your site in disgust? Probably not.
Why? Well, it all comes down to the fact that they’ve been following your site for a while and the fact that you’re sticking to a regular schedule.
First of all, your regulars are people who have seen you at your best before – so, they know that your latest low-quality update doesn’t define you as an artist and/or a writer. Yes, they might be a little bit disappointed, but they’ll probably still remember why they look at your site regularly because they’ve seen how great your work can be.
Secondly, if you stick to a regular update schedule (and any automatic scheduling features on the site you use can be invaluable here), they know that your mediocre work is only a temporary thing. After all, there’s going to be something new on your site either tomorrow, in a couple of days or possibly next week. So, it isn’t like you only get one chance to keep your long-term readers interested…..
For example, when I get uninspired – it can sometimes affect up to a week’s worth of daily blog updates (or even a month – seriously, October certainly wasn’t one of my best months on here). But, eventually, I get inspired again and start producing good stuff once again – so I know that people who read this site every day won’t usually have to wait longer than a week or so before they can start reading great stuff again.
But, if I didn’t update on a regular basis or stopped updating altogether whenever the quality of my work dipped, then I wouldn’t be giving both myself and my regular readers the hope that the quality of my articles and/or art will improve in the future.
So, yes, always remember to stick to your schedule – even if it means producing low-quality work every once in a while. And remember, posting something crappy on your site isn’t the end of the world – we’re all human and no-one can be perfect all the time.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂