When you’re starting a webcomic, one of the important questions that you’ll need to think about is how often you will post new webcomic updates online. You’ll find lots of advice about this on the internet, although there really isn’t a “one size fits all” rule about it.
This is mostly because everyone who makes webcomics is different and there are a lot of factors that will probably influence how often you post webcomics online. These include things like time-based factors, how inspired you are every day, the length of your updates, the level of artistic detail in your updates etc…
So, I thought that I’d look at several of the most common types of webcomic update schedules (and one slightly obscure one) and list some of their advantages and disadvantages.
1) Daily comics: The obvious advantage of daily comics is that the audience has a lot of incentive to return to your webcomic every day, since there will be new content available. It also means that you can make your webcomic a lot more topical too, if you want to. Not only that, daily update schedules have a rhythm and a momentum to them that – with practice – can be easy to maintain.
Although I don’t post “true” daily webcomic updates (see #4 on this list for more details), I write daily articles all of the time and post daily art when I’m not posting webcomics. Getting into the habit of making things every day can be very challenging at first but it gets significantly easier over time, to the point where not making something every day feels strangely unnatural.
However, making “true” daily comics can place some limitations on your webcomic. Although you should have a rolling “buffer” of pre-made webcomics that you add to every day (so you’re always a few days or weeks ahead of what you post online), this approach still means that you will have to think of a new idea literally every day.
On inspired days, this might not be an issue – although it can be problematic on uninspired days (and every artist, comic-maker etc… has these). Yes, there are techniques you can use to get past uninspiration (eg: using running jokes, making topical comics etc…), but it can still be something of a challenge. Plus, over time, making comics might end up seeming more like a chore than anything else, which can lead to comic burnout if you aren’t careful.
Likewise, for time reasons, the level of artistic detail and the length of your webcomic updates will probably be lower than in other types of webcomic.
2) 1-3 comics per week: In some ways, posting 1-3 comics online per week is similar to posting daily comic updates. However, the longer release schedule means that regular fans of your comic probably won’t visit your site quite as regularly. Still, they will probably appreciate the fact that you are sticking to a regular schedule.
The main advantage of this kind of schedule is that it can take some of the time pressure and inspiration pressure off of you, whilst still allowing you to post regular content. Yes, you should probably still have a buffer of pre-made comics but posting updates 1-3 times a week means that you have more time to plan and make those comic updates.
This also means that you will probably have more time to add extra artistic detail to your webcomic updates and to refine the dialogue more before publication. So, the quality of your webcomic updates will probably be at least slightly higher as a result.
On the other hand, making 1-3 comics per week doesn’t have the same regular “rhythm” as making daily comics does. As such, it’s probably slightly harder to stay motivated when making these types of comics.
3) Irregular updates: As the name suggests, this is when you don’t have any fixed release schedule for your webcomic updates.
The main advantages of this approach is that it’s incredibly low-pressure (eg: you aren’t rushing to meet daily or weekly deadlines) and that it ensures that you only make webcomic updates when you’ve got a really good idea. It also means that you’ll have more time to make the art look spectacular too.
On the downside, an irregular update schedule can be slightly annoying for the audience. After all, if you don’t know if or when a webcomic will update, there’s less incentive to look at it regularly.
4) Mini series: This is my own personal approach to making webcomics and it’s a hybrid of the previous three types of release schedule. This approach involves posting “mini series” of 6-20 daily webcomic updates online and then taking a break from comics until you feel inspired enough to make another “mini series”.
It has a similar “rhythm” as making daily webcomics does, but with a lower risk of feeling burnt out afterwards. In fact, this was one of the ways that I got back into making webcomics after experiencing a fairly bad case of comic burnout in 2014 (I made little to no comics that year, due to making a ridiculous number of comics in 2013).
Likewise, this approach has some of the time and art quality advantages of weekly and irregular webcomics, since you can prepare a whole mini series in advance before you post any of it online.
When you’ve finished posting a daily mini series, you can also collect the whole thing together into a single blog post or online gallery (like this one) to make it easier for new readers to enjoy the whole mini series, or to catch up on older mini series. This also has the advantage of making your webcomic look like a TV show that has multiple “seasons”.
However, it shares some of the disadvantages of irregular webcomics, since it can be more difficult for the audience to know when a new mini series will start. As such, you’ll usually need to either announce this in advance, or create a page (like this one) where the audience can see previous mini series and learn about future ones.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂