P.O. Box 2363, Bellingham, WA 98227-2363 - (360) 223-2486 - Jonathan W. Sodt


Bellingham Dog

These are the works of Grass Dog Studio of Bellingham, Washington.

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Where I'm Going with This Advertising Schtuff
(26 Mar 2007)

In my day job, I work for an independent weekly newspaper. I design the front page, the inside pages, the house ads, and any ads our advertisers would rather have us design for them. I have an assistant who does smashing center spreads, the events section and half the ads.

I also run my own webcomic, which is published in the paper as well so maybe it's just a comic now. It would be nice if I could turn it into a source of money. This requires both improving my product and getting people to read it. It may also require selling ads on my site, to generate the money. I'd rather not do that, I'd rather sell shirts, books, mugs and other forms of artwork. But again, that requires advertising.

Finally, there's Grass Dog Studio, through which I create custom illustrations for who-ever may need them. My ultimate goal here is to be able to whip up any style that you might desire, but my current strength's are in pencil work and rough computer coloring. Still, this is directly related to advertising for all the above reasons. In fact, you may even hire me to create a graphic to advertise your company.

The Philosophy End

I've been reading a lot of Hugh McCleod in the past year. His huge message seems to be that blogging is the death of traditional advertising. I don't think he's necessarily entirely right.

He may have already written to this effect and I just missed it, but I see a number of levels at which each form of getting-the-word-out is important and useful.

For instance, my webcomic is a form of blog, really. It's updated on a regular basis (three days a week right now), and it's primary purpose is to express an idea. To help get more people reading it, I syndicated it on LiveJournal, a particularly useful tool for spreading the word. The LiveJournal friends page acts as a sort of automatic word of mouth mechanism. In LJ, if you subscribe to a feed, unless you tell it otherwise that feed gets placed in a public "Friends Page" with a bunch of other feeds. Then, anyone visiting your LiveJournal can read what you read, and they often do. Furthermore, I created a mechanism by which a person can easily copy my comic to post to their own webpage or journal.

And for the past seven years, this presence, along with a strong and quirky printed presence in my local town of Bellingham, has garnered me a base readership of about 350 people online. Really, actually, most of the work was done in the early stages by the printed copy and word of mouth. But that number of 350 people hasn't really changed.

I've seen it fluctuate depending on how much comic I produce, along with the quality of the feed I pump to LiveJournal. But it pretty much has hovered around 350 for several years.

So, I could produce a better comic. Actually, I already am. The quality of my work has vastly improved over the years. And as it has improved, I've heard fewer and fewer people saying "I don't get it." But the number of people reading it online has not increased. And I doubt that I'll be able to bump it up more than one more notch in a short time. Improvement takes time and experience.

This leaves me with traditional advertising (which includes guerrilla advertising, actually). Which means spending time or money placing the message that my comic exists in front of the right people.

It boils down to this.

A blog is all well and good, but when you're just starting you need to get people to see your blog in the first place. A blog, after all, is really just an extension of your storefront. It's like a couple of sofas and a coffee pot near your front door, and a considerable amount of your time sitting and chatting with the costumers to find out what they really want and what you actually have to offer them.

You have to get your customers to walk in your front door first, though. An ad is like your shop sign. It let's people know that there is a door to walk through in the first place.

So I placed ads on a couple websites and got what is now 100 people walking in my door in four days for less than $10.

Actually, looking at the numbers, it was about 1 in every 1,000 people who saw my ads. The next thing to find out is how many of those people are interested in what I produce.

That's the next stage of my experiment.

Posted by Fenmere

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More results
(25 Mar 2007)

These are the recent page hits on my website

day - date - files - pages

32. - March 15, 2007 - 686 - 49
33. - March 16, 2007 - 825 - 52
34. - March 17, 2007 - 438 - 39
35. - March 18, 2007 - 488 - 140
36. - March 19, 2007 - 905 - 42
37. - March 20, 2007 - 612 - 39
38. - March 21, 2007 - 397 - 52
39. - March 22, 2007 - 1,062 - 335
40. - March 23, 2007 - 1,918 - 165
41. - March 24, 2007 - 2,755 - 522

The bolded date is the day I posted ads through Project Wonderful to some carefully chosen webcomic sites. The dates leading up to that give you an idea of the previous trend.

The number of unique IP addresses visiting the site is 582. So, it definitely looks like people were browsing through the archive, catching up, and looking around. Which I want! I want that more than money, actually.

The next stage of this experiment will be to let the ads lapse and see what the numbers look like for a while after that, get an idea of how many people I retain.

This will give me an idea of how much I need to revise my site design before stepping up the ad campaign again.

Posted by Fenmere

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How Advertising Works
(24 Mar 2007)

An ad can guarantee one thing, and one thing only: that it'll lure someone to your doorstep. Once they are there, it's your job to usher them to your cash register.

That said, I dedicated $10 to advertising on Thursday, using Project Wonderful (just the easiest advertising alternative) with an ad that looks just like this:

Harmless Free Radicals: the Comic

I put this ad on the following websites, and for a short time you may see it there:

Girl Genius, Sinister Bedfellows, Filth Hole, General Spite, Clan of the Cats, and Out There

So far, I've spent less than $2 of that advertising money, and I've gotten 53 new unique IP addresses visiting my site through that advertising alone. The last time I looked at the number of hosts visiting my site, it was 483, or something like that, and hadn't gone above that for over two weeks. It is currently at 549.

Understand this: That's 50 people in two days with nothing but a button with no text on it, for $2! If I make one book sale to just one of those people, I get my $2 back and raise it another two!

I've experimented in print advertising, but I wasn't very scientific. I suspect I got about the same boost for a $60 print ad, but that boost could have come from my LiveJournal. But I think that was a poorly placed ad. Location is as important as the info you put in the ad. In the case of the Project Wonderful ads, they were the only thing I've changed in my procedures in the past two months.

So, I know better now how to increase my market. Next step, learn how to sell to my market. More reliable sales means I can afford to put more money into ads to bring the right people to my doorstep.

I need to look at the paths that people take to get to my work and my equivalent to a cash register, and make them shorter.

Posted by Fenmere

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A short To-Do list
(21 Mar 2007)

I've been stalling. Here's the things I gotta do in order of importance:

1. My own wedding website
2. Financial Paperwork!!!
3. Illustration for Barista Jam poster
4. Sir Reginold Cosgrove show poster!
5. Finish and Prep three T-Shirt ideas for submission to Threadless

I'm going try to finish one of these each weekday. Starting Thursday, March 22nd.

After the Barrista Jam Sir Reg poster is done, I'll be open for my next commission.


Posted by Fenmere

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"In Finland, they serve alcoholic coffee."
(15 Mar 2007)

This is a commissioned piece from Keffy, the author of Moralicide. I love the comic, so it was an honor to do. Anybody following my work will recognize Ian in the background, but the character in the forground is the lead from Moralicide, Alex:

It just so turns out the the three official colors of Moralicide or also the three official colors of Harmless Free Radicals, which is partly what lead to the crossover.

Posted by Fenmere

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