Everything old is new again

2023-NYblogHappy new year!

It’s been a few years since I made one of my “New Year’s resolutions” posts, because these pandemic years have shown me in the plainest manner possible how easily plans can be washed away. As a result, I’ve pretty much stopped trying to make a year’s worth of creative plans at one time … and to go with the flow when what plans I have made get torn asunder.

Like (I imagine) many creative types, it’s felt like I’ve been spinning my wheels over the past few years, making work but not feeling like it’s getting in front of the audience that needs or wants it. With fewer IRL events, I tried more social media promotion, but I rarely come out on the winning side of the algorithm game. And with the TikTok-ification of Instagram, and the impending? inevitable? collapse of Twitter, that whole scene has become less of an environment I want to spend time my time in. So I’ve decided to scale my Twitter and Facebook pages back (for the most part) to just mirror posting from this blog and my webcomic. I’ve deleted those apps from my phone, too, and have felt pretty good about rarely using them. I still check in on a number of artists on Instagram (when not scrolling past the too-frequent Reels unrelated to the accounts I follow) and even post drawings there from time to time … tho not as often as I used to. Which gives me more time draw. Which I call a win-win!

As part of this scaling back, I’ve also decided to close my Patreon account. Once I stopped posting my weekly Watusi comic, and shifted my focus more towards prints and painting over the past year+, it became harder to find a cohesive body of work to share with readers there. I’ve never been comfortable showing work in progress (who really wants to see sausage being made?), and that type of work didn’t (in my mind) lend itself well to a paid virtual experience. Once I began relying on the “pause payment” feature as often as I did over the past year, I knew the writing was on the wall for my use of Patreon. But it wasn’t exactly a worthless experience, as I learned quite a few things from my Patreon page:

  • I learned that it’s hard for me to maintain enthusiasm about digging into old work (like my Flamin’ Frank comics from the pages of APA-5)…
  • I learned that I had too small a footprint on social media for even a 3% conversion rate to amount to much…
  • I learned that my readers are happy to just follow along with whatever story I share with them, which is truly gratifying. I always try to connect with readers beyond the comic-creating community … and I guess that’s what it feels like: readers happy to be along for the ride!
  • I learned how much I miss sharing my comics with the wider world. I just need to find a way to do so without feeling like I’m trapped on a deadline merry-go-round!
  • I learned that properly servicing a paying audience on a schedule is no easy feat, especially when a good chunk of my comic-making time and energy lately has been spent on the building blocks of things to come. For instance, I’ve been retooling my Watusi comics (the goal? tighter stories, more focused cast, livelier artwork), and that doesn’t always yield work worth charging for month in & month out…
  • But mostly I learned how patient my readers can be! Thank you for following along with my work, even when I’m not producing content as frequently as I used to!

I’m not necessarily done with trying to get subscriptions to work for my readers and me, either. But when I get comics coming out on a regular basis again, I can offer less frequent subscriptions (quarterly/semi-annual, more in line with my actual publishing rhythms) through one of my current online stores (Square and Gumroad), rather than feeding content to another service just to use that option! And, with the closure of my Patreon page, I’ve migrated some two dozen posts from there onto this site; you can find then using the Patreon tag, if you’re so inclined…

So I guess things for me are coming back around to where they were a number of years ago, before I allowed myself to give so much energy to the social media machine. I’ll be showcasing new work on this website &/or in my newsletter, gearing up for a new online Watusi adventure this spring, and adding more physical comics to my print orders … and I feel really good about how that change should leave me less frazzled and more focused. As cartoonist Mike Dawson summed up in (ironically) a tweet: “print zines, blog posts, websites, not only do they all sound a little more stable, they also sound a little more fun.”

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