Well, first off I’d like to say welcome to our new readers– a whole grip of which came in this week via Reddit, so to the gang at r/Webcomics: Welcome!! And thanks for joining us!

To those not in the know, Reddit is a quick moving, user generated listed of awesome things on the Internet happening right now! The Reddit audience is able to up and down vote submitted links, which makes for an incredibly fast moving front page. Behind that front page are a large number of sub-reddits: topics covering everything from Movies and TV show, to computers and tech; I’m sure if you keep going, you’ll even find a sub-reddit on pet care…

I’ve lurked on Reddit for a pretty long time, but earlier this week, I decided to uncloak and pop up a link to Spy6teen in the webcomic section with an invitation for reddit to check it out– lo and behold, the came…and in numbers.
(although they were quite polite and wiped their feet before coming in…)

I’ll admit to breaking my own rule about hits vs readers this weekend, and sort of got caught up in the frenzy of checking our metrics every ten minutes. It was a bit silly and a waste of time– considering when you’re looking at statistics, you aren’t actually doing anything to improve them. But, I suppose that’s human nature. In a lot of ways, hits are viewed almost like points in a video game…or, xp for you RPGers– I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen “How do I get more hits?” listed on various forums.

Yes, hits are great– they give you a sense of validation– “people are looking at my work!” It’s exciting, right?

But there is a dark side…(cue ominous music…)

In the quest for hits, I’ve seen a number of webcomic’ers using hit-generation software– basically, bogus hits, to increase their traffic statistics– upwards of 20k…I can think of a few reasons to do this, namely to game your advertisers into paying higher rates– but that’s dishonest. As an advertiser is paying a high premium for a script or bot to look at their ad.
It’s fairly easy to spot, just check out a webcomic with 50k views a day, and then check out some of their comments: If there are no comments– well, chances are, you’ve got someone working the system.

The rule of thumb average i/r/t comments is: one comment per 1000 views– now, that’s just statistically speaking (and honestly, Spy6teen breaks that rule all the time) but in our 50k example, it’d be next to impossible to have that many hits and no one bothering to drop a comment.

Aside from the moral wrongness of it all, it seems stupid to game your stats, if only that you’re messing with your own tracking. How are you to know when your comic is actually improving? What is working, and what isn’t? That’s what these stats are supposed to provide…they aren’t points, people.

The flipside to the quest for hits is “The Quest for Readers”– and that’s what I (with the exception of this week) concentrate my efforts on.
Readers are the important part– that’s why we do this. I’d honestly rather have 100 readers who comment over 100k robots that don’t. (Although if I actually had 100,000 robots, I might think about taking over a small country…) Readers are the lifeblood of a webcomic–

So, given our spike in reddit traffic, how’d we do in terms of readers?

Well, that’s when we get into something called a Bounce Rate– I actually had to look it up as well. Basically, the bounce rate is the stastical number of folks who came in on your first page (in this case, www.spy6teen.com) and said, “this isn’t for me!” and bounced…so, one view on the page, and then they’re out.

I’ll admit, I was fairly confused by what makes for a good bounce rate– I was told that the lower the number the better. That on average, for a typical website, you should be happy with a 40% bounce rate.

Ours is 1.89%.

I was convinced that had to be wrong, so I went digging into our metrics– and it’s true– especially in regards to our massive reddit push: a lot of folks came into the site and kicked back to the page one to get caught up.

THOSE are the numbers that count: people reading! That’s what I should have been excited about all along– not just staring at a clicking hit counter.

So, to all you guys who were kind enough to recently join us: Thank you again– and thank you for reading!

To our regular readers, I do recommend heading over and checking out Reddit. It’s a really great community– although, be warned: also a horrible, horrible, time sink.

SPYING ON THE NET

Here’s a new little segment I’m calling “Spying on the Net”– just a little link dump of cool stuff I think you might be interested in checking out:

Jason Brubaker over at reMIND recently posted up his webcomic revenue stream– yup, he just gave away the amount of money he’s making off his comic. We’re nowhere near this point– in fact, we’re quite in the red…(that one means you’re spending money, right?)– but it is an interesting look at the financial gains of a webcomic one year in. Check it out here.

Terminals is a webcomic I ran across recently. They’re still fairly early in, with 19 pages up so far– but running in the same format as us: the OnGN (I’m not givin’ it up!) Great comic and a lot of fun! Plus…it’s got a talking bear. What more could you ask for?

From a creative standpoint, Comic Alliance put up a great interview with master colorist Dave Stewart, where he talks about process/coloring with some really cool gifs that showcase lineart to colors. Coloring, like lettering, is one of those hidden arts: Like playing bass in a band, you rarely notice it unless it’s being done badly. Dave Stewart is one of the Charles Mingus’ of modern coloring.

Finally, I didn’t get a chance to talk about this in today’s blog, but I did mention it on Page 15– Bleeding Cool ran an interesting article on the death of double page spreads as digital comics move to becoming the prevalent comic distribution platform. We aren’t quite there yet, but it is an interesting realization of what will come to be…I’m curious to see what you guys make of the article.

Ok, that’s it for today– In a few hours, I’ll be over at Geekweek HQ for another live panel. If you’d like, feel free to join us as we yammer about pop culture, and Jeff Katz commits career suicide by giving away Hollywood Tracking numbers. 7pmEST/4pmPST.

As always, you can help contribute to helping the Spy6teen team by dropping us a vote on Top Web Comics!

It only takes a moment and you don’t even need to sign up! You’re just two clicks away from showing your love!

Seeya Monday for page 16!