I don't really look at my site traffic like I used to. I used to be quite obsessed with it.
I suppose it's a good thing that I don't look at it much anymore because I think if you put too much emphasis on it, then you might not be doing the work for the right reasons. Clearly, after nearly 8 years in the game, it should be evident that Theater Hopper is a labor of love.
But at the same time, because I love what I do, I want other people to love what I do. I won't deny that it's an ego boost to know people are reading and enjoying your work.
So it bummed me out a little yesterday when I looked at my traffic statistics and read the monthly averages by year since 2002.
Theater Hopper's boom years were 2004 - 2006. These days, I probably see a third of the traffic I saw back then. Obviously my life is much different these days. I have two kids, I'm taking night classes for my Master's degree. I'm a pretty busy guy. I don't have the time to promote the comic like I used to or brainstorm ideas on how to market it.
I think part of the traffic decline can also be attributed to the sheer sizes of the archives. If I were a new reader, I don't know if I could stand to read through 1,000+ comics.
Certainly you don't NEED to read through the archive to "get" what Theater Hopper is about. I think the topical nature of the comic sees to that. But, still... It's daunting. So I'm always impressed when I hear from new readers who invest the time to check out the history of the comic.
But I think my biggest problem is that I don't advertise the site. Like, at all. I've never been very good about advertising Theater Hopper. I've always relied on the relationships I've established with other creators and the fan base to establish word-of-mouth. So, I suppose by those standards, Theater Hopper is very successful!
I don't think it would hurt for me to advertise the comic a little bit, though. But the reason I haven't done it in the past is because I'm terrible at designing ads for my site and I am awful at deciding which sites to put them on.
Some of this should be obvious. "Advertise with other web comics. Advertise with movie blogs." But when you start talking about popular web comics and movie blogs, advertising costs an arm and a leg and I psych myself out of doing it because I'm not confident that the banner ads I've designed will attract new readers.
I've been thinking about designing banner ads that parody popular movie posters. Tom holding up a piece of soap that says "Theater Hopper" instead of "Fight Club." That kind of thing. Designing a bunch of those kind of ads would certainly keep me busy. But beyond that, I'm lost. I feel like I need to talk to a consultant, or something.
Does anyone out there have web site marketing experience? Even if you're not a paid professional, what would you do in my situation? I need to step outside of my own head a little bit. Maybe there is a very obvious solution that I'm overlooking.
Just trying to stir up a little discussion. Please leave your comments below. Thanks