(You can read Part 1 of this series here.)
I don't write about myself much, but I know that it's impossible to fully separate a review from the reviewer. For one, it's easy to accuse a reviewer of being biased, and secondly, it makes sense that someone who criticizes and scrutinizes others should be criticized and scrutinized himself. I think there's an element of curiosity and mystery, too, and it's entertaining when people make guesses about my background, personality, and political views. Maybe my posts are too impersonal, but then again, there are so many topics I want to write about, and I'm not sure that humanizing my posts more is really a priority. It's worth considering, and it probably wouldn't hurt to try to evolve my writing style.
I could also do a better job of explaining my perspective. I think, on at least some level, readers expect some sort of objective credentials to back up my statements, and I don't really have that. I'm not a successful cartoonist, I didn't go to cartooning school, I don't have any awards, and I haven't even read a lot of the most popular webcomics yet. Instead, the reason I see myself as being qualified to review webcomics is that I'm a well-adjusted individual. I wouldn't go so far as to call myself normal, but I have a full-time job, a girlfriend, a variety of interests and hobbies, and some challenging goals that I'm working towards. I also read (and listen to) classic fiction, and I probably like reading print comics and graphic novels more than I enjoy reading webcomics. So, when I complain that a webcomic's boring or doesn't make sense, I hope it's clear that I'm just seeing the comic the way you'd expect most webcomic readers to see it. I don't want to be viewed as a webcomics expert, and I especially don't want people to think that I'm some Internet-obsessed lowlife who has nothing better to do than bully and troll webcomic creators. I review webcomics because I love to write, and this hobby gives me something to write about.
Aside from writing for this blog, I occasionally update its Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter accounts. It's weird for me because I don't like interacting with people or drawing attention to myself, but at the same time, I want to improve my marketing skills and be familiar with these popular platforms. Advertising on Project Wonderful is more appealing to me because I enjoy analyzing data, and designing banners can be a fun creative project. It can get sort of time-consuming to manage my ads, though, especially since I haven't been willing to spend much money on it. So, the goal of my latest Project Wonderful experiment is to see if I could set up an efficient long-term campaign that requires no involvement on my part. Here's what I set up:
|Days||every Tuesday and Thursday|
|Hours||24 hours a day|
|Banner type||468 x 60|
And here's how it did:
|Duration||March 23rd through September 8th|
|Views||60,187 (13,191 unique)|
|Cost per 1,000 views||$0.08 ($0.36 unique)|
|Clicks||169 (160 unique)|
|Cost per click||$0.03 ($0.03 unique)|
|Click-through rate||0.28% (1.21% unique)|
The campaign wasn't completely hands-off, though. At one point, I noticed that a few sites in particular were wasting a lot of my budget. Part of the problem is that Project Wonderful's automated script isn't smart enough to tell if your ad's actually getting seen by readers or not. For example, if a webcomic buries your ad below their comments section or in their site's footer, it counts the same as if they'd put it in prime real estate near the comic page. Fortunately, campaigns have an Exclude list, and I added any site to it that was severely underperforming. I don't remember exactly how picky I was, but certainly anything that was getting worse than $1 per 1,000 views would be put on the list. I could've actually been a lot more watchful over my bids, but the campaign had such an autopilot setup that I went months without even logging in to check on it.
Conclusion: I've spent a lot of time in the past experimenting with every Project Wonderful variable, both with automated and manual bidding, and I found that paying $0.03 per click was achievable under optimal conditions. So, it's kinda hilarious that I got the same result with the easiest setup possible. I also forgot to replace the banner with a new one once in a while, which would have probably helped. The downside is that using penny bids is a very slow method, and creators who want to try to quickly build a large audience should bid on bigger sites instead, which can cost anywhere from $0.10 to $100. That said, even the most cash-strapped creators can probably come up with the $10 needed to run this campaign for a year. And if you can afford $20, then increase your daily budget to $0.20 instead, or set the campaign to run four days a week instead of two. Social media and other organic methods are still important, but it helps to be flexible when it comes to paid advertising, and you can even start a campaign just with $5 in your account.
Bonus: Another thing I experimented with this year is hosting ads with Google AdSense. Here are the results I got:
|Duration||March 9th through|
|Earnings per 1,000 views||$0.26|
|Earnings per click||$0.13|
I hoped to get a little revenue going with the blog, but $3.83 for six months of advertising seems kinda pointless. You can't even get anything until your account reaches $10, so I'd only be able to get a tiny check around August 2017 if I stick with it. I should be able to spend the money on ads, but I'll probably just end up getting rid of AdSense so that I can have a better site layout. Another option is going back to hosting Project Wonderful ads, although I don't remember that really doing any better.