Rules for Creators with Small Audiences

A guide for the emerging comics artist or how to behave on the Internet w/r/t social media.

Don’t take your readership for granted

Small readership defined: If your Twitter and Facebook followers could easily fit inside a college auditorium, that’s a small readership. If this describes your audience, you have time to respond to any personal messages. See also internet famous1.

It literally takes ten seconds to respond to a complimentary post on Twitter or to “like” a Facebook comment or post that someone has written about you. Seriously. If you get ten compliments a day in your platforms of choice, that’s five minutes out of your day to respond with a simple thank you to all of them. It’s not too much to ask.

Case Study

September 23, 2011: Thorne posts “Morning ‘Verse.” then @ replies to five people who complimented his work in the past day. Total time elapsed: 2 minutes.

Saying thank you is nice


If you can’t be bothered to do that, I’ve got no sympathy for you. Neither you nor I is Lady Gaga. We are not people who get more messages than any one person could possibly respond to. At that point, your relationship with your audience must change, but you’re not there yet. If it does take you more than fifteen minutes a day to respond to readers, then you may indeed be at that reevaluation point.

As an artist, dedication to your craft and making great work is your first priority. But I am going to posit that respect for your readership is a close second. If you have an Internet presence and a readership, that respect means that social norms of politeness are not just things you discard when you get behind the keyboard.

And Action

Take fifteen minutes each day to respond to readers. You may not need that much time. You may need more. If you are getting more mentions than you can respond to in that time, I would say take the fifteen minutes anyway and do what you can. If you’re getting that much attention, your readership will probably understand that you can’t get to everyone. Similarly, if you get linked by a major site, you’ll get overwhelmed for a time. Take your time and work through the backlog. If you thank someone three days after a major traffic spike, they should understand.

Art is the intersection between artist, object, and spectator. The audience plays a crucial role in your work. Don’t forget that. Without your readers, you’re just a person in a room with a stack of papers.

1: The next stage up.

3 thoughts on “Rules for Creators with Small Audiences

  1. Well, not every fan is a follower on FB or Twitter. I use neither, but I think your work is fantastic and it’s in my RSS feed.

    FB+Twitter != Fanbase in it’s entirety.

  2. Thank you. You’re right, of course. I didn’t mean to imply that FB&Twitter are the entirety of readership, they were just the examples I used in my case study, maybe because that’s where I thought there was room for improvement. Artists should be polite whether it be email, comments on blogs, or any other online communication the same as if it were face-to-face.

  3. Hey Don,
    Thanks for the compliment. I try and respond as much as I can but there are days I don’t even get to look at Twitter. You’re article makes a very good point though, so many times as an artist you get caught up in “The Work” of whatever Muse is driving you , that you forget about thanking the people who are trying to help you and congratulating you on your work.Great article!

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