San Diego Comic Con is coming up in only a few days, and comics bloggers and websites are nervously barricading the doors, locking down their windows, and disconnecting their phone lines. This is the biggest convention of the year, and absolutely NO distractions are allowed!
It’s also an excellent week for smaller-profile bloggers to pick up attention and readers, because with the flurry of attention hitting the convention, readers online are looking for headlines first and sources second. It doesn’t matter that you aren’t CBR or USA Today – if you get that headline onto Twitter first, then you’re the person they’ll come to for information.
It’s a great chance to write content which’ll get a major audience, and bring you more attention too – last year I got hired to The Beat off the back of the events coverage on my own, extremely low-profile, blog. It can be a great showcase for you, as a blogger.
So with that in mind, I’ve compiled some hopefully helpful-possibly-cynical tips for how to make the most of SDCC, and really give yourself and your site a boost.
- Check your social media. If you can set things up so your posts appear on Twitter, you’ll at least double your traffic. Readers pay more attention to Twitter than to individual websites – Twitter acts as a link-blog for them. If your links appear on Twitter and start to build momentum, you’re going to see a whole load of traffic coming your way.
- Get the news out! The most important part of SDCC is to just get the news stories out. This is such a big convention that it swallows well-known comics bloggers whole. Bleeding Cool, Comics Alliance and many other sites will send most of their reporters to the convention, meaning THEY WON’T BE ABLE TO REPORT. Take that opportunity! As soon as news hits Twitter, or Marvel.com, or wherever you’re looking for updates, write it into a headline, get the basic beats of the story into the post, and get that thing up on social media!
- Be concise. Don’t liveblog a panel. Doing so means you get one post an hour, and it’s a post people won’t be checking. Get the points into the piece – name the creators, name the book and concept, name the publisher, etc – and post it. Five breaking news posts easily trump one liveblog. You have to remember that even though the major websites are on the scene and therefore not online, many of them will have pre-arranged announcements. Marvel and DC will have already conducted interviews with sites like MTV and Newsarama, so you won’t be able to match their level of detail. They have an advantage of content. You have the advantage of immediacy. They aren’t able to break embargo, so their posts have to be given a delay to make sure they don’t appear before the panel has announced the news. You, on the other hand, are at your computer already – you can get this news up before CBR gives us the detailed announcement.
- Link. If you get your news from twitter, credit the person who tweeted it. If you find news on a website, credit them. It’s the fair and decent thing to do. At the same time, it also pings back the original writer and TELLS THEM that you were fair and decent. Linking to a site like The Beat leaves a pingback in the comments section – people might follow that. Also, if Image were to announce a new book by Frank Miller and Alan Moore, link to their websites. Link to Image, link to Miller, link to Moore. If they see and like your coverage, maybe they’ll share the link with their massive readership. It’s a case where doing the decent thing helps you out just as much as it helps them out.
- Showcase yourself. If your post says “this guy and this guy are writing this series in November”, nobody will remember you. If you put your own voice into the piece, offer your own immediate thoughts about the announcement, then you’re giving people a reason to come back. When people read a piece by, say, Chris Sims, they don’t come out of it thinking “well that was a basic bare bones summary”. He writes in his own voice, and he’s built a readership because of it.
- Use pictures. Pictures are pretty! Traffic is higher for articles with images.
- Be positive. The companies don’t announce negative stories like cancellations, but they do announce subjective things: creative teams will change, and books will be announced featuring characters you don’t like. Be objective about this as much as possible. Enthuse about the things you like, and be upbeat about the things which sound bad. Dark Horse won’t share your links on Twitter if you’ve written a three-paragraph attack on Conan’s new creative team, before the first issue of the book has come out. Your role is to report and observe – leave the bitter raging to your new commenters.
- Look outside the big two. Marvel and DC have the best coverage of the convention, with livestreams and blogs and all sorts of things. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to other companies. The keywords ‘Wolverine’ and ‘Batman’ get a lot of traffic, but if you follow an IDW announcement panel you’ll get to use ‘My Little Pony’ and ‘Transformers’, both of which have their own major fanbases dying for news. Many of the best announcements come not from the big two, but from the other publishers. Marvel/DC try nowadays to get all their news out the way PRIOR to a convention starting. Other companies like the platform of SDCC and make their news live.
The last piece of advice is universal, and not just for events – get your name out. Make sure your name is attached to the posts, so people can find you. Have easy to find twitter or facebook links on your website. There’s no point writing a wonderful long post about the newly announced Ed Brubaker series if you don’t credit yourself as the writer! Make sure you are visible, and people know where they can find you.