H-P Lehkonen

comics artist from Finland

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The Followers You Don’t Need (or Want)

16.03.2019 | 6:49

Here’s an excerpt of my PDF guide ”Where to Promote Yourself” from 2018.

The Followers You Don’t Need (or Want)

To this day my follower count is small. I don’t have 40K followers, but what I do have is work. I have enough paying work that I support myself with comics full time. I’m not here to tell you how to gain a huge following, because you literally don’t need it to make comics for a living. In worst cases the large following can suck all your strength and hinder your work! Large following often also brings large amount of trolls and haters. Things like that can suck all the joy of making things out of you. And even if you wouldn’t get trolls and haters, there’s a thing I like to call “empty followers”. Let’s go into them a bit more.

What’s an Empty Follower?

Empty followers are the people who only want free stuff. There is some benefits in having a lot of them, especially if you fund your living with advertisements. People who do “social media influencing” professionally are the ones who benefit from these people the most. Brands mostly pay for the ads based on your follower count, no matter if the followers are “Empty” or “Full”. But for small artists who actually wish to sell their own products, the empty followers aren’t as good. Empty followers are the people who will complain for every webtoon chapter you post about them being too short, even if they get it all for free. They’re the people who will complain if you take a break from posting on your instagram to see your sister and her wife celebrate their 5 year anniversary! They’re the people who will comment “Is everyone going to be a sell-out nowadays?” when you launch your Patreon or Kickstarter project. They don’t want your work, they want anything that’s entertaining and free. If you open commissions and someone comments “Another sell-out! Art should be free! You just lost a follower!” thank the universe for getting rid of a very negative person in your notifications. You deserve to make a living and you don’t deserve to listen to people complain about that. In best case scenario the empty followers just sit there, making your follower count larger but not really contributing to your career. In worst case the empty followers who don’t interact with your posts can make the algorithms think your posts aren’t interesting and push them away from your followers’ feeds. Getting the empty followers isn’t rocket science. You just have to post regularly and post stuff that makes your followers feel things. But as I said, I’m not here to teach you to gain followers. I’m here to teach you to gain paying customers and work.

Don’t market your stuff to your colleagues.

I bet many of you are in different kinds of creator communities. There are a ton of different facebook groups, discord severs, forums and such. Those places are meant for colleagues to talk to each other, gain valuable knowledge and share information. Yet, every day in groups that I’m in, I see people posting self promotional posts. Why? Why are you marketing towards your co-workers? They’re not your clients. It’s a different thing to post a link to your comic and ask for people to do guest art for you. That’s an actual request for a colleague. But just posting a pitch of your comic and the link does nothing. The same people might be also readers of comics, but your creator community is not the place to ask them to be your fans. Often I also see thriving creator communities dying out, being drowned in self promotional posts. You can’t find the actual conversation and information any more… It’s just ads. I know many other cartoonists agree on this one with me: I will get a very negative image of you if you market yourself in a creator community group that’s meant for mutual help, not self promotion. Doing that makes you seem less professional in my eyes.

F4F?? No thanks.

Follow for follow just doesn’t work. I already talked about the empty followers, this is even emptier than that! The empty followers actually wanted to be entertained! Follow for follow people don’t want that. They just want your follow on their profile and they’re willing to trade it to following you. Other “trading likes” kind of things are also useless. You can spend 30 minutes a day liking other people’s posts and commenting on them, and the others will also do the same for you. But 30 minutes a day is 3 and half hours in a week
and 14 hours in a month! You could have used that time on better marketing, or just improving your
craft.

Fake it till you Make it!

I am a firm believer of Fake it till you Make it working like magic! But it doesn’t work in a way that you can just fake your success and hope people get into the hype and then you’ll end up with 40K real fans. You can go and buy your followers, but they’re not real followers and when you publish a book, they won’t buy it. You can fake your sales graphics and show that to a convention organizer so they make you their quest of honor and then nobody shows up to see you in the convention. What Fake it till you Make it means to me is that I fake my success to myself. I feel like I’m not good enough, but I talk about my work like it’s the best thing ever. I don’t lie! But instead of saying “Well I’m an aspiring artist and I’ve dabbled with a couple of webcomics.” I say “I’m a comics artist and I’ve published two webcomics.” or maybe even “I’m a full-time professional artist and I’m the author of two successful webtoon series.” I don’t lie, but I fake the confidence and I always make things sound a bit more positive. This, in my case, resulted in me gaining a healthy confidence and an actual career in comics that I don’t have to fake at all.

Interested in learning more? This is just a small snippet of my PDF guide ”Where to Promote Yourself?”
You can get the guide from my Gumroad store for ”Pay What You Want!”


Buy the PDF

So what else does it contain?
– List of places to promote yourself!
– Things every artist should have.
– How to write and send a Press Release?
– Collaborating and Networking!
– And more!