Is the webcomics market oversaturated?
It’s one of the most-often-heard complaints in webcomics today: How do I get my comic seen in a market that’s oversaturated with comics?
You’re… not gonna like the answer.
The market isn’t oversaturated
It’s a false premise.
The webcomics market isn’t oversaturated. Are there more webcomics in 2020 than there were in 2001? Unquestionably. But on the other end of that equation, webcartoonists working in the early 2000s didn’t have social media. So although there were fewer competitors, it was incredibly difficult to direct people to one’s site. Moreover, the vast majority of the potential readers didn’t even understand the concept of reading a comic on the Web.
Enter social media and viral promotion. Now, exposing new readers to a comic is vastly more efficient (and effective) than it was in those early days. And, predictably, there are also exponentially more people publishing comics on the Web than ever before.
So, the market is oversaturated, right?
Because we’re forgetting to factor in the most important variable of all: Quality.
Do a good comic
It is undeniable that there are more comics, but — let’s face it — most of them are pretty horrible. In fact, I’d argue that the ratio of good comics to low-quality ones is about the same as it was in those early days before social media.
However, since the main conduit for consuming web content is social media, the system itself eliminates most of the low-quality content.
When a low-quality comic is published on social media, the outcome is fairly consistent: Nothing happens. The creator might get a couple of favorites — perhaps from other webcartoonists expecting a quid pro quo relationship. Very few people are going to share it or comment on it. Overall, the net effect is that the post’s engagement will be negligible. And posts with little-or-no engagement get filtered out rather quickly by social-media algorithms.
If a webcomic is posted on social media and nobody sees it, is it even there? I’m going to argue that it’s not. And since the vast majority of content consumption on the Web happens through social media, these low-quality comics are certainly not having a significant affect on the saturation of the webcomics market.
On the other hand, posting a good comic — along with making adequate use of social-media best practices — will get engagement. Even if you’re starting from an audience of zero, eventually someone is going to see your comic. And if it’s a high-quality comic — a comic that connects with its audience — they’re going to engage the post. And as that happens, more and more people will be exposed to your (good) work. And their engagement will help you to steadily build a larger and larger readership for your work.
Those other low-quality comics are a non-issue. In a social-media sense, they’re not even there. And if they’re not there, they can’t saturate the market.
In short, you’re going to be better served by spending less time worrying about the saturation of the webcomics market and more time improving your skills (and your understanding of social media). In the end the former is nothing more than a weak excuse for failing to do the latter.