Web Design, Programming, and Business

ComiCon & Unnatural Talent

Last month I went to the Emerald City ComiCon in Seattle. The event was absolutely amazing, with entire cities built in Legos, a full sized Tardis, art galleries, booths filled with beautiful comic art and other wares, and of course lots and lots of fans in superhero, Star Wars, and anime costumes. I also saw about a dozen incarnations of Dr. Who, the David Tennant version.


The highlight of my ComiCon adventure though was visiting my old friend Jason Brubaker, who had a booth there and was selling his latest comic book title, ReMind. It was a bit of a reunion since his wife Cheli and our friend Brian Brethauer were both helping in the booth. A group of us: Jason, Brian, Rand Fugate, and Scott Fiegel used to sit at Denny’s in Pocatello and draw comics or portraits all night. We had a lot of fun adventures.

Of course I ended up buying all the latest of Jason’s mags but then he also threw in a book he had written called ‘Unnatural Talent’ that documents the process he took to make the Remind comic but also how he made the website and markets it. Of course the website & marketing bit caught my attention.

Even though I create websites and market them on a regular basis, there was still a lot of terrific material in this book that I could use. His approach is very conversational and easy to follow, making the whole process very attainable to those that are DIY inclined. Bang up job Jason!

So after reading through it, here’s a few highlights that I’d like to share but really, you should check out his blog and I’d recommend buying the book: Unnatural Talent!

You know the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”.  Well, the same goes with building an audience, generating site traffic, and moving up in rankings on Google’s search results.  Below are some tips and guidelines that I’ve borrowed from his book to implement as you build your client roster and shoot toward number one on Google!

Create new content

One piece of general advice to gain an audience and traction is to consistently create content.  One  great avenue for that is setting up a blog on your site and consistently creating content.

Did I mention consistently creating content?  I cannot emphasize this enough. It can take a handful of months for Google to take your site seriously, and the first and foremost way is to keep your site fresh with new content. This will provide a platform for your audience, a great way to engage in conversation and feedback, and a great way to move up in rankings.

Make  a commitment to your vision and attempt to put out fresh, new, quality content on at least a bi-weekly basis (though weekly is preferable).  Note that bolded word quality.  You want to build trust with your audience and clientele. By creating and broadcasting high quality, meaningful, and relevant content you’ll gain the trust and commitment of your audience.

Make it easy for your audience

You’re making a solid effort at putting out fresh and awesome content, now make it simple for your audience to stay informed!  Ensure you have a highly visible way for them to sign up for a newsletter, subscribe to your RSS feed, and to follow you on Social networks.

A quick word on mailing lists: Newsletters are great and there are a number of services out there to make this easier for you to manage.  It still entails a little work, but it’s worth your time if you incentivize your visitors to subscribe.  Consider using a service like MailChimp that will mitigate the potential of your newsletter getting flagged as spam and offer something: consider a free download, or an extra perk.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, but a little “freebie” is a great motivator for getting visitors subscribed and kept in the know.

We all see a gazillion sites a day, and even when we love a site they can easily be forgotten.  Keeping your audience informed ensures they’ll come back.  It’s simple and effective!

Use Social Networks

What can we say…they’re free publicity.  If you consistently, and diligently, utilize the power of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google +, over time you can build a large following.

We know that your time is often limited, or you simply don’t enjoy using social networks, but here’s the thing: if you really want to build your audience then it’s recommended you put these free tools to work.  There are also many great ways to simplify the task, allowing you to post new content to your site with automatic updates posting to your social accounts.  Does it get much more efficient than that?

So put social networks to use, create meaningful content and updates (don’t spam your followers!) and try to do it at least a few times a week.


Keep It Simple Stupid. You know the acronym, and you should seriously consider this when it comes to the layout ,design, and messaging of your site.  You want to promote a clear message and vision to your audience and that means making your site concise.

Like I mentioned  above, make it easy for your audience.  Just because there are 1200 social network buttons and other website gizmos doesn’t mean you need to use them.  Keep the clutter to a minimum and you’ll reap the benefit.  That means limiting the number of social buttons, simplifying your menu options, keeping your site copy concise and its messaging succinct.  Don’t confuse your audience, but instead allow them to quickly ascertain what you’re promoting and make it easy for them to engage, purchase, or promote.

Along with keeping it simple is understanding your niche and focusing on that.  You’ll never be everything to everyone and that is alright.  Know your audience and focus on it.

Engage your Audience:

Its simple and important – when someone comments on your site, or on your social networks, you should respond (unless it’s spam of course).  Your visitors have taken the time to reach out to you and you should always be ready to reciprocate.  This is especially important in the beginning.  If you generate conversation it can have a self perpetuating quality bringing you new visitors. New visitors…heck, who wouldn’t like that?  Oh, that goes for email as well.  If a visitor takes the time to write an email, be sure to follow up with them as soon as possible.

Engaging your audience doesn’t stop here though.  They’ve come to you, they’ve reached out, you’ve responded. Job done? Nope.  Consider checking out the visitors website or social feed and engaging with them there.  This can go a long way toward building social credibility, back-links (sites linking to your site), and increasing the number of visitors to your site.

Consider YouTube:

If you have video content, or content that would translate well to a video medium, it’s highly recommended that you put YouTube to work for you.  Once again, this is a free tool that can translate to positive visitor numbers.  You can easily create a YouTube Channel  and embed the content on your site.  Likewise, visitors to your video content can easily share and embed the videos you produce as well.

If you have the budget, invest in advertising:

Corporations spend gazillions of dollars a year on online advertising and marketing and they do it because it works.  You don’t need to have that kind of money to have an advertising impact. It’s relatively simple to set up a Google Adwords campaign, advertise on Facebook, or advertise on sites and forums.

A few things to consider when it comes to advertising: Know your budget and your audience.  You want to make sure that your advertisements are being viewed by the appropriate audience.  If you’re selling Mop Heads, you don’t want your advertisement featured on a Shovel forum!

If you’re using banner ads then take the time to design them well. Keep them simple and effective.  If you’re uncomfortable with designing  banners and implementing advertising campaigns then hire a professional.  You’ll save both time and money and have great looking advertising banners to boot!

The Wrap

Building your audience takes time, nurture, and effort.  Whether you’re selling a product, blogging about your favorite hobby, or creating the latest and greatest social network, these methods will go a long way toward increasing your visitor traffic and site visibility.  Taking the time to implement them is a worthwhile investment, with great dividends, for your website.

About the author

Aaron Day

Professionally building websites since 2002, I've worked at Microsoft, multiple agencies, and a few web design businesses of my own, including White Whale Web, a Boise-based web development agency. Previously, I was an owner of Thrive Web Designs from 2015 to 2022. I've taught classes, run design groups and even ran a benefit auction for 4 years in my free time. I love sharing and giving back to the web/creative community.

By Aaron Day
Web Design, Programming, and Business

Meet Aaron Day

Professionally building websites since 2002, I've worked at Microsoft, multiple agencies, and a few web design businesses of my own, including White Whale Web, a Boise-based web development agency. Previously, I was an owner of Thrive Web Designs from 2015 to 2022. I've taught classes, run design groups and even ran a benefit auction for 4 years in my free time. I love sharing and giving back to the web/creative community.

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