How To Build An Audience For Your Comic

Make good art, establish an online home base, be a generous community member, and more tips for growing an engaged following for your work.

How To Build An Audience For Your Comic

It seems like no matter what field you’re in, it’s crucial to have an online presence. Restaurant chains have snarky twitter accounts, politicians are dabbing on Instagram, and even Garfield is begging you to smash that subscribe button. 

For comic artists today, having an online audience is everything. A rare, lucky few hit it big almost instantly, but for us plebeians , it’s a long journey to fame. Your growing an audience will eventually have a snowball effect, but you have to climb to the top of the mountain first, and start with the tiniest little snowball, and also the mountain was actually a shallow hill. Needless to say, you’ve got a lot of pushing ahead of you!

As a cartoonist who’s been rolling my little ball for ten years now, I’ve learned a thing or two along the way. So come along up this hill with me! With my help and a little luck, you’ll have a snowball  big enough to block the Suez Canal in no time (or, actually, a lot of time). 

Create first, post later

I see far too many artists spending more time on their social media than on their comics. You need to develop a body of work before worrying about likes and shares. Allow yourself to experiment, fail, learn, and grow. Once you have some experience under your belt, then let the posting begin. Your first comics will probably be bad and do badly, but don’t let that stop you! We all started with zero followers. People WILL find you if your comics are good. And they have to be good, by the way. Not all of them, but at least some  of them. It doesn’t matter how much social media savvy you have or how many guides you read; you can’t build an audience with bad comics. Making the best comics you can is your top priority. My first comics were 98 percent certified garbage, but every so often I made a good one, and that got my foot in some doors. Then I spent the next ten years trying to make more good ones that got more feet in more doors more often.

Establish a home base

In ancient times, before social media took over the world, you had to have a website. Times have changed. Websites are still useful, but they’re no longer essential. Honestly, you could run your entire operation right on social media. The platforms are all free and you’re using them anyway. If you want a headquarters without the drawbacks of a website, I recommend social publishing platforms like TapasHiveworksGraphite or GoComics. I personally use Tapas for Mr. Lovenstein. I wish the site had been around when I launched, because they make starting out so much easier: just create an account and start uploading comics. No dealing with domains or servers. Plus, they come with a built-in audience! That’s what this whole guide is about, right? 

Think of these platforms  like YouTube for comics artists. They make it easy for readers to discover your work and subscribe to your series. Whatever platform you decide to go with, the goal is the same: to create a home base where people can find your full body of work, your contact information, your merch, and ways to support you through Patreon or Kofi.

Connect with fellow artists

Ignoring the comic community was the single biggest mistake I made when I was starting out. Once I finally got involved, I quickly realized what a fool I had been because other artists are your best resource. They provide support, knowledge, inspiration and opportunities. You can learn a ton just from observing how other comics artists run their social media, and you can support them in the process! Follow your favorite artists and engage with the community as much as you’re able. Be cool about it, though. Don’t go spamming them with your comics or begging for attention. Remember, being part of a community means so much more than retweeting each other. We’re talking about genuine, real connections here. If you play your cards right, you’ll be welcomed into one of the greatest communities on the web.

Social media

There’s no denying that social media is king these days. It’s how we measure someone’s audience size, which sometimes feels like measuring their entire worth. “This dude has 100k followers so he MUST be important!” Well, that’s obviously only partially true, and numbers can be misleading. The truth is, it’s not about how popular your account is, but how you use it

All right, here we go. The secret to mastering social media. Ready?

Uh, if you find the secret... please let me know. 

In reality, very few people have “mastered” social media, but here are some fundamentals to help give you a running start.

 The almighty algorithm

Every social media platform has one, each is basically the world’s most highly guarded secret, and the bane of our existence. In a nutshell, these companies decided that it’s better to use equations and AI to choose  what shows up in your feeds instead of just showing you everything. The platforms purposely obfuscate their algorithms’ inner workings and adjust them constantly, without telling anyone. Unfortunately, sometimes that means the algorithm decides your comic isn’t worth showing TO YOUR OWN FOLLOWERS! It's super frustrating, but you have to accept the fact that social media wasn’t designed just to show off your comics. Each platform’s goal is to keep users actively there as long as possible. If your comic doesn’t help the company achieve that goal, they’ll bury it. Luckily, it’s not too hard to avoid the algorithm’s wrath. If you can work with it, it can work for you.

Things that make algorithms happy:

  • Square-shaped images
  • Attention-grabbing posts that gain traction quickly
  • Using platform features, such as stories, early and often
  • Posts with high engagement (comments, replies, likes)
  • Well-timed posts (generally weekday mornings)

Things that make algorithms angry:

  • Links to other websites
  • Big blocks of text
  • Tagging too many people
  • Using too many hashtags
  • Posting too frequently
  • Posting too infrequently

The platforms

At the time of this writing, the best platforms for comics are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Reddit. They all favor image posts, and wouldn’t you know it, your comics are images! Speaking of images, most comics these days have a square layout simply because that’s what displays best across all platforms. Here are some other design considerations: keep your comic simple. Between one and four panels is the sweet spot. Make it attention-grabbing and easy to read (especially on mobile). Avoid overly wordy dialog or visually dense art. Lastly, seriously, don’t forget to make them good. 

Now let’s go over how to get the most out of each platform.


Instagram has an incredibly handy feature called slideshows, which lets you upload multiple images into one post that users can swipe through. So if you want to make a longer comic, you can break out each panel into slides. You could also do a collection of your “best” comics or a weekly roundup in this format. “Going viral” is a little nebulous on Instagram since there’s no direct “share” button. Your best bet is to post consistently, draw attention to your posts via stories and interact with commenters. Utilize hashtags when it makes sense, but don’t go crazy with them. Hopefully you’ll end up in the “explore” feed once you gain some momentum. Also, avoid posting violent or sexually explicit comics because Instagram WILL take them down and eventually ban your sorry butt.


Say what you will about Facebook — and there’s plenty to be said about their awful practices— it still has a gargantuan user base. For this platform, definitely do not post your comics through your personal account! Instead, set up a page for your comics, and invite all of your friends to like it, just to get things started. Only post images, and keep each post to a single image if you can, because Facebook’s algorithm buries pretty much everything else. Don’t bother posting more than once or twice a day. Consider dropping a comment on your own post if you have something specific to promote, and don’t forget to engage with commenters.


Despite how much you hear about Twitter in the news, it has a surprisingly small user base, as compared to the other major social platforms. It’s also a minefield of controversy. Despite all that, it’s by far the most versatile platform for building your audience. You don’t need to have an image on every single tweet. You can post frequently, and all it takes is the right series of retweets for a comic to go viral. Interaction is encouraged, and it can help you grow. Follow artists you like, retweet things you think are cool, and reply to other artists’ tweets when you have something worth saying. Post your comic in the morning, and give it a bump in the evening by replying to it or simply retweeting it. If one of your tweets does well, seize the moment! Reply to the tweet with things you want to promote, and retweet some of your favorite older comics for new followers to see.


I recommend creating a subreddit for your comic, such as, and posting your comics there. As the creator, you’ll have full control over the page. Users can also follow your profile, so post to your profile page while you’re at it. The best subreddits to post to are /r/comics/r/webcomics/r/funny, and /r/wholesomememes. You can also seek out niche subreddits, depending on your comic. For example, if your comic is about video games, try posting to /r/gaming. When posting, upload your comic image directly to Reddit and give it a catchy title. If you have anything to promote, drop a comment on your own post. Also, post other things that interest you, and don’t treat Reddit as a dumping ground for your comics. Reddit users are wary of too much self-promotion, but they love artists who are active in the community.

Focus your efforts on these four platforms, and don’t forget to cross-promote your accounts too, like hyping your Instagram on your Reddit. If you think other platforms could work for you, give them a shot! Artists have found plenty of creative ways to utilize platforms like TwitchYouTube, and TikTok. Always keep your eyes on the horizon. When I started, MySpace and Digg were still viable and Instagram didn’t exist. Old platforms will fade away and new ones will rise. You have to be ready to adapt and adopt whatever’s coming next.

Audience engagement

No, don’t ask your entire audience to marry you; that’s probably illegal. I’m talking about human interaction. It’s easy to forget when you’re staring at your big, beautiful follower count that each number is a human who likes your stuff. Some of them like it so much, they might even support you with praise or money! Never take that for granted. One dedicated follower is worth a hundred inactive ones. Your early supporters are so incredibly important. They’re the ones liking your posts, retweeting your comics, tagging their friends, and cheering you on. Reward them by engaging with them. Even just liking their comments can go a long way. For some followers, those engagements are half of the fun. You don’t have to reply to every single person, but make an effort to build goodwill.

Wrapping up

That’s all there is to it, my friends! There are no obscure mysteries here. Post regularly, appease the algorithms, and engage generously with your audience and the comic community at large. If you do this well, it will open up so many opportunities for you. Start a Patreon, sell novelty underwear, maybe even launch that Kickstarter project you’ve been dreaming about! I wouldn’t be where I am, writing articles like this, without the support my incredible audience has given me.

But throughout all the careful work of community-building, don’t lose sight of what you’re doing and why. You get to make comics and share them with folks who are EXCITED to see what you made. You get to make people smile all over the world! If they just so happen to back your Kickstarter campaign someday… well that’s just the cherry on top.

J. L. Westover is the creator of the world’s sweatiest comic, Mr. Lovenstein, and the co-creator of the comic Neighborhood Land. His comics are sad and weird, but in a funny way