One of the dilemmas facing webcomic creators, particularly those that don’t already have a large fanbase, is how to get word out of new updates. There’s obviously a lot of noise on the internet, and a creator needs to find ways to speak out above the din. Ideally, getting readers to make a webcomic a regular habit is the goal; if they’re in the habit of checking out a comic every time it updates, then the creator doesn’t have to worry much about alerting them to the latest installment. Which means that they don’t have to continually hunt them down and try to entice them to return in order to get ad revenue (or t-shirt sales or whatever business model they’re using).

But that’s the ideal, and pretty atypical for most webcomics and their fans. So the next question is: what’s the best way to let them know a new installment is ready? Email? Twitter? Facebook? Tumblr? RSS?

The simple answer is: all of the above. Individual readers have their own preferences on how they like to be communicated with. Some people are fine with Twitter but hate Facebook. Some folks are fine with both, but are most interested and active on Pinterest. Some people aren’t even on social media. And regardless of what their preferences are, it’s the creator’s job to remove as many hurdles or barriers as possible between them and the readers. So from that perspective, it makes sense to use as many different platforms as possible, in order to have a better chance of reaching the broadest possible audience consistently.

The problem with that, of course, is that it requires being active on all those platforms. Or at least active enough to consistently post update notifications.

Fortunately, webcomics by their very nature are run on computers. And computers are very, very good at automating repetitive tasks. Such as posting a regular alert when a new webcomic is posted.

The key, then, is activating accounts on a variety of platforms and then figuring out how to automate them. Options can vary depending on the platform the comic itself is run on, but RSS tends to be a broadly accepted (although not always appreciated) option. The RSS feed can easily be tapped into from third party sources, which allows for flexibility across multiple platforms. In many cases, it’s simply a matter of pointing that source to the RSS feed, and granting permission to post to Twitter. (Or Facebook, or whatever.)

Although every platform is different and has their own peculiarities, it seems to me that it would be worth a creator’s time to investigate what options that they already have access to (perhaps through their service provider) and taking advantage of those before looking into other options through third party sources. But even using such sources, it can allow readers of all persuasions to be notified when a comic is updated before they, or even if they never get into that ideal reading habit.