Category Archives: Chalkboard Manifesto

TCM Tags

I’m making very little money from advertising on TCM. If I was more observant, I’d probably make more money picking up coins from the ground than from TCM’s adverts. One of the problems is that Google Ads can’t read my comics because they’re images. This means its ads are often very bad and irrelevant. Lloyd suggested that tags may help ameliorate this problem. I’ll try it out and see what happens. A tagging system has been on my to-do list for a long time. Now I have extra incentive to put it in place.


I posted this on the Chalkboard Manifesto Blog with much trepidation. It’s hard to so publicly state an ambitious goal. (And by publicly, I mean all 5 people who read the TCM blog.) And now I’m basically going to spend the rest of this entry talking to myself.

I’m going to play the “What’s the worst that could happen?” game. The worst that can happen is that I completely fail in my goal and TCM is right where it is right now: An obscure web comic with the occasional traffic spike. Am I currently embarrassed about having such a web comic? No. Besides, I’ve done similar things before, stating goals for TCM and then never fulfilling them. Things can’t get worse than the times I stopped updating and a few people got mad at me.

The other fear is success. Well, not really success. The fear is that the same thing will happen to TCM that happened to my old web comic. Because I referred someone to this thing, I got free advertising. I used it, and one person wrote a rather scathing criticism of my webcomic. This wouldn’t have meant anything, but I realized that the criticisms were very spot-on. I stopped updating. The fear is that someone will pierce into my very soul and see that TCM is just a piece of junk. But look what happened after I stopped updating TCM: I took the criticisms to heart and revamped Majestic (another webcomic). I’m still very proud of some of those comics I made. Good criticisms will force me to improve.

I’m also afraid of the garden-variety haters. Anything that’s popular will attract haters. I’m afraid I won’t be able to handle the heat. But I’d get the occasional piece of hate mail with and I learned to love it. The lack of an ability to form a coherent thought, in those e-mails, is often very entertaining. I’ll re-learn how to shrug those things off. Anyway, it’s worse to be completely ignored, isn’t it?

I’m not afraid of people criticizing my crappy art skills. That will never go away, but I do want to improve the art process. I’m currently drawing things on paper with a mechanical pencil. However, I am afraid of people calling me lazy because it’s a legit criticism for many of the earlier comics. Yet with the mindset of obsession, no one will be able to call me lazy. If they can legitimately call me lazy, then I need to get off my ass and work. If they can’t, then why should I care what they accuse me of.

I’m also afraid that by choosing to focus on webcomics, I’ll miss other opportunities. Shouldn’t I focus on something more useful? Like writing or oratory? First of all, The Chalkboard Manifesto is writing. Secondly, if I tell people I authored one of the most popular web comics on the internet, it’s not as if that’s nothing. No one’s going to say, “Why didn’t you do something more useful?” Even if I fall far short of my goal, I’ll still be able to point to a readership more significant than people’s private blogs. It’ll still be pretty cool.

Speaking of which, another fear is falling short of my goal. What if I only make it to #50 on TWC or something? That’s still over 30 votes a day, which isn’t nothing. 30 very dedicated readers also means you’ve got quite a bit more readers who aren’t so dedicated. By that point, I’ll have built up some type of community. That’s a cool skill to have — experience with building your own online community.

At the end of this exercise, I feel much less trepidation. Those fears really didn’t have much to them.

TCM Blog update

I am so ridiculously excited about this Chalkboard Manifesto Blog. I’ve been playing around with the design. You know you love the project when you spend endless hours just tweaking small bits of code. One pixel here, one pixel there.

More importantly, this is a chance to establish a community. You’ll see this all in my first entry, so hopefully I’m not spoiling too much. The blog will be about a conversation between all the readers, not an online diary, as is the case here.

I have no idea if the project will be successful. I have no idea how many people will read and how many will participate. It could flop. But that’s part of what makes it an exciting new project. What is success without the gamble of massive failure? You may gain something, but it will not be glory.

My Old Website

I was looking through, and it struck me how much that site relied on “Reader Responses.” Most of the content was generated from user e-mails. There was one page where I wrote maybe a few paragraphs, and the rest of it was “Reader Responses.” The more successful sections of the site had pages inspired by comments from visitors. It was much more interactive than my web comic. It definitely got less hits, but it was more in line with the spirit of the internet, I guess. I really want to make The Chalkboard Manifesto more interactive. Adding a blog should be a high priority.

Working on The Chalkboard Manifesto

I think one of my best decisions was stating in public that I wanted to work more on The Chalkboard Manifesto. People bring it up when I chat with them, and then that shames me into doing more work. It keeps me motivated.

So, it’s time for the next bit of shaming — that is, it’s time to reveal some more plans for TCM.

A key component to gaining and keeping readers is to create a sense of community around TCM. That means I need to get more involved with social networking tools. I’ve already signed up for a new MySpace account (the old one was insecure), and I plan on using that to communicate with readers. A MySpace group could also be a cool thing to make. I’ve also signed up for StumbleUpon. I’m not quite sure how to use it, though, so I need to solicit advice. A big, big project that needs to take place within the next few weeks is adding a blog. Maybe I’ll post 3x a week on it. Monday with news, Wednesday with politics, and Friday with something fun. The key is to put myself on a regular update schedule without too much strain. I’m pondering adding a forum, but I’m not sure if it’s necessary. I’ll put that off, unless someone gives me advice that it’s a must-have. Plus, I really don’t want to manage a forum right now (although it does give you good experience in the web-world).

I really need to put advertising on the web site. One goal for TCM is to make it profitable. Actually, all it would take is less than $10 a month, and all my costs, in terms of web hosting and domain registration, would be covered. I can add a banner to the top, and also text ads on the blog. I’ve been looking into Project Wonderful since it seems like all the rage on various web comics I’ve looked at.

I want to be #1 on Top Web Comics. I’m not sure what a good timeframe for that is, but I think I can be within the top 10 within six months. So, please help me with that. You can vote everyday. I have to figure out some new vote-whoring tools. I’m considering both an e-mail list and an RSS feed, which both would beg for votes.

Finally, I’m thinking about an ambitious project called MyTCM, but I think I should put first things first. I’ll put that off, but remind me about it later on. I’ve also decided to delay merchandise because I simply do not have the audience. However, once I have a big audience, it will become a top priority.

That’s all for now. So next time you see me, ask me where I am with advertising, how high I am on TWC, and what I’ve done to create a TCM community.

More Chalkboard Changes

I set up my RSS feed for The Chalkboard Manifesto so it updates automatically around midnight (actually, like 12:06) on update days. Awesome.

Also, I updated the transcriptions archive, so you can search and find all the comics.

Next on the agenda: handheld stylesheet, and voting incentives. (After that, the store!)

New Archive for The Chalkboard Manifesto

I revamped the archive for The Chalkboard Manifesto. Also, when I was validating the page, I found out that there was an error with the index, and I fixed that too.

I changed the archive because the old one was not very usable. It was just a blob of comic names, and you couldn’t sort out anything. Plus, I think I was using small-caps for unvisited comics, which made it even less readable. The archive should be much easier to read, and navigate, now.

Comments would be appreciated, especially if you find something wrong with it.

Job for the Summer

I have a job for the summer. I’m going to be self-employed. I’m going to be working on The Chalkboard Manifesto full-time. I’ll be able to redesign the site (including overhauling the archives), add merchandise, increase updates to 5x a week, and build a community of readers around my comic.

I’m really excited about this!

I don’t foresee making as much money as last summer. However, this will not only be more fun than my last job, but it will be more fulfilling. It will be a project based on my own initiative. The project will require much self-discipline, which is one of the most important skills to have. Having my own business venture is a goal of mine. This will not only fulfill that goal but be good practice for the next big thing.

The best part, though, will not be the merchandise, but the community. I’ve rediscovered the notion of self-concordant goals and realized that what keeps me going is connection to my readers. My goal is to develop relationships with them. Furthermore, I want to associate TCM with my political writing. I don’t know if my views will turn off some fans, but I think it’s better to have more ardent fans than many, many fairweather fans. They’re the ones who buy the merchandise anyway, and they’re the ones e-mailing me, anyway. They’re the important fans.

I don’t know how well this whole thing will go. But I plan on spending my entire summer working on this. The merchandise will come after the increase in readership, of course. I’m not nearly prepared enough to build a business venture, but I should have enough hours to prepare myself. This’ll be a lot of fun.

Verbal Commitment for The Chalkboard Manifesto

I will update The Chalkboard Manifesto every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday until the end of the year.

I will have a 10 comic buffer by the end of September and a 20 comic buffer by the end of the October. Once established, this buffer should never dip below 10 and should always be replenished to twenty by the 1st of the next month after the end of a vacation.

Now it’s in writing. Now I have to do it. See you tomorrow.

Chalkboard Usability

I fixed a few issues with the Chalkboard Manifesto website. The title (where it says “The Chalkboard Manifesto”) is now a link that takes you back to the home page. Also, “newer” and “older” are links as well. When I changed that, I realized things weren’t quite centered, so I had to fix that too. I moved the RSS feed to the navigation bar instead of hidden above the search box. I’m not sure if it should just be in the nav-bar for the home page, or if I should keep it in all the pages. Anyway, the usability should’ve improved somewhat.

Hate Mail

I remember when I used to work on that one of my favorite things was getting hate mail from ignorant people. That was always fun.

Well, I finally got my first piece of hate mail for Chalkboard Manifesto:

feck said:

I hate you. so badly

Haha. My goodness, I’m just a random person who puts a comic on the internets. I don’t understand why this person would take the time to hate me. Just ignore the comic, geeze. It’s not like I’m a Head-On commercial during your favorite show.

Note: I have gotten mail from people who were disappointed/angry with me not updating, but that is obviously not hate mail because they like the comic.