During our many podcasts here at Webcomic Alliance, we often talk about the importance of cultivating a relationship between you and your audience or fan base. Well kids, for today’s article, I’m going to offer a unique suggestion that will help you do just that during this holiday season.

Freelance illustrators and designers often talk about the importance of staying in touch with some of their more lucrative clients by sending them greeting and/or holiday cards with their self-promotional material on them. Well, there’s no reason why YOU can’t do the same.

Now, it’s impossible to send every single reader a holiday card but maybe you’ve had a few fans who have ordered books from your online store… maybe someone has gotten a commission from you during one of the conventions you’ve attended…or maybe a few people have included their mailing address in the e-mail newsletter they signed up for on your site… those are the people you should be targeting.

These are your true loyal and die-hard fans. Shouldn’t you do a little something to say thanks to them for being such strong supporters of your comic strip? Again, we’re talking about establishing – and maintaining – relationships with your fan base. And sending a simple holiday card is one small way where you can keep that relationship growing.

Of course, before any of that happens, you need to have already spent some time cultivating a mailing list of some sort.

When I was doing graphic and web design work for a non-profit organization, I learned very quickly exactly how important a mailing list can be. For most webcartoonists, it should be relatively easy cultivating an e-mail list of fans. One technique a lot of artists use is they have an e-mail sign-up sheet on their convention tables that people can easily fill out. Another way is by adding an e-mail sign-up on their websites. Still though, neither one of these will help you cultivate a snail mail list unless you specifically ask for it.

One of the things I have recently been doing is making sure I document and keep track of all the people that have bought items from my online store. Likewise, at a few shows this year, I have been unable to finish a few sketch cards or commissions and asked if it would be okay if I sent the final artwork to the customer by mail. Since I have a record of their mailing address, there shouldn’t be any reason why those people can’t receive a Capes & Babes holiday card from me this year.

The seed you plant this year may lead to record sales next year.

PLANNING YOUR CARD

I’m a firm believer in working smarter – not harder. Now, if that means re-purposing artwork, there’s no reason why you should kill yourself trying to make a brand new and unique piece of art if you already have holiday artwork available.

For example, two years ago, I created a Capes & Babes calendar. For the month of December, I used one of the rare full-color strips I made at the time of all the major Capes & Babes characters wearing Santa hats. That’s what this year’s Capes & Babes holiday card will be.

THINGS TO INCLUDE ON YOUR CARD

It should go without saying that your URL should be prominently placed on your card – maybe at the bottom of your illustration on the front of the card. You could also include it on the inside of the card as well. The most important point is to try and remind people who the card is from and where they can go to support you even more.

You should also include a nice but generic message on the inside of the card. I would also try to make the message as broad as possible – in case there are families that don’t specifically celebrate Christmas.

I know certain television personalities like to make a big deal about the “War on Christmas” but using the term “happy holiday season” keeps it broad enough to include people of all religions – or even no religions – and can include New Year’s Eve and Day as well.

My message this year will be:

“Thanks so much for all the generous support this past year. Here’s wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season from the gang at Capes & Babes…”

Of course, nothing is stopping you from adding an additional message in pen once the holiday cards are printed.

AND SPEAKING OF PRINTING…

Where should you go to have your cards created? There’s always the option of printing your cards yourself – and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Some might even argue that a home-made card has a more genuine feel to it – and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But if we’re trying to convey a more professional or polished image, few things look more professional and more polished than a full color printed card.

Although there are hundreds of different options out there from local printers to online printers, I thought I’d concentrate on my personally preferred online printer, Got Print.

Got Print has been printing all of my Capes & Babes promotional materials – from business cards to my convention postcards – even since I started my strip back in 2007. They are fast, reliable and deliver great results. You’re free to try other places such as VistaPrint, UPrint or any of the numerous other online printers, of course.

I only mention Got Print because they are currently offering the following deal that you might consider looking into:

In any case, if you decide to add a holiday card to your self-promoting efforts, it’s really a win-win situation for everybody. It will be a nice little surprise to some of your more loyal fans, it’ll be a unique promotional outlet for you, your art and your strip and it’ll just add some extra holiday cheer to all involve.

And, really, isn’t that what this time of the year is all about?