Interview with Internet Marketer Phil Hampton Part I
I recently had the opportunity to have an in-depth interview with a real Internet marketer. Phil Hampton started The Comic Academy a little over a year ago and is seeing some real growth in his business, by implementing a multitude of Internet Marketing strategies. His website and his business are dedicated to helping comic book creators increase their chances of success through marketing and inspiration.
In this interview Phil reveals some devastatingly effective online marketing strategies that can easily be applied to any business model. Phil and The Comic Academy will definitely be a good source to watch in the coming years, for anyone interested in online marketing, and for those striving to increase exposure within the comic industry.
The interview is broken up into two articles due to the amount of information we covered. In part one Phil and I discuss some of his early influences as well as his ongoing source of knowledge. We also cover some of Phil’s strategies for building his online network and increasing exposure for his business.
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to spend some time with me and my readers to answer the following questions.
What Inspired Comic Academy
On your bio page I read that you’ve been an avid comic reader for over 30 years. It’s obvious you have a passion for the industry. Which comics or comic book creators (artists or writers) are your biggest influences and why?
My interest in the workings of the comic book industry goes back to when I picked up ‘Daredevils #1’ in 1983, aged 11. Up to that point I’d been reading various Marvel UK reprint titles aimed at young kids, but this was the first ‘magazine format’ title I’d read, and it blew me away for two reasons. Firstly, the amazing Captain Britain strip written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Alan Davis. I still think that is the greatest superhero saga ever created, and it wasn’t reprinted in the US until about 15 years later. Secondly, Moore had written a number of articles about the industry and the creative process. So I guess that Alan Moore set me on this course! My exposure to industry news and views continued through the excellent UK magazine ‘Comics International’, run by Dez Skinn.
As for my favourite writers and artists, I love those who can be relied upon to give great quality work, such as Peter David, Neil Gaiman, Mark Waid, Kurt Busiek, Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon and Alan Davis. John Byrne in the eighties and early nineties was also a great inspiration for me, especially since he wrote, pencilled, inked and lettered much of his work.
Everyone Needs a Mentor:
In your mission statement and in your bio, you mention that you’ve been involved with two marketing mastermind groups over the last two years. Would you please share the names of these groups, and what role they’ve played in the creation and development of The Comic Academy?
Gladly – first off is Dan Bradbury, a 29-year old millionaire who teaches coaches, trainers and consultants in marketing skills such as copywriting and social media and effective product creation, plus the likes of public speaking and hosting seminars. His website is www.DanBradbury.com. The mastermind group meets every month in London, and I also attend his amazing 2 ½ day ‘Superconferences’, which are run twice a year.
My other mentor, Bernadette Doyle, is the ‘queen of marketing’ over here in the UK and runs a company called Client Magnets. She covers similar topics to Dan but her background is in telesales and face to face sales, so her content is from a slightly different angle.
Both of them acknowledge that there is a change in selling techniques over the last 10 years. The ‘hard sell’ techniques of the eighties are dead. People have become tired of them. Companies are now buying into the need for consistent quality, and building trust-based relationships with their customers, which is what I do with my website, products and services.
Using Social Media to build your network:
Of the many different social media websites available (Twitter, FaceBook, MySpace, YouTube etc) which do you feel is the most effective in driving new visitors to your website and what makes that so?
The main site that I use is Twitter. It’s the one that I started off using to promote The Comic Academy back in October 2010, and the one that I mainly use. The main reason for this is that the Twitter iPhone app has been a lot simpler to use than the Facebook iPhone app. It was much easier to view and share other people’s posts using Twitter than Facebook on an iPhone. The reason I say ‘was’ is that Facebook have finally added the ability to ‘Share’ links in their IOS5 update (version 3.5).
I would recommend to anyone using Twitter to use Social Oomph. It’s free for Twitter services, and allows you to set up tweets in advance. I do this as most of my followers are in a different time-zone to me, so that I can tweet as I sleep.
Social Oomph can also post through Facebook, though you have to pay a fee to enable it.
I don’t use My Space, and the number of people using it has been dropping in recent years.
You Tube can be a great way of getting your website promoted. The majority of views on the Internet is now of videos rather than blogs. It’s possible to create an off-the-wall promotional video for your website or comic using a simple hand-held camera, post it on You Tube, and have it go viral in 24 hours. I’m planning on creating a series of short ‘tips’ videos on You Tube soon.
There’s also ‘Linked In’, aimed at creating business connections, and ‘Google Plus’, which is Google’s version of Facebook. Both are worth checking out, but it can be difficult to juggle numerous social media sites, and get your job done! If you’re short on time, stick to Twitter and/or Facebook.
Podcasting to increase your reach:
Looking at your podcast page, I was a little surprised to see only two episodes, and it appears that you’ve only recently launched into this medium. Do you feel the podcast is a viable medium for this market? Why did you wait until now to launch the podcast? How much work is required to produce a podcast on a regular basis? Any hints on who we might expect as guests for future episodes? Can you give us a quick overview, a snap shot if you will, of what goes into planning and producing a podcast?
Yes, I’ve only just decided to post podcasts on my website. The main reason that I’ve only now done that is because I simply didn’t have the time previously. It took me a long time to create and release my Telesummit that I ran in February 2011, containing a number of interviews with well-known Comic Creators.
I also wanted to concentrate on building my following and getting some great articles posted on my site. I’m happy to say that I now have more time to spend on The Comic Academy, so will be posting regular podcasts involving interviews with the ‘movers and shakers’ in the industry.
So far I have interviewed Ryan Fisher, creator of the great online comic con ‘The Digicon’, and Frank Forte, founder of small publisher Asylum Press. The next podcast will be with Dave Baxter, one of the founders of literary/talent agency ‘Killing the Grizzly’.
I think that podcasting is important as not everyone likes to read articles. Some may want to listen to interviews ‘on the go’, which is why I include a download link rather than forcing people to stream through the site.
As for the podcast creation process – I used to record my interviews via a phone conference service, but it was very costly, and the output was in WAV format which I had to convert to mp3. I have since decided to record all interviews, where possible, using Skype, which I record using software called ‘Pamela’ into mp3 format. I then copy the file into an online service called ‘Audio Acrobat’. This allows me to both stream the audio on my site, and enable it to be downloaded. It also allows the interviews to be kept in a ‘Podcast’ folder which can be posted to iTunes.
The other day, from starting the half-hour interview with Frank Forte to having it posted as a blogost on my site, submitted to iTunes, and emailing my list, took me 2 ½ hours in total. With more practice I’ll get that down to 2 hours.
How did you build your Twitter following so quickly?
According to FollowerHub you started using Twitter in October of 2010. In just one year you’ve developed an impressive following. What do you attribute your success on Twitter to?
Basically, when I started on Twitter, I didn’t have a website. So I couldn’t tweet links to any of my stuff! Therefore, I just scoured the Internet for great tutorial articles and videos, using Social Oomph to set up a week’s worth of tweets in a few hours at the weekend. Then I would respond to people’s comments using my iPhone app. I try to respond to every comment that I’m sent, either as a direct message or a public reply (though I admit the odd one may ‘fall through the cracks’. I gained about 1000 followers in two months using this strategy. Then I set up my website and had less time to tweet, so my following didn’t grow as quickly.
Also, in order to grow your following on Twitter, you have to follow other people. I have recently purchased an automated program called ‘Tweetadder’ that is set to auto-follow people based on certain keywords that are unique to my audience (e.g. comics, writer, artist, inker etc.). If they don’t follow me back within about 3 days, the program unfollows them.
This all sounds a bit harsh, but Twitter sets strict limits on how many people you can follow, and also penalises you if you’re following too many people based on your number of followers. There has to be a certain ratio between the two.
Therefore, using a program such as Tweetadder ensures that you are working within the (arguably unfair) limits that Twitter has set, whilst regularly increasing your followers. So it’s a means to an end – more people get to see my great free stuff!
Continue reading part II of my interview with Phil Hampton – Turning Your Website Into a Profitable Enterprise