What to Expect in 2008

January 15, 2008

Retaining visitors is a challenge for all sites, but is made especially difficult when the primary content is animation. The problem is that you have only a few seconds to grab that random visitor by the eyes and convince them that your content is worthy enough to stick around.

Numbers Don't Lie

Upon review of last years statistics, it is increasingly apparent that visitor retention means smaller file sizes and using a broader subject matter to attract a wider audience. This will improve your chances to become viral, which will then allow you to explore more artistic ventures.

2007 Statistics

Here's a chart detailing page views (green), unique visitors (blue) and returning visitors (orange) for Calico Monkey in all of 2007. The key events were in January when the Wii cartoon was appreciated by the StumbleUpon community and in February when wired.com linked to the site.

What can we learn from this? Visitors want to watch something that they care about. 2008 will contain fewer personal story cartoons in an effort to build an audience.

You Got Words All Over my Cartoons

Notice how in July the tutorial-writing efforts really began to build natural search engine traffic. That has been great, but has slightly muddied what Calico Monkey is supposed to be about.

There will be a new tutorial site announced in the coming weeks that will just be about tutorials. There will also be a redesign of Calico Monkey to let visitors know that this site is all about animation and cartoons, something the current homepage does not make abundantly clear.

The goal in 2008 is all about retaining visitors, building an audience, and continuing to make some kick-ass cartoons.

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Will, It seems to me as a casual observer that your lack of cartoons published on a consistent schedule is a large contributor to the lack of regulars. Your tutorials do draw in new readers and if they could then see a pattern of consistent cartoon publishing they would return to be entertained. As a friend and long time fan I have been saddened to see you stop what you did originally where you were producing episodes with Sparky on a reasonably regular schedule. You were building characters and a story line and generating a fan base. Then you had the software switch and a long delay in producing the next episode and then you fell off the map into tutorials and blogging and your characters and excellent original humorous story line have been abandoned. So perhaps you attracted new viewers with the extra features but you stop producing the product you were selling which was your cartoon series. I certainly understand the difficulty of producing a regular animated series but you had (have) a winning approach if you would just get back to it. If you produced and published 30 secs to 1 min every two weeks you would have more viewers than you could imagine in six months. Your original 10 cartoons were really entertaining and fresh, you just stopped doing them. I'm sure you are not finding any of this as news. Get back to the date you brought to the dance and you will have more fun.

Posted by JK at 8:02 PM Jan 15, 2008

I think I may have to change the title of this blog entry. I didn't mean for it to come across with as much self-pity as it apparently does.

I completely agree that regular releases would be a huge benefit, I do hope to attain that.

The main point of the article was meant to be that my personal animated blogs do not have the broader appeal of the regular strip and other topics like video games. I do plan on having the strip be a part of that, and it is indeed something I want to get back to.

I do like creating the articles too, hence the site split.

Posted by Will at 11:23 AM Jan 16, 2008

Will, I really didn't pay much attention to the title, I was (am) reacting to the conclusions. I certainly can understand the desire to blog and to do tutorial writing. I'm guilty on all counts. Separating the sites is an approach. A common front portal which more clearly presents your offerings is equally an approach. The key to my thoughts on the future revolves on what is the best way to achieve your objective and who you want as your primary audience. Cold Hard Flash has developed a huge audience mostly of Flash artists and want to bes. Aaron doesn't produce his own cartoons he just interviews and reviews the work of others and hosts a forum, sort of social and instructional. But frankly the world needs more entertainment sites as there is already a wealth of social and instructional sites. People sit around and watch total crap on You Tube just because they are hungry to be entertained. You have a golden opportunity in the fact that you have significant creative talent and a gift for being entertaining with your cartoons. There is a natural current in the ebbs and flow of the Internet and that natural current flows to quality. That may sound funny considering all the garbage out on the web but in terms of those who produce quality entertainment content they are like magnets for web viewers and they are sought out and supported. It's a form of natural selection. The problem is short supply not getting discovered. If its out there they will find it and as long as it stays frequent and fresh they will continue to congregate at that site.

Posted by JK at 12:07 PM Jan 16, 2008

I'm sitting here nodding in agreement with all of your points. I'm more excited than ever about releasing frequently, and I think the changes to come will make everybody happier as well.

The good supply shall increase!

Posted by Will at 2:39 PM Jan 16, 2008

Hi Will! I completely relate to your concerns about retaining readers. I keep my site mostly to entertain myself and that it also seems to make my friends and family happy is great. But as I spend more and more time working on it I've started to think about how I could appeal to a wider audience. I see so many bloggers who find a way to get enough readers make money doing something they love. How could you not want to be part of that? I wish your blog nothing but the best in '08. I will defiantly be checking in regularly!

Posted by Shannon at 8:36 PM Jan 17, 2008

My two cents: I have liked this site since I discovered your post about it at animationforum.net, and stop by regularly. Maybe less frequent when there arent as many posts, but I still stop by. I completely understand how stuff gets put on the back burner someimes. Soooo, I'm not sure where I am on the chart, but I like what you do in general, keep up the good work!

Posted by pixelmark at 11:47 AM Jan 20, 2008

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Calico Monkey discusses animation programs, cartoon software and the art of making your own cartoons. Occasionally I release a new cartoon that has inadvertently made somebody chuckle. Such an outburst is purely accidental, I assure you. All animations were created with Toon Boom.

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