2012 Blog Experiment Results

I made a lot of changes to Andertoons in 2012 – a new site design, a new database, cartoon subscriptions – but one of the changes I was most curious about was a big change in the blog.

I started blogging over 8 years ago to boost my SEO and it’s worked well. Initially the blog was all about cartoons and cartooning, but after a few years I felt like I was running out of material. So I switched it up and began writing lots of short posts (often just an image with a sentence or two) on a wider variety of topics. For a good while I was posting every day:

  • Monday – Music
  • Tuesday – Cartoons
  • Wednesday – LEGO
  • Thursday – Comics
  • Friday – Small Business Trends

Then I started hearing about Google Panda and how it was devaluing sites with thin content and I got nervous. Not only had I created a lot of almost content-less pages, many of them had little or nothing to do with cartoons. (Don’t bother looking for them, they’re not there anymore.)

So in 2012 I decided to blog longer, richer, cartoonier content just once a week to see what happened. I added a monthly How To Draw feature, some video, some inside baseball on cartooning, and kept the occasional LEGO project. And now that we’re moving into 2013 I thought it would be fun to check back in and see how it went:

Cartoon Blog Analytics

When you compare 2012 to 2011 for all pages containing “/cartoon-blog/”, total pageviews increased 23%, and unique pageviews increased 19%.

And when you look at only the blog’s home page it gets better:

Cartoon Blog Analytics 2

2012 pageviews up 33%, and uniques up 34%. Not bad.

Now, to be fair, changing the length and frequency of my blogs wasn’t the only blog-related change I made. I also began tweeting about my weekly post once a day (thanks, Buffer & Tweriod!), and I emailed other relevant sites I thought might be interested. (Neatorama, you’re the best!)

And it seems to be working. Traffic from Twitter jumped 1189% (!) over 2011 and I also increased my total number of referrers by 15%.

I think what I’ve enjoyed seeing most is the change in the kinds of popular content.

The top blog posts from 2011:

  1. LEGO Robot Santa Claus
  2. LEGO Alphabet Spaceships A-Z
  3. Blog Home Page
  4. SuperFriends Action Valentine Playbook
  5. Erin Gray… Sigh… (from 2007)
  6. LEGO Batman iPhone (from 2009)
  7. Real Princesses (from 2009)
  8. Donald Duck’s Family Tree (from 2009)
  9. No Wonder Ken Digs Her (from 2006)
  10. Preston Blair Walk Cycle (from 2009)

That’s very little real cartoon content, and, unless you count the home page, no content about Andertoons. (And the last six aren’t even posts from 2011!) Now let’s look at the top blog posts from 2012:

  1. Blog Home Page
  2. How To Draw A Cartoon R2D2
  3. How To Draw a Cartoon Bunny
  4. LEGO Alphabet Spaceships A-Z (From 2011)
  5. How to Draw a Cartoon Shark
  6. LEGO Robot Santa Claus (From 2011)
  7. How To Draw Batman
  8. How To Draw A Cartoon Leprechaun
  9. Adding a Cartoon (Or Any Other Image) To Your iBook in iBooks Author
  10. MetLife Cartoon Superbowl Commercial – Characters, Errors & Where Waldo Is

There’s a lot more there that highlights me as a cartoonist, and only 2 posts aren’t from 2012. (Thanks to Ian at Portent for the HTD idea!) That’s a definite improvement!

So to sum up, blogging less often but more deeply, and reinforcing posts elsewhere helped traffic on the blog and business overall dramatically. Good job, me!

But 2013 is just about here! What will I do with the blog this year? You’ll just have to come back and see!

Christmas Cartoon & Comics Caboodle

Christmas Cartoon & Comics Coboodle

Over my many years of blogging I’ve posted plenty of Christmas cartoon & comic related material. Here’s a bunch of my favorites in no particular order to keep you busy until tomorrow. Enjoy:

Chester Cheer & Gregory the Green Deer

1951 Popular Comics Holiday Greeting Cards

Will Eisner’s Spaceman Discovers Christmas

Snowman Comics

Santa Cartoons

Christmas Cartoons & Comics

Pogo Christmas Countdown

Mr. Magoo Christmas Kerfuffle

Batman Christmas Record Audio! (Give a moment to load)

Wonder Woman Christmas Record Audio! (Give a moment to load)

Superman Christmas Record Audio! (Give a moment to load)

Mike Lynch’s Santa Trauma

BONUS! – LEGO Robot Santa

How To Draw A Cartoon Elf – Tutorial

Christmas is just about here and I’m sure Santa’s elves are efficiently cranking out the last of the toys. Still, I’m sure Santa wouldn’t mind a few more, so this month we’re going to draw a cartoon elf! Follow the 12 easy steps and you’ll soon have your own happy Christmas elf!

When you’re finished, feel free to tweet, pin, email or otherwise share a pic of your cartoon turkey with me and I’ll post it over at Pinterest! And if you’d like to grab the tutorial and post it on your own blog or website, you’re more than welcome to. (A link back would be appreciated.) Enjoy:

How to draw a cartoon Christmas elf

Easy, right? You should try out my other how-to-draw tutorials too:

Feel free to check out my Christmas cartoons too!

Research Shows 64% Would Rather Share a Cartoon Instead of a Photo

After testing over 300 participants, I believe I’ve demonstrated that cartoons are more than simple entertainment, they are potentially powerful social media tools when used correctly.

Why Do We Use Images?

To begin with, images are aesthetically pleasing. Great masses of text are fine, but a reader’s eye needs a place to rest. Images also help introduce, reinforce and clarify ideas. And if you’re concerned with SEO, image tags offer additional clues about your content. So while you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you don’t often see an unattractive cover on a bestseller.

Good visuals are important, and there’s no shortage of graphs, stock photos, and infographics to use. But I’d like to suggest an often forgotten or ignored visual to add to your repertoire, cartoons.

Cartoons are written off, I believe, because they’re funny. You’re trying to make a point, add to a discussion, or sell a product, and you’d like to be taken seriously. But you also want your efforts to be seen and, more importantly, shared. And cartoons have an inherent shareability that should not be taken lightly.

But while there exists much research and advice on why and how to use all kinds of other images, most of what you read about using cartoons falls under “people just like cartoons.” That is why I’ve attempted to measure the effect of cartoons on the sharing of associated content.

Cartoon vs. Stock Photo

Three tests were conducted comparing this stock photo, and this cartoon:

Cartoon Study 1

The photo was purchased at iStockphoto.com. The color photo was resized and slightly cropped to 480 x 360 pixels. iStockphoto shows an initial upload of the photo on 6/17/11. It has sold more than 100 times.

The cartoon is from Andertoons.com. The grayscale image is 480 x 360 pixels. It was created on 6/22/10 and as of this writing has sold 51 times.

Each test showed participants the images and asked one question:

“Pretend you’re going to tweet one of these articles to a friend or co-worker. Which article would you be most inclined to share?”

I chose Verifyapp.com to administer the test, and Enrollapp.com to provide anonymous paid participants. There were no indications provided as to the identity or purpose of the tester. And while participants could be categorized as Internet savvy (being early adopters of Enroll), I believe they are also representative of the kind of person who would be an active and enthusiastic sharer of online content.

Test 1 – Photo & Cartoon Presented Together

The first test presented a generic blog page with dummy content. There were 110 total participants. 50 saw the cartoon image on top and the photo below, 60 saw the images’ placements reversed:

Cartoon Study 2

Tracking their clicks, those seeing the cartoon on top chose the content with cartoon an impressive 90% of the time. More interesting, however, is that when the images were reversed, those respondents still chose the content with cartoon over the photo 57% of the time, even though the cartoon was grayscale and further down the page:

Cartoon Study 3

Test 2 – Photo & Cartoon Presented Individually

The second test presented two similarly generic blog pages with dummy headlines and text. Each page was identical except for the inclusion of the photo or cartoon. There were 105 total participants.

Two A/B tests were created, one with the cartoon as the control and the photo as the variation, and another test with these positions reversed. Because I later discovered that the positions of the control and variation are presented randomly by Verify, I think it’s reasonable to present the data from both A/B tests combined.

Combining the two tests, 75% indicated that they would prefer to share the content with cartoon vs. the content with photo:

Cartoon Study 4

This test also allowed participants to enter comments afterward:

“Somehow the cartoon (vs. the photo) makes it more informal, which I associate with Twitter.”

“The cartoon adds value to the text content, where as the stock photo is basically just decoration.”

“It has the cartoon and the caption underneath and it was funny. It made me more interested in reading the rest of it.”

“The humour (of the illustration) is something that reflects my personality so I’d be happy to share it. The stock photography version is trite.”

Some respondents did of course choose the photo, most often citing color as a key factor.

One participant did make an unexpected and excellent point:

“…I think this test is flawed, because the test is about visual content and not actual textual content, and I’d only really share a URL based on the substance of its message, not its accompanying imagery.”

Although my initial idea was to nullify surrounding content to more accurately gauge image effectiveness, I wanted also to be as accurate as possible. So I administered one additional test:

Test 3 – Photo & Cartoon Presented Individually (Actual Text)

This iteration repeated the conditions of Test 2 with one important exception: I replaced the dummy content with actual readable content about presenting effectively.

With 106 participants, readable text, and positions of the control and variation images again randomized, I was impressed that 64% again said they would prefer to share the article containing the cartoon:

Cartoon Study 5

Comments after the test included:

“I like the stock cartoon a lot more than the generic stock photo.”

“I think the cartoon graphic is interesting, it adds more value to the theme of the article. Which relays more information to the user.”

“I prefer the cartoon. It has a more personal relation with the article than an overused stock photo.”

“The image seems more engaging that a stock photo that we’ve probably seen many times already.”

Cartoons Are Underused And Undervalued

While I do not wish to present cartoons as a sort of social media panacea, after three quite different test iterations and over 300 participants, I believe the results speak for themselves. The cartoon competed extremely well for attention, and was seen as more interesting, engaging, and shareable than a traditional color photo. The demonstrated social benefit of complementing content with a relevant cartoon is clear and compelling, and savvy marketers can be advised to add cartoons to their marketing repertoire.

LEGO Santa Claus Mech

LEGO Santa Claus Mech 1

Ho-ho-whoa! All the reindeer can relax, Santa’s got himself a giant robot to deliver toys this year!

I hope you’ve been good, because if not…

LEGO Santa Claus Mech Naughty Arm

But if you’re good…

LEGO Santa Claus Mech Nice Arm

Oh my, that’s not really better, is it?

Here’s a few more action shots of this big poseable LEGO mech:

LEGO Santa Claus Mech 2
LEGO Santa Claus Mech 3

You can move the shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, waist, hips, knees, and ankles. Here’s a look behind:

LEGO Santa Claus Mech Rear

He’s got all the toys nestled safely between the rockets there. And here’s Santa in the cockpit:

LEGO Santa Claus Mech Cockpit

One last thing…  Elves, when you’re shining up the mech, please please be careful…

LEGO Santa Claus Mech Toys

You can see all the pics in large, big, and super huge giant over at Flickr.

Check out my Robot Santa from a few years ago too!