The TopWebComics.com poll
To answer your question about why play the vote game on Top Web Comics, if you can get into the top 100 (meaning hitting their front page), it’s worth several thousand referrals a month. If you can get into the top 10 (which shows your banner – top 3 puts you above the fold on a monitor with reasonable resolution) then it’s worth (to me at least) 41K referrals a month. That’s second only to direct links, even beating google organic searches, and if you google “grrl power” I’m the top hit (yes, even if I turn off personal results, hah)
I’m still blown away that I’ve managed to get ranked that high, (I’m #1 at the moment even) though I do have to remind myself that it’s not a real measure of success – after all I’m not making a living off the comic… yet. It’s still cool to see after spending 10 years reading webcomics, thinking “I should do one” and now seeing my little project anywhere on the same page as Girl Genius, Questionable Content, Flaky Pastry, Freefall, etc.
The reason that “truly successful” webcomics don’t rank as highly on TWC is simply, they are successful and they’re not trying to build their audience as aggressively as the comics that are up and coming, so they don’t provide vote incentives or even a link to TWC. If they did the top 20-30 comics would be a virtually static list starting with Penny Arcade, then PvP, The Oatmeal, XKCD, etc, and those guys just don’t care about an extra 40K hits a month. When you’re getting 5 million+, you probably wouldn’t even notice it.
I’ll probably look at this in-depth at some point. Still, I’m putting out there: how often do you, the readers at home, check out TopWebComics.com?