Interview: How ‘Fling Girl LA’ Markets Online Stories of Real-World Dating

If Time Out and “Girls” moved out West, they might meet up for a drink with Fling Girl LA.   Part online magazine, part comic book, Fling Girl LA is all about dating, life, and relationships in Los Angeles.  In it, writer Dina Gachman and artist Amy Saaed follow newly single Maggie as she dates her way through the city’s dive bars, bowling alleys, and convenience store snack food aisles. Here, Gachman gives us the back story and explains how the duo makes the most of social platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr to share their stories with a wider audience.

How did you come up with the idea for Fling Girl LA?

I wrote it as a story or short novella and then put it aside for a while. I had collaborated with the artist Amy Saaed twice before – she did all the art for a short film I made and also the key image for my blog Bureaucracy for Breakfast. We knew we collaborated well and got to talking about turning the Fling Girl book into an online comic – we had no idea it would end up taking over our lives. The idea came out in August 2011, we launched in December, and here we are, which is exciting. The audience is growing and we’re a two-women band right now and we’ve started talking to sponsors which would be great.

How do you get your sponsors involved in your stories?

All of our posts and articles relate to the story and characters – music, fashion, things to do. For example, if the characters go to a certain restaurant or bowling alley in an issue, we’ll reach out to those places to see if they want to work with us in some cross promotional way, which has been working out great. We’re very careful to keep the tone and style of the site consistent.

How does Los Angeles compare with other cities for finding a date?

It can be tough everywhere, but LA has a lot of actors, models and musicians and sons and daughters of actors models and musicians, and the mix of beautiful people and flakiness can drive you a little mad if you’re looking for something with a little substance. I’ve lived in Texas, San Francisco, and New York, but I’m not sure you would go on a hike in those cities and overhear someone say things like, “she’s totally one of those improv girls” or “He’s dumb but he invited me to a pool party at Charlie Sheen’s house so I won’t break up with him until after the party.” It’s kind of hilarious the things you hear. Not everyone is like that of course – we love Los Angeles. But it’s kind of a thing.

Where do your readers live? Are they mostly in LA or has your website brought in a different mix of people?

It’s really a mix. A lot of LA people but we also have readers in Canada, Germany, and all over the US. We try to make it relatable not just for LA people, the same way you could watch “Sex and the City” and relate, even though they were at fabulous Manhattan clubs and things. Our characters are more likely to be at fabulous dive bars, though.

I understand that you just relaunched the site to make it more social media-friendly. How has this impacted your readership?

We just relaunched and it’s amazing the difference a new platform makes. Before we were really limited as far as social media, and being able to generate content everyday because of the type of site we were using. Now it just is another world – it’s more social media friendly and we’ve already noticed an increase in readers and followers, just in a few days. You really have to be generating original, fun content each day to have loyal readers, and we’re able to do that now. Our hands were tied before since it’s enough work creating the issue each month, plus the content on the site.

Which platforms do you use to market your site (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.) and what do you do with them?

All of them! We love the Tumblr-Pinterest-Twitter combo since it works very well for us since so much of our content is visual. We can Pin a panel from our upcoming issue and send it out, or Pin illustrations Amy has created to go along with our features like Honorary Fling Girls or Dating Drama. We use Hootsuite to schedule Tweets, try and really connect with people on Twitter and Facebook. Social media is a giant part of what we do. It’s exhausting, but well worth it. It can actually be kind of fun too, finding creative ways to connect, with contests or questions, things like that. We experiment a lot. We also work with a lot of record labels, restaurants, artists, guest contributors, galleries and things and we always ask that they talk about Fling Girl via social media, and we do the same. 

How does the experience of reading a graphic novel on the computer or on a mobile device compare with reading one in print?

The online format works really well with comic books I think – the images look amazing (thanks to Amy), it’s really easy to use a flip book, and it saves paper! Eventually we do want to do a printed compilation with extra features and things, but for now the online/mobile format is kind of our world and it’s cool in a way the Fling Girl really exists in a digital world all its own. Except for the postcards we spread around town and sneak into library books and things. Guerilla marketing.

What’s next for Fling Girl?

We’re working on issues #6 and #7, and always looking for the next collaboration whether that’s music, restaurants, Take 10 lists. We have new features in the works like “In My Hood” where a guest writer/artist will profile their neighborhood, and we’re looking for contributors to share their funny/crazy dating stories. We’re also working with a musician on a Fling Girl music video and throwing some events around town, and a fashion contest is in the works. Amy and I email each other about 500 times a day.

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