Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Another Month, Another Round of Data Analysis

During April, I tried to be intentional about doing a few things to generate sales and see what I could learn. I did those things. I have data. I have no idea what I can learn from it... here are screen shots of my sales for the month of April, and an overview of the four banners I have run during April. The bottom two ran first; I added the Stalwart Age banner a week or so later, and I added the banner for Shards a week after that. The Stalwart Age and Shards banners are still running (since they have not hit the 20K appearances that I purchased) but the other two have run their course. I also dropped prices on all of my products pretty significantly, and I think that (more than anything) drove some sales in the last half of the month.

- Oh irony. The Shards of Tomorrow banner has generated the most interest (via clicks) at .59% and a total number of clicks that surpasses any of the other banners already. However, that + the release of Dispatches from the Pale #1 only resulted in a total of three sales of the core rules. Since Shards is among my lower-selling games in total sales, the potential audience is greater (I tend to think of it as the same 100-200 people who tend to buy my things, so I assume if I've already sold 70 books to this group, the potential audience is smaller than if I've sold 30 books to this group).

- People like free stuff. I see lots of downloads of my things that are either free or pay what you want. 

- The banners and free downloads don't lead to many direct sales on the related books - but they do lead to a greater awareness of my entire catalog, and generate 'secondary' sales in that way... I sold copies of books that I have not supported in years. I have to assume that people click the link, browse my offerings, and then grab something that looks interesting. If that's the book I'm pushing right now or my fantasy rules from seven years ago is irrelevant. I mean, I sold 2 copies of the superhero game I am advertising, and 5 copies of the superhero game I'm not advertising. Make it make sense.

- Lowering cover prices did cause a spike in sales. I don't assume that this is permanent in any way, and I expect that sales will level off.

- Within the things that I already access, I 'pushed' my games as much as I could reasonably expect myself to. I ran several banners, released a few free products that were staggered, posted to social media with some regularity, and stayed relatively focused. My reach is what my reach is. I don't think I will see any significant spike in sales until someone other than me says nice things about my games. I don't have much experience with this sort of thing in gaming, but I do in webcomics - I had an episode of my Teaching Ted webomic that went somewhat viral a few years ago - a major education blogger posted one of my strips on her blog, and over a weekend I had a few thousand visitors suddenly access my comic page. I saw a bell curve across the strips - some people read that one and left, one standard deviation read about 6-10 strips, another deviation stuck around for maybe 10-15, and a handful read the entire catalog. Within a few weeks, my numbers were back where they had been before the sudden influx of traffic - that entire event didn't net any new, regular readers that I could tell.

None of this is complaining in any way, mind you. I'm fine with it. I did this 'study' during April primarily so I could get rid of that nagging voice that tells me that "if only I did ___" I'd reach a wider audience. I don't think that it's within my power to reach a wider audience. If someone with a huge social media following became a die-hard player, it would probably turn the tide. No one review or viral moment is going to matter - it's going to have to be a regular presence that I cannot generate.

What I'm saying is give Wil Wheaton a call and ask him to start playing my game every week and posting the live feed. Or you can text him. I'm sure you have his number somewhere.


  1. Last I heard, Aldo was thinking of doing a Stalwart Age version of his "Superverse" campaign book, so that might boost things a bit should he have the time to make it a reality. As for me, I've recently come to terms with Stalwart being the version of "SOEC" for me (with my usual tweak), even if my name isn't on any of the pages inside :) So...I am once again looking at writing up a ton of my stuff in TSA. Not saying anyone will CARE, but hey!

    1. I care! It's great to hear from you, and I hope all is well. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.