August was really slow. Though traffic to the site was up 40% from last month, revenue dropped 26%. My attempts at outreach were more successful than previous months, but they did not produce more purchases.
- $562 total revenue
- 3 new subscribers
- 2 educator signups
- 3 churns
- 105.5 hours logged (26hrs per week)
August ended with very few sign-ups and only two educator purchases. Part of me thinks this has something to do with the greater "going-ons" of the world. Nonetheless, this isn't a great sign for Fantasy Congress.
Wrapped up Partnerships
The two partnerships I secured in July wrapped up this month. The first was a newsletter. Unfortunately they put Fantasy Congress towards the bottom of their email and nothing really came from it. The second was with Thomas Ketchell of Sutori. We collaborated on an educational resource, then cross promoted to our audiences via email and social media. Thomas was really great to work with and gave me great feedback about the collab's performance. It doesn't appear any purchases came from this, but working with Sutori definitely helped spread awareness about Fantasy Congress.
Implement trades & weekly update emails
Both trades and the weekly update emails were pushed out this month. The implementation of both feels very...duct taped. But they're working. And as much as I want to refactor things, shipping features quickly so I can focus on sales and marketing are more important.
Run 2 ad campaigns
This was a real eye opening experience for me. I ended up only running one campaign because of the amount of work it took to set up. Ya'll, ads are hard. Successful ads seem to be the result of a lot of experimentation. If I had unlimited funds this wouldn't be so bad. But on principle, no indie business has thousands to millions of dollars to throw at ads (at least in the beginning).
I chose to target educators and decided to run ads on Facebook. General consensus is that videos preform much better than static images as Facebook ads, so I created a video using Gimp, Pixabay, Kapwing and iMovie. On the Facebook for Business website, it states the best performing videos are under 15 seconds. So leaning heavily on my limited image/video editing skills, I came up with this:
I would have liked to try more videos, but just this simple 15 second video took me 15 - 20 hrs to make. So in lieu of more videos, I came up with three static images to test as part of the campaign.
The ads interface for Facebook, called Facebook Ads Manager, was awful to use. And my frustration was compounded when my video, which I spent the most time working on, was flagged as political content. Facebook refused to show my video (and just the video, the images were apparently fine) unless I jumped through a bunch of additional hoops to create a "disclaimer". I'm sure we're all aware of the hot water Facebook has been steeping in since the 2016 election. Disclaimers are their big attempt at righting their wrongs, and it's a complete joke. Anyone can create a disclaimer, all you have to do is provide an address and phone number. I used my registered agent and a google voice number. All that reading through fine print, navigating their awful UX, and entering the same information multiple times just to have a small, grayed out link displayed on my ad that states it was paid for by "Fantasy Congress". I just as easily could have put it was paid for by "The Joe Biden & Jeffery Epstein Unity Club". Not to mention, the ads can be full of blatant lies as long as they have this ever so important disclaimer attached to them. Jesus Christ 🤦🏻♀️.
But enough of my rambling. How did the campaign do overall?
|Audience 1 CPC||Audience 2 CPC||Audience 1 Clicks||Audience 2 Clicks||Audience 1 Reach||Audience 2 Reach|
I spent $130 on Facebook ads over the course of 1 week which resulted in one purchase of an educator account. So I lost ~$30 on this campaign. Surprisingly the images preformed much better than the video. Although the video is pretty generic and the images were tailored specifically to educators, so I'm not completely surprised. I also allowed Facebook to choose how much of the daily budget was spent on each ad using their Campaign Budget Optimization option. As I understand it, CBO is intended to help stretch your budget by devoting more money to your most effective ads. But in my experience, it spent more money on the least effective ads. This made me suspicious and I likely won't use CBO again.
While I wouldn't consider this experiment a wild success, it has given me a baseline on which to judge any other ads I run. Now I can incrementally work towards lowering my CPC until I find something that's profitable.
- Run ads targeting educators on Facebook and Youtube
- Run ads targeting recreational players on Facebook and Twitter
- Try media outreach again
- Create 1 content marketing piece
Now, I just spent a lot of time dis-ing Facebook, so you may be wondering how I could justify using them again. As frustrating as Facebook is, I still got one purchase from this experiment. And with more knowledge about how their system works and a baseline to compare against, I think it makes sense to see if I can improve my returns. I'm not thrilled to continue working with them, but hey, that's business.
I'm also going to try other platforms and forms of marketing. Again, there's so much I want to fix and add to Fantasy Congress, but at the end of the day that's not making me money (in any immediate sense anyway). And reaching ramen profitability this fall is a huge factor for the future of this project. So my September goals are marketing focused. I'm going to take what I learned from my August experiment and see if I can improve the results.
With the lukewarm reception in July, and a slow down in August, it's beginning to feel like Fantasy Congress won't reach ramen profitability this fall. But it ain't over till it's over. And I still have a few tricks up my sleeve.