I was hoping Fantasy Congress was in a place where it could grow by word of mouth alone. But this month made it clear that isn't the case.
- $804 total revenue
- 4 new customers
- 3 churns
- $862.95 MRR
Growth for Fantasy Congress dropped quite a bit in February and revenue dropped 61% from the previous month. I knew it was highly unlikely February would knock my best month ever out of the park, but I didn't expect revenue to drop this quickly.
Was it just a fluke? Or were my previous marketing efforts working?
I couldn't tie anything I did in January to the bump in revenue, so I took a break from promotion. Now, I'm wondering if something was going on that I missed.
Regardless, February wasn't all bad. I've been experimenting with HARO to build SEO backlinks. This worked with one publication so far, which is more than any of my previous press attempts.
I also learned that a group of Fantasy Congress players started a podcast about their league! They're on YouTube and Spotify if you have a chance to check them out. It's so validating to see Fantasy Congress provoking smart, thoughtful discussion around government. Like, it's doing the thing I told people it would do! I knew it would, but still, the validation feels amazing!
Goals? What goals?😅
My focus was completely off the rails this month. I fell into the classic engineering trap of trying to fix one thing, noticing another problem or small inefficiency, then deciding to address it because, "Oh, it won't take long." And before I knew it a small fix turned into 20 small fixes that really weren't small, and I didn't get anything else done.
In particular, I got wrapped up in the data collection process for Fantasy Congress. Ya'll, I don't even know how to begin expressing the struggle of working with government data.
Every system gives legislators their own id and the data I need is spread across many systems. Documentation? Sure, for some things, but not all. Also, where is the documentation? If you have enough time on your hands, eventually you may come across an obscure PDF from 2016 that explains what their XML used to mean. Of course, updates have been made since then (things are actually much better than they used to be!), and the new documentation will only reveal itself to those it deems worthy...or so I assume.
Oh, and sometimes the data is straight up incorrect. Luckily, some systems are more reliable than others. But needless to say, there's a lot of nuance to ensuring Fantasy Congress has accurate, up to date information.
I could go on and on about this, to the point where I'm considering writing a series on it. But, I'll save that for another time.
February's poor performance made it clear I'm in no place to give up on actively promoting Fantasy Congress for the foreseeable future. So I'm back to the same question plaguing me since launch: How do I get Fantasy Congress in front of potential users?
SEO is kind of working, which is why I recently picked up HARO. I've noticed some of my pages slowly increasing in rank, and there's a lot of other things I could try to expedite that. But typically I'm going up against domains with a Moz score of 50 or above. It's highly unlikely I would ever be the first search result against such competition. Plus, the keywords I rank for are mostly low traffic queries.
I also ran Facebook ads in February and it was their worst performance yet. I have my doubts that ads work for small SaaS products, or games honestly. They only get turned on when I've run out of other ideas. Right now, all ads are turned off.
More than ever, when I think about finding people interested in Fantasy Congress my thoughts are drawn to Twitter and Reddit. I know people are participating in conversation around government on these platforms. I've known this for a long time, but I was too afraid to participate in the conversation myself.
Trolls, harassment, being called dumb or wrong or god knows what... Let's face it, if you try to talk about politics on the internet, you can probably expect to be attacked.
But I often see people share political content on Reddit and Twitter and it does well, regardless of the trolls. So why can't I do that?
I've spent much of the past month deconstructing my fears around participating in political discourse online. It's certainly not something I want to do. I like consuming high quality content produced by researchers and journalists. But I hate offering up my personal views, analysis, and character to be nitpicked by angry incels.
Regardless, this is the bed I've made. I've resisted it for so long, but in order to promote Fantasy Congress, I eventually have to talk about politics. And honestly, I hate that.
I'm not bringing this up to whine or complain. I just think, from time to time, it's important to point out the heavy dose of personal confrontation and discomfort that comes along with running a business. Confronting my feelings about promoting Fantasy Congress have made me question running it entirely. Which is kind of crazy considering I cared about this idea so much I dedicated all of my savings and three years of my life to it.
If you read a lot of sensationalized content about "quitting your job to follow your passion", know that even a business optimized for your enjoyment still comes with feelings of discontent.
And don't get me wrong, I'm still enjoying it. Just be careful not to conflate passion with "product-founder fit".
- Finish correcting issues with data collection
- Add pictures of the app to the public homepage
- Create a content marketing piece for Reddit
Even though I did a lot of work in February, I didn't feel like I got a lot done. So I want to keep my goals for March small and attainable.
I still have a lot to do on the data front. Every time I get deep in the weeds of government systems, I learn more about their caveats and inaccuracies. Accurate data is the cornerstone of Fantasy Congress, so it's really important to me to get this right.
And, once again, I'm going to attempt to make a content marketing piece for Reddit. It's going to be focused around data, because I have an abundance of it and hopefully that will attract less trolls. We'll see. At the very least, there's no harm in trying.
February 10th marked one full year of Fantasy Congress. Even though this month didn't go as planned, looking back one year ago reassures me that I'm still headed in the right direction. I've begun to think of my journey less like climbing a hill, and more like riding a wave. In February I came crashing down from a big one, and in March I'm paddling back out to catch the next.