My priorities regarding Fantasy Congress are changing. I'm thinking about discontinuing my retrospectives and trying a more "traditional" approach to blogging.
May & June Synopsis
May revenue $376
June revenue $319
1 new customer
As things begin to open up again and the pandemic (hopefully) comes to an end, life has gotten busy. I haven't spent a lot of time working on Fantasy Congress, and the effects are obvious: Lots of churn, hardly no new customers, and revenue has tanked.
I had plans to continue marketing Fantasy Congress this summer, but couldn't bring myself to follow through. Content marketing sucks all the joy out of Fantasy Congress for me. I'm past the point of trying to fight it, and chose to accepted it. If I want to use content marketing for Fantasy Congress, I need to hire it out to someone else.
Unfortunately SEO, the one form of marketing that was kind of working for me, has also tanked.
Last spring I created public profiles for each legislator, hoping to use the immense amount of data I collect about Congress for long tail keyword searches. This worked for almost a year, and some of the profiles started to get visitors from Google. Then, in April, Google mysteriously stopped indexing my profiles.
The status "Crawled - currently not indexed" tells me that Google is aware of each profile page, but chose not to include them in search results. And their documentation doesn't give me any information as to why this might be happening.
Luckily, around the time I noticed this, Monica Lent sent out a great piece about programmatic SEO in her Blogging for Devs newsletter. I reached out and she sent me some great tips for correcting this problem, which likely stems from the lack of index-able content the pages currently hold. In layman's terms: they need more readable text.
I always planned on expanding these pages, and much of Monica's advice coincides with those plans. Now, I just need to prioritize taking the time to do it.
Looking towards the future
I enjoy writing retrospectives, but I'm not sure they're really serving me anymore.
In May I got another part-time gig. Now that I have steady income again, the need for Fantasy Congress to be ramen profitable feels less urgent.
Without that urgency, my work feels kind of aimless. But in a good way! I feel like I have time to experiment and polish things again. My priorities feel messy and unfocused, so I've just been chipping away at the things I enjoy.
The retrospective format is great when you have a clear, tangible goal you're working towards. For me, that goal used to be "grow Fantasy Congress to ramen profitability". But after surviving a year of lock down and three tumultuous years of financial instability, the only goal at the forefront of my mind is "relax and enjoy life".
I still want to grow Fantasy Congress, and I still want to work towards financial independence. But I wonder if these two are still intertwined for me.
Now that I'm more experienced, I realize Fantasy Congress is a very difficult business to get off the ground. Which is why others have tried and given up on it before.
Making a profit off of games is difficult. The education industry is difficult. And there isn't an existing market that really applies to Fantasy Congress, so I have to create my own.
Moreover, I realize now that starting a business means you have to immerse yourself in the industry you're in. If I was really serious about Fantasy Congress, my entire life would revolve around politics. And even though I find politics and government interesting, I don't want to make it the center of my life.
The way I look at Fantasy Congress is changing. It's less of a potential lifestyle business, and more of a passion project now. I still want to work towards profitability, because I care about Fantasy Congress being sustainable and sticking around for years to come. But it no longer has to be profitable, in my mind, to justify working on it.
So, for the time being, I'm going to pause my monthly retrospectives. Without that sense of urgency to grow month over month, I feel like my posts will be pretty boring. Instead, I'd like to focus on more "traditional" blog posts. Like, talking about how I implemented a particular feature or how I solved an interesting problem.
I'm also keeping my eyes peeled for new ventures. Part of me thinks that solving my own problems with Fantasy Congress might lead to a by-product other businesses would be interested in. I have a few ideas.
As one chapter comes to a close, another one begins. Looking forward to what the next leg of my journey has in store!