For the first time ever, I hit over $1k of revenue in one month! I dabbled in lots of different marketing efforts, but Facebook is still my highest performer. Even though I had a spectacular month, I'm wondering what to do next.
- $1,196 total revenue
- 18 new customers
- 5 churns
- $550 MRR
- Didn't track my hours
Hitting $1k in a single month was a big milestone for me. It's not $1k MRR, and it's not enough to live off of, but the fact that Fantasy Congress can make $1k in a single month reassures me this idea is still valid. I took some time to crunch the numbers and assess how exactly this happened.
Most of my September goals didn't work out. Originally I planned to test ads on YouTube and Twitter. But after some research, I decided against it. It seems YouTube ads are effective for raising awareness but rarely convert. Twitter seems to have a similar issue, and research suggested content marketing on twitter was more effective than ads. I've been eager to build Fantasy Congress's twitter and spent a week testing out different ideas. But I ran into the same issue I've had with most of my marketing efforts: its a lot of work. I didn't feel I had the time and energy to post consistently. And as I understand it, consistency is key to success on social media. So September ended with little to show from either of these channels.
I had also planned to reach out to reporters again and create a content marketing piece for Reddit. These too didn't work out. While creating my Reddit piece, I discovered some of my data was incomplete and I had a couple of bugs in my data collection process. This shook my confidence a little, and I chose to focus on fixing bugs instead of finishing the piece. Likewise with reporters, I gathered the contact info for about 50 journalists before I got cold feet and decided not to follow through. I got in my head questioning if Fantasy Congress was good enough or deserving enough of media attention, and convinced myself it would be a waste of time.
I did, however, execute on my plans for Facebook. In total I spent $435.90 on Facebook ads in September which resulted in 2 educator purchases ($78 per purchase) and 3 recreational player sign ups ($93 per purchase). But this is according to Facebook Ads Manager. In reality I think most of my 18 sign ups were a result of these ads. Facebook and Twitter were the only places I did any kind of outreach in September, and 88% of my social traffic came from Facebook. Direct and organic search traffic also increased in September. But I haven't noticed any new pages ranking highly or getting a bunch of clicks in Google search console, so I can't help but conclude the overall increase in traffic was also a result of Facebook ads.
But how do I determine if these ads are profitable? I know one educator purchase came from a post I made in a Facebook group, so if I attribute the 5 other purchases to ads, that's an average profit of $107.81 for each purchase. Applying similar logic to the revenue I've made off of recreational players (using only those who have converted), I lost $6.45 on each recreational sign up. However, I calculated the Life Time Value of recreational subscribers for the year so far ($32.20, yeah I know, not great), and if you compare what I spent to each subscribers LTV, I estimate making an eventual profit of $6.75 off the ads.
So...I guess they're working? By the end of September, I had run a couple of ad experiments for each customer segment. Using what I know, I'll likely hone in on the best performing ads/audiences from those experiments and continue to run ads through October. I figure even if this isn't as profitable as I hope, ads still help raise awareness that Fantasy Congress exists.
- Launch news mentions
- Make money?
So now I've come to an interesting cross roads. When my contract job fizzled out at the end of June, I chose to go all in on Fantasy Congress again and see if I could make it ramen profitable before my savings ran out. As it stands, my savings will be depleted by the end of November (though there's a lot of grey area there between credit cards and leaning on my partner, which I do a lot of, he's a saint). Can I double $1.1k in October? Or should I put Fantasy Congress on "maintenance mode" and pursue something else with the time I have left?
Looking at this year so far, doubling revenue and reaching $1.5k - $2k profit to pay myself doesn't feel doable by November. And honestly, I don't think I want Fantasy Congress to grow that fast. People comment awful things on the Facebook ads and I hate moderating them. And so much of the website and app need to be optimized. I'm not just talking about the technical side of things. I'm talking about improving the sales funnel, on-boarding process, pricing, figuring out how to decrease churn... Basically, what good is going all in on advertising if you haven't found product market fit?
I plan to release one more feature in October (which I actually completed on Sunday): points for members of Congress when they are mentioned in the news. I've gotten quite a bit of feedback about incorporating the news into Fantasy Congress, as well as feedback that the game is a big let down when Congress isn't in session. Hopefully, news mentions will address both of these. I'll keep running a small amount of Facebook ads, but after that? I think my next course of action is to try something else. Is it a SaaS? Is it a service based business? No idea. Haven't decided yet. But I need to find a way to support myself that allows space for Fantasy Congress's slow and steady growth.
Fantasy Congress is still my passion, but it's time for a break. Part of me feels like I'm talking myself out of success, but the other half is ecstatic to try something new. I've learned so. damn. much. from building Fantasy Congress over the past two and a half years. Looking forward to a blank canvas that I can practice some of my new skills on. My next retrospective is sure to be interesting!