Straight to the point: 2022 is the make or break year for The Thoughtful Gamer and I need help if this site is going to continue. The reality is that all of this site’s numbers, both monetarily and in page views, have plateaued for the last two years. Perhaps the pandemic is to blame, but I’ve heard that board game sales are great, and board game media doesn’t seem to be struggling generally.
I think I’m just bad at marketing. Like, I knew I was bad at marketing but I’m starting to think that I’m really, REALLY bad at it. It makes me deeply uncomfortable to ask for money, but it’s something I’ve got to do. What I will never do is compromise by adopting tactics I think make our community worse. I believe that it’s possible to market this site effectively without compromising, but I don’t quite know what that looks like.
I had hoped for a long time that if I simply got better at writing and started producing things more consistently the numbers would follow. I dedicated myself to that this year, and I really believe I’ve improved in both aspects, but the numbers haven’t followed. So, this post is a way to let everyone know that if this site is going to continue as it has been next year, something needs to change, and I’m open to all sorts of ideas. First, here are some things you can do to help.
Share this post. Yeah, yeah, it gets said all the time on every bit of internet content, but it’s true that the difference between this post being seen by 200 people and 5000 people can be as little as a few social media shares that compound upon each other.
Support Financially. If a tiny, tiny fraction of the people who visit the site pledged a mere $2/month on Patreon, I’d hit my largest goal immediately. I also take one time donations through ko-fi, or if you want a cool TTG t-shirt you can get one on redbubble.
Hire me or advertise. If you’re a publisher or designer, you can advertise on the podcast. I go with market rates and it’s actually quite cheap given how targeted it is. I also offer voiceover services. I’ve been told a number of times that I have a good voice and I’ve done a bit of freelance VO work in the past. I’ll happily do your promo video.
Those are three easy ways to help me keep going, financially. But after a lot of thought I realized that I’m also open to much more dramatic changes and partnerships if it means that The Thoughtful Gamer can be more successful without compromise. I’ve been hesitant to reach out for help in this manner before, only because I know I can’t afford to pay people upfront (because I don’t even make money on it). But I’m willing to put in a lot of effort to grow rapidly, and if someone wants to join in on that, I’d love the help. Again, I don’t know what the optimal shape of what such a partnership would look like, but here are some hypotheticals:
Revenue-sharing partnership. If one of you thinks you can fill in the gaps where I am weakest, or want to contribute regularly to the site, I am absolutely willing to consider an agreement where we split patreon/ad/merch revenue to partner up and try to improve and expand The Thoughtful Gamer. I’m willing to make that split quite generous as I know it’s a risk for someone coming on board. Pitch me ideas!
Conglomeration. I would also be open to operating The Thoughtful Gamer under a larger banner, working with and alongside other board game media people, understanding that we can make a larger impact together than separately.
Subsumption. You know, every time board game media becomes a talking point, someone laments that there’s not “professional journalism” in the hobby. Why not? If someone wanted to invest in a board game focused media outlet, and they wanted to hire me to assist, I would very strongly consider it. I have no particular attachment to The Thoughtful Gamer as a brand. It’s a means to an end, of being able to share my thoughts about board games. If there’s a better, more financially sustainable way for me to do that, I’m on board.
There you go. I’m open to any and all ideas for how to continue to write about board games and improve my craft. If you have any, send them to me at email@example.com As I said before, I find all of this deeply uncomfortable, but I have to take risks now or I’m essentially giving up. I don’t want to give up. I think I’m just now getting to the point where I’m getting better at conveying my thoughts through language. If you have enjoyed The Thoughtful Gamer, now is the time to take action to help keep it going (even if that’s just sharing this on social media). If you’re ambivalent about it, that’s fine too. The response to this and what I do over the next few months will tell me a lot. If, in a few months, this site turns into an archive with some occasional new musings when I have the time, I’m alright with that. At least I gave it a good effort and learned a lot along the way.