At the very end of 2020, I wrote a blog post about my experience with TTRPG publishing for that year, which was my first one. Half of 2021 has gone through now, the pandemic still in place, though with vaccines and hopefully a light at the end of the tunnel.
I want to provide an update on how this first half of 2021 has happened at CZRPG. You can take your own conclusions and decide what would work or not for you based on what I present here.
When I started at the very end of February 2020, I didn’t know what to expect. By the end of the year, I saw a huge potential in this business. I then decided to set what I thought was were bold goals for 2021, but they actually weren’t that bold.
Content Warning: this post has information on financial results with amounts in USD.
I published my first paid product on February 29th and finished 2020 (a total of 10 months of business) with a revenue of roughly USD 5.000, which amazed me as I wasn’t expecting this. I also ended 2020 with 40 products under my name.
So I decided that I wanted to double that, setting the below goals:
- Revenue of USD 10.000 by the end of 2021
- A catalog of 80 products under my name by the end of 2021
2021 Results so far
This is what 2021 looks so far, as of June 28th:
- Total TTRPG Revenue: USD 10.002,08
- 167 products under my name
- 21 Metals total (including 2020)
- 1 Platinum
- 4 Golds (which will reach Platinum by EOY)
- 3 Electrum
- 5 Silver
- 8 Copper
- DMsGuild: USD 6.455,75
- DTRPG: USD 308,55
- Shard: USD 99,62
- Writing Flat-Rates: USD 593
- Cartography Flat-Rates: USD 2050
- Affiliate Sales: USD 423,16
In terms of products, what gave me this big boosts was the fact that I started to put out individual maps on DTRPG and Shard (same maps). So from these 167, some products are “duplicated” in two platforms.
I reached my catalog goal in April and my financial goal in June.
I’ll try to summarize what I think worked well, and didn’t so you can take insights from that. And I’ll reinforce this: every person has their own experiences. It’s very hard to replicate someone else’s situation. I haven’t tried to specifically replicate anyone’s strategy, but I did learn a lot from a bunch of different people and extracted pieces of what I think would work.
Hard Work. Too much.
I have a day job that consumes over 40h a week. On top of that, I work 20 to 25h a week on my TTRPG business, which became an LLC. I have to make some sacrifices to pull this off, and I don’t consider this a healthy path or one that I can stay on for too long. I have often sacrificed sleep, but I’m better now sleeping 7 to 8h per night once again. I do sacrifice some time with my family, which I shouldn’t do, but my wife understands it and my 5-year old daughter doesn’t that much, but I try to explain anyways. This is the heaviest part of this side-job. Finally, I sacrificed my video game time pretty much completely. Lately, all I do is pretty much work.
This year, because I’m working on a huge project called Chessenta’s Tyranny, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to write. So I employed a different strategy to keep the releases going. I started to invite writers and editors to work with me on different product lines. I’ve been acting as a publisher though on DMsGuild, they’re the actual publisher. But I do layout, art direction, cartography, publishing and marketing. Plus project management.
Financially, this hasn’t brought me that much revenue as most of it still comes from solo products. However it’s been a great experience for networking and I could increase my catalog and my metals too. Last month I analyzed my sales and found out that 87% of my revenue comes from solo projects.
Something that has contributed a lot for me to achieve my goal already in June was an increase in map commissions. Every month, I get one or more often than not, multiple commissions, which are a nice complement to the revenue from OBS. Which brings me to the next topic. Why OBS and not DMsGuild? Because since April, I’ve started to put individual maps on DTRPG and Shard, and I could already see the longtail and snowball effects taking place in three months. One of the best aspects of DTRPG is the email list from your customer you can access and communicate with. It’s a very powerful tool.
This year has been a bit different than 2020 as I’m writing much less than before, focusing more on layout, cartography, publishing and mapping. I’m very eager to put out this fully-fledged campaign module which is Chessenta’s Tyranny, but patience. It’ll come out this year.
I put out loads of products this year thanks to the collaboration of many, many amazing people I worked with thus far. I landed a lot of map commissions which complement my revenue.
And finally, the most important part: I do invest time in learning marketing (still intend to learn more) and putting the best practices I learn in action. You may have the best product out there, but if folks don’t know about it, chances are you won’t sell much.
Even though this is costing me a rather lot, I’m pretty happy with this experience and with this business, which is actually contributing to bring my family a better financial situation as we’ve been (still are are) in a tough spot.
Any questions, feel free to comment 🙂