2018 In Review

Hey, folks! Now… I don’t exactly have a board room full of suits to give a report to, and gods willing, I never will. (Blazers are welcome, but Chucks, jeans and your geek/band tee of choice are preferred.) But the people who I DO report to are you, my gobbies.

Not really, but in all honesty, I just want to make it a habit of being as transparent as possible. If I can do that while it’s just me, it’ll hold everyone else accountable in the future when we get bigger. Precedents are a big thing.

Printing

First of all, we did make all four issues this year, EVEN IF technically our Winter issue releases tomorrow, which puts it in 2019. Although shipping expenses will be counted towards next year’s expenses (and technically I have some shipping expenses and petty cash expenses to add into these numbers when I get home…) I have added up all of the printing costs for magazines, t-shirts, giveaways, promotions for follower achievements, blah blah blah. It’s a lot of stuff. So here’s the breakdown (I’ll do my best to translate):

KA-BLAM PRINTING (This is who we use to print the magazines themselves)
SPRING ISSUE
20180302 – 122.54 + 15.20 = 147.74
2018a x 11 @ 11.14 each (Urthwerks)
20180405 – 66.84 + 9.74 – 6.68 = 69.90
2018a x 6 @ 11.14 each
20180505 – 55.70 + 9.60 = 65.30
2018a x 5 @ 11.14 each

SUMMER ISSUE
20180609 – 20.10 – 2.01 + 8.47 = 26.56
2018b x 2 @ 10.05 each
20180827 – 80.40 + 22.91 = 103.31
2018b x 8 @ 10.05 each
20180905 – 111.50 + 24.87 = 136.37
2018b x 10 @ 10.05 each

FALL ISSUE
20181002 – 164.40 + 26.46 = 190.86
2018c x 20 @ 8.22 each

WINTER ISSUE
20181224 – 137.44 – 21.76 + 25.00 = 140.68
2019a x 16 @ 8.59 each

…Now, while I was in Cleveland, I was very broke, so you’ll notice some of these issues have two and three different orders attached to them, so I could at least get it ordered piece meal and get my Patreon orders out ASAP. The problem is, the cheapest shipping costs also take a whole month to get printed and shipped out, and I’m waiting for that first order to get printed and shipped before I can order more — this is a NIGHTMARE. As such, you’ll notice that fall issue was bought in one fell swoop, as was winter. For summer, I legitimately only bought two copies in the first order — one for me to carry with me on the plane to #AnimeExpo and one for the #DrakesDrawing box. Urthwerks is now in LA (as are we!) so now I could, concieveably, meet with her in person and save shipping. Nice in theory, but in reality, I’m just going to keep ordering her boxes separately, because the logistics of even that turned out to be a lot more trouble than I thought. I blame koi.

Also: there’s a 10% discount for return printers that I forget most of the time. Going to make sure I remember it, because that’s a good chunk of change. So the cost you see there is $printing – $discount + $shipping/handling = $total cost.

PRINTING
-$793.54 Total Printing
+$220.36 Promotions
+$ 33.38 Patreon
+$136.48 Goblins
-$403.32 General Printing

This is the breakdown of printing costs, broken down by purpose. I categorize any giveaways for following achievements and #DrakesDrawing giveaways as “promotions” here, while Patreon measures the issues I printed as a payout to Patreon supporters. Goblins get a free t-shirt and complimentary magazine to carry with them to events, conventions, or anywhere else they are up to mischief on behalf of me, their Terrifying Tyrant, so it just makes sense to keep them stocked with the latest goodies. They are also sent promotional flyers and things to help advertise, so it’s important to get people who will actually do good to be goblins. This is one of those things where I know it’ll be a loss, but a good goblin can be worth more than their weight in gold. I’m willing to invest in good people.

Sales

SALES
20180212 — $275 (2018a x 10) Urthwerks
20180618 — $205 (2018b x 10) Urthwerks
20181005 — $175 (2018c x 9) Urthwerks
20180505 — $30 (2018b x 2) Mac’s Backs

+$655 TOTAL SUBS
+$30 TOTAL VENDORS
+$685 TOTAL SALES!

…Sales are not great, you guys. Urthwerks has been a big boon to us, an angel investor of a kind, because for all of her 10-page spreads, she’s also a Patron and will buy copies for all of the models she includes in her spreads, so those sales have been keeping us afloat. I really need more subscribers, and I need vendors to push this. We had a local bookstore in Cleveland helping us out, but as soon as I left town she stopped answering my e-mails so… Yeah. I need partners, or this will keep being a complete loss.

PATREON
Pledges:
2018a $100
2018b $75.00
2018c $85.00
2019a $85.00

+$345.00 (Patreon Pledges)
-$26.92 (Patreon Fees)
-$33.38 (Printful Payouts)
+$284.70 Profits!

Patreon, on the other hand, is really working out. I have people come and go, but a Dragon Lord or Dragon Keeper here and there can help pay for the goblins and giveaways and keep things even. Problem is, I don’t have a lot of Patrons. I need to find more ways to make Patronage more attractive, so that’s a goal to work on.

Promotions

MISC. EXPENSES
-$217.72 VistaPrint *** business cards for myself and goblins, gift certificates
-$ 93.59 StickerYou *** 250 of those gorgeous label stickers!
-$225.00 HootSuite *** Automation for long-term social media content
-$ 64.64 AMC A-List *** Blake’s Dungeon Movie Club
-$ 57.73 Arcanist’s Kit *** NEW PRODUCT!!!
-$658.68 Total Cost!

PROMOTIONS
-$67.72 (Printful costs) *** t-shirts
-$207.18 (Ka-Blam costs) *** magazines
-$120.00 (#DrakesDrawing) *** misc. goodies
-$395 Total Cost!

So… I spend something like $50-65 on each of the #DrakesDrawing boxes. I didn’t do one for fall issue on account of the fact I’d just moved to LA and was literally eating nothing but ham and cheese sammiches on someone else’s dime, so I just couldn’t justify it. That being said, the #DrakesDrawing is a fantastic source of viral advertising, and seems to do well to spread the word, give some goodies, and get people invested in the company. A goal of mine is to get more content provided by partnerships so that the actual out-of-pocket cost of the box goes down, without compromising content. I’ve been a subscriber to Loot Crate before, and the thing that really bothers me is that it’s usually a box full of branded crap and if you’re lucky, or or two items in there will be worth purchasing. That bothers me. Not only does it look cheap, but if there’s nothing in your box worth getting, why would people be interested in signing up for it? A lot of people tell me $50 is a lot to put into a giveaway, but honestly, I’d love to afford more. I want to get to the point where I’m giving away a tablet with a geeky cover and some new apps and games, or new films or books, pre-released straight from the authors. I want CD albums and exclusive merch! I want this to be something that EXCITES PEOPLE, because that’s the point of it, right? As of now, I do my best to include a coffee mug, a set of dice, and a Pop! doll in each box, related to the theme. The end goal is to make Blake’s Dungeon a real place, a gaming dungeon/cafe, so it just makes sense to make those staples. Last summer’s box had a stack of #FreeComicBookDay comics in it, and this one has a graphic novel from DC Comics — this is the kind of thing I want to keep doing. I also want to have music and art from artists in our demographic, and I want to promote the heck out of small business owners — you’ll notice every box has stuff from Etsy in it. I use Etsy, I sell on Etsy, I love Etsy — this is a way to support entrepreneurs here in America, and it’s one of the ways I give back. I want you to feel good about these things. I want you to feel like you won something worth winning, something to be proud of, not passed off a box of junk and treated like just another customer. I don’t like that shit, and I don’t want you to have to deal with it.

HootSuite is… a racket. Ha! Not for everyone, mind you, but for me — I have the free version usually, which is 30 posts worth of content. If I can manage to get past two weeks ahead of time, then that’s an issue. I do try to get ahead of things before that, but realistically, I just don’t have the time to sit and do it. Maybe when I have a staffer who can do that kind of thing, maybe. I tried it earlier this year, and it just wasn’t working out for me. But I did get the Pro version (for $45/mo?!) for November and December, because I wanted to have the daily NaNoWriMo word counts and the Doctor Who advent calendar. I still ended up running behind, so I still don’t think it’s worth it, but I did try. The AMC’s A-List is me trying to be efficient with my money — I live in Burbank now, and there’s literally three different movie theaters within walking distance of my house. In the same direction. Right next to each other. I’m not kidding. A-List is $19.99/mo for 3 films/week, including the IMAX and 3-D versions (Venom in IMAX was $27 by itself!!!), so I can save a lot of money and still host a Movie Club every weekend if I so desired! This has been a bit hit and miss (as is anything in LA), but for such a low price, I am going to keep it going — this is a way to network with the local geeks and try to get people interested in what we’re doing, and hopefully find some local partners! Plus, I get to write off my ticket to Bohemian Rhapsody as a work expense, so that’s pretty damn cool.

So… Now we have gift certificates for gifting subscriptions as well as amazing, badass stickers, which were two things I wanted to get done, so I accomplished those this year. The stickers should last a good long while, and the certificates are not very expensive to restock. And they’re SO HANDSOME, MY GOODNESS. You should buy one and see…

GOBLINS
-$152.12 (Printful costs)
-$136.48 (Ka-Blam costs)
-$288.60 Total Cost!

…I have a good half dozen goblins now. Including a couple online influencers and repeat contributors. They’re one of those ‘hard to quantify’ expenses that I nevertheless keep around because reasons. It’s kind of like fishing.

Website Maintenance

WEEBLY
-$399.00 Shop Fee
-$ 59.90 Domain Name
+$ 89.99 Sales
-$ 39.62 (Printful costs)
-$408.53 Total Cost!

…Okay, this bugs me. Firstly, domain name is $29.95 a year. I can deal with that, but they wanted to charge me at the beginning of December even though it expires mid-January, and got my SSL security screwed up! I was down for a week, I was so mad. And the Shop Fee — the upgrade so that my website can host a shop is $39.99 a month! A MONTH! It’s $300/year, you guys. If I had the cash, I intend to just get the year, because this is STUPID. I hate losing an extra $120 a year just because I don’t have that kind of income. I’m going to get a month where I did really good and just… do it. So I don’t have to worry about it anymore, because it makes me crazy. If I can get a successful KickStarter, that’s legitimately going to be one of my goals. Problem is, I don’t have enough of a newsletter list to make a KickStarter worth running, so we need to work on that, too. We don’t make a lot of sales through the BlakesDungeon.com website, which is frustrating. I make a lot of passive income on my Etsy shop with the same patterns, but I only put up discounts and coupon codes for BD — I would like to see more sales here. I don’t know if it’s my shop design that needs help or…? I need to figure out a way to convert clicks into sales, because we need more income than we have.

The Breakdown

Income
+$284.70 Patreon profits
+$685.00 Total Sales
+$969.70 TOTAL INCOME

Expenses
-$394.95 Promotions
-$288.60 Goblins
-$403.32 Ka-Blam! Printing
-$408.53 Website Maintenance
-$658.68 Misc. Expenses
-$2154.08 TOTAL EXPENSES

-$1184.38 TOTAL LOSS

So… That’s the breakdown. Considering this is our third year, getting back half of our money is not bad. Patreon and magazine sales themselves are profitable, but not after website maintenance, promotions, goblins and building. But I did invest in an “arcanist’s kit” to get some potion bottles made up for sale — I’m hoping little things like that will help boost profits with resale value, and when I get more established in a new cave, I’ll get back to making dice bags, so we can sell those online, too.

Things To Work On…

Moderate goblins
Get more partnerships to fill #DrakesDrawing boxes
Get more Patrons (make Patronage more attractive)
Get more vendors/subscribers
Get more website sales
Be proactive on website maintenance
Increase profit margin

…So that’s the run down. We’ve also been working on the viral advertising, and so far our social media followers stand at:

Twitter: 1,076 followers — wait, what?! When did that happen?! We were at 250 earlier this year!
Instagram: 286 followers
Facebook: 227 likes
Tumblr: 27 followers — wah wah wah waaaaah.

…HA. Tumblr is dead, you guys. But you already knew. I’m on Twitter a lot, in case you couldn’t tell.

SO YEAH. That’s the skinny! We’ll look at the numbers here when 2019 closes, and see how we did!

~Blake the Drake

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