Friday, April 30, 2010

How much money would it take to make a free?

Continuing on with my Free theme, I wanted to break down what it would cost to do something like this for a month. So let’s get started, first off webspace.  

Let’s assume you have a website already built and let us say you are paying $20 month (I know this is high but we are just estimating here so just go with it). Let say you are going to have this run for at least three months so the total is $60. For this little experiment, we are going to ASSUME that you will do all the HTML coding on the website too.

Next, how many days will we update? I think a Monday through Friday schedule is reasonable so we are going to estimate 22 updates per month (Math Breakdown: 5 times a week times 4.3 weeks in a month =  21.5 and round up).  Now we move on to per day word count.  Well if it is too long no one will read it online, if to short it will not cover the encounter properly, plus the real issue is stat blocks can eat up a lot of text.  Let me handle the stat block issue first with the use of the use of the online Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Reference Document. Since we are on the web we can tell what monster they are fight and link the stats of them to Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Reference Document. Problem solved and no increase in word count needed. I estimate 500 to 700 words per encounter will cover what we need daily. For the month we will need 11,000 to 15,400 words. Since we are keeping this budget tight let set writing to 1 cent a word for a total of $100 to $154 per month. Let expand that for three months and now we get $300 to $453. Let’s just say $460 for three months and be safe. Now the total price is up to $520. 

Next, artwork. This one is easy, STOCK ART!!!! Hit up and get a few collections of stock art.  I would not spend more than $50 for stock art.  That should get you several different ones and be more than enough (Let me suggest LPJ Design's Image Portfolio of stock art if you need somewhere to start).  So now that brings your total to $570.

Also with artwork, you might need maps for the dungeon your visitors are exploring.  That one can be handled with a pen and some graph paper.  If you don’t think you can handle this because you can’t draw straight line, get a ruler. Writing, art, website, stat blocks and maps.  That looks like you have covered everything important that you will need in the first three months for a grand total of $570 or $190 a month. At a cost of spending only $190 a month you could have your own  type website. 

Now this sounds like a great idea to do, but then you realize doing this website would break my Number #1 business rule: DON’T LOSE MONEY!!!!

So what do you do to not lose money? You find a way to turn this site into one that makes money for you.  A lot of you are saying and thinking the easy way, “Then why don’t I just have subscriptions?” You could and you would have to direct compete with some in the market who already dominates that space. Think of it as trying to sell your own MP3 player in a market which Mac and the iPod already control.  How successful do you think you will be?

But if you are free, at least you can get the people to come by and check you out.  There is no “friction” to stop them from examining your site to see if they like it. This could be your important selling point.  Imagine this as your marketing: It’s just like, BUT FREE! How do you depend against free?  Now how do you make money having a free site?  Just follow the webcomic model:  Everything on the site is for sell.  You sell ad space on the site (See Kobold Magazine for this). You direct sell items and products to customers that can get anywhere (exclusive versions of products). You give away digital wallpaper with donations to the site (Girls with Slingshots does this VERY well).  Be inventive!  Think of it this way, are you going to let $190 ($6.23 a day) is keeping you from being a RPG Publishing Superstar?  So get to work.  Talk to you later...