Thursday, April 29, 2010

What if Monte Cook's Dungeonaday.com was Free?

When I first heard about how Monte Cook created his Dungeonaday.com website I thought it was a great money making idea.  For Monte he would be able to create great exclusive daily content for those that were subscribers.  It was a great way for Monte to build a unique fanbase for his writing.  Best of all for Monte it created some regular monthly cashflow for his business.  Everything about it was a "Win - Win".  I liked the idea so much that I wanted to to something like it for my business.  I thought about what I would do, how I would build it, how I would develop it, how much I would charge subscribers, and all the stuff like that.  I kept going over and over this whole idea and two things kept popping up as issues:

  1. The price to charge subscribers and 
  2. How much money could the site really generate. 

Question #1 was directly dependent on question #2 and ice versa. So after all the thinking back and forth, I thought what if I did the exactly same thing as Monte Cook, but instead of charging subscribers we gave it away for free and generate money like the webcomics business model?

Webcomics.com (originally for free) now charges for the premium content they create on their site. Basically all the information that they were giving away for free originally could be found in their book, How to create Webcomics. When they were giving away the content for free many people kept asking those same questions OVER and OVER.  When the content was premium, the message of what they did and how they did it charged.  It became more specific. It was community building. It was tribe building. When it was free, it was quick entertainment that people could take or leave at no cost to themselves.  Now with their subscription wall of $30 (I must say this was the best $30 I have spend to acquire some great business ideas and knowledge) they can't just give you the same old stuff you could read in any book, you paid for premium content, they have to give it to you. Like Dungeonaday.com.

The content at Dungeonaday.com and Webcomics.com is an 8 to 9 on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best and 1 being the worst, of course) and people are paying for that level of quality.  But when it is free, you have to find a way to make up for the cost of creating 8 to 9 level  of content with out being able to depend on subscribers.  And how is that done?  The way I see are reducing the physical format (Both Dungeonaday.com and Webcomics.com are in digital only formats), level of quality of the item (Webcomics in general normally four panel or one page daily comic strips, while standard comic books are monthly 23 pages in length) and getting advertisers to generate the monies that the subscribers normally would.  So if Dungeoneaday.com went to a free model, would the quality go down to save time and money? Or could the large number of new people coming to the site to see what new thing was released be enough to generate income in the way of advertising to offset the cost of doing it? There are people who do it Brad Guiger with Evil Inc., Dave Kellett wit Sheldon, Kris Straub with Starslip and Scott Kurtz with PvP and have done it for years.  The only question you have to ask is could you do it with RPGs? I think I might have to find the answer to this question.  Talk to you later...