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Patronage and Donations


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#1 Hal

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 07:53 AM

Good morning folks,

I have been balancing numbers over last week and the weekend as we have been losing quite a few Patrons recently. The donations to the site have also been less than frisky in the past few months.

I was wanting to start an open conversation about what needs to be done to get things moving again. Or if, perhaps that site has run its course.

I always said that if I ended up having to pay a great deal for the site that I would just take it down and we have run successfully since 2004 on that premise.

So, why are Patrons leaving? Is it because all releases currently get sent to the Main Site rather than Patrons first? Is there some benefit Patrons would like to see to help retain them?

I would hate to have to pull more audio behind the wall just to get some Patrons back.

Perhaps it is just a sign of the economic times and the Patrons who are leaving simply can't afford to continue their support.

I love running this site. I have awesome things planned very soon, but I have concerns that we are not going to get there.

I'm sorry to bring this up so close to Christmas, but this isn't just my personal website. I feel that we have a great community here and perhaps I need to concentrate some more on it to breath some life back into it. Or maybe I just need to let it die.

What think you?

Hal :hal:
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#2 kendoyle659

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:23 AM

I am happy to donate and pay as a patron but I think that possibly the tiered release does give a bit more impetus to get people listening. It may also be that some of the audio has died off a little. I really don't want the site to disappear so I hope that the numbers balance.
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#3 ThistledownJohn

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:33 AM

I would hate to see the site go away...that would be sad! :cry:

I don't have a good insight into why patrons have dropped off. I do know that we Thistledown folk have not contributed much audio of late, so I think we need to step up our efforts. I'm guessing that more audio would equal more patrons. (Not from us in particular, from more contributors as a whole, I mean) :)

Maybe all of us that care about the site should become RPGMP3 evangelists. We should spread the word. Facebook, G+, and Twitter should be awash in RPGMP3 links from all of us listeners! :D
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#4 MelkiorWhiteblade

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:41 AM

Hi Mr. Hal,

Quite a sobering message. I know I'm not a patron but I've always wanted to be one, but financially that has been quite difficult, and I've made donations when I can, which is far less often than I would like.

I know for me I'd be sad to see the site go.

I'd hope there would be other options available, such as google hangouts/communities, and facebook to maybe fill the void.
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#5 Hal

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:58 AM

I ask all Patrons who cancel to let me know why and the great majority are doing it for financial reasons. They can't justify the expense any more. It isn't that the content is bad or the forums have been mean to them.

Some do come back. I guess it is a sign of the times. We are just going to have to fight a little harder. We have a MASSIVE amount of gaming content here and we are still a pretty minor concern in the gaming landscape.

Thing and I are working to rectify some of the issues with the site and hopefully we will see some new stuff coming out in the next few weeks that will help give us a solid foundation to build on.

On the issue of the audio going to Patrons first I was finding it was a double-edged sword. On the one hand it is a great incentive to get Patrons assuming they like the idea of the benefit. On the other hand, Patrons tend to be the most talkative members of the forums and by giving them the audio early we have set up a system where the games get talked about in the Patons Area and then when it gets released to the Main Site there is not much talk at all.

I am going to try and restructure the forums some to try and get things focused. I would like to see more chat and more community (like we used to have) but I see a lot of that has been washed off into the realms of social media. Forums seem a little archaic now :)

I like that this post has sparked some chat... :P

Hal :hal:
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#6 thad

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 12:18 PM

I'm just going to throw this idea out there, because it's one I've had for a while. However, I'm thinking it would have been easier long ago when people were on the same continent...

Given the large connections between RPGMP3 and Yog-Sothoth... is there anyway you guys could jump on the same server and share costs? I think you both have huge servers now each, so that woudl make things easier.
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#7 Hal

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 03:09 PM

We have never specifically explored that option but we do speak often about site structure and issues we are both facing keeping things moving.

The biggest limiting factor from the RPGMP3 side is that need for a huge amount of disc space to hold all the files :)

Hal :hal:
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#8 Guest__*

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 03:32 PM

How about holding the newest material on the site and put the "archive" on rotation. A bit like Disney does with its DVDs. Would that help with costs? Might also help focus the chat on the forums.
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#9 LightPagoda

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 06:50 PM

New audio rolling into a patron only archive after a period of time like Yog might be an idea. Patron only "audience" involvement like with the Bag Ringworld game or like the skype games Ross from RPPR has put up as kickstarter rewards in the past might get some interest. A bigger chance to feel involved and invested. I was considering putting what game my group plays after our current one up here to see what people wanted to listen to.
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#10 LightPagoda

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 07:53 PM

Had a few more thoughts on my way to get dinner. I dont know what the numbers on itunes subscribers/forum downloaders are like but Gamers Haven managed to get sponsors for some of their podcasts. I would be fine putting audio ads in if there is enough listeners to attract sponsor. There is always the possibility of targeting games. Seeing if Paizo might throw a little money RPGMP3 way to highlight it's 'audio review' of shattered star for example.
I am a fan of webcomics as well as actual play podcasts, and they have some similar monetization issues. With webcomics the two biggest things I hear repeated as required to draw an audience is quality and consistency. Update frequency has dropped lately. As a contributor I share blame there, what with the Monster Hunter game having been recorded almost exactly this time last year. A more rigorously kept update schedule might help keep listeners, after which the challenge is to convert them to Patrons.
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#11 Keener

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 09:13 PM

As a patron I was never in it for getting the releases early, though that was always a nice benefit. What I really liked was there for a long time seemed to be a consistent release schedule audio files. That is what I am missing. I really like that we would get a Texans on Monday, a BAG on Wednesday and a WHG on Friday. I understand that does take some work but it definitely helps in maintaining people. At this time it has been quite awhile since we have had any BAGs or WHG episodes and that is very sad (for me at least). It doesn't make me want to stop being a patron but it does make disappointed sometimes. I would really like to help and I think that if the load could be shared the release schedule could be more consistent. I have no problem volunteering for that sort of duty. I am sure that there are others that would also be happy to help out. I hope that anything I have said doesn't hurt anyone's feelings it is only my thoughts.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to PM me.
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#12 Salubrai

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 10:28 PM

While I myself am not capable of doing this, I think that getting a fresh infusion of new users would be useful. To that end, I think there needs to be some cross promotion on similar websites. While we can do that with the existing friends we have, I think it's necessary to go out there and beat the bushes of it to get new people to cross promote

Advertising is not as effective as it should be, and the best way to get new listeners is to cross promote and also mention the forums on every single new audio. Any users with contacts to other podcasts that might be willing to mention RPG MP3 should do so. Simply put, the more users we have here, the more lively this site will be and the more donations that will come in. If we get 100 new users and only five of them sign up, that's still five new patrons
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#13 Isis

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 03:36 AM

I don't know about other Patrons but I've been put off using the site much recently by the serious amounts of spam that seem to keep hitting it.

I like the idea of a Patron-only archive, also any extra stuff could be Patron-only (no idea what, one-off games by the regular groups maybe?)

I think unfortunately the forums are less used as people download the audio via the direct feeds now (I still have no idea how that works :D ) so there's naturally less discussion about a game. It would make sense to only have the one forum for each audio discussion so chatter could all be in one place, although I think the patrons should still get the audio releases early. Ok, non-patrons would moan about spoilers before they get to hear the game, but perhaps it might entice some of them to join the patron club :).

I had considered dropping my Patronage recently as I'm currently unemployed and money is tight, and I rarely actually download any of the audios anymore (nothing against any of the groups, I just haven't had the time), but the monthly Patron amount for here and Yog-Sothoth is so low, barely more than an over-priced coffee with all the sprinkles, that I'm quite happy to keep donating to keep this site going. For now, anyway.

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#14 Hal

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 09:33 AM

Isis,

Thing and I are working changes that should hopefully rectify the majority of the spam issues... it is very annoying for us too :(

I would like some kind of Patron / Main Site model that encourages Patrons but does not isolate other site user (who perhaps would like to pay but are unable). I'm guessing that is why I will never make it in the cut throat world of business :P

I am looking at methods to allow the Patrons to start with an audio file and then open both the file and the forum they are talking on to the main site so they can join in the conversation.

Isis is also correct in what she says about the feeds. They are a massive convenience for users but also mean that there are less visitors. I wonder about delaying the releases to the feeds to try and get people to come and call by.... Thoughts?

I also agree that we need to look at establishing the regularly release schedule again and make it public. It worked really well while we had it.

On the BAG front, they have Patron version uploads but they have yet to upload anything for Main Site. I have not had time to manually move the stuff over on the server side but I am hoping Steve will fire some of their stuff over shortly. There must be quite a few things to release :)

WHG is currently having a break as I understand it (though they would be able to clarify that more most likely). I hope for a mighty and triumphant return as well because I miss them...

I also have some other contributor groups that I have yet to add to the site. I was hoping to wait until we had finished with the updates as it is going to effect how the Contributors interact with the upload form and site.

So, what model of Main Site / Patrons do we think might work?

Hal :hal:
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#15 MelkiorWhiteblade

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 10:13 AM

I think a forum early release makes the most sense, both for patrons and non-patrons. A one week delay might be too long, but it does drive traffic to the actual site, gives an opportunity to post donation links, etc.

Can you move a forum thread from a patron area to a non-patron area? That's both a technical question and a possible suggestion.
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#16 kendoyle659

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 10:30 AM

If logistically possible an early release before the feeds would probably work in increasing site traffic. Possibly also the odd audio bumper to promote the site in the feeds
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#17 BigJackBrass

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 11:26 AM

WHG is currently having a break as I understand it (though they would be able to clarify that more most likely). I hope for a mighty and triumphant return as well because I miss them...


Well, never say never ;)
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#18 PrestoJeff

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 01:39 PM

Although the Gaming Grunts is nowhere near the size or popularity of RPGMP3 or YSDC, perhaps I can express some opinions of a fellow gamer, podcaster, and independent content hoster.

I pay about USD $120 per year to Dreamhost. I get "unlimited" disk space, and "unlimited" bandwidth. That's probably not 100% accurate, but I've never been contacted for excessive usage of either, even when a bot downloaded 3000 copies of one episode of Masks.

I don't know how RPGMP3 and YSDC are set up (I get the impression they are both home-built and to a certain extent home-hosted), but I really wonder if they couldn't be run more cheaply by paying a hosting provider. Note that this is not a criticism -- I'm an ex-sysadmin and ex-network admin, so I know how hard it can be to set stuff up. But this thread is talking about how to get more Patrons to subscribe, and one of the questions you HAVE to ask is, can I reduce costs instead of trying to raise revenue?

I'll admit I'm NOT a Patron. I suspect my reasons for not doing so have changed over time. I think I echo what others have said regarding regularity of releases. I'm also not a fan of every group in the Community, so I think there's a bit of "why would I pay for them?" mentality.

I'll also put in a plea for more releases from Hal + Lindsay. They are the core of RPGMP3 and I enjoy listening to them the most.
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#19 PrestoJeff

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 01:46 PM

Here are some suggestions that might possibly increase Patronage subscriptions:

Physical benefits besides early releases. YSDC might be an example to follow (they have Patron-only raffles, but they also seem to be going down the e-merchant route (Innsmouth House), Hal and Lindsday might not have the time or desire to do this).

Improved audio-quality releases. I really cringe at the audio quality of some of the Community groups. Any kind of improvement that Hal could do to make the audio sound better would be worth paying for.
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#20 Keener

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 05:17 PM

I like the idea of a delayed release, but I also do all my downloading directly from the site so it would not effect me.

Other then that I appreciate that you have brought this to us Hal for our input. One of the best things about this site is the community. Even if it can be a little pervy. :D
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