DMs Guild How to Spend A Lot of Time Not Making Money

Zaukrie

New Publisher
This may or may not interest people.....I've spent the last 18 months dabbling on DMs Guild. I have 17 products there. Admittedly, I started late, and don't have a following....I've spent hours on each product, sometimes days (or weeks). I have all of five I should have spent time on. Hopefully, after tomorrow, I have 6.....

I think there are two big issues for me:
1. I started just two years ago. By then, A LOT of people had names / brands.
2. I don't have any sort of following. I've tried YouTube (I have one video with a TON of views and several with over 200), and a blog (where I give away content). I post on Twitter and FB and sometimes here. And yet, no following.

A third issue is likely art, but I'm in no position to pay for art.

I have a whopping 1800 dollars, give or take, to show for my efforts, which has been good at funding my game purchases, but not much else (other than some joy, but not enough). I have 5 or so PDFs I'd like to kickstart someday, but I don't know if I can attract the numbers I'd want to make it worth it (mostly for art and editing). This includes an crazy PDF with dozens (or hundreds if you count combos and options) of initiative systems (some of which you'd be insane to use).

Perhaps the biggest issue with this work is that it distracts me from working on my fiction, which, let's face it, might not be worth my time (monetarily, I do enjoy writing) either.

Anyway, the point of this? You aren't likely going to make money doing DMsGuild work without a name, following, or much better luck than I. If you do decide to start, let me know. I'm happy to offer what little help I can.

Mike
 

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gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
Well since I have yet to release a D&D 5e product, even though I am working on one now, I cannot say much about the DM's Guild, however, owned by the same company is DrivethruRPG, which I've been a publisher since 2010, and have made many thousands of dollars over that time. Of course unlike most publishers who begin as author/game designers, which I have skills in as well, but I started in the industry as a pro cartographer and illustrator. So my publications are rich in art, but I create all the art myself. I used to be a prolific cartographer for many publishers including Legendary Games, Kobold Press, E. N. Publishing, Paizo Publishing, and many others, today, I tend not to accept commission work as it gets in the way of my publishing schedule. It hasn't made me rich, but I'm growing all the time and earning more all the time.

One of my mentors, Steven Russell (rest in peace), told me game publishing involves the 'long tail of marketing', which is while you can get a successful product once in a while with major sales, for the most part, you'll be earning money by have a stable of many products. Steve told me, his goal had been achieving 100 products created. In RPG sales you tend to get a few sales each month for each product you offer. If you only offer 10 products, for instance, you can only earn a nominal month-to-month income. However, if you have a 100 products available and you get a few sales of each product - only then are you earning a decent income stream. So if you plan to continue being a publisher, and waiting for when those reliable profits to you going need at least 83 more products. I have a little over 60 products now, myself.

Maybe that won't help you, but it's some reality and production goals if you want to be more successful in RPG publishing.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
Well since I have yet to release a D&D 5e product, even though I am working on one now, I cannot say much about the DM's Guild, however, owned by the same company is DrivethruRPG, which I've been a publisher since 2010, and have made many thousands of dollars over that time. Of course unlike most publishers who begin as author/game designers, which I have skills in as well, but I started in the industry as a pro cartographer and illustrator. So my publications are rich in art, but I create all the art myself. I used to be a prolific cartographer for many publishers including Legendary Games, Kobold Press, E. N. Publishing, Paizo Publishing, and many others, today, I tend not to accept commission work as it gets in the way of my publishing schedule. It hasn't made me rich, but I'm growing all the time and earning more all the time.

One of my mentors, Steven Russell (rest in peace), told me game publishing involves the 'long tail of marketing', which is while you can get a successful product once in a while with major sales, for the most part, you'll be earning money by have a stable of many products. Steve told me, his goal had been achieving 100 products created. In RPG sales you tend to get a few sales each month for each product you offer. If you only offer 10 products, for instance, you can only earn a nominal month-to-month income. However, if you have a 100 products available and you get a few sales of each product - only then are you earning a decent income stream. So if you plan to continue being a publisher, and waiting for when those reliable profits to you going need at least 83 more products. I have a little over 60 products now, myself.

Maybe that won't help you, but it's some reality and production goals if you want to be more successful in RPG publishing.
I think starting in 2010 would have been huge for me......

Thanks for your advice and thoughts! Appreciated.
 

aco175

Legend
I started putting adventures on DMsGuild in 2016 when it opened. I was about 1/month for a while but slowed down in the last couple years and have about 40 titles on there. They are not fancy with any cover or art, which people say matters in terms of sales. At this point I take about 700-800$ per year. Again, not much to do with except pay for games and some golf. All my titles are listed as pay what you want, since I started to help people with playing and not to make money. I suppose with better covers, art, and pay only, I would make more.
 

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
Another thing I do, often when I start a new productline, I create a small product with full production values, and give it away free. With ads pointing to paid for products. But full art and effort is included, even though it doesn't earn me money directly. It lets a larger number of people to look at your stuff at no risk (since it's free), and if you have content they want, you can start building a fanbase that way. It's worked for me. I've done that twice, successfully.
 

amethal

Adventurer
It's always interesting to read this kind of stuff from publishers.

I'm way too disorganised to even be able to put something into publishable form, let alone then figure out how to actually publish it. So I've got lots of respect for anybody who manages to publish something.

There are lots of easier ways of making money (in terms of reward for time spent) so if I ever did publish anything it would be to give other people the chance to use it. So free or PWYW. There seem to be lots of people with that attitude, which doesn't help those of you who would actually like to make some money from all they've time spent. (Although in my case it would probably be for Pathfinder 1st Edition, so wouldn't compete with the 5th edition stuff on DMs Guild).

I'm always happy to check out fellow-EnWorlders' stuff on DMs Guild, if they let me know what to look for,
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
This may or may not interest people.....I've spent the last 18 months dabbling on DMs Guild. I have 17 products there. Admittedly, I started late, and don't have a following....I've spent hours on each product, sometimes days (or weeks). I have all of five I should have spent time on. Hopefully, after tomorrow, I have 6.....

I think there are two big issues for me:
1. I started just two years ago. By then, A LOT of people had names / brands.
2. I don't have any sort of following. I've tried YouTube (I have one video with a TON of views and several with over 200), and a blog (where I give away content). I post on Twitter and FB and sometimes here. And yet, no following.

A third issue is likely art, but I'm in no position to pay for art.

I have a whopping 1800 dollars, give or take, to show for my efforts, which has been good at funding my game purchases, but not much else (other than some joy, but not enough). I have 5 or so PDFs I'd like to kickstart someday, but I don't know if I can attract the numbers I'd want to make it worth it (mostly for art and editing). This includes an crazy PDF with dozens (or hundreds if you count combos and options) of initiative systems (some of which you'd be insane to use).

Perhaps the biggest issue with this work is that it distracts me from working on my fiction, which, let's face it, might not be worth my time (monetarily, I do enjoy writing) either.

Anyway, the point of this? You aren't likely going to make money doing DMsGuild work without a name, following, or much better luck than I. If you do decide to start, let me know. I'm happy to offer what little help I can.

Mike
What were your expectations?
 

CptPhoenix

Explorer
As the joke goes: "to make a small fortune in RPG publishing, you need to start with a large one."

Do you have a link to your work, Zaukrie?

I think that starting late probably isn't the issue, it's how to differentiate your products from the rest. By its very nature, RPGs equip players to create content for them, so every GM/DM faces few challenges to get into RPG publishing. How many DMG products are PDF versions of something a DM created for their own table?

I run Rising Phoenix Games, and we've been active for over five years now as a small 3PP and indie RPG publisher. We've made loads of mistakes, learned many lessons, and had some successes. We've got a few books on the DMG, and I've had the good fortune to work as an editor on some of MT Black's books. I've also worked as a freelance writer for Paizo, and as a developer for d20pfsrd.com Publishing and Fat Goblin Games, but that's still no guarantee that anything we publish will bring in enough sales to break even.

That said, some things that have made a real difference to sales are:
1) Continuous marketing (working the long tail, as gameprinter said).
2) Bigger books over smaller ones. (OBS put out information about this a few years ago, and I think the article was mentioned on EN World).
3) Product lines over single products (Our Aurora's Whole Realms Seasonal Catalogues and our Undersea Sourcebooks took a lot of strength from being parts of a collection of books).
4) Good cover design (even if you can't pay for cover art, learn and apply strong design principles.)
5) Teaming up with other creators to do bundles.

Regarding the DMG and Pathfinder Infinite specifically, our main strategy is to avoid publishing for them so we can sell our products on more sites (we use Itch, Open Gaming Store, Drive Thru, Paizo, our own website, and Shard Tabletop [soon]). That said, we have 4 more products we want to do on the DMG (3 more Undersea Sourcebooks). It's important to consider the pros and cons of each, and where a product might find a better home.

Good luck!
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
I would 100% like to bring some stuff I have to Drivethru and KS.......I'm trying to build an audieunce up....
I do agree a "brand" or line is important.

I guess a link would have been a good idea!


A bit disjointed on this post, I just got out of bed!
 


I don't know anything but I will say that having tracked down your website there is no immediate indication at a glance on the front page at the moment that you also have YouTube videos or products for sale on the DMs Guild. I don't know how realistic hoping to build a following based on a blog, some youtubing, and some DMs Guild products is for you, but you can at least make sure what efforts you are making are cross-promoting efficiently.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
I don't know anything but I will say that having tracked down your website there is no immediate indication at a glance on the front page at the moment that you also have YouTube videos or products for sale on the DMs Guild. I don't know how realistic hoping to build a following based on a blog, some youtubing, and some DMs Guild products is for you, but you can at least make sure what efforts you are making are cross-promoting efficiently.
The end of every article has a link, but good point. I'll work on that. Appreciate the feedback, it means a lot
 

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