Sunday, April 01, 2007
Some good news
After employing my brother to do link exchanges recently I've started to notice some very favorable results. My search engines rankings are slowly crawling to the top which is great news. I've been seeing some decent traffic increases in line with these improvements and sales seem to be picking up in a serious way. Not totally certain this is all down to link exchanges, but certainly some good evidence in their favor.
I'm thinking of giving 'a game for a link' another shot. Need to give it some serious PR this time around. The note on my front page will be much less visible so as not to negatively impact users who were planning to buy and never found out about the deal. I checked on some the old game for a link deals, and almost all are still up and sending me traffic so it seems to be a good thing for long-term growth. My previous thinking was mostly just a knee jerk reaction to seeing a sales dip.
Realspace 3 (a game for ArcadeTown) is almost finished so can begin to devote serious time to my next game soon. I'm aiming to have a website up in just a few days so stay tuned. It's going to be very different to the stuff I usually put out.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Game for a link got lots of links to start but after a while barely any takers and I noticed a sales drop. Guess people didn't like the idea of paying for a game that is free to other people (the Ad was on my home page).
I also removed the Flash games after a sale drop, I was worried that they were distracting people away from my own games. Also there just aren't enough shooter games out I can keep adding to the site every week. Maybe every month at best.
SEO stuff hasn't worked, simply not moving up (or down) in the SERPs no matter what I try just lately.
My total traffic currently sits at about 2400 distinct hosts per day.
Honestly I'm starting to believe the only really efficient way to spend my time is to finish another game. After I've finished my current development contract(which is for a really cool space shooter btw) I'll finish off my Action RPG. Hoping that will be done sometime in or just after April.
Bye bye adsense.
Honestly, since getting it back up to $300/month it's dropped consistantly down to only about $75 now. Number of impressions the same, % of clicks the same, getting similar ads as before. Just earning much less per click. Basically, Google is smart pricing me.
Smart pricing means Google decides how much you actually get. If the advertiser payed 50c for that click you can get anywhere from 49c to zero based purely on Google's discretion. So essentially if they felt like it Google could just not pay me for any of the clicks and keep all the revenue for itself.
Let's imagine I was a high end AdSense earner and went on holiday? I could come back and find that Google took the $10,000 for this week and there would be nothing I could do to get it back since it was never 'technically' mine.
I'm sick of this BS, I'm removing AdSense from my site.
Friday, October 06, 2006
To niche or not to niche
The other option is to try a different niche, one with low competition and slighty better average sales. The disadvantages here is that being used to shooters I may have trouble making something as good in another genre, also I wouldn't really be able to place it on my site that is proudly titled 'Jagged Blade Shooting Games'. The other niches I've thought of is RPG, Strategy, Adventure, or an RPG Shooter mix. These will all probably take more work than the average shooter.
The hybrid may be good as it is still technically a shooter so can stay on my site and help build my brand. Hopefully it would also have the benefits of a smaller niche (less competition, more loyal customers and able to have a higher price point). It is technically the best option, but I do have an urge to try something completely different. I've never actually finished a non shooter before.
So I'm possibly leaning towards Adventure or Strategy. Adventure probably some kind of first person mystery, and strategy maybe some kind of Risk spin off.
Bah this is making my head hurt.
Friday, September 29, 2006
Doubling my Income - Sucess!
After a lot of tweaking AdSense has generated roughly $100 this week, with a solid high CPM on all pages. Check here to see what they look like. Whilst they are a little intrusive I don't think they ruin the look and feel of the site too much, but I'd like to hear what each of you think about that. The main things I did was intergrate the ADs with pictures and used section targetting to get more related topics showing up. I also turned off the 'advertise on this site' link at the bottom of each AD unit.
I was unhappy with my Reflexive affiliation to start. But after two weeks I've made 8 sales which I don't think is too bad. Slow to start as some people don't buy straight away, but after leaving it a while those sales have come through. Great thing about Reflexive if that even if the user I send to them doesn't like that particular game, if they then find something else they like I get credited for that sale aswell. 2 of the 8 sales are games I'm not even advertising.
Direct sales of my own games are still going at their usual rate of about 15 per month despite the Ads and the Reflexive games.
So all in all, assuming everything keeps up I will have more than doubled my monthly income from jaggedbladesoft.com, from about $300 (direct sales) to $830. Infact thats not far off of triple :-) With my portal and affiliate sales that brings my average monthly indie income up to about $1300.
Now if I can just nail the doubling of my traffic by Christmas that $1300 would become $2100. That would mean if all my freelance work suddenly dried up tommorow I could still actually afford to pay the bills, rent, food for me and my girlfriend and maybe have a little extra beer money. As far as I'm concerned that would make me a sucessful indie =D
Friday, September 22, 2006
Doubling My Traffic
My 'Game for a link' promotion seems to be working fairly well and already got a lot of links back to my site, each of which are pulling a nice chunk of visitors. The next step is to send out a press release which will hopefully lead to even more linky goodness. Currently with just advetising this promotion on my site I reckon I'm getting about 1 link every 3 days or so. Each one of these links seems to be pulling an average of 20 users per day. This means that by christmas these links should be pulling an extra 600 visitors per day. Though the quality of this traffic may not be great, as not all of these sites will be games related. So although my traffic will have increased 60%, it doesn't mean my earnings will have. But possibly a press release will lead to more than an extra 600 per day.
It's important to note that links have two tasks: to get more traffic, and to improve search engine rankings. So the 'game for a link' promotion may end up improving my traffic by much more than the literal visitors I get sent.
Another way of getting links is through exchanges. I've already done a fair few of those and I think they do work, but each links value is likely to be minimal if you're just doing it through a small 'links' or 'partners' page. So instead I'm going to try some side wide link buttons. I put a link button on all my pages, and the partner links back to me on all their pages. This is great since it not only sends more visitors per exchange, but also gives a much higher search engine benefit. And setting one up takes the same amount of time as a normal exchange, so my ROI is much better for this kind of deal.
I've recently started hosting some flash games on my site which seems like a great way to get return visitors. Since people will have a reason to keep coming back to your site. Also there are a lot of sites that will link to your game page just to provide content to their users. For example I recently submitted Drakojan Skies to a certain site and the day they launched my game I got 4,500 extra visitors. Now I'm getting an extra 200 visitors per day just from that one submission. By adding more flash games and submitting them to sites like this I can quickly build up my traffic. Again these visitors will likely be of poor quality as they may not even find my shareware games or may only be interested in free stuff. But as this is such an easy way to get more traffic it seems worth it. If I try and add one game every week and submit to these sites I could have my daily traffic up by as much as 5,000.
Improving my search engine rankings is another sure fire way to get more traffic. I'm currently battling for 'shooting games' since this has quite a lot of people searching for it each day. Currently I'm 15th on google for this term. I estimate if I was #1 I'd get an extra 500 visitors per day. How to increase my rankings is a tough one, usually the process involves tweaking the wording on my site. If it results in a gain do more of the same, if it's a loss go back to how it was and try something else. Everytime I've worked on my rankings they have improved, so by doing every so often until christmas I'm confident I can nail an extra 500 visitors. These guys will probably be of good quality and well targetted to buy my games.
Monday, September 18, 2006
A game for a link
I'm now offering a free full version game for a link back to my site.
After a few days of doing this I've now gotten a few links, and each one is pulling in a fairly decent amount of traffic. Nothing major but well worth the $20, since that much traffic over a year or so would most likely bring in at least 1 sale. Plus I'm guessing the majority of people doing this probably wouldn't have bought the game if this offer didn't exist in the first place.
I'm confident this is a good idea, now I've just got to spread the word. =)
Update: Doubling my Income
Of the estimated 15 affiliate sales I got.... 2! I'm guessing a lot of the people on the newsletter had already tried the game I was showing them since the game was only actually downloaded by 200 of my 4000 newsletter subscribers.
Started off with them everywhere and they were only generating $2-$3 CPM. This is really terrile as before I was managing to get $5 or more. However I now seem to remember one of the reasons I stopped the ADs last time was that the CPMs started to fall to these kinds of levels. Income with Adsense seems incredibly variable. Perhaps last time I was just lucky that there were more relevent and high paying adverts about. I'm going to try putting some AdBrite and Yahoo Ads instead and see how that pans out.
Another thing to point out is that quite often non games related ADs would be shown on my site. For example the Mighty Rodent page ended up with a lot of ads for World of Warcraft gold for some strange reason. Possibly AdBrite or Yahoo will give me slightly more control over what ADs are displayed, but from what I've heard these two rarely pan out earning you as much as Google.
After seeing how badly they were doing for the first few days I decided to try Chris Evans idea and put up flash games with ADs on them but removed the others from my site. Well, while my site looks much nicer now, the income is even worse. Getting about 0.20c a day from that! Though these games will most likely bring in extra repeat visitors and maybe some from the odd flash games portal that will link to my game pages.
If I carry on with everything as I had laid out in my last blog post for a month I estimate the ACTUAL extra income would be a massive: $125. Baring in mind I was aiming for $300 this result isn't great, but not completely terrible.
Luckily I still have 3.5 months to tweak this and hopefully get it to around $300 as I had planned. I'll try AdBrite, Yahoo ADs and maybe some others to boost my revenue. I may also try tweaking the wording on some of my pages to get AdSense to display some more targetted stuff. I'm also going to try some different placement of these adverts.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Doubling My Income
Well it's simple really, I'm going to milk the site to it's absolute fullest potential. I played with advertising a few months ago but didn't like the way it made my site look, so gave up on them after just over a month. That month and a half generated $210. Of that $210, $200 was made by 2 small adsense boxes, the other $10 by a skycraper ad and various pop unders. Of all of those it was the skyscraper ad and pop unders that did the most damage to jaggedbladesoft.com's appearence. No thank you, I don't want a giant flashing image saying 'push the fart button' taking up half my site.
This time around I've brung back the 2 small adsense boxes. This should give me an extra $150 per month.
My site's width is 800 pixels, however more than 80% of my visitors have 1024x768 or higher screen resolution, so without a skycraper ad the site simply isn't making the best use of it's space. I had hoped to get some other indie's to show relevent and nice looking banners, but despite offering a fairly good rate no one seemed to be interested. So instead I've decided to make use of the space with a mix of Reflexive affiliate links and links to download my own top 3 games. I'm hoping this will not only generate me extra affiliate income, but also boost the visitor to download rate of my own games a little. The great thing about Reflexive is that the affiliate demos have no links away to other sites, which means I'm less likely to 'loose' that visitor. It's hard to estimate how much this is likely to bring me, only time will tell.
I've had a newsletter since I started and up until a few months ago it was still very small at around 400 subscribers. Those 400 subscribers bought 15 copies of Mighty Rodent when I sent out the release newsletter. Since then my subscriber list has grown to almost 4000 (Click here to find out how I did it). Up until now I've only sent out an email when I make a new game, this has got to be a massive waste of potential, since these people are going to need games to play during the 6 months it takes to create the next one.
At lot of those 4000 will be fake addresses or people who just aren't all that intested, so let's assume 2000 of those are actually of any worth. This means sending out a newsletter now has the potential of 75 sales. Mighty Rodent's non-newsletter coversion rate was terrible, a pretty lame 0.15% (my games normally do around 0.35%). So I think it's fairly safe to assume another game would do at least that well. The plan is to send a newsletter every 2 weeks advertising a carefully chosen affiliate title, prefably a shooter. I'm going to be pesimistic guesstimate 15 sales per newsletter. This should work out at about an extra $240 per month. I could go nuts and send out one every week, but that could get annoying and turn some of my users away. Plus I'd find it hard to find enough good shooters to sell. I've sent off my first one of these newsletters. I'll post the number of sales generated in a week or so.
So with AdSense and my new newsletter campaign it should add up to near enough $400, this would effectively double my income. Of course I'm secretly hoping I will end up with a bit more than this since it doesn't take into account the Reflexive affiliate downloads added to the main site.
On top of all this I have some pretty good ideas on how to increase my site's traffic. My aim is to also double that by the end of year, thus quadrupling my income. But more on that another day.
All this is stuff I should have been doing from the start, but didn't from fear of losing my oh so precious visitors. Of course just because someone visits my site doesn't mean I own them, they will visit 1000s of sites on their internet travels. To get further I'm going to have to pack the 'mine all mine' approach and make more money, even if it means selling other people's games and services to my users. Of course I will to use most of this extra income on advertising the site, so it will probably be a gain overall. But as with everything only time will tell.