Monday, March 13, 2023

Improved Initiative Needs Your Help (And It Won't Cost You A Dime)!

One good thing that came out of the whole power grab with Wizards of The Coast trying to take back the open game license at the beginning of this year is that it pulled back the curtain for a lot of folks in the TTRPG community regarding exactly what people who make games for a living get paid. And generally speaking, unless you work for WoTC or a select few other companies, you probably aren't making much. This goes double if you're a small publisher, a jobbing freelancer, or an independent creator.

And while a lot of players did their best to support independent creators to help get us over this hump, I'm the first to acknowledge that there's only so much spare change in everyone's pockets. So while I will never say no to selling some of my RPG supplements, and I won't turn down people who want to become Patreon patrons, or who want to buy me a Ko-Fi, I wanted to ask for something other than just a donation from my readers this week.

If I can get enough folks onboard, it will really help me out, and allow me a second or two to catch my breath while I actually plan out some bigger pieces of content for the future. And best of all, it won't cost any of you reading this so much as a dime!

And together, hopefully, we can really fill up my tank!

Before we get into the nitty gritty this week, don't forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter to get all my updates right in your inbox. Also, if you've got a bit of spare cash that you'd like to use to help keep the wheels turning, consider becoming a Patreon patron!

Lastly, to be sure you're following all of my followables, check out my LinkTree!

So, What All Has Been Going On?

I already mentioned the recent kerfuffle with Wizards and their attempt to completely upset the TTRPG industry. This led to a LOT of my projects being put on-hold, and it's meant that a lot of other projects have been thrown into chaos regarding what is and isn't a priority for myself and my publishers. However, that whole situation is in addition to the pandemic wiping out thousands of dollars of outstanding work that clients owed me money for, but which vanished into thin air due to many of them ceasing to exist. Not only that, but last summer my publisher for my novels died, and the company dissolved. This took my books off the market, and I didn't even get my final check for the royalties I'd accrued during the final quarter before everything crumbled.

So, saying that things have been a little stressful is a bit of an understatement.

The list goes on, but I'm trying to be brief.

There is, however, one other problem I've been dealing with. Because for those who don't know, aside from the money pledged by my patrons, and sales for supplements through the affiliate links in my articles, this blog doesn't actually make me any money. Ad services are so universally blocked and ignored that over the decade or so I had ads on Improved Initiative, I earned a total of $50 or so, and the last time I got a check for that payment was several years back.

I made up for this by also creating content for Vocal. As some of my readers know this is the website that hosts all of my Character Conversion Guides, as well as a lot of my Unusual Character Concepts, my 5 Tips articles, and more than a few of my short stories. Vocal pays me roughly $6 for every 1,000 reads my content gets, and this time last year I was pulling down $60-$90 a month from Vocal, with some months going as high as $120 or more. It wasn't huge, but it was a big help when I needed it.

Now... well, now I'm lucky if I can even get $20 worth of reads in a month. So what changed?

The short answer is the algorithm. The more complicated answer is that Facebook is a shadow of what it used to be for interaction, Twitter is now a sewage dump where it was once at least a passable silver mine, and Reddit banned Vocal links entirely, adding them to the auto-remove list of websites the bots dump in the trash as soon as you try to share them. This last one hurt a lot, since it also removed probably a year or more of backlinks to my articles that I'd shared to various subreddits.

Here's What I Need You All To Do

At time of writing, I have 269 stories (nice) in my full Vocal archive. From TTRPGs and short fiction, to weird history, bizarre linguistic dives, and a couple rants about horror movies, there's a rather ridiculous amount of content on there. Additionally if you want to narrow your scope then you can just click which topic you want to see along the top of the archive (just below Pinned Stories), and it will sort the articles by topic for you!

What I really need is folks to read these articles. Not just click them, but actually read through to the end.

To be clear, you don't have to read all of them. You don't need to spend hours gorging yourself on my text. But if all of my regular readers could bookmark my archive, and just make it a point to read at least one article a day, that would help. Even more importantly than that, though, if you find an article you like that you think more people should read, share it on your socials. FB, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Discord, I'm not picky... but there's only so much traction I can get on my own, and I'm definitely sliding down the hill right now as it gets harder and harder to promote myself across the board.

Every read, share, and like helps... seriously.

The reason I'm asking for this instead of just soliciting patrons or donations is that Vocal is completely free to anyone who wants to read it. Not only that, but reads are tallied every day, so there's a minimal wait for me to cash-out if something I write does go viral and explodes with coins like a Mario enemy that ate an entire bank vault.

But as I mentioned in If 90,000 People Read This Article, I Can Pay My Bills This Month, it requires a frankly absurd level of interaction just for me to pay my rent. However, if you're one of the folks out there who wants to help a creator out, then all you need is an Internet connection and a willingness to consume content to help me stop falling behind!

And if you're looking for some places to get started that have proven popular in the past, might I direct your attention to the following articles?:

- 5 Things You Can Do To Be a Better Ambassador For Your Hobby: This one still gets a little play every now and again. Mostly I just wanted to do my part to help other folks realize that if we don't let fresh blood into our hobbies, then they're going to die in fairly short order.

- It's Okay To Admit There Are Problems in Your Hobby: This article was so divisive it got people to make a meme out of me. It resurfaces every few years, but it's not enough to keep the wolf from the door.

- Partners and Polycules: Polyamorous Designations Based Off Dungeons and Dragons Dice: This was a silly article of mine that is the closest thing I've had to a viral success in the past few years. If you haven't seen it, give yourself (and maybe your friends) a giggle!

- The 5 Awful Paladins You Will Meet in Your Gaming Career: This was the first of my ongoing series about awful character archetypes that we all run into if we play TTRPGs long enough. While several of the follow-ups were also popular, none of them seemed to draw quite as many eyes as the paladin for some reason.

Oh, There is One More Thing You Can Do...

In keeping with the spirit of the title, I'm going to keep my suggestions to things folks can do for free that will have a tangible effect on my income stream. But if you don't have as much time to read as you'd like (or you just prefer to listen to videos while doing chores, painting minis, or getting your steps in), you could also subscribe to the Azukail Games YouTube channel, and listen to videos I make for them.

Full disclosure, I do not own this channel. It's the channel run by one of my publishers... I do, however, make content for it. And the more hits my videos get, the more likely it is that the channel will get monetized, and that I can (perhaps) ask for a bump in my compensation for making said videos. Because it takes 1,000 subscribers, and 4,000 hours of watched content in the past year (or about 11.5 hours a day for 365 days, if you were wondering) for YouTube to even think about letting you make money off your videos, and that is a high bar to clear when you're doing everything all on your own.

So, while this isn't as direct a hand up as reading and sharing my Vocal articles would be, it would still be a big help, and assist me in getting a slightly bigger share of the pie with at least one of the publishers I work with.

Like, Follow, and Stay in Touch!

That's all for this week's Moon Pope Monday. To stay on top of all my content and releases, make sure you subscribe to my newsletter at the bottom of the page!

Again, for more of my work, check out my Vocal archive, and stop by the Azukail Games YouTube channel, or my Daily Motion channel!. Or if you'd prefer to read some of my books, like my sword and sorcery novel Crier's Knife or my latest short story collection The Rejects, then head over to My Amazon Author Page!

To stay on top of all my latest releases, follow me on FacebookTumblrTwitter, and now Pinterest as well! To support my work, consider Buying Me a Ko-Fi, or heading to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a regular, monthly patron. That one helps ensure you get more Improved Initiative, and it means you'll get my regular, monthly giveaways as a bonus!

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