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23 Comments

I made $804 in February

  1. 3

    You're doing great. But why do you always put a 'date' instead of a catchy title?

    1. 4

      Looks like Allison treats it as a monthly journal and wants to focus on reflections > making it a marketing-oriented piece of content.

      It is a great example of #BuildingInPublic.

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        Yep. @Abdolrauf this is one of my monthly retrospective posts. At the end of the month I reflect on what happened and my plans for the next month. But I use this as an accountability and focus tool, not marketing. So I'm not really concerned with the title.

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          I believe it's a wonderful idea. Best of luck and efforts for your plans, Alison.

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        Yeah I agree with that. Thank you

        1. 1

          It is nice to see that when you don't try so hard to "market" it, people come :) I believe we're entering an era where "thoughts" and "minds" are more attractive.

  2. 2

    @allison These are awesome numbers--I used to cover the fantasy sports industry (the companies making the games), and making $800 a month in your first year, is a remarkable number. Most of the "successful" sites only got to the point where they could support individuals full-time after about four or five years. You had 800, 2000, 860, and 680, your last four months, which are solid numbers to build off of.

    I took a look at your site, and it seems clean, and well put together. I think you can get there.

    Fantasy companies make their revenue the following ways:

    • Subscription fees. (What's what you have done)
    • A cut of the entry fees. Since your games seem to not have prizes, not an option. Honestly, those margins are pretty thin, so you have to a big scale for it to be profitable.
    • Ad revenue next to content -- fantasy players spend hours researching their picks, and that gets a lot of page views. Right now you promise no ads for your subscribers. Perhaps you could have sponsors for your scoreboard.
    • Tools that give players an edge (draft guides, state analyzers) which give players an edge. Perhaps might be worth making some tools which can sold as add-ons
    • Sponsorships - Not quite the same as banner ads. The whole game might be sponsored.
    • White Labeled games -- same system, and allows you to run another game with the same basic infrastructure.

    Some thoughts on how you might be able to boost sales / income:

    • I love that you have teachers who have signed up for it. See if you could find schools where more than one teacher has signed up, and see if you can get a the school to buy a bigger license to cover all of their teachers. Similarily, look for school districts with multiple teachers, and reach out to those school districts. Those will be longer-lead sales, but might result in larger revenue
    • Create weekly content -- perhaps as a separately branded site, which you can run ads on. Things that might preview the week's legislation, which could give you some insight who the top "picks" might be, and who the sleeper picks might be, and who should get dropped.
    • The most popular format for fantasy sports is head-to-head (H2H), because it keeps teams engaged and let's them focus on one opponent each week, even if their team is struggling. It's the one-to-one connection with someone else in the league, usually someone they know. Right now, it seems total points is the only format option. So, if someone has a bad two or three weeks at the start, players disengage. If you can figure out how to add H2H, it would be an upgrade which will keep players engaged.
    • What is the experience for players who are invited to play by the subscriber? If one person joins and pays for two months for an 8-week league for 15 people, you're charging them $38 for those two months for 15 people to play. That's not really much per user. Those 14 other players aren't paying you, so I think ads could be appropriate. Or, you set a limit of where they can only play in one league for free every X months, so if that league renews, they have now pay a $5 league owner fee, or subscribe themselves.
    • I saw you had coverage in Roll Call. Have you approached them about running a Roll Call branded game? Whi

    Those are some thoughts, if you found any of that useful, happy to talk more if you are interested.

  3. 2

    Hi Allison,

    Keep it up! I really like the concept of fantasy sports for politics—both are competitive arenas fueled by strong alliances and opinions.

    I'll offer up some content advice: Read up and try to deconstruct the content that surrounds the fantasy sports space and see what parallels you create. Here are a few formats I've noticed:

    • "Recaps:" Who were the biggest winners/losers in the last week or month and why? Who is a sleeper pick this week? Who is a consistently strong performer?
    • "Matchups": Pit two legislatures against each other going into a week. How has their performance trended? What does your crystal ball say?

    Your opinions and analysis can be more about their performance, not their policies. You can put as much of your editorial voice and tone into this as you want, or just rely on the performance data. I would recommend featuring high-profile legislators or issues to get into those conversation spaces and build a robust twitter schedule.

    Also, I saw your post about accepting purchase orders by selling to educators. I market SaaS into schools as my day job, and wanted to offer advice from experience in the space:

    Risks:

    • Purchase orders introduce a third party into the buying process. Your buyers will have to "sell" internally to unlock funding (and do this every year). New state and district-specific billing issues will compound at scale.
    • School districts buy solutions that support the goals of learning and teaching. Any misperception that connects "fantasy" to "gambling" is going to be a tough sell.
    • Budget rollovers typically happen in July every year, so collections will start to consolidate and peak at that time, rather than spread across the calendar year.
    • Short seasonal use. Classes and student groups restructure every few months.

    Pros:

    • Tight network effects from referrals within the school and across schools in a district.
    • Schools like competition-based learning activities.
    • Market-level data is pretty accessible to help you size the opportunity space.

    I think your audience is MUCH wider than this use case, so be careful not to be distracted too early on. However, if your mission is to make politics more accessible to a younger audience, then consider re-positioning Fantasy Congress with this more educational bent in mind. Your growth strategy will shift with that call.

    Good luck!

    1. 1

      Awesome insights. Thanks Andrew!

  4. 2

    What a coincidence, February was a slow month for me, this is my current balance:

    balance

  5. 2

    I love the idea of this game. This should be massive - why isn't it absolutely huge? Everyone seems to want to stick their nose into real politics these days, so why aren't we all playing this game.

    and has anyone done a UK version?

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      I believe in the UK you can bet on politics.

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        yes we can, I think George Clooney to be the next Prime Minister was 100-1 outside favourite ;-)

        But I am thinking more along the lines of the fantasy football games and I assume like your fantasy congress game.

        Back in 1982 one of the first ever games I played on the school BBC micro-computers was a text simulation (and very basic graphics) called 'Great Britain Ltd', where you had to run the country and make decisions like raising taxes and compete in elections. A lot of fun.

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          Oh my goodness, 1982? that's impressive! If it doesn't exist, it certainly should!

  6. 2

    congratulations, Alison! I was also looking at an old post of yours, and found myself wondering how your rent situation played out last year?) :)

    1. 1

      Ha! In all honesty, me and my partner ended up talking and decided he could shoulder the rent while we waited to see how Fantasy Congress did over the next few months. It was looking really good in January, but now, less so. If it doesn't pick up in March I'll have to go back to freelance.

      1. 1

        thanks for your candour, and best of luck. I hope it 'works out' one way or another.

  7. 2

    Wow, just came across Fantasy Congress and it's really interesting! As someone who doesn't follow much politics, I think a fantasy game like this can definitely be a game-changer.

    Quick note (I'm probably not your target audience), it feels like there's a lot of complexity to getting started. As someone who knows only a few congressmen(women) by name, it feels hard to get started. Perhaps an easier fantasy version could be free to play and more complex point gathering features can be behind a subscription?

    1. 1

      Aw thank you! That's good to know you find it a little too complex. My target audience is "political junkies" but I definitely want to get people less enthused about politics into it too.

  8. 2

    TL;DR for Fantasy Congress in February:

    • $804 total revenue
    • 4 new customers
    • 3 churns
    • $862.95 MRR

    This was 61% less revenue than the previous month. I spent some time in this retrospective reflecting on what I felt was holding me back.

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