First of all, let the three of us say: ‘WOW, and Thank you!’.
Today marks the first birthday of The Players’ Aid, and we thought it pertinent to take a look back at what has been a really fun ride over the past 12 months. We’ve seen a huge amount of growth from our initial inception and everyone along the way has been very supportive and helpful. So, once again thanks to everyone, including our guest bloggers, publishers that have sent review copies of games, designers that have done interviews, and everyone else in between. But most importantly, thanks to you, the readers, for taking time out of your busy days to read and watch the content we put out there.
Grant will take a look at some of the deeper statistical data from the past 12 months, but suffice it to say that since our very first post we’ve had just shy of 300,000 views from 80,000+ visitors. For a website that is primarily focused on written reviews, amid a world of podcasts, videos and other ‘easy’ consumption media forms, we couldn’t be happier that we’ve been able to reach so many people. Again, thank you for your time.
Since making our very first post titled “Wilderness War – A Preview” on April 14, 2016 written by Alexander, we have come a long way! I remember Tim, Alexander and I getting together to talk about doing the blog after finishing up a Saturday morning gaming session with just the 3 of us. That was a pretty funny first meeting as we had no idea what we wanted to do, what we were talking about or about how to get the word out that we existed. From that fateful meeting, came our most important philosophy and guiding principle! That being, “If we put out quality content, other things will take care of themselves and our readers would grow!”
After that meeting, we kind of just jumped in with both feet and started doing stuff, maybe not the best or deepest stuff, but we were super active from the get go. I still remember my first post titled “Empire of the Sun – After Action Report” where I wrote up some of the major highpoints of our first play of Empire of the Sun from GMT Games. I didn’t know what I was saying, didn’t really have a vision of what an AAR should look like, how it should be structured, what information readers wanted to see, or really anything, but I did it. I also posted a picture of our set up that morning on Twitter and Rodger MacGowan with RBM Studio created the beautiful graphic below that I actually used in the post. That made me feel like somebody was listening and was interested in what we had to say!
From that AAR came some of our first comments from readers, and once again, I remember feeling glad that someone was listening. The first comments were not negative but the poster took the opportunity to correct our many mistakes in our play through of EotS, and let me tell you there were plenty of them! But from that interaction, I remember thinking that if we were running a blog and putting content out there, that we had to make sure that we were doing things the right way, including following all of the rules, or we would be seen as goofs who didn’t know anything. Well, let me tell you, we are goofs who still make plenty of mistakes, but we have learned and our gaming mistakes are less and our reviews, AAR’s and strategy articles have improved. I have had a blast over the past year and never ever imagined we would be getting the views we are getting today. I will now share with you the progression of our statistics and how we have grown thanks to you our readers.
At first, our goal for daily views was modest. We started with wanting to have 50 views per day. This was a monumental goal and at the time I thought to myself, “How will we ever reach that?” Our first month, which started on the 14th day, saw us never get to that initial goal as we garnered only 677 views for the whole month. This equated to an average of only 22 views per day, but there were one or two rays of hope that first month. My post sharing “Why I Find the COIN Series of Games by GMT Games so Fantastic!” seemed to be a hit and helped to set our first daily views record early on at 184 views. That daily record was soon shattered though as Tim came on the scene with the first post in his new series called the “Best 3 Games with…” in May. His first post titled “Best 3 Games with…Drafting!” crushed that daily views record and set the new record at 307!
As you can see from the above graphic, our daily views are now averaging about 1,500. Disregard April 2017 for this comparison as the program looks at total views logged when you look at the statistic and then divides that number by the number of days in the month so the daily average for April looks low, but will catch up by the end of the month. We have grown significantly in our first year! Going from 22 views per day to 1,500 per day is a huge percentage increase, probably something like 100,000% (I actually calculated it and it stands at 6,718.2%)! We are very pleased with these results to say the least. I personally am most pleased in our growth through out each of the months of our blog’s existence. With the exception of an anomaly in October (this month saw one of our posts titled “A Look at Strategy & Tactics for the Americans in Combat Commander by GMT Games” being featured on InsideGMT and helped in setting our current standing daily views record of 6,203) our average daily views have grown steadily nearly every month. Our fast growth started in December, which increased by 10% (1,000 to 1,100) over November, January then increased by 18% over December (1,100 to 1,300), February (partly because there were fewer days) was static but March increased by 15% over February (1,300 to 1,500) and so on. We see no slowing down of this growth trend and we are as pleased as punch!
As you would expect, if our daily views numbers are growing, our monthly numbers will also grow. As you can see from the chart below, we have grown significantly from our first month in April 2016.
This growth was slow at first but after we got the ball rolling, started to jump considerably over the first few months. Below, you will see a table that shows the percentage increase in views each month over the previous month:
Our largest jump in one month was in our 2nd month of May, when we increased views from only 677 in April (this was only for half the month) to 2,897, which represented a 327.9% increase! We were really excited about that jump and felt rewarded for our hard work but we knew that type of growth wouldn’t continue. As you can see from the table, we have seen steady growth each month, with a few months that have far exceeded our expectations, and then have been followed by a little bit of a decrease such as in November and February.
In 2016, we garnered 145,336 views. This was not an entire 12 month period and represented only 8 1/2 months. But to date in 2017, we have nearly exceeded that entire production in only 3 1/2 months as our current views in 2017 are at 141,046. At this rate, we will pass our 8 1/2 month total from last year in about 3 1/2 months! I like the sound of that and it is very rewarding to see that type of growth.
Number of Posts:
To date, we have posted 403 times on the blog. We know this is a lot and averages out as 1.1 posts per day. One laugh I got this year was when I did a designer interview with Brian Train and he shared our post on his site and called us “prolific posters”. I don’t know about that but we do post a lot. How have we been so prolific with posts? One of the ways is that we have 3 full time writers including Tim, Alexander and Grant, but also have had guest posts from 4 others (Matt, JR, Brandon (WarCo.) and Ryan). We have also started doing a lot more video posts including unboxings and video reviews and these are not difficult to post at all.
All Time Views:
To date, we have had 286,380 views with 82,830 visitors. That means in our first year of being a blog, we had over 82,000 people check out our blog and each of them have viewed 3.45 posts. I think that is amazing! We are glad that we have had that many people visit and hope that this number increases. Our most popular day for views is Tuesday (16%) and the most popular hour that our site is viewed is 5:00PM (7%). Why I don’t know, but I find it to be interesting! As it is nearing hump day, maybe people are planning their gaming weekend and want to see what is good? We still struggle with getting strong views on Sundays though and many a promising week has been wrecked by a poor performing lazy Sunday.
At this point we don’t really know what the future might bring in the form of statistics but if we stick to our initial tenant, that of “putting out good quality content, and letting other things take care of themselves!”, then we would anticipate garnering nearly 500,000 total views in 2017 and who knows past that! The sky is the limit, or at least a good goal!
Grant recently sent in a review to Board Game Geek to be posted and they rejected him, which is shocking if you have read any of his stuff on this site, and awarded ZERO Geekgold for his efforts. That’s fine, but the funny thing is that they sent him specific reasons with percentages attached as to why he wasn’t approved….60% Poor Structure, 40% Irrelevant and 30% Spam….not sure how they got 130% and not really sure what that means??? While writing this I thought it would be fun to equate our success on this site in a similar percentage evaluation….
Playing Games: 20%
That’s what we should be doing right? It’s harder than it seems though, with other priorities getting in the way, including children, jobs (we need money to buy games!), church responsibilities and life, we rarely get to play multiple games in one sitting. We do however play as much as our schedules allow, which is usually two to three times during the week and we have a standing time on Saturday mornings. Even with that, we just don’t play as much as we want to. Only 20% of our time is spent on getting content. That has to improve!
Literate Content: 20%
Along with playing games, we have to talk about them, right. We are the ones that put the content out…..some better than others. While my writing is horrible and border line childish, we continue to put out quite a bit of varied content. One of the things we try to focus on is bringing different and interesting topics to the blog that are fun, not only to write about but also to read, again sorry on my end. Recently, this has included adding video content and we have tried various holiday things such as the 12 Days of Christmas Gaming and Grant’s Valentines Day themed Best 3 Games with…Love & Affection! At the start of the blog, we would look at our views and be discouraged by seeing that only 5 people viewed our content that day. We just kept pushing each other to keep putting content up and told ourselves they will come!
All of our Readers, Publishers, Designers and Awesome Social Media Heroes: 100%
The origin of our blog came as a surprise for the most part. We had discussed starting a blog but nothing really concrete had been decided as we were all a little unsure, and then, one day all of a sudden Alexander slaps us with The Players’ Aid and the rest is history….I guess someone just needed to do it. We really didn’t know what to expect from the blog, we had heard that it was a good way to get a free badge for GenCon, so we figured why not give it a try?
This is the element that absolutely has made us successful! There is no way in the world we could be able to continue, above 5 views, if it weren’t for all of the people who have supported us and been apart of our growth. The readers are awesome and keep coming back! In this hobby, it is also very hard to keep up to date and get content out of the newest titles, being that there are so many of them. We cannot express how grateful we are to those who have sent us games to review. We will forever be indebted to you publishers and designers. We know that you want to get the word out about your products but the fact that you have allowed us to be apart of that is beyond words. I am a teacher with 5 kids, Alexander is a struggling student with 2 kids and Grant also has 5 kids, needless to say we do not have money flowing from our faucets or a money tree in the basement. To be able to get some games for reviewing is just awesome and allows us to keep current!
We do a pretty good job of covering all areas of Social Media but those of you that have also linked to our content, tagged our posts or shared our stuff, it goes a long way to reach as many people as possible and we thank you.
Speaking of Social Media, we’ve tried to cross all platforms in order to connect with gamers everywhere. We divided up the responsibilities and try to be active all over the internet. Something we’ve come to realise is that Social Media is a very powerful tool for steering people to our site.
Tim run’s the Facebook page, which is our newest addition to the effort, where we’re active in a number of groups (THE BOARDGAME GROUP, Wargamers, Hackers of the Corn, etc.) and have run giveaways. He also posts regular pictures from his gaming exploits at home with his family because he’s lucky enough to have a family that also enjoys board gaming. You can follow along and get regular updates from the blog right to your Facebook feed. Facebook is also a very powerful tool, we’ve noticed, because as soon as publishers share our reviews through their pages, we see exponential growth in our viewership. So thank you everyone that has taken time to read, and inform others of the articles we write.
Grant operates the Twitter page (sometimes I jump in, but it’s like, 99% him). Twitter is our most popular social media outlet, probably because it’s easy to navigate and also has a decent communication system. Twitter is actually a lot of the reason we initially thought a blog would do well. I remember back in 2015 before we started, Grant and I played Churchill, Liberty or Death, Labyrinth: The War on Terror, and Twilight Struggle amongst other games. Grant would tweet out progress of our games and the responses were (relatively speaking) prolific. Obviously this was during our initial GMT binge, and people loved to see those on the table. With the overwhelmingly positive responses on Twitter, I felt more reassured in the idea of a website, because there was clearly an audience out there.
I run the Instagram account, which was something I never thought we’d have a use for. Instagram is basically a picture only media platform where you show off fancy scenery, family photos, and more food pictures than I care for. But when I found that a large majority of publishers had accounts I investigated it further. Soon, we were off the ground, and with that I rapidly discovered there’s a huge audience out there that love showing each other the games they have on the tables. It’s a fantastic resource for inspiration, especially if you’re interested in the components and aesthetics of your games.
Not really Social Media, but we do have a sister YouTube channel that has all of our videos on it. We started with just doing a couple of unboxing videos for brand new releases that we got from various pre-orders or kickstarters. Those garnered a lot of attention as they were hot off the presses and people, seemingly, wanted to know how far their hard earned dollars would stretch. Since then, and because I actually have time now that I’ve graduated University, we’ve expanded into full video reviews. We run a Board Game Blitz, a series of ~10 min videos on our first impressions of new games to the group. We also have started doing in depth wargame reviews, with an eye to expand on the video format as time goes on.
Thank You, Once Again
This may not have been the most bright and colourful post, but we wanted to spend some time just looking back at the past year and everything we’ve done, or at least tried to do. Every time you visit our site it keeps us going. As our individual situations change over time, we try to stay consistent, or even improve, our content and quality to help give something back to a hobby that has provided each one of us with countless hours of fun.
To everyone that has taken time to do interviews with us: Thank you. From the manifold game designers, to the publishing company CEOs, to the Editors of war game magazines, we owe a debt of gratitude for taking your precious time to answer our questions. We fully acknowledge everyone’s busy lives, and it means a lot when we get back rich, well thought out responses that enlighten players about game intricacies or the behind-the-scenes of our hobby.
And lastly, a special thanks to the publishers/designers that have sent review copies of games. There’s a certain investment, especially when we were brand new, that companies placed in us sending out copies of games. We try our utmost to be as honest, timely, and thorough in our reviews of games in order to warrant that investment. We hope that those companies have seen at least some positive response, as a result of our efforts.
So, here’s to a great first year, and here’s to an even better second year!
-The Players’ Aid.