Etsy status in October 2022 + other notes

Another week, another Etsy sale. Most of the time *something* is on sale on Etsy even if not the most popular items (ie printing services) and that’s intentional, it’s a rotation of items on sale from week to week. Some weeks multiple categories are discounted and on holidays everything is discounted HEAVILY. This October has been an anomaly: more sales made the first half of October 2022 than the first half of the year 2021. A twelvefold increase in frequency of sales! That of course makes it something of a challenge to keep up. I try to get every order out on time of course but occasionally things do arrive late especially during sale events or when a HUGE order has been placed.

This month has seen $450 in sales and it hasn’t even hit the halfway mark!

So that is astounding, even if 67-72% of it is getting eaten up by materials and shipping supplies and so on. I even am releasing new print products now like (very cheap, my cheapest material) prints on copy paper and small print items like bookmarks!

The Halloween rush is going to be deranged in its level of activity. I’m pretty sure of that. I am of course setting a lot of other tasks aside to stay focused on fulfilling Etsy orders for the rest of October. A few things still get some attention though – one being the ongoing work on Vivid Minigolf. I aimed for a ‘late 2022’ release and still am hoping to get that done successfully.

Southwest desert course in Vivid Minigolf
Japanese Garden minigolf course (most of it visible, anyway – the image is cropped, not just resized)

Any success via Etsy will slow down the first release of the game slightly but will also give it a stronger shot at visibility when it does get released. Right now I’ve built courses, implemented features, am actively debugging the game… all the mini supply materials involved were covered months ago, the software side of things and the Steam fee are covered too. But that leaves me with a bit of a challenge in gaining publicity at time of release.

Should Halloween prove effective in generating sales activity, it will give me a bigger promotional budget to work with which in turn may have a multiplier effect if used well, in that this title might appear somewhere on the lists of popular releases. Ideally first page of Itch with no scrolling down the list, maybe a bit of scrolling on Steam but not too much? That kind of thing helps people notice that a game exists! I will be messaging a (fixed) list of Youtubers and game news sites with download keys, of course, and my policy is not to hand out keys to anyone not on that top-100 list. I know random people will claim to be a popular Youtuber, ask for free keys, and then resell them on the cesspool that is G2A, it’s a common tactic. I’m just not going along with that, in general.

Other than the PR kit, the key distribution / mailing effort… a better YouTube trailer and more and more gameplay clips by time of launch… and my ongoing manual commenting on minigolf related videos on YT (I think I’ve linked to the game project on something like a hundred of the more popular YouTube minigolf videos at this point) I will also run a massive $150+ ad campaign across Google/YouTube, several banner ad networks, Twitter ads, Facebook/Instagram, and Bing/Yahoo search. I have already fine tuned with the initial $25 – am confident I can make over 5 million (generally, relevant) people aware that this game exists when it launches. This is in terms of *impressions* of course and it will probably translate to at most 1% of that group clicking through, and probable 1-3% of that 1% buying the game. In theory, then, we’re talking 500-1500 sales over time which… anything in that range would be amazing if it pans out. We are talking $1000-3000 there, factoring in the reality that many of the buys will be during sales and that Valve gets a 30% cut.

If that happens though, great potential for free updates over that first year of release. The core seven courses only involved $500 in materials, $200 in Steam submission and software expenses specific to the project, $150 or more promoting the thing at launch. Not to mention hundreds of hours of work as an indie with no actual pay rate.

So if this goes well, great! The target of $1000 in sales pretty much means breaking even on this project, and every $1000 or so above that means maybe some new features added, and an extra 5-6 courses posted in a free update to all players who bought the game.

I have thoughts about revising the game features to include, for example, randomly mixed 18-hole courses. Either a front nine/ back nine selectable combo or just 18 completely randomly selected holes. That is one of those things which would involve a lot of reworking of code to implement (like online multiplayer functions, multiplayer beyond hotseat) but which I would like to do in an update in early 2023. I also want to port this to mobile devices, touchscreen UI and all that. And I want to build AI opponents somehow as an option, even though that is tricky to do well.

I get it, you would all prefer these features exist at the outset. But I am a solo indie game developer. It takes time and cash to add all of this. I don’t have immense resources going in and I am hoping you all understand this. A game with a dev budget below $1k and an unpaid solo dev, is not going to be the most impressive thing ever, but if there is an audience for this, if people buy it and are patient, I will take that support seriously and do what I can to build amazing things with it in the next year.

Links relating to all of this:

Thanks for everything!

Etsy breakthrough!

My Etsy shop from 2011-2018, zero sales. 2019, one sale and a positive review which I was quite grateful for. 2020, nine sales. 2021 prior to November, 16 sales. Then came this month, seven sales just this month! And ten reviews now too, all of them glowing five-star reviews!

Now, given enough time it could still unravel due to unreasonable behavior by enough buyers like my eBay shop has. On eBay circa 2020 I pretty much gave up on that… eBay by 2020 I spent hundreds of hours working and was losing money doing so, due to a combination of a flawed and overly generous and too trusting, business model and an alarmingly high proportion of unreasonable customers who were essentially trying to scam me. They would order a personalized artwork, when it arrived they would claim it was damaged or that it was not what they wanted, and threaten to give a scathing review unless there was a full refund. I kept my 100% positive feedback score but only because I was caving to all of these people. It sucked and it has caused me to make three clear determinations – one being no more time consuming personalized art for buyers in most cases unless the buyer has proven exceptionally reasonable through a series of previous orders. Two, is that eBay’s become too much of a cesspool and I don’t want to be an art seller there anymore, though occasionally I still use the platform to buy and sell other things. Three, that I need to enact refund policies that are not excessively trusting and generous, and price just enough profit margin in to survive and still profit despite the few who do still somehow manage to exploit me.

I still believe most buyers are genuine. I still charge less than a typical vendor, and my effective pay per hour remains well below minimum wage doing this. But it’s now not so low that it can be entirely cancelled out for the entire year if a few sales go sideways!

I was not convinced to set the current boundaries because of my own greed or any such thing. Actually, what finally convinced me to do it was the well being of the customers, who wanted timely response and delivery, wanted a growing roster of promising new products from me, wanted my venue to survive and grow because that was good not just for me but for them! And if the shops don’t remain viable that all goes down the tubes so… there is good reason to do what I need to do to make this all sustainable and able to expand.

I have a TON of new things I want to do in the near future. Not all of them make sense as Etsy products but many do. Some – digital games and gamedev asset packs, mainly – are going to be launched mainly on Itch.IO instead, or even Steam. But Itch.IO, despite longstanding efforts to gain reviews and sales there, has yet to really be viable. My Itch.IO profile still lacks the key first review or reviews which is perhaps necessary to get momentum going there.

So here is the plan for late 2021:

-games, a few of my small or midsized projects, will launch on Itch and Steam by end of year. That will likely drive activity to my Itch profile more than asset packs ever could. And it is something I’ve been working towards for an awfully long time regardless.

-asset packs shifting to become accessible outside Itch.IO, including Unity Asset Store submissions and a big complete asset pack collection on DVD and digital download, posted as a product on Etsy.

-Etsy things that are working will be built further if the prints continue to sell well, more print product options, like glossy photo prints, prints on normal weight copy paper, more size options, etc. Likewise, even more colorful and charming miniature papercraft kits based on even more architectural styles.

-sales will continue on Etsy. November 17-30 is now a planned sale range and all the papercraft items will be 40% off, all the other items 25% off, so should be pretty amazing. And there will be another sale leading into Christmas, if you want to cut shipment of things that close! (Dec. 10-18, 2021)

-sales also on Itch.Io. As in… Nov. 20-30, and Dec. 20-Jan. 2, 2022. So that is also going to happen.

As usual, here are the links:

Thanks for reading!

A quick note for the end of July…

Firstly, the July 4th sale went okay but mostly was underwhelming in terms of public response.

Nonetheless, I continue to push forward on more ambitious new product releases as much as I am able.

Between now and the Labor Day sale (which is sept. 1-10, 2021) I intend to release a bunch of new art items on Etsy, plus three more asset packs on itch.IO. Plans include:

-a substantial and high quality new 2.7k video VFX elements pack on

(the creation of this pack will cost at least a couple hundred $ doing a wide range of various debris bursts/falls, involving a mix of different materials, different types of FX stuff, maybe some good smoky billowing cloud tank FX too if this goes well, and that budget, of $200ish which is… roughly what I have available at the moment, and the way I want to do it – bigger and better -will be about $75 -$125 above that, so any support in the form of Etsy or Itch.IO orders in the next week or so will make it possible to do this better, with an even wider range of effects elements. But it has to be roughly within the next 20 days, by Aug. 20 or so, past that point, the scope of the collection will kind of be locked in and won’t change meaningfully between then and the Sept. 1 launch. )

-a new medieval/fantasy 3d asset pack there too. Think modular castles – interiors, exteriors – smaller structures, and many different middle ages period details filling all of them. At least 20 3d assets included at first launch.

-and a scifi pack as well with SF themed 3d assets. Sort of a mix of the darker gritty cyberpunk stuff and some cleaner / glossy future designs too, plus some alien / outer space environment elements. Again, well over 20 different 3d objects/assets included from the get go.

And those three new asset packs will have very nice preview images and materials showcasing them effectively. Which they should have, given that they’re each priced around $2.50 or so.

But: despite this accumulating mass of epic-scaled asset packs closing in on a $30 combined price, and fast approaching 3000 total files across all of them, don’t assume that you won’t still be able to find great deals from me anymore during holidays! Labor Day 2021, Halloween 2021, Thanksgiving and Christmas 2021 all will have the bundle of all my itch.IO products together for over 90% off the normal cost (i.e. under $3 for everything released to date)

That – the trio of entirely new packs – is on top of some new, and fairly substantial free additions to a few of my existing asset packs, my first submission to the Unity Asset Store, about a dozen more listings on Etsy bringing the total to 30+ listings… a relaunch and redesign of several websites including HornbostelVideos, and the release of a little adventure game called ‘Panoramic Worlds‘ across multiple platforms.

Yes, a lot is going on around here.

Some new Etsy items have already been posted, in fact.

Like this painting, or a brand new second set of model buildings, which will be visible in a preview image very shortly on! (in the next 36 hrs! with the actual sale listings across multiple model scales posted for sale on Etsy within 36hrs after that!) This is a big deal! So much has been in the works here these last few weeks and I am hoping that as the results of that effort start to go public you will be thrilled by it all! 😀