My Etsy shop was supposed to be leveling off and headed into the background, supposedly.
I raised pricing noticeably… to the extent that the shop is not only profitable but that margin is nearly doubled.
I also pretty much stopped promoting it with paid ad campaigns outside of Etsy.
Figured that would hold onto some of the existing, happy customer base, but not all of it, and limit the flow of new buyers, who in some cases are unpredictable, maybe difficult to deal with.
Well, what happened wasn’t a decline or a leveling off but a boom. The existing customers pretty much all kept ordering. And the new customers kept showing up despite my removal of ads leading into Etsy, but now the customers were arriving passively through Etsy itself at increasing rates. I realized that the reason was a temporary spike in the percentage of visitors who were buying, and apparently that metric spiking led Etsy as a platform to boost my listings and their visibility, including through the Etsy search ads you cannot opt out of. Beyond all this, my revenue has almost quadrupled, hitting $50-60/week in gains due to the pricing change, the lack of ad costs, and an uptick in buyers and to a lesser extent traffic generally. And… I’m just gonna roll with it now.
Yes, I’ve gotten a Cricut. Yes, I’m releasing a line of mini floral bouquets soon and they’ll start off at $4.49 each, then probably go up a bit once there are some reviews of them piled up. Most things on my Etsy are like that – the most underpriced stuff is almost always the stuff nobody is buying or reviewing yet.
I also have a ‘Greek architecture’ papercraft kit on the way, plus extension of all existing papercraft sets to O scale and T scale in about a month, and an upcoming option for precut kits at least with N, Z scale by June.
Yes, a few new paintings are being made. That’s not high priority but it’s still going on.
Yes, there was a Cinco De Mayo sale and everything was 15% off.
Yes, there’s a Mother’s Day sale coming up really soon (May 7-15) and everything will be at least 23% off throughout it. Some items are going to be over 30% off.
No, most sales in the future won’t have discounts quite that good.
Yes, I’m seeing 60 visitors daily on the shop lately. About half of them on any given day are probably new visitors.
Yes, I’ve had 75 people favorite the shop, up from 50 at the end of 2022.
And yes, I do have big plans elsewhere too. I’m working on some major stock media updates, for example, and a revised HornbostelVideos.com site design with a ton of additional video material, which goes live soon.
Thanks everybody, really excited about this actually and figure it’ll be a big deal in terms of overhauling and improving existing content and adding a lot of new things too.
The shippable items on Etsy are gone and I’m sure many of you noticed that.
At the moment only digital delivery products are still present there.
Maybe you are upset by this and want them back – I may offer them again at some point but no guarantees for now. If they do reappear that might be mostly on this site (the HornbostelProductions.com shop) instead of Etsy. That would mean similar pricing but more profitability as it would be outside of Etsy’s steadily rising fee structure.
Why would I ditch an Etsy product line that was taking off and proving highly successful? Well, there are three major reasons.
Etsy printing services are not super creative and not what I most want to be doing. Cutting that off allows me to focus more of my time on other projects. For example, game dev stuff, and the imminent launch of a massively expanded HornbostelVideos website.
Etsy wasn’t only time consuming, it was a bit stressful trying to ship batches of packages out on a daily basis. Other (digital) products are different in that I can step back from working on them when I’m getting upset/stressed instead of feeling like I have to keep working through the misery to get stuff out for the mail truck when it swings by.
Final note there is the fact that this year I’ll be moving to a new house. It’s in Sewickley, PA. So that move is going to disrupt any possible work and shipping regardless for the next 2-3 months.
I don’t need the Etsy money at this point, not really. I’ve gotten a mild boost in income in spots outside of Etsy so will likely be able to leverage THAT now instead of Etsy print sales and still make nearly the same amount. It’s enough cash saved or flowing in that I am in a good spot to complete things like Vivid Minigolf. That project, has two courses I still haven’t yet built or implemented, plus various remaining minor bugs across otherwise completed ones. But if I push on that now I can definitely still get it onto Steam by mid March 2023. For various reasons, I will ignore mainstream advice relating to Steam releases. There have been talks about how ‘optimal pricing’ for indie games is $15-20. Now in this case, I don’t care if the cash coming in is ‘optimal’. I mostly just want the game to be accessible and playable for people and I want players to have fun. I considered a $5.99 price point for a while but have shifted my views on this. Current price point at launch is now likely to be in the $3 range instead.
Vivid Minigolf launch is early 2023, on Itch.IO and Steam at a price of $2.75. It will go on sale too with increasingly solid discounts as months pass, eventually dropping as much as 75-80% off which is to say, about 50 cents. Plus there will be DLC every once in a while, at no additional cost. There will also be a free version on the game’s official site which lags roughly a year behind the paid version in content terms. And it has a few ads spaced around it on the webpage. When the game first launches that free version will have one course included, so for the first year it’s essentially a demo. But at the end of year one, by that point the Steam version will have some free DLC and the free version will lag behind said DLC and just have the core seven courses. And so on. Eventually, by 2026 or 2027, DLC updates will likely be over and the free version will fully catch up with the paid one and at that point the ‘paid’ Steam game will go freeware. It’s up to you whether paying $2.75 at launch is worth it, or under $1 about nine months after that, or NOTHING AT ALL but you would need to wait four years.
Astounding Worlds (previously Panoramic Worlds) is now set up for status as an Itch.IO and AstoundingWorlds.com exclusive, free plus optional tip on Itch.Io, and free with a few ads on the official site. That and the minigames like Spiral Skies, Easely, Eracer, and Vortex, all will go live in Summer 2023. The entire batch will be accessible for $1 on Itch (or) free with ads on the official game site in the case of Astounding Worlds.
Miniature Multiverse should be ready to launch by November 2023. It will be priced similarly to Vivid Minigolf.
After all that, who knows? I’m open to going heavily into reimagining other backburner projects from World Pinball to Isola, to a Troop 4 adventure and some fangame stuff.
But the bottom line on all of this is it’s all greenlit and moving forward faster now. I can afford to get all these projects done. Watch for exciting updates ahead!
I used to *still* be renewing some of my domains through HostGator still (because those jerks won’t let me transfer them, and now their system’s so broken that the ability to renew the domains no longer exists in any functional form.)
So the reality here is that many of my domain names will be expiring over the next few months.
New (replacement) domain names will be announced here later but for now I’m keeping the new names quiet until they’re successfully registered. Keep in mind though that some of the core domains remain, including HornbostelProductions.com, HornbostelVideos.com, and TriumphantArtists.com. Those three I can guarantee will not change.
As far as the web network in general, I intend to redesign pretty much every single site in it over the next month. I’m already starting that process with what will be the replacement for RedeemerDocumentary.com, RedeemerChurch3d.com [domain acquired, site not all there yet]. This site will now be focused less on any history I had with that or other churches, and more on the 3d reconstruction project related to the church structure.
HornbostelVideos.com will be reworked with WordPress and will look a lot more YouTube-y with a far more modular layout that will make it simpler for me to integrate new video content there periodically over time.
Many of my domains will soon face other changes as well – more consistent and faster-loading banner ad code for example, integrated into [nearly] every page of the network with only a few exceptions. I’m well aware that despite all odds, some of my sites, this one included, are in the top 2 million most visited on the entire internet, according to the likes of Alexa, and should [in theory] be generating a few dollars/day per site, just by existing, and having a few ad slots on them. And as much as I dislike that, I’ll be going along with it, though I will try to minimize the disruptiveness of such ads. No pop-ups or pop-unders, just an embedded banner here and there. If this succeeds to any reasonable extent, it might be key to making the likes of HornbostelVideos.com viable. I have a plan in place for releasing almost my entire past video library there, and that plan should finally be live later this month [here’s hoping, anyway]
Other key updates?Etsy has stabilized nicely, and the shop there continues to gain ground with over 80 positive reviews, and I’ll be posting a few new paintings and other things there soon even though it’s obvious that the affordable printing services are mostly what is successful there. Itch.IO is starting to boom but the July 4th promo did not have the viral impact I hoped it would – I had $25 worth of gift cards ready to hand out and… people didn’t do what was needed to claim them. All the same, the core campaign did draw a few hundred people to the shop and resulted in a small number of sales. So hopefully, things will continue to grow there, and I do have three ratings/reviews there now so the shop is developing a positive reputation finally instead of the ‘no reputation at all’ it had for years. I’m still trying to get a list of things out there by end of summer, including two new VFX packs and a texture collection, more 3d assets, maybe even a game or two if things go smoothly enough.
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.
I am working on a lot of different things, but the unavoidable result of that is that each individual effort progresses more slowly. That said, here’s a breakdown of where things stand:
Microtasks. These have become higher-priority as I’ve found some work [off and on] that pays more, as in an average of $7.20/hour. And it’s work that’s available about half the time, each week so… I’ve made $400+ so far this year doing that, most of it since mid-May. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it earth-shattering, or life-changing, but rather pathetically this – minimum-wage part-time work – has a better pay rate than anything I’ve ever really landed in my life before.
Miniature papercraft. I’m updating it a bit in the next couple days with a modest amount of new material tacked onto existing listings. You’ll see more soon. And best part is I do actually have a large-format printer with fantastic print quality, it can go up to 13″ by 19″ poster size. This means my papercraft will be available in TT and HO scales soon and not just the smaller scales (T, Z, N).
3. Blood… the blood particle effects I have for free on Itch.IO just got an update. And it’s one of a number of updates showing up over the next week there. Watch for about 30-40 more assets to be added across some of my texture and 3d asset packs before the July 4th sale. WHICH IS ONLY ACTIVE FOR ONE DAY – JULY 4, 2021! DON’T FORGET IT!
Speaking of July 4 – I absolutely am working towards a gigantic sale on Etsy that will coincide with the Itch one and it’ll be good too. And though promotional efforts have been sort of modest this past month, they’re likely to be substantial starting a couple of days from now.
As in, I’ll be spending approx. $55 on ad campaigns, just between now and the end of the July 4 sale. That is, $35 over the two weeks leading up to that date and $20 on the day itself. It’s extremely likely to produce massive results based on past test runs.
Recall that in the past three years, between Etsy and Itch.IO, I’ve made over 60 individual sales worth over $500 total… almost all of them the direct result of active ad campaigns that were about $150 in all. So given that track record, I figure making over a dozen sales across these two venues in one day… July 4th… is fairly likely. This also means that some of the popular oft-viewed, oft-favorited listings on Etsy should finally sell by the end of that day. If you want them, but have been holding off… seriously, grab them now before someone else does! (Or take a chance on that, and wait until the morning of July 4th, and get the item you want then at 20% off if it happens to still be there.).
In preparation for the new sale I’ll be increasing the total listing count on Etsy to over 20 total listings, 20 different listed items. Granted, some of the new listings will be print stuff – the model railroading stuff appearing in a couple of larger scales they have not yet appeared in. But there will also be some new paintings showing up by the start of the sale.
Final notes: I am still working on both “Miniature Multiverse” and “Panoramic Worlds HD”. As for the latter – in the past month I’ve scrapped the old scene load/unload system and set up a new one with nicer loading screens, I implemented ad and ad-free versions of that loading-screen transition, did some playtesting, identified some situational bugs and fixed most of them, did a bit more graphics polishing in various spots, and in another few days will be doing further playtesting with a handful of other people (mostly close family) and will note any glitches/bugs they find, or any places that are confusing or that get them stuck. I’ll try to fix whatever issues they find, and also will post some trailer and video material on the web (Youtube, Vimeo, the PWHD website, the Itch.IO page, etc.)
Despite numerous failed deadlines, many delays and numerous bugs found and quashed, now I am still very optimistic that it’ll be out there by the time the sale hits. As in, during the week leading into the sale. Keep an eye out for that! It shouldn’t be more than 12 days off now!
Also, I’m working on a MAJOR update for HornbostelVideos.com to go live after that sale, some time in early July. Just know that that is still in the works. I want a lot more of my archived video content accessible but… still, not everything. There are basically going to be several tiers/categories of stuff for legal and other reasons.
Better: All prices are 25% off during the Black Friday/Thanksgiving/Cyber Monday span. So if you want an item… now is a good time for 25% off.
Pinteresting… As a result of posting a ton of freshly revealed .GIF clips from my video productions and other projects,I’ve had a staggering 800+% spike in Pinterest views from October to November, which I suspect drives some of the activity I’m seeing elsewhere [the above Etsy sale, for example].
Check my Pinterest boards to see why that’s taking off like crazy:
And also active [through Cyber Monday is a jaw-dropping 81% off sale on all of my Itch.IO stuff [asset packs with 3d models, stock video FX elements, and texture maps] bundled together. Five asset packs (AND) an early Miniature Multiverse preorder, for $1.69. Here’s a direct link to the bundle page:
There are some new GIFs, video clips, and stills scattered across my ITch.IO pages to showcase the evolving status of my asset packs. I pushed a big update recently to some of them and will be posting some smaller incremental updates very soon – fixes to a few texture-file links and a couple of other small but noticeable glitchy details [like the dandelion texture which I noticed issues with] and I’ll also be adding the long-awaited hanging spanish moss to the ‘Marshes & Meadows’ pack. So those fixes will be posted soon. I tried to participate in the Icehouse Game Jam but fell behind my intended schedule and opted not to submit a very incomplete minigame. However, I’ll still finish the mystery game production [teased on Twitter & Pinterest] at some point.
A new plan… I am working on overhauling HornbostelVideos.com and TriumphantArtists.com.
There will be a lot of new stuff for everyone, massive improvements in content and responsiveness for various devices and the new drop-down navigation is way nicer, plus my video-player setup is way cooler, with a wide range of professional-ish features. Plus it’s all way cleaner looking and no giant endless blocks of text. And long awaited comics and a few more articles actually posted which are not currently available.
HOWEVER, VIDEO IS STILL A LEGAL MESS:
There is a tangled mass of challenges in terms of dealing with video content I have made over the years. I’d love to hit the ground running VERY FAST the day this large-scale new overhaul goes live in mid January of 2020. I need to convince the assorted family and friends to accept terms I’ve laid out [quickly] but that’ll require them to believe signing on [ie allowing their roles to be public and facing possible embarrassment] will somehow be worth it. I have a way to do this but it’s a bit tricky in a few ways, and I will NOT guarantee the online survival of the site video content beyond its first year. I do think I could pull off the plan [but] it’s contingent on this stuff finding an audience.
TV networks need subscribers or millions of live viewers bombarded with commercials, and I will not intrude on my stuff with video ads stalling the video content, nor will I require a subscription or paywall. There will be a still, not animated, banner ad at bottom of each page below the video stuff, and a widget for social media sharing, and that is *it*. So I expect far less revenue per viewer, as a result, than ‘TV’ because I refuse to be intrusive and wish to respect my audience.
Resulting harsh truth: I’ll launch with about 25-30 videos in the site library, and each of them needs to, on average, hit nearly 7,000 unique, REAL views/month. Minimum. That is, 2 million total [combined] video views in the first year. I have had family express skepticism that my VFX-laden, comedy and/or action videos will be of any interest to the broader world.
Well… Pinterest is a fascinating case study. The REASON my Pinterest views have exploded to 800-900/day has mostly to do with about a dozen amusing .GIFs from my video projects. Some of those have been seen by *thousands* of Pinterest viewers. So I figure, if a 5-10 second GIF loop from me grabs a thousand viewers in the past week… how well might the actual high-res video do? I truly believe what my family finds fun the world will too. So that’s why I’m emboldened to give this a shot.
Currently, the Cyber Monday sales are active – and some Etsy art is viewable and some Itch.IO asset packs updated, but little else is new.
Lots of gamedev, video, and web design stuff is going on in the background during December, though.
Jan. 20th, 2020 – the web network updates go live including way more video content, new design, comics, articles… etc.
Feb. 15, 2020 – the Miniature Multiverse extras pack and a bunch of new preview material gets posted online, generating further buzz.
March 15th, 2020 – the full game (Miniature Multiverse) hits Itch.IO and Steam.
Shortly after that I will be reevaluating my plans based on how successful or not, that game’s been. If it goes well, more will happen faster. We’ll see.
My current plan involves the following sequence of events:
#1) Wrapping up and releasing the stock-media asset pack updates on Itch.IO, including an expanded ‘Marshes & Meadows’ and two new collections of 3d assets beyond that. Expected timing is late June, with the sale running from end of June through July 4th. I’d attempted to be ready for the entire duration of the Itch Summer Sale but things aren’t progressing quickly enough. So the start of that sale was officially June 21, and I had reworked my plan for June 24th or 25th when it became clear this would not be ready for the 21st, and now that it’s the 25th, I’m very close but realistically the 27th-29th is now looking like a probable release timeframe. But whenever this stuff IS a bit more polished and ready to launch, you’ll see a video on my Itch profile, 15 mins. long, an extensive overview of my work, especially work related to Itch.IO releases & content.
The sale will include massive discounts as well, especially on a bundle of all five stock media packs ($1.49 for five different stock media collections together in one incredible bundle, essentially 30 cents each!)
#2) I also have been slightly reducing prices and broadening options on eBay, and I posted a brand new fantasy artwork for sale too, I created it on the afternoon/evening of the 24th, over a span of 3 1/2 hours. Opening bid is $8.99. You can view my eBay profile here as usual, and the fantasy item in particular, here.
All the eBay activity is partly to raise funding, but also in preparation for a stock-media DVD launch coinciding with the new Itch.IO releases. Basically, it’ll be all five of my massive stock media collections that do or soon will, exist digitally on Itch, together on a physical DVD complete with disc art, cover art, shipped to customers through eBay. So the eBay ramp up in activity is intended to coincide with the equivalent excitement at Itch.IO.
#3) With the eBay and Itch frenzy wrapped up, ideally I’ll have raised a couple hundred $, or something close to that, and it’d get me to the point of funding the remaining content of ‘Miniature Multiverse‘ which STILL IS MISSING THE LAST HANDFUL OF MINIATURE WORLDS! So while I *could* plausibly raise that cash elsewhere, over the next month, if I want to do so before end of July, I will need something to happen on eBay / itch.
If you’re wondering why I recently bought a handful of items on eBay, incidentally, which have zero connection to that, including a batch of candy gummies and some lighting stuff [filters and a light] plus a bit of children’s clothing… yeah, I am recording a couple of comedy family videos with my nephews and niece, all of them under the age of seven. So they have short attention spans and candy is key to keeping them on task as the 20-minute mark hits. Plus the light stuff is related, as is the roll of blue paper I’m using as a improvised cheapo bluescreen. And the clothes, I want to be sure there’ll be shirts that won’t have any blue in the design, as blue would get keyed out! So yeah, sometimes for holidays I’ll grab something (the flower items for Mothers’ Day) or for projects. In the case of the current video projects, we’ll see if there’s a way to get everyone onboard with the idea of posting that stuff online, but for now I’m just focused on getting those videos made in the first place. So that… the videos in question include a short called ‘Freeway’ in which the children are forced not to watch TV, they get upset, drive off in a car, on their own, and a ridiculous chase ensues. The other video is “House Trek: The Next Generation, Season 1” and that is a follow up to the ancient HT TOS series of absurd sci-fi videos I did and which can be viewed (some of them at least) on HornbostelVideos.com.
Only this time it has an actual cast, better production values (in terms of set stuff, props, etc) and a real narrative arc across the handful of episodes that constitute Season 1. The cast of HTTNG S1 includes me [as the crazy inventor uncle] and the kids [who accidentally initiate a launch sequence and cause the adventure to develop] and Katie [my sister / their mom] as well as my parents. This should be fun. You’ll see what I mean someday.
I’m recording this in much higher quality too. Really, it’s 1080p, good pristine 1080p too, some shot in 1080p, some in 2.7k and downscaled sharply. I could go higher res than that even but I think an HD final edit makes sense for a few reasons, mainly that 1080p is about as high as many PC monitors and mobile tablets can display anyway, and it’s the highest resolution that works for BluRays. But the bottom line is it’s real high end HD and it should look nice when done.
I am hoping that despite spending near $120 on the pair of video shoots, that I’ll still be able to cover the Miniature Multiverse stuff too, sometime in July. It’ll be the end of the month if no sales are made on eBay/Itch and maybe early/mid July if things go unexpectedly really well on my sales. But the project *will* move forward soon to completion, one way or another.
And so will the ‘older’ video projects. I had worried that a significant chunk of my video core data on videos recorded during the last couple years, would be unrecoverable and that in the worst case the videos would be severely weakened as a result of the data losses. But I’ve, with a mix of clever digital methods, been able to recover almost everything at this point, that was key to those. The resulting reality is this: Now those videos can also continue and move forward again. And that’s great news.
So, for example, Fortress Siege 2 is going to happen. And a few other videos too, will be part of what I’ll be working on from October-December 2019, after the release of Miniature Multiverse. If that launch goes well I may even be able to overhaul some of my hardware/software workflow and that may result in some cool VFX imagery and techniques / technology that you’ve never seen me pull off before!
I’m moving to Pittsburgh by end of 2018 and will try very hard, to have all my files backed up in at least two places [hard copy] and ideally three [cloud backup]. That does, unfortunately, require some extra hard drives to be obtained, so any purchases you can make from my shops in the next 30 days would be super helpful in ensuring that 100% of my project data is safe. I do not have unlimited internet in Houston right now, so although I’ve got cloud backup the monthly caps on my internet, will mean only 60% of my data will be saved in the cloud, by the time I move. So if you wish to minimize risks of loss on some of my key offline project files, like the Panoramic Worlds or Isola stuff, or video projects I’m attempting to complete/revise, etc, buying something from me would be extremely useful in ensuring I don’t lose random segments of my work!
3. House Trek revisions on eps. 6-8 are essentially done, save the ep. 7 intro clip which is rendering now, and some scattered editing on the House Trek DVD edition. You should expect a major update to content on HornbostelVideos.com in the next 2-4 weeks… one which even goes a bit beyond merely additional House Trek and vlog content to include several other classic videos. (By classic, I mostly mean old… though several of these are really surprisingly good regardless of how long ago they were originally recorded.)
4. I’m hoping for additional momentum to develop relating to Twitter / FB feeds – so if you’re curious about what I’m up to creatively, please feel free to follow me on my Facebook page or on Twitter. One cool note is that I’m posting some scattered visual material there relating to the upcoming video content and other imminent releases so if you’re interested in what, exactly, I’ll be putting online this month… please follow my social-media feeds in addition to bookmarking this blog! For example:
5. Comics are inbound soon too. Finally, Another Road Taken chapter 1, along with a bunch of additional Troop 4 material, will go online. That should happen soon, and it’s long overdue.
6. A big ad campaign will begin soon on no fewer than four different platforms, and it should result in a major influx of web traffic directed here, good quality web traffic, between July 12 and July 20, 2018. There’ll be a ton of people probably trying to bid on my eBay listings during that span but right now traffic’s in a lull and there’s one handmade-art listing in particular there that is still at a $1.09 opening bid with only a relatively little time left before the auction ends. So if you want to win a pretty personalized artwork at a minimal cost, you should consider bidding on that! Or the stock media DVD, $1.99, an auction which is ending in 48 hrs. So yeah, this is a good time for people following my work to place orders, before the mad rush of public attention kicks in… and, hopefully, results in enough sales that I can thoroughly overhaul & back up all my data.
7. My decal pack is being updated with normal maps and a few extra things, both for the stock media DVD buyers and for those who buy it on the Unity Asset Store. Yes, I’m planning to try submitting the decal pack there as an asset for game developers using the Unity 3D game engine. There’s also some cool stuff I’m doing with my ‘virtual museum’ – it’s never sold well as an item in the past, maybe due to privacy concerns and maybe due to lack of awareness/interest. But I’m going to release an updated and heavily redesigned version on https://matthornb.itch.io/ – my Itch.IO page before long, which will allow buyers there to load the museum and load their own images into the 3D gallery, then gift the saved modified gallery to a family member/friend on a special occasion. The plan is that the licenses will cost $1 / computer for the authoring system that lets you load your own images into the gallery. The link to download the viewer would, by contrast, be free. So a person can simply buy the authoring app, use it to create a custom gallery commemorating an event like a birthday, wedding, holiday, memorial, vacation, etc, and then save the file that results from this, and it can then be sent to a family member and opened with the viewer app. There are still bugs to solve on this but… I’m working on it and I still think it could turn out really well.
That’s the news I’ve got for now. Keep an eye out for some amazing things in the next month!
#1) Miniature Multiverse is being pushed back. I have discussed launching it by end of May but that is looking impractical, largely due to the losses sustained on eBay recently [see previous post] and while I think it’s conceivable that the game could be finished if concept art sales were to go well, it would not be done as well as it should be, on the tight budget resulting from that. I would prefer to wrap the game up with a budget of $450 more and a span of another 5 months, not $250 and one month – that $450 figure is for another $250 in miniature supplies, $120 in sound design assets [licensed sound effects, music] and an $80 ad campaign at launch to give it a decent shot at success out of the gate. Any attempt to get this done on a $200ish budget means shoddier looking miniature elements on later parts of the game, and sparse, lower-quality sound, as well as a minimal or no promotion for the project which would mean a higher probability of failure. And, I want this to succeed if there’s any chance of that.
#2) I might pivot back to projects that require limited resources in physical-supply terms, during May; just in an attempt to keep everyone from getting utterly bored around here. Projects that might potentially be selected to benefit from this shift include ‘Spiral Skies’, ‘Panoramic Worlds’, the Redeemer tour, ‘Vortex’, and a couple of other minigames/games with limited scope… basically things that involve digital 3d assets, not miniature, art assets. Aside from that, the missing articles pages will be filled in soon, as well as some pages of Another Road Taken and Troop 4 comics stuff. I’m also planning on wrapping up release of the old House Trek videos not yet released on HornbostelVideos.com, plus Send in the Clones 1, and some other stuff. [Superstorm FTW!]
#3) I have also ALREADY coded a dynamic banner ad for the base of some sites’ main pages which may be implemented in more places over time. The banner ad i question uses a weighted probability system to display different chunks of content at different frequencies; there’s ad material for a wide range of websites I run, but also once in a while [less than 5% of the time] a message informing viewers that there are a batch of coupon codes in the banner that could appear but only rarely. Such codes are usable only once, first person to find a code and use it will be the only one to benefit from it… so if you find one, definitely type it down, take a screenshot, take note of it. Because these codes are for the HornbostelProductions.com shop and they grant a stunning 50%-90% off an order [up to $99 order value in the case of the 90% off code] which means, for example, with the 90% off code… you might be able to place an order for something like a gigantic 3 foot by 4 foot [36”x48”] custom painting for only $6 via PayPal, not the normal $60. And free shipping too! That’s useful for you all as a few of you would get an astounding deal, but it’s also helpful for me even with the money lost, as it’d gain me my first few sales on that shop and, ideally, a few ratings too from customers, which is pretty crucial at this point because I think that lack of ‘social proof’ is why the store has yet to take off.
Despite a strongly positive reputation on eBay specifically, I do struggle with some notoriety for being ‘unreliable’ in the timing of new releases.
This has been the case for years, even before I had any websites allowing a wider audience to notice my work. Why do I keep falling behind on my scheduled releases? Why do I so frequently disappoint everyone on the web with how slow my work goes?
It is largely due to the amount of my time dedicated to earning money to make content… and the generally abysmal rate at which that money is earned. We’re talking $5.50 per hour in the best cases, and often no more than $2 or $3/hour.
When the total list of videos and video games I want to release [in the near future] looks like it’ll cost at least $10,000 more to complete everything I want to complete – between hardware, equipment, art supplies, miniature elements, and other costs – well, that’s a problem. That’s about 3000 hours of work just to finance everything and probably another 3600-4500 to actually make the content once it’s paid for even if no setbacks or major problems occur. So let’s say I average 11 hours a day on this, it’s still about 600 more days to get all these things done. And as usual, nothing ever goes as smoothly as I’d want it to.
Now, I’ve had a tendency to drift focus a lot in a rotation, from project to project, making incremental progress on things in a sort of loop, but quite frankly I’m getting tired of the perception that nothing’s happening and I want to upend that.
In the last two weeks, I have made – saved up – a decent amount of money and also upgraded a few critical toolsets. That’s great. But now I’m looking at the mind-numbingly tedious sub-minimum-wage gigs I have been doing all the freaking time to cover the bills and the eBay auctions of artworks for customers that I make no more than $2/hour on or so, at best, and thinking “Why can’t I try to pare this back? Do I really think this is the best use of my time? Is this what most of my audience actually wants to see me doing?”
And the answer’s definitively a NO.
The audience here wants:
-Games, Videos, Comics, Artworks, and assorted creative stuff available to everyone, either dirt cheap or ideally completely free, and they want that stuff soon, they don’t want to wait forever for the content to materialize.
Now, there’s actually a way to make that happen. It’s a simple well-worn concept that underlies a ton of things from broadcast TV networks, to Google, Facebook, Twitter, to the various blogs you see across the web.
The problem with ads on a website is that for them to be viable, you need a LARGE and LOYAL audience – a lot of people visiting regularly.
I’m only currently at 1% of the level needed for the ad revenue to be substantial enough to replace my need to sell products or work on freelance gigs [transcription & such].
At the threshold of 100x as many visitors as I’m getting now, advertising covers everything on my network.
At or above that threshold, none of the products [videos, games] I release need to be anything other than freeware.
All the games – free, 100%, and production would double in speed across the board… on everything I’m doing.
I WON’T BLUDGEON YOU WITH REQUESTS TO VISIT MORE OFTEN OR RECRUIT A BUNCH OF FRIENDS SIMPLY FOR THIS REASON.
I want to instead entice you to do that with some cool stuff that’ll make you WANT to come back often and which will make this network EASY to recommend to friends.
So here’s my idea. The last two weeks I earned a fair amount of cash.
The next 3 weeks, I’ll work on wrapping up some exciting things, actually finishing or at least getting to a point of viability, on a few new items you’re all getting tired of waiting for.
Then the final week of February, if all goes well:
-a large but finely tuned ad campaign will draw a few thousand new visitors to my web network.
-systematic restructure of my web network, new content appearing in various places.
-New video material, all the House Trek stuff and a couple of other things too, posted on HornbostelVideos.com, with a higher-quality disc version [with animated menus and special feature stuff] available on this website’s shop for $2.99 download or $11.99 DVD / 14.99 BluRay.
-Some added comics stuff and completion of the several articles sub-sections that are still vacant.
-A new batch of pyrotechnics elements, both real video content and some clips done with advanced gas/fluid simulation, in the stock media section.
The material’s all shot or simulated at 120fps, and slowed down to 24fps and 30fps variants. The free video files will be reduced-resolution 960×540, the paid versions 1920×1080. [full HD!] and the paid versions will show up on HornbostelProductions.com for $5.99 as downloadable content on HornbostelProductions.com, $14.99 on DVD on HornbostelProductions.com, or $16.99 shipped on a data DVD through eBay. (I was considering a $14.99 price on eBay too, but given the typical fees I have to pay there, which come close to 20%, $16.99 is basically As low as I can justify.)
I’ve ordered two new additional high-speed cameras, and will be setting up some black backing, reflective mirrors [really it’s a nice clean thick cardstock type material with a very reflective mirror-like coating on one side sort of like aluminum foil without wrinkles.] set at 45-degree angles, telephoto lenses, fireproofing supplies, etc, for the recording of the real-world pyrotechnic elements. All the equipment required is en route, and I’ll try my best to make the recorded material look amazing. The idea with the mirrors is to minimize risk to the camera. These are old-school Hollywood methods basically, you can set the mirror above or below the effect and align the camera to focus on the mirror, so you get the explosion billowing towards the camera in some interesting ways without actually endangering the camera. As for shooting at 120fps, that makes the effect look bigger and more impressive [and makes it last 4x longer when reduced to 30fps or 5x longer at 24fps] than the limited-scale effect it actually is. Recording at such high speed allows a miniature to move physics-wise as though it were 16 times bigger than it actually is, giving the illusion of immense scale and mass. The effects in question will only be four or five feet or so in size at most, in reality and will dissipate within two seconds. But they’ll seem far bigger as recorded, gigantic even, and the effects elements could each last up to 8-10 seconds when played back at a typical speed.
-New game content. I’ve had some frustration with WebGL releases from Unity as they were tricky to debug at times, and WebGL apps require that the game files AND the RAM usage fit within a 1GB limit, to run in a web browser. That said, I am now realizing that these limitations aren’t so bad if used for a lower-res demo version of an ambitious game and not a full-res one. So my plan is to release some of my game content in WebGL form, but with quarter-res graphics. That is, all textures switched on export to half the vertical and half the horizontal pixel count they’d ordinarily use. That reduces file size and memory use on all these projects from around 2-4 GB to under 1GB as far as web-embedded release goes.
So I’m aiming to launch a lower-res ‘Miniature Multiverse’ demo and a bit of other stuff like an early ‘Vivid Minigolf’ reworking posted in HTML5 WebGL form near the end of Feb. 2018, barring an unplanned complication. Neither is the full game feature wise or content wise, they’re both early beta releases with a lot of the content not yet included, and lower-res textures. They will, however, be freeware, and playable on my web network [embedded in the page, with a bit of ad stuff underneath.]
The idea on most of the games, videos, everything, is it is all going to be accessible free in some form, either the full, entire version for free, as with the comics, or some sort of reduced-resolution form, but otherwise as functional as the full version in the case of video and video game content.
If this succeeds, that’d be great. I’m hoping ongoing traffic levels have climbed 10-fold by end of February, covering a full 10% of my production costs, and that most of the other 90% of my costs in running this network can be covered by sales of high-value products that have better profit margins than before either because they don’t involve shipping [downloadables] or because they’re high quality enough and widely viewed enough that they end up selling for a bit more than they would have before.
Update: There’s been an extensive ad campaign ramping up – and fortunately 200+ people have viewed the stock media section of TriumphantArtists.com just in the past 72 hours.
By the time of launch, I think that figure will be more like 1200-1500, and I’m optimistic that the new pyrotechnic stock media / stock footage collection, which will have cost me a bit over $250 in incendiary materials, other materials and camera gear, will ultimately result in an explosion of sales. [Pun intended]