“Money, it’s a gas” So the philosophers Pink Floyd once wrote. I’ve been noodling with this post for a little while now and would like to take a moment out of our busy reviewing, critiquing and podcasting schedule to talk about the site: where we have been, where we are and my ambitions for the future. Above all I want to talk openly about how we fund the site and where I see that side of things going.
Many years ago I had ambitions to become a games designer. I started The Giant Brain on one of my early trips to Gencon, spitballing name ideas with some friends and eventually hitting on this one to cover the possibility of putting out games with an educational element.
I put out a couple of light games but never really pushed it further than that. I toyed with game design more than I pursued it and The Giant Brain as a site ticked away quietly in the background with the occasional design post.
A couple of years ago I decided to change the nature of the site completely. I’d been slowly increasing the amount of writing I was doing and had been thinking about turning my hand to the journalistic side of the hobby. I was still noodling with game design, but found myself enjoying the writing more than the design. It was time to do something about that.
Over the next year I started to review games, write convention reports and occasional pieces of design and generalised critique. As I grew in confidence and evolved my style I started to think about other things I could do. I had a shot at videos but felt I didn’t really have a good hook to exploit and turned my attention to podcast. The world was well served by review and chat focused casts but the news side of reporting felt bereft of content.
I recruited Jamie Adams and Samuel Maggs who were already putting out a chat focused cast. I had an idea to riff off such shows as Not the 9 o’clock News and The Day Today, producing a sort of satirical take on the boardgaming news. We produced a dry run of this format to share amongst friends and the response wasn’t great (I really recommend doing this by the way if you are thinking about starting a cast).
Going back to the drawing board we instead turned to a more improvisational style with more scripted skits involved and Brainwaves was born: a fortnightly show focusing on industry news, but not necessarily new releases. To my surprise the response was pretty positive, surpassing my own goals for growth and seeing a steady, but not stratospheric, rise in audience since we launched.
Present and correct
Early this year we lost Sam to work and life commitments and we made the decision to change the podcast format. We’ve mostly done away with skits, though I am gaining confidence in my audio editing skills so might bring those back at some point. For now though our third chair is filled by a guest reporter, someone in the industry with a focus on the UK for now. This seems to have gone down pretty well to the point where our patreon support is now paying for the site and podcast.
With the podcast ticking along nicely and the site getting more views I am pretty happy with where we stand at the moment. This year has seen us hook up with There Will be Games, where the work from our site is featured alongside some writers I really admire like Matt Thrower and Mike Barnes. We’ve recently had our first contributor write for the site, Peter Hopkins of Drawn to the Flame, and I hope to get more folks writing on the site by the end of the year.
What’s next for The Giant Brain? I’m never entirely sure (definitely not making this up as I go along, oh no). I had my first taste of live interviews on the floor of Tabletop Scotland this year and I would definitely like to look at getting some better equipment to do that kind of thing. More conventions is also on the Agenda, though that might mean adding more ‘staff’ to the site so we can cover more of the country.
As we look to the future we are once again looking at how we fund the site and how we might go about growing that in order to attend more cons, replace equipment (an inevitability), and pick up games for review. Being as small as we are we get almost no review copies, so this could be a valuable resource to us.
All about the Benjamins
This has all been a bit of a long winded way to get around to talking about cold, hard cash. As it stands the site and cast are funded through Patreon and we are grateful to everyone who supports us in this manner. As we look to grow further we will be adding in some other revenue streams and I would like to elaborate on those.
Buy my Games
As I mentioned earlier, in the dim and distant past I dabbled with game design. I released two games under The Giant Brain, one of which is available through Drivethrucards. I’ll make the sequel to it available this year as well. If you would like to get a game in return for giving us some money, this is the way to go about it.
I’ve already got some badges and stickers to give away to folks at conventions but I am now looking beyond that into getting t-shirts and the like made so fans of the show can support us that way and get something in return. Once we have this sorted I’ll be getting a store link up on The Giant Brain. We would love to here if there is anything in particular that you would like to see from us.
From time to time we all get promotional codes for offers if we invite a friend to particular service. I’ll be putting my codes up as I get them and if you want to join those services you should feel free to use them. You get something, I get some money back all good. I’ve heard this has worked for some folks so I just want to see how that goes.
For instance, I’ll be putting up my ‘Invite a friend’ code for the Bulb power company. I’ve been really happy with the service and I hope you will be to. We will only ever share codes for products we absolutely believe in and use ourselves.
Amazon Affiliate Links
This is the most controversial one and the idea I’ve been wrestling with the most.
When the Arkham Horror: Beginner’s Guide I wrote went big, it’s the most read article on the site by some degree, I started to think about how I might be able to start monetising it and the site in general. We had been growing steadily for a while and with that came thinking about the future, how we might fund that and basically this whole article. I’ve considered various things and I think for now that Amazon Affiliate Links is the best way forward.
For those unfamiliar with this system basically we can put links to products in our articles and also add a link to a page with products we recommend. Whenever you buy something through one of our links we get a percentage of the product, 6% for games if I am reading the information correctly. There is no additional cost to you, we just get a cut of the price.
We take pride at The Giant Brain at being as clear as possible at the top of each of our articles about where we get our games from: if they are paid for by us, given to us by the publisher, printed by us from print and play files etc. As we move into monetising the site in this way we are going to continue to hold ourselves to a high standard of journalistic ethics and will make it clear when an article contains affiliate links. In addition when we do put in an affiliate link it will be clear that the link is to go and buy the product, either through straight up saying so or having this (AL) beside the link.
The Bottom Line
In the end neither Jamie nor I are in this for the money, and there are very view boardgame media folk making a living from this part of the hobby. We have a mutual love of boardgames and tabletop games in general and wanted to write/chat about that passion. Would I love to make enough money from all these sources for it to become full time? Of course I would, though I suspect the site becoming a job would have its own set of issues with it.
We hope that we can continue to bring you entertainment and information for many years to come. We are always grateful to anyone who visits the site, listens to the cast and comments/shares the work. If you would like to throw us the occasional coin, then you will find many ways to support us from here on. However you choose to support the site, you have our thanks.