It’s all in the numbers, isn’t it?

One of the ways we keep this site honest is to be open as possible about the numbers that drive an operation like The Giant Brain. I’ve had a chance to sit down and look at the site in terms of views, the listens we’ve had on the cast, and the money we’ve generated over the course of 2020. Let’s dive into them and what I think they mean.

The Podcast

The podcast has been holding steady for a while now, and Podbean gives us a variety of ways to look at the listeners and downloads for Brainwaves. I was tracking the cast to cast stats for most of the year, but fell out of the habit in the last quarter. I’ve caught up with that now. As you can see we had a wee bit of a dip in average listeners per cast, but it’s back up to the 150 mark. Now I am pretty sure that this was down to me not really adding up some numbers correctly, so we’ve been holding steady at 150 listens since episode 59 back in October of last year. This is down a little from our high but not a bad result at all.

I choose to look at average downloads per cast as there is not really a good way to judge the size of your audience on a podcast. Most sites do not have that information. Although Podbean has added this feature recently I am not entirely sure I trust the algorithm to give the correct details. Average downloads per cast allows us to see how we are doing and I’ve stuck to it for a while as a good measure of growth.

We have a good sized audience but I would really like to get more people on the Brainwaves bandwagon. Podcast discoverability is terrible, so I’ll be looking at other avenues to advertise the cast: getting on other casts, having them on as guest reporters (something I’ve been wanting to do for a while as an adaption of the guest model we had at one point). I have a bunch of ideas, but in the end we rely on organic shares of the cast. If you can spare us a like, review, or a share, we greatly appreciate it.

The Site

This website is a much easier prospect to keep track of because I can look at visitors and views. We had an absolutely fantastic year as the site hit 60206 views and 32880 visitors. In 2019 we had 31880 views and 17017 visitors. 80 posts were published in total in 2020. What this boils down to is an 88% increase in views, and a 93% increase in visitors.

A lot of this traffic is being driven to the site by the Arkham Horror guides, and I am so grateful for the community that has taken those to heart. Scum & Villainy and Eldritch Horror reviews have also seen good traffic. The latter has been a surprise, and I hope that it goes to show that you don’t need new games to get people to your platform. Sitting just inside the top 10, Star Trek: Adventures continues to draw views (it’s ok to post negative reviews). I am planning some more articles in the way of beginners guide, with my first target being the rather labyrinthine Roll20. Anything else you think needs a guide?

I would be utterly shocked if we maintain this growth throughout 2021. That said, it looks like it’s going to be another stonking year if January is anything to go by. We broke 8000 views in a month for the first time in January 2021, and views in the same period 2020 were 3918. A 100%+ growth would be phenomenal, but realistically coming out closer to 50% would also be absolutely amazing.

The Money

Now we are down to the real question, how much money do we make from the site? Are we all secretly living in mansions as we shill games to you? No, no we are not. I want to remain honest, maybe even embarrassingly so, about how much money it takes to make The Giant Brain tick, and how we get that. It lets you judge what we are up to.

You can see the state of our 2020 finances in this spreadsheet. In a shock to everyone, including me, we actually came out of the year with a little bit of money in the accounts. We are so grateful to all our patrons who make hosting the website and podcast possible. Our other revenue stream is Amazon Affiliate links, and they have proven a real boon in getting some more cash into the accounts.

For now we are using this money to make some tech upgrades, like buying Iain Chantler a camera. Eventually my plan is to use this money to buy games for review that we will then giveaway. Extra money like this allows us to stay distanced from the publisher. Now you know that we always give our honest opinion, but when we can maintain a little bit more distance from those who make games, I think that is better for everyone.

I have no idea what sort of money we will take in over the course of 2021, but we did get a new patron the other day, and we hope that the community we build around the Discord will also result in some more money coming our way. It’s not the be all and end all of why we set it up by any means, but a larger community is bound to result in some more financial support. I’ll also be looking into other affiliate opportunities where I don’t feel they compromise the integrity of the site. Every time I think about monetising the site my first and foremost concern is how that affects the perception of our reviews and the trust you have in us. If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t happen.

What does this mean?

Does any of this actually matter? Yes and no. Let’s start with the no first. If you enjoy writing, write. If you like making podcasts, make them. As long as you are enjoying the process the numbers are merely a nice thing to look at to see how you are doing, you should not live and die by them. Of course none of us here are reliant on The Giant Brain for a steady income, I could shut the whole thing down tomorrow and it wouldn’t harm any of us. If content creation, I am not a fan of that term, is your bread and butter then these numbers become a lot more important.

On the ‘yes these matter’ side, I do like to see growth in the work we do. It’s gratifying that my writing brings more and more people to the site, it’s lovely to see our income slowly grow, and it’s good to know that our voices are heard when we record the cast. I honestly couldn’t tell you if I would continue with the cast if the numbers dropped off a lot, as it is quite a bit of work to put together and edit. It’s an interesting thing to think about, and an aspect of this niche of a niche I’ve chosen to pursue that I’ve not really given a huge amount of thought to.

For now let me thank everyone who has read an article, listened to the cast, or chucked us a buck. Every single one of you is appreciated and we hope you get a little bit of entertainment out of our own strange corner of the internet.

Come and discuss this article with us in the Giant Brain Discord. You can support us by donating to our Patreon. You can find other ways to support us here.

Iain McAllister

Tabletop games reviewer and podcaster based in Dalkeith, Scotland.

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