Sunday, 18 September 2011

Thoughts on Income

Well, that's a provocative title. Link bait you might say...

Seriously though, BattleScribe and money has been something I've been thinking about lately. As I've always tried to be open about everything I try to do with BattleScribe, I thought I should air my thoughts and see what people think.

Just to be clear though, there will always be free, fully functional versions for desktop and mobile. Forever. That isn't going to change.

So what's this all about? It's a bit of a dream of mine to be able to one day quit the day job and focus all my time on BattleScribe. Combining my two favorite pastimes - toy soldiers and programming - into a job would be awesome. I could do a much better job of supporting and improving the program, and start implementing some of the other grand schemes I've been thinking about.

Currently, BattleScribe pays it's way with generous donations, the ads on the mobile version and the affiliate links in the desktop version. I can run the project at no real cost to myself for web hosting etc, which is great.

Of course, for me to be able to focus on BattleScribe entirely, it has to go a little further than just supporting itself. So I've been thinking of ways to generate some income from BattleScribe that keep it free and provide some benefit for the user.

I've come up with a few ideas, and I'd love to hear your thoughts.

  1. Turning the affiliate links on the desktop version into a much more useful feature. The idea would be that once you've created an army list, you could click the link to go to your preferred web store. When you get there you find your shopping basket already populated with everything you need to build your army. BattleScribe gets a small cut of any sales made through the links.
  2. A paid for version of the mobile app. Make it ad-free and also give it something extra as a thank you for purchasing, such as alternative skins. The free one would still have all the same features.
  3. Direct advertising on the mobile and (possibly) desktop versions, and on the website. Companies could pay for ad space, which means they'd be much more relevant and useful to wargamers. This kind of advertising is also more lucrative, especially for a niche product like BattleScribe.
  4. A "pay what you want" model to "purchase" the desktop version (where "what you want" can be nothing - there would be a prominent "skip payment" button). I'm a little uneasy about this as it feels like I'd be guilt-tripping people into parting with their cash...
  5. Merchandise. T-shirts, stickers, mugs or whatever fun stuff people would like to buy. Not sure there would be much demand for a BattleScribe t-shirt though!

I hope you get where I'm trying to go with this. The idea is to find useful, optional or unobtrusive ways to generate a little income, without making it a paid for product or reducing it's functionality.

So, what do you think? Do you have any suggestions? Let me know on the forum or the comments. Thanks!