I can’t believe it’s been a full year since I started the blog. More importantly, I can’t believe I’ve managed to maintain at least a weekly posting schedule for that entire time. For this State of the Frontier post, I’m going to be looking back over the entire history of the blog, not just the last month. Normally I post this on the last day of the month but since that was a regular post day, this is coming exactly one year after I made the first post.
I’m actually writing this in late April because when it finally posts, I’ll be on a cruise ship in the middle of the Caribbean with my wife celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. So most of what follows is based on data at that time.
It’s interesting (to me at least) to look at the raw numbers for the site. I don’t really have anything to compare them to, but they form a baseline for the years going forward. First up, the raw web stats:
- Sessions – visits to the sites consisting of one or more pages read: 2086
- Users – number of people that visited the blog: 1360
- Total Page views: 3388
I couldn’t tell you if that’s good or bad considering I just started, but I’m happy with it. There’s definitely a rhythm to the visits. It peaks on the days I make a new post (as I would expect) with 10-25 visitors on those days, a few more visitors on the day after a post, and then only one or two visitors for the rest of the week. I suspect that baseline number on the non-post days will slowly increase over time as there is more and more back content for people to come across and visit.
The next thing to look at is the number of posts and comments received. This post represents the 72nd post on the site. Considering I’ve only been doing it for 52 weeks, that works out to 1.38 posts per week. When I started this blog, I was thinking I’d be making two posts a month and slowly ramping up. However, I quickly got into the one a week habit with some extra posts (like these State of the Frontier ones) thrown in for good measure. I’m happy with the cadence I’ve set up. I don’t think I could do much more than that at the moment with everything I’m working on, but we’ll see how it goes in the coming year.
I don’t get a lot of commentary here on the blog. There have been a total of 52 comments on the first 68 posts and 7 of those were me responding to other comments. A lot of the others are just cross links (pingbacks) between posts on the site. I actually get more comments on the cross posts in the Star Frontiers Facebook group. I can’t decide if the lack of commentary is good or bad. On the one hand, I don’t get a lot of feedback or interaction on the content from those reading it. On the other hand, fewer comments means I can spend the time that I would be responding on creating new content. But on the gripping hand, the lack of commentary makes it hard to tell if people are enjoying the content or not. At some level that latter doesn’t matter as I’m doing it as much for me as for others, but I want the readership to grow.
Which brings me to
The Patreon Campaign
First. I want to say a big THANK YOU! To everyone that is or has been a Patreon supporter of this blog. I know I’m not a great poster on the Patreon campaign itself, but I hope everyone there is also a blog subscriber as well. I believe in accountability so I thought I’d take a moment and talk about the funds raised via Patreon. Due to the generosity of my patrons, I’ve earned $532.53 over the past year (assuming no one cancels between now when I’m writing this and when it publishes in a week an a half). I thought I’d talk a little bit about where that money went.
- Web hosting – $82 – While the Expanding Frontier site is physically hosted on a server in my house. I do host several other websites, including the Frontier Explorer website, on a shared hosting server. With the Frontier Explorer starting production again (with its own Patreon), that may change in the coming year. I also have a fairly high speed connection to my house which comes at a cost.
- Domain registrations – $64.70 – I actually have a bunch of domains that I own, I use the money from my gaming endeavors (including this Patreon) for those registrations. They include some vanity domains for myself and some of my kids, the Frontier Explorer, a couple of Star Frontiers domains, and a few others. All told there are 10 domains. Several of those I had paid for 2 years of registration last year so they didn’t come due this year. Otherwise that total would be closer to $110. Again the Frontier Explorer Patreon will cover some of that in the coming year.
- Supporting other creators – $61 – I currently support two other creators, Dyson Logos, whose maps I’ve used in my games and in some products I’ve sold (Two Sheet Locations), and the Saving the Game podcast. I’ve considered supporting other creators but have never actually made pledges. That may change if my Patreon support increases.
- Gaming supplies – $178.32 – Not necessarily specific to the content I produce here, but I use the money from the Patreon to feed my gaming hobby. Purchases this year include a D&D PHB, a bag of 150 polyhedral dice, a copy of The Angry GM’s book on Kickstarter, and support for another Kickstarter of stock Sci-fi art. That last one hasn’t been delivered yet but when it does, I’ll be able to use the images in my blog posts and the Frontier Explorer and other products I produce.
- Software – $106.74 – My versions of Microsoft Office were getting pretty old (2010) so this year I bit the bullet and purchased a license for Office 365. Since I have a number of different computers that I use, I purchased a family license allowing me to install the software on up to 6 computers so my kids have access to it as well.
All told, that came to $492.76 in expenses leaving me $39.77. Maybe I’ll use that to take my wife out to dinner. Again, I can’t say thank you enough to my supporters. Because of you, my gaming hobby is self-sustaining and I can pursue it guilt-free on the financial side. (I still sometimes feel guilty on the time side.)
I started out the year with three main projects which I had intended to work on. Unfortunately, I haven’t completed any of them yet although I’m starting to get close. One I didn’t even get started on. In addition to those original projects, I picked up a few others along the way. The projects worked on this year include:
- Death at Rosegard Adventure – 13 posts (including the 4 how to draw videos)
- Ghost Ship Osiris Adventure – 12 posts
- New Starship Construction System – 11 posts (5 about the system and 6 ships)
- The Detailed Frontier Timeline – 5 posts
- Calendar systems and star system design – 4 posts
- PGC Records Vault location – 3 posts
- Other miscellaneous topics – 5 posts
Looking forward into the new year, I think I’ll be wrapping up several of those projects.
- The Death at Rosegard adventure will be completed. I’m working now on putting the Death at Rosegard write-up together. There will probably be some more posts on bits and pieces I missed as I string it all in to a coherent form.
- The same is true of the Ghost Ship Osiris adventures. I need to write up the descriptions of the various rooms on the Pursale ship and what the PCs can find there, and then write up the final section of the adventure. Beyond that it’s mostly art work and making the deck plans for the two ships in the art style for FrontierSpace.
- The New Starship Construction System is almost done as well. At least the initial version compatible with Star Frontiers. That is only lacking some equipment descriptions and some final formatting. That will probably be released as a Frontier Explorer Presents publication later this year.
The Detailed Frontier Timeline will keep going, one post a month and 1-3 tweets per day for the next several years so that won’t be wrapping up any time soon. The other project I just started is the complete Star Frontiers campaign based on the published modules of which the first post was yesterday. That will probably have 2 or maybe 3 more posts and then be put together as a complete document for download.
Another project that I’ve just started on, but which I don’t have anything yet to post about, is an update to the Expanded Frontier Map that I posted back at the end of October. I’ve noticed a few errors on the map as I’ve been using it over the past months, so I’ll post an updated version. But more significantly, I’m working on creating a full-color, poster-sized version. Many years ago (2015), I wrote a program to randomly generate star sectors and produce a map which I wrote about on my old Arcane Game Lore blog (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). I’m currently working on that program to not just randomly create systems but read the data from a file and draw the appropriate map. I’ll use that to create the Expanded Frontier Map in full-color and share the program so others can use it as well.
Finally, in this coming year I want to get back to writing fiction. I have two books I’m in theory working on. One is a follow-on to my book Discovery. The second is a story set on Pale during the Great Sathar War. I’ve been poking a bit at the latter one in the last few months and will probably pick up steam on that in the future. We’ll see how (and if) that goes.
Beyond that, I don’t know where I’ll head. I might finally start the Sathar Assault Carrier project, or I might get carried off on another tangent. We’ll just have to see where we end up on the journey through the ever-expanding frontier.
Thank you for reading my work and again a special thanks to those who have helped support it. If there are projects you’d like to see worked on, please let me know.