It’s safe to announce that The Neocom has reached the point where growth has become almost self-sustaining. Even while I was on vacation, new articles, projects, and ideas were being proposed on our Skype channels – so much so, in fact, that we could no longer coordinate content exclusively via Skype. Hundreds of lines of chat, with now over twelve Neocom contributors, authors, and podcasters feeding the network beast’s two different Skype channels for The Neocom and The Tinfoil Factory. Questions and chat getting lost among the mammoth amount of text lines. There had to be a better way…enter Trello.
Problems and Solutions
Before vacation, I had been promising the team that I would implement a more organized methodology to coordinating and scheduling articles for release, podcasts in production, and special content that required multiple people. Through my experience working with the Cap Stable CSM Interview project this year, I was introduced to Trello by Lanctharus and was immediately impressed with its ease of use and customization options for project management. Now, I’m pleased to announce that our Trello board is up and being utilized.
As it stands, there are now FIVE podcast productions available through The Neocom Network:
- The Neocom Podcast
- The Tinfoil Factory
- Links In Local
- The Eve Reader Podcast
- Nova Newscast
What does this mean to our readers and listeners? Well, with five different productions within the network, it means that both article and podcast content should become more regular and better-scheduled. The Neocom Podcast will always have less of a steady release cadence due to Kira’s and my schedules, that’s just the nature of the beast. Unless the good Lord decides to give me a life that doesn’t involve truck driving, that isn’t going to change. That said, I have implemented a few ideas that work around this inconvenience. Most of these ideas involve special shows with unique themes, guest hosts, and a few other nuggets of inspiration.
Regarding News Reporting
As briefly discussed in the Project Eve Audio Spotlight, the marriage of The Neocom and Eve Reader has opened up some amazing projects and collaborations none of us ever dreamed of. Through these discoveries of new talent, began the project of The Nova Newscast. This pilot episode was conceived by Cyrillian Voth and Elinari Rhodan, and enlisted the help of several notable personalities in the community such as Luobote Kong, Max Singularity, and Zendane, who was more than happy to lend his voice for the intro. I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t too sure about getting involved in EVE news reporting, as there are already several great sources for audio news, such as the New Eden Update, YouTube channels such as the o7 Report – and of course there are great outlets for written news of various kinds, including TheMittani.com, EveNews24, and Crossing Zebras.
However, The Nova Newscast does something very different from these other sources. Taking stories from in-game lore, building on headlines from various existing sources, and adding a little more light-hearted content, TNN can fill a niche in the current news without directly competing with other established EVE media. After I listened to Cyrillian and Elinari’s pilot episode, any doubts of doing news content went out the window, and I immediately gave the approval for release. In just a couple of days, we’ve had an amazing response to the pilot, and we’re taking constructive feedback to make it even better. For a first episode, I couldn’t be more pleased, and I look forward to seeing more episodes in pre-production on the Trello board soon.
The Future of Real Life ISK (aka Breaking my own Promises)
The goal of The Neocom was never to make money. The vision of the website and podcasts was to stay true to the spirit of being a fan site, and to foster creativity. We’ve accomplished that goal and a whole lot more, but with this success comes a harsh reality – sustaining the network as well as nurturing continued growth is going to require actual money. I’m going to admit a few things here that will be news to some people, and possibly borderline hypocritical for me to cop to.
Up until the recent redesign of The Neocom, the website, podcast hosting, and tools that we used to bring content was 100% free. I do have a Mumble server that I have had for a few months, but the costs were negligible at like $40.00 per year – no big deal. Kira also has a Mumble server for Nova Haven that we use for most recordings, and has higher user capacity when the times call for it. Other than that, we just considered it a labor of love, and we were getting more than that in value from fansite benefits.
Now I’ve paid for a premium wordpress.com account, space will be getting limited on archive.org, we have run into hardware limitations, and now we will have additional expenses, such as Trello when the promotional gold membership runs dry in a few months. I have to look at getting actual server hosting for podcast content, invest in better hardware, and meet our current financial obligations to keep The Neocom going strong. Our affiliate sponsor relationship has been fine for traffic, but low on the number of people who actually pull the trigger to a free trial through Audible.com. As a result, our sponsorship has grossed us a whole $45.00 in the two to three months we’ve been partnered with them.
In a month, we’ll average about ten to fifteen thousand visitors to the website. Considering our content was sporadic at best for the first six months, I’d call that a win, and I’m very proud of the uptick in traffic recently thanks to Facebook, Tweetfleet, Reddit, and Total Eve. However, with an industry average of less than 1% click-through traffic for our affiliate sponsor, I’m faced with a decision – stagnate and be happy with what we’ve got now, or continue to grow.
I don’t stagnate very well.
Thus, I will be working on a program that partners merchandise with the dreaded “P word” – That’s right. I will most likely be opening The Neocom up to Patreon. I want to do this the right way so I want your input: What kind of rewards would you like to see for different pledge levels? What kind of merchandise would you like to see? More polos? T-Shirts? Coffee mugs? Pens? Stickers?
In-Game Sponsors and the Stigma of Gambling Sites
It’s no secret that we have a friendly relationship with those cool kids at Eve-bet.com. They do not sponsor us on a regular basis, but have been gracious with providing us codes to give away at Vegas and Eve Down Under. Not to mention our Daddy Warbucks, Otto Bismarck, providing us with some great prizes to give away. I have purposely not tied The Neocom to any gambling sites because of controversies that have plagued these types of sites in the past. Eve-bet has so far been the exception to this rule, but I have been looking at the possibility of partnering with a new site that hasn’t been announced yet. Be that as it may, I will now consider in-game or out of game sponsors.
While our podcast productions are free to pursue their own method of isk-making, The Neocom website pays contributors by the article, from 150m isk and up, and there are two PLEXed positions currently on our team. As you can imagine with my personal schedule, making enough isk to pay out usually means converting the proceeds from Audible into PLEX; any difference comes out of my character’s wallet. Although personally sustainable to me, it’s not ideal.
As The Neocom continues to evolve, I’m sure I’ll have more challenges to tackle, but I’m gonna be honest with everyone – I’m having the time of my life! What we’ve accomplished in just one short year has stunned me. I continue to marvel at the people we attract, the impact that we have on the community, and the feedback that we get almost daily. This site is beyond me on so many levels, and I promise to continue to push others into the spotlight. Should the Patreon idea come to fruition, I vow that I will treat such income as if we were a publicly-traded company and offer full disclosure for how we spend those funds.
My long-term goals?
- Our own Server
- Hardware Upgrade
- Continue with our free production assistance
- A radio network
- Many, many other ideas
There’s your peek behind the curtain. Enjoy the new content and keep the feedback coming!