I’ve sort of been doing the professional GM thing for a year-ish, but it was only about two months ago that I got at all serious about it, publishing my services page and figuring out how to advertise without being an irritating jackass about it. Those two months have seen in some ways explosive success, but if things do not continue to scale up, it cannot last.
To explain, I am now running about four or five games per week, constantly riding the limit of what I can handle. Even though I’ve found a far easier way to feed this blog than what I did during 2017, I feel just as busy, if not busier, with personal projects because of how much time is consumed running all these games. My GM’s Guide videos aren’t improving the way I’d hoped, considering I have very little experience making this kind of content and should therefore be able to rapidly improve as I learn basic concepts, because I have little time to experiment. When I do take the time to try something new, I have to use the result even if I don’t like it, even if it needed several more takes, because there’s no time for refinement or to re-record using my existing style. I’m not wrapping up Vestitas at the pace I’d hoped to. I should be nearly done with the Grey Harbor urbancrawl by now, but instead I’m hardly 10% of the way in. Work on side projects like Dark Lord and Dinosaur Riding Barbarians has completely halted as all effort goes to the GMing. I’m not writing as much as prose as I used to.
Despite having consumed a large chunk of my spare time and creative energy, I’m still making less than a quarter of what I’d need to quit my day job. I make less than $300/month right now, optimistic estimates for August suggest I may make $500/month if everyone who’s paid for at least two sessions (i.e. the first session to see if they like it, then at least one more afterwards) continues to do so, and I estimate the ceiling for this is between $1,000/month and $2,000/month. That upper bound is still not enough to live reasonably comfortably on even in a fairly low cost of living area, but it’s a pretty beastly fund for creative side projects. The annual cost for covers and editing on fiction is in the neighborhood of $2,000-$3,000, and speaking with map and token artists from Roll20, the cost on putting out an adventure to the Roll20 Marketplace is looking to be in the neighborhood of $1,000-$1,500. It would take only two or three months of effort to fund these projects if I can hit that ceiling.
If. The main question at this point is whether or not I can get away from running games for tiny groups of two or three people and start putting together larger groups of five or six, and if the $15 price point will be as consistently successful as my current $10 price point has been. If so, that could provide the money I need to pay for the art assets and editing I’ll require to get some high quality products on the market and generating passive income, enough to supplement the GMing and let me live off of creative work. It’s not an impossible plan, but there’s a lot of “ifs” (if I can scale upwards to $1,000/month, if my books or adventures are profitable, if this even lasts longer than a few months at all rather than burning out quickly), and this whole thing may end up being a big waste of a considerable amount of time.
But hey, after several years of effort, I’ve at least gotten as far as step 1) Convince a significant number of people to consistently pay me for my creative work in any amount.