PART TWO of my “Future of Saving Throw” series. In this part I’ll talk about our current initiatives, why we’re going in the direction we’re going, and how I hope they’ll help get the channel back on top. If you missed PART ONE you can read it here.
With the dire parts out of the way we can now focus on the changes we’re implementing to reach our goals. Here’s what we’re striving for:
$1,500/mo Patreon by May 1, 2021
$9,000/mo Patreon by September 2021
20,000 Twitch Followers by December 2021
40,000 YouTube subs by December 2021
Now that we’re clear on goals, just how are we going to attain these? You’ve probably seen me talking about a return to our roots as a channel. By that I mean refocusing on the instructional aspects of the hobby – more How-Tos and more focused Actual Plays. You can check out our Patreon here.
We’re certainly not going to stop creating actual plays – I have plans to continue both Dice Ex Machina and New Pantheon: Academia with All Games, No Masters and a brand new Salt Bay series coming back soon. But, and I wish I realized this much sooner, 2-4 hour long actual plays are actually really friggin’ hard for audiences to get into! Since the beginning our audience pull has been on an almost excruciatingly slow incline. While other newer streamers seemed to eclipse us months after starting, we still continued our glacial pace upward.
To supplement these shows I’ve added a new RPG news & reviews show through collaboration with the guys at Owlbear Soup! This finally brings a dedicated show to the channel which covers RPG news, reviews, interviews and more. I’ve been wanting to build something like this for a long time and I’m extremely excited to have Rich and Justin onboard. My plan is to bring in more player-focused content to the channel. I’ll use segments of Owlbear Soup to create shorter and more topical content which I hope will reach a wider audience.
At present this is about the extent I can feasibly tackle myself. I would love to have a ton more shows on the channel, but shows cost money and time. Producing 3+ shows a week includes running all the social media, making graphics, coordinating schedules, casting, sponsor outreach – not to mention business tasks like payroll, insurance, maintenance, research and more! All this takes up a HUGE chunk of time and I’m doing it for each show. I put this here just to illustrate why it’s not so simple to just add a new show to our line-up no matter how badly we’d like one!
Having said all that, I do have a few shows I’d love to add to the docket, or bring back in some way. Unfortunately the only way to do that is to hit our Patreon goals and continue to grow! But here’s a taste of what I’m working on in my “spare time” (sh’yeah, right). Most of these can’t happen until we start breaking our end of Summer goal of $9,000/mo.
DungeonBrawl – brought to you by Rich Malena-Webber, co-host of Owlbear Soup. You’ve seen a lot of PvP D&D shows come and go over the years. Everyone is trying to capture that esports zeitgeist. Well we think we’ve cracked it – bringing fast-paced combat, excellent role-playing, and play-by-play commentary together to form something wholly new!
Savage Worlds: The Exploration Society – making its triumphant return to the channel (hopefully) will be a new show featuring the fast, furious fun of Savage Worlds. Each season the cast will take on a new setting as members of the eponymous Exploration Society.
Blue Wizards – This would take the story of the oft-forgotten Blue Wizards of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Alatar and Pallando, as they make their way across Middle Earth to help defeat Sauron. We learn how they earned the nicknames “Darkness Slayer” and “East Helper,” perhaps what happened to the Entwives, and just what did the dwarfs do with their rings of power? And was Saruman always so bad? This hybrid RPG show will take the improv nature of RPGs combined with a semi-scripted narrative to produce a new form of content.
Tutorials – Each show will have a corresponding tutorial series that will explore game mechanics encountered on the show. This is part of the synergy we’re working towards with all of our content!
And there’s SO much more! From sketches to full-blown series (who wants to see a live-action Wildcards movie??) that I’d love to do. But again it’s all down to the support we can build.
What’s Not Working?
One thing we’ve consistently struggled with as a channel is identity. We do not have a single entity or person that’s driven the entire channel. We’ve certainly had popular shows. And we’ve had big names come and go. But we’ve not had that one source of familiarity that audiences come to associate with the channel. Hyper RPG has Zac. Critical Role has, well, Critical Role. You get the picture.
And this is true across the entirety of Twitch – solo channels (those with one “host” or one show/cast) have a better chance building a dedicated audience because there’s a consistency across their entire channel. With Saving Throw our shows are sort of built in silos. Think of us like a network. Our shows have their own Twitter feeds, their own casts, their own logos and branding. Aside from them being on our channel there’s not much else that connects them together.
So, for the last 7 years or so we’ve essentially been fighting against the natural “grain” of Twitch. And without a huge influx of money to establish and market ourselves it’s made building an audience incredibly difficult.
While our audience is, in my completely unbiased opinion, the literal best, our audience size is, well, quite low. For a channel as old as we are with the partnerships we’ve had and the talent we’ve fostered, we should be hitting 100 average CCV’s (ConCurrent Views) easy. But fact is most of our shows barely clear 50 if that. And frankly I’m dumbfounded as to why. We’ve done big social pushes, we’ve had big guests, we’ve done giveaways…but audience share has been fickle.
Social Media, which could be our saving grace here, has been difficult because there’s really only one person on my team who knows what’s going on with all of our shows as well as our channel initiatives. Me. I’m that one person. So…
What’s the Fix?
There’s probably no easy fix for this if I’m honest. Not without the funding to actually do marketing right. So here’s the wishlist:
Outreach – We need to be doing more and better outreach and engagement within our community. One of the things I’ve been trying to be better about is engaging our friends on social media more in conversation so that our posts are not just tune-in announcements. But no surprise staying on top of social media is a job unto itself and simply liking posts isn’t outreach. So I would like to be able to step this up preferably through a dedicated social media manager who is as familiar with our content as I am.
Branding – Through our Exploration Society we’re tackling the issue of inconsistent branding. While each show will still maintain its own look, the channel as a whole will have a more unified standard. The hope is to have a single look that’s instantly recognizable.
What’s Not Working?
You may’ve heard of SEO or Search Engine Optimization. When you search for “Saving Throw” we tend to rank within the first page of results. But “How to play RPGs” or “What’s a good RPG actual play?” Those are a little trickier. Same goes for our individual shows. If you know the name they come up readily. But say if you’re searching for an “anime RPG liveplay” New Pantheon: Academia wasn’t generally even on the first page of results…it is now though. But I’ll get to that.
The goal here is to rank higher on internet searches so that when someone searches for more generic search terms in our field we pop up there. This blog is basically an SEO generating machine that’s not really been optimized the way it was initially designed. And so for years, even though we’ve been building the channel and growing, our search engine rankings have fallen!
What’s the Fix?
Through the combined efforts of many we’re bringing new life back into the site. I’ve been updating Portfolios and other pages to offer better linking and overall clarity. Our good pal DJ Regular has been uploading weekly clip round-ups – something that shows off not just the blog but our shows as well!
I plan on adding new posts which will offer commentary on shows we’ve produced. In addition I hope to write up more pieces similar to this one detailing the prodction side of things. Some of these posts may move to Patreon-only status as we integrate more with Patreon and, soon, our new sponsorship platform.
Additionally I’ve been adding meta tags to our shows to help with search terms. What search terms have YOU used that brought you to our content? Let me know in the comments!
The intent with all of this is to have a thrumming site of interconnected links that create a rabbit-hole like experience for the reader. Find a video you like, read about what it was like to make that series, get turned on to a new video, watch that, come back for more. Ad infinitum .
As I wrote in the previous piece Saving Throw as an entity is on a precipice. I cannot keep running it the way it has been run – for my own health, but also for the health of the channel.
I’m hoping through reading this you can see what we’re working towards. Saving Throw has always been about the sum of its parts – from players to game masters, producers and mods. And most of all YOU, the audience.
We’ll continue to be a channel devoted to telling the stories you want (and maybe even need) to hear with voices that take you out of your own world and into something new, fantastical, and rewarding.
As we approach the 8th anniversary of Saving Throw’s founding I look towards the next 8 years and beyond. I hope you can join me in getting us there. Thank you!
Here are three ways you can support Saving Throw right now: