Each month I publish a fully transparent income report which documents my online earnings. These income reports exist to demonstrate my progress, share my experiences, and motivate others who want to make money online.
Check out my online income report for December 2016.
What I Did In 2016
December was a slow month, so instead of my usual summary, I want to take this opportunity to look back at the year in review.
One standout detail from 2016 is that I accepted more exclusive contract work than usual. I produced a dozen high-quality games for high-profile clients, and this greatly contributed to my bottom line. These exclusive projects were time-consuming and challenging to work on, but I learned so much because of them. It’s a shame that I can’t share any of these projects, contractually, because they were among the most ambitious games I’ve produced in recent memory.
I don’t actively seek contract work, and I’m extremely selective about work that’s offered to me. I have plenty of my own projects to work on, after all. But this year the stars aligned in all the right ways and I simply couldn’t say no!
I landed my first exclusive contract of the year in January, and it was a real shock at the time. It was a huge project with the shortest deadline imaginable. I couldn’t do all of the work myself at such short notice, so I had to quickly form a team and hope they were up for the challenge. Luckily, I hired the right people and settled into a management role shortly thereafter.
The project was a great success, but I found myself being more productive than ever as the team leader, so we maintained this structure throughout the remainder of the year. My team went on to create a series of fantastic games including Battleships, Jungle Slider, and Santa’s Helpers, and many others.
Managing a team has been a serious learning process, and I spent much of 2016 striving to improve my management skills. Aside from management, I was also responsible for game design, testing, providing feedback, and of course sales/marketing which remains my biggest strength. It might be a surprise to hear that I didn’t code a single full game by myself in 2016 (although I still did plenty of coding).
This new team-orientated workflow allowed me to increase production and output while refining my overall business. I plan to maintain this structure into the future.
My biggest regret of 2016 was that I didn’t manage to publish my upcoming book Learn To Make Games. I announced the book in late 2015 because business had been slow and I had a lot of free time, so it made sense to begin a new project. However, the year quickly turned into something chaotic (starting with that exclusive contract work in January), and from there I always had a higher priority task vying for my attention.
Towards the end of the year, I began working with a co-author to speed up production, and now the project is progressing at a better rate. I have realized that I can no longer do everything myself, as much as I would like to. My business is growing in scope, and if I want that to continue, I need to learn to give up control and get other talented people involved in this process.
I learned so much this year, certainly more than I expected to. I hope this trend continues into the new year and beyond. But for now, let’s get back to December’s income report – and don’t miss my plans for 2017 at the end!
I worked 95 productive hours in December and took 16/31 days off (tracked using RescueTime).
Here’s a quick look at how my online platform performed during December 2016.
The games I publish were played 1,283,384 times (43,515,072 total).
As I expected, traffic to my HTML5 games jumped significantly in December. This has been a fairly consistent trend during the holiday season. Unfortunately, in my case, more plays doesn’t necessarily equate to more revenue. I sell my games to companies rather than players and during December/January, many of my clients are actually harder to reach.In total, the games I publish were played 11,854,682 times in 2016.
My websites were viewed 22,893 times (6,020,708 total) by 6,914 unique visitors.
Total web traffic is significantly down compared to last year, but for two clear reasons. I shut down and later sold my popular website GameMaker Blog, and I purposely restricted low-quality traffic that was filtering back from my games to this blog. Since I’m no longer including traffic from these sources, I can better present the genuine number of engaged visitors that this site attracts and work to improve that figure.In total, my websites were viewed 397,649 times in 2016.
I have a total of 26,183 subscribers across various platforms, up 592 from last month.
Social media growth was outstanding this year. I particularly focused on improving my newsletters in 2016, and I definitely achieved that. I also refined my content on Twitter and diverted attention away from Facebook to account for its ongoing decline in organic traffic. The figure below has been accurately adjusted to account for the sale of GameMaker Blog and it’s associated social media assets.In total, I gained 9,538 subscribers in 2016.
Online Income Report
My earnings were unusually high in December considering that I didn’t work for most of the month.
During December 2016 I earned $5,165 USD solely online ($379,670 total), down $5,262 from last month. My average income over the past 12 months is $10,767 so this was a significantly below average month.In total, I earned $129,241 USD online in 2016.
The Plan For 2017
It looks like 2017 is going to be a huge year for HTML5, and I plan to continue capitalizing on this incredible technology. Flash is officially being dropped from Chrome and Firefox, touch payments will become prominent with the launch of Apple Pay and Google Pay on the mobile web, and Facebook is launching Instant Games in a renewed show of faith in HTML5.
This has been my most profitable year ever, however, I’m expecting to shift gears in 2017. I’ll be investing much of my time into developing Kingfall, which is my new major project, and other HTML5 multiplayer games. These projects will be fueled by a combination of fundraising efforts (I raised $30,000 in August 2016) and my personal savings. While an MMORPG is an ambitious project for any individual or small team to undertake, it also has incredible potential. I know that I can attract millions of online players with little effort, and that’s a huge advantage that I wouldn’t have in other markets. I won’t need to spend a dollar on user acquisition, so I can instead focus on making Kingfall into an incredible game and monetizing it effectively.
If this project fails, I’ll be left in a very precarious situation. If it succeeds, the possibilities are endless and potentially life-changing. I have been working up to a project like Kingfall for almost five years. By selling small games with the dream of funding a large-scale project like this, I now have the opportunity to make it a reality. I won’t be releasing quite as many games in 2017, but I’m confident that my existing portfolio can keep me afloat while I explore new territory.
I will also be launching my book Learn To Make Games as well as a major update to the Mobility Engine, and I’ll continue expanding my game testing group in an effort to gather more feedback from players. Finally, I plan to begin porting my newest HTML5 games to the native iOS/Android marketplaces, which is long overdue.
I have a critical and defining year ahead. I hope you’ll join me on the journey :)
Thanks for reading!