Did Jim even sold 100 times a single set (not counting discounts/bundles/charity/whatever)? Or Dave with his models.... the question is: there's 100 different customers, right now, waiting for new set/models?
What are Fat Dragon Games, WorldWorks and Ebbles best sellers kits, and how much of them have been sold?
Post by BilliamBabble Inked Adventures on Mar 6, 2011 10:04:17 GMT -9
I think I tuned into this discussion a bit late, but that made me giggle. ;D <- me. But then I was thinking of selling individual sets for $400 KERCHING!
I was thinking about selling card print-outs on ebay for a set price with a disc, but today I saw someone was already selling a Fat Dragon caverns set CD - with no actual print-outs (I hope he was legit). It hadn't occurred to me that people would pay good money on Ebay for a disc of PDFs when they can buy real plans and figures there. The problem is always print cost, storage and distribution -i.e. it only seems to work out when you talk about massive quantities (okay, I'd better read the original thread) - I'm astonished at the cost of colour printer (at home, or professional) blah, blah, yadda, yadda. I think Dagobah Dave was talking about similar issues. Die-cutting seems to be stupendously expensive as well...
What you need are many small children in a large factory ...
Post by vectorsigma on Mar 6, 2011 11:47:14 GMT -9
I don't think anyone would expect to earn $400/set for commissioned work!
Honestly I suspect the trick to making money in 'this business' is to have a ton of parts you could quickly assemble and color in response to commissions. Remember those old "send me $10 and I'll draw your character" ads back in the day?
Post by glennwilliams on Mar 6, 2011 13:02:05 GMT -9
Don't forget marketing, site maintenance, research et al when you look at time to produce a set, and overhead. Also, you're now self-employed, which means you need to include ALL business expenses (internet connection, Photoshop, Social Security--if you're US, etc).
Let's assume that 20 hrs is actually 40 by the time you're done. That's an $800 expense. AT $10 a set you need to sell 80 sets. Initial release is always a big sales bump (and generates sales of older inventory from new customers). Say you sell twenty sets the first week and three a week thereafter. That's 21 weeks to recoup your expenses for each set, BUT, it's all profit after that. AND, you're not actually managing physical inventory, so you don't have those expenses and time.
In my experience, fantasy and historical sell better than sci-fi (but remember, I don't really do figures, just terrain and vehicles), so fantasy/historical pays back faster than sci-fi.
Post by josedominguez on Mar 6, 2011 13:11:40 GMT -9
I know the costs and implications of the current business model for paper minis, but there has to be a better way. I don't know what it is yet, but at least we are talking about it
A central publisher with a group of contributors working in a similar style maybe? It would start slowly, but soon there'd be lots of material. I know this was the intention here, but releases seem to have dried up recently and some of the artists seem to have vanished. I'd love to see paper minis become more widely accepted, obviously, more players, more purchased = more cost effective to produce.
As Parduz said, design a plastic mini and players will need to buy it multiple times. Not true of PDF, we don't need one player buying 200 minis, we need 200 players buying them once
With the world's economy as it is, I think paper is the way to go. Personaly I can afford 3D minis, I just prefer paper. Quicker to make and just as much table impact (but easier to use).
What do we do next? The players are out there.
I can't see making paper minis being a full time job, but I'd love to see it as an economically viable sideline.
Post by cowboyleland on Mar 6, 2011 16:18:45 GMT -9
I guess I want to keep dragging us back to the math. I have admitted before that I have no buisness sense, but when I hear calls for "work full time, crank 'em out, I'll pay" I think it is reasonable to figure out what it would cost to make that work. Okumarts (a real artist) charges $90/hr, so my original idea was way below market rate. If he sells sets for $10 and he can finnish a set in 20hrs then he needs to sell 180 sets to get what he is worth. If someone wants an average Canadian salary, he has to sell 3000 sets a year. And yes his website and ink are buisness expenses so they come out of his taxes. Can someone sell 3000 sets a year?
Post by vectorsigma on Mar 6, 2011 19:01:49 GMT -9
Frankly? Nope. I don't think so. Not 3000, no way.
Now, I'm not trying to be a wet blanket here.
Even with, say, direct RPG support (a license, let's say), do you really think *at current visibility levels* a paper mini product could sell 3000 units in a year?
Paizo did some paper minis for Pathfinder on a lark. I have no idea how well they sold, but I can guess "not great" based on the fact that they're not doing them any longer. That's fair, right?
We're going to need to see the market embrace paper as a viable alternative on a much larger scale before numbers like that start rolling in. Yes, the current economic climate favors certain aspects of paper minis - the low cost, the ability to print as many as you please, etc. But the real "stoppers" to paper-modeling expanding its base are the time involved and the actual construction. Lots of people don't want to deal with the fiddly bits, putting 'em together, and all of that.
Remember when prepainted plastics surged onto the scene? Immediate use out of the box. THAT is what paper is competing with in terms of brainspace for real adoption. Not plastics or metals that need to be painted. A gamer with a desire to paint a model can translate that into a fondness for printing & assembly, sure. But a gamer who likes stuff "right out of the box"? Nope.
Enter robocutters. Not as a must-have home accessory (price point still too high for that, and there's still some 'fiddly' in that anyway). But what about selling precut minis? Like a kit? Just fold and glue. That might see some sales... but are you going to get a return on the investment (money for robocutter(s), ink, paper, packaging, time, shipping, depreciation of your robocutter(s) and printer(s)) that makes it worthwhile?
Here's a possibility: standarization and online micro-transactions. Online games have taught us that folks don't mind spending small amounts of money continuously, right?
Crazy idea of the night: Imagine a website that was some kind of mashup of HeroMachine (I presume we're all familiar?) and Scarecrow's old Star Trek Miniature Maker. You get an account (free), log on, and mess around with the thousands of parts in the database, putting 'em together to make your model, and color it with a nice range of standard colors. Each piece is a front and a back, and you can control the layering etc. Nice, easy interface - any gamer can do it as easily as they create their avatar for an MMO ("mm, let's see what he looks like with the spiky hair now"). You can even save your design. You do a whole mess of 'em, enough for a full sheet's worth (because that makes more sense for printing). You drag all your minis onto a 'sheet' and click 'checkout' to pay your (small) fee. The one-page pdf shows up in your email. You print and assemble.
Perhaps there are predone sheets ready to be colored ("I like these elf archers, but I want 'em in purple...*click*). Maybe other people's designs are browsable and purchasable (like those t-shirt sites). Maybe you get credits in your own account when other people buy minis you designed. Maybe the artsy folks get credits (or actual money) for uploading new compatible parts (which then get announced via email to all the site members... "Now available, Elephant heads!").
I think there's money in THAT. But I'm also pretty caffeinated right now.
Even the make your own mini website would seem to be too much work for most people. Also the artists are usually rubbish at computer skills so there's that then. I think there is a market for paper print and play games and minis, especially as FLGS begin to disappear. I think we'll see more of that when 4ed begins to fade away. The market is drying up in many ways, especially when a new generation is more interested in video games and the like. It's interesting to see how the demographics have changed for roleplayers among high schoolers. Mind you, this is anecdotal and limited to my own experience, but most of the role playing people at the highschool I teach at are female. This has been quite the shift in the past 10-15 years. Marketing to female gamers is a place to start. Also, figuring out what people want and need for minis and keeping costs low and value for dollar high is a real priority.
Post by Vermin King on Mar 6, 2011 19:44:39 GMT -9
I would really like to see some of the game developers here work with some of the figure makers here to get the whole package, which is only available here.
I don't know how that would play out in the new website, but my thinking is that if all the pieces were together, it would encourage sales. And some of the 'hobbyists' could make some money off their efforts without having to quit their day jobs.
Even if Sanity Studios marketed the products through Wargamers Vault or whereever. It should be fairly straightforward on who supplied what, and send them a percentage of the sales made.
But it would be an international thing, so that might make it too complicated to implement.
There are no strangers in this world,only people I haven't embarrassed ... yet!
...$90/hr, so my original idea was way below market rate. If he sells sets for $10 and he can finnish a set in 20hrs then he needs to sell 180 sets to get what he is worth....
I think you're mixing up commissioned rates with self-publishing profits. Those are two different ways of doing business.
If someone commissions you to produce artwork, you can charge a high hourly rate because you're almost certainly selling the client the rights to the artwork. You'll get paid for your time (which is nice), but once the job is complete you won't have any product of your own to sell.
This can be lucrative if you have a lot of clients lined up. But I don't think you're going to find many clients for this kind of product, to be honest. The game companies with biggish budgets (the kind that might be able to afford $90/hour) have in-house graphic artists working for them at $13 an hour. Those companies just don't need us.
Self-publishing lets you retain the rights to your artwork, but you will have to do all of the work at a $0 hourly rate to start with. You won't start making your money "back" until you put the product on sale and people buy it. This is a "long tail" way to make money. It's usually a slow but steady process. Over time, you'll see that you earned $1 for every hour you spent on Product A. As time goes on, you'll see that you've made back $3 for every hour on Product A, and so on.
Honestly, as a self-publisher you will probably never see anything close to $90 an hour. And if you rely only on commissioned work, you're probably going to average a very low hourly rate because of the limited job opportunities.
You might be an exception, but here's how the math has worked out for me so far:
After about 18 months as a full-time self-publisher, I've earned about $5 an hour for all the work I've put into it. Full-time means seven days a week, and often more than ten hours a day. The reason I'm able to survive on $5 an hour is because I work twice as many hours as someone making $10 an hour.
This full-time papercraft designer, who is proud of his 4.8-out-of-5 rating and more than 100 products for sale on DriveThruRPG, makes considerably less money and works significantly more hours than the new guy at McDonald's.
On a positive note, things have been picking up lately. It's too early to say if I'm turning a corner, but it does look like things should be getting a little easier from here.
Dave that's a good point re. freelance contract work vs self-publishing. With self-publishing I have been content in the past just to make my money back on a project. Sometimes I do it just to have the experience on my CV and get things out there for people to buy. I can only indulge in making game and comic material when I have the time as I have a really demanding full time job, I am a single parent and I'd also like to have time to date and stuff. It's a challenge just finding time to do this AND have fun playing with it. I am still exciting to give it a go though as there has been some really impressive papercraft products out there.
Post by cowboyleland on Mar 7, 2011 5:59:22 GMT -9
Great info Dave! Now we are down out of the clouds. So the $400.00 amount I threw out at the start of the thread was in response to ( I think) Josedominguez asking if what it would cost for a group to commission a set and let the artist retain the rights. If a big company can get away with paying $13/hr maybe the “commissioning group” only needs to come up with $260.00 because, as you say, the product has a “tail.” Does that system seem workable? Is $400.00 with a tail what it takes to get a working artist to make time (ie giving up other work) to produce a set of mini's? BTW we are talking set of ten right now and I think Jose wanted 20.
I don't see my art skills being of marketable quality any time soon, but I'm happy to focus the discussion for others and incase my talent situation improves.
On the other hand, maybe it's the herd that is crazy.
Post by josedominguez on Mar 7, 2011 10:07:05 GMT -9
20 as a 'regiment' so just some head swaps and weapon positions..... just like a box of plastic figures.
Unique command and a variety of poses of very similar figures.
And what I'm talking about is making it more attractive for a hobby artist, not paying someone for full time work. That level is a long way off. As for Dave..... he's unique, rapid work rate with consistent exceptional quality. Also, his products are useable next to 3D figures and look as good if not better than any other terrain pieces I've seen. The market for quality 3D terrain overlaps into wargaming, roleplay, crafters, school projects and model trains so it's a far greater base than paper minis. If paper minis had this market, much more would be possible.
Post by old squirmydad on Mar 7, 2011 17:00:42 GMT -9
One of the problems with the paper model profits model (for both models and miniatures) is that, unlike resin terrain or plastic miniatures, you can only sell a download once. Dave's buildings are great, but I'm only going to buy one of each; if I need three crypts I'll buy the pdf once and print it three times, not buy it three times. It's great for the consumer, not so great for the producer.
If the producer tries to raise their rates, their market vanishes. Too many people expect this market to be dirt cheap, or just plain free, and complain loudly if it isn't. The consumer, and their willingness to pay higher prices for products, is actually one of the main factors inhibiting the growth of this market. Not many high quality designers are going to be able to afford to produce for this market. Not and be able to eat something besides Ramen with an occasional egg thrown in for a protein boost.
Jim once posted his sales figures from RPGNow, I don't think he had sold 300 of any set.
Post by Christopher Roe on Mar 8, 2011 0:30:58 GMT -9
Even at the top of the food chain, this isn't a lucrative business.
In addition to the issues Squirmydad pointed out, the big killer is that the average customer who gets into this sort of thing tends to be the kind of person who doesn't want to spend the kind of money that plastic, metal, or resin models command. So, straight off the bat, if you get in this business, you're dealing with a market that's mostly composed of people who don't want to part with their money. It's really difficult to make a living that way. Also, it's a very small market, smaller than most people think.
In the end, the typical outcome, even for the big boys, is to earn just enough to survive, but not enough to really thrive and grow. That's why I'm semi-retired and only do paper models in my spare time nowadays--I'm too old to keep putting in 20-hour days for $5 an hour!
Well I've kept silent on this long enough. I've never seen so many pessimists in one place in all my days. It's very nearly depressing reading this thread.
Now I understand the realities, and I have no hopes or aspirations of ever becoming rich, wealthy, or even making a living off of this, but look at where paper miniatures have come in just the last 10 years. And most people don't even know they exist still. That's a matter of marketing, which will come into play in the future. There is still a tremendous amount of potential for growth. Potential is a dangerous word, but it just takes the right steps forward to bring paper modeling out of obscurity.
So breathe deeply, focus your chi, free your minds, and drift with me into the future, as I share with you our plans for Onemonk Miniatures.
Release rates are a HUGE factor. People stick around when there is something new on a regular basis. This is one of the reasons I am stepping up my own pace. In addition I am attempting to assemble a team of designers to increase release rates so that we can meet demand. Unfortunately my first recruit, Ken, has had some severe personal life problems and has not been able to contribute. And the second, you will know her as ghostgirl, has just started. I look forward to seeing things from her shortly.
Nik is still working on transferring the site to a new content management system to make managing the website much simpler. He tells me it will be so easy that even I could do it. This is all part of moving the products on this site back to commercial. Once this is in place and we are building our inventory of available miniatures we begin to market and expose the world to the realm of paper modeling.
Pre-printed, precut figures are another way to reach a whole new element of gamers. This is something we have been looking into rather heavily. We have looked into laser cutting primarily because it is so fast, and you can cut through several sheets simultaneously if they are lined up perfectly.
We have many other plans for the future which are too numerous to give an account of all of them.
Will we ever make a living doing this - probably not. But there is vast room for growth and we aim to do just that.
Post by cowboyleland on Mar 8, 2011 4:07:26 GMT -9
I have tried not to be optimistic or pesimistic (or even spell correctly ) I just want to explore everyones experiences and expectations and see if there is a workable middle ground. I know that a team of dedicated hobbiests can be quite productive, but I wanted to test the theory that paying a bit more would speed up production. Right now, I don't think it will. Making things more lucrative for hobby artists still leaves it in the realm of hobbies, and thus vunerable to all the "more important things" that trump hobby time.
I really hoped that Jose would come back with "$400! I can find 25 people with $16 to spend, I hereby commission a brigade!" or maybe some artist would say "$260 a set plus some future income . . . so much better than doing posters for rock-bands, I'm taking requests" I've made a living (bought a house and fed my kids) for the last 15yrs in children's theatre and made less money than anyone believes you can live on. But for me (and my wife) it has worked out. I hoped there would be personal circumstances out there that would become apparent. They still might. C'mon artists; customers; lets haggle!
I still think this needs to be something more than piece meal.
You need the figures to support a game or games. You need the terrain and vehicles to support the game(s). You need the marketing towards those games.
I look at Drive Thru RPG and Wargame Vault, and see lots of folks who are good at one thing, whether it is supplements, buildings, figures or whatever. But it seems like a mishmash. To gather a team that can put those together into a streamlined cohesive unit would improve the market as a whole.
The Ultimate would be to have a popular game developed with print and play figures and props available for that game. I would really love to see that.
There are no strangers in this world,only people I haven't embarrassed ... yet!
That's actually how we got involved in paper minis in the first place. Here we had this game that we had developed, but we couldn't sell it because there were no playing pieces. Then we discovered Onemonk, and started making some paper minis for the game, and the rest is history. Hopefully it won't be too long til you will have all the figures you need to play Bellicose Fantasy Battles, and they will be organized such that you can find them all in one place.
There is still a tremendous amount of potential for growth.
Maybe we should look at some numbers, which are actually not scientifically confirmed.
WotC's first market research (year 2000) estimated 2,5 million ACTIVE pen&paper roleplayers in the US alone. 1,5 million would play OD&D/AD&D, they said. 2008, after the success of D&D 3rd Ed. and before the release of D&D 4th Ed., WotC mentioned the number of 6 million ACTIVE gamers of D&D in all its variants WORLDWIDE. This could have been a marketing trick to boost 4th Ed. sales. Maybe you can add 2 million more players of different pen&paper systems worldwide. So for WotC there was a growing and prosperous market for pen&paper in the last decade, despite (or because of ?) the impact of escalating computer game tec. D&D 3rd Ed. enforced the use of minis and battlemats, 4th Ed. made them a prerequisite, following the trend of the mid-90 to HELP gameplay of complex rules by ACCESSOIRES like minis, maps and cards. I think this trend will be a standard in the future, because players of pen&paper get used to all those nice high-tec helpers like "MapTool", "Masterplan" and others. So for serious pen&paper players there will be demand for computer assisted gfx and gameplay and/or nice material to push around the real game table.
out of 2500 answering members of this yahoo-group 74% wanted more gaming material 85% used 2D-material for online/offline PC based gaming 30% used it together with minis on a real table 18% used Print&Play 3D-models
So what's the conclusion ? There COULD be some 8 million pen&paper gamers around the world. Up to 30% of them COULD be interested in generic Print&Play game enhancing/helping material - with a main focus on D&D culture (and Warhammer culture for wargamers). That's 2,4 million people. Interesting number.
Beside those general assumptions you can estimate nothing for niche products. There are over 1000 different pen&paper systems out there. D&D is still the market leader since 1974. It will be always very hard to bundle minis, maps and rules and sell them as your own system, because you are competing against all those systems and boardgames already out there.
I hope there will be a good balance between PC based and tabletop gaming in the future. Sometimes you can read posts of happy parents introducing their LOTR- and HarryPotter/FinalFantasy socialized kids into P&P-roleplaying. And those kids are astonished that skeletons can actually handle the dungeon door - that's way more fun than tricking dumb computer monsters. That's part of the future, I hope.
Well I've kept silent on this long enough. I've never seen so many pessimists in one place in all my days. It's very nearly depressing reading this thread.
I'm not being a pessimist, I'm speaking from experience. I run Ebbles Miniatures--we've been in the top 3 for most of the previous decade. When I open my mouth on this subject, you're listening to someone who's been there, done that, and thrown out the T-shirt.
This is what they call a "lifestyle business" on Dragon's Den. If you're good at it and you live cheaply, you can make enough to survive. If you're not good at it, you'll still be able to afford a pizza every week. If you want to grow, however...hoo boy. Try explaining what you do to a bank officer when applying for a business loan--I've seen more hilarious facial expressions in the bank than in the entire combined filmography of Red Skelton and Benny Hill.
If you're married or domestically partnered, and your other half works also, things are a lot easier. If you're trying to carry the whole load yourself, it gets pretty stressful, and stress impairs creativity.
The biggest piece of advice I can offer is: diversifying is good. Try and offer a little something for everyone. Focusing on more than one genre brings in extra sales from people who may not be interested in your favorite genre.
The second biggie is this: Output is king. Anywhere between 10-20% of your customers is what actually keeps you afloat, so you need a constant flow of new product for them to buy. The more you release, the more you'll make.
Third biggie: remember your market. There's a pretty strong "dollar store" mentality in this customer base, so you need to balance the amount of content in your releases with what people are willing to pay, and find a reasonable middle ground that doesn't make you feel like a sweatshop worker chained to a sewing machine.
Post by josedominguez on Mar 9, 2011 12:19:49 GMT -9
The more we buy, the more will get made.... simple as that. There are enough potential customers out there and new markets/uses for paper figs that haven't been tapped.
Faster release rates will mean more customers who hang around and check regularly for new sets. We can now field a pretty good range of WFB armies using figs just from this site (onemonk, sanity, slick, jabbro) but it takes some work to find them, mode them etc... I love them so I that's fine by me. As Mel says, the market isn't going to make anyone a million right now...... but I think there are thousands of customers out there who just haven't heard of the product. My whole group are sold on them, my nephew and his friends were blown away (they are 40K addicts and as such spent every penny on it). So far out of the fifteen people I've used paper figs with nobody has gone back to metal/plastic. I'll put it this way, every summer we have a big gaming event which we prep for for months (we can't have big regular games as we are all teachers, prsion officers etc... so we schedule a big holiday game). Three years ago it was starship troopers, we bought and painted just over £900 worth of figures (about $1300), two years ago we bought two massive AT 43 armies which ran to around £700. Last year we had a mordheim campaign, the scenery was Dave's Games and the figures were form here or those I made myself. Total cost was around £50 including all of the PDFs and paper.
Our entire group said it was the best weekend we'd ever had. We have the cash to buy what we want, we buy/print PDF minis because we actually prefer them. There's got to be many more people who feel the same. Paper figs are cheap if you have no cash and convenient and quick if you don't have time (which is usualy the case if you have the money). Mass appeal that just isn't reaching the masses.
I'm loving this thread, and I'd like to thank Dave and Mel for the insights on the business. The matter on how to make more people value paper miniatures and models seems central. I was recently surprised by the immense list of horror miniature manufacturers I found at the end of the Fear and Faith book. To me, horror miniatures seem to be pretty niche, and I suppose the costs of sculpting, casting and maintaining a stock of plastic or metal miniatures should be higher than that of paper minis. Digital delivery seems like a big advantage too, from a business standpoint. None of that matters, however, if few people value the product.
Now, why is it that paper is seen as inferior by many people? Maybe it's the tradition of "stand-in" figures, as pointed out in the Oversoul Games site, but paper models have evolved. Looking over the MMiP archives, and then at OneMonk, Jabbro, Darkmook and others, it is possible to see how a graphic language emerged through the years to create paper miniatures that look solid and as fullfilling to use as other materials. I find it amazing how people are exploring 2.5D and 3D to create larger scale models, where "flat" ones start to look not so great. The same goes for terrain and buildings. I'm not sure how many people are aware of that. Maybe actions like bringing paper miniatures to gaming events (as reported on this forum) as well as spreading photos and videos will help in time. Maybe model-building workshops where you can manage to make some miniatures and play with them in a single afternoon.
[Edit: tried to reduce my ranting on community actions to promote paper minis]
cowboyleland: It looks like you guys are busy, but I would like to point out that the "Ghoul Design Tutorial." which would start to answer bobsomething 's question from Aug 10, is MIA (again)
Aug 13, 2019 6:13:32 GMT -9
squirmydad: I need to reset a primary domain or something.
Aug 12, 2019 12:05:38 GMT -9
bouncingboy: Anyone have a clue what happened to hoard #107?
Jul 27, 2019 8:33:15 GMT -9
Vermin King: The coverage of the Moon Landing has brought back memories. Moon Landing Live on BBCAmerica was my favorite. Just news and NASA footage
Jul 24, 2019 4:27:12 GMT -9
Vermin King: Its the version of Metropolis that was on Turner Classic Movies, with some additional footage from a version found in Argentina. I still haven't found time to just watch the whole thing. You have to commit to watching it since all the lines are printed
Jul 24, 2019 4:25:29 GMT -9