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Ever forward (Our Year In Review)

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It’s January once again. Yes, I’m stating the obvious; it seems like this month inevitably comes around every year, like a bad cold that just won’t go away.

And each year around this time I like to pause and take a look back and forward; to see how we did in the past year, and charge forward into the new year with clear goals in mind.  This is perhaps a chance for you to see some of the inner workings of our site and see how we do things.  I hope that if you are not interested in seeing how we did with our goals last year, you would take a look at what we’re planning for 2015, because we want you involved.  You can jump straight to that section by clicking this link: Looking Forward

We would also appreciate it if you took a few minutes to fill out our survey, which will help us guide the site forward based on our readers feedback.

It’s generally a good idea to start off by taking a look back to see how you did.  Fortunately we had a clear set of goals last year, which lets us dig into specifics.

More followers: I set an eager goal of tripling our follower count, which was 1200 last year.  Turns out, it’s a lot easier to triple when you start with 400.  We now have around 2000 followers, many of whom have engaged us with comments, feedback, and conversation.  It’s that interaction that makes it more fun to keep doing this, and I’m happy to see that we’re still going upwards.

More posts: Perhaps this goal was too vague; obviously, we would keep writing posts, or we would shut down. But we did have a lot of fun and a lot of variety this past year, including our first post that broke 50,000 views. Which is of course the post about how terrible our hobby is.  What can ya do? I’m not going to figure out the exact breakdown of posts this year, but we did an excellent job maintaining a consistent posting schedule with only a few gaps here and there.  We also expanded into some new territory with Dragon’s Peak and Village Square, as well as our Artist Interview series.

More Writers: This goal was not just to add more writers to the team, but to add a little diversity. In the face of attitudes like the GamerGate movement, I think it’s extremely important to reach out beyond the confines of our self-contained worlds and actively seek new voices.  I’m happy to say that this year we recruited 2 women who have helped us keep pumping out more great reviews and articles. Unfortunately we also had Farmerlenny decide to step down, finding it difficult to maintain a writing schedule and balance it with his personal life and other pursuits.  Yet, overall, the team has grown, and I look forward to what 2015 will bring.

More Contributers: I mentioned the idea of opening the site to contributors, allowing people who weren’t full team members to submit articles for us to run.  This didn’t really happen this year.  I think this got sidetracked by other things taking the spotlight, and we just never set up an easy way for submissions to happen.  Maybe this year?

Fundraising: Unfortunately, we did not get this off the ground in 2014. We went through a lot of changes this year, and we just never made the time to pull something together. It’s a lot of logistics to run such a thing and if we’re going to do it, we want to do it right.

More Partners: Things are a-brewing over here.  We added another partner, Boardgamesfor.me, to our little network of sites, and our partnership with iheartprintandplay expanded.  We gave you our Smart Dominion Randomizer which, while still in beta, is a pretty neat Dominion randomizer that gives you fun, balanced Dominion sets to play with.  We’ve got plenty of stuff in the works that I’m hoping to get out soon.

Other Stuff: That’s it for the goals we set, but that wasn’t all we accomplished.  In 2014 we launched our first video series, Under the Table, a spoof of board game talk shows everywhere.If you haven’t seen it yet, GO CHECK IT OUT.  We also ran a giveaway, vastly expanded our holiday gift guide, covered Gencon, visited Origins, and reviewed a ton of games. We now have over 365 game reviews!

 

Turn It Around

Shifting gears, lets take a look at the future. Yes, I can see the future, that’s why they call me futurewolfie. I thought that was obvious by now.

Many of our goals remain the same – obviously, we want to keep growing.  More followers are always welcome.  We’ll keep posting and trying to maintain a daily post schedule.  We’ll consider adding more writers if our workload requires it. So, while next year I hope we have over 5000 followers and 600 board game reviews and articles with over 100,000 views, that’s not the focus of this year.

This year, our focus is primarily on one thing:

Community.

I’m very happy with the quality of our work, but I think we can do better to build a community surrounding iSlaytheDragon. Running this whole site is the most fun when we get you people involved.  I love hearing your comments, and I love when you jump into discussions, even when you disagree with me.

I love seeing all the unique people out their with their unique tastes in games and their unique views of the world. You love games, but you love different games than the ones I love.  Together, our community is a fantastic amalgamation of color and energy.  If we can harness this power, we can truly Slay The Dragon. And, as we all know, that’s really what we’re here for.

So, how about some specific ideas? Yeah, we have some. I’m going to throw them out right now. But we’d love to hear your feedback, what YOU’d like to see us get into this year, and if you’d be willing to help us out, consider filling out this quick survey.  In the meantime, here are some of our thoughts that you can react to:

  • Community-oriented posts: Andrew has already got the ball rolling on this, with the Village Square turning our news into a more community-oriented discovery zone. We’ve got ourselves, our characters, and plenty of other board game websites chatting about who-knows-what on a weekly basis. We’d love to add your voice. We’re also going to push discussions and community feedback.
  • Community-involved posts: Not just writing about you, but getting you guys in on the writing. We’ve tossed around the idea of putting forth a topic in the Village Square and asking for our readers, that’s you guys, to respond. The idea would be to give you more than 140 characters of a tweet to respond thoughtfully, and then we’d publish the best responses in another post.  Is this something you’d be interested in participating with us? Let us know!
  • More Videos: videos – whether reviews or videocasts or whatever – seem to generate buzz and interactivity.  We’ve got some ideas in the new year to push our video production forward.
  • Fundraising: I can throw this in here because fundraising is certainly something a group of people can pull together to accomplish. Gamers supporting worthy causes, doesn’t that sound like a good idea to you? I’m hoping to get something off the ground this year, and of course for it to succeed we would need your involvement.
  • iSlaytheDragon Meetups: We’d like to try organizing some meetup events for our readers.  That is, some weekend we get a place and have you people come and play games with us all day.  Wouldn’t that be a blast? Yeah? We should do that.
  • Patreon: I wish this stuff could be done for free, but there are costs involved. This year was actually a pretty decent year as far as selling advertising and paid previews – those really help support our site and allow us to do more than we would without a little cash on hand – but I am hoping that we can find better ways to support the ‘Dragon financially. An idea I’ve toyed around with is starting Patreon, a way for you, our loyal readers, to support us financially and get a little bonus in return. The question is, would you guys be interested in supporting a patreon? And, furthermore, what sort of rewards would you be interested in? This will all be in the survey.

 

I think that wraps it up for now. I hope to hear from you – remember, if you could fill out our short survey, that would help us to no end.

Whatever happens, I think 2015 will be a great year. Lets see what we can do.

 

 

Futurewolfie loves epic games, space, and epic games set in space. You’ll find him rolling fistfuls of dice, reveling in thematic goodness, and giving Farmerlenny a hard time for liking boring stuff.

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