All right! We’re back with the second round of Strange Angel Data! You may remember the first round of data (You can find that here.) but to recap quickly:
On Weds June 6th, 2012 I put my book STRANGE ANGEL up on my site as a pay-what-you-want, DRM-free, eBook download (still offered over here). I did this for a few reasons:
- I truly believe that DRM is the devil. It does more harm than good, every single time. People who want to steal your shit will crack it, anyway. All you do is inconvenience your actual users. Why would you want to do that to them?
- I enjoy poking at new models for getting my work out there.
- I wanted to generate data on this model, given my set of circumstances, because I like to know things.
- I was, above it all, curious.
And I learned many things, shared them with you and since then have learned even more, that I want to share.
The first round of data was generated by spreading the word, fairly softly, via my own social media network. Roughly one in ten people who visited the front page of the book offer donated money. So I wondered what would happen if I moved to a bigger pool.
To recap a few more facts:
Strange Angel itself was originally published in print back in 2009 but didn’t see an electronic edition until 2011. The print edition is about 15 bucks (normally as low as $10 or $11 on Amazon) and the electronic edition is $4.99 (on amazon / bn / ibooks / etc.).
Now, I put the files up for download by creating a page ( http://www.adampknave.com/strange-angel-experiment/) that had a PayPal donation button. If you donated you then got a link to a second page with links to download the book. However, PayPal doesn’t allow $0 donations so to allow people to also get the book for free (Free is an important part of pay-what-you-want – there are times what you want to pay is nothing) I had to put a link directly to the download page. I also did this because, I thought, some people might want to download the book, read it, and then maybe come back and pay what they felt it was worth.
This time out, instead of mentioning it to friends and getting a circle to push word, I used Project Wonderful. If you don’t know them Project Wonderful is an Ad Company. They focus on web comics, were created by a web comic guy and are really simple and nice to use. I run some ads from them on this page, in fact. You pay for your ad to be somewhere only as long as it is there, and pay what the market demands. In order words you bid, say, a dollar a day for an ad on a site, someone else bids a buck-fifty. They run their ad, the site makes that pro-rated buck-fifty for as long as that ad runs (If it runs two mins the site makes what two minutes would be worth if a whole 24 hours of minutes cost $1.50, see) and the person paying for the ad only pays that much, etc.
It’s actually a really good system. I use them sometimes, though not too often. I wondered, though, what would happen if I put out an ad for Strange Angel. So I found out.
I gave it a little less than a month, spending not much on the ad at all, and then crunched some numbers for you:
The previous data indicated 1 in 3 who hit the Strange Angel landing page went on to download page (donate or not).
The Project Wonderful data indicates only 1 in 8 who hit the Strange Angel landing page went on to download page (donate or not).
The previous data indicated 1 in 10 who hit the Strange Angel landing page donated money for the book.
The Project Wonderful data indicates around 1 in 150 who hit the Strange Angel landing page donated.
Ouch, right? Well not really. The first round was all people I knew passing that information to people they knew. Those people came to the site with an indication that someone they knew was suggesting this action. It gave them a level of trust in the product. But running an ad on Project Wonderful I opened myself up to countless people who had no idea who I am, if I am any good at what I do or anything else. They had no entry point for trust. And without trust going in, less of them wanted to even try the book, though plenty did, and of those far far less donated money.
I can not say they were wrong.
I would guess that most of those people downloaded the book to see. They were curious. Did any of them come back and donate later? Possibly, though even then the number is really tiny. However if they read it and liked what they read will they remember my name and the book and possibly buy something else later, or come back and donate in three months? Possibly!
It’s a risk, I admit. But I think of the number of people who did download the book who are strangers and can’t help but think that’s a win by itself. If they all were to read it and even one in ten truly enjoyed it – well, that’s some people I entertained. And chances are I may never have gotten to entertain them otherwise. Maybe they never would’ve run into my stuff except for this.
But there you go. Internet ad campaigns will expose you to a larger audience but they will not have as much payoff as your own network. focus attention on your own backyard, and, I would say, supplement with expanding it through ads. Just understand the reality of what they can and can not do and the importance of trust as a factor.
As always I will answer questions about this in comments. I will also take suggestions for what to try next to see what data we can find!