Hello friends! The start of any year is an opportunity to take a step back and look at things, preparing for the year ahead. I’ve done the same for DDNet, and there will be a few changes that we need to make, in order to continue to grow the site and make it the best possible thing possible.
The main change that we’ll be making this year is a disappointing, but a necessary one: We’re going to have to put a hold on the Dee Dee Zine. I have absolutely loved what we achieved with that magazine over the nearly two years that we ran it, but the basic reality of the matter is this: it wasn’t ever going to be anything more than a vanity project. It wasn’t profitable and was enormously time-consuming, and I simply couldn’t see a pathway to sustain it to the standards that I wanted to.
In the time that we’ve been running the Dee Dee Zine, we built the Patreon – the main way that people purchased the Zine – up to just 56 people. I tried putting advertising behind it, giving away copies and other efforts to grow its audience, and the unfortunate reality was that a Japanese art and culture zine from a games Website was simply too niche. To give you an idea, I even did an SEO discovery project on it, and as far as I could tell the absolute best keyword I could have invested in might have earned me an additional ~50 clicks, worldwide, per month. Not subscribers. Just people that had an interest enough in the subject matter to do a search for it.
If we were still in the depths of a pandemic and I had nothing else to do but stay at home, then as a hobby project I would have continued it, but each magazine cost around $1,000 to produce, between the art, writing, and production process, and took around 40-60 hours of my time each month. I was greatly concerned with the implications of that when I’m looking to start travelling to Japan again this year, and just generally get back out there and live again. I also realised, in putting the December issue together through a bout of COVID myself, that I had no support or back-up on this. That is unbelievably stressful, when you don’t want to let anyone down.
There’s also the reality that the two weeks that I would spend on the magazine each month meant that everything else about the site suffered from a lack of attention. I produced fewer videos for the DDNet YouTube, and that channel has slowed down in growth because of it. I’ve also had less time to come up with interesting articles and features for the website. This visual novel that I’ve been working on far too long continues to remain unfinished because I simply don’t have the time for it.
So, as much as I love print magazines and want to do my bit to keep them going, I’ve had to have a hard look at what I can achieve in my position, and the Dee Dee Zine is no longer viable.
The existing magazines will continue to be available via the PayHip store, for people that want them, and I will draw some of the interesting articles out from there to re-publish on the site so more people can read them. So much of the work in the Dee Dee Zine is timeless analysis and I do want as many people as possible to have the opportunity to read those features.
Again, I am enormously proud of that magazine, and if the stars ever align such that I feel like I can relaunch it in a sustainable way, I will do so in a heartbeat. I am enormously thankful for the incredible art, articles, and other contributions that so many talented people committed to the magazine, and I truly believe we achieved something special for such an indie outlet.
Now, however, it’s time to consolidate and re-focus. DDNet will be the stronger for it.
As part of this, I will be ending the Patreon – the Zine was the major reason for people to back it and I would not feel comfortable taking people’s money without it. If you do want to support the site directly, of course I deeply appreciate it, and we’ll continue to have the merchandise available via RedBubble (and, of course, the visual novel, now that I can finally finish it).
I know it’s never a good look for a site to step back something major that it’s doing, and this long explanation is in part to assure you all that the rest of the site is going nowhere. The only issue we had was the magazine, and you’ll see the benefits of our consolidated focuse on the site itself, immediately. Because of the pandemic and lockdowns, I had the opportunity to over-reach a bit, and spend more time and energy on a project than I had under normal living conditions. It was worthwhile and made the pandemic bearable, but now it’s time to do the right thing, both for the site and for the readers, and you all deserve a more focused experience.
Thank you for your ongoing support, and look forward to seeing a big year for DDNet in 2023!