In writing for RPGs is surprisingly easy to go a very long way without spending a single cent/penny. You can write and layout some very sophisticated documents just using LibreOffice and export them to PDF. You could use Scribus to set up a document for Print on Demand. If you print through Xpress, Lulu, or Amazon, you can have physical books on sale and not even buy physical proofs. It is worth it the first few times just so you really understand the physical quality of each format, but their digital proofing is so good that if it looks right on the screen, it will be right in the flesh (so to speak).
You can post stuff to social media for free, and use tools to post stuff across channels for free. Using WordPress and woocommerce you can have your own storefront, again, for free (assuming you already have a domain and WordPress hosting).
So spending money on advertising is a psychological hurdle.
There is always a worry that you could spend money for no return or never get your investment back.
You can set up an email newsletter for free. Almost all commercial mailing services have a free tier. Mailchimp allows you 2000 email addresses before you have to pay. I use the WordPress Newsletter plugin. That has a two-tier system of free or annual subscriptions. You can set up the list, and get a subscribe form on your site. Now you are building your list for free.
My email subscribers are 10 times more likely to buy my latest releases, they are most likely to shop in my Shopify store and they give me the most positive feedback on what I have done, and what they would like me to do in the future. Newsletter subscribers are valuable to me.
I decided that it made sense to build up my mailing list. I paid someone to set up a campaign and create an ad. I supplied the copy and some images. They set up the campaign and created the ad.
It definitely worked. I am spending $2/day I was getting new subscribers every day. On average I was getting more than one a day. I assumed it was 1/day from the ad and any extras were just the organic signups I was getting before.
At the weekend I showed someone who was a strong advocate of Facebook advertising my ad. They completely ripped it to pieces. There was pretty much nothing right about it.
So on Monday, I rebuilt the ad using their suggestions.
Since the ad went live on Tuesday night, it is now about 5 times more efficient than its first iteration.
I am running an A/B test. half the people who see the ad will see the old one, half the new one. When that finishes, I will retire the worst performing ad and then make what I hope are more improvements, such as making the text more legible, slowing the slideshow down to give more time to read the text, and adding the 5* reviews from DTRPG after the product titles in the ad. I will then run another A/B test to see which version works the best of those.
I can do the same with the ad copy.
Even so, going from 1/day to 5/day is a massive improvement. That is going from $2 to $0.40 per subscriber. It is speeding my list growth and all of the benefits that come with it.
This graph shows the intermittent 1/day I was getting before, and the ad going live late on the 12th of June.
I hope to circle back to this topic in a month or so when I have more data and can tell you more of what I have done to optimize the ads.