The story and numbers behind dnd5.com…

Today was a blur.

For more than one reason, this day has been one of the most exciting and physically destructive days I’ve had in a while. It’s a day I had been waiting a long time for, and also a day I am so happy to see pass.

If you know anything about me or my site, you understand the appeal that April 1st has to me. I’ve been creating D&D-related mashup images for a while now, the last 10 months of which have occurred here at theweem.com. It helps that I work with images all day as a full time web designer, and of course having the love for the game that I do, these two are going to naturally converge.

As midnight approached here in California, I prepared to unleash dnd5.com on the world… or at least to a few who might find it funny.

12:01am PST

Hours since sleeping last: 17.5

The last few hours leading up to this moment involved a lot of last minute preparations. I had been nervously keeping an eye out for any slip-ups with others who were participating. Might someone on the East coast have accidentally scheduled their article to post at midnight THEIR time? I had already decided that if that happened, I would simply launch the project right then – after all, at least it was midnight somewhere in the US.

I also had a separate instance of Chrome open, with tabs prepared for the various sites I would initially be posting links to. They included EN World, RPG.net, Reddit and the WotC Forums. I also had a notepad file open with various lines of text and description to be used in various tweets and for elements of both theweem.com and dnd5.com.

The initial promotion of the site took less than 30 minutes thanks in large part to that initial preparation. With a dentist appointment set for 10.30am, I decided I would try and get to bed by 3am. I wanted to watch for the linked articles to post (from other bloggers participating in this project) so I could link to them in turn. Though I told my wife I might try and pull an all-nighter (she was not pleased), I wasn’t really sure that would happen…

Approximately 3:00am PST

Hours since sleeping last: 20.5

I really didn’t expect to see much activity during these early hours, but I could not have been more wrong. During this short period, the site had already seen over 1,000 unique visitors, and I was getting a lot of mentions on Twitter. Because of the activity, and the fun I was having responding to people, I decided I would go ahead and stay up all night. It’s not something I had done since I was in my early 20’s, and at 34 I was a little worried about how this was going to affect me later – particularly with a dentist appointment in 7.5 hours.

Approximately 7:30am PST

Hours since sleeping last: 25

3am to 6am came and went very quickly. At this point the sun was coming up, my wife was getting up for work and things had not slowed down. I IM’d a friend/co-worker who was now up as well, telling him the site had now seen 2,820 unique visitors at this point. His response upon hearing I had not slept… “ur crazy”.

I then went to say good morning to my wife. Two days earlier, I had installed Tweetdeck on my her phone as mine was dead at the time. When I saw her, I told her the site was doing very well so far despite it still being pretty early. Her response, in a half-awakened state, was one of displeasure… “I know,” she mumbled, “my phone has been beeping… there are 56 messages for you on the twitter thing”. Oops! My bad.

At this point, I tossed out a guess to my friend. I estimated the site would see about 6,000 unique visitors by the end of the night.

10am PST

Hours since sleeping last: 27.5

At this point, the site was steamrolling across various channels. That 6k unique visitors estimate for the entire day I made a few hours before was already quickly approaching. Much of the traffic was coming from Reddit as the post immediately claimed and was holding the top of the /rpg/ section.

It was time for me to leave for my dentist appointment. I was a little concerned about the lack of sleep really hitting me during the 30 minute drive I was about to make – a stretch of the 101 that I feared would do everything it could to force sleep on me. As a precaution I grabbed a cold can of Coke. I didn’t want to drink it just before seeing the dentist, but I would if I had to.

It turned out I was fine, as well as on the return trip.

Noon PST

Hours since sleeping last: 29.5

Safely back from the dentist, I once again looked at the numbers. A note to my friend via IM said it all…

…about 2,100 more unique visits during the time i went to my dentist appt and back.

It was also at this point that I realized this project had passed a certain milestone. That being the one set when I created and posted the “Wil Wheaton playing D&D with the Golden Girls” image back in December. The day was only halfway gone, but by the numbers this project had been more “successful” than that one, despite Wil Wheaton making a post about said image on his blog, and even stopping by to comment on it here at theweem.com.

Wil Wheaton stops by theweem.com

1:30pm PST

Hours since sleeping last: 31

Sleep. It was finally time. I had been back from the dentist an hour and a half already, but most of that had been spent responding to what had become a wave of tweets. I wanted to reply to everyone, and I was successful in doing so up to this point, so I was more than ready to crash finally.

5:30pm PST

Hours slept: 4

The wife was home. It felt like I blinked once I had laid down. One second it was 1:30, and a blink later it was 5:30. She made fun of the tuft in my hair as I made my out to my office/man-cave to check on the site…

…and wouldn’t you know it, it was down! I had an instant message from @wexogo stating..

seriously, dnd5.com has exceeded its bandwidth for the day

Oops… in all my preparation, I had not upped the bandwidth from 5gb. There wasn’t much there, so it hadn’t occurred to me at the time to keep an eye on it. Fortunately it looked like it was only down an hour, so with a few clicks here and there I quickly jumped it to 20gb and we were back online.

At this point, the site had seen over 10,000 unique visitors.

Now I needed food, after which I would write a behind the scenes article… this one in fact!

The Numbers

One of the reasons I wrote this article was due to the high volume of questions I have received specifically addressing the following numbers. I address 2 specific FAQ’s at the bottom regarding twitter, and theweem.com.

I know people don’t like sharing these kinds of numbers for a variety of reasons, and generally I don’t either – primarily because it seems very self congratulating. But in this case 1) I am being asked A LOT and 2) there is nothing to congratulate. I make no money off of any of this. I have no ads, no source of revenue here. In the end I spent many hours of my own time over the course of the last month so that on one day I could see how many people got a laugh out of the work, hehe.

With that said, here we go…

Stats for dnd5.com

April 1st, from 12:01am to 9pm PST (21 hour period)

I may update these at midnight PST tonight as well, we’ll see…

Click to enlarge

Traffic

1) Unique Visitors: 10,504
2) Visits: 11,106
3) Pages: 14,565
4) Hits: 325,052
5) Bandwidth: 7.92gb

Top Referrers

1) Reddit: 4,284
2) Facebook: 1,550
3) EN World: 524
4) WotC Forums: 332

“Twitter.com” showed around 110, but the stats do not take into account clicks from 3rd party programs (Tweetdeck, for example) etc, which I think were pretty high in this case.

Special

1) Facebook “Likes”: 341

Based on 2 other FAQ’s

FAQ: So how many new followers did this get you? I hate the term followers. In fact, you won’t see me talk about my “followers”, or really participate in #ff’s (Follow Friday) on twitter. When I do talk about those numbers, I refer to “people watching my account” – it’s probably just me, but it feels snooty referring to people as “followers”. Not that I mind others using the term, even when it includes me as a “follower”, it’s just that talking about them feels like talking about some sort of commodity or currency (sorry for the tangent there).

With that said, on an average day, I see between 1 and 7 new people “follow” the @theweem account. Today, 13 people have followed the account. I think some people would expect many more than that, but to give you more evidence of how little this stuff translates into new follows, I had 5 new follows the entire day the Wil Wheaton image was spreading.

FAQ: Did the dnd5.com traffic translate into traffic for theweem.com? As theweem.com is my primary site, I don’t like to get into the specific numbers there. What I will say is this – if you look at the average number of unique visitors theweem.com sees in an entire month, 50% of that number visited the site today, so far. Kinda crazy.

8 Responses

  1. It was a really great pleasure getting to share in this experience, Mike — you did a fantastic job, and of course your subject matter was dead on.

    Mine was a bit more niche, but I’m just as pleased with the turnout on my end.

    Weirdest part of this experience for me? The number of people on forums who were actually offended by either http://www.dnd5.com or http://www.magecrammer.com — obviously it’s a small number of people, and the majority of people got the joke — but I was really surprised to see ANYONE get bent out of shape over it.

    The most surprising thing about your “behind the scenes” article to me is the revelation of how few followers you picked up — comparably, The Secret DM™ Facebook page (www.facebook.com/secretdm) picked up 5 new “fans” as a result of today.

    But obviously, we weren’t in this for the fans. We did this to give back to a game and community that we love so much.

    And to win an Ennie. 😉

    Keep up the great work, Mike — definitely can’t wait to see what’s next from The Weem!

    –The Secret DM

  2. RossK says:

    i still say i’d buy it.

  3. Swordgleam says:

    Count me in as someone who got a laugh out of D&D5. Great work!

  4. j0nny_5 says:

    You can’t even quantify the word of mouth. I told at least five people about it at work. Truly funny. Thanks for your effort, you made April 1, 2011 a memorable one.