I launched Trivia Night this month! If you want to read more about what that is and how it came to be, check out what I wrote here.
On to the monthly review!
I guess I technically did this, but I feel like I aimed pretty low and still underperformed. Posting about my work publicly makes me uncomfortable, which I think comes down to an unfounded concern about how people interpret self-promotion.
I worry that if I write "Here's a thing that I made," people will read "This product is perfect. Go ahead and try to find a flaw, I dare you!" This is a pretty uncharitable view of, like, humanity, so I'm going to keep trying to push past it. I talk about the small steps I did take below.
I started the learning journey, and even made a few improvements, but I think this is going to take consistent effort before I start to see real results. Still, I'll count it as a solid start. More below!
I've been putting a few hours here and there into a new project, and I'm starting to get somewhere interesting. I'll share more on that next month!
Until very recently, I used Zoom for presenting my virtual trivia nights. Zoom is great, but it's not really meant for collaborative experiences. Since many trivia teams are spread across the country, they would listen to me on the primary Zoom call, and also have a second call to talk to their team. Juggling my Zoom presentation, their team video call, and another browser window for submitting answers made for an unnecessarily complicated experience.
I've been trying to find a good solution to this problem ever since starting Trivia Night, and I finally have something I'm happy with. I integrated with Ohyay, a platform for making highly customizable virtual spaces, to create a "Virtual Pub" for hosting trivia. In this space, each team can retreat to a private room, where they can only hear the host and each other. They can also see the trivia questions being displayed and can even submit their answers directly in the video chat window.
Though they weren't solving a specific problem, Ohyay's social features have quickly become my favorite part of trivia nights. Each participant can chat and send emoji/Bitmoji reactions to the entire pub, which really makes the experience come to life. (Friendly, good-natured) trash talk is one of the best parts of in-person trivia, and Trivia Night is finally starting to capture some of that feel.
At the beginning of the month I knew literally nothing about SEO. Now I've learned enough to know a few of the things I'm doing wrong. For the time being, I'm trying to focus on the lowest-hanging fruit to make sure I'm not shooting myself in the foot. In the future, I'd love to show up in search results for things like "work trivia," but for now I'm happy building an audience with explicit outreach and word of mouth.
I spent most of my SEO effort on reducing the page load time, since Google heavily factors this into its rankings. The site is a single-page application (SPA), which means that instead of loading new code from the server every time you navigate to a new page, it loads all the code the first time you access the site (then dynamically creates the other pages as you click around). While it's more complicated in practice, this usually means that SPAs take longer to load the first page but subsequent navigation is much quicker. Unfortunately, Google's speed rating only considers the first load, so I'm already at a bit of a disadvantage.
There are tricks to alleviate some of these issues that I plan to implement in the future, but I'm reasonably happy with the improvement I already got (I'll take an 82!) just from optimizing what gets loaded:
While I did meet my goal of posting in three different places last month, all of my efforts basically fit under the same umbrella. I targeted three trivia communities and my message was something like "Check out my new trivia site!" While it's far too early to tell for sure, I think there are a couple issues with this approach:
The differentiators of my site compared to competitors are:
Both of these are hard to convincingly express in text (though I've tried), so I added two features to help out:
I also plan to make a short video showcasing the fun for those without time for a game!
Even if a visitor likes what they see, the best case scenario is that they leave and remember we exist when they have a trivia-related emergency in the future. I've now added a simple mailing list sign up, but I think there's more to do here.
While some trivia buffs I know would be excited to host, they're more likely to be interested in playing. Getting them to participate in a free game and remember us for future events can certainly work, but it's a pretty indirect strategy. I'm going to change my approach to target customers that might use the site immediately, and I think people organizing corporate events are the best bet. Now I just have to figure out where to find them!
I've been enjoying making puzzles again! (Maybe a bit too much. I'm definitely using them as procrastination from other work....) I'm going to continue trying to finish at least one per month. Check out B&W Crosswords for the latest.
I'm going to force myself to take a break from the engineering side of Trivia Night for now and focus on finding users. Once I have some traction I can start making improvements. In the meantime...
This is meant as something of a proxy goal for making me post about Trivia Night in a bunch of different places. People like free things (and, hopefully, people like trivia), so this shouldn't be a hard sell as long as I actually spread the word. Shout out to the single attendee I got last month with ~zero advertising, I hope you come back next time to a larger crowd!
Trivia Night is definitely a niche business. I don't expect many people to see the website and say "Ooh, I should host trivia this weekend!" With that in mind, I think the focus has to be on getting the word out, so the next time someone has a team-building event or family reunion, they think of me. Still, I'd like to make some money at some point! I'll set the goal of getting a single sale this month, then see where that gets me.
The next idea I'm working on is pretty simple, so I'm hoping I can get something out the door in only a month of work. Stay tuned to find out more!
See you next month!