What's Wrong with Projectile?

I launched my latest project, Projectile (https://projectile.pro), in July of 2021. The response was minimal, but, hey, it was the middle of the season. Really, it was about being ready for the 2022 pre-season.

I pushed hard on it through the pre-season. The result, in fantasy terms, was crickets. A few fans who have followed my work for a long time gave it a shot. A few stumbled across it from Twitter or elsewhere. But it was a lot of work for a user count in the low double digits. Before the season, I added a free Chrome extension that integrates Projectile values into all of the major league sites (Yahoo, CBS, ESPN, Fantrax, NFBC). Even with it being free, even with it being in a Google marketplace, it currently has...10 users.

It's time for a bit of a post-mortem to try to figure out what's wrong with Projectile, and what I should do going forward.

Lack of a Box

It's hard to build something that doesn't fit in existing categories. People don't understand it. They aren't sure why they need it, because they've never had it in the past.

Before Projectile, the only way to judge players was by mentally mixing their pre-season value with their current season value. "Oh, he was ranked 10th pre-season, but now he's 100th? Probably a top 20 player still." "Joe Nobody was ranked 500th coming into this year, but he's been the best hitter through April. He's probably...top 150?" For a game so heavily invested in analytics, it's pretty pathetic how those judgements are made.

So I envisioned Projectile as the secret weapon for in-season decision-making. Now you have up-to-date player projections, which are translated for your own league settings. You have an objective way to evaluate all of your in-season decisions (trades, add/drops, and start/sits).

The problem: There's no category for in-season projected value. No one has previously decided that was worth paying for, because there was nothing to buy. The category didn't exist.

Shifting Focus

The second problem with Projectile is that I couldn't decide my focus. In January, I had a great idea for a pre-season feature that compared all of the publicly-available projections. I built it, and I think it turned out great.

But I also think it muddied the waters for promoting the site. Is Projectile a pre-season tool or an in-season tool? For pre-season, it had some novel ideas, but not enough to replace someone's existing draft tooling. And the pre-season features may have caused people to miss the value for in-season.

Lack of Audience

The third problem is a biggie. I just don't have the audience. Once upon a time, I was blogging and making fantasy tools at Last Player Picked, but I had stepped back from that almost a decade before. In the meantime, lots of talented people had been developing audiences on platforms that weren't a thing back then (mostly podcasts and Twitter).

Lessons Learned

Okay, so what did I learn from this experience?

Give Projectile More Time

I don't think Projectile is a failure. It just needs more time. Give people a chance to see the value proposition for having in-season values.

The good news is that the site itself is fairly stable and doesn't take up a lot of time. I'm going to leave it alone and see how it goes for 2023.

Goal: Don't do anything drastic to Projectile. Keep everything going for 2023.

Try Something in an Existing Category

Projectile didn't fit in existing categories. For my next project, I should do something that people understand. That's DraftKick, because people undestand the value proposition of fantasy draft software.

Goal: Move forward on DraftKick. I'd like to have a working version by October 2022.

Improve Discoverability

A great product still won't be successful without some marketing behind it. I need a way to get more people seeing my products.

My base strategy will be writing. I see it working in two ways:

  1. Sharing my journey gets people invested in me as a creator. I'm not looking for sympathy; I just want people to be rooting for me to succeed.
  2. Writing is what Google is looking to index. If I write, people searching on Google have a better chance of finding my products. Even if the writing isn't targeted at potential customers, good written content will lift the ranking for the whole site.

Goal: Write 1 piece each week on DraftKick. One piece each month will openly share details about building, marketing, and selling each product.

Conclusion

There you have it. I can check off my writing goal for this week.

Hi,

I'm Mays. I've been playing fantasy since I was in high school (over two decades ago).

My speciality has always been player valuation—converting player stats into rankings and salary values. VBD? Z-Scores? We go way back. In 2009, I started Last Player Picked, a site that generated fantasy values customized for your league.

These days, I'm building DraftKick and Projectile, a fantasy baseball site with in-season projection visualizations.

You can find me on Twitter at @MaysCopeland or email me at mayscopeland@gmail.com.