So, you’ve got a Minecraft server and while you and your friends may still play on it, you’ve decided you want to make it into a business rather than just paying for its own server hosting. What comes next? This post looks at how you can turn your Minecraft hobby into a machine that makes money for you every month. If that sounds interesting, we’ve got all the tools you need to do it right here at PlayerLands.
The first step in either collecting donations or monetizing your server is setting up and connecting a PlayerLands store. Once that’s up and running and taking money, you can start to look at ways of building your business online. The good news is that the vast majority of those methods take time rather than money, so upfront investment is in most cases unnecessary, you can grow your server organically without having to dip into your own pockets.
Mojang love server communities. They fully support your legal right to make money running a Minecraft server, provide you conform to a few key points. The TL;DR is that you can’t steal they IP and must not sell anything that gives an unfair advantage to any of your players. We’ve got a quick guide on what is and isn’t okay and if you’re still unsure, there’s a link in the guide to the full text of Mojang’s requirements.
Once you know what’s legitimate, you can start to populate your store with items to sell to players. These will almost always be cosmetic, and there’s quite a lot of IP-free content available online that you can sell in your store without too much more input. It’s an excellent way to kick off a Minecraft server business quickly and with minimum set up time.
Naturally you and your players may well graduate to items that are more suited and personalised to your server, and whether that’s UGC or stuff you make yourself or pay to have designed, it’s worth remembering not to let your store inventory get too rambling. It’s easy to keep adding and adding until your store’s more like a jungle than a shop, but it’s worth considering pulling older items to keep your inventory cleaner. You can always rotate them back in later.
The next step is to remind your players to shop. Inevitably your shoppers will tend to make up a minority of your players, so it’s important to keep in touch with those who actively spend in your store. Email reminders are often welcome, especially when they contain interesting news or special offers. It’s also worth remember that your players are a lot like you - getting bombarded with too many messages, even when they contain offers, doesn’t feel good.
We’ve got plenty of tips to help you optimise your store to sell more. Here are 10 tricks you may find useful [link Help Centre > 10 Tricks to help your store sell more] that come from experience both in customer psychology and other e-commerce sites. It’s important to be clear that they are all entirely ethical, and are designed to help increase the volume of sales and overall revenue in your server store simply by improving the store’s appeal.
There are plenty of other ways of building your business. Our guide on How to sell more from your store [link Help Centre > How to sell more from your store] talks you through some other techniques that can help drive sales, repeat business from active players, and find new players. Which neatly brings us onto…
The lifeblood of any game server is its player base. Keeping existing players happy is always a priority, but maintaining a steady flow of fresh players helps grow your business and make it sustainable in the long term. Naturally telling your friends about it and getting existing players to recommend your server to their likeminded friends are excellent ways of getting a trickle of new sign-ups, social media is a useful way of making that trickle into a flow, and with a bit of persistence, a flood.
The other good thing about growing your server using social media is that in many cases using it is completely free. If you want to buy targeted advertising - which can work very well, and is worth doing as you get bigger - that has an immediate cost, but setting up pages on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook will cost you nothing at all, and neither will putting together a sub-Reddit for your server, although as anyone who has used to the site regularly will know, Reddit can be a double edged sword.
Our guide to creating and executing a social media strategy is here [link Help Centre > Social media marketing 101] if you need some pointers to get you started. And it’s also a good idea to find, read and immerse yourself in forums related to the game or games you’re running. Posting on those sites in a helpful manner is a great way of getting free publicity, but as with any social medium you’ll need to read them first to make sure you get the content and tone of voice right. That should also help prevent too many embarrassing reposts.
Use of the word “entrepreneur” may conjure up images of Elon Musk or Richard Branson, and while it may be some time before your server makes you your first billion, by running it and making money from it, you’re a business person exactly like they are, even if it’s currently on a smaller scale.
The reason it’s important to think of yourself in those terms is that growing your business takes focus, resolve and persistence. If you still think of it as a hobby or a bit of fun, you may miss opportunities to make it into a proper money generating enterprise. Giving up your job to run a game server full time is widely held dream, but one that is more than accessible with a bit of work and a few hours per day.
There are plenty of resources to give yourself a leg up in being a better business person, and we’ve got some podcasts that are a really good way to start. We hope you find them as inspiring as we have.