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Shop Talk: Final 2018 Revenue and Expenses

January 4, 2019

There's a not lot of difference between these numbers and the ones I posted last month in a blog post anticipating the end of the year, but I did want to follow up with final numbers for Nix Comics on the year with some additional commentary and explanation. 

I've done a year end report like this every year since starting Nix Comics for two reasons: 

  1. To be as transparent as possible.  If you pay $5 for my one my comics, you can know where the money is going.  Similarly. If I pay you $300 for artwork, you can know what part of my overall take that is.

  2. To answer questions for the "how do I break into comics" crowd.  I generally give pretty shitty answers to those types of questions, so I figure I should at least show folks how I've done it.  (To the extent that I've done it.)

So here it is...  expenses on the left, revenue n the right and the devil in the details:

S0 there's the answer to the question that everybody asks me... some variation of  "Do you break even on making comics?"  Nope.  on the most basic level, I don't.  It's all the extra stuff I do, like this mail order site, that lets me keep going.  If it wasn't for the extra hustles, Nix Comics would look very different.  I would need to sell a few hundred more copies of everything to get Nix Books to the point that they were breaking even on their own.

 

I didn't break sales out between wholesale and retail.  About 10% of that sales total is Wholesale.  I will probably do a future shop talk about wholesale efforts, but suffice to say that I don't think that the effort put into getting shops to carry Nix Comics matches the benefit and I don't much solicit stores much anymore.

Shipping

Supplies $812.38                                                             Shipping  Charged   $2,394.00

Postage $1,727.05                                                                                                                 

subtotal $2,539.43                                                                                 subtotal $2,394.00

 

Kind of screwed up on shipping this year, spending about $140 more on postage and supplies than I charged.  Partly do to USPS price hikes I should have being paying more attention to, partly because the cost of mailers from my preferred vendor went up and partly because I sent out a lot of comp copies for review.

 

Also included is the cost of a stamps.com subscription, which is going up this year, from $15.99 to $17.99.  Frankly, the service isn't that great and the minor cost increase is probably going to drive me away.

Other Merchandise

New Records $340.29                                                    New Records $1,420.14

New Comics $303.00                                                      New Comics $516.07  

Used comics $707.94                                                      Used Comics $919.97 

Used records $540.31                                                     Used Records $991.00

Used Zines $166.30                                                         Used Zines $672.14     

Original Art $270.00                                                         Original Art $594.00   

                                                                                            New Zine $83.89         

                                                                                            Books $124.00              

                                                                                            2 Buck Crate $97.00    

subtotal $2,327.84                                                              subtotal $5,417.71       

 

Once a record and comic store jerk, always a record and comic store jerk, I suppose.  I think that the disappointing thing about these sales is that there is very little if any crossover between people who buy comics and people who buy records from me.  I understand that if someone reads comics, they may not also listen to records...  But I don't understand people who listen to punk rock records but don't buy comics and zines.  READ SOMETHING, SOMETIME  YOU DAMN DIRTY HIPSTER SCUMBAGS!!!!

 

The New Record Sales are a little inflated thanks to the Anyway Titles that Bela basically gave to me as a gift to get the Kickstarter moving.  I actually had to sell a lot of new vinyl stock at clearance rates on ebay to keep the wheels greased this year.  It pains me, but I think I will have to abandon ordering new records in 2019.  Too much investment for too little return.


Used records gota  nice boost at the end of the year with the first round of people buying stuff that I pulled from my personal collection.
 

Its a little surprising to me that I only came out a little ahead on selling used comics this year.  I felt like that was a solid source of income, but I definitely over-bought  Luckily I had some great scores on used magazines that more than made up for it.

 

The 2 buck crate is something I lug to some events which has items that were purchased as part of lots but are either in too poor of a condition to list on the website or don't fit my Nix Comics vibe exactly.  Those among you who are astute will notice that $97 isn't evenly divisible by $2.  What can I say? I like haggling and making deals!

Sales Platforms & Marketing

Website Hosting   $563.29     

Facebook ads        $153.91     

Twitter ads             $198.00    

Print Ads                 $20.00     

Event Table Fees  $545.00   

Paypal Fees           $200.34   

Square fees           $40.91      

ebay Fees              $250.36    

Discogs Fees          $76.40    

Kickstarter Fees    $789.89   

Refunds                  $58.63     

subtotal                  $2,902.72

 

Probably a little sloppy categorizing my sales platforms and marketing expenses in the same lump, but it makes sense to me in a "these are all the things I pay for to be able to sell my stuff" sort of way.

 

I tried out a twitter promoted tweets pilot program early in the year.  For $99 a month they offered to promote my first 10 tweets a day.  I wish I had saved the pitch material, because I seem to remember some pretty astronomical claims as to the number of engagements and new followers I could expect.  It never materialized, so I quit the program.

 

Facebook ads do get some return for me, although I mostly use them to promote events as opposed to sales.  I definitely see an increase in action on stuff within facebook with paid promotion, but I think they probably still choke out stuff that leads off site to a degree.  Facebook ads can be frustrating because they don't like pictures that contain text... Which is almost everything i sell!

 

I've learned to be more patient with ebay listings...  About $75 of that $250  is listing fees, and if I had waited, they probably would have offered me 200 free listing that month.

Other Expenses & Revenue:

New Laptop $187.95                                                             Loan                      $10,000.00

Software $5.36                                                                       Table Fees                 $84.00  

Printer Toner $53.99                                                              Event Sponsorships $150.00

Professional subscription $20.00                                        Kickstarter Gifts       $904.00

Charitable donations $30.00                                                                                                  

Bank Fees $144.00                                                                                                                   

Salary/Payments $3,123.00                                                                                                   

Loan Repayments $2,787.80                                                                                                 

subtotal $6352.10                                                                                  subtotal $11,138.00

 

Probably the smartest thing I did this year was crowd fund a small business loan through Kiva.org.  I'll admit that it's a little stressful at the beginning of every month when the payment is due, but no more so than if I was paying the same amount in rent on a small storefront.  It did allow me to have a full slate of comics and improve my stock of other merchandise to sale, allowing me to hit a decent sales mark most months.

 

It's a drag that I had to draw down funds as salary this year.  I did have part time temp work for a good chunk of the year, but it was generally low paying and sporadically available.  Ideally I'd like to get a more steady employment situation this year.  This was pretty much the difference between being able to finish up all of my 2018 subscription obligations and launching a new, full 2019 slate.  Now I gotta claw and scratch my way back to respectability.

 

$12 a month for a business checking account is ridiculous.  I need to consider going solely paypal soon.

 

I definitely need to set up a few of my own events again this year.  Even the small ones like  Indie Comics Fair at the Ace of Cups makes me a little extra scratch and people do seem to enjoy them.

Grand Total $26,741.12                                                          Grand Total  $27,513.80  

Net $772.68                                                                                                                               

 

Holy snot!!!  For the second year in a row, through a little bit of luck and a lot bit of work I'm in the black for Nix Comics.  $772.68 divided 2 hours a day average,., divided by 365 days....   That's about $1.06 an hour.  Hah!

 

I still need to get out Buck Slaughter #3 and Nix Western #4.  Working on it!  I won't welch on y'all, I promise.

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