Shop Talk: 2020 Nix Comics Revenue and Expenses
2020 Nix Comics Revenue and Expenses:
I normally look forward to my annual tradition for me to share the year end Nix Comics Revenue and Expenses, but this year I was kind of dreading it. I thought it would be the first year in a few where I was in the red.
I don’t know how obvious it was to my regular customers/friends/fans but I really pulled back on “hustling” this year. It just didn’t feel right to me to have the hand out while some many people were sick, or underemployed, or concerned with social justice matters. Honestly, for most of the year I would have rather people gave $10 to the local food bank or to bail out protestors than buy one of my comics.
I did manage to get the annual Indie Comics Fair at the Ace of Cups in just under the wire on March 7th. I think that was the last comic show a lot of my friends were able to vend at or attend before lockdown. It was a little slower than previous years, but even so a moderate money maker for me.
I didn’t put out any full comics in 2020, but I did manage to hang together one zine. ‘What Have I Done For You Lately” was a very clumsy and quickly made DIY sort of deal which sold a total of 15 copies… Pretty much what I needed to break even on it.
Both in January and then in December I ran clearance auctions on Ebay, as baby steps toward shutting down the mail order aspect of my business. The idea was that people attracted to the comics and records I was selling would also buy Nix Comics books and vice-versa. It was an idea that worked OK while I had regular income to keep merch on the site fresh and changing, but worked not-at-all in my current state of employment.
Anyways, I guess saying all that, the big surprise is that I’m coming out a little ahead of the game for 2021. Roughly ahead by the amount of my last round of clearance auctions. Here’s how it all shook out:
Revenue Art + Prints $167.00 Nix comics $661.00 Freelance $598.49 Shipping Charged $589.05 Mail Order Merch $1,772.57 Indie Comics Fair $330.00 Total Revenue $4,118.11
Expenses Art $300.00 Loan Repayment $1050.00 Marketing $121.55 Printing + Supplies $207.96 Shipping Paid $865.05 Transaction Fees $472.46 Website Hosting $572.58 Total Expenses $3589.60 Net $572.05
Notes on Revenue
Art + Prints: $167.00 Most of these sales were either sketchbook picture sleeves or record cases that I illustrated on. $15 was for sales of merch from the threadless print-on-demand website. (Fifteen bucks! Woo!)
Nix Comics: $661.00 An average of $50 a month sales of my own comics ain’t bad for not really trying. Some of those sales were part of the January and December clearance auctions, so sold at a lower than cover price rate. Still, only 16% of what I earned in 2020 was actually selling Nix Comics. The rest is “comics-related.”
Freelance: $598.49 Hey! People started paying me money to do presentations and write essays again this year. That hasn’t happened since the Columbus Alive changed course on comics stuff a couple years ago. I welcome that kind of good news! Also, I got a surprise royalty check for my work on the 27 Club anthology released by Red Stylo media a few years back. (Super pleasant surprise! Thanks Enrica!) Shipping Charged: $589.05 Did my part to keep the post office viable this year. Stuck with $5 flat rate for all domestic orders for most of the year, but it’s going top have to go up to $6 this year. I worry about that, because I know that psychologically that is more than a $1 increase.
Mail Order Merch: $1,772.57 This looks juicy, I know… But around $1,300 of this is stuff sold for less than I paid for it. The money also came in spurts as opposed to a nice steady stream, which obviously I’d prefer. The two rounds of Ebay clearance sales are pretty much responsible for me coming out a little ahead this year. Kind of a pyrrhic victory, though. Indie Comics Fair: $330.00 As I said above, I was lucky to sneak this in. $150 of the total is a sponsorship from the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE), all of which goes to paying an artist for the annual poster, printing the poster and facebook ads to get feet through the door. The remaining $180 comes from artists who vend at the show, who pay me at the end of the day based on what it was worth to them.
Notes on Expenses
Art: $300.00 $100 went to Renkorama for the Indie Comics Fair poster and the final $200 was a final payment to Rock brooks for his work on Nix Western Comics #4. Getting Rick paid was a big weight off my shoulders and looking back, it’s a good reminder that 2019 was a little tough too. Usually this is one of my highest expense areas. I miss paying artists for their hard work!
Loan Repayment: $1050.00 Nearly 30% of my income went to paying off the Kiva.org loan I took out a few years back. When I took out the loan it was from the perspective that even if my comics weren’t selling, I could keep up with payments thanks to a day job. Both comic sales and gainful employment went belly up for me in 2020, so I had to stop regular payments in July. Once I find a good gig, I’ll go back to paying this off. It’s my current biggest feel-bad debt.
Marketing: $121.55 The bulk of this was money spent promoting the Indie Comics fair, although some was just a generic ad in the Columbus Scribbler. Printing + Supplies: $207.96 Fucking toner! Is it made out stuff only found on asteroids or something?
Shipping Paid: $865.05 I began the year with what would seem to be an easy to check off to do item, cancel my Stamps dot com account which was running $19.34 a month. Sadly, I kept coming up with reasons to keep it and actually didn’t cancel until June. This total also includes shipping supplies, some of which I bought in bulk and haven’t used yet. Those two elements combine to pump the total shipping expenses up way higher than the amount I took in.
Transaction Fees: $472.46 The bulk of these fees are paypal fees and ebay fees. I learned the hard way at the end of this month that the credit you receive for donating part of your ebay auctions to a charity doesn’t always come before the bill payment is due. Sometime in the next couple of weeks a $140 donation will be processed by paypal for Fieldmouse Press from the December auctions and a $70 credit applied to my ebay account. Not a big deal since I plan on doing more clearance auctions, but I’d rather have the cash than the credit.
Website Hosting: $572.58 My website and email hosting was a fucking mess at the end of 2019 and I resolved to fix it in 2020. Basically, I had two different hosts that do different things for me and both were on annual payments for reduced cost. At the end of 2020 it’s a slightly more expensive mess but I’m on a month to month basis while I figure out what’s still a fucking mess.