lb_lee: A pencil sketch of me drawing/writing in my sketchpad. (art)
[personal profile] lb_lee
Welcome back to the Art of Business! You definitely want to read Part One first.  Well, we talked about advertising.  Now it's time to talk about MONEY!

#2: Make it easy for people to give you money.

This sounds obvious, but you wouldn't believe how many artists I know who have wonderful work AND NO ONLINE SHOP. Here I am, wanting to give them money, but there's no way to buy anything, unless I chase them down at a con or something!

If your fans have only one dollar they want to give you, make sure they CAN. Do you have physical goods to sell? Make an etsy shop. Ebooks or digital files? Try Gumroad. Art commissions? Put a sticky entry up on your blog stating your guidelines, prices, and that you're open. Hell, there's always the classic unobtrusive Paypal button.

I have a few different sites I use for money-raising, and all of them are geared for different kinds of fans. I have a Paypal button for writeathons or miscellaneous donations. I have a Patreon for fans who like to give the same amount every month. And I have an Etsy for ebooks and paper comics. Yes, it means that I have three different online money-sites, and I wish I could unify them, but oh well. That said, I don't plan on having any more shops if I can help it.

The important thing is, any fan who wants to give me money for something can do so EASILY. Be it one dollar or one hundred, they can Paypal it to me. If they prefer regular monthly donations, then they can use Patreon. If they want specific goods, they can use Etsy or Paypal for that too.

Also, I can not stress how useful it is to sell ebooks. Once you make the file, you can put it up for sale on Etsy or something and just FORGET ABOUT IT. No more runs to the print shop! You're done! Plus you can sell out-of-print stuff there too; for a $.20 listing on Etsy, it's worth a shot.

So, ask yourself, what are you selling? Now, ask yourself, how can Random Joe on the Internet or street buy it? If your answer is, "Well, they'd have to dig back through my blog archive for the page I announce its sale, and then go through nested Paypal menus," you have a problem. Fix it.

#3: Keep track of the money.

This is the easiest part. Seriously, go to your nearest office supply store. You can easily find a stack of receipt books for like $15; here's the kind I use. That stack will last you a good while. Take it home, and every sale you make, write it down in your little sales book. It'll even give you tear-out receipts to stuff in the package with your mail orders!

It's easy. Just put down the name of the person buying, their general location (I usually just say city, state, and country), how many of your things they buy, and how much they each cost, and the total they paid you. BAM. Simplicity itself. That is the most information you need.

All you need to keep track of everything are those sales books and a spreadsheet, either on your computer or on graph paper. I also use a tiny notepad specifically for con sales, but you don't have to if you don't want.

Write down your sales as they occur in your sales books. Also, keep track of your expenses--the cost of print runs, going to cons, whatever. I usually just write them down as they occur on my calendar; you can use your spreadsheet

Every month, tally up the money you made, and your total expenses. Then put it on the spreadsheet, in two different columns. Why? Because the longer you keep doing this, the longer you can keep track of how much you make, what sells the best, and what things are worth your time.

This shit is fucking MAGIC, I tell you. I've been keeping pretty good records for the past two years, and I can tell you what times of year are my most lucrative (October), what times are worst (November and December, due to holidays), what comics of mine sell the best (Feeling Worthless and the Bad Day Book, by far)... seriously, you'll feel like a wizard. The things that sell poorly? Get rid of them when it becomes too big a pain. The things that sell well? MAKE MORE. That con you do so well at? Oops, turns out that the expenses way outweigh your actual income and enjoyment; time to quit going. Often, how well you THINK you're doing is not actually reality as reflected by your records.

As long as you keep up with your records and write down every sale and expense as it occurs, it's not stressful. And once you get in the habit of keeping records, it's WAY easier to do taxes on it when you start making enough for that to be a thing. (I started doing that when I started making over a thousand a year.) That's why you keep different columns for expenses versus income, by the way. For the tax stuff.
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