Back when I started the Certified Comic Shop, I used to post regular financial reports detailing the income and expenses for the shop right here on my blog. At the time it made a lot of sense to do so for a couple of reasons:
- By being transparent with my finances, it helped keep me honest and on track.
- I wasn’t selling all that much, so I had time on my hands. What else was I going to do?
Fast forward two and a half years, and things have changed. Not only has my business increased nearly every single month since I opened up the shop, but I also started creating a lot more content for various outlets including my YouTube Channel, the Certified Comic Talk Podcast and I even became a contributor to ComicTom 101’s blog in addition to writing content for this blog.
That’s a whole lot of content without a whole lot of time. Unfortunately the financial reports got the axe to make room for CGC unboxing videos and in-depth podcast episodes. Even though I left the financial discussions behind, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t sad to see them go. I’ve always felt a certain amount of guilt for abandoning those posts because the feedback I received from you was always positive.
However, when I was cooking the books for last month, I discovered something pretty cool and I felt it would be worthwhile to publish the details for my fellow comic-preneurs.
So without further ado, I’m happy to report that in August 2019, I made $163.83 from income sources that had absolutely nothing to do with the sale of comics from my inventory. How’d I do it? Let’s take a look!
MULTIPLE INCOME STREAMS FTW!
It was early on in the life of the Certified Comic Shop when I came to the realization that it sucked having to use the profits I made from selling a comic to “pay the bills” associated with having a fully functional online comic book shop. Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought, if I could have various income streams that would generate enough revenue to pay for things like website hosting and shipping supplies? That way when I sold a comic, I could reinvest those dollars into inventory acquisition instead of paying fixed operating costs.
Today I have multiple lines in the water that bring in additional income to the shop, and for the first time ever, they have collectively paid the monthly bills. I was so stoked when I realized this had happened, I wanted to share the success story with you.
If you’re a comic-preneur too, hopefully some of these strategies will work for you!
eBay Partner Network = $10.91
One of the first things I did was set myself up with an eBay Partner Network account. If you didn’t know, eBay will pay you a commission for directing traffic to their listings when those people you referred straight up buy, or successfully win, an auction item.
This generated almost $11 for me last month, which is actually on the low side compared to other months. I’ve had months where I’ve earned between $60-$70 from the EPN traffic alone. But hey, we’re not gonna sneeze at ten bucks and change. Every dollar counts!
SiteGround Affiliate Sales = $50.00
Around the same time I was signing up for the eBay Partner Network, I discovered that SiteGround — the web hosting company I use for the shop — also had an affiliate program. I enrolled right away, but it wasn’t until last month when I actually received my first commission for referring someone to SiteGround who ended up purchasing a hosting package.
That single referral brought in $50, which immediate made me think…why the hell am I not publishing more SiteGround content? Well the reality is while I do have a couple of affiliate links here on my website to SiteGround (<— like that one), the affiliate space is pretty competitive and it doesn’t make sense to devote my limited time and resources trying to drive and convert non-comic related traffic in an effort to chase that cheddar.
That said, if you’re thinking about starting your own website, I highly recommend using SiteGround as your host. I’ll save the reasons why for another blog post, but if you want to know now, feel free to drop me a line.
Merch Sales = $9.00
The next outlet I explored to make a few bucks was setting up an t-shirt shop on Threadless. For those who don’t know, Threadless is a place where you can sell t-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts and all kinds of other merch. It’s an artist driven platform, so you don’t stock any of the merchandise. You create your storefront, upload your artwork and select the products you want that artwork to appear on.
When someone buys something from your Threadless Shop, they keep the majority of the money because, well…they facilitate the production and shipping of the item. But you do earn a commission for each item sold. That commission varies on the cost of the item purchased, but this past month I sold two t-shirts from my shop, which netted me $9.00.
Should I Grade It? = $22.37
My next action item was an attempt to earn money based off my own website traffic geared towards people who weren’t here to buy a comic. I get a ton of visits to my website thanks to all the content I’ve written about having your comics graded by CGC. Clearly the intent of these folks is to learn more about the grading process — not to drop a few hundred bucks on a shiny new slab (although some do!).
With this audience in mind, I created my Should I Grade It? service. The idea is that the visitor provides information about the comic they’re considering having graded, and I provide them with a market report along with a detailed explanation as to why I think they should, or shouldn’t, have that comic graded.
I initially launched this as a free service just to see if people would use it. And boy they did! Right from the start I was getting 7-10 requests for market reports a day, which really became unsustainable to keep up with as each report takes about 15 minutes to assemble.
Then, after talking to a respected mentor about my conundrum, he was the one who reminded me that the whole point of initially making it available for free was to help determine if there was an appetite for this type of service. Clearly there was, so why not start charging for it?
And that’s what I did. For this past month, after PayPal took their cut, I was left with a tidy little profit of $22.37 by providing customers with 13 Should I Grade It? market reports.
Consignment Sales = $71.55
Lastly, back in May of 2019, I opened up this website to take on consignments from folks who didn’t want to deal with the hassle of selling their graded comics themselves. The service took off faster than I expected, and last month I successfully sold six graded comics on consignment which contributed an additional $71.55 to the bottom line.
Honorable Mention: Sticker Mule = $0.00
I also thought it would be worth mentioning Sticker Mule here, even though it doesn’t generate real cash that I can use on anything I want. That said, they do have a nice referral program where I can share a link that gives you a $10 credit to use for your first purchase at Sticker Mule, and after you make a purchase, I’ll get a $10 credit to use on a future purchase as well.
This is actually quite valuable for me as I use Sticker Mule for all of my branding needs. I’ve purchased custom packing tape, buttons, die-cut stickers, roll labels and more from Sticker Mule and pretty much replenish my supplies with them on a quarterly basis. All said, I’ve earned $80 in Sticker Mule credits which definitely impacts the bottom line, even if it’s not “real” cash money.
WHAT DID ALL THIS CASH PAY FOR?
So now you’re probably thinking, “Ok Jason, that’s pretty cool. What did all this non-comic related cash pay for?”. Well I’m glad you asked, here are the bills that $163.83 covered in full for the month of August 2019:
|eBay Storefront Subscription||$21.95|
As you can see I just barely managed to cover those expenses, but I did! I gotta say, it really is a satisfying feeling to come up with a basic idea like covering operating expenses via multiple income streams and eventually being able to execute that plan and make it work — at least for the month of August 2019.
The next goal is to be able to achieve this same level of supplemental income each and every month, with a long term goal of generating enough income to cover the operating costs plus additional line items like CGC grading fees.
Hopefully you picked up a tactic or two that you can incorporate in your own business plan, or at the very least you enjoyed reading the recap of these efforts. If you have any questions about anything that I covered here, feel free to ask them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!