Penplotter profit/loss, for the whole of 2020

Figured it would be good to do a very quick breakdown of the total costs for 2020, more really for a sanity check on "did I really spend that much on pen and paper?" Spoiler: yes.

If you've not been here before, I've been tracking my costs and profit each month on the adventure that is selling my pen plots, all the previous posts can be found here...

Without further ado, here's the total breakdown for 2020...

Postage & Packaging £604.12
Paper £336.23
Pens & Ink £345.25
Studio Rent & costs £815.80
Total expenses: £2,101.40
Total sales: £3,346.65
2020 Profit: £1,245.25

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There are a few rounding errors in there but it's close enough.

The most expensive thing was, well, not listed, which would be my time, if I included that as I should there would be a lot more negative numbers in there. Quickly skipping over that whole thing, the next biggest expense is unsurprisingly studio rent and other general expenses.

I guess if you're thinking about selling pen plots, it's very easy to go with the thinking that a single pen and sheet of paper is cheap, if I sell a plot for £80, that's a clear £77 profit, right?

Turns out that's not the case, together I've spent nearly £700 on pens and paper, about that again on postage.

Based on my current rate of sales (I'm very relaxed about pushing sales, if you put the effort in you could do a lot better) on average an A3 plot costs me £45 to create.

Pretending that I improved both my production and selling, and got that down to £30 per A3 plot, and created and sold a single A3 plot per working day each month (21 days) for £85, I'd make a profit of about £1,155 per month. Or £13,860 per year.

That's about £6.66 per hour, which is less than the UK "living wage" of £8.21.

And selling one plot per day is a big ask at the moment.

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If I were attempting to turn this into a viable full-time job (at the current rate, I'd make £2,500 per year), then I guess I'd have to look at selling prints (as a high-quality print-on-demand service), increasing prices (along with increasing "reach"), and who knows, maybe getting back to workshops, although that seems unlikely in the near future.

Anyway, 2020 was an interesting start in this whole project of actually selling art and I'm super impressed with myself for making that a thing that happened. I could have very easily procrastinated and waited until I had the perfect website, perfect plots, perfect Shopify shop. I guess if I look back then just fuckin' doing it and setting up the shop was the big step.

If there's one thing I didn't get to do it's write up more blog posts about the whole process. I've enjoyed the monthly round-ups but I have so many more notes I've made along the way about being an "Artist who sells stuff via Instagram".

Perhaps 2021 is the year I get to put more of that into blogs. Also hopefully the year I finally make an overall profit.

My initial outlay was £2,493.71 for the pen-plotter itself and a whole bunch of R&D. My profit so far: £1,245.25, which means I still haven't broken even. Give it another six months and I think I will have cleared that initial cost and presumably, then I'll be a rich artist!!

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Thank you, everyone, for following along and all your support on this rather weird but fun adventure, all the DMs and messages have made it totally work it. Please do feel free to follow me over on, and you know, buy something from my shop when it reopens (which I'll mention on IG).


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