Penplotter profit/loss, month of January 2021

New year, new pen-plot sales report. This one is slightly interesting as I've added a couple of new "revenue streams" which I now have to add into the sales report, more on that further down.

Things have also been a bit slow as I've only halfheartedly re-opened the shop. The post office is still suffering from Christmas delays, and Brexit is throwing a spanner into the works too. Oh, and there was the whole flood in the middle of the month which also slowed things down. So while I've popped a couple of new things into the shop, I haven't really pushed it too much.

To the numbers...



January Profit:

Overall Profit:

While that's certainly not going to replace my day job any time soon (as lovely as that would be), the main aim here, as always, is to cover my costs and studio rent. With an eye to finally breaking even, which may happen by May if we're lucky!

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Once again because I stocked up on pens & paper a couple of months ago I haven't needed to buy any more. But this month, I finally got my hands on some bio-degradable "Cello" bags, along with some more "Eco Green" padded Jiffy bags.

I try to make my art and shipping as eco friendly as possible, one of the things on the shipping front letting me down was the A3 polypropylene/PVC bags I slide the artwork into. The A4 and A5 bags are bio-degradable, but each time I've tried to get A3, they've been out of stock.

Not any more though, so I got a bunch from Eco-craft.

Now when I ship things, everything is either card, paper or bio-degradable.

Expenses this month were..

Postage & Packaging £243.79
Paper £0
Pens & Ink £48.62
Studio Rent & costs £193.16
Total expenses: £485.57

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Notes and observations

Four things mainly this month.

1. Archival Ink

I generally sell plots drawn with metallic ink on black paper on the store, even though I often post other white paper plots to Instagram, but don't sell them.

There's a couple of reasons for that, aside from loving how they look, I know the metallic ink is lightfast and fade resistant. But with the coloured pens I use on white paper; I'm not sure just how lightfast they are (apart from a couple of fountain pen inks) until I do some testing, so I'm not willing to sell them. Some test plots I've sent to people have already had the reds and pinks almost fade entirely away.

I also want to avoid non-reusable pens where I can.

Finally I ordered some Noodler's Heart of Darkness "Bullet proof" ink to go into my TWSBI Eco fountain pens.

This ink will, not, fade, ever. Entertainingly, it's also forgery resistant in that forgers can't alter what's written with it using UV light, acid, water, alcohol, acetone and a whole bunch of other stuff.

I'm just working with black at the moment, but I'll order some more colours soon. Which means, finally, I'll get some of the far finer plots online soon.

2. Prints

As part of my "diversifying" revenue streams, I produced a single print, which you can find out more about here: From Plots to Prints, a reMarkable pen plotting story, as an experiment.

I wanted a way to be able to sell prints for a couple of reasons, one; so that people can buy my art cheaper than the original plots, and two, so that I always have things for sale in the shop.

I'm not continually making plots to sell, often I'm just trying out different ideas, making things for fun, or plots as gifts to send to people. Not many of my plots actually make it into the shop. Which in turn mean they often sell out and I'm left with a shop where you can't buy anything.

Having an "evergreen" product in the shop takes some of the nagging pressure off me.

This month's magical moment was when I sold my first print and realised I didn't need to do anything. All the orders are fulfilled through The Print Space, all I need to do is upload the digital version and then sit back and wait for the free cash to come rolling in.

I have sold two prints.

3. Digital

Also for fun, I thought I'd make a wallpaper of my plot for people to download. This turned out to be slightly harder than I thought because I wasn't sure of all the sizes and dimensions I needed.

The second tricky part was working out where to put the wallpaper. In an ideal world I'd just put them up online somewhere, and people can simply download them and set them as the wallpaper. Or you know, a dropbox link.

But, because of reasons (newsletters, see next), it seemed useful to have people go through a flow to download the wallpaper, so I put them into the shop for free, but you still have to check-out. Shopify wasn't that great at dealing with "digital products" so I had to switch to SendOwl to handle it.

Another part of all that was setting up Buy Me A Coffee, so people could "tip" me for the wallpaper. One person did for £1, which was nice, so that's another line item to put to the sales report.

The funny part about all of the above is that I get a "sales" notification every time I "sell" a free wallpaper, the novelty of which soon wore off.

Who knew there was so much web-crap to have to deal with when being an artist.

4. Newsletter

Finally, I've started starting to start a Newsletter, you can sign up over here: All the cool kids are doing one, and I figured it'd be a good place to put stuff like all of the above 👆👆👆, which isn't in the monthly profit/loss roundup.

A chance to write about what plots I'm doing, which pens I'm playing with, doing that thing where readers of the newsletter get to know about new plots in the shop first, and, free digital wallpapers.

Plus I'm thinking about reviving the "Five Questions" format I used to run on the Flickr code blog, where I get to ask other pen plotters some questions about what they're doing.

I mean, I hate writing, so a newsletter seems like a natural next thing to do 🙃

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Fuller-ish expense breakdown

Postage & packing
All the postage £141.66
Bio-degradable "Cello" bags, A3 * 100 £67.45
Jiffy Eco Padded envelopes * 40 £34.68
Pen & Ink
Print Space studio test prints (doesn't really go here) £48.62
Rent & Costs
Art studio £65.00
Shop space rent £34.00
Shopify £22.16
People of Print Membership £12.00
Instagram ads (roughly) £60.00
Total expense: £485.57
January sales
Plots £619.00
Prints £76.00
Digital wallpaper "tips" £1.00
Total sales: £696.00
January profit £210.43
Profit to date -£778.45

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I think that's everything for this month, see you next time.

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Blatant self promoting calls to action

You should totally follow me on these social medias, but mainly Instagram, or sign up for my Newsletter (it's great).
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