A really long post about merchandise
The posters are finally available! I've got exactly 100 of them, and you can order them in the online shop from now until whenever I run out.
I have high hopes for the posters. I hope they do well, because I'd love to do more of them in the future. But it's hard to guess with these kinds of things!
You know, there are a lot of folks out there who are eager to tell you about the "only" way to earn a living in webcomics: Give your comics away for free! Make your money by selling other things on your website! And sure, I agree that it can be a pretty solid model. It's certainly the one I'm using. But it's also a tricky one.
The truth is... not every comic lends itself to hilarious t-shirts. Not every comic makes for a good book collection. Not every comic attracts a specific unified demographic that's desirable to advertisers.
Making this model work is not just a matter of scoping out what one successful comic is selling and then aping it. Even if you have the same number of readers, there's no guarantee that you'll sell as much as they do. Because maybe the readers of "Wacky Space Platypus Pirate Adventures" don't want t-shirts. Maybe what they really want is books. Or buttons. Or gaming-console skins. Or licensed kazoos!
The challenge in this game is to figure out why your readers like your comic in the first place, and then offer them things that appeal to those same tastes. And these posters are my latest attempt at tackling that challenge.
Sam and Fuzzy is a pretty art-focused comic that's full of a lot of big, crazy cartoon drawings. Making those images is definitely my favourite part of this job, and also the part that I think I'm best at. If people want big posters of my artwork... well, there aren't many things I'd rather do than make them.
So here's to the great poster experiment! If you'd like one, they're on sale now in the shop. And if you don't, that's fine too... but don't hold out for the licensed kazoos.
Going Postal, Episode 2
I got lots of emails in response to my desperate vent of shipping annoyances.
A few people suggested I mail my posters in square or triangle-shaped tubes instead of the round kind, but unfortunately that would only eliminate one of the twelve insane dollars Canada Post charges to ship posters within Canada. I also got a lot of comments from other Canadians who have their own shipping operations... all of whom essentially reiterated that a) yes, Canada Post is expensive, and b) no, there is no way around it.
So, what's the solution? As a few of you guessed, there is only one sane course of action... my friend Jeff over at Topatoco will now be mailing my posters. Believe it or not, I will actually be saving money by hiring an American to ship everything for me. That's pretty sad, but it's the kind of sad that makes less work for me, so I'm certainly not going to complain!
So, long story short... posters (finally) go on sale on Monday! Are you excited? I am excited.
This poster-mailing business is starting to make me go a bit loony.
Figure this one out! I can mail a poster to the United States for only a bit more than what it costs to mail my shirts. I can mail a poster to nearly anywhere else on the planet for only a buck or two more than that. But if I want to mail a poster to Ontario -- a province in my own country -- it costs more than twelve dollars!
Apparently, unlike American or International shipping, Canada Post does not have a "small packet" classification for in-Canada shipping. That means that anything that's not a letter has to be sent at full-parcel rates, which are very expensive. (And then they add an extra dollar if the parcel is a tube, because tubes are round and round things can roll off the converyor belts and require extra handling. I am not making this up!)
I'm not really sure what to do here. I don't feel right about boning my fellow Canadians with high shipping charges. But if I charge Canadian buyers the same price I'd charge Americans, I'll actually end up losing money on the sale.
Are there any Canadians in the audience who have had to deal with this kind of problem before? If you have any advice for me, drop me an email!