Oh Joy Sex Toy, as a businesson 01/13/2015 at 10:15 pm
I was bowled over at the response for the Kickstarter Numberwang write-up I made, it honestly means a lot to know that the piece helped in the future endeavors of people considering crowdfunding.
Since a lot of the emails I got in response wanted to know more about OJST as a business and how I could possibly be working on it full time, I thought I would do a write up on the business side of things!
Oh Joy Sex Toy is a small business that we run out of our home and Erika’s space at Helioscope Studio. We review sex toys, make education comics and showcase and hire guests artists.
Where do you make your money?
I see a lot of people take note of just one or two of our revenue steams and then make assumptions. The reality is we make our living from a BUNCH of different avenues, our business succeeds on a hundred small checks each month instead of any one big check. So where does the money come from?
- Affiliate sales! We’re signed up under 21 different affiliate programs. Almost every link on our site is affiliated, so when a purchase is made some where we get our tiny cut. From each sale we earn: Amazon 7-8%, sex toy company/shop sales 15-20%, pornography subscriptions 50%.
- Licensing! We actively sell licenses for our comics to other websites for a small fee. This fluctuates a bunch month to month.
- Merchandising! Books, t-shirts, eBooks, all great stuff that adds to our income.
- Wholesaling Books. While we don’t make much on a per-book basis this way, turning our stock into dollars helps keep the inventory flowing out and our PR with stores/product-reach good.
- Patreon! Fans pledge to pay a certain amount for every comic that gets posted each month. This is the lion’s share of our monthly income and the reason I can work on this full time!
- Kickstarter! A different form of income. By pushing pre-sales and pre-orders for our books on this platform we can accumulate wealth to spend on future guest artists (meaning we don’t have to spend our own money on them) and not-yet sold book inventory (cash in its pre-sold form).
- Adverts!, we run two paid ads on our site! Then we run a bunch of in-house ads (next to the blog) linking to affiliate sites we like.
Each one of these things contribute to the business as a whole and are all fed by the comic’s fans. Each thing takes major time and work to maintain, and that does not even including making the comics!
What do you each do?
Both Erika and I are overworked, even after I quit my day job! This is our current weekly setup.
Matt’s core responsibilities are:
- Chasing up all those affiliate programs
- Doing business emails (3-4 hours a day)
- Doing book design on OJST vol 2 and a compilation book of Erika’s other comics
- Editing the script (Monday/Tuesday) or writing the script if it’s a Matt-toy
- Coloring the comic once the inked pages are done (Thursday-Sunday)
- Recruiting and nagging guest artists to sign contracts & turn in pages
- Organizing and taking point on Kickstarter pre-work, during and post.
- Designing & organizing merch when possible
- Coordinating & planning with our fulfillment company
- Planning, scheduling, number crunching and forecasting.
- Website stuff
- Being pessimistic
Erika’s core responsibilities are:
- Business account management (includes tax stuff & invoices)
- Responding to business emails (1-2 hours a day)
- Script writing or editing Matt’s script (Mondays)
- Comic Layout (Monday-Wednesday)
- Comic Pencils (Tuesdays-Wednesdays)
- Comic Inking (Thursday-Sunday)
- Additional art for the next books (Fridays if we’re ahead)
- Sending licensed comics to syndicators
- Delivering wholesale books to local vendors on her bike
- Writing patron-only reports & essays on Patreon
- Correcting the dyslexic spelling of Matt’s blog posts
- Being optimistic
How do you expect to grow as a business?
Well this is actually a hard question! We’ve already grown a lot this past year and don’t NEED to grow larger than we are. We’re not chasing bigger bucks, we’re not making a business we can hand down to our grand cats. Our aim is healthy sustainability. We’re looking for the best way to keep going without experiencing burnout and enjoying our lives. A lot of small companies that experience early success put a huge emphasis on growth and expansion. There is real danger of everything folding in and imploding when you rapidly expand, as people forget/never see their limits! We’re more than aware or ours and are happy at the level we’re at, so we have no plans for expansion.
If we DID want to grow larger, what would we do? Well probably hire a second cartoonist so we could update twice a week, but this would involve a lot of money and organization. There’s also the idea of expanding Oh Joy into a brand of review webcomics with a fleet of different awesome talent reviewing non-sex products. But that sort of thing would need 3-4 people on board full time and a truck of cash.
In the short term: a compilation book of Erika’s earlier autobio comics and OJST Mobile website are low-priority growth projects.
What’s my take away here?
Well, there’s not much to learn here! I suppose you can walk away feeling like you know a little bit more about us as a company, about how we feed ourselves, and how we would want to grow if we weren’t happy with the current level of pressure we already have =)
I suppose if you’re a webcomicker and are looking for the insider scoop, I would tell you to go make an amazon associates account right this second. And from today onward if you ever link to anything, make sure it’s affiliate-linked up correctly. Those small %s on individual sales really DO add up. I would also tell you to get a no-additional-work, no-tiered-expansion Patreon set up. If you have fans, or are about to accumulate some, giving them an easy option to support your work is awesome. You don’t need to bribe them with additional content, if people want to support you because of your comic, that is reason enough for them to back you.
Some handy links I think you ought to look at
These may be comics-focused, but the advice in them applies to most people seeking a self-employed career on the internet.
Work Made for Hire – an amazing freelancers/small-business resource.
$5 Lets Kickstart a Comic PDF – Spike’s great comic resource for fresh Kickstarters.
How to Make Webcomics Book – Webcomic how-to GOLD.
The Webcomics Handbook – Another how-to gem that we love.
Webcomics.com – A good informative site with a community of experts you can quiz.
This is Everything I Know, Spike’s personal guide on how to “make it” in comics.
Made it this far? Have a Gif!