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If you don't mind answering or discussing this please do, but don't feel pressured to share.

I was curious as to how much of your own money you think you've put into your own distro? Has it taken long to make it back? Have you made it back or do you plan on paying yourself back? Is your distro now self-sustainable?

I have not opened yet, but i have put up about $500ish on webspace/stock/a few supplies/advertising (in the form of 1" pins & stickers).

Does that sound reasonable to those of you who have put up your own funds to start up?

Tags: distro, money

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Replies to This Discussion

I have been open a year and currently estimate that I have about $600 of my personal money invested in my distro. Being an "international" distro it's very hard to make much money at all what with the postage often having to be paid on top of wholesale prices but still trying to keep retail prices the same. I never sell zines at a loss, but I know that the profit is very very small for me and there always seems to be little things to pay for.
I'm happy with the money situation at the moment, for the first year my finances were a mess but I have it much better organized now and can see how it's going.
I don't really see a point in the future when I won't have lots of personal money tied up in distro stock, but I don't mind, I love running my distro, and it's what I choose to spend my personal money on doing.
I guess when I opened I had maybe $200 in my distro... but I hadn't really spent much on advertising and luckily had webspace for a year already. $500 does seem quite a lot to me... I'd hope you have a fairly large stock to open with for that?
Hope that answers some of your questions! I can elaborate on my answers more if it would help :)
So far i have roughly 25ish titles that i have to open with that i have purchased. (Not including my own zines, which... well i don't have to pay myself for!) I have purchased anywhere from 5 to 15 copies of each title, depending on the issue #, size, price, etc. I still have my eye on a couple more i'd like to have to start out with.

From looking at other distros when they have first started, i think that i am on the high end when it comes to number of zines i am starting out with.

I am just really focused on this project and will not let it be a bare bones or fly-by-nite operation. I want it to be a full functioning serious distro, since i think we need that to keep self publishing alive.

I also am not too terribly concerned spending part of my own money on the distro. I have quit my other money-guzzling hobbie (which was A LOT of mail swapping.) I dont really have any frivolous things i spent money on.

I spent almost $100 of that on the adverts tho, $27 for pins and $72 on 500 stickers. I think that is worth it though, since i am very serious about being in it for the long-haul.
i put hundreds into the distro before i opened. i don't know how much...close to a grand, probably, over the course of six months before i opened the catalogue. it took about two years to fully make it all back & get into the black. it spent another two years oscillating on the cusp of breaking even & losing small amounts of money. now it breaks even & sustains itself financially. it still has rough patches, where maybe orders are not covering all the money i'd like to have for ordering new zines, but it usually picks back up again.

i do think that my distro is an anomaly in terms of how much money i sank into it to start (i opened with about forty items & now am up to about 140), & the fact that it breaks even at all, maybe? i don't know. maybe other distro people don't keep such careful financial records. running a distro can be really expensive to start, & yeah, there are things you can do to make it cheaper (accept donations, open with a small catalogue, see if someone will donate your web hosting, start out with just tabling until you have a nest egg built up to sustain mail order, etc), but it all depends on what your priorities are. literally every extra cent i had was going into the distro when i first started. i even borrowed money to get it off the ground. it all worked out in the end, but it requires a lot of perserverance, & organization.
Thanks for the insight on Paper Trail, Ciara. It makes me feel so much better to know that i am not making a mistake by putting a lot of cash up front into the distro.

I have created a monthly spreadsheet so i know exactly what i am spending on stock/advertising/supplies/postage/other. In addition the spreadsheet also calculates what i have coming in start-up cash/orders/sales from events, etc. The sheet totals what i am spending/making in each category and then keeps a running total which i use to start the following month. I keep a paper copy at the end of the month in a binder which i will also use to track orders, monthly... (back up incase something horrid happens to my computer... and my computer is about to crap out anyway, and i need to save for a laptop.)

I know for sure i will be putting more money in before i become anywhere close to self-sustainable, because i want to expand the catalog.

ciaraxyerra said:
i put hundreds into the distro before i opened. i don't know how much...close to a grand, probably, over the course of six months before i opened the catalogue. it took about two years to fully make it all back & get into the black. it spent another two years oscillating on the cusp of breaking even & losing small amounts of money. now it breaks even & sustains itself financially. it still has rough patches, where maybe orders are not covering all the money i'd like to have for ordering new zines, but it usually picks back up again.

i do think that my distro is an anomaly in terms of how much money i sank into it to start (i opened with about forty items & now am up to about 140), & the fact that it breaks even at all, maybe? i don't know. maybe other distro people don't keep such careful financial records. running a distro can be really expensive to start, & yeah, there are things you can do to make it cheaper (accept donations, open with a small catalogue, see if someone will donate your web hosting, start out with just tabling until you have a nest egg built up to sustain mail order, etc), but it all depends on what your priorities are. literally every extra cent i had was going into the distro when i first started. i even borrowed money to get it off the ground. it all worked out in the end, but it requires a lot of perserverance, & organization.
I've only put in $100 so far, but I'm going to drop another $50 or so this weekend when I buy my domain name and order the last couple of zines I want to open with. Half of that was web hosting. I'm sort of taking the opposite tack of opening with a fairly small catalog (10-15 items) and building on that. I was afraid of being overwhelmed by a big catalog right away and having to write so many descriptions. That may have been a mistake, but oh well, it will grow. I agree that keeping a record of money put in is vital, I have a notebook with a whooole page of red ink at the front. Awesome.
I wonder if this sounds strange to people, but I am in the beginning phases of my distro as well and would like to keep as few records as possible. I have spreadsheets for mailing lists and client (zinemakers) details including zine prices and things like that but I don't want to keep the $$ records as I totally see this as a hobby.

For the last 8 months I have seen my bank accounts sitting with extra money in them at the end of each pay bracket (and that's even after putting away in savings) and I would like to not keep these stringent records as I feel I would go a bit overboard with it - at work I keep so many records on every facet of business and budgets that I feel doing this with the distro would take all the fun out of it. Money being put into the distro is never going to play a large part in my mind as this is the same as me going to the movies or dinner or buying clothes I don't need - it's just a way to spend the cash I've got and all the more it's something I'm really into and have a lot of fun being involved in.

Thus, I don't answer your question at all! But I generally feel that as long as your funding the distro is not intervening with the rest of your life then you'll be fine.

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