a place for zinesters - writers and readers
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.