In my last article, I talked about how to price your comic books appropriately to sell them at comic conventions. This week I’ll discuss bookkeeping for your conventions. I know, exciting stuff, but it will help you out a lot when you start doing comic conventions.
HOW TO TRACK SALES DURING CONVENTIONS
You can’t be at a convention selling your work if you don’t track sales of your merchandise. Even if you’re doing this as a hobby, you have to know where you stand financially at the end of the con. You can’t ignore it, otherwise you may wonder months down the line why you don’t have any money left. The bookkeeping side of things isn’t that daunting, honestly, because you just need to keep track of the basics.
The first thing you need to set up is a system to track sales. I’ve provided you with files at the bottom of this article to help get you started. These are the sheets I use at conventions. You can take these examples and create your own because your needs will be different than mine. In my case, the top portion keeps track of sales for each day of the con, plus there’s a column for your price for each item and another for if you give freebies away. The lower section is really custom to me. I use it for when I sell my “Frik in Cosplay outfit” drawings.
The sheet is very simple, when you make a sale, you just put a mark where you need to. This system is also a great way to double check your inventory at the end of the convention. I’ve never had an issue with someone stealing merchandise overnight when the room is suppose to be locked up, but I always make sure to know exactly what my inventory count is before the con starts, that way I can compare it to this sheet at the end to make sure the numbers line up.
POST-CONVENTION SUMMARY SHEET
So you finish your convention and you’re feeling good because you have a huge wad of money in your pocket from all the sales you made. Not to burst your bubble, but you’ve neglected to account for all your convention costs, which will severely eat into that money. You need to have a convention summary sheet, which is what I call the “bring you back down to earth” sheet.
To set this up, you need to first have a spreadsheet. You don’t need expensive software to do this, there’s free open source options out there like Open Office that will do exactly what you want, which is the one I use. There will be a sample spreadsheet in the same zip file I mentioned that is at the bottom of this article. It’s specific to Open Office, so may not open in other programs.
Basically it shows line by line for each item sold, with columns for COST, RETAIL, SOLD, TOTAL SALES, TOTAL COST, +/- PROFIT/LOSS, AND NOTES. For the TOTAL SALES column, I have a formula that is =+SUM(C4*D4), which is =+SUM(RETAIL * SOLD) Note that the #4 will change based on the row you’re on. Then for TOTAL COST, I have a formula that’s =+SUM(B4*D4), which is =+SUM(COST * SOLD). Final formula is for the +/- column that’s =+SUM(E4-F4), which is =+SUM(TOTAL SALES – TOTAL COST)
Then at the bottom of the sheet is where you enter your table fees, travel expenses, and various other fees. With this sheet, you will then have the harsh cold reality of how much you really made. As a fun depressing sort of thing, I also added at the bottom a space for total number of hours I spent at the convention, and then it will tell me how much money I made per hour sitting behind a table. Yeah… I like to torture myself.
There’s a chance that there won’t be an article next week as I’ll be hung over from having too many sugar cookies and eggnog, but you never know, I may post something anyway. Regardless of when it will be posted, the next article will talk about practicing your sales pitch for your first convention! (And side note, yes, there will be an article next week. I may have written it while drunk, but it should be informative all the same… Mmmm eggnog.)
ZIP FILE: Todd’s sales and summary sheet examples