My 2022 Financial Review
A look at the many ways Capitalism exploits small business owners!
Last year, for full transparency, I published a financial wrap-up post for my inner-circle folks. This year I’ve decided to make my financial review a public post. I’m not sharing this to justify how or where I’m getting and spending money. I am sharing this to give folks an idea of the extent to which capitalistsexploit small business owners, especially artists and creative-types who don’t have shop fronts and are reliant on the Internet to get their work out there.
With this post my aim is to give you a snapshot of the base costs that go along with being a creative in the current day. It’s not so easy to cut these costs or reduce them if you want to have a regular output. It’s a fine balance, and I’m continually grateful to the dozen or so folks who support me financially throughout the year as subscribers to this blog, those who buy my artwork, and those who hire me as a consultant.
Without further ado, my 2022 financial review AKA, a rant about Capitalism:
In 2022 I had two subscription income streams, Patreon and substack, and one royalty payout through Medium.
The Patreon income of $1,078.10CAD was the total I received after they take off fees and payouts to other creators I support on the platform. A total of $34.57 per month from my Patreon income went to support seven other Patreon creators.
As of January 2023, I’ve unpublished my Patreon page, as a lot of folks have had to reduce their pledges or remove them entirely in the last year, which is totally understandable considering the tanking economy for everyone who isn’t
dragon hoarding all the wealth a billionaire.
I started the year receiving roughly $80/month through Patreon, and ended it earning closer to $25/month. With only eleven patrons and most of them contributing $1, it wasn’t worth my time and energy to manage both Patreon and a substack subscription options. Also, my parents switched their monthly contribution to a direct e-transfer, meaning the largest monthly contribution I got on Patreon was suddenly coming directly to me in full, with no fees.
I am hoping that 2023 will see substack reach a similar income of $80 a month by the end of the year, as this will be enough to cover my most regular outgoing payment, my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.
My other key income streams are tips, merch sales, and consulting/design work.
Tips are straight up single gifts of monies from anyone who fancies giving one. I got three tips in 2022. It’s legitimately so exciting when someone randomly sends me money just because they appreciate my work. I can’t even begin to express how great it is to get a tip as a writer who is mostly sharing all their writing totally publicly. TIP A WRITER AND IT WILL MAKE THEIR WHOLE MONTH!
Merch sales were my second largest income, but what I earned in sales also covers the cost that go along with creating merch. I put a lot of effort into researching options and supporting local businesses when it comes to getting merch made and art framed. In 2022 I was able to support a local, designer led and queer-owned sticker printing company, a local framing company, and a local printing house. This total doesn’t reflect what Square takes in fees, which came to just over $50.
I had an awesome consulting gig through Red Lotus Consulting in 2022, that paid very well and was super fun. I got to do 1:1 coaching to support folks developing a racial justice practice in a professional setting. I would love to do more of this in 2023, particularly as consulting work like this is one of the few forms of income that doesn’t have a huge corresponding outgoing price tag.
I also had a design contract payout throughout the whole year, which meant a stable monthly income alongside my Patreon earnings to cover my monthly fees.
In total, my individual income through writing, art and consulting in 2022 was $4,755.35CAD.
My regular subscription costs for the past year came from my monthly Adobe payment ($73.49), annual subscription fees to 123-reg, Podbean, and Calendly, and monthly rental costs for space to sell my merch at 9th & Brick.
Adobe is my main regular cost. My aim is always to earn at least enough to pay for it. My wife would happily cover the cost of hosting fees and subscriptions, and merch sales can generally cover the costs of everything to do with my art, so as long as I can get my substack to bring in around $900 this year, I’ll be pleased.
My annual and bi-annual subscriptions change year-to-year. In 2022 I decided to reduce the number of domains I hold by purchasing a single new domain and letting renewals of older domains lapse. Going forward, hopefully my domain hosting costs will stay relatively low.
Podbean is a necessary evil, unfortunately. While I no longer produce Everything is Workable, if I want the podcast to remain available, I have to pay an annual hosting fee.
Calendly was a new purchase in 2022 because I am so tired of the work involved in planning meetings with people in different time zones. In advance of the coaching contract through Red Lotus, I signed up to Calendly as a gift to myself to make scheduling easier. I’m really glad I did as it frees up so much brain space and time to be able to simply send folks a link to my availability.
Another new and exciting development in 2022 was joining the many artists and creators who sell their work through 9th & Brick. The woman who runs the shop set me a very low rent of just $26.25/month for a small display of my stickers and pins. After rent (which once again, goes to a landlord who lives off of the labour of the woman who actually manages the shop and all its vendors), I made just over $50 from selling my stuff there since July of 2022. While that may not seem like a great balance of cost versus earnings, my participation in the space supports a community of people, and for now that is enough to make it worth it.
Miscellaneous costs are the unpredictable costs of any given year.
The cost of art supplies was pretty high in 2022, as I started a new art project and ordered a lot of very fancy paper in order to finish the colourful set of Representation Matters.
Merch costs were what I paid for the prints and card sets I had made up in December, as well as the cost of printing two other QILT2BAG sticker designsat the beginning of the year.
Services were obviously the biggest cost of 2022. Most of this was getting the Representation Matters pieces framed and imaged, the latter being necessary if you want to get artwork replicated in any way. The guy who did the imaging went out of his way to give me a deal, and I’m so grateful. Generally, imaging a piece of artwork means hiring a photographer with a very fancy camera to take hi-res photos of the artwork. This can run from $80 - $100 per piece. Thankfully, my pieces were *just* small enough to fit on the large format scanner the framing place had, and he only charged $60 for each! The services costs also account for the first $200 paid to Cinic Studio, a single-person silkscreening business, for silkscreening lessons.
I’ve had a business bank account for years, but after my fees TRIPLED in November because of all the sales I made, I have decided to close it and operate out of a personal chequing account moving forward. I just don’t make enough for it to be worth it to have a business acount with fees like that. Think of all the art supplies I could buy instead!
Postage was, thankfully, covered in my pre-sale and therefore covered by merch sales. The moo cards were specifically so I could have something to attach pins to for my dislay at 9th & Brick. Of couse, when I factor in that cost and rent and then look at my income from sales there, having my stuff in a physical shop cost me about $10 this year. Regardless, I still think it’s worth it because it’s a shared shop space for a lot of creative types and I’m all about creative solidarity.
And finally, we come to contributions I made to fellow creators (mostly through campaign backing or purchasing their artwork), mutual aid, the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, and Kiva.org. This all comes out of merch sales, which I’m committed to paying forward for our collective liberation.
So now we come to the final balance! I started the year with $2,197.46CAD and over the course of 2022 I received $4,755.35. I spent $5,751.79 on subscriptions, fees, art supplies, services, other miscellaneous costs, and contributions, closing out the year with $1,201.02 in my writing/art account.
From the outside it might look like my work as a writer and artist sustains me financially, but as you can see, this is not the case. The only reason I’m able to commit so much time to both is because I am in the rare and fortunate situation where my partner makes a living wage enough to support two adults in the world.
It is by shear luck of circumstances that I currently do not have to sell my labour working a job I’m good at but don’t enjoy. Very few of my fellow creatives are in a similar situation. More often than not, being an artist in any regard means working full-time for someone else, paying out of pocket from poverty wages for whatever supplies you need, and fitting creativity around work, homemaking, and a commute—especially for women. This was the reality for my adult life until the year 2016.
This is why I’m always making posts about supporting living artists, buying directly from an artist’s website (Etsy fees are outrageous), and buying from local small businesses whenever possible. It means more than I can ever express that I am able to pay for the costs of my creative work out of patronage, tips, merch sales, and the occasional consulting gig—my income may be minimal, but it’s nice to have even a small amount of my own earnings to fund doing the things that matter to me. I may never make a profit, but I always have enough to get by, and that’s thanks to people like you.
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Billionaires and millionaires! The following people are richer because of me and the thousands of other people who rely on the platforms they head up, which are often monopolies: Jack Dorsey (My website and webshop), Adam Mosseri (Instagram - the only popular social media I use, which is necessary for me as part of an art collective), and Shantanu Narayen (Adobe suite so I can design stuff to industry standards). This also doesn’t account for the ultra-billionaires who have shares in these companies. It’s important to remember that none of these people built, manage, or in any way actually contribute to the day-to-day work of running those platforms either. They exploit their workers alongside small business owners like me, and rely on a hyper-individualistic Capitalist mind set to pit us all against one another so we don’t notice how morally bankrupt a person has to be to become a billionaire at all!
Solidarity! Did you know that people with some of the lowest earnings also happen to be the highest donors to charity and most likely to give to mutual aid? This is because Trickle-down Economics is a myth made up by the wealthy to justify wage theft, deregulation, and constant exploitation, and the rest of us actually give a shit about other humans besides ourselves!
To be clear, I get the purpose of fees is to be able to pay the many people who work behind the scenes to process everything and keep a platform like Patreon working. I worked in charity and it drove me nuts when people would talk about “administrative” costs as if they were frivolous and not paycheques for the humans doing the most work and usually the most tedious work. Fees are fine if I know they are helping to pay for living wages, benefits, and adequate holidays, but I know they are often used to bolster shareholder earnings and make obscenely, criminally wealthy people even richer.
Local to where I was living at the time.
Love Who You Love and F The Binary! Available in my online shop!