Comic book culture is cool, there’s no denying it. From Marvel to DC, every year we see a new comic-based movie release. But it isn’t just the movies that are growing in popularity. Statistics suggest that comic sales in the USA hit $2.07 billion in revenue in 2021. And selling them online is easier than ever thanks to the wide choice of website builders and CMS on the market.
It doesn’t matter if you are into Marvel, DC, or Manga – there are clearly some big opportunities in the comic book industry.
If you know a thing or two about comics you may have considered starting your own online comic book store. Or perhaps you already own a traditional comic book store and you want to reach more people with an online shop.
Selling comics online can be incredibly lucrative, yet knowing where to start can be tricky.
But worry not!
In this guide, we’ll walk you, step by step, through everything you need to know about selling comics online. After all, it is true what they say – not all superheroes wear capes. Some write comprehensive, easy-to-understand guides on starting a comic book store online instead…
In this section, we will cover where you can go to source and purchase comics for your online store.
Before you can start selling your comics online, you’ll need to source them. Of course, you may already be an avid comic collector who is looking to sell off some of your collection, but as time goes on and your stocks deplete, you’ll need to find new comics to replenish the stores and continue trading successfully.
Here are some options when it comes to sourcing comics:
If you are looking to start a comic book store, the chances are you are already a private collector of comics, or at least have a serious interest in them. One good place to source comics to sell is from other private collectors.
You may already know some like-minded enthusiasts that you can buy from. If not, there are a vast number of comic book forums available on the internet, where you can also find collectors. For example, the comic book section of Reddit is home to a bustling community of comic book fans.
Collectors can be a great source of comics, especially if you’re looking to buy and sell in a specific genre or want to stock some rarer items. However, it may be more difficult to find a good deal as collectors tend to be fond of the comics they have gathered over the years and know the worth of the comics they own.
Thrift stores can be an absolute treasure trove of comic books. These stores tend to be a lot cheaper than buying from a collector, and might have a stash of valuable comics that the untrained eye has missed. Even better, they’ll probably be selling them for a fraction of the price of what they’re worth.
However, buying your comics from thrift stores can be time-consuming. To run a successful business you would need to spend considerable time sifting through multiple thrift stores to find the comics that are worth buying and selling.
Using thrift stores as your main source of stock can also be risky as you cannot predict how many comics you’ll be able to find, nor if they’ll be any good.
Direct from Publisher
One of the biggest issues with buying from collectors and thrift stores is inconsistency in supply and price. Buying direct from the publisher can be a good idea if you want a more reliable supply chain for your store. This is because you will typically be able to buy comics at a set price and you will know if or when certain comics will be available.
However, there are some downsides. For example, prices are often higher than those from thrift stores. You will also only be able to buy new comics, so will not be able to access old and rare comics through this method.
In this section, we will provide you with some advice on where you could sell your comics online.
Once you have built up a supply, and know where you will be getting your future stock from, it’s time to decide where you will sell your comics online. There are several options to consider.
You may opt for just one of these options when you get started, so you can focus your energy on building one successful channel of income. However, as your business grows you can benefit from adopting multiple/all of these options as it will help you reach new audiences and serve your customers in a way that works best for them.
When most people think about selling online, they think about starting an online store. There are some pros and cons to this option that you will need to consider.
- Maintaining control over the look and feel of your store
- The ability to make changes to your store as and when you see fit
- Owning the site, which in itself can be a valuable asset
- Keeping costs relatively low and predictable
- You are responsible for attracting customers and driving traffic to your site
- You are also responsible for any technical or cosmetic updates
- It can be time-consuming to set up your store
That being said, with the availability of website builders such as Squarespace, Wix, and Shopify, it is now easier than ever to start your own website. This is because many of these sites allow you to set up your site quickly, and give you the tools to update and market it to your potential customers.
Marketplaces are another option for selling comics online. There are several global online marketplaces you can choose from, such as more generalist marketplaces like eBay, where you can sell practically anything, to more specialist comic marketplaces such as Comiconnect.
Marketplaces remove much of the leg work involved in building your own website, such as the need to build the site from scratch and having to drive all your own traffic to the site. However, they do also come with downsides. For example, you have very little control over how things are done, for example, a new algorithm may mean fewer people find your products or there may be non-negotiable increases in fees.
Social media platforms are a much newer, but more direct, method for selling comics online. This functionality has been introduced by many social media companies such as Facebook and Instagram in an effort to keep people on their apps, even when they are shopping.
Making money on social media can be a great option for those who have an engaged audience on social channels, since it makes it quick and convenient for your customers to buy. However, there are similar issues to those experienced with marketplaces because you lack ongoing control over much of the functionality of the site.
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In this section, we will run through everything you need to know about representing your comics on your online store in the best possible light.
So, you have your comics and you have a shop. Now you need to add two and two together so you can start selling. This is usually a fairly straightforward process, but it is worth taking the time to ensure that you properly showcase your comics. After all, this is the point at which your customers decide whether what you offer is for them.
Here are a few things to consider when showcasing your comics:
Good product photos will go a long way to helping you sell more comics. Here are a few tips to make sure you ace that shot:
- Use multiple photos that highlight the condition of the comic (especially if the comic is second-hand)
- Use a white background to show clear details of the comic
- Include lifestyle images of the comic to offer some inspiration to potential customers
Your product description is your opportunity to really sell the comic to the customer. Here are a few pointers:
- Include product details such as the title, year, and anything else the customer may need to know
- Include emotive language to make the reader excited about the comic and want to buy it
- Keep your product description short and to the point
In this section, we will advise you on how to price your comics so they are both competitive and profitable.
How you price your comics will have a huge impact on the success of your store. Price them too high and you won’t sell many, price them too low and you will struggle to make enough profit to survive.
Several factors come into play when pricing your comics:
- How much you paid for them
- How much demand there is for them
- What your overhead costs are
If you struggle to sell comics due to price, one of these factors may be problematic. For example, you may be paying too much for your comics to make a profit, or the comics you are buying and selling aren’t very desirable.
To get an indicator of how much your comics may be worth you can use websites such as Sell my Comic Books to get a free appraisal.
In this section, we walk you through everything you need to know about setting up your online comic book store.
Each website, marketplace, and social media platform will have a different setup process. However, it is useful to know, generally, what you need to do to get started with each of them. Below, we’ve provided an outline of the steps you can expect to take for all three:
- Visit your chosen ecommerce platform, such as Shopify or Wix, and sign up
- Pick your domain name
- Pick a theme and customize it so that it matches your brand
- Upload your product images and descriptions
- Set your site to live and start selling comics
- Visit your chosen marketplace and sign up
- Create a store following the simple steps required by the platform
- Upload your products
- Give any required information (e.g. store name, preferences, payment info)
- Get selling!
- Pick a social media platform that allows online sales, such as Facebook or Instagram
- Create a business account
- Upload your product images and descriptions and submit them for approval
- Sell sell sell!
In this section, we will offer some advice on how you can package and send your comics once you have sold them.
Packaging and shipping your products is often an overlooked part of selling online. The right method for you will depend on several factors, including the type and value of the comics you are selling, your location, and where you plan on shipping to.
As comics can be delicate in nature, it’s worth taking the time to ensure that they are packaged properly. This is likely to include placing them in a plastic sleeve and using a rigid box to stop the comic from accidentally being folded in transit.
It is worth getting multiple quotes on shipping costs and also checking the level of insurance that each option comes with. Consider the worst outcome, such as the package being damaged or going missing – if this happens, what do the terms allow you to ask shipping company to deal with and what will you need to deal with as a business?
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- Our Ecommerce Packaging guide has everything you need to know about packaging your products safely
- You might also want to check out these Ecommerce Shipping Best Practices for more top tips to follow
- Unsure what kind of insurance you need? Our guide to Ecommerce Business Insurance breaks down what you need to know (without any jargon)
In this section, we will give you some tops tips on reaching those who matter most to your business.
Once your store or product listings are live, you’ll want to focus on marketing your business to drive sales. How you do this will depend on where you’re selling. Here are a few ideas for marketing yourself based on each platform:
Online stores rely heavily on you bringing in your own traffic. This means there are lots of options that are worth pursuing, such as:
- Search Engine Optimization – checking off the SEO basics helps your website appear higher on search engine rankings
- Social Media – posting content on social media to drive traffic to your site
- Paid Ads – social media and search engine ads
- Content Marketing – using a content marketing strategy such as blog posts to create a buzz around your business
Marketing methods such as SEO tend not to work as well for marketplaces because you don’t have control over many parts of the website that need optimizing. However, other methods such as sponsored listings and social media can help drive targeted traffic to your products.
How you market your social media store is fairly obvious. By producing engaging, helpful content, you’ll compel people to click through to your products and buy. You may also choose to use social media ads to drive further targeted traffic to your page and products.
Working with influencers and building an influencer marketing strategy isn’t the reserve of big companies with big budgets. There are different types of influencer, such as micro, macro nano, and mega influencers, meaning you can find the right type for your needs.
You can find micro influencers, who are usually more affordable and have smaller followings, that operate in your niche. You may find them by exploring social media, such as searching for industry specific hashtags on social media. You may also use influencer search tools such as Scrunch to help filter and find great influencers for your brand.
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- Not sure if you can afford to work with influencers? Our guide on Influencer Rates can help!
Marketing will bring new customers “through the door” but as your business grows a large percentage of your income should also come from repeat custom. Doing this is only possible if your current customers have a great experience when they deal with you.
- Promptly address customer inquiries and concerns
- Create a comprehensive and hassle-free return and exchange process
- Use data collection and a CRM to build personalized interactions with customers
- Encourage customers to give reviews and testimonials
Growing your online store isn’t as simple as getting everything set up and hoping for the best. Taking a consistent approach to analysing your performance and finding ways to adapt and improve will help you better serve your customers and grow profit over time.
Below we outline some of the best ways to do this:
- Use your website platform or a third party (such as Google Analytics) to track and analyse sales data and website traffic
- Identify trends in the data and adjust areas such as your comic book offering and how your online store looks and works to improve conversions
- Proactively engage with customers to get customer feedback that can help you improve your offering
- Consistently explore and reassess the suitability of new distribution channels and potential partnerships
In this guide, we’ve taken you through everything you need to know about selling comic books online. Here is a quick recap of all the steps we have covered:
- Where to source your comics
- Where to sell your comics
- How to showcase your comics
- How to price your comics fairly
- Setting up your online comic store
- Packaging and shipping your comics
- How to market your store
- Provide exceptional customer service
- Analyze data and make changes
So, you now have all the knowledge you need to get started with selling comics online. All you need to do is work your way through them and get selling!