So, you’ve made your zine. You have shown your friends, your family, but now you want to know how to sell zines online. How can you get people to buy and purchase your zine? You’ve put your hard work and time into this zine and like me, you want eyes on your project.
Before setting up my shop I tested many platforms and methods of selling my zine online. It took me a very long time to find an option that was suitable for me. Therefore I am sharing my knowledge and experience with the many platforms I experimented with. This will help save you time so that you can get started making your sales.
Throughout this blog, I will discuss each platform I have tested. I will include who I think the platform is ideal for along with the advantages and disadvantages. From researching many platforms I found four of the best platforms which are different and unique in their own way.
Once you have decided which platform to use I will cover a few other marketing ideas to get sales.
I hope this helps!
Where and how to sell zines online
There are many platforms you can use to sell your zine, each platform has its advantages and even disadvantages. I will go through each platform and advise you on who it may be suited for. In hope that so you know how and where to sell zines online.
Your own website
A website is for those that want full control of their shop with no limitation along with no fees.
Having your own website in my opinion is a great way to go selling your zine online. You get complete control over your shop, no commission took and complete freedom. However, building your own website requires a lot of work and technological understanding.
This is the approach I have taken to sell my zine. I have used a WordPress CMS (Content Management System) with the integrated plugin, Woocommerce. Woocommerce allows me to take payments on my website. I have found that this approach is the most cost-effective at less than £10 a month using cloudways. By using this platform you must build your website yourself. For many, building a website can be frustrating. I would only recommend if you have the technical knowledge or willing to hire a web developer.
Alternatively, you can use other website builders such as Squarespace. Squarespace is another CMS but a lot easier to create by picking a theme already created for you. Squarespace makes building a website simple, and easy to use while keeping it looking professional with great designs. Squarespace does come at a cost of at least £15 a month (with 3% commission) or £20 a month (with 0% Commission). This is the ideal solution for those who are not comfortable with building their own website.
Before building your website, you should know how to generate traffic in order to sell your zine online. Generating traffic can be done through Search Engine Optimisation, Pay Per Click, Social Media and many other methods. However, developing your own traffic can take months, but is most definitely worth it to sell your zine online.
Complete Control over your shop
No limitations to what you can do
Technical understanding required
Requires you to build your own traffic
Etsy is for those who want quick sales with not so much work needed.
Etsy is probably to most popular online handmade shop. Etsy tends to be the answer when someone asks where to sell zines online. There are many advantages to using Etsy however this does come with a cost. Etsy has 32 million users, therefore requiring traffic to your shop is easier than ever. This is what makes many users choose Etsy.
However, due to the stock on this platform, it can prove difficult to get your zine to stand out.
This platform does take a big chunk of commission; Including listing fee, transaction fee, payment processing fee (if you’re using Etsy payment) and two VAT charges. These fees can be balanced out by simply adding the cost to the price of your zine.
Already has 32 Million users
Easy to set up your shop
Can expect fast results
Listing Fee (£0.15 every 4 months)
Transaction Fee (5%)
Payment processing fee (3%)
VAT on processing fees
Vat on seller services
Here is a screen shot of the taxes from one sale I made in December.
Personally, this platform was not for me. However, if you are after quick sales with not much work needed then Etsy could be the platform for you. Many users, one who I know personally have turned their Etsy shop into a full-time job.
Numonday (UK only)
Numonday is for those that want a platform like Etsy but without all of the fees.
Numonday is a new platform that aims to build a platform similar to Etsy but without fees. Numonday’s ethos is to ‘provide UK crafters with a simple, secure and affordable platform that gives them the confidence to sell their products from.’. A great alternative for those that don’t know how to sell zines online without the fees of etsy.
Numonday aims to keep their commission simple and affordable, they require £5 monthly payments and take 5% commission fee. There is no limit to how much you can sell or how many products you have on your shop.
Fewer fees and cheaper than Etsy
Easy to set up your shop
£5 a month
5% Commission fee
Not as many users as Etsy
The UK only
Big Cartel is a great ‘inbetweener’ of selling platforms and your own website.
Big Cartel’s focus is selling products. Within Big Cartel, you can build your own website with the themes that they provide. The experience is easy and simple to set up and does not take up too much time.
What is great about Big Cartel is it’s free, no monthly payments, no fees, nothing, just profit; that is for a maximum of 5 products anyway. Making this the ideal platform to try out an online shop as it does not cost anything. However, if you are wanting to present more than five products then the monthly cost rises to £9.99.
If you want a platform that takes payments with no fees or subscriptions then Big Cartel is made for you. Having five zines or less is completely free which allows you to experiment and test this method.
As this shop becomes your website you will have to acquire your own traffic. This can be difficult and time-consuming to do.
Above is a shop-made with Big Cartel. As you can see this platform allows you to make a clean, simple and minimalistic design. Have a look through Finndustry’s shop to see how this platform work to sell online.
Easy to use
Have to acquire your own traffic
Maximum of 5 products on the free version
Someone else’s shop
There are many shops that are already selling Zines. Many of these shops are open to receiving samples of your zine.
First of all, you want to find a shop that is selling zines with the same concept as yours. It is important to do your research on the shop before contacting them. Ideally, you will find multiple shops so that you can get the best deal.
Many shops know exactly how to sell zines online as well as many other products. This takes a lot of the work off you. Meaning that while they make your sales, you can be starting your next project.
Once you have found your shops all you should email. Your email could go something like this:
I hope that you are well. I stumbled across your online shop and love the work that you are selling and producing.
I have created my own zine about … (explain in brief what your zine is about) … it would be great if you would allow me to send you a free copy of my zine.
All the best,
This is just something off the top of my head. I have used other approaches, however, this kind of approach I have found to work best.
Most shops will take a large commission so it is important to remember your worth. Make sure that you are getting a good deal out of this collaboration too.
How to find customers for your zine
Now that you have chosen the platform, it is now time to find and generate sales. There are many different ways you can generate leads. Some methods work well for one person but not for another, it is all about experimenting and finding what works for you.
This step is key and arguably the most important stage to knowing how to sell zines online.
The method that most of us turn to straight away is Social Media. However many do not use the full capacity of these platforms. If you already have a large audience on social media, then great you can turn this audience into paid customers. For those that don’t have a large audience, do not worry you can still make a lot of sales.
First of all, you want to post content circulating the content of your zine, this can be sneak peeks of the content in your zine, post on the same concept as the zine or even photographs of your zine itself. No matter what it is, it is important to have a call to action on every post, this call to action will most likely be telling the viewer to click on a link to your shop, or to purchase your item. You should also do research on popular hashtags that suit your zine in order to expand reach to users that aren’t following you as well as those that are.
Once you are confident that everyone who follows you knows about your new zine that is for sale you can reach a much larger and wider audience using social media groups. These groups can be found on Facebook and even LinkedIn. There’s are hundreds of thousands of groups you can join, there is bound to be groups that discuss and are interested in, personally, this was my most effective marketing method, I joined groups that discuss and review zines, and other groups that enjoy the concept that my zine was surrounding, I ended up selling copies of my zine across the world, I highly recommend this method. All it takes is to make a post in relevant Facebook groups, this can simply include a photograph and a little bit about zine along with how to purchase it.
With the money that you have earned from the sales so far, you can then put this money back into your business using paid advertisements. By creating paid ads you can reach an even wider audience. Within social media, you can specify who you would like to reach which is extremely effective when it is done right. Paid ads do take a lot of experimenting but once you have an advert that generates sales you can expect to receive a lot of consistent sales.
Blogs are also an effective way of developing sales. If you have chosen to create a shop on your own website then blogs are essential and the best way to get traffic to your website. Take my website, for example, my website is used to sell products such as my zine and offer my photographic services, the way that I get traffic to my website is solely through blogs such as this one.
By writing blogs you can attract your target audience to your website and encourage them to use your products or website. Take this blog you are reading right now, for example, the purpose of this blog is to help and support those trying to sell their zine, many just like you are after advice on how to do this but you may also be interested in purchasing my zine too (I hope), an example of getting as many of the right eyes on my zine as possible. Writing blogs is time-consuming and also difficult if you do not understand Search Engine Optimisation but don’t worry there are many other ways you can use blogs to get leads.
If writing blogs isn’t your cup of tea you could get featured on other blogs. What you should look for is blogs that cover the topic that your zine covers, you can simply email the writing of this blog and ask to be featured on their page, this has proven challenging however with consistent effort then one is bound to feature your zine. There is no harm in emailing, the worst they can do is say no.
Alternatively, you can simply comment on blogs. Again finding blogs circulating your concept or even other blogs telling you how to sell zines online are a great place where you can comment and interact with this blog to promote your zine. Personally, I would not directly comment ‘buy my zine’ as many blog writer would not respect or appreciate this, a better approach would be to discuss the topic and mention your zine, something like:
‘This blog is very interesting and I love what you have discussed, especially … I have covered a similar topic in my zine – (link to zine).’
This way, you are engaging in a conversation, playing respect to the writer yet also promoting your zine. You can start this here by commenting on my blog page, I don’t mind you promoting your own zine on my page, in fact, I would love to see what you have created and visit your shop to see how you have taken my advice. Make sure that your comment and share a link in my comments section below, I will start it off by posting mine in there. We can use this comments section as a promotion platform and help each other out, who knows maybe even a few collabs will be born in there.
Collaborations & Features
Talking about collaborations, this is another great way to get more customers. You can collaborate with influencers, whether it is a YouTube channel or a social media account. You can reach out to these influencers to discuss your project or even send them something for them to review or discuss. This is another great way to get many eyes on your Zine.
Find local, independent bookshops willing to stock your product
Depending on where you are situated there are usually many independent and small shops looking for products to sell. This could be a small bookshop, an art gallery or even a little pop-up stall at a market. Many local business owners also wish to support individual businesses or creatives and can only imagine that the majority would love to stock your zine if you can provide a quality product to their store.
Well, that’s all of my ideas drained out. I hope that this blog has been of some use and that this will generate you some more sales. Let me know how you get on in the comments below and don’t forget to post your zine with a link to purchase in the comments too, I may end up buying one myself along with other visitors to this page.
Leave a comment and link your shop!