For example with bookmarks, I order a pack of 100 of these for about $50 and send one each month to the recipients of a $10 tier. This includes creator fees and shipping, so let's say I retain about $5 per item on average. If I had 10 people on this tier each month then I would be able to print a new bookmark each month and then earn a slight bit of returns, plus keep unsold stock for future sales. This was working out for a while.
However, with only 1 or 2 people on those tiers, I am spending $50 a month on new bookmark designs and only getting a few dollars back. The amount I sell at conventions doesn't cover the difference, either. I seem to be selling a handful and ending up with a ton of dead stock.
I tried to switch to creating hand-made items for a while (printed at home, laminated and cut by hand) which would let me print only the number of items I need at the time, but the cost and time invested in these made it difficult to keep producing. I keep hitting the bottom of available funds here too, due to the paper, ink, and other materials that also have to be bought.
So I'm going to focus on creating more digital rewards from here on out, and focus time and effort into completing my comics and making exclusive comics available to Patrons. Then maybe if I can boost the number of patrons back into a higher number, I can sustain bookmark/print of the month.
I'll be mailing out all the remaining physical rewards that I owe people from previous months tomorrow! Thank you for waiting.