Online Store Profit Margins—and Paying Yourself from Them

From: How to Sell Online  with Alison J. Prince

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Online Store Profit Margins—and Paying Yourself from Them

It’s important to have great online store profit margins—and paying yourself from them is equally as important. Katrina Willis is now paying herself every month from the profits of her online ribbons store…but is it enough? 

The Heart of an Online Seller

Katrina always wanted to sell things from the time she was a pre-teen. And while she doubted that it could happen, she’s made it a reality with her store, Ribbon Nook. Now, did she want to sell ribbon specifically? Not so much. But as with many entrepreneurs, Katrina’s crafting led her to eventually launch a business that sells ribbon and craft supplies. 

What’s really cool is that she also designs her own ribbon. She wasn’t a graphic designer at the beginning of her business. She was encouraged to begin watching YouTube videos, and the next thing you know, she was creating beautiful products exclusively for her store. 

You Aren’t Your Customer and Other Online Selling Lessons

You’ll definitely want to listen to this episode of the How to Sell Online podcast to learn what Katrina’s biggest-selling designs are. Because one of the things that Katrina had to learn (and keep reminding herself) is that she isn’t her customer. While her personality leans towards unicorns and rainbows, her customers are into something a bit different. So she jumps out of her comfort zone to meet their needs. 

One of the other things that Katrina has learned is that selling out of a new product on day one isn’t necessarily the best thing for her or her business. Selling products fast—but not too fast—ensures she’s able to have the time to bring in more product. That way her primary audience (crafters) never get frustrated about delays. 

Katrina has designed her online store to have two distinct “sides.” The first is the retail side, where she sells 3- to 5- yard rolls. The second is her wholesale side, which is set up to accommodate pre-orders. She keeps the pre-order time short (wait ‘til you hear how long she gives it and why!) and then gauges the next steps accordingly. 

Online Store Profit Margins

Katrina is a little modest about her success with the Ribbon Nook, but I’m definitely proud of her. Since launching her website in 2020, she’s hit the $300,000 mark in sales! It’s almost half a million in sales since the end of 2017, which is her business start date. 

The big news is that her sales have finally allowed her to start giving herself a paycheck every month. For a long time, Katrina would invest every penny of profit into the Ribbon Nook so it could grow. Paying herself from her online store profit margins has boosted her self-esteem, as she’s able to assist with paying the bills at home.  

You’ll definitely want to listen to hear how much Katrina is paying herself…and why I think she needs to be paying herself more. You see, her online store profit margins are in the 50% range—phenomenal for any online store! She says that joining the 0-$100K System helped her get into the mindset of paying herself…but I actually challenge her to double or even triple it! I truly believe that if you have good online margins but aren’t paying yourself from them, it’s the same as being a volunteer. Not only that, but you can start to resent your business, and I want you to be absolutely in love with what you’re doing! 

Lessons Learned

One of the things it’s always good to ask other online sellers is what advice they’d give others who are just getting started. I loved all of her responses, but one of them in particular makes my heart sing. 

Katrina reminds us not to compare yourself to anyone else who’s selling products (especially if you have a niche product!) online. And my friend, that is sometimes really hard to do. But she reminds us all that we don’t what another person’s background is, where they started, what kind of initial budget they had, or how their customers vary from yours. She says that it was a big thing that she’s had to overcome—and it’s something I hear a lot from students. 

So if you’re just getting started, remember that (again, Katrina reminds of this) your journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Just let yourself run your own race in your business. 

Top Takeaways

  1. You’re not your customer.
  2. Know the trends.
  3. Know your customers.
  4. Use pre-orders.
  5. Use a short time frame for orders.
  6. Watch your importing fees and ask!
  7. You can get lower MOQs.
  8. Set your own schedule.
  9. Pay yourself more!
  10.  Stop comparing yourself to others!
Additional Resources

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