I’ve just finished scraping all of my previous dropshipping guides and I’ve decided to create for you one mega, tell-all guide giving you all you need to know to get started with dropshipping.
As I am sure many reading this are wondering;
Can you still make money with dropshipping?
Here’s what you’ll be learning in this guide:
- How to get started with dropshipping.
- What you need to do to make it a successful venture
- How to start your Shopify store
- How to find hot-selling (winner) products
- Best (unknown) advanced tips for success with dropshipping.
If you’ve been thinking about starting a dropshipping business, this guide is for you.
Right below, I’ll also share with you some training courses (both paid and free) you can use to make this year the year you finally crack the drop shipping code (and make some money).
Getting Started: Things You Need To Know About Dropshipping
Before we get into the nitty-gritty details, let me just share with you some hard truths about dropshipping that you may or may not already know:
01: Dropshipping is not easy:
Even though the gurus make it look as such, the dropshipping business is not easy.
No online business is easy. They require work, patience, testing, failing, adjusting and a strong will to make it happen.
If you think you’re just going to whip up a store and suddenly get rich, you’ve got another thing coming.
02: You need to learn dropshipping:
Common sense, right?
Well, surprisingly – not in the online world.
For some reason, people looking to start an online business (whether that may be dropshipping or else) they think they can just skip the learning part and try to go straight to making money.
Continuing from point #1, you need to make an effort to learn how to do dropshipping.
03: Don’t believe the hype:
If you’ve been looking into dropshipping for a while, you may have seen 15-year-olds on YouTube flashing screenshots of $10,000 days.
While that may be true for some, this is a rare example and not the norm with a dropshipping business (although still possible).
Spending $15,000 in ads to make $10,000 is not how you make money dropshipping.
Also, keep in mind that these screenshots can be easily faked – just take a look at this genius below:
04: Dropshipping can still be profitable (no, it’s not saturated).
Yes, the best time to get into dropshipping was three years ago but it is still possible to start today and make a significant profit doing it.
As you will see from this guide, the possibilities with dropshipping are still there – in fact, this industry (e-commerce) is just getting started.
A quick fact to further drive this point further is that Amazon is still in the lower single-digit percentage of all retail spending in the US!
How To Start Dropshipping
Right; let’s get into the good stuff now.
How can you – currently sitting here reading this – go on to build a thriving dropshipping business after finishing this guide.
You need four things:
- You need a niche
- You need a Shopify store
- You need a budget
- You need to know what you are doing (unless you want to fail)
These are the four main things you need to get started. Without them, there’s no way you can make this a successful venture.
Now since all of these are the must-haves, let’s dive deeper and see how to achieve them all.
Picking your dropshipping niche:
In any online business you attempt, you are going to want to have a niche.
But what is a niche?
Simply put, a niche is a group of people looking for something specific.
Now there is a theory that you don’t need a niche with dropshipping.
It’s often recommended you go “general” with your store (meaning you list items from a variety of different niches and categories).
A perfect example of this – even though it’s not a dropshipping store – would be Amazon.com.
Amazon.com is not a niche-specific store; it carries everything from bottled water to Hublot watches. This is what we call a “general store”.
The opposite of that would be a niche-specific store.
A niche store caters only to one audience and a perfect example of this would be DollarShaveClub:
(This is not a dropshipping store either – just using it as an example).
DSC is a niche-specific store targetting mainly men with beards. That is all.
General vs. Niche Store (Pros & Cons)
The main reason it’s often recommended to go “general” with your first store is that when you’re starting out, you do not know what is going to sell.
A general store allows you to test multiple products in the same store.
On the contrary, if you have a niche-specific store and that niche is simply not working for you, you are either going to have to give up on dropshipping altogether or have to start a new store each and every time you want to test a new product.
Of course, in that case, a general store would come in handy.
This is a tricky situation as there are pros and cons whichever way you go.
For longevity, if you do have a niche in mind already, then I suggest you go with a niche specific-store from the get-go.
You might fail and have to start all over again, but niche stores tend to perform better in the long run, thus giving you a better chance at success.
If you don’t have a niche in mind, start a general store and waste no more time thinking about this.
If you’re going to go “generic”, once you find a winning product – i.e. a product that sells well and is making you money – quickly create a new store niche-focused around that product and re-start your campaigns that way.
This allows you to test various products and niches and gives you an exit plan on what to do once you have found a proven profitable product.
But why not stay with a general store?
Dropshipping is going to be harder than ever and there’s a lot of competition that you need to deal with.
To overcome this, having a branded niche store that caters to a specific audience drastically improves your chances of becoming (and staying) profitable.
Do you want to be out there competing with Amazon and other big-budget retailers when you can secure a brand following with a niche-focused store?
As I will reveal below, your dropshipping business has to be better than the rest to give you a fighting chance at making money.
Building a specific brand store for a specific audience gives you an upper hand above all other dropshippers doing the tired generic-play.
If you’re getting confused with all of this, I understand.
For a beginner, picking where and what to sell (and to who) may be a daunting task already but don’t worry, all will make sense soon.
To give you a better understanding of how to make your pick, take a look at this YouTube video by one of my favorite dropshipping gurus:
Setting Up Your Shopify Store
Next up, you are going to need to build up your Shopify store.
Well – there are other platforms you can use, but when it comes to dropshipping, the industry standard is Shopify as it gives you the best way to set up a dropshipping store thanks to their Oberlo plugin (which we’ll talk about soon).
How To Create A Shopify Store
Once you have your niche, you first need to pick your domain name for your new store.
I will leave it up to you, but it’s crucial that you get a domain name related to your niche (unless you want to go with the general store, in which case you need a “general” name).
A “good domain” is incredibly hard to find these days. I’ll tell you right now; the one you have in mind is probably taken already.
However, Shopify has a nifty tool that you can use, allowing you to insert your industry/niche and gives you some ideas of available domains.
You can access that tool here, but here’s a screenshot example using the “camper trucks” niche as an example:
Once you have your domain – which you do not need to register just yet – you need to set up your Shopify account.
When signing up, you will be asked to create a .myshopify domain – this is the free version that you will be using to set up your site but to go live, you are going to need to buy a domain.
You can buy domains from anywhere but you can also get it from Shopify directly.
This will save you from having to create a new account with third-party domain registrars + the integration and setup process is entirely automated by Shopify.
Congratulations, you now have your own Shopify store – although keep in mind it is not live yet.
Shopify gives you a 14-day trial which you can use to build up your story to your liking.
You can get a free Shopify theme from the many offered with a Shopify plan, or you can even buy a premium theme which looks great, but can be pretty expensive.
You really do not need to spend that much money yet (maybe later once you have become profitable).
All is left to do now is to populate the store with products from your niche – I will tell you how to do this with the Oberlo plugin down below.
Before we do that though, let me just give tell you about something else you are definitely going to need;
You Need A Budget (For Facebook Ads)
So far you have only spent ~$15 for a domain and you might’ve already purchased a Shopify membership plan that will allow you to go live with your store.
However, that isn’t the only expense you need to plan for.
With dropshipping – the primary way you will be driving traffic is through paid traffic.
Facebook Ads is what is recommended (you can also advertise on Instagram) through this platform.
This is where most of your money will be spent, and you are going to need at least $1,000 to really make an impact.
You need this $1000 to give you enough of a budget to work with.
In the dropshipping + Facebook Ads game, it all comes down to testing out different ads and different audiences.
When you first launch your campaign, you are not going to know what works and what doesn’t – this is why you need a comfy budget to work it.
Now thankfully, Facebook is smart enough that given enough time and data (i.e. enough ad budget spent) they can themselves figure out what is working and what is not so in time, you will be making more sales with even less ad spend.
This is why you need to let Facebook do its thing for a few days.
Even though it looks like it’s pissing away money, what it really is doing is finding you the best audience for your product.
Getting scared and freaking out over the amount of money you are spending and cutting them out early is a bad way to go and even though it’s understandably hard to do, you need to give the platform enough time to optimize for the best conversions.
How much money should you spend on ads?
Ideally, you should start with a $5 per day budget per ad (and run it for 4-7 days before you pull it).
Some might say it’s best to go with $10 a day and it’s true; you’re better off with $10 – but $5 is doable as well.
Keeping with the $5 per day budget, you will need to spend approximately $35 a week to figure out if the ad is worthwhile running or not.
Of course, you can run three ads per day, and that would bring you to a total of $105 per week.
This will speed up time, allowing you to test more quickly and hopefully find a winner sooner but of course, you will be spending more of your budget.
However, with $1000, you should have enough of a cushion to wait it out and try multiple products (you never know which one may hit).
I’m not going to get into a whole Facebook Ads guide here as that is a beast of a topic in itself, but I will leave you with some YouTube videos you can watch later to gain a better understanding of what you need to do.
You Need Training (To Make The Most of Your Budget)
Now all this may sound exciting – or scary (depending on your risk appetite), but I have to warn you:
Going into this blind is a sure-fire way to blow your budget and see no return on investment – $0.
This is why you need to know what you are doing.
From picking products to creating ads to optimizing your campaigns – you need to have at least a basic idea of all of that to give you the best chance at success with dropshipping.
I have two dropshipping / e-commerce guides below that will give you a clear pathway, one is 100% free, and the other is a paid course. These are:
I would suggest the eCom Elites as it’s more up-to-date and it gives you a better structure to follow but I know you’d prefer the free one for now so just go sign up with the Shopify Masterclass course and get started from there.
Whatever you do – just do not skip the learning part.
I’ve included a free option to make sure you do get some training – I don’t want to see you blow through your last $1000 trying to chase something that is just never going to work.
How To Start Dropshipping Products From China
Now, just in case you did not know this by now, dropshipping is the process of drop-shipping products from China to your customers worldwide.
(Nowadays you can even dropship from the US, but we’ll talk about that later).
The model goes as such:
- Your customer buys an item from your store
- You capture the payment
- An order goes to your supplier in China
- The supplier sends the product to your customer.
- You pocket the profit
It may sound complicated – but trust me, it isn’t.
Everything is automated through an app which I am sure you’ve heard of already; Oberlo!
What Is Oberlo?
Oberlo is a free app (free up to your first 50 orders) that automates the entire process explained above.
- You “import” products to your store via the Oberlo app from AliExpress.
- The item gets listed on the store
- Once a product gets purchased
- Oberlo semi-automates the process of buying it from your supplier
- (All you have to do is confirm the details).
Yes – Oberlo can pick up all of the customer details and send them to AliExpress and also picks out the product, product size, customer name, shipping address, etc. – all on its own.
Incredible plugin and highly useful – I believe Oberlo is the reason why dropshipping suddenly became so popular all of a sudden – it has eliminated all the headaches of dropshipping.
The good news is; up until a few months ago, Oberlo was a standalone app, but it has since been acquired by Shopify.
All you need to do to set it up is to install the Oberlo app on your Shopify, and you’re good to go.
Just to give you an idea of how this app works, here’s a detailed guide on YouTube:
UPDATE: Checkout Spocket (An Oberlo Alternative)
I’ve recently started testing out a new way to automate fulfillment through the Spocket App, which is an Oberlo alternative.
Not only does Spocket work with a Shopify store, but unlike Oberlo, you can also install it on a WordPress website – which is huge.
I often get asked if Shopify is the only way to go, and it was; but now that we have Spocket, you can start dropshipping with WordPress as well (although you would need the WooCommerce plugin installed as well).
One other major benefit Spocket has over Oberlo is that you can dropship products from the United States and/or Europe.
Oberlo connects with AliExpress.com, so – even though there are exceptions – your products will be coming from China.
The problem with that is the long shipping times, which trust me when I say; it will cause you a headache with customer support (speaking from experience here).
If you’re brand new to dropshipping, you may want to check out Spocket as an alternative to Oberlo.
How To Find Hot-Selling Products For Dropshipping
One last thing I want to talk about is;
How to find hot-selling dropshipping products to sell?
Well, there are many ways of doing so, but ultimately – I do believe that just about “any” product can sell.
If you have the right product, at the right time, at the right price and presented to the right audience, there’s no stopping you.
Of course, there are some bad products which you want to avoid, but truth be told, there is no telling which is a winner and which is a dud until you test them out.
Below I have another video guide that will show you how to find winning products, but I would stay away from these “flash in the pan” type products.
Sure they might sell for a while- if you are lucky to get in on the trend early – but these are very hard to time (especially when you’re just getting started).
Alternatively, you want to find a passionate niche that holds an interest in a specific range of products.
If you can do that, you are guaranteed to have a long-lasting successful business with dropshipping.
3 Bonus Tips To Make Dropshipping in 202o As Successful As Possible
Last but not least, I want to give you some dropshipping tips that you might not have heard of before – but I believe they are crucial to doing dropshipping well in the coming years.
I’m not going to lie – even though the opportunities are still there, dropshipping is definitely getting harder, which means you are going to need that little bit of oomph to put you above the rest.
Here are some great tips I have picked up from other successful dropshippers who are way smarter than me.
Copywriting is the art of selling through the written word.
No longer can you just plaster up an ad and a product and make money.
That used to work in the past, but as I said, today you need that special something.
Learning copywriting and understanding what words to use to make a customer want to buy will be highly HIGHLY beneficial.
If you’re just getting into this space, I suggest you check out the infamous Cashvertising book too.
That would b enough to give you an understanding of what you need to know (and write) to convert more of your store visitors.
Remember, even managing to increase your conversion rate by 0.5% can be a significant figure in the long run.
Go Above and Beyond
Another tip I will share with you is to bring your A-game with your dropshipping store.
Do not half-ass it.
- Add a contact page
- Respond to buyer queries
- Be honest and ethical
- Get a logo that shows you are a trustworthy place to shop
- Have a FAQs page
People love buying from brands and while you do not have to be “Amazon-type-big”, you need to make an effort.
This goes for any online business you want to start, not just dropshipping.
Look for “Shipped from US” Products
Remember I told you that you can now drop ship products directly from the United States?
This is a god-sent to all drop shippers as this now cuts the shipping times drastically, thus allowing you to make more sales and have happier customers.
Many Chinese suppliers are now storing goods in the US, so when you buy from them, you still do so from AliExpress, but instead of the products being shipped from China taking around 20 days to arrive, you can now ship in 4-7 days.
NB: You won’t find many suppliers that do this yet, but I suspect this will continue to grow with time.
(As I said above, you can also look at Spocket as an alternative)
To find products that ship from the US, use the filter when looking for products on AliExpress:
One of the biggest challenges with dropshipping successfully is understanding what you should be pricing products at, and this is something you need to keep in mind and plan for as much as possible.
There are a lot of ideas that you have to make sure you focus on when it comes to improving your dropshipping success rates, and setting the perfect price is so important.
You need to make sure you are pricing accurately for the market, but ensure you are also making a profit in the process as well.
Head to tools.joinflyp.com to work out the seller fees you’ll have to pay and factor this into your pricing structure as well.
It is a good idea to choose cheaper and more affordable items, as well as products that are popular because this is one of the things that will help you choose the right pricing for your item.
Dropshipping is a great way of being able to make more money, and this is something you have to make the most of as much as possible.
Try to come up with some of the best ideas you can use to help you run a more successful business.
Getting Started With Dropshipping
Ready to get started?
Cool – let’s do a quick recap here.
One last thing I would like to mention again here is that this is not a get-rich-quick business.
You may get lucky with your first ad and your first product and make some sales instantly, but this is highly unlikely.
Testing is where the game is at, and given how dropshipping will be even more competitive. You need to bring your A-game and make sure you present an offer that people would be interested in.
Again I suggest you learn a thing or two about copywriting before you attempt this.
That is all for me – I hope you’ve found my guide useful and I wish you luck on your dropshipping adventures.
Can you still make money dropshipping?
Most definitely yes, and I plan on making this year my biggest year ever with e-commerce, and I am sure I will do it.