Dropshipping is one of the most popular online businesses these days, especially for digital nomad types — but it’s definitely not easy. For starters, there’s loads of competition, margins are thin, it’s tough to get traffic to your store without paying through the nose for it and there are all kinds of things that can go wrong (inventory issues, supplier issues, angry customers, technical issues etc). Based on the high failure rate of dropshipping, I honestly believe it’s not the most surefire way to start making money online, and you’ll have a much higher chance of success with freelancing where you have a guaranteed income.
But personal ramblings aside, if you’re dead-set on starting a dropshipping business, this piece will be intended to be a definitive resource for helping you start by listing tips, lessons & stories from a wide range of dropshippers. We want to get as much input as possible, from as many different (at least moderately successful) dropshippers as possible.
Here is the question we want answered:
For people who created a successful dropshipping business, what advice do you have to share for beginning dropshippers and how did you make it work for you?
Currently we haven’t got too many great contributions to this (hence the ‘IN PROGRESS’ in the headline), and I’m currently reaching out to dropshippers to try to build up the content we have here and create a really great resource. In any case, I have listed the good submissions we’ve received so far below (5 for now).
To summarize, here’s the sage advice dropshippers have submitted so far:
- Focus on a specific niche and really understanding that niche inside and out (link)
- If you’re spending money on advertising, make sure you can track the results, and focus on advertising that’s scalable (if it produces a positive ROI) (link)
- Actually buy and try the product(s) you’re selling (link)
- Consider offsetting your transport-related carbon emissions, both as a USP and because it’s the right thing to do (link)
- Use Exploding Topics (explodingtopics.com) and perhaps audienceeye.com to find opportunities for new niches (EDITORS NOTE: we use explodingtopics.com as well to find new potential things to write about – it’s a great website. We can’t vouch for audienceeye.com yet) (link)
- Try to automate as much as possible (skyler)
- Focus on products that can’t be brought, or are limited, in local stores (link)
- Get your products direct from the manufacturer, rather than a dropshipping directory (link)
If you have done dropshipping yourself, we’d like to hear from you: please make a submission.
I've established multiple different dropshipping stores in different niches. I've sold gadgets, electronics, women's apparel, dog's related products, and many many other things!
My first store was a general store, where my first lesson was acquired; NEVER GO BROAD! Always try to narrow down your niche, because the more your niche is specific, the more you are able to know your exact audience and serve them efficiently.
A great lesson I've learned as well that's related to marketing, by the way, most people do the same mistake especially people who're starting out.
Never try to randomly sell a stranger who is cold against you or your product/service.
You should be categorizing your audience into three different audiences, cold, warm, and hot.
The more your audience is hot, the better your conversions are!
There are some things in life you need to practice and make mistakes to be able to understand the full image in the long run.
We are not here for a hit and run business! You should aim for scalable advertising methods only! A formula like I put $100, I get $200 in return.
This is not the case with social media influencers, for example! You won't be able to track the performance as effectively as Facebook targeting and retargeting ads! And above all, influencers are not scalable.
There is an endless count of mistakes and lessons to share, but unfortunately, it won't be possible to mention it all in the email.
I've been making a living from the internet for at least the last 4 years.
I've tried what works and what does not! And lately, I've created the EcomDimes blog with an intention to help people out to worry less about money, enhance their financial situation, and live their best life!
From easy to hard ways of making money online, I've literally wracked my brain and scoured the internet to find my readers the best ways to make, save, and invest money online!
Under Online Business Ideas in the head menu of my site, I have a special area for dropshipping.
--Odeh Ahwal, EcomDimes
I ran a few dropshipping gigs between 2014 and early 2018.
What helped me a lot in market research was to buy the product myself and use it in everyday life. If it got lots of comments from my colleagues and friends, it was worth adding it to the portfolio, and vice versa. It's the cheapest and simplest idea to do market research.
You won't have a huge lot of data to fall back on, but you realize very quickly what sort of products generate buzz - and that's what you want once you put these products online: To generate buzz.
Valuable for me were a cute elephant ring, wooden necklaces and this ring you can glue on the back of your smartphone to hold it (yep, that was new back then).
One personal note to all budding drop shippers: Please, please start a meaningful business. The world doesn't need yet another drop shipper sending unnecessary plastic trash from China across the planet. What the world needs are thoughtful products, ideally those that make our planet a little better and a little more sustainable.
Also, please consider offsetting your transport-related carbon emissions. It's not just a very valuable USP (ask e.g. Jamie Kay from theotherstraw.com), but it's also the right thing to do for our planet. If you're clever, you simply calculate these costs into the sales costs of your product and then generate a lot more revenue by selling something your customers can buy while feeling good about themselves.
Pro Tip: Plant a tree for every product sold.
--Chris Kaiser, Click A Tree
The most important thing for dropshipping business success is finding product niche fit. Product niche fit is similar to product market fit but it focuses on a niche's receptiveness to a product rather than solving a customer problem.
The two tools I use to identify dropshipping opportunities are explodingtopics.com and audienceeye.com
Exploding Topics helps you find products that are growing in popularity that you can drop ship, and Audience Eye helps you find long tail Facebook interests that you can target with the products you're trying to promote.
For beginners, stay away from popular categories like shirts, fashion and swim suits. They're are so many full time, professional dropshippers competing in those markets. You will not win. Period.
Beginners who focus on long tail Facebook interests, like worms for gardening (found this in Exploding Topis and found a long tail gardening interest in Audience Eye) will kill it.
--Cody Schneider, Audience Eye
Making a statement with drop shipping is all about automation. Figure out ways to outsource tasks too freelancers. This can simplify the process and make your business easier to run. For example, have a set person that writes your blog posts if you run a blog on your drop shipping website. This will open up your free time to fulfill other business needs. Creating a detailed marketing strategy is also key. Find one social platform and hire a social media management company to help you automate the social process. Lots of businesses can be simplified in certain areas with automation that allow the business owner to focus on the important part. Running the business.
--Skyler Jackson, artofskylerjackson.com
There is so much advice to gove about eCommerce dropshipping, it's impossible to consolidate it all, so I'll just give you my top 2 tips:
1. Do not sell anything online that people can purchase in a wide variety in local stores. If they can buy 1 or 2 models locally but there are really 40 that you can sell it's good for online whereas if there are a plethora of options in a local store, people are going to buy it locally, where they can see it, purchase it fast and return it quickly if need be.
2. Get your prodcuts from the actual manufacturer if at all possible. If you are buying from dropship directories you are getting horrible wholesale pricing and you will never be able to compet with people who are buying direct from the manufacturer or from authorized manufacturer distributors.
--Dave Hermansen, StoreCoach.com