online business

My dropshipping business experiences – part 1

This week marked the first week starting my dropshipping business. From this week onwards, I plan on sharing a short summary of my Shopify journey each week. I will be sharing what I have done the past week, what went well, what I can improve on, and what my goals are for the next week. Stay tuned!

Four days ago I started a dropshipping course I purchased for $320. Just typing this sum of money is giving me a slight rush of anxiety. But if I have learnt one thing over the past few months it is that in order to start building a business in e-commerce, you have to spend money to make money. I had been saving up little bits and pieces over the past months through the jar money management tips by Harv T Ecker, and did some retail arbitrage on the side to build my own business fund even quicker.

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The dropshipping course covered product research, how to drive traffic, how to find a profitable niche, how to find influencers, how to create social media marketing campaigns, a case study of a successful dropshipping store and a myriad of other things. All in all this course is 7 chapters long and took me about 6 hours to complete. This includes taking notes, doing a little bit of my own product research, and going back over bits and pieces I had to listen to a second time.

I purposefully waited a day to get started with my own targeted research, because I wanted to let all of the information sink in a little bit. There is a ton of new information to absorb, even if you have been watching every video on Youtube you can find for 6 months straight (trust me, I’ve done it).

This brings me to my first piece of advice: if you are looking to get started in dropshipping, take a course. Yes, you can get started in dropshipping without taking a course, but the time and money you will spend reinventing the wheel at every turn will make you regret it in the end. A good course is completely worth it.

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Another reason I have bought a course, is because there are a million ways to do each step of the process. For advertising for instance, you can make a lot of money through Instagram influencers, but the same can be said for Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. And they all have a different learning curve. Users do not use Twitter the same way they use Pinterest. The same can be said across different niches. The male fashion niche attracts different buying behaviour when comparing it to the cat niche.

Therefore, it is important to stick to one sequence of strategies, test it and see what is working and what is not. That is what most courses are. You are learning the exact sequence the seller uses to make money online. Most people selling courses have used the strategies successfully themselves, which is why they are able to sell those courses online (and then there is also a group of people who sell courses for $500 as a complete beginner themselves, do your due diligence before you buy!).

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I started day three with doing a ton of product research. I used a combination of browsing websites like Thieve.co (who curate bestselling items from Aliexpress), looking for emerging trends on Google Trends based on popular media and Instagram posts, taking note of ads I see on Instagram and playing with keywords on Facebook to find successful ads.

Especially finding ads on Instragram and Facebook proved harder than I thought. I am still not sure on this one, but I think that my geographical location (the Netherlands) is making it tougher to find the ads I am looking for. I turned on my VPN and set it to the US, and I think it is improving my search results a little.

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I am looking for existing ads to find out what is selling well. If I keep seeing a certain product being advertised a lot on Instagram, it often means that the product is selling well, otherwise the ad will not be worth the money. Starting to sell this item too will increase your chances of making money. This is a piece of info I had to process a long time to get. I will probably write a different post on why you should get started with products that are already selling, instead of products which are not being sold (yet). There is a lot more to ”finding a market”, but this is the simplified version of it.

Day four marked the start of building my Shopify store. I had two ideas for niches, one niche – something specific within men’s fashion – I already knew had worked for many other dropshippers. Thieve.co was giving me many products to market to this niche, but I felt too emotionally invested with the products. I also knew that the product I would go in on spikes around Christmas each year, so I might keep this idea in the fridge until October.

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The other niche I had in mind is women’s fashion. The niche I am going for is more specific than that, but I will keep that to myself for now ;). Google Trends showed me what might be the start of a trend, so that’s a plus! After settling on a name, finding no more than 10 products to add to my store, jotting down information on influencers to use, I am now on day 5.

Day 5 consists of adding the products to the store, writing all the product descriptions, setting the shipping information, adding pages like terms of service, shipping information, etc., starting an Instagram and Facebook page, and maybe even getting a head start on creating a marketing campaign. I will be using Instagram influencers mostly, and I might be dipping my toes into the waters Twitter too. Facebook I will leave for the last few weeks, when the Pixel data has more information to work with.

Lastly, I have created a spreadsheet in Excel, to keep track of all of the results I am getting, in order to know what works and what doesn’t. It will show me if I am still on track to make $4000 in a month, how much people spend per order on average, and which products do better than others. I believe that knowing the numbers is key when it comes to scaling a store eventually. If needed, I can make my store even more specific if the data tells me to.

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Here is an overview of my goals for this month, concerning Shopify:

  • Publish the store by April 4th (it is April 1st now);
  • Make $4000 revenue (not the same as profit!) with my Shopify store in April 2018;
  • Do this on a budget of $250. To spend on ads, Shopify and apps. I set myself a limit to work efficiently, and not just throw a bunch of money away because I don’t pay attention to the numbers.

See you in part II!

Naomi.

 

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