If you’re interested in starting your own dropshipping venture, then you might be confused about how you can start and which are the necessary steps to do it. All the internet ads promising to teach you how to do it and the countless YouTube videos all over the place don’t really help, either.
Summarized, dropshipping might be overwhelming. It’s the same as any other business model.
I know that feeling. There wasn’t many courses or resources available when I started dropshipping, and it was just as confusing as it is today – albeit for different reasons. Back then, even finding suppliers and dropshippers was a hassle since no one really knew what it was all about.
Today, we have a marketing revolution with social media and SEO as well as countless of eCommerce platforms, self-proclaimed experts, training and courses, and countless apps dedicated solely to this model.
Ironically, all these options are amazing to make things more confusing than they actually are. That’s why I’m not focusing on how to build a dropshipping website, which apps you should install, or how to market your business.
Today, we’ll take a look at the greater picture: what are the 7 steps for a profitable business. These steps have their own sub-steps, of course, but once you know what you need to do, it’ll be a lot easier to figure out how to tackle each stage.
Learn the business
The first thing you need to understand is how this industry actually works; you must learn what’s dropshipping and all its in’s and out’s. You have countless free resources on YouTube and blogs, but things get complicated when we get into courses.
I’ve seen dozens of courses since I started, and I can safely say that finding a worthwhile product is really difficult. As a rule of thumb, the larger its price, the less value it offers.
If you want a recommendation, then eCom Elites is the best program I’ve found and for the best price. There are over 200 videos in this course, and it’s only $197 ($100 for the premium version), and it covers everything you need to know about eCommerce.
You basically have to choose between saving money and saving time. If you go for free content, then you need to gather everything from around the internet and filter the information that’s actually worth it. If you decide to pay for a (good) course, then you’ll have all the information readily available and properly structured.
After you feel you’ve learned enough, you should join a dropshipping group – either a public Facebook group, a forum, or a private group from a course (if you bought one).
Start with a general store
A lot of people think they have to find a niche right away and focus their venture on one from the start, committed to it until they crash and burn. They usually blow away lots of money just to repeat it if they fail.
Finding a good niche on your first attempt is quite difficult. You’ll probably end up choosing one already dominated by other brands because you didn’t know how to research properly – or didn’t practice enough. The result is usually the same: lots of ads money down the drain.
Think about dropshipping’s first pioneer: Amazon. It focuses on offering everything without focusing on a single niche. As products start selling well or die, they simply adjust their catalog depending on what works.
That’s the mindset you want.
Building a general store first lets you offer different products without any relation between them and not confuse your customers. That’s not the same if you niche down to animal accessories and start offering selfie sticks.
Once you find successful products, you can start focusing on them and finding your niches.
Find a useful product
The key to selling is offering something that people need. It must solve a specific problem and make your potential clients think they need and want the product.
You can have thousands of comments, reactions and shares on a Facebook ad about a Nicholas Cage body pillow. However, you can bet not even half (or a quarter) of those interactions translate into buyers.
Products that sell are those solving problems. Would you rather buy that body pillow or a tomato slicer for $3? Well, your customers think the same way.
Look at the things you buy: chairs and beds for comfort, TVs and PCs for information and entertainment, toothbrush holders to make them accessible, a toothpaste squeezer to save money, etc.
You’re a customer as much as you are an entrepreneur, so think like one. What could you need and what are you more likely to buy on impulse? That’s your goal.
Contact a supplier with that product
Once you know what you want to sell, you need to actually get it from somewhere. Finding that “somewhere” is the next step.
You can use platforms like Thieve.co to find products along with their supplier. However, you can always do it manually and visit AliExpress. You can access to cheap prices and great manufacturers thanks to how AliExpress rewards sellers.
Besides, shipping from China is a lot more affordable than using local suppliers, and you can always offer different shipping rates and times to your customers. Just make sure to be transparent and offer ETAs to your clients.
You can also use dropshipping directories, but make sure to research beforehand and pick only the ones offering relevant information – not just recycling the same data for every user.
Test your product
This doesn’t just mean buy one to try out, but you definitely should do it before offering anything to anyone.
You want to set up your social media profiles and start coming up with ads (preferably video) to advertise your product. You want to take this marketing as seriously as if you were actually trying to sell from the get-go. However, don’t spend as much money as you would on a real campaign.
You can use free platforms for creating short videos or even record one yourself from your smartphone.
Then, assign a testing budget: $50 daily should be your maximum. You can even spend $5 daily; you just want to make sure it reaches people.
What if it doesn’t work?
If you see people buying from these ads, then congratulations: you’ve found a winner for your store.
However, not all products will be successful, and your chances of finding one on your first attempt are quite slim. Don’t be discouraged if a product fails: that’s why I told you not to spend too much testing it.
If it doesn’t work, then go back to step #3 and test that product. Your testing budget should always be determined so that you can repeat the process as necessary without killing your funds.
Build on your success (scale)
Once you find a winner, then start focusing on that one. You can increase your ad budget or even design your store around that product, offering related items. That’s how you niche down as well.
You want to take this seriously since someone might see how you’re doing and offer the same product. If they beat you at scaling first, then you might lose your chance.
Start working on different ads around your product. Increase the budget for the ones that perform better and discard those that under-perform and you can’t save. Start finding upsells for your product to complement purchases and increase how much you make with each order.
That’s it. Those are the 7 fundamental steps to building a successful dropshipping store, and while it’s mostly a map of what you should do, knowing the main stages of a venture works wonders to help you set your specific objectives.
If you want to learn what to do exactly on each of the 7 steps, then I’ll recommend eCom Elites again.