Are you a visionary? A go-getter? Have you ever day-dreamed about moving your life into another level; work when you want, how you want, where you want, without financial worries or debt?
If you have an entrepreneurial, independent spirit, and you’ve looked into some paths to success lately (like it has for me), then you’ve probably been hearing about dropshipping. In the age of the internet, making a substantial income with your own business has become easier and cheaper than it used to be. And dropshipping is one of the most risk free ways you can attempt to be your own boss. If you’re not familiar with how it works, I’ve written a post for you guys about that too.
Spend just a few minutes on YouTube looking into dropshipping, and you’ll find dozens of videos of normal people who once worked tiring hourly jobs, but eventually grew a dropshipping business to $100,000+ per month and never looked back.
This guy J Rich is one of my favorites. He’s inspiring.
These people are not prodigies. Super geniuses. Or tech wizards. They’re fairly normal people, that had an exceptional amount of drive and persistence, and permanently changed their lives, and the lives of their families.
When I started my own dropshipping business, I quickly found how important it would be to learn the nuts and bolts. The steps to building the business from nothing, and turning it into a successful business.
So I thought I would share with you guys the steps that I’ve found to get a dropshipping business off the ground.
Get A Product Idea, And Do Your Research
Okay, if you’re anything like me, the idea of thinking up the initial products that you’re going to start with is the most daunting part. You’re building an entire brand around these products, so you want to like them, believe in them, and have confidence that a lot of OTHER people also like them.
So how do you pick?
This is my advice. You can certainly do some research on major e-commerce places like Amazon to find what people are buying. That’s always a start. But I’m not necessarily recommending that you just go for what’s trendy. A couple years ago (2016 at the time of this writing), a business centered around fidget spinners might have seemed like a good idea. But where are they now? The trend lasted about as long as a puff of air. They didn’t have any sustainable value, utility, or longevity.
Don’t build a business on fragile trends.
That doesn’t mean that you should never capitalize on trends! Heck, some people who started businesses in trendy essential oils are making millions. But if something looks, and feels, and smells, like a short term fad that doesn’t have a lot of use…. probably not a great pick.
That’s like betting on a really tipsy stack of rocks to stay standing.
The second thing I recommend doing when you’re brainstorming product ideas is this… focus on the PEOPLE you want to sell to, not the products you want to sell them.
Here’s why. The more you know and understand a group of people (also known as your consumer base in this context), the more you’ll know about what they like, what they want, how they want it… and so on.
Think of some common interests, and then join some Facebook groups about them. Search them on Pinterest. Read their discussions on Reddit, or check out what they do on Instagram.
This will give you not just an idea of the kinds of products they like, but also HOW they like it. What aesthetics. What packaging. Do they like it shiny? Do they like it organic? Do they like it red and blue? Nothing tells you “this is something people are buying” quite like a mob of people saying “look what we’re buying! Woohoo!”.
People first. Product second.
Set Up Your Store, And Your Dropshippers
Next step? You need a store.
Now obviously you don’t really pay for inventory with a dropshipping store, and you don’t really need a PHYSICAL store. But you’ll probably want a webstore that captures the feel and story of your brand. It needs to draw your buyers in.
Now if you’re just starting out, and you don’t have a store yet, selling on Amazon or Ebay can be one of the easiest places to start. They already have tons of traffic. They’ll make your products easy to find. But they also eat a ton of your profits, so in the long-run you’ll want a store, and more of that money going into your pocket.
Don’t worry. Building an amazing looking webstore is actually one of the easiest things about starting up an online dropshipping business.
Shopify is the one I’m currently using, and is by far the option I would recommend the most. It’s not free, though there is a 14 day free trial, but at $29/month it’s a very affordable option (most physical stores pay 75x that for their store).
Put some thought into your logo. Clutter isn’t popular. Minimalist and memorable IS. Just look at Nike, Adidas, Supreme, Pepsi, etc. And you can make one fairly easily. The Noun Project (thenounproject.com) is an easy place to get icons and logos. You can have a snazzy one made on Fiverr (a skilled freelancer will do it for you), or make it yourself on a free creator software, (the one I use is called Inkscape).
Next, you need to tell your story a little bit. What do you want people to see first when they drop by your store. How personal is it? How genuine? Don’t be afraid to use lots of pictures, and some words about your mission.
Finally, you need dropshippers. Shopify has a dropshipper directory called Oberlo that’s really good. There are other great directories out there, like SaleHoo, and I’ve found success with both. These dropshippers seamlessly integrate with Shopify, and with a few clicks of a button you can have a store full of products ready to make you money.
Note: Make sure that you’re choosing your dropshippers wisely, especially if you’re not using Oberlo or SaleHoo. Just because a company has super cheap merchandise that gives you huge profit margin potential, does not mean it’s a good pick. A slew of lousy products and bad reviews can be hard to recover from.
Kickstarter is pretty cool. You can check out what I mean at Kickstarter.com.
Websites like Kickstarter, and Fundable, are centered around 1 thing. To help crowdfund start ups.
Aspiring entrepreneurs who have an idea for a new business/product, can post a campaign to Kickstarter or Fundable, and raise up to a few thousand dollars to help “kickstart” their business.
You will need to provide something in return (maybe a sample of your product?) to the people funding you, but you can use this platform to give your new business a major boost! And it will allow you to not only get your costs covered for the first year or so, but it will also get your name out there, and help you test how interested people will be.
Social Media Presence (Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram Are Your Friends)
Be social. I can’t give you this advice enough. One of the most important things for your business is to be social. This doesn’t mean that you need to go around making friends and giving speeches (which wouldn’t work so well for some of the introverts among us), but you need a social media presence.
I mentioned before the importance of Facebook groups. This can be one of the launching points for your business. Facebook groups are free access to groups of people with common interests. You usually can’t get away with blatant advertising on Facebook groups, but integrating yourself into them, and slowly introducing your products, is HUGELY beneficial.
Facebook has over 2 billion users. That’s a lot of potential customers.
People are also VERY visual. Especially when it comes to buying physical products. So two of the most important places you need to be are Pinterest, and Instagram.
Using those two platforms, you can build an image around your brand, and gain an enormous amount of attention. Starting brand pages on both Pinterest and Instagram (like Facebook), are free. And you can drive a massive number of sales through that.
Stay tuned to Young Retiree, and I’ll be breaking down the methods and strategies to driving traffic through Pinterest and Instagram soon.
This leads me to my next point.
When I talk about being social. When I talk about connecting. Ultimately, EVERYTHING I recommend to you when you’re building a business, and a marketing campaign, is that you need to be everywhere.
You need to make your presence online seen and heard. Focus on those 3 social media options that I mentioned above the most, but you need to be present everywhere. Post on Reddit. Quora. Google+. Twitter. And keep linking back to your page.
Eventually, as you get more website visitors and repeat customers, you’ll be able to gather a lot of emails. Once you have an email list built up, you can sell even more by sending out an email blitz every time you release a new series of products.
You also need to continue releasing new products. Don’t pour endless stuff onto your site, but try to release new products every month. This will keep people interested. And you may boost even more sales by releasing collections of products that are best sold together.
Persistence, Persistence, Persistence
It’s like climbing a mountain. A mountain with a really nice prize at the top.
You’re trying for something huge. If your goal is to truly be financially free, and to have control over your time again outside of a workplace grind, you really have your work cut out for you in scaling a business.
So I’m telling you, it will be tough. Following these steps consistently will be HUGELY important for your business, but it’s going to take hard work, and a lot of persistence.
But I can encourage you with this. On the other end, when you’re sitting back, relaxing, and knowing that there are sales rolling into your account like clockwork, it’s going to be worth it.
Retire young. Travel the world. Set your goals, whatever they are. And never stop learning.
Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below, guys!