How to Start Dropshipping From A to Z
So you want to learn how to start dropshipping to achieve your dream of financial freedom, don’t you? The thought of earning passive income from the comfort of your home without keeping any inventory is fascinating, and you can’t just wait to start.
Well, congratulations because you just took the first great step to start a dropshipping business: having a desire.
Before we get started, if you are more the watching type, we have a complete video created that will give you a step by step guide on what is required to launch your first dropshipping store.
How To Start Dropshipping: 8 Steps To a Profitable Business
- Do Market Research
- Study Your Competitors
- Find Reliable Suppliers
- Figure Out Your Platform
- Market Your Products
- Sort Out Product Returns
- A/B Test
- Keep Trying
Dropshipping can be immensely satisfying and financially rewarding. You may be wondering how we know this.
The reason is that we’ve seen many people make serious money from their dropshipping stores. For example, you can read about Irwin, an enthusiastic dropshipper that went from knowing nothing about dropshipping business to making about $30k in daily revenue. We’ve also seen the likes of Roman make $100k in revenue dropshipping in a highly saturated market.
Although realistically speaking, you will likely not make that much when you start. In fact, you may not even make a single sale in your first month of starting a dropshipping business.
Care to know why? A lot of people are getting into dropshipping every day. We took a sneak peek into Google Keyword Planner and discovered that there are about 10k to 100k monthly searches for the keyword “how to start dropshipping”.
This means many people are interested in this business concept, so you can expect a lot of competition.
We are certainly not trying to discourage you from getting into dropshipping; just trying to ensure you get your perspective right before getting into it.
You can still make it big with dropshipping. In this post, we will reveal secrets to successfully starting a profitable dropshipping business.
But first, is it possible to start a dropshipping business for free?
How Can I Start A Dropshipping Business For Free?
Many wannabe dropshippers ask us, “how can I start dropshipping for free?”
The truth is that you can start a dropshipping business for free without any upfront capital. After all, that’s what makes dropshipping attractive in the first place. Where you will spend money is in setting up an online store and promoting your products.
Even so, you can still start a dropshipping business on a zero budget by leveraging lots of free tools and marketing channels at your disposal.
For example, for a limited time you can set up an online store for free by leveraging SHOPS, our innovative website builder tool that lets you build elegant-looking websites without writing any code.
Better yet, you can set up your dropshipping store on the Facebook marketplace, which is completely free. If Facebook doesn’t work, try Instagram.
Once you’ve set up your store for free, the next thing you will want to do is to find dropshipping suppliers. Thankfully, you can do that easily by checking in Aliexpress.
After that, the next step is to start promoting your products by leveraging free marketing channels like SEO by posting loads of articles that contain your target keywords. The more articles you post, the more visibility your store will get.
Posting your products on Instagram and Facebook can also help, but you will need a ton of engaged followers for this to work.
As you can see, starting and running a dropshipping business for free is possible; but can be insanely time-consuming.
So be prepared to spend money, though not much, if you don’t have that much time to spare and want to see instant results.
How Much Does It Cost to Start a Dropshipping Business?
We’ve established starting a dropshipping business for free isn’t always the best thing to do. You just have to spend money if you are really serious about starting a successful dropshipping business.
The question then is, how much money do you need to start dropshipping?
The truth is that there is no definite answer to that question. But we will give you a brief breakdown of the cost to give you a fair idea of how much to budget when looking to start a dropshipping store. Of course, this is assuming you have a computer and an internet connection already.
So here it goes:
- Setting up a website: $24.98 if you use Sell The Trend, $39/month if you use Shopify. $9.95/month if you choose to use WooCommerce instead and host your website on Bluehost.
- Domain name: $14/annum (optional though)
- Plugins and apps to help your business ($35/month. Could be way more)
- Themes to make your website look good (starting from $79/annum for WooCommerce, and $300 for Shopify, but one-off payment). You can get some good themes for free though.
- Facebook ads: This is totally dependent on your budget, but $50/month is a good starting point.
When you do the math, everything comes out to roughly $100 to $150/month, give or take.
Luckily, you can save yourself all the hassles and save money by launching your dropshipping store with Sell The Trend. For as low as $24.97 per month, you can set up an online storefront, import products from Aliexpress and CJDropshipping with a few clicks of the button, fulfil orders, spy on your competitors, and many more.
How to Start A Dropshipping Business Effectively
As we said earlier, starting a dropshipping business can be very rewarding, though it’s never easy. That said, here are steps to take to improve your odds of success when getting into dropshipping.
We mentioned these steps earlier, but now let’s now get into detail.
1. Do Market Research
So you want to start a dropshipping business, right? Have you figured out the product to sell yet?
It’s about time you gave it some serious thought because the success of your dropshipping business depends largely on your choice of product. So you can’t afford to miss it here.
We see many wannabe dropshippers fuss about selling products they are passionate about. Some even go as far as insisting on selling only unique products with very little competition.
The truth is that passion is never enough – you need to sell products people are willing to buy.
For example, if you are passionate about gym equipment, you will have difficulty selling them. The reason is that they are just too heavy, and handling them can be complicated and expensive to fulfil.
And going for products with little to no competition is a bad idea because they hardly sell.
As such, you will want to try your hands on clothing and home accessories, home decor, beauty and personal grooming niches. These are evergreen niches with consistent demand, even though the competition around them is substantial.
So how do you figure out the exact products to sell to make the most sales and profits?
One easy way is to follow our Winning Products Friday blog, where we share trending products that are selling hot at the moment every, well, Friday.
Doing so will give you insights into profitable products that are in demand and can make you a fortune.
Better yet, you can automate your entire product research by leveraging our AI-powered product research engine, The NEXUS Product Explorer.
The NEXUS enables you to find winning products in auto-pilot mode, freeing you enough time to focus on other important aspects of your business.
Alternatively, you can do full-blown market research by leveraging research tools like Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner.
These tools let you see how popular a product you are looking to sell online is, as well as the demand trend. And they are free!
In all, you will want to go for products that:
- Attractive and wows. People love to buy products that tickle their fancy
- Solve a problem. A product is as valuable as the problem it can solve
- Has an emotional connection. You will want to sell products people can easily buy on impulse.
- Has a good profit margin. That’s why you are getting into dropshipping after all
- Not easily available. Selling products shoppers can easily purchase from a convenience store is a bad idea.
We have a complete Video about how to spot winning products!
2. Study Your Competitors
You don’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheels when getting into dropshipping. Sometimes, all you have to do is see what your competitors are doing and then improve on it.
When spying on your competitors, you will want to find out their pricing strategy, marketing tactics, supplier, and every piece of information that can help you build a smart marketing strategy.
Thankfully, spying on your competitors is anything but hard.
You can start by doing a quick Google search.
But how exactly do you find dropshipping stores selling the product you are targeting?
Well, one easy way to do so is by suffixing “myshopify” to your search term.
For example, to find stores selling sundresses, enter “sundress myshopify” into Google.
Alternatively, you can take your competitor research to Instagram by using a hashtag.
For instance, to find stores selling the same sundress, enter #sundress into the Instagram search bar and then check out the accounts and posts that show up.
Other spy tools you can use include Spyfu, Similarweb, Buzzsumo, and many more.
Better yet, you can use our very own Store Intelligence tool that makes it all too easy to spy on your competitors to see what they are selling and doing.
3. Find Reliable Suppliers
Once you’ve figured out the product you want to sell and snooped around to see what your competitors are doing, the very next thing you will want to do is to find reliable suppliers to source products from.
Finding the right supplier is crucial to the success of your dropshipping business.
Working with a reliable supplier means your customers will always get quality products in a timely manner. The reverse would be the case if you work with a dubious supplier.
How do you know if a supplier is reliable?
One surefire way to do so is by checking for past customers’ reviews on online marketplaces like Aliexpress.
Alternatively, you can order a product yourself to see how quickly and effectively the supplier you are looking to work with delivers.
Check out how you can find reliable and fast suppliers using our Local Shipping Tool
4. Figure Out Your Platform
Dropshipping is hard work. There is just so much to do in so little time. You have to find the right products, connect with the right suppliers, promote your store, fulfill orders, manage your finances….the list is endless.
Attempting to manage all these tasks manually will only make your workflow inefficient and your life nightmarish.
This is why it’s important to find the right selling platform.
You need a channel that makes it easy to import products into your store, fulfill orders, manage customer communication, track your finances, etc.
In short, you need a platform that does the heavy lifting for you, while you focus on what’s more important: growing your store.
Lucky for you, there are several dropshipping platforms out there you can try. They include Shopify, Wix, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, our own SHOPS, etc.
Better yet, you can use social media channels like Facebook Market or an Instagram page as your selling channel. At least, they cost almost nothing. Just that their dropshipping capabilities are severely limited.
5. Market Your Products
Your success as a dropshipper depends largely on your ability to sell online. And you know, sales is the lifeblood that sustains every business. Without it, your dropshipping business will tank even before it starts.
Marketing is an art that takes time to master – but starting can be really hard.
But this shouldn’t scare you because even guru-level dropshippers started somewhere. You too can.
There are many marketing strategies you can try your hands on. More often than not, the right strategy boils down to how much you are willing to spend on ads and promotions.
For example, if cash flow is tight, you might want to try SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO is a digital marketing concept that involves making your website findable on Google by filling your website pages with relevant keywords/search terms searchers use online.
Though free and effective, SEO takes a lot of time to yield results. Plus, it requires a good deal of consistency.
If don’t have the luxury of time and got some cash to spare, consider running ads on Facebook or Instagram. It will take a while to get the hang of it – and lose money in the process – but it will be well worth it in the end.
Lucky for you, we offer an immersive Facebook ads course, where we show you the ins and outs of running an ad that converts.
You can also check out our no-nonsense Dropshipping course that will make you go from rookie to a guru dropshipper.
If running Facebook ads isn’t ideal, you can try influencer marketing. This marketing strategy requires enlisting the help of influential people to help promote your product, often for a fee.
Platforms like Grin and Dovetale can make it easy to connect with the right influencers.
By right influencers, we mean influencers whose audience and ideals align with yours.
Other marketing strategies you can try include video marketing via YouTube and TikTok, Google PPC ads, etc.
6. Sort Out Product Returns
Look, we hate to break it to you, but some of your customers will return their orders no matter how awesome the products are.
Although this is not to scare you, the truth is that product return is one of the ugly sides of dropshipping – and e-commerce generally – that you can’t just escape.
In fact, studies suggest that as many as 30% of all online purchases eventually get returned for a myriad of reasons.
So instead of dreading or running from it, the best thing to do is to prepare for it, especially when sales start coming in.
One easy way to ready your store for return is by creating and publishing your return policy on your website. If this seems like too much work, consider using a return policy generator app like TermsFeed.
We have made this video to show you how to handle returns in the most painless way!
7. A/B Test
Imagine this scenario:
After spending $1000 on Facebook ads, you realize that you only made $125 in sales from it.
Your natural instinct at this moment would be to quit Facebook ads – or even dropshipping altogether.
Instead of quitting, A/B test.
A/B testing is just a term used to refer to the practice of testing two variants of something to see which works best.
So when you apply this to the scenario above, instead of putting all $1000 in Facebook ads, you can split the budget into 4 places, putting some in Google, Banner, and Instagram ads to see which works best.
You can A/B test literally every component of your marketing campaign and even your website. For example, if you realize your website isn’t converting as you want, you can A/B test by changing your website copy, colors, CTA (call to action) buttons, etc.
8. Keep Trying
Did you know that the average success rate of dropshipping is about 10% to 20%. This means only about 1 to 2 in every 10 people that get into dropshipping eventually make a sale.
As you can see, the odds are not particularly stacked in your favor. You will likely not make the kind of sales you are looking for in your first year of getting into dropshipping.
But instead of giving up or venturing into something else, stick it out. Try a different approach. Sell a different product if possible. But by all means, keep trying.
Bonus tip: Buy a Dropshipping Store
Starting a dropshipping store from scratch isn’t always ideal. This is particularly true if you have a full-time job and want to make passive income from dropshipping without putting mammoth hours into it.
What to do? Buy a store.
Buying saves you the trouble of starting from scratch and the mistakes that go with it.
Flippa and Motioninvest are some good places to find a dropshipping store to buy.
Here are some important factors to take into account when looking to buy a dropshipping store.
- Domain age: the older the better.
- Performance: you will want to buy a store that has sizable traffic and good conversion
- Niche: buying a store in an unpopular niche will only drain away your money
- Mobile friendliness: you are better off buying a website that is mobile-friendly than one that’s not.
Is dropshipping good for beginners?
Dropshipping is probably one of the easiest businesses anyone can start, including first-time online entrepreneurs. To start, all you need is the product to sell, the platform to sell, and a means to attract shoppers to your store.
Can I start dropshipping on my own?
The long and short answer to that is yes. You don’t need expert mentorship to kick off your dropshipping career. But it will be nice to get some training before diving into it.
Lucky for you, Sell the Trend has an expansive knowledge base where you can learn all you can about dropshipping for free.
We also have a free Facebook course where you can up your Facebook marketing skills to generate sales for your business.
How much do I need to start dropshipping?
You can start a dropshipping business with $0. Yeah, you heard right!
However, starting a dropshipping business on a zero budget might not always work because you will end up spending an enormous amount of time and make plenty of mistakes before you get your game right.
This approach will only make sense if you have good staying power and don’t quit easily.
Starting a dropshipping store can be an immensely rewarding venture. Done right, it can be a channel to achieving your wild financial goals.
Nonetheless, starting and running a dropshipping business is no child’s play. If it were, every tom, dick, and harry would be into it.
Following some of the tips we’ve shared here will definitely help you find success with dropshipping.
Ready to launch your dropshipping store on SHOPS and start making sales instantly?
Sign up for an account with Sell The Trend right away!