Ok, so you’re looking at starting your own dropshipping business, and might I congratulate you now on the decision!
It’s a fantastic business model, allowing you to gain experience owning and running a real business, without having to put a large sum investment into buying/developing and storing a product before you’ve actually found a buyer and have made the sale. With that being said, it’s a very unique business model.
So how exactly do you start a dropshipping business, well let’s examine the process and goal to see what we need?
Well, the aim is simple, and has four major components:
- Niche – Choose the industry that you want to create your store around
- Traffic – People who are potentially interested in your product
- Sales Page – A page that is designed to identify and persuade the visitor to buy
- Conversion – A visitor who buys your product
So the process involves choosing a Niche and then driving Traffic to a Sales Page and Converting as many of these visitors as possible into customers. A simple process right, but not so simple when it comes to the initial step of Traffic.
See the main issue with starting a dropshipping business will be the lack of traffic, because you haven’t built a brand yet. This means that visitors do not know you or your business, and therefore you will need to actively market the business on the internet.
So in order to start your online dropshipping business, first of all, you need to know what industry/niche you want to pick; I would personally advise the following steps on choosing a niche…
1) Look through AliExpress (A dropshipper’s market of potential product suppliers) for product ideas, write several ideas down.
2) Run these ideas through Google Trends to make sure these products are being searched for, hence they relevant and in demand. If the graph shows that the product/topic demonstrates steady growth for around 3-5 years, it may be a winner!
Some other dropshippers build what are known as ‘Micro-Stores’, which essentially is a store with 1,2 or 3 products around a micro-trend, an example of this would be ‘fidget-spinners’… The issue with these kinds of trends is that they fizz out, so I would advise that you find a niche with a long-term increase in growth… We’re in this for the long-term!
3) Write down the main keywords that ‘You’ would search to find the product… By doing this, you’re simply brainstorming what a potential consumer would search to find such a product (Write down at least 5 – 10 keyword phrases)
4) Input each of these keyword phrases into UberSuggest, which will provide monthly keyword search volumes, alongside additional long-tail keywords which are related to the inputted keyword… UberSuggest allows you to export these keywords into a .XLS file, so I would advise that you create a folder to keep these files in, and don’t forget to rename the file, ideally to the main keyword that you inputted.
You can also use KeySearch to view similar data. KeySearch will allow you to use the service for 1-month (free, no credit card needed), although the paid version is particularly helpful and very affordable, we use it our agency.
Read more about it in our KeySearch Review article here.
This tool allows you to export results in an excel format, meaning that you can keep all of your findings in a folder on your computer, ready to access when you’re ready to do SEO & Keyword Mapping (But that’s another topic in itself that I will write an article on).
Ok, so now that you have an idea as to the niche you’re looking to create your drop shipping business in, you’ll now need a medium in which you can sell your products from… Hence you’ll need a website, now there are a few different CMS (Content Management Systems) that you can use, but the main two are Shopify and WordPress.
Personally, I use WordPress but I know lots of people who use Shopify; I’ll list the benefits and drawbacks of each platform below:
[Advantages] Provide a 14-day free trial, Incredibly easy to set up as no technical knowledge needed, with their being mostly drag and drop elements.
[Drawbacks] Monthly billing ($29, $79, $299 based on sales)
[Advantages] Minimal monthly costs ($3.95 hosting), Simple to use
[Drawbacks] More technical knowledge needed (but still mostly drag and drop)
Either option is great!
Register a Domain
Regardless of which CMS that you use (WordPress or Shopify) first you’re going to need a website domain, this will be your “www.” address.
- Visit NameSilo to see if your desired domain address is available, and purchase it there. NameSilo is the cheapest place to purchase domains and you’ll get free WHOIS Privacy, which means that the domain provider will keep your data private from anyone who’s snooping around.
Once you’ve purchased your domain, you’ll need to host your website (this essentially means that you’ll hire an online server to store your website).
Now if you’ve decided to use Shopify, as we recommend the less technically savvy people do, you don’t need to worry about hosting your website, as Shopify will take care of this…. You Shopify users can skip to the section below ‘All Finished – Now let’s find products‘
However, if you’ve decided to ‘brave the storm’ (we’re kidding, you’ll pick it up easily), and use AliDropship and use your own website hosting package, you first need to buy space on a server… I like to use either FastComet (24/7 support and incredibly cheap) or Bluehost (another ultra-cheap and reliable hosting provider)
- Visit either of the hosting providers above and purchase website hosting for only $2.95 per month (that’s incredibly cheap). Not to mention, they provide a 1-Click Installation of WordPress, and once this is installed on your server, you’re ready to go.
After this, you’re ready to begin creating your WordPress website; Now I would advise users to start with a free e-commerce theme, but you can equally pay for themes, take a look at ThemeForest for these.
All Finished – Now let’s find products
Ok, so your website’s now online, but you need to find products, and that’s where your suppliers on websites such as Aliexpress come in.
When looking at suppliers, be sure to look at customer reviews and the supplier’s overall seller rating. This will give you a rounder impression as to how reliable they are.
Last of all, depending on the product(s) that you are looking at selling, make sure that the supplier can deliver to the country that you want to market your product to, and check the average shipping time and pricing for this, certain types of delivery such as ‘E-Packet delivery’ is free and therefore incredibly useful for dropshippers to take advantage of… After all, you want to maximise your profits.
Once you have found a small number of products (let’s say 10) that you initially want to put on your website, great you’re ready to upload… But you may still have a few questions, such as….
- What happens if the supplier changes his prices suddenly or sells out of the product, and someone purchases the product from my website?
- Will I have to manually upload all of the products, descriptions, images to my website?
- When I start making sales, will I need to process every order manually?
The reason I’ve put all of these questions above is that these were the very questions that I had before starting my store, but thankfully I found a solution.
A plugin that can be installed on WordPress called AliDropship [the link here features a 25% discount], that will single-handedly handle all of the issues above.
I’ve written an in-depth review of the product here, but let me touch on how it solves those specific issues below:
- What happens if the supplier changes his prices suddenly or sells out of the product, and someone purchases the product from my website? The AliDropship plugin can be setup to do an automated check of each product’s AliExpress listing every 15 minutes, and can update your stores prices accordingly (based on % increase/decreases)
- Will I have to manually upload all of the products, descriptions, images to my website? The AliDropship plugin can be integrated with a Free Chrome Extension, available here, which allows for one-click imports, meaning that you go onto the AliExpress product page and click import, and the rest is done for you!
- When I start making sales, will I need to process every order manually? The AliDropship plugin has a one-click bulk order button, which will automatically do the work for you.
Now there are numerous ways to drive traffic to your sales page, all of which fall under the following two criteria, free and paid.
Starting out, I would advise that you begin using free traffic sources, and you can take a read of my article on how to get more organic traffic to your business/website for more tips and tricks.
Free Traffic Sources – Short/Mid Term
Niche Forum Traffic – Looking at some of the major forums including Quora, Reddit and any niche-relevant forums is a fantastic place to start; You can simply search in Google for…
‘Niche’ + Forum…. I.E ‘Best Handbags’ + Quora.com’
and then once google shows a multitude of niche related forums, one by one look for questions on those forums that relate to the products you sell… i.e if you sell skin cream, look at questions about how to get smooth skin.
To find these simple search in Google:
‘site:forumdomain.com + ‘keywords relating to your potential customer’s problem’
Once you find these questions, answer those and refer people to your product page, but make it look organic and natural… You could say this product may help…!
Free Traffic Sources – Long Term
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – Referring to optimising content (On-page SEO) and optimising your backlink profile (Off-page SEO) to appeal to major search engine algorithms. If you do this correctly, it will bring in free organic traffic for life!
If you’re not experienced with SEO, take a look at an agency like The Hoth, who I’ve been using for quite some time now and have even created a case study where I’ve been testing the effectiveness of their SEO services, you can find this case study here: The Hoth Review Case Study.
They offer a range of SEO services (all linked to directly below) and have a Live Chat function so that you can speak to a specialist about your requirements, and they’ll advise what exactly you need.
- Hoth OnPage – Full On-Page Optimisation
- Hoth Private Vault – Premium Editorial Links (Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Entrepreneur, Marketland, IBM and many more)
- Hoth Blitz – High Authority PR Homepage Links
- Hoth Local – Local SEO Citation Links
- Hoth Press – Press Release & Distribution
- Hoth Boost – Backlink Boosting Service
- Hoth GP – Guest Posts Links
Here are all of there latest reviews: Hoth Review Page
Otherwise, if you’ll be doing all of your website’s SEO yourself, I’ll be creating an entire SEO series for you to look at, over the next coming weeks. For now,
PPC (Pay Per Click) – PPC traffic is traffic from platforms such as Facebook (FB ads), Google (Google Ads) and even Instagram & Snapchat. You are essentially purchasing traffic here, but do not mistake this for sales. Hence, it’s in your best interest to optimize your Sales Page for more Conversions before doing PPC, to get more bang for your buck.
Therefore, I would recommend using free traffic, to begin with, whilst you’re optimizing your sales page for conversions. Once you’re able to get decent conversions (at least 4%), you can think about using paid traffic.
However, whilst you’re using the free traffic methods that we’ve mentioned above (forum traffic), we recommend taking some online courses such as the two we’ve featured here:
- Udemy Course on Facebook Ads – Link to Course
- Udemy Course on Google Adwords – Link to Course
This will help to broaden your pay-per-click marketing skills, so that you are aware of how PPC marketing works, and have the ability to easily set up and maintain a profitable pay-per-click campaign for your new dropshipping store… This will be like having access to traffic on tap!
But as we said earlier, learn to walk before you can run and make sure that you’re getting a few sales at least from ‘free traffic’ sources, as this will really help you optimize your product/category pages (landing pages) for when you begin paying for targeted traffic.