Digital Marketing: Running a profitable Dropshipping E-Commerce

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Throughout the following chapters, you will not only understand and grasp the concept of dropshipping but also how you enable it to generate over $100,000 a year for you. Each chapter is designed to teach you how to tackle some of the most important aspects of starting an online dropshipping business with clear and sim- ple instructions. Follow the steps, and you’ll become a skilled dropshipping entre- preneur in no time. Dropshipping is rapidly expanding, and it is no wonder: it is low cost and low risk, but entails high returns. Now is the time to jump in and start earning your passive income. This book shares not only advice on how to handle things like using certain platforms or social media to make money, but also scripts and simple steps on how to implement it in your business. The following chapters will describe how to use resources and information already available to help you make a thriving busi- ness and deliver the desires of customers at great prices. You will learn how to become a great entrepreneur and online marketer. Do not let the glossy outcome fool you, though! An abundance of effort and time will be required. However, once you start making over $10,000 a month, you will realize all that effort was worth it! There are plenty of books on this subject on the market, but thank you for choosing this one! Every effort was made to ensure it is full of as much useful information as possible. Please enjoy!

Caution: hard work ahead. That may not be what you wanted to hear, but you need to accept this now if you want to start making some serious money in your business. Sometimes the truth can be hard to swallow, but you will be better off knowing this fact before you dive in. Building a business is an exciting task, but it is far from being easy. You will have to put in a lot of time and effort to create something valuable and profitable. For those that are working for another business and want to start your own, you will need to keep working for a while, putting in time and effort outside of your normal 9-to-5. At times, you will need to spend months outside of work getting your business up and running. Even with all the time in the world, it will still take a considerable amount of time to learn and apply all the information required for success. Hopefully, this candor does not deter you from reading on and learning more about the benefits and earning potential of dropshipping and with its success, a passive income! The following chapters are stuffed full with details on how to make good money with minimal effort, provided that you’ve put in the hard work at the beginning. If you heard that it was easy and did not require actual work, you were lied to. The age-old adage still rings true: all that is valuable in life takes much effort. People offering the “magic formula” to a get-rich-quick-scheme free of any hard work are trying to scam you. Building your own business that can make one proud will take time. Hence, if it takes a year, then that is what you need to put into it. Thankfully, this type of business allows you to work at your own pace and build from the ground up while still retaining your other income stream(s). Pursuing this line of work will bring you into an interesting and changing environment, which can be challenging. Of course, if it was easy, then everyone would be doing it! So, if you are willing to take on this challenge, then you deserve a con- gratulatory pat on the back and praise for undertaking such a unique venture. Just remember, when things get tough, do not give up. When you persevere, you are learning from your setbacks and missteps so you can succeed later on. Do not let this education go to waste! I can tell you from experience that a dauntless mindset is the best way to enter this business. This is not one of those books that promise a solution to all your problems or an easy ride. On the contrary, “Dropshipping” is here to give you the raw truth, cut through the B.S., and give you the necessary lessons for true success. Therefore, it is now the time to lay out precisely the plan to get you going. Enjoy the following chapters that will explain making money in different avenues, with tips and techniques highlighted along the way.

Time, one of the most sacred things in life. It is a precious commodity. Everyone alive today has the same amount to spend, just 24 hours to make a mark. It is the same no matter the age, religion, gender, occupation, or race. Each person gets 24 hours. Now, picture making a living without having to spend a lot of that precious time. It’s a goal many people have set up for themselves, and it is done every day. This goal is what we call “passive income,” and it can be incredibly valuable to the quality of life. Money is something you can earn, invest, save, spend, lose, and squander. Time cannot be handled the same way. You cannot take unused time in the day and invest or save it for later. Most of the world must work for a living, and most spend their time making this living, despite time being one of the most precious re- courses they own. Instead of approaching living as an exchange for your time, you can separate your earnings from your time. With passive income, you can make money while you do other things, such as a hobby or passion, time spent with family, take a dream vacation, or just enjoy the luxury of sleep. Passive income starts first by making an investment of some sort, including putting in the effort to choose the correct passive income stream for yourself. This first step is the part where the most work is required, as you must do research and possibly invest money and time to start the process. After this initial step is completed, you can expect to enjoy a continuous income stream without much effort. Common forms of passive income streams include investing in bonds, rentals, or stocks. The IRS defies passive income specifically as an activity for a business in which the owner is not an active participant. Understanding this is important because the definition used in this book is slightly different. The definition here includes being free from an enduring operational function to make an income stream. Having a continual income stream that requires little continuous effort may not give you all the solutions to your present problems; it is a tried-and-true method for creating and keeping wealth. Creating this source of financial support can allow you to break out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle and have more money than what you need to just pay off your bills. Take a moment to picture this freedom! Imagine your stress levels lowering and your mind clearing. Envision yourself living a full life, the kind you have always wanted to live, without the constraints of a traditional job. This is the doorstep to that future. Now you need to walk in! Michael LeBoeuf, businessman, author, and former university professor said it best: “Waste your money, and you’re only out of money, but waste your time, and you’ve lost a part of your life.” This paradigm shift in the way you view money is critical to your success with passive income. Placing emphasis on the ability to have the time to do the important things in life is critical to your ability to make memories with your family, pursue your passions, or take that trip you have dreamed of since childhood. Money is something you can earn and lose, but time is fleeting. This is why there is more to life than making money. This is why time is the most important thing you have.

Active Income vs. Passive Income

There is a considerable difference between active and passive income. As de- scribed above, passive income refers to the automatic reception of funds with minimal maintenance. Active income is the opposite. It is the direct translation of money for time. Thus, the time you put in is related to the money you get back. If you do not work, you do not get money. A halt in received funds can be caused by laziness, the necessity to sleep, or a physical reason which hinders you from fulfilling your requirements. For example, if your trade is building houses, and you break your arm, you can no longer hold a hammer or saw to complete your obligation to your company. You’ll need to heal, and while you are healing, you are probably not making money. The majority of the workers in the United States pursue active income as the means to their financial survival. What is interesting is that the majority of wealthy Americans detach their time from their income. They invest in a variety of businesses, so they have money coming in from various places, no matter where they are or what they are doing. Income is generated from sources like royalties, rentals, laundromats, franchise fees, and online dropshipping. The traditional means of generating passive income include real estate, and bonds work, but dropshipping is the wave of the future. Moreover, the more you diversify your income streams, the more addicted you will become to the power and freedom you can create. Another benefit of investing in passive income is that it can complement your active income, as well. You do not need to give up your traditional job if you enjoy it. Instead, you can create additional streams that help free you from financial stress while you trade your time for active income in a career you love. Ideally, you will be able to scale back active income as you become more and more stable on passive income generation. Passive income allows you to be flexible. You can have the option of quitting your 9-to-5 and spend your time where you want to invest it.

Top 4 Reasons Passive Income is Important for Your Future

1.Reduce Anxiety, Stress, and Fear of the Future

There is an inherent pressure and stress when you cannot pay your bills. Feelings of hopelessness, fear, and anxiety are commonplace. “What if….” Shuts down your rational thinking and freezes you in panic. This kind of pressure causes stress spiritually, mentally, and physically. It can destroy your aspirations and hope for the future. Passive income helps you relieve this pressure. Now you do not need to worry about losing your job and active income. You do not need to worry about getting insufficient hours or mandatory overtime being taken away. Removing this fear frees your mind to think positively about the future. You will enjoy more energy and motivation, in addition to the joy of achieving more than you imagined before.

1.Stop Just Paying the Bills and Start Pursuing What You Love

Each person has something they are passionate about; something they love doing. You are surely no different. What may be different is what that “thing” is for you. However, another thing most people have is a million excuses on why they are not doing that “thing.” While you may think about, “wouldn’t it be nice if I could do this all the time?” You find reasons to put it off for an- other time. As you start generating passive income and you are financially free, this is the time to do it. Maybe you want to help the homeless, or travel around the globe, or teach violin. You now have the freedom to focus on these things that set your soul on fire. You no longer have to worry about your paycheck. Now you can worry about being happy in whatever you choose as your “thing.”

1.Live Anywhere in the World

If you love to travel, you can do it. If you love a certain country, state, or town, you can live there. You no longer need to settle for the impermanence and fleeting feeling of being on vacation. Spending only a week out of your year enjoying where you are is not enough. With the freedom of passive income, you can pick up and go wherever you want to be. You can wander the globe or set up in a small village in China. 4. The Foundation for Financial Growth and Stability is Laid When you have the time to invest in your life and varying your income sources, you can take the time to focus on what you want to achieve. You no longer need to feel pulled in different directions. You can handle whatever challenge you face, including your finances.

Outsourcing and Passive Income

Another option for generating passive income is to outsource work. At some point in your life, you will want to get help to keep time on your side. For example, hiring a virtual assistant can ensure you retain your most valuable asset, your time. A virtual assistant is advisable if you are bringing in more than $100 per day. Look through www.upwork.com or www.onlinejobs.ph. Hire them to help you manage your Instagram content or research products and tools.

Other ways, other than social media and product research, you can outsource your work is for advertisements. It is a method that, when outsourced, will be based on trust between you and the person generating the content. Otherwise, you need to finalize everything before it goes live. Spending money on ads is one of the largest risks of dropshipping. You’ll need to make sure there are no errors in your message. To be most successful in outsourcing this venture, outline the descriptions, content, keywords, and influencers you depend on for your assistant and specify where it needs to be used.

In dropshipping, customers receive products through online transactions. When a client purchases a product from your online storefront, you are essentially buying a product from a manufacturer and reselling it for a higher profit margin. The cost you charge the customer is based on the price you paid for the item, the shipping charges, ads, and profit. Ideally, the item you purchase should yield you at least a 20% margin, which means purchasing an item from a manufacturer and reselling it for 20% more than what you paid for it. Usually, there are other sellers out there for similar items, so you must also base your pricing off theirs. It is unrealistic to think you can purchase an item and set a selling price with a 100% margin, no matter how attractive that may sound. For items with higher price points, the margin also tends to be higher. This higher margin, upwards of 40%, is due to branding. Whatever item you select, it is smart to look for other “upsells,” such as add-on features or protection plans that can increase your margin but do not require extra effort. While the method described above may sound like a traditional retail concept, the big sticking point comes when you are dealing with the shipping. You are not purchasing the items ahead of time and holding a physical inventory. Instead, you are waiting for the order and then having the manufacturer ship straight to your customer, meaning you never see or handle the products. There are several benefits to dropshipping, as well as several roadblocks.

Benefits

  1. Lower investment need. If you want to start selling products online, you do not need to spend large quantities of money building an inventory. In earlier business models, the largest investment an online retailer had to make was in their physical inventory. With dropshipping, the only reason for purchasing a product is because a customer has already paid you for it.
  2. Simple Startup. Online stores open doors for retailers to reach more customers while also saving money on retail space. Note, though, that traditional on- line retailers still need to rent warehouse space for their inventory, track it, and deal with shipping and returns, which all comes with handling a physical inventory. With dropshipping, all this additional work is removed.
  3. Minimal Monthly Costs. Without the added necessities and obligations present in traditional retailing, you can run your business from any place that has an internet connection. Ideally, it should cost you less than $100 per month to operate your dropshipping business. As your business scales, the monthly oper- ating costs will likely increase, but so will your income. In any case, it will always be lower than operating a traditional retail store.
  4. Large Product Selection. The freedom of not having to buy an item upfront also gives you the freedom to be able to sell a variety of items with no risk. When you are working with a reliable supplier, you can look at the other items they sell and offer them to your customers at no additional cost to you.
  5. Scalable. As your dropshipping business grows, you can keep your business model the same, something very different than traditional retail. Before, as your business grew, you would have to grow your staff, space, and inventory. Now, the brunt of the work is placed on the suppliers, while you handle the flood of traffic.

Thus, you can focus on what you have control over, like customer service, and let the suppliers handle the delivery of orders. There will be more work with more business, but a dropshipping business is easy to scale in comparison.

Roadblocks

  1. Low Margins. Margins must typically be kept low to be competitive against other retailers and dropshippers. The reason your competition can sell products at the bare minimum is that they too are investing a small amount of capital as they get started, just like you. Consequently, they are trying to gather business in the beginning and to build income. Most of the time these competitors will have poor websites and (even worse) customer service, but customers will still shop for the best prices among all majority of retailers offering similar items. Still, customer attraction will depend on the products you are dropshipping, so product selection is important. In general, however, margins are lower than traditional retail so one can compete with other dropshippers.
  2. Inventory Problems. While it is an advantage to be free of owning a ware- house full of inventory, it can also be a disadvantage to be unable to control the changes to the inventory on a daily basis. There are methods for aligning your inventory with that of your suppliers, but it can be a challenge ensuring that what you are offering is still in stock by the manufacturer.
  3. Complex Shipping Process. Many dropshippers use several suppliers on one selling platform. Hence, when a customer places a multiple-item purchase that happens to come from multiple suppliers, you will have to deal with different ship- ping charges and logistics. While most retailers make the customer pay for shipping, in dropshipping it is unwise to make your customer cover all the various shipping costs you will incur from the transaction. The cost for shipping would be astronomical in comparison to their purchase. In addition, automating the calculations and process for these shipping charges per transaction is a nightmare.
  4. Supplier Issues. A poor supplier will bring you a lot of headaches. Your role is customer service for your customers. Thus, if a supplier is always messing up orders, sending poor-quality items, or do not package properly, so the item is dam- aged in transit, you need to handle the mess. It will be your business that is damaged in the transaction, not the supplier. Despite it not being your fault, you will need to apologize to the customer and take the blame in an effort to fix the situation.

The Dropshipping Process

Dropshipping is not an “easy, perfect, and stress-free” business model. While there are clear advantages to operating an online business this way, there are also clear disadvantages that must be considered. Thankfully, many dropshippers have come before you to help pave the way with examples of how to solve the inherent problems and be successful. Now that you are clear on what dropshipping is and what you can expect, both good and bad, it is vital you also understand how the process works. Below is an outline of the process, as well as an example, Accessories Plus, to help you visualize the process.

Step 1: An order is placed by the customer. The customer researches online for a product and determines the best price and offer is presented by your website. They then place the order, submitting payment to complete the transaction. After submitting payment, an automated email confirmation is sent to the customer and to you. The payment is then deposited into your business bank account.

Step 2: You Place the Order with the Supplier There are a few methods for placing the order with the supplier. It is possible to upload your order to a supplier using XML, Oberlo, or go online and manually place it, but the most common is to forward the confirmation email to the supplier, and they charge your account on file for the purchase. It is the most common form of order because it is simple and universal.

Step 3: Supplier Ships the Customer Their Order When the item is in stock and payment is complete, the supplier sends the product straight to the customer. While the shipment is from the supplier, the packaging indicates your business, including your logo and business return address. The packing slip and invoice will also have your information on it. Once the shipment is finalized, the tracking details and a copy of the invoice is sent to you. Some suppliers can do this turnaround in a single day, offering same-day shipping, while others may take a longer time. Find the best option to fit your product and customer. Most American based manufactures can do same day shipping while manufactures overseas will take longer.

Step 4: Let the Customer Know Their Order has Shipped When you receive the tracking information from the supplier, you can send it to the customer. Typically this information is sent in an email that you have a template in your online store. After this step, the process is considered complete. Now you can determine your profit margin by subtracting what you paid from the price the cus- tomer paid. Ideally, you will make between 20% and 40% however you can make much larger margins based on your product and your branding.

Theoretical Example: Accessories Plus: Aka (Your Company) These will be the running mechanics that will be working in your drop shipping store. We will describe how to complete each and everyone of these steps later in this book. Setting up Branding Logos, Confirmation Emails, Order fulfillment, Shipping agreements. Today a customer, Sally Jacobs, bought items from the online storefront of Accessories Plus. She chose several products, placed them in her online shopping basket, researched online for the best prices and shipping information, and finally submitted her payment details online. This process took Sally 1 to 7 days to complete because she spent time debating what she wanted and what she was willing to spend and who she would purchase from. Once she submitted her payment information, an email was sent to the email she provided during check out, with Accessories Plus blind copied. They both receive the email. When Accessories Plus receives the email, they forward the order to their sup- plier, “Wholesale Accessories Forever”. The email includes all the relevant information Wholesale Accessories Forever needs, including the shipping address of the customer. Because they have done business with Accessories Plus before, they already have the logo, address, and credit card information on file. When they receive the order, they charge Accessories Plus’s credit card and begin preparing the order for shipment. While they gather and package the products, Wholesale Accessories Forever creates an invoice, packing slip, and a shipping label with the information and logo for Accessories Plus.

After the order is assembled, Wholesale Accessories Forever ships the order to the customer and sends Accessories Plus shipping confirmation that includes the tracking details. This can take the supplier 1 to 30 days to prepare and ship, depending on the agreement with the supplier. Typically, Sally likes to purchase something that will ship within 3 to 4 business days, which is why she chose to buy from Accessories Plus; the website guaranteed shipment within 5 days. Wholesale Accessories Forever has an agreement with Accessories Plus to have a shipment out within 3 days of receiving the order and payment being processed. Once Accessories Plus receives the shipment information, it is imported into the website software, and an email is generated to the customer with the relevant information about the shipment, including when they can expect to receive their order. This completes the transaction. If there are problems with the shipment or order, more steps are necessary, but typically Accessories Plus can enjoy the profit after the cost they paid the supplier is subtracted from the amount the customer paid them.

The Invisibility of the Dropshipper

The final customer is not aware of the supplier’s role in their transaction. In the example of Sally Jacobs, Sally is never aware that her order was fulfilled and shipped by another company other than Accessories Plus, even though Wholesale Accessories Forever played a vital part in their transaction. If there are any problems with the order, Sally will contact Accessories Plus to resolve the issue. Accessories Plus will then need to work out the problem with Wholesale Accessories Forever outside of the customer’s vision. The reason for this is because the manufacturer is only responsible for supplying the product and shipping it to the correct address. Your role is to provide the customer service and problem-solving. You are also responsible for marketing, developing the selling platform, selling products and basically everything else.

One of the best pieces of advice I can give about dropshipping is to look for a niche, not just products. When you target one item at a time you may run out of steam for your marketing campaigns and the product sales will die down after time. Although single product stores do well, they are not long-term solution and may be a trend. It's hard to say because every situation is different. If you can successfully run ads and still have a good conversion rate than I would say run with it as long as you can but look for a niche on the side as another source of income because the single product store can fail. Determining a niche, and even sub-niche is what leads you to the “good” products in that category that you can expect to sell well. But now the question moves from “what do I sell?” to “What is my niche?” Some would say it is semantics but finding and understanding niches and sub niches is extremely important. Understanding what niches do better and what products sell the best will make you the money. A niche is a market that still has an opportunity in it that you can enter and fill a need. Within a larger niche, you can divide into smaller niches. For example, in the fitness apparel niche, there are those that specialize in sub-niche of leggings and those that specialize in the sub-niche of fitness apparel accessories, like head- bands, socks, etc. To make the process of finding your niche easier, consider 2 things: “Will this sub-niche sell?” and “Are there a lot of people already selling in this sub-niche?” For example, using the fitness apparel niche, if more than 10,000 competitors are filling your sub-niche category, the competition is too high and not worth the headache. The lower the number, the better chance you have of selling.

Conducting research on websites like www.aliexpress.com can help you re- search a potential niche. Sites like this allow you to view the product by niche and sort the results by orders. Do not go by order numbers alone! Also, research the customer reviews of the products. Make sure customers are happy with what they purchased. Now research your competition in this niche. See what they are selling and for how much. Think about if you can beat their prices, shipping times, guarantees, return policies, product selection, and be better than them in some sort of way.

How to Get Started

The easiest way to get started in a niche is to pick something that you are interested in. Choosing an area that you already have knowledge about is helpful to get started. You can also recognize the items that will most likely sell well or are needed. For example, maybe you enjoy camping during the fall months. The outdoor niche is excellent for a variety of products that sell well, but that also means there are a lot of dropshippers already in business. Choose a sub-niche, maybe emergency kits and supplies, that you recognize a need for more opportunity. Select a couple items that are low cost, such as an item that you will pay less than $5 for and test the market. By choosing a lower-cost item, you can try out the supplier and test the market with little risk. If there are any problems with this item, the cost you incur for repaying the customer is minimal compared to the cost you would have to refund should the item get lost in the mail and you now need to refund hundreds of dollars. An option for ensuring a good supplier and quality product is to contact a supplier and request samples of the products you are interested. Sometimes they will send the product samples for free, and other times you can pay a discounted price for them. When the products arrive, you can inspect the quality of the item and take your own photos, but you also have the opportunity to test out the communication and relationship with the supplier. If it was a hassle to get products or communicate with them, they might not be the best supplier for you. Taking your own photos is a nice touch, and when you begin to sell higher- priced items, you will want to make sure your listing stands out over the competition. Other online retailers will be selling the same item, and if they are using the provided images, you can get an edge over them by making the product stand out and look unique. This may not be necessary when working with slim margins and low-priced goods, but it is something you should definitely consider when you go over $100 for an item.

The Challenge of Passion vs. Money Niches

While it is good to start with a niche you are passionate about, not all niches are highly profitable. This is why some people immediately move into “money- makers,” leaving their own interests behind. Still, others cling to their “comfort- zone” niches and never seem to take off financially. There are exceptions to this, but the reality is that you will need to find a balance between the two niche types.

Getting to this equilibrium is how you can develop a profitable brand. You need to be interested enough in the products to stay motivated during your research and stay focused on your target customer, but your financial success should still be a goal, as well. The best method for choosing a niche and sub-niche is to start looking into your passions and then answering the following questions:

  1. What websites do you visit the most often?
  2. What social media accounts and platforms do you visit and use most often?
  3. Where do you purchase online most often?
  4. Ask your friends and family to identify the products and hobbies you are most obsessed with. (An outsider’s perspective is helpful in this process, so make sure to ask them and listen to their answers. You may be surprised at what other people see about you that you do not recognize in yourself!)
  5. Do you collect any products?
  6. If you won $1,000 and could only use it to buy something you wanted, not needed, what would you choose to spend the money on?

Once you answer these questions, you can then develop a list of potential nich- es that interest you. Ideally, narrow this list down to about 4 or 5 niches. After, you then need to narrow it down further to figure out a niche that has profit potential. Do this by answering the following questions:

  1. What products are selling on popular online retailers?
  2. What are some of the most popular products being sold right now?
  3. What is the highest profit margin for products in a niche?
  4. What niche has the largest audience?

Another important thing to look for is the sales trends for an item. There are niches that are trending fads and those that have longevity. For example, fidget spinners were a fad. Many retailers got into the market, but they are fleeting. If you can get in early on a fad, there is large profit potential, but you are more likely to have missed the surge. Instead, look for products that are “evergreen,” or that have stood the test of time but are still keeping the look fresh. Branding your passions is always nice and could be extremely long term on however you use it. However, some people like yourself would just like to dive into the money stream and gain experience on how to do this and become profitable. So, in the section below I am going to show you the research process. With this you will be able to tell what products will sell and that is important to know. You do not want to waste your time on unprofitable products.

The Research Process

At this point, you have most likely decided what niche you want to operate in, but now you need to decide what to sell and the profit potential. There are a few tools you can use to complete this research. There are 3 main sites to review this information and find trends fast. In addition, there are common niches that have a large audience and sub-niches with good profit potential.

The Top 3 Trend Finders

Oberlo Verified
This first site is a membership-type website. You must have an account to be able to see currently trending products. You install the app on your shopify website and then search for products that are trending in your potential niche.

Amazon
Looking through Amazon’s pages, like holiday gift guides, “Quirky and Unique,” and “Interesting Finds,” allows you to look for product trends and fun options you are interested in. By remaining broad, you are continuing to focus on finding your niche, not on products at this point. You are looking into things like outdoor activities, fashion, technology, or other hobbies that align with your answers from the above questions. The best sellers list is a good place to find best selling products. The numbers you want to look at with amazon is the search results and the best sellers rank. For search results you want something under 1000. The lower the better, but this is only one indicator this kind of research only shows the people selling on amazon and not a drop shipping store. They are get- ting similar or the same products from manufacturer just like you so its another indicator of if the products sell or not. You can check how well they sell by the best sellers rank or (BSR). A chrome extension that helps with this process quickly by showing you the BSR on the product's listing page is DS Amazon Quick View.

AliExpress
The first thing you will want to do is start looking up the products in your niche. Browse through the products to see what is good to sell. This part is trial, and error and you will soon be able to see what sells in time. The more you do it the better you become at finding something. The indicators of a good product are Positive Feedback, Number of orders, Reviews, and Type of shipping. Positive Feedback and reviews will show you if the product is good and doesn’t cause you problems. The number of orders will tell you how much of that product is selling. You are going to want a high number for this and to find them you are going to sort your searches by “order” in the sort by section above the products. For types of shipping Epacket normally gives the best deals for shipping. Free shipping is of course the best because you will be able to do a free plus shipping deal if the product cost is under 3–4 dollars.

Common Trending Products by Niche According to AliExpress:

Niche-Women’s Products

  • Fashion
  • Jewelry
  • Accessories
  • Handbags
  • Lingerie

Niche-Men’s Products

  • “Dad” hats
  • Sunglasses
  • Wallets
  • Backpacks

Niche-Electronics

  • Phone cases

Niche-Sports

  • Fishing equipment

Niche-Beauty, and Health

  • Concealer
  • Makeup brushes
  • Fake eyelashes

Niche-Kid’s Products

  • Clothing

Niche-Garden and Home

  • Kitchenware products

Niche-Automotive

  • Driving accessories
  • Breathalyzers
  • Cleaning products

Another Trend Finder: Trend Hunter
An extra bonus for you to help research your niche is Trend Hunter. This site allows you to find interesting items for a broad niche search. For example, men’s products will show a variety of items, allowing you to narrow in on a sub-niche based on their selection. Find the products that keep appearing, like wallets. If you see a variety of wallets showing up, it may indicate it is a good sell.

After you have researched possible niches on these sites, you are ready to find out how the categories perform over time. Now you are diving into growth and stability projections. Use sites like Google Trends and Facebook Search to decide how it will ultimately perform.

Google Trends
While this data may not be from the current year, you can use it to predict what is happening and will happen to the niche. For example, women’s fashion is an evergreen niche with a consistent rise, while men’s fashion is stable but also evergreen. Things like DIY and faux flowers may be more of a trend, but worth looking at. If you research a niche and think it might be a fit, dive deeper into a product to see how well it is performing. For example, in men’s products, wallets appeared often in searches. Look at the sales trends to see if it has peaked, is stable, or still rising.

Facebook Search
Use this tool to find out how your competition is doing. Find trends in what your competitors are and are not doing. For example, do they have a good following when they do post on Facebook, but they do not post consistently? If you want to get the advantage over their market, you need to use this to come up with a posting strategy that will engage the audience better. Maybe this means a daily post or several posts per day. Maybe it is more photos than the competition. Find what is missing and plan to fill in.

Other Research Methods
Before you finalize and start selling products, you need to spend the time researching your audience. Find where they visit and shop and start thinking about how to get in front of them. To do so, ask the following questions:

  1. What are the social media outlets the audience uses?
  2. Do Facebook groups exist in this niche?
  3. Does Facebook offer targeting options for this audience?
  4. Do forums exist for the audience to discuss this niche?
  5. Are events being hosted surrounding this niche?
  6. Are online influencers posting about this niche?
  7. Does this niche have passionate fans?

Niche Research vs. Intuition

As indicated earlier in this chapter, some of this process is what you see and how you feel about it. The research process should take about 1 week. During this week you should be finding products in a niche you want to dropship for a profit. While the research is important, you need to go with your “gut” to determine the final mix you choose. As with all things in life, there is no guarantee of how a product will perform. All products have a buyer. Thus, it is up to you as the seller on how to get them to buy from you. While the research does not stop here, it is important to again emphasize how critical this process is for your financial success, and the role your intuition plays. Being able to set up your website and your strategy is the most important.

For your dropshipping business to survive in the long run, you need to get hands- on with your branding. You need to tell your customers a “story” about who you are and why they need to shop with you. You use this message to connect with your target audience and those shopping in your niche. This message is something your shoppers will come into contact with often, so you need to make sure the message is always relevant. The means it is never a passive activity and can change when needed. While it is a constant activity, eventually you can outsource this activity or hire an employee to help build and maintain a brand for you.

While you are doing your research or shopping online, have you ever come across a website and said to yourself, “Damn! That’s a great website!”? That type of layout caught your attention and made you want to shop (hopefully!). Adapt that layout to your brand and put your own spin on it to sell your products logos and website design. When something is attractive, people will purchase expensive products from you, even if it only cost you a few dollars from the supplier.

Developing Your Brand Identity

In addition to creating your visual look through your website, you need to also spend the time to make your name attractive. Part of the purchasing decision is made based on the online “atmosphere” you create. This is created through cus- tomer service, your online presences like on social media, and your brand mes- saging. Such as do you come out with good content and are you consistent. Of course, it all can begin with your store name.

After you select your niche and sub-niche, along with the products you are inter- ested in selling, you need to get busy selecting a name for your business. This can be easy; during your research, you noticed a gap in business names that could eas- ily be filled, or it can be a huge challenge; you have selected a range of products making it hard to choose a name that encompasses them all. Thankfully, when operating online, you can quickly narrow down ideas by using several resources, such as domain name and SEO, but also dip into traditional retail practices, like using your creativity! Try using keywords within your niche as inspiration, It will help with SEO too.

Domain Name Resource

A rule of thumb: always match your domain name to your store name. Make it easy for your customers to find you. It makes for good traffic and even better SEO. Also, customers expect your domain name to look at least similar to the name of your store. In addition, you need to keep the domain name clear and short. Check to see if your ideas are already taken by doing a quick domain name search.

SEO Resource

It is surprising how many people forget about SEO when they choose the name of their store. Just like all other online activity, most customers start in a search en- gine. Therefore, your keywords are critical to boosting your spot in the list. Select a name with the most relevant keywords or something very close to them. You want to show up on their search list, especially when you are offering a dropshipping product to a very specific niche.

Your Creativity as a Resource

Grab a piece of paper and pen and start jotting down all the keywords relevant to your niche and products, and begin mashing them together. Find combinations that are simple and clear, but are also relevant and available. Try different combi- nations or similar words. If anything, at least you have now written out the key- words you can use in metadata and product pages if none of them stick for the name.

If you do not find a name from the keywords, you need to take another ap- proach. It begins by answering the following question: “What is the overall style you are looking to deliver and what will communicate this message best?” To help you answer this question, consider the following:

  1. What is the “feel” of your store? Is it modern, sophisticated, or edgy?
  2. What are your customer’s expectations of their shopping experience with you?
  3. How can you communicate your “feeling” to your customer in words and

images? Answering these questions helps narrow down what message you are looking to communicate. The next step is where your creativity comes into play. If you can- not develop a name based on the keywords or products, look up the synonyms for them. Look for similar words or combinations. And if all else fails, go in the com- pletely opposite direction. Select your nickname or alternatives to your name. Think up a made-up word that people could pronounce. Something so unique like that will help your store stand out, and customers will remember it.

A Checklist for Your Store Name

Once you decide on a name or a few possible names, you need to make sure you can answer “yes” to all of the following questions:

  1. Is the name available?
  2. Can customers remember it easily?
  3. Can customers spell the name?
  4. Does the name have a global scalability?
  5. Is there a domain name available with this name or an easy variation of it?
  6. Will the name be easily promotable on social platforms?
  7. Can you create a jingle, rhyme, or joke with the name?
  8. Can this name be used for other niches, sub-niches, and products?

Creating Brand Awareness

After creating the foundation for your brand, it is time to bring attention to it. Part of this means extending your branding internally and externally.

Internal Branding

Even if you are the only employee right now, being clear about your messaging is important so you can make decisions aligned with it that your customers will inter- act with. It may sound silly and unnecessary at this point, but now is the time to do it. Keeping a vigilant eye on the messaging, you want to present helps keep you fo- cused on your customers and consistently presenting your message. For example, having a strong mission statement and value’s list are great ways to keep you on-brand.

A mission statement can be a powerful sales tool; helping customers decide to purchase from you instead of your competitor. Create a sentence or 2 that you and future employees or contractors can refer back to when they make decisions. The foundation of the statement should be what you are going to give to the customer. For example, Warby Parker’s mission statement is, “To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leasing the way for socially-conscious businesses.” They are offering their customers competitively priced, good quality glasses while also supporting good business practices.

While you will not see any drop shipper’s taking the time to develop their brand, let alone create a powerful mission statement, this part of the process can separate you from the ordinary and average. If you take the time to inspect the dropshipper’s that are most successful, you will see they most likely have done this. It is not “overkill,” it is necessary. It is the foundation to all your messaging you are about to present to your customers. Develop this first. Below are tips on how to create a successful mission statement:

  1. Keep your customer first, not your company. Do not focus on “we” statements, but more on “customer” statements.
  2. Start with “To…” and then fill in a verb. For example, “To inspire…” or “to give….” Follow this statement with what you will inspire or give to your cus- tomers.
  3. Think about the “why” of your company. This is more than “to make money.” Think about the gap you found during your research. What are you trying to fill in? That is probably your “why.”

Come up with at least 10 versions of a mission statement to narrow down. Decide which statements capture your goals and which you think to align best with your customer. Choose the parts or words you like the best from the statements to come up with 1 you will use. It is ok for you to update your mission statement as your business grows. You will be able to align it more and more as you get more experience and a stronger customer base. If you update it, make sure all of your internal team is aware of the change before checking your external branding.

External Branding

This concept includes all the messaging and interaction your customer has with your store. Your website, logo, emails, and avatars are all included in external branding. When a potential customer comes in contact with your store, you need to make a good first impression. When they want to look around at what you are selling, you need to make sure your content is the correct tone and style.

Website If you decide to have your own website and store, you need to create a layout that aligns with your brand identity and mission statement. If you decide to sell on Amazon or eBay, you do not have the opportunity to make a branded site. If you opt for the customization and opportunity of your own site, make sure to create a site that is unique and memorable (in a good way!). It should not look like every other template-created website in your competition. You also do not want a site that is hard to navigate or crashes from too much content. It is an important in- vestment, so budget accordingly. Do not skimp here. If you do not have graphic

on-brand.

A mission statement can be a powerful sales tool; helping customers decide to purchase from you instead of your competitor. Create a sentence or 2 that you and future employees or contractors can refer back to when they make decisions. The foundation of the statement should be what you are going to give to the customer. For example, Warby Parker’s mission statement is, To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leasing the way for socially-conscious businesses. They are offering their customers competitively priced, good quality glasses while also supporting good business practices.

While you will not see any drop shipper’s taking the time to develop their brand, let alone create a powerful mission statement, this part of the process can separate you from the ordinary and average. If you take the time to inspect the dropshipper’s that are most successful, you will see they most likely have done this. It is not overkill, it is necessary. It is the foundation to all your messaging you are about to present to your customers. Develop this first.

Below are tips on how to create a successful mission statement:

Keep your customer first, not your company. Do not focus on we statements, but more on customer statements.

Start with To… and then fill in a verb. For example, To inspire… or to give…. Follow this statement with what you will inspire or give to your customers.

Think about the why of your company. This is more than to make money. Think about the gap you found during your research. What are you trying to fill in? That is probably your why.

Come up with at least 10 versions of a mission statement to narrow down. Decide which statements capture your goals and which you think to align best with your customer. Choose the parts or words you like the best from the statements to come up with 1 you will use. It is ok for you to update your mission statement as your business grows. You will be able to align it more and more as you get more experience and a stronger customer base. If you update it, make sure all of your internal team is aware of the change before checking your external branding.

External Branding

This concept includes all the messaging and interaction your customer has with your store. Your website, logo, emails, and avatars are all included in external branding. When a potential customer comes in contact with your store, you need to make a good first impression. When they want to look around at what you are selling, you need to make sure your content is the correct tone and style.

Website

If you decide to have your own website and store, you need to create a layout that aligns with your brand identity and mission statement. If you decide to sell on Amazon or eBay, you do not have the opportunity to make a branded site. If you opt for the customization and opportunity of your own site, make sure to create a site that is unique and memorable (in a good way!). It should not look like every other template-created website in your competition. You also do not want a site that is hard to navigate or crashes from too much content. It is an important investment, so budget accordingly. Do not skimp here. If you do not have graphic and web design skills, it is worth the investment to hire a web designer to help you. They will make sure your site is branded and in line with your mission statement, that is has a design your customers will remember, and it functions well.

If you decide to set up your own site first, you will save money up front, but you risk losing customers from a poor function or lower SEO. All dropshipping web- sites must have a space for products and payment as well as encryption. Even if you have experience in this field, you will need to invest time into setting this up well. Bugs in your site can seriously affect your profit. Take time to consider if it is worth it to spend the time to create a site or the money to have a professional do it.

A logo is how your customers will recognize your brand in the future. People are visual learners, so a strong logo can make a big impact. This image will be on your website, social media platforms, business cards, email templates, etc. Like creating a website, if you do not have skills in graphic design, it is smart to hire a profes- sional to create this for you. If you have done your due-diligence in internally branding your company, a graphic designer should be able to quickly come up with an image that represents you. Of course, you can do what a lot of dropshippers do and create one yourself, but the odds are that you aren’t that good with photoshop or illustrator. Don’t worry you can order one for cheap on fiverr.com. To help a graphic designer create a logo, write out your responses to the fol- lowing bullet points:

  • Determine your aesthetic, such as formal or casual.
  • Define the emotions you want your customer to feel when they see your brand.
  • Decide what you like about competitor’s logos, including text, color, and images.
  • Look at other logo’s you like and pick out the features you like to form them, including color, text, and image.
  • Set your budget that you can spend on the logo design. Plan to spend between $100 and $400 for a design.

Copywriting is the name of online writing. A common problem with many drop- shipper’s is that they spend a lot of time on creating an attractive website but fail to focus on the content. Things like the product description, posts, ads, and videos all need to have a similar tone and style or just be quality at the very least. If you are not skilled in writing, and more specifically copywriting, you should also consider hiring out a professional and learning about the tone and style they chose for your brand. Watch out for spelling and grammatical errors. They may seem trivial to you, but to your customer, they can appear like an omen of a poorly run business. Plan on paying about 10 cents per word of copy, if you choose to hire someone to help. It will also cost more in the beginning but finding a writer willing to give you a style guide to help with your future content will help as well. Its not a bad thing to write everything yourself, just make sure it sounds right and there are no spelling mistakes. Spelling mistakes just make your business look dumb.

Part 6: Making Money with Amazon’s FBA

“Fulfilled By Amazon,” or FBA, is a profitable platform for dropshippers, despite Amazon’s restrictions on dropshipping. Amazon’s selling rules restrict sellers from purchasing from another online retailer and shipping to the customer. Essentially, they restrict dropshipping. But recently they have opened up more opportunity and options. Of course, because they are now the “middleman,” they now want a piece of the profits as well. With all these loopholes to learn and hoops to jump through, you maybe be asking yourself why it is worthwhile to bother with it at all. The an- swer is simple; there are more benefits than drawbacks if you are smart about it. For example, Amazon can offer 2-day shipping to all their customers, meaning your customers will get this benefit as well. And do not discount their large cus- tomer base! There are already over 300 million shoppers on Amazon looking for good prices on unique products. It is an ideal selling place for dropshipping products!

The best advice for working with Amazon’s FBA is to know your products and know their rules. Being careful with what you decide to sell through Amazon sets you up to make money on your investment, and not the other way around. To help you determine if this sales platform is a good fit for you, read on to learn more:

Details About Amazon’s FBA

What are the benefits of selling with Amazon and their FBA service? Again, the first thing most sellers gravitate to is the ability to offer 2-day shipping and free shipping for their Prime members. Many of the loyal Amazon shoppers pay for a yearly service with Amazon, which includes their ability to get free 2-day shipping for certain seller’s. And you can also open sales to Mexico and Canada, reaching more people through Amazon while offering the same shipping benefits. When you choose to sell products through FBA, your products become eligible. The more customer’s that buy from you, and the more positive reviews you get, the more benefits you get, including the coveted “Buy Box.”

When you are shopping on Amazon, on the right side of your screen, a little white box sometimes appears with the option to add the item to your cart for the product you are looking at. This seems like it should be available to all sellers; however, Amazon requires you to earn this right by providing outstanding customer service, among other things. Of course, there are things you can do to earn this right and make money in the meantime, but it is important you get the “Buy Box” as soon as possible for true selling potential. The reason is that over 80% of Amazon’s customers buy from using the “Buy Box,” and the statistic is only higher for sales from mobile devices!

Amazon balances seller’s in the “Buy Box,” sometimes even balancing the option through 24 hours, depending on the popularity and competition of a certain product. For example, if the hot item is a unicorn hairbrush, and there are several sellers’ offering this product, Amazon will choose the top seller to have control of the “Buy Box” for most of the day and then allow lower-ranked seller’s the opportunity of the box for a small portion. Amazon does this to give the customer the best options, both in price and in historical satisfaction. Seller’s with low or no metrics should then focus on beating competitor’s pricing, while those with higher ratings can offer a slightly higher price and still get control of the “Buy Box.”

To be able to win your spot in the box, you need to satisfy the 4 main criteria. After that, the algorithm Amazon uses is unknown. This means you need to make sure you do the 4 things well and give the best customer service you can! The 4 key areas include opening a professional account for seller’s, make sure you are eli- gible for the “Buy Box,” offer new items, not used, and have available inventory. The uncertain criterion on the list is your eligibility. You need to go the Seller Cen- tral in Amazon and check your status there. If you are not eligible, find out why and work to fix it as soon as possible.

In addition to shipping benefits, FBA offers customer service and return assis- tance. When a customer purchases something that is advertised as “Prime,” and they are “Prime” member’s they know that Amazon is handling the shipping, cus- tomer service, and returns, taking a lot of work off your plate. They also house your inventory at their warehouses, so they track your inventory as well. Of course, there are costs associated with this service, but in comparison to other options, they offer a lower cost and a more simplified opportunity than other fulfillment centers.

Dropshipping and Amazon

With all these benefits, you can see why seller’s flock to Amazon to make a profit; however, the cons are important to understanding. A common misconception is that a dropshipping business cannot sell through Amazon. This is untrue, but the process is a bit different. This is because the dropshipping is coming from Ama- zon itself, not from a third-party retailer like AliExpress or Oberlo Verified. Amazon restricts this in their terms of service that states, “Purchasing products from another online retailer and having that retailer ship directly to customers” is not allowed.

To be eligible to sell on Amazon, you need to be the seller of your products and this information needs to be on all your products, packing slips, and other cus- tomer communication. Of course, some seller’s try to get around this by saying they are the seller and the shipment is coming from their website and warehouse to the customer, but this is a sure way to be banned from Amazon. Instead, choose your products wisely, invest in an inventory, have it sent to Amazon’s fulfillment center, and start selling using their services. They will then ship your inventory. Of course, this is a higher initial investment, but with the support, tools and customer base, it can be worth it.

Choosing the products to sell on Amazon is both an art and a science. You will need to use your research skills and your intuition to get it right. Many sellers entering the book, electronic, or office product markets do not need to be ap- proved before selling. Markets like jewelry and makeup do need approval. Also, potentially dangerous items, like hoverboards or weapons, cannot be sold. Other than those on the restricted list, Amazon opens the doors for a variety of items, after approval if necessary. Check the requirements for certain markets to see what you need to do before selling on Amazon.

After you receive approval, if required, you need to choose what products you want to stock in the fulfillment center and sell on Amazon. Here you need to determine what your margins will be and if it is worth the investment risk. You will be putting up a chunk of money for inventory, so you need to choose products you think will sell. Research top seller’s on Amazon to see if your products align, or predict a trend curve and where a product falls on the bell. Fads are not ideal for dropshippers because you need to buy a lot and get it in Amazon’s inventory be- fore you can sell. Therefore, you risk missing the peak of popularity and being stuck with a lot of wasted money. Instead, consider items that are evergreen with a good margin. Take in to account the Amazon fees when you are choosing your pricing and profit margins. If you need to sell something for more than the compe- tition already using Amazon, the product may not be worth it for you on this plat- form. Remember, you want that “Buy Box,” and keeping prices low is a great way to get it fast!

In conclusion, using Amazon’s FBA to make money is an option, but it is a risk you need to weigh carefully. You have the potential to capitalize on a strong cus- tomer base and several supportive features, like handling returns and customer service, but it cannot be done in the traditional dropshipping method. Being smart and creative is your best approach to using this sales channel to your advantage. Consider this sales channel as an add-on to your other sales methods for online sales. Add the Amazon product listing link on a website or social media links, but do not rely on Amazon alone to make your passive income. At least do not rely on this single sales channel until you get a regular rotation on the “Buy Box.”

Part

Another marketing channel for your dropshipping business is to promote it through a blog. You can have an influencer write a blog post about a product you sell and your company, or you can write your own review. If you decide to create your own blog post, host a blog as part of your online store and website. This way a customer can read your reviews (or someone else’s views) on your site to help them make their buying decision. The blog post should contain certain information to attract your customer, like how the product works and what the list of benefits it offers to the buyer. This marketing technique can also help drive customers to your website if you use SEO correctly. Readers can turn to shoppers easily, but you do not want to be too pushy in your post. Have the option to buy near them, but not in their face. This is why this method of marketing and sales is great for boosting profits, but it must be done with finesse.

Blogging and Dropshipping is a Dance

Blogging by itself is a considerable revenue stream for many people, just like dropshipping for others, but it is possible to combine the 2. Be clear before you start, though. What is your primary source of income? Do you want to make money blogging or do you want to make money selling? Getting clear upfront will help you make better decisions later down the road. Because this book is dedicated to learning how to make money through dropshipping, from here on out it is assumed you are choosing to primarily make your money through dropshipping while using blogging as a marketing and sales tool.

Blogging takes time to build a following, just like creating a dropshipping busi- ness requires. The main difference is that bogs rely heavily on SEO, meaning the content needs to be written and programmed well. This requires your time and attention. And to get a good following or organic traffic, you need to produce a lot of content regularly. Thankfully, if you already have a website, you can probably add a blog easily, allowing you to create and publish content for little or no money. Make sure to continue to focus on product’s you sell and how they bring meaning or benefit to your customer’s lives. These benefits can be necessities or wants, but they are real for the customer so makes sure to explain them all. Also, consider cross-promoting products in 1 post. For example, show customers how they can use the unicorn makeup brush set to create a unicorn-themed bathroom more complete for their tween. Or show how the mosquito-repellent lanterns work great when paired for the battery-operated camping fans in a 4-person tent. Give them options and link to blogs posts that review each product individually to keep your customer looking, reading, and ultimately, buying.

Using Blogging to Build Business

Almost all online business professionals understand that success is a result of traffic on your site, but what they fail to understand is that blogging is a means for generating this traffic. Business professionals fall into the trap that the only way to make money is to directly sell products. Converting customers is important, and so is managing your product selection, but success is more than just conversion. You want people to discover your site and become loyal customers because of what you offer, not how you keep finding more customers. Because of the intense online competition, offering value to your customers beyond well-priced products on an attractive site is a means to build and engage them consistently.

Consistency is key here. The more you post, the better your SEO. The better your SEO, the more people to find your content. The more people reading your content, the more traffic you have on your site. The more traffic you have visiting, the more customers and sales you generate. Higher sales mean higher profits. And that is just through internal engagement. When your SEO improves, it is possible your site will then be highlighted through other social and traditional channels. When this happens, your reviews and content are considered more credible, which again boosts traffic and sales.

The SEO is boosted by a blog in several ways. First, you will create more web pages on your website, all linking to your homepage. To really boost your SEO, the more your link gets shared on social media and posted on other sites, your visi- bility improves. People are more likely to share a link to a blog post that has rele- vant and interesting information than just a product description. When people click these links from the other sites, you are generating more traffic to your site, but also improving your SEO. Also, search engines monitor the frequency a site is up- dated, and regular blog posts show that it is an active site. This makes you rank higher on the list. Finally, your SEO can improve quickly by including more key- words in the posts and pages. While you have keywords already embedded in your site, you now have more space and more opportunity to add and adjust keywords to get better SEO often.

Of course, SEO is important, but not as important as your current customers. Blogging also fills a role here. A consistent blog not only generates new customers

but keeps current buyers engaged and repeating their visits. Good social media activity can only get you so far. A blog can contain all the information in a social media post, and then some. This medium is the ideal place to tell the whole story to your customers. Maybe this story is about your business, or maybe it is about your products, but you want them to read and enjoy it. Add pictures and video, use customer feedback, give background information that the product description does not include. Give as much value you think will get your reader’s excited about so they want your products or to shop your business.

And let us face the facts: your “About Me” and product pages will only generate interest so far. You need something else to keep your business fresh. Even Tweets can get stale when you are only talking and sharing the same information over and over. People’s attention is fleeting, and there are plenty of other “cool” things for them to read and look at. You need to keep grabbing their focus to keep them shopping for your products. Think about a blog post as a method for creating interesting social media material. Use your post to provide a good Tweet and an interesting Pinterest post. Share a blurb about your post with a good image on Facebook. Even using the post to position yourself as a product expert on LinkedIn is an option. When you fail to post and blog, you can guarantee that no one is valuing your content. When you put something out there, who knows who will see it!

Valuable and Engaging Blog Content

Are you still resisting blogging because you do not think you are a good enough writer? Or do you think you just do not have or do not want to dedicate the time to come up with content? Hopefully, the last question is not something you feel because you now understand how valuable blogging can be to your dropshipping business. If it is the first question, do not fear! Keep your posts short, load with video and images, or link to other sites with more information.

Also, do not set the expectation of creating new and engaging content every day. Instead, aim for a new post each week. Choose a variety of interesting topics and make sure you are consistently getting information up on your site. If you are struggling with what to write about, here is a short list of some topics that have shown to generate interest with buyers:

  • Your vision, history, and growth of the business.
  • Special features of various products that you sell.
  • Videos and instructions on how to best use your products.
  • Announce and highlight an upcoming sale.
  • Share events or activities in the community that your products are at or that you are involved in.
  • Offer your advice for complimentary products that you do not sell.
  • Share updates about your company, such as a new mission statement, product selection, or employee advancement.
  • Share industry updates or news, like a new study produced or recall.
  • Interesting news you found online that is not related to your products, but you think your customers will value.
  • A question from your customer and your response to the problem or inquiry.

Content should not be limited to only what you are doing or offering, especially because your customers will value your opinion more when you help them beyond just how to use a new item they bought from you. For example, if you are selling kitchen gadgets and cookware, consider offering recipes that not only use your gadgets but are also a family favorite. Or maybe you are selling graphic t-shirts. Add information on your blog about silly cartoons or characters you enjoy. If you are selling phone cases, talk about how blue light can keep you up at night (and you also happen to sell a phone accessory that helps eliminate the disruption of this light so you can sleep better). After you have done all the research on your niche, sub-niche and products, you should find yourself with more topics to talk about than weeks in the year!

What if you spend all this time and effort on writing up a blog post or two and no one seems to be reading it? Do not stress and keep moving forward with your plan. It will take time to generate SEO and attention to your posts. Also, the content you publish does not vanish after a week online. Something you share a year or two earlier can still bring customers to your site. Maybe your ideas were ahead of their time, and after a few months or a year, thousands of people are viewing your con- tent. The concept of generating sales off of an effort you made a few years ago is pretty attractive!

Final Thoughts

Blogging may not be a direct source of income, although it could be, it can be para- mount to helping generate traffic, customers, and ongoing sales. It is not a passive activity, and something you want to make sure is done well, but the payoff is worth it. Stay patient as you get started and keep posting content. SEO takes time to build, and a steady flow of traffic does not happen overnight. If you find you are still struggling with constantly posting blogs that are interesting to your customers, consider hiring a professional to train you and give you help. You can also con- sider hiring a blogger to write the content for you, but just make sure they have a strong portfolio and can deliver what you need when you need it. Make sure a hired blogger can review your products, know about your company and goals, and can combine keywords and content expertly. Keep it consistent, stick to the plan, and watch as your business blossoms thanks to the money your blogging is making you!

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Several online retailers separate dropshipping and print-on-demand, thinking they cannot do both to run a successful business. On the contrary, you can use print- on-demand to build a profitable dropshipping clothing store, thanks to some savvy skills you can learn and business resources out there. The concept of print-on- de-mand is pretty amazing but does come with its own share of drawbacks. One of the most amazing features? You can ensure you are offering a unique product no one else is promoting. This is your edge that can make you some serious money. Sure, the base product may be the same as others, such as a standard t-shirt or tote bag, but your creativity reigns supreme here, cutting down your competition.

How to be Successful with Print-on-Demand

Setting up an online retail store for clothing does not need to be difficult. In fact, you can cross-sell on multiple platforms, while also selling through your own site using technology like Shopify. Shopify is a popular choice because it is easy to use and has plenty of capability for dropshipping. In addition, it supports apps for print-on-demand, like Printful, Printify, and Inkthreadable. These 3 apps are also the most popular as evidenced by their user ratings and descriptions of their ser- vices. Of course, you need to do your own research to determine the best options for your business. Read on further to learn more ways to be successful with print- on-demand and associated services.

After you decide on a few potential printers, you need to order samples. Do not

skip this part. Despite being able to get a pretty accurate image of a design on a shirt, bag or other product, nothing beats holding that item in your hand and in- specting quality and design. Yes, this means you must pay to have it created and shipped to you, but the risk of not doing this inspection is not worth it. Just be- cause there is a problem with the design and quality, it does not mean you need to find another printer. If something is off on your sample, like the design is mis- aligned or the t-shirt is poorly constructed, you can photograph and send to your rep at the company. Have them address the issue and offer a solution. Maybe it is something that can be fixed, or it is something you will not see eye-to-eye on and will need a new printer. But working with them first can open up the possibility that was not there earlier. Occasionally the sample will show you a flaw in your design. It can happen where your design looks good on the computer, but when it is print- ed some of the details are lost in the process. This sample gives you the oppor- tunity to tweak your design to be exactly what you are looking for.

Keep in mind the margins of print-on-demand versus traditional printing and dropshipping. With print-on-demand, you are paying more per item, especially compared to more traditional printing techniques. But with print-on-demand, you do not need to spend money up front to design, print, stock, and store inventory in hopes of it selling through. Dropshipping is also more profitable, but it is less creative, and these products have more competition. Hence, all 3 options offer a profit but for a trade. And one of those trades for print-on-demand? Shipping times.

Think of this time frame from a customer’s perspective: they place the order with you, it takes 3 days to make the item, and then about 5 days for shipping to their door or they can buy from a competitor and have a similar product on their doorstep in 2 days. Which option do you think they will choose, especially if your prices are comparable? How do you compete then? Well, honesty and personality is the best bet. Be clear with your customers that they are getting something made just for them by a person, not a conglomeration. You are a small business owner trying to make it in this world of Amazon and Wal-mart super sellers. Many customers will be willing to wait it out, again if they are not paying more for it so they can support you as a business and not a big-box retailer. When they connect with you personally, you can win a customer for life who will wait the extra few days for a quality, custom design.

Thankfully, when you are not having to sift through boxes of unsold product in an expensive warehouse, you can spend more time on your business growth and let your customer’s multiply without having to worry about unsold products and lack of space. The printer does everything when they get an order from you so your business can grow organically. And you also get a lot of support from them. Typi- cally, when you place your first order, you get a point of contact. This person is there to answer questions, help with problems and helps you through the process. Most of the time your point of contact will respond to you within 24 hours so they can get things moving fast for you with very little lag time.

As with many good things, you do have to give up more than profits in the process. Giving up control is hard to do, especially when you want everything to be “perfect.” You still need to inspect the quality of designs often, but you do not have the chance to see everything that your customers will get in the mail. You have no control over what happens after you approve a sample. Another slip by the printer reflects poorly on you, not really on them. After all, it is you who they ordered from, not the printer. So be sure to set clear expectations while finalizing the sample and communicate your standards so the printer keeps an eye on control for you so they can retain your business.

Choosing this type of dropshipping model is a pretty awesome and creative outlet for a business. It is far from perfect, and you have to be ok trading control and higher margins for the convenience, but if you leverage it right, you can make some good money. To help with control and margins, remember to be clear and communicate well with your printer and spend the time you are saving on managing inventory and shipping on building your customer base to generate more sales.

How to Choose a Printer

Before you choose a printer, be very clear with yourself about what you what you want to accomplish. Are you looking to add this feature to your website and other dropshipping products? Or do you want to sell your designs on another company’s website? The real money exists on your own website, so this section will focus on the pros and cons of this type of sales. Again, using Shopify for your site is an easy choice for many online retailers, but the printer you integrate with your Shopify is up to you. This is where you need to choose your printer wisely. Three options were mentioned earlier, but here the top 5 options that integrate well with Shopify are reviewed for you to help with your decision process:

  1. Inkthreadable
  2. Printful
  3. Printify
  4. Print Aura
  5. Teelaunch

This supplier and fulfillment service is one of the leaders in the UK and is amazing. They can service UK-based sites well, but also works well internationally. They are not the most well-known options available, but they have a strong customer base. They focus on providing you with efficient service, excellent customer service, and open communication. They offer a good variety of products to choose from, and their prices are comparable, but more on the pricier end.

  • Single shirt cost on average: $13 to $21
  • Single shirt shipping options: 3-day processing, up to $7.75

Highlights:

  • For the UK or EU based business, this printer offers the best pricing and shipping.
  • A large selection to choose from.
  • The team is small and dedicated to offering quality services to their customers.
  • Communication is important to their business model, so they offer things like a 12-hour support line to make it easier for their customers.
  • Shipping is affordable and fast, especially for orders outside of the US.

This printer is one of the most popular in the business. They have over 600 reviews and a strong 5-star rating. The comments focus on the quality customer service, good integration with Shopify, and the refinement of their interface. Their range of products is also extraordinary. No matter what you want to offer, they can almost guarantee a selection of products for you and always stand behind a quality print.

Printful is also known for keeping the setup and operations easy for you and your customers. You can save a lot of time and headache by using such a trusted and refined app on your Shopify site.

  • Single shirt cost on average: $12 to $18
  • Single shirt shipping options: 2–7 day processing, up to $10

Highlights:

In addition to offering printing services, Printful also offers an in-house design team to create professional designs and photography, sample discounts, an accurate generator to mock-up your designs, and a blog with helpful resources and tips. While there are many benefits to working with Printful, it is best for a brand that is well-established rather than an up-and-comer. This is because costs are high and margins are lower, so mistakes cost more during the start-up phase.

Another major player in the print-on-demand business is Printify. They also have a good number of reviews and 5 stars. They also focus on customer service and quality, but their product selection is more limited. This is a great place for a newer business to start because there is still a wide enough selection with a good enough margin. Another selling feature is that the printing is done in the US, so if having products made in the USA is important to your business model, they are a great company to go with. Or, if you are targeting the US market, you can be sure that shipping is faster in the US with Printify than other options, like Inkthreadable.

  • Single shirt cost on average: $13 to $16
  • Single shirt shipping options: 2–3 day processing, up to $6

Highlights:

Customer service is the main business focus on Printify. They have built their reputation on it. They try to respond quickly and make their customers happy. In addition, they offer fast processing of good-quality products. Even though the range of products is less than Printiful, the standards of quality are high. In addi- tion, they offer some of the most affordable shipping options, including worldwide. Finally, the profit margins are slightly higher than Printiful, making it a more attrac- tive option, especially for new companies.

A relatively new printer is Print Aura. Their rating average is not as high as some of the other options, showing as 4 out of 5 stars, but they only have a few reviews. They are still a small company, so their prices are more competitive, but they do have a good selection of products. In addition to the “standard: products, Print Aura offers additional, unique options to choose from, like sunglasses and hats you can have embroidered. Quality is also good, making them a strong rival to the bigger companies like Printful and Teelaunch. In addition to the good products and reasonable prices, you also can get services like return shipping labels, customized shipping slips, removal of tags, and application of brand-specific tags.

  • Single shirt cost on average: $10 to $13
  • Single shirt shipping options: 3–5 day processing, up to $12

Highlights:

Clearly, the competitive pricing and excellent product selection are some of the highlights of Print Aura. They also offer a feature on their site to help you deter- mine the base price for a design. Brand awareness services, while for an additional fee, are also unique and beneficial. Be cautious though, this is a newer company with only a few reviews. While most of them are positive, praising the customer service, there are also negative comments worth looking at. Talk to a representative first, order a sample, and see for yourself how the interaction plays out. If you feel it is worth trying, start with a small selection before diving in headfirst. It pays to be cautious when you are putting your brand and business reputation on the line with their products.

The final print-on-demand supplier that is worth considering is Teelaunch. This printer is also not as popular as some of the larger printers, but they do have 5- stars and a fair amount of reviews. Most of the comments center on the integration of the app and the simple service application. The website to order from is not very impressive, but it is because they value simplicity. On their site, you will find an acceptable range of products, and they also include rare items like yoga mats, for a fair price.

  • Single shirt cost on average: $8 to $11
  • Single shirt shipping options: 3–5 day processing, up to $10

Highlights:

While the range of products is not extensive, and there are only a few clothing options to select from, you can appreciate their simple and profit-driven approach. They offer the best prices around while still providing good quality so you can boost your margins. In addition, many of the reviews highlight the excellent customer service they received during their interaction with the company. Theirs stripped down, and simple approach means it is easy to use their app, even for new businesses.

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After you create your website’s homepage, the product page is the next most important part of your site. In fact, some dropshippers make this page their home- page! The goal of the product page is to turn those that have clicked onto your site from lookers to shoppers. In addition to having an attractive appearance, all the relevant information needs to be right there for your potential customers to decide. “Relevant information” can include a few different things and “attractive listing” can be successful in various ways. This chapter focuses on how you can maximize your product listings to make the most money for your business.

The Product Description

Objective, concise, and “scannable”: these are the 3 words Nielsen Norman Group used to describe the most effective descriptions written for online products. In fact, using these adjectives to form your descriptions can cause a 124% improvement of usability. “Objective” stresses the importance of being honest about the benefits of the product and not become caught in the trap of exaggerating to make it sound better than it is. “Concise” refers to the length of the description. It should be no more than 4 sentences long. “Scannable” means using bullet points with some information so the browser can read it quickly. Make sure that you give enough information to inform your customer but keep it relevant. In addition, it is a good practice to keep the same format and relatively similar content for each listing. For example, each product has 3 bullet points; all with the gender it is intended for, outfit pairing ideas, and fabrication.

Creating a powerful description can fill the gaps a picture cannot. It is the opportunity to educate and offer solutions. It also goes a long way in creating trust, increasing sales, and lowering returns. Thus, each word you use in your descrip- tion is powerful, and you should treat it as such. If you are not a strong writer or are intimidated by creating this content, consider using a template or hiring some- one to help you. Below are more suggestions on how to create value-added de- scriptions to your product pages:

Encourage action and capture your audience by using David Ogilvy’s most influential words, including:

  • Hurry
  • Quick
  • Magic
  • Miracle
  • Revolutionary
  • Sensational
  • Amazing
  • Introducing
  • Announcing
  • Now
  • Suddenly

These can appear in the description, a headline, the subject line of an email or other locations, but using them can persuade action and conversion. Other words can do the opposite. Unbounce suggests avoiding words and phrases such as:

•Ultimate

•Stunning

•Innovative

•Breakthrough

•Market leading

These are especially harmful if you use them and they are not true. Your cus- tomer will lose trust in your business and look elsewhere. Honesty and trans- parency are critical. Do not market the product as one thing and then reveal it as another. Do not claim something is high quality when you have complaints about it. Putting this information in the description will not necessarily hurt your sales; on the other hand, it will most likely make a more loyal customer. However, hon- esty does not mean only talking about the “bad” aspects of the products. Instead, it means you are highlighting the great ones. For example, if the quality of the mate- rial is the important factor in setting the price, make sure to stress this in the de- scription. Another successful method for writing a strong description is to bring your customers into the product description. You can do this by using “You” state- ments. For example, “You will feel…” or “You can expect….”Another suggestion is to make the description relatable by being causal. Use contractions like “you’d” or “you’re” instead of “you would” or “you are.”

  1. Do not use the supplier’s description. Write your own content. This way it can be cohesive with your brand and the other products you are selling. In addition, you can fill in the gaps that the supplier left out.
  2. Target your audience. If you are targeting customers that have a silly sense of humor, make your descriptions match their interests. If you are selling technology, use tech terms and be more serious.
  3. Inject keywords into your description. Keep the words relevant, but use themto also increase your SEO. Using On-Page SEO Checker can help make sure you have included good words in the description.
  4. Check your work. Read your description out loud to see how it sounds. Make sure it tells a story or solves a problem for your customer. Check for typos and spelling mistakes. Consider copying and pasting it into the web- site Grammarly to catch things your eyes do not see.
  5. Share the relevant details. Give your customers all the information they need

to make the purchase. This includes sizing information, fabrication, included and not included pieces, and specs.

If you are having trouble coming up with a copy, consider the following bullet points:

  • Compliment your customer for looking at the particular product.
  • Highlight details of the product.
  • Give an easy-to-follow recommendation

For example, if you are selling mermaid hair combs, consider the following: “Just like this mermaid hair comb, you’re unique. Made with integrated mermaid colors and a sturdy fishtail handle means you will be able to use this for a long time. Pair this comb with our mermaid hair gel to complete your aquatic look.”

This process takes patience and money, but it is worth it if you struggle writing a description that sells. Check out websites like Guru, Fiverr, or ProBlogger to vet de- scription writers. When you are considering a potential writer, look at their reviews, their example work, and previous clients to get an idea of what they are capable of. It is also ok to try out a writer with different formats for products to see which sells best and how you want to use them. Just because the template you gave them does not work well does not mean that they are the problem. Trust them to help guide you to the best layout for your audience and products.

The Product Images

One of the next most important parts of the product listing are the images of your product for sale. When you dropship, you do not have the physical inventory on hand. Hence, unless you buy samples and retake photos with those, you need to use the stock images that the shipper provides. Many suppliers who work with dropshippers provide images you can use on your website, but there can be problems with this method. For example, sometimes the images are not the same for each product you carry, or the quality is low. You will want to retake low-quality photos or make sure each product you list has the same look and feel to its im- ages. Taking the time to do this helps separate you from the other dropshippers out there, and you can stay consistent with your brand image.

If you decide to use the images provided, do not upload the image until you have edited in Photoshop or another photo editing software. Chances are that the supplier has their logo stamped somewhere on the photo. Remove this before uploading the image to your store. Change the background color to white, if it is anything but a scenic background. If some images are shot with a background while others are on a white background, consider editing the background out, so all our images are consistent and uniform. Again, uniformity and high-quality images are important to the sales of your products.

The number of images you have for each product is dependent on the product you are selling, but in general, you want a few photos showing the angles of the product. For instance, show customer’s the top and front of something at the minimum, so they feel more connected to the product. Another excellent idea is to have the customer’s upload his or her own photos in the review section. This way other buyers can see a “real” image of what the product looks like. Limit this to no more than 4 images.

For fashion products, especially clothing, make sure a size chart with measurements is available. This allows customers to ensure fit before purchase and makes them more confident in the transaction. With fashion and many other detailed products, create a zoom function to allow customers to get a closer look at the image. Sometimes the print is small, or the product has a tiny design feature, that the customer would like to see before buying. Finally, some dropshippers have found success posting videos of their products. After a customer views a product’s video, they are between 60–80% more likely to purchase, according to the blog, Kissmetrics. This increase can make it worth your time.

How to Build Urgency

When a browser is worried they will miss out on the product and price because it is scarce, you have created a sense of urgency. When a customer feels that the purchase needs to be made soon, you can boost sales by over 330% and boost your browser-to-buyer conversion rate as well, according to Conversion XL. One method for creating a sense of urgency is to hold a sale and post a countdown on the site. This way your customers can see the ticking away of their opportunity to buy the great product they have their eye on for an amazing price. You can use a timer that displays a countdown on your site by installing an app like Yousef Kha- lidi’s Hurrify. Adding in a text to the timer that indicates limited quantities remain in stock creates the sense of scarcity. Playing around with urgent and scarce mes- sages to find options that work best for converting casual browsers to instant buy- ers is worth your time!

Create an Intuitive Layout

Even if a browser does not speak your language (or the language of your site), they should be able to find their way around with ease. Keep your layout out general and intuitive. This is one area of your business you do not want to get creative about. Stay simple and practical. For example, when a customer is looking at a product, the image appears on the left side of their screen. On the right are the description and a “Buy” button. Always make sure your customers can see the “Add to Cart” button while they are browsing. The theme of your store should be interesting but not vastly different from your competition, especially when it comes to your product pages. You hear a lot of advice about “standing out” or “breaking the mold,” but that is bad advice when you are looking at your product pages. Again, “funky” is not a good adjective you want customers to use when describing their shopping experience with you. If you use Shopify, look at the “Vintage” theme. This is a common layout that includes many of the desired features.

Include Social Media Sharing Icons, Sometimes

Having a popular product you have on your site shared across various social platforms for shoppers can be amazing for your business, but not all the time. Try it out and then take it away and see what is better for your conversions. When a pop- ular online business, VWO, tried this, they found that there were almost 12% more clicks and call-to-action without the social share buttons. It is possible that it is linked to how often the social buttons are used. If you do not have with the social buttons you can actually hurt your conversions more than help and vice versa. For example, when Kuno Creative tested the use of the buttons, they found that when a page is shared over 500 times, the conversion rate could increase by 7%. There- fore, it could be best for new stores to do without social sharing option. Mean- while, more established stores with a larger audience could benefit from them. Obviously, there will be some trial and error, but do not be afraid to keep tweaking to find the best options for your business.

Provide Shipping Details

Offering prominent incentives for orders in a particular country or over a certain dollar amount can help customers get a quick and clear understanding of shipping policies early in their browsing experience. Include a concise statement about shipping on the product page, so the customer does not have to leave the page to get details. By doing this, you increase the opportunity for customers to add more products to their shopping carts.

Make a Spot for Customer Reviews

This is a critical part of your product page. As you drive more traffic to your prod- uct listings, the extra push for the sale will come from browsers reading the other reviews from customers, and it does not require you to do anything additional! Having a few good reviews on a product can boost your conversion rate as much as 76%, according to Internet Retailer. Customers trust the reviews of other cus- tomers 12 times more than the description you provide, according to eMarketer. As long as your reviews are mostly positive, you can expect the customer reviews to only help your sales. To increase the likelihood of a review after purchase, consider adding on an app like Product Reviews. This immediately sends a message to the customer asking for a review of their purchase. It requires minimal effort on your part but maximum return.

Create a Place for “Recommended” Items

This is another feature you can offer on your product pages, but it is worth testing out to see how it converts for you. Some customers enjoy having suggested products, and they stay longer on your website looking at additional options. Instead of just having suggested items at the bottom of the page that you haphazardly throw on there, and you are taking your own photos of your products, consider having a model wear several of your products in an image and include those below to help the customer recreate the look. Make sure that your recommendations are not identical or very similar to the product they are originally looking at. This strategy creates confusion and lowers sales. Instead, the products you recommend should be complementary and different. A simple method for creating a good suggestion for fashion items is to choose jewelry or accessories for tops or dresses, and blouses and sweaters for bottoms, or a different category than the one being viewed.

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As you continue to develop your dropshipping business, you will begin to “hit a wall,” meaning your conversion is not improving. Sometimes this happens early in the process and sometimes later, but it typically happens after you have tried out a variety of solutions to increase conversion rates and now nothing seems to make a dent. This usually happens when you need to step back and review your strategy for your sales funnels. Maybe you need to offer a popular item at a discount. Maybe you have a suggestion for an add-on. As you begin to reassess your strat- egy, you may find some techniques you were employing are not necessary and identify other areas you could improve.

To begin, you need to understand what a “sales funnel” is. Think of this as the path you have forged for your browsers to follow, turning them into customers. It is a series of steps they go through until they take action, ideally turning them into buyers. Creating a good “map” for them increases your conversion rates because it can be catered to your customers based on your company and products. Lacking this structure means your leads are not managed well. They get to your site but then are unsure where to go next. Maybe you enticed them by an offer in an ad, but when they get to your site, they do not see the offer promoted. Therefore, your messaging and layout need to be simple, clear, and cohesive. This 4-step process is important to convert the traffic you have driven to your site.

The 4 Steps of the Sales Funnel

The following steps are critical to the sales funnel. While your funnel may take different twists and turns based on your audience, it should still retain the following components.

Step 1: Generate Traffic

Future customers first need to be attracted to your site. Increasing sales is a result of the awareness raised for your products and business. There are many ways to generate traffic. Some of the most conventional include; content marketing, SEO, and paid ads. Content marketing can be created through your blog that you then use to promote on social platforms. Doing this effectively can engage your social audience and drive them to your site. In addition to your own blog, you can be a guest blogger and contribute content to another site, ideally engaging and driving the other blog’s audience to your site as well. Even creating an infographic and sharing it on different sites and pages can help create interest and drive customers to you.

SEO is less obvious to your audience but is as powerful, if not more. You want people to be able to find you in a search engine when they search for certain key- words or phrases. To do this, you need to have these words in your posts, pages, and site. Choose words and phrases that have less competition but are still rank high for your business and products. Also, place backlinks in blogs you write for other sites, so you increase your “Domain Authority,” helping you improve your ranking in the search lists.

Generating traffic organically through content marketing and SEO is hard and time-consuming. If you want to get your business in front of people right away, you can use a paid advertisement to get you there. “Paid Per Click” campaigns and social platform ad campaigns are common methods used to help you get in front of your target audience. The challenge with a paid ad is that it will increase traffic but not necessarily conversions, so your next step needs to be strong if you use this method.

Step 2: Converting Leads

When a potential customer comes to your site and determines your products and business are valuable to them, you can convert them from browsing to buying. The best way to do this is to teach your customer about the benefits your services or products provide. Now that they are learning more about you, you want them to be interested and turning into workable leads. From here you want them to take some sort of action. Sometimes this is making an immediate purchase, but you may want them to do something else, like sign up for your email list or download a free book. To create this action, consider the following:

  • Landing Pages: As traffic enters your site they need to land on a page that is relevant to where they are coming from and what they are interested in. When they get to the page, they should immediately be educated about your offer, services, or products. In addition to the content, it should be visually appeal- ing and clear. The main components of a successful landing page include a headline that catches the audience’s attention, a proposition that is valuable and compelling, and a “call to action” that is effective.
  • Reviews and Testimonials: Customers trust other customers over a business, especially when it comes to describing the product being sold. They want to know what it is “really” like, not what your business says it is. Giving browsers the “proof” that you live up to your claims by allowing reviews and testi- monials is a great way to convert leads. When customers support your review of the product potential buyers are more trusting of you. Having product re- views on product pages is a good start, but adding some of the best reviews on your landing and the home page is a great idea, as well. Opening the op- tion of photos uploaded by customers is another good way to show potential buyers that it comes as you advertise it, both in writing and in the photog- raphy. If you are establishing your business as an industry leader that works with big-name clients, add customer logos on your site to show “social proof” that you are delivering what you say you are to the people you claim are your customers.
  • Lead Magnets and Offers: This is a critical step for converting leads. Offer something in exchange for information, like an email address. For example, when someone gives you their contact information you send them a free e- book or infographic. Many retail sites offer a discount for first-time subscribers. Consider displaying this magnet on your home and landing pages or as an overlay with the offer. This method allows your visitor to see one thing at a time.

Step 3: Nurture the Leads

Once a visitor turns into a working lead, you need to build and maintain a relationship with them. Nurturing your leads is over 80% more successful than not nurturing them, according to Salesforce Pardot. To nurture an online shopper, consider implementing the following:

  • Thank You, Page: When someone claims your offer magnet, make sure they see a thank you page. Use this as an opportunity to attract them with other services or products you offer that could interest the lead. On this page you can add more magnets, like subscribing to your blog will get them a discount code. Whatever you decide to include on this thank you page should be aimed at leaving a positive impression on the lead.
  • Emails with Reminders: Sending periodic messages to your leads about upcoming promotions or sales can gently remind them to come back to you. Or, if they received a discount code for your site and it has not been used, you can nudge them by reminding them of its expiration date. When you post a new blog article, send the link and a highlight to them. Ideally, you want them to re-engage with your site.
  • Re-target Ads: If a lead left your site prior to taking action, try to re-target ads for them. It is possible that they viewed a product, and maybe even added it to their shopping cart, but did not complete the transaction. Place an ad on a social media platform with this product and complimentary items. If you have their contact information, consider emailing a reminder that there are items still in their cart. If you think a customer leaves your site because of price, consider promoting a discount or sale.

Step 4: Build Loyal Customers

Over 40% of your revenue is because of repeat and loyal customers, according to Adobe, but most businesses fail to recognize the power of building a loyal base. In- stead, they target new leads and converting them into new sales. If you fail to recognize this crucial step, you will focus a lot of energy constantly building your funnel instead of having it fill itself. Taking action after a purchase can build your loyal base and momentum over time.

  • Follow Up: Look for feedback. Make sure the customer is happy with their purchase. Find out if something did not meet their expectations and work to fix any issues as fast as possible. Take the hit and refund the cost of the pur- chase, if you need to. The cost of losing a loyal customer is more than their purchase, typically. You want them to feel valued and trust your business. This communication makes sure the customer is also still in touch.
  • Create a Rewards Program: A customer is more likely to become a frequent shopper when you offer them a rewards program. Link several repeat actions to the reward of free product, discounts, or early access to new inventory. Some rewards programs are not free but are a paid “VIP” program that gets you access to benefits like free shipping. Amazon Prime is a good example of this type of paid rewards service.
  • Referral Rewards: Word-of-mouth is a free form of advertising, and it is the most effective. But this only comes when you have a loyal customer that is happy with their purchases from you. If they have 1 or more positive experi- ences with your business they are more willing to tell their family and friends about your company. They are even more likely when you offer them some- thing attractive for their referrals. Give a discount, product credit, free prod- ucts, or access to special releases for their support.

Building Your Sales Funnel on Your Product Page

For dropshippers, your product page is the primary sales funnel location. Most of your action requires your customers to purchase your products. This is the page where that happens. If you consider your product page as your virtual sales associate, you want to “train” it be the best in the business. On this page, you will educate your customers about your products, offer “social proof,” outline the benefits and features, and establish trust. You can make small changes to your product pages to get the most out of them.

A good structure with a clean display is important. The title of the page should give the viewer an idea of what the product is about. The images should be high quality with a white background. All of this makes the majority of customers comfortable looking at your products.

If you are selling a product that is unique or unusual, customers may be hesitant to dive into the call to action and purchase. In these scenarios, they can turn to the FAQ, or “Frequently Asked Questions,” to learn more about the product. The idea is to get them to stop hesitating and move to the purchase. According to Opti- mizely, a company can improve conversion by almost 70% when they added this one section to their product pages. To create an effective FAQ section, review all the questions you think customers have about the product and the questions you have received about it and create a list of responses to each one that will answer and inspire the viewer. This strategy also helps you by decreasing the number of questions you will receive about products. Depending on what and how many products you are selling you can have an FAQ section on the product page landing page or in each individual product or both. Shopify has many solutions available for this functionality.

Forrester conducted a study on Wells Fargo when they added the “Live Chat” feature to their website. The results showed a two-digit conversion improvement. This gives the customers the ability to get immediate and easy answers to their questions. They do not need to scroll through the product description and FAQ’s to find the information. Someone can answer it instantly and help them make up their mind. Also, offering this feature helps build trust with your customers. They will see that you are accessible should they need something. It also indicates you care about your business and customers. If you don’t like live chats, then you can al- ways leave an email for your customers to ask questions. You should encourage the questions. Sometimes Live Chat options look spammy and robotic.

If your product is backed or certified by an organization, you need to show it proudly. Of course, you can write is in the description, but a well-placed and clean graphic is more powerful to your viewer. Chances are if a viewer is looking for a certain product they will know about this badge and will be more likely to purchase from you when they know they are getting something they trust.

Define a return policy and a satisfaction policy. Do not hide this information from your customer. Showcase your policy to your viewers to let them know you stand behind your business and products, and it will build instant trust. They become more confident in their purchase decision. If you are struggling with what to implement or check first, consider testing a few options and observe how they convert. Do not just assume you know what your customer will do. Sometimes they will surprise you! After all, everyone is dif- ferent. However, try out different techniques that are focused on generating, con- verting, and keeping customers. See how it works and tweak it and when it is necessary.

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Customer service is a simple concept: Listen to your customers and try to work things out, so they are happy. But it is a challenge in the application: you are also concerned about your margins and sales. If you can keep customer service simple, you will build a better reputation. This is your business; customer service is the soul of it. Take pride in what you do and stand behind what you are offering, even if it means it costs you a bit to keep a customer happy.

Now in the age of technology and constant online improvements, customer contact is easier than ever. But with these improvements and advances comes the challenge of differentiation among the competition. According to an interview with several successful dropshipping business owners, customer service is the key. The reputation you build based on how you treat your customers is important. Not only does it create the foundation of your business, it also helps it grow and succeed. Letting go of several traditional responsibilities, like inventory management, frees up your time to focus on your customer and also highlights your ability to com- pletely control your interactions with them. In fact, this is the one area you have the most control.

The best way to control your customer service is to focus on the customer. To do this, most of your decisions should be for their benefit. For example, your logis- tics need to be aligned with their needs and to plan accordingly. A customer will not return to you because of a bad experience, but you will not (necessarily) stop buying from the supplier that messed up the order. The negative review will reflect poorly on you, not on the supplier. To mitigate this risk, you should anticipate what could potentially go wrong and come up with countermeasures. Here are some common logistical situations:

  • Your supplier is on vacation
  • The shipment arrived in poor packaging
  • The order was delayed because the supplier used the wrong delivery provider
  • The customer received the wrong item
  • Inventory ran out, but you were not notified in time

Of course, there are more problems that can arise, but thinking about as many early on as possible, and adding to the list as new things come up, can help you prepare a response to handle it. Ideally, your response will be to the benefit of the customer, so they continue to shop with you even if they had one bad experience.

Review What You Offer and Share Your Reviews

Part of good customer service is looking at things from the perspective of the customer. Before you even go live with your site or product listings, walk through all of your online offerings to try them out as a customer. If you have employees assisting you in your business, have them do the same thing. Scrutinize your presence. Consider how a customer interacts with your website, how fast you can respond to a question or complaint, how the process of making a purchase feels, any technical problems that pop up during the test, and how the shipping, return, and refund policies sound. Of course, there are other items you will test from the customer’s point of view, such as what is provided by the supplier. Hence, that if you wanted to purchase an item, does the inventory reflect what the supplier actually has in stock? When you placed the order, did you get a tracking number quickly? Was your item shipped and delivered in the stated time frame? How did the package arrive? Was it in a good box or bag? Where all the additional marketing or free products included? Was it in anticipated condition? If there was a problem, could you contact the supplier and did they respond in a timely manner to your inquiry or complaint?

These questions are not just what a customer interacts with, but some of the “behind the scene” steps and considerations are important to making their expe- rience more streamlined. It also helps you feel confident you can handle any prob- lem in a speedy manner with the supplier. It is about staying ahead of your cus- tomer and anticipating situations. Customer service should never be put on “au- topilot.” Think about engaging your customer before they have a chance to engage you with a problem. For example, if you recognize that an order has not shipped and it should have, you know it will cause a delay in delivery. Before the customer knows that this is happening, contact them to alert them of the delay. Send a personal message to build trust and put a virtual face with your business name.

When you have good and bad customer experiences, you can use the feedback to your advantage. Showcasing positive reviews is a great way for customers to feel they can trust you to deliver what you claim, but how you handle the negative situa- tions can also speak as loud. For example, if someone leaves a negative review, and you respond with their best interest in mind, other customers can see that you are active in making each transaction a positive experience, even when mistakes happen. Make sure an active part of your customer service is getting reviews and feedback. Show the great reviews prominently. Even a positive write up on another website or publications is a review worth sharing!

If you are now questioning how you are going to manage this on your own, you are thinking correctly. Dropshipping takes a lot of the traditional risks and re- sponsibilities away, but you still need to think business development, marketing, and customer service, among other things. That is a lot for one person to handle on your own. Sure, people can run a 7 figure business as a 1 man show, but it is not common. Instead, you may want to start looking into outsourcing tasks. Even customer service can be outsourced, if you are smart about it.

Outsourcing Customer Service

As you start your dropshipping business, you will love the questions that start flooding your inbox. After all, these questions indicate people are looking at your business and are curious. And you will see a correlation between those that ask questions and sales. But as your business grows you will recognize some of the most common questions that are asked over and over again. Sending a response to these inquiries can suck your time and energy fast. Do not fall into the trap of hiring a virtual assistant to give a pre-written answer to these questions. Your customers will feel that personalization. But do think about optimizing online support. Doing this well allows you to satisfy your customers well and free up your time to continue to grow your business. The suggestions that follow are some of the top techniques for optimizing online support and keeping your communication positive with your customers.

Your Expectations are Clear

Do not ignore your customers, and do not let them think you are ignoring them. If they think you are not answering their question they can go wild. Some disgruntled customers will take to the internet to spread the word about your perceived behav- ior and send a series of emails and leave several voicemails asking for urgent com- munication. This type of customer experience means you are losing current and potential customers like crazy. Your reputation is harmed, even if it is just because of the perception of the customer and not the reality. To help prevent this, let your customer know right away how long it can take for a response. If you are not able to reply within the same day to a question or complaint, give them a time frame, such as 48 hours. Always give the customer an estimate that is more time than you need to reply. This way, when you reply faster than what you told them, you appear more efficient. It is a good way to mitigate the risk of the “wild customer” situation.

Relevant Information is Available

New dropshippers often worry that they will not get customers if they are upfront about their products being made and shipped from Asian countries. They want to look like they are a traditional store or a big box retailer. Lies upon lies are told to the customers, and when the shipping time takes longer than usual, they are left trying to cover it up and maintain their deception. This is not a good approach. In- stead, make relevant information available where your customers can see it. Hon- esty is what builds trust and being transparent about your business is a great way to showcase your honesty.

When You Contact or Reply, FAQ’s are Included

A commercial email is 3 times less likely to be opened than an email that is sent based on a transaction. Despite this powerful statistic, many dropshippers do not take advantage of this opportunity to help build customer relationships. Think about questions your customers will have when they interact with your site and in what email communication you can include an answer:

Question: “What is the approximate length of time for a delivery?”

Email Template: Account creation and welcome message. Consider including other general questions a customer may have about your specific products or business. For example, if you sell fashion items, consider including a sizing chart or place of manufacture/ fabric content.

Question: “When will my order be shipped?”

Email Template: Confirmation of order. Make sure to also include an order number and list of items purchased for their reference.

Question: “After my order shipped, where is it at and when will it arrive?”

Email Template: Confirmation of shipping. Include the tracking number for the shipping provider and the estimated date of delivery. The shipping provider sometimes also includes this information, but if it is not, you should add it in this message. The shipping number is more of a formality than any- thing, what your customers really want is to be able to find their shipment and watch its progress. To help customers find this easier, add a “track your ship- ment” button they can click to get updated information on the status of the shipment.

Question: “If I am not satisfied, how do I return my item?”

Email Template: Confirmation of delivery. Include the details of your return policy and clear steps on how the customer can return the item or items. Keep the process simple and easy as possible. In addition to including the FAQ’s that most customers will have, these emails are an opportunity to upsell, cross-sell, and request a review or social share. Do not let this opportunity pass you by. It is worth adding a few additional marketing messages in there to encourage a loyal customer to shop again.

You will respond to the same questions over and over again. You will retype similar answers and feel like you are on repeat. To save yourself time and a headache, most likely you will craft an excellent response to the question and save it to use as a response template. But beware! Do not just fire off the template when you skim an email from a customer. This is not the way to build a valuable relationship. Instead, use them just for what they are called: a template.

A quality template will have a standard layout. It all begins with a pleasant introduction. Make sure to have a place for the customer’s name and a friendly greeting. The next part of the email should answer their question in detail. Thus, you must read their initial question thoroughly, so you make sure you answer it well. In this section, you should have images or screenshots to show the customer the steps or process to follow. You can also provide a link to your FAQ page. Finally, close the email with a customer-focused closing.

Customers Can Talk With One Another

Sometimes a customer’s question or problem is unique, so it does not warrant a spot on your FAQ page, but you do not want the answer to getting lost. You want someone else with a similar problem to having the opportunity to get an answer. Or maybe a customer wants to find out from your other customers their experience with using one of your products. There are a variety of solutions to provide this to your customers. Even as a small start-up it is a good practice to have a place cus- tomers can go to chat. Consider opening a Facebook group or Community Forum page on your website. You can also prompt a Twitter dialogue. Monitor the page to help answer questions or provide input, but allow other customers the chance to put their input in as well. Maybe they have tips and tricks to share on how something works best that you did not know about. Or they used in conjunction with another one of your products. This is a public place to ask and find answers to out of the ordinary situations that can help other customers in the future.

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If you can make $40 on a $1 marketing investment, would you do it? If you said “yes,” you need to maximize your email marketing strategy. If you said “no,” you also need to maximize your email marketing strategy and share your secrets to making marketing investments that have a higher return and are as simple to gen- erate. Email marketing recipients are more likely to respond than almost any other form of online marketing, plus they tend to buy more than any other customer source. There really is no question that email marketing is a powerful tool to your success. But it needs to be a good mix to be successful. Just like baking, mixing up one ingredient can result in a salty lump of inedible nonsense or an award-winning chocolate chip cookie. You are working with incentives, forms for customers to sign up, and content customer’s value.

When you understand the 3 ingredients, you then need to learn the recipe of how to put them together to get customers to sign up for your marketing list and also purchase from your business. The aim is the chocolate chip cookie (someone that signs up on your list) that wins the blue ribbon at the state fair (the customer makes a purchase).

Select the Best Incentive for Signing Up

Consider this your “bribe” for a customer signing up for your email list. If you are in retail, maybe you offer a percentage or dollar amount off their first purchase. When someone provides their email address, they understand that they are being added to a mailing list. They are giving you permission to send messages to you in the future. What you offer them needs to be worth their inbox space. Make it compelling. Consider offering more than just a first-time only discount. You do not want them to get the discount code and then immediately remove their name from your list! Instead, include additional benefits like access to member-only sales or access to sales before the “general public.”

You do not need to only offer financial compensation to get customers on your list. Consider offering content that is valuable to your audience, and that gets them thinking about making a purchase. For example, retailers can offer a seasonal shopping guide with the latest trends or a free download of a book chapter or video. For more ideas and help, you can download or sign up for services through companies like ViralSweep and Incentivibe.

Build Your List In Multiple Locations

Do not just put a “Sign up for our newsletter” button on your homepage and hope customers click on it. Create a “squeeze” page for customers to land on from mul- tiple locations that have one purpose: get them to sign up for your mailing list. This page has a catchy headline, a little information or video about the incentive for signing up, and a form to opt-in. Do not put any other information on this page; you do not want your customers distracted from signing up. After you have this “squeeze” page created, add a link to social profiles, in ads on Facebook, in blog posts, in the signature of your emails, and anywhere else you can think of.

Use a Service to Help Keep Your List Clean

Using a pre-made email list software provider is an easy way to get your link around your site and online locations, and stores it neatly for your use. Several popular services include:

  • Mailer Lite
  • MailChimp
  • Aweber
  • Constant Contact
  • Campaign Monitor

  • Navigation- Add a button with one of the following words: “Sign Up,” “Get
  • Updates,” “Get Your Free Guide,” or “Join.”
  • Header- Similar to the navigation bar, keep the text simple and easy.
  • Sidebar- Write 1 sentence about the incentive you are offering and have a name and email field for the person to fill out and submit. Again, keep it simple.
  • “About” page- After you hype them up about you and your business include the opt-in form so they can stay in touch. Here you can write a few sentences about why they will benefit from signing up.
  • End of a blog post- If someone reads your post to the very end, you have successfully captured their attention. Congratulations! Now use that win to get them to take action and sign up for more of your compelling content. Give them a clear method for getting more by including a simple link or button for them to provide their email address.
  • Footer- If they missed it in all the other areas but have the interest enough to scroll to the bottom of your site, make sure they have a button to click on for opting in. Model it like the navigation or header button with a simple word or phrase.
  • At checkout- When a customer makes a purchase have an option to sign up for your mailing list as part of the checkout process. Have the box already checked, therefore requiring the customer to uncheck the box if they do not want to sign up.

Keep in Contact Now that you have people signing up for your mailing list, you need to keep in con- tact. Do not wait for months to send an email to them. You do not want them to forget how awesome your business is! Send a consistent newsletter every month or so, alerting them of updates and new products. This is also an opportunity to share recent blog posts or industry-related information. Of course, this only works if you have updated information on a consistent basis. Another option is to send a series of emails. You can create an autoresponder series of “responses” on a certain schedule to help educate and engage your new customer. The primary email your customer should receive is the incentive you offered. A few days after they should receive a follow-up email that asks how they liked the incentive. A few days after that another email should be sent that shares information about other services or products that they may be interested based on their interest in the incentive. The beauty of this second option is that once you create it, you can basically let it work for itself. You do not have to think much about it except for when you update your

around your site and online locations, and stores it neatly for your use. Several popular services include:

  • Mailer Lite
  • MailChimp
  • Aweber
  • Constant Contact
  • Campaign Monitor

Where to Place Your Opt-in Forms on Your Website

  • Navigation- Add a button with one of the following words: Sign Up, Get Updates, Get Your Free Guide, or Join.
  • Header- Similar to the navigation bar, keep the text simple and easy.
  • Sidebar- Write 1 sentence about the incentive you are offering and have a name and email field for the person to fill out and submit. Again, keep it simple.
  • About page- After you hype them up about you and your business include the opt-in form so they can stay in touch. Here you can write a few sentences about why they will benefit from signing up.
  • End of a blog post- If someone reads your post to the very end, you have successfully captured their attention. Congratulations! Now use that win to get them to take action and sign up for more of your compelling content. Give them a clear method for getting more by including a simple link or button for them to provide their email address.
  • Footer- If they missed it in all the other areas but have the interest enough to scroll to the bottom of your site, make sure they have a button to click on for opting in. Model it like the navigation or header button with a simple word or phrase.
  • At checkout- When a customer makes a purchase have an option to sign up for your mailing list as part of the checkout process. Have the box already checked, therefore requiring the customer to uncheck the box if they do not want to sign up.

Keep in Contact

Now that you have people signing up for your mailing list, you need to keep in contact. Do not wait for months to send an email to them. You do not want them to forget how awesome your business is! Send a consistent newsletter every month or so, alerting them of updates and new products. This is also an opportunity to share recent blog posts or industry-related information. Of course, this only works if you have updated information on a consistent basis. Another option is to send a series of emails. You can create an autoresponder series of responses on a certain schedule to help educate and engage your new customer. The primary email your customer should receive is the incentive you offered. A few days after they should receive a follow-up email that asks how they liked the incentive. A few days after that another email should be sent that shares information about other services or products that they may be interested based on their interest in the incentive. The beauty of this second option is that once you create it, you can basically let it work for itself. You do not have to think much about it except for when you update your incentive or product offering. By spacing it out this way, you make sure you engage your customer but do not spam them.

Suggestions for Unique Follow-up Emails

Some of the ideas below are not specific to dropshipping but are an opportunity to uniquely engage your customers. Consider trying out different templates to find what your audience enjoys the most. DIY,

For fashion dropshippers, a valuable offering is fashion advice. Help your customer know what works well with what. Show them how to put together an outfit and find their “look.” Consider sending a video about how to combine colors and patterns, or an e-book on the latest fashion trends for the season. Also, consider offering a DIY tip for creating a complimentary object for your products. For example, how to make your own screen cleaner your customers can make and use the cleaning cloths you sell.

Appreciate your customers openly. Send a bog and beautiful thank you for being them. Get your customers birthday and send a nice note thanking them and wishing them a happy birthday. Humility goes a long way with your customers. You would not be successful without them; make sure they know you appreciate it.

One of your autoresponder emails you send your customers after making a purchase should be to request a review of your business and the product. Doing this lets your customer know you care about their experience and will listen to them, no matter how “big” or “small” a problem is. Ideally, if they provide a good review, you can then use this for future marketing. This is the best place to ask for reviews because email engagement is one of the highest communication strategies. Con- sider keeping this template to the point and simple. Do not add fluff or “beat around the bush.”

What are the “hot” topics in your business’ industry? Are you selling tech accessories? Is there a new tech advancement that customers should know about? Are you selling fashion? What are the new trends this season or what is an A-list wear- ing on vacation? This is a great method for keeping customers in the know and in touch with your business. You do not need to recap everything you read, but a quick highlight of a few things that happened this week with links to relevant news sources can do the trick.

Send your hottest post of the week or links to your posts from the last 14 days. Give customers a preview of what is in your blog, including some good visuals, and encourage them to read more on your site. You can include other business up-dates to your customers in this email, too, as long as it is relevant to the topics in your blog posts. Of course, your blog posts then need to be relevant to your customers!

Do you have something to say about your industry? Is something important happening you have a strong opinion about? Many industries use their website and email list as an audience to share these thoughts, but dropshipping and retail have been slower to adopt this practice. It is a shame because it could really boost the unique personality of your brand. Share advice to fashion professionals and shoppers alike. Offer quality professional information for free on your website. Then, of course, write up a few sentences about the editorial and email it out to your cus- tomers, encouraging them to click to your site to read more. Just this action alone can boost your reputation as an industry leader.

This classic marketing email is popular in the fashion and cosmetic industries, but almost every industry has some sort of offer they promote to their email list. Con- sider showcasing your amazing products and then reveal your offer to them for vis- iting and buying from your business soon. Try not to push the coupon or special in the reader’s face right away. Build value in your brand and products by showing them first and then the offer. This also encourages the customer to read through the majority of your email, too.

In dropshipping, you are constantly tweaking the products you offer to best serve your audience and your margins. Hence, you will want to update customers when something new hits the “shelves” of your store. Keep your customers in the “know” regarding your product offering, so they get excited to browse your site again. This type of email should contain a fair amount of photos and be to the point. You want to hook them with products you think will be good sellers and popular.

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Sales and traffic come from your social platforms. This is why marketing on them is critical. It is vital. If you neglect this form of marketing, you can actively watch your business slowly wither away. No matter the platforms you choose to use, make sure they work and return your investment. You will need to spend money here, but you should be able to see that money coming back with more. It is so important that you understand the important role social media marketing plays in your business! So, take notes.

Maybe you are just beginning your business, or you are looking to grow. No matter what stage you are in, social media and associated marketing plan may be something you are curious to know more about. Do you wonder how it can benefit your business and boost growth? Thankfully there are many tips on how to do this thanks to all the trailblazers ahead of you. All the pitfalls you will encounter have al- ready been dealt with and below are the solutions to prevent or overcome them. But before you get into the nitty-gritty of the social media marketing plan, you need to know more about why it is so crucial to your business.

The “Why” of Social Media Marketing

You simply cannot let social media simmer on your back burner. Everything in life is Tweeted, shared, and liked. Your business needs to be, too. Unfortunately, new dropshippers develop an online social presence post-business launch and then clamber to drum up a following. Unfortunately, this does not work well. Think of this method as “too little, too late.” Instead, dropshippers need to be building social into their business from the very beginning. Creating a social presence is not a waste of time if you are being strategic about your approach for the benefit of your developing business. Of course, you will prioritize your product research and website, but even before you launch your business, you can start generating inter- est through social sites like Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. Therefore, social media marketing should be a major priority as well.

Interestingly enough, social media is a great tool for researching your products and niche. You can look at topics that are trending and search features people are using. Look at what your audience is talking about on Twitter. Find out the styles and features people want. Consider using social sites to find out what customers like the most about the stores they shop at and think of ways you can integrate that into your business model. On the other hand, what are they talking about that they do not like? Consider how you can avoid those dislikes in your business. You can also use this information to fill the void. What are the people saying that they do not have? What do they not like about a product or business that you can fill in for them?

Research is important in developing the concepts of your marketing, but social media can also give you the platform to start spreading the word about your busi- ness prior to launching. You want to create interest and make potential customers “care” about what you are about to unveil to the world. Nothing is worse than in- vesting a decent amount of time and effort into something only for your epic launch to fall on “deaf ears.” You want a group of people to care that you are open! Use your presence to build and reinforce your brand before you open your virtual doors. For example, on Pinterest, create several boards that show images of the products you will be selling and include keywords in the descriptions. Share infor- mation for people to alert them when they will be available for sale and encourage them to follow your boards or account to stay in the know about business updates and new products added. Instagram can be used to offer “elite” previews of prod- ucts, again using related keywords, to set up a following. Doing this has another pro: you can determine people’s reaction to your product selection. Compare the number of comments or likes on one item versus another to find which one will be more popular with your audience.

Because you are using social media to generate a following prior to opening your store, have a link for people to click on that brings them to a landing page with an email opt-in form. This way potential customers can start building your email list and be excited about your blossoming business. Consider using Face- book and Twitter to also share launch news. For example, add a “countdown” on these sites. Offer discounts to early followers that like and share your posts. You can also extend this offer to those that sign up for your email list. It may be hard to swallow, letting go of 10% of your future orders, but the initial investment is worth it when these people will share your content to a wider group than you could ever reach on your own.

After you open your business, you will want to continue to drive traffic to your business and solidify your brand image. You can use these platforms to create and nurture a repeat and loyal following. The best way to do this, no matter the site, is to make sure your social content is valuable to your potential followers. You can do this a multitude of ways, and it will vary depending on your business and product selection, but for the most part, people are more likely to engage in a social ad if

there is a photo. Sometimes you do not need to be the one uploading the photos. Maybe you have a “who wore it best” competition for fashion-related items you sell, encouraging your customers to upload their own photos using your products. Maybe you can create an image or short video of how to use a tool you sell or ideas on how to operate in the industry your audience is part of. Social media is not all about selling; instead, you want to engage. Drive traffic to your sites and build up your brand image.

Your social media presence is also a great tool for working on your customer service. Sometimes you do not have an email address or phone number to reply to a customer complaint or concern. Before social media, this made resolving con- flicts very hard. But now you can get in contact fast and easy. It also means your customers have immediate (and public) access to you. While it is still an online presence, you can make your social sites more personal. Now your customers can interact with you instead of an automated email response or form on a website. They get to skip all the waiting and get right to finding a solution to make them happy. This is innumerably valuable to your business!

Your Social Media Marketing Plan

Now that you know why social media is so vital to the success of your business, you now need to consider your social media marketing plan. This is your strategy for how you will engage followers and customers. This plan needs to set you apart from the competition out there. This is not an easy feat! Thankfully some of the tried-and-true tips are outlined below to make the process easier for you.

.

What is it that you want to achieve through a specific social platform? For example, maybe you want to create an Instagram influencer pipeline of 10 people and a negotiated 3-hour shout too for each to highlight your business. Setting these goals allows you to determine if your campaign is a success or not in the future. How else can you determine your ROI or show that it is an effective strategy?

When you set your goals, make sure it is not a “vanity” metric, but something more substantial. For example, do not set a goal on “tags” or “likes” for your main metric. Instead, choose something like conversion or leads. Check your goal by running it against the S.M.A.R.T. test. This makes sure your goals are “strategic,” “Measurable,” “Attainable,” “Realistic,” and “Timely.”

An excellent example of a social media marketing plan goal is, “Social media marketing is intended to showcase the newest items being sold on my website. The primary promotional channel is Instagram, and combining intriguing promotions with valuable content from at least 10 influencers will grow my audience. After 3 weeks of Instagram activity by these influencers, I want to generate 1 new lead after each promotion.”

Develop and Boost Social Accounts

After you have written out your goals, you will know which social platforms you need to develop social accounts on. If you are new to dropshipping, these will be new accounts. If you are expanding your business, you may be able to use existing accounts. If you are new, do not try to conquer all platforms at one time. This will wear you out. Instead, pick the top 2 channels you think will make the most impact and focus on making a strong presence. Once your accounts are up and running, check that they do not need a boost to make them more effective for your busi- ness. Sometimes what worked, in the beginning, is no longer relevant. Keep an eye on adapting to your audience and their needs. One way to optimize your social accounts is to cross-promote. If you are seeing great success on Instagram but your Pinterest account needs more followers, mention on Instagram that you also have an account there and offer incentives for them to follow it on that platform as well. You can also promote your website in your bio on your accounts or link to your product pages in product-driven posts. Sometimes someone will encounter your posts but not know your brand yet. Giving this information readily to these fol- lowers can help build your image and also your sales.

Allow Yourself to be Inspired

Writer’s block or the curse of the “blank canvas” can rear its ugly head when you are trying to create content that your audience responds to. It is hard when you are starting from scratch to know where to start and what to say. Do not sit and stare at your blank screen hoping for inspiration to strike! Instead, check out what your competition is doing. See what they put out there and the engagement they receive. Find gaps in what their messaging is and formulate some ideas to send a unique message out.

You do not need to always be the creative one, either. Maybe your audience al- ways goes for the same style, like DIY-chic or modern sleek. Thus, they are familiar and comfortable with this image. Try to emulate the look and feel of the message you put out there. You can also find out what kinds of posts your audience re- sponds to best. What generates the most interaction? Is it a competition or promotion or new editorial link? Think about developing comparable messages.

Reinforce Your Plan with a Calendar for Content

No matter your platforms, posting consistently is important. This is how you de- velop your following. To avoid having to come up with compelling content on the fly, consider creating a calendar with content topics. Create this calendar by re- sponding to the following questions:

  1. How often do you plan on posting on social platforms?
  2. What types of content or messaging do you plan on posting?
  3. How will your audience be informed and engaged with your posts?
  4. Are your goals achievable thanks to your posts?

To help you develop your calendar you can use a service like Hootsuite or Buffer. These are both free to use, and you can schedule posts prior to the date you want them live and can specify what platform you want them to post on. This takes the stress of having to post something at an exact time every week. Consider post- ing at the beginning of the week. This way you can stay focused on the week’s pro- duction knowing that your posts are already up and generating interest for you.

Optimize by Evaluating and Testing Your Social Media Marketing

Social media is constantly changing. Creating content that is dynamic is essential no matter what is happening or what new, hot platform is live. There is immense competition online and in dropshipping, but you can create a place for your busi- ness by sending out distinctive and valuable content consistently. Track your per- formance and test out messages to find out what is best for your following. Use the analytics from a service like Google Analytics or Hootsuite to determine what is working and how you can optimize your strategy. The only way to stay on top of the changes is to always evaluate, test, and learn. You will always be growing, and your social media marketing is no exception.

Part

When you enter into the dropshipping world, you are choosing to either make an extra bit of money on the side, or you are looking to finally shed your 9-to-5 and be independent. If you keep doing it right, you will find such amazing success that you will be able to spend more time with what you are passionate about and the people you care about. During your research into starting a dropshipping business, it would not be surprising if you came across the concept of affiliate marketing as well. It is another method for passive income and has some similarities to drop- shipping. Both depend on selling another person’s products that you do not have to purchase ahead of time and store in your own warehouse. When a customer makes a purchase the supplier then ships to the customer, and you get a piece of the price paid. Sounds like dropshipping, right? But there are differences that make dropshipping standout.

The Differences Between Dropshipping and Affiliate Marketing

Dropshipping and affiliate marketing are run in 2 distinct ways: dropshipping requires more responsibility and customer interaction. You can negotiate price and freedom over promotional strategy. Affiliate marketing is a commission-based in- come strategy based on the terms of the supplier and is typically not very flexible. The more you sell, the higher the commission rate. You do not have to work out customer service issues; however. It may sound attractive to go into affiliate mar- keting because of the lower risk and responsibility; however, when you want to make a sustainable, long-term business, dropshipping is preferable. This is because you have more control and contact. You determine not only what you sell, but also your margins and sales strategy. You can work with customers to make sure they continue to purchase from you. You can be unique and creative, which affiliate marketing can limit.

Imagine all the effort invested in finding new customers to start your business. And now think of all the benefits of having a loyal customer base. Consider the dif- ference between always recruiting new clients and having an organic, self- sustaining base that you can watch continue to grow. One requires constant atten- tion and effort while the other requires periodic evaluation and maintenance. Cus- tomer service brings its own hassles, and affiliate marketing does not have to deal with this, but they do have to constantly be developing new customers for their marketing schemes. Having a bunch of customers buying their products is how they generate income. Instead, in dropshipping, you get to nurture the customer you put all that time and effort into, turning them into a repeat customer, and mak- ing money when they keep shopping with your brand.

Income is another major difference between the two. In dropshipping, it is like- ly that you get paid on a sale the minute an item is purchased. You get the balance between what the customer paid and what it cost you to buy and ship from the supplier. Instant income comes with dropshipping. With affiliate marketing you get a commission on your sales, so the company sends you a check for sales made during a certain time frame. For example, company X pays out for the previous month’s sales two months after all products are delivered, and the return policy timeframe is passed, which means your income check does not arrive until the third month. You are now working with no income for the first few months until your revenue stream starts coming in. Of course, it is good practice to then com- pare the check you received to the work you did that month, so you need to go back and double check. This takes more back-end time that you can be used to focus on growing your business.

While there are many differences, it should be apparent that dropshipping is a preferred method for developing and sustaining a successful online business, but that does not mean you have to only choose one over the other. It is possible to combine both methods to deliver excellent variety and service to your customers and also create a base of loyal customers for your thriving business.

How You Can Combine Dropshipping and Affiliate Marketing

When you are working with social media influencers, you are potentially engaging in a form of affiliate marketing. If you send them products and offer a percentage of sales based on how many products from your site they sell, you using affiliate mar- keting. The products you send to an influencer to use and review should be valu- able to them and your niche. Consequently, your influencer should be targeting your niche as well, so they see the message. When people see the influencer using your product they will become excited about trying it out, too. Larger companies have used this tactic for years (think celebrity endorsements, etc.). When a potential customer sees someone they look up to or are interested in using something, it becomes more personal. When a product becomes more personal, your brand gains more visibility and personality.

Those that have been in Internet marketing for a while now will say over and over, “the power is in your list.” They are referring to your email list with customer contact information. When someone shares their contact information with you, you have earned the right to market to them again in the future. Now you can reach out to them to encourage them to shop again and again. If you have the right mix of products at the right price point and provided good service to them the first time, there is really no reason they should not shop again in the future. This is where you can also build your business with affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing on its own does not develop a repeat customer, but you can strategically use your email list to make them a repeat seller. Diversifying like this can build value in your brand and strengthen your relationship with your cus- tomers. For example, if a customer bought something from your dropshipping website and had a good experience, you could send them an email with a link to a complimentary product on Amazon that went on sale you think they would like. If the click on the link and purchase the product, Amazon will send you a commis- sion check. From your customer’s perspective, they will see you are caring about them and not promote products just from your store to make them happy. You are upselling or cross-selling but from another revenue stream. And you do not need to choose Amazon to provide the best selection of products at the best price. There are several affiliate programs available for you to consider. Find the best one for your customers, and that compliments your product selection the best. This ap- proach allows you to generate income from outside sales without the “hassle” of

third month. You are now working with no income for the first few months until your revenue stream starts coming in. Of course, it is good practice to then compare the check you received to the work you did that month, so you need to go back and double check. This takes more back-end time that you can be used to focus on growing your business.

While there are many differences, it should be apparent that dropshipping is a preferred method for developing and sustaining a successful online business, but that does not mean you have to only choose one over the other. It is possible to combine both methods to deliver excellent variety and service to your customers and also create a base of loyal customers for your thriving business.

How You Can Combine Dropshipping and Affiliate Marketing

When you are working with social media influencers, you are potentially engaging in a form of affiliate marketing. If you send them products and offer a percentage of sales based on how many products from your site they sell, you using affiliate marketing. The products you send to an influencer to use and review should be valuable to them and your niche. Consequently, your influencer should be targeting your niche as well, so they see the message. When people see the influencer using your product they will become excited about trying it out, too. Larger companies have used this tactic for years (think celebrity endorsements, etc.). When a potential customer sees someone they look up to or are interested in using something, it becomes more personal. When a product becomes more personal, your brand gains more visibility and personality.

Those that have been in Internet marketing for a while now will say over and over, the power is in your list. They are referring to your email list with customer contact information. When someone shares their contact information with you, you have earned the right to market to them again in the future. Now you can reach out to them to encourage them to shop again and again. If you have the right mix of products at the right price point and provided good service to them the first time, there is really no reason they should not shop again in the future. This is where you can also build your business with affiliate marketing.

Affiliate Products for Your Dropshipping Customers

Affiliate marketing on its own does not develop a repeat customer, but you can strategically use your email list to make them a repeat seller. Diversifying like this can build value in your brand and strengthen your relationship with your customers. For example, if a customer bought something from your dropshipping website and had a good experience, you could send them an email with a link to a complimentary product on Amazon that went on sale you think they would like. If the click on the link and purchase the product, Amazon will send you a commission check. From your customer’s perspective, they will see you are caring about them and not promote products just from your store to make them happy. You are upselling or cross-selling but from another revenue stream. And you do not need to choose Amazon to provide the best selection of products at the best price. There are several affiliate programs available for you to consider. Find the best one for your customers, and that compliments your product selection the best. This approach allows you to generate income from outside sales without the hassle of researching new products and dropshiping suppliers.

This approach needs to be carefully thought out. Your customers need to feel that you are looking out for their best interests, not trying to get them to buy from another one of your companies. Make sure what you select and how you communicate shows it is for their benefit. You need to keep your customers in mind when selecting and promoting an affiliate program. And also keep in mind that this strategy is to help boost your business, not run as a second business to your dropshipping company.

By adopting this approach, you can now deliver more value to your customers without having to source from suppliers. Now you can offer a larger retailer’s products to your customers in addition to those from your suppliers and make money on both ends. Even if the item you send is out of stock when the customer looks at it or they follow your link and decide it is not right for them and they end up purchasing something else, you still get a commission. Therefore, all the additional items a customer buys, that you never even suggested or looked at can earn you money! Talk about a great way to boost your reputation, provide great customer service, and bring in more passive income!

Affiliate marketing on its own may be easier to start, but it requires hard work over the long haul because you do not have the “power in a list.” Instead, think about how you can use this beneficial income stream to compliment your drop- shipping business and your customer base. When you know what it is and how it can work, you can really enjoy the best of both internet-marketing worlds. Just remember, keep your customer focus and a relevant message, so it is a benefit to your customers, not spam.

If you have not paid attention to anything written in this book until now, this is the time to take notes. Advertising is simply the most important element for your drop- shipping business. To get it right, you need to do your homework. Determine the best keywords to include in your Facebook or Google ads. Determine the best Instagram strategy for shout-outs. On top of all that you need to make sure your niche is aligned with your SEO selection for the product, you want to advertise. The closer the alignment the better the ad will convert.

When you are researching your niche, you will notice that certain products seem to always sell well. This can change over time, so always keep an eye on what is trending. Be savvy. When you identify the products that are selling, get an ad up about the items in that category that you sell. The ads you create can take a variety of forms and be placed in strategic locations. For example, video ads are a form of advertising not many dropshippers consider, but if you do it right, it could yield great returns. Place this video on Facebook and Google, and it can reach the right audience, boosting your sales.

Another form that dropshippers currently use on social media is offering a free product for a certain action, and the customer only needs to cover the cost of shipping. For example, if the customer shares or tags 3 additional people in your post, they will get a free product from your website. In your Shopify store, the item price is listed at $0, but the shipping cost is adjusted to cover both shipping and the cost of the product. Of course, you will want to add a small profit for yourself in the shipping cost, as well. Only use this method for items that have a low cost for you but are highly valuable to the customer. This approach can boost your social media following and increase sales. Ideally, when the customer lands on your page, they will purchase more than just their “free” item!

Using Facebook Ads and Groups Effectively

You may be wondering why Facebook and other social media sites are listed here in advertising. It is because, while they technically are social media, the process is wildly different. Like other online advertising, keywords play a crucial part. You must pick words that align with your niche and product. Essentially, SEO. Once you find a word that converts, invest as much as you can in it. The more you put in, the more you will gain! Another method for advertising on Facebook is a group page. Follow these basic steps for making Facebook work for you:

  1. Develop a fan page for your business. Post often about your products and fun, related material. Include a “call to action” in your posts, good captions, and relevant hashtags. Keep your posts visual. People respond most to vis- ual prompts.
  2. Research other fan pages and join several dozens, especially those with large numbers of followers.
  3. Share your content on these other fan pages to build likes and shares, in addition to followers on your page.
  4. Observe your organic traffic turn into increased revenue, improved conversions, and satisfied shoppers.

Follow Step 1: Mix your content to be neutral and commercial posts. Your neutral posts can be a quote or photo related to your products and business, with a call to action in the caption. To expand the reach of your post, add related hashtags to the post. For the commercial or product posts, include a high-quality image of your product, the name of the product, links to the page for the product on your site, and a lot of call to actions. On Facebook, these call to actions sounds like “like,” “share,” or “tag.”

Follow Step 2: Search on Facebook for both open and closed groups related to your business. Se- lect the ones with the most followers and join up. Most of the time a popular niche will have plenty of pages already out there so you should not have trouble finding plenty to join. If it is a closed group, you need to wait for approval, which can take time. Be patient and use what you are approved to get started if you need to.

Follow Step 3: Sharing your posts on the other group’s page is a simple process and will get you plenty of conversions, as long as your posts are on target. Below are the basic steps:

  • Choose the post to be shared and click on the “Share” icon. There are 2 options listed; select the second “Share… .” if you select the first on the list you will only post on your personal timeline, not in a group, so make sure you choose the second one.
  • Click on “Share in Group”
  • In the field for “Group,” begin writing the name of the group you want to share to and select it when it appears listed under the field box.
  • Select the name of the group you want to share the content on and select “Post.” Occasionally a page will choose to approve posts so there may be a delay before your post makes it to the timeline of the page, but in other situations, it will be immediate. It is best practice to only share neutral posts, and this kind of content will be more likely to be approved on all pages. In larger groups, you may be required to pay for post space for a series of days. The fee averages about $25, but can vary depending on your niche. Paying this is almost always worth it, especially if the group has a lot of followers in your niche.

Follow Step 4: All the captions and keywords in your posts should have backlinks to your site. This activity can really bring your website thousands of visitors each month. Increasing traffic increases sales, which of course increases your profits. You can track with good analytics where your traffic comes from. Watch how many new visi- tors you have because of the Facebook post you shared in groups. From there you can see the orders developed by the traffic from Facebook and then determine the amount of revenue and income from the shared posts. This method of advertising is both effective and simple. The additional benefit is that it is inexpensive, especially using groups to promote your posts instead of just ads. There are billions of users on Facebook worldwide. If you are selling something, this is the place to find your audience and directly advertise to them. The basic steps above are basic enough that just about anyone can create and share a post in no time. There is no excuse to justify why you are not using this platform for promotion.

Using Instagram Paid Promotions and Collaborations Effectively

Instagram allows businesses to pay for advertising space on the site. The content can be anything you come up with, but it is important that you remember to keep it entertaining and relevant. Collaborations are a different approach. There are 2 dif- ferent methods for collaborating: one is a tradeoff with another user, and the other is to pay to be on their page. The first option gives the influencer exposure to your followers while you have access to theirs. If you do not have a large following, you will need to supplement your value provided to them. Consider sending them free product to help boost their likelihood of allowing you to appear on their page. If you cannot offer a free product that is attractive to them and does not have a large enough page to trade space, you will want to discuss a paid post. A lot of larger influencers will have a process already developed for this. Most likely they have a rate they charge for a certain length of time. To avoid their page from looking like it is full of spam most influencers will only show a paid post for no more than 12 hours.

The “Insta-Shoutout” and How to Make it Work for You

This strategy is simple in theory but takes refinement and practice in application. To begin, identify the top 10 most popular influencers on Instagram in your niche, which typically means that they need to have more than 10 thousand followers. Quickly find these accounts in your niche by using Instagram’s explore page to search keywords and hashtags and their related accounts. After you determine the 10 you want to work with, you need to find out the owner of the page and reach out to them. There is Direct Message and most of them have a business email on their page, so use this to start communicating. In your message include your email and ask them to contact you about paid posts or shoutouts. Most big accounts will get back to you within 24 hours. Negotiate the price, details for payment, and terms of the post. If the influencer is asking about $10 for a paid shoutout, they need to have a minimum of 100,000 followers. It also depends what kind of shout out. A normal length of time for a shoutout to be displayed on an influencer’s page is between 24 to 48 hours.

The shoutout is a message that comes from the influencer but is basically your messaging and promotion. You need to provide an image or collage of images with the text you want to use to promote your business. The content of the text needs to remain simple and brief. Include the name of the product being promoted, the price of the item, your account name, and your website’s link. Hashtags are also a good idea to include. Have at least 1 shoutout per week for each account you are working with, so you have regular growth in followers and constant sales.

Communication is the Starting Point

Once you have identified the accounts you want to work with, you need to talk to them and come to an agreement. Starting in the Instagram Direct location, send a message similar to the following:

“Hi! My name is ____. Your page is awesome! Are you open to paid shoutouts? If so, please let me know in a PM or by emailing me at _ _ _ @ _. Com to go over the details. I can return the favor on my page, too. Thanks!”

Ideally, the account owner will reply and give you some information about their pricing and terms. Makes sure you gather the following details:

  • Cost for 1 shoutout.
  • The timeframe for the shoutout to be live, both in hours and time of day.
  • Gather payment information and related details.

If the influencer uses PayPal, make sure to get their associated email and how they accept payment. If you send them money as a business transaction, the Influ- encer will be charged a fee. Many will request that you use the Friends/Family op- tion instead to avoid this extra expense. Once you submit payment, screenshot your transaction confirmation and send it to the influencer. Ask them to check to make sure they got the money.

Knowing the time in an influencer’s location is important because you want your post to be live during the best times. Do not be afraid to ask the influencer when the best time to post a shoutout is. You can track the activity of subscribers for your account, and so can they. Thus, they can tell you pretty accurately what the best time frame is for your shoutout. Also, request that the influencer does not post anything additional at least 8 hours after your shoutout.

Other requests can include asking the owner of the account to include your product and post link in their bio and to confirm the time the post will be live. Ask to be tagged in the post when it is up. Once the post is supposed to be up, double check how it looks. Make sure you are tagged in the photo. Double check the message text. If there are any errors, contact the influencer immediately to fix anything you deem necessary.

Following these basic steps is a great way to capitalize on Instagram adver- tising, but you need to make sure your product and messaging are consistent with your niche and your influencer’s audience. The more carefully you align these two together, the better your conversions will be on a single shoutout.

Use Google AdWords to Maximize your ROI

Improve your ROI using Google Adwords in two ways: a campaign for searching, and campaigns for remarketing.

Campaigns for Searching

Choose the items on your website that are the best sellers. Use Google Analytics or another analysis software to find out the pages most visited by browsers. Aim to find your top 10 products. Once you identify them, determine the keywords for each item and tie them into groups for advertising. The next step involves creating 2 templates for advertising each product. Find out what works and converts the best for each group and turn off the ads that are not converting. After a brief time, you will be able to identify the products, keywords, and advertisements that convert the best.

Campaigns for Remarketing

Again, using Google Analytics, you can find information about your customers vis- iting your site. Set is to capture information about the visitors who spend more than 30 seconds on your website and those that spent more than 20 seconds on a certain item. Using this information, develop campaigns to attract both groups. Each campaign for remarketing to these audiences should include banners and text advertisements. For your graphics advertisements, use the 300 X 250 format. It has been statistically proven to convert the best. A banner should include basic information:

  • The name of your website
  • A button for “Shop Now.”
  • The price of the product
  • A rate of discount or promotion
  • The image of the product

This is not the easiest form of advertising you can choose and nor is it the cheapest, but it can be extremely effective when you take the time to understand how it works and use it well. Some dropshippers claim this one measurement for their marketing is the most significant investment.

Part

While there are many topics in dropshipping that warrant their own chapters, the aim of this book was to help you get started and convert at your highest level. But that does not mean that the following topics are not worth discussing and under- standing as well. Below are the real golden nuggets you will understand when you actually start and dive into the world of dropshipping. If you haven’t done it yet, then it’s much harder to understand. Everybody learns from experience, so you will learn these if you are an outsider. You will want to know and understand when you are operating your online dropshipping business. It will give you an idea of the areas that need fine tuning, so you can become an expert and properly execute out- sourcing for yourself.

1. When Should You Start?

This is a newer retail concept, which means there is going to be some uncomfortable feelings no matter how experienced you are in selling and the online realm. When you venture into something new like this, you will be nervous about how it will go. Do not let this fear hold you back from getting started right away. A wise man once said, “The best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago, the next best time is now.” Now is the time to start. Now is the time to research your product and niche and get it out there to build customers, passive income, and independence.

2. Stay Up-to-date Always

If you stumble onto a problem in your dropshipping business that you do not know the answer for, take the time to look it up. The online retail industry is changing along with the desires of the customer; this means dropshipping changes, too. This book holds the answers to a lot of your beginning and basic questions, but for those more challenging ones that you encounter, go online and learn from more of the best. Google and YouTube offer several additional resources for help, and there are also online forums for dropshippers to talk and help one another.

3. Scaling is Relevant, Even in Dropshipping

Even though scaling is much different in dropshipping, it is still important. You may not have to expand your warehouse space, storefront, or inventory, but you still need to make sure you are reaching more and more customers to build your customer base and are advertising well for the growing number of people. Scaling is important, but how you do it is different. For example, when you have a product that is a good seller, you need to reinvest in your business to create more ads for it. As you create more ads, make sure they are working for you, and then recreate this process as often as possible. If you are bringing in $700 every day and profiting $500 from that revenue, take a few more hundred and put it back into advertising. You need to increase your ads and get more visibility. Again, remember that this visibility must be on a relevant platform and aligned with the interests of your niche. Your niche may shift and grow with your business, so always make sure your message reflects whom they are.

4. People’s Emotions = Impulse Buying = Higher Sales

A “need” means the person buying must have it working exactly as they need it. These shoppers are also less likely to take risks with their money on a product that they are uncertain will fulfill their needs. “Wants” on the other hand are more impulsive. When a person wants something, it is because they emotionally desire it at that moment. You typically have fewer returns, better customer service, and higher sales. Products like fun coffee mugs and fancy hourglasses are good im- pulse purchases, especially if you took the time to design an attractive and simple website or sales funnel. Your website plays a large role in the success of impulse purchases. You do not want the customer to be confused or frustrated by the checkout process. Do all you can on the backend so the customer can easily and swiftly checkout. Their emotions can be fleeting so do not let their euphoria over finding the perfect new trinket for their collection fade into frustration over entering their checkout information.

5. Divide Products That Offer a Lot of Variation

Sometimes when you choose a product, the selection of variation for that product can make it appear to be something completely different. For example, a t-shirt you want to sell may come in a solid color with a graphic phrase but also in a funky print. Customers would benefit from seeing both variations on different product pages, instead of one being lost on the product page of the other. Thankfully, you can divide the products with the variations like this to better serve your customers (and your profits!). If you are using Oberlo, below are the instructions on how to do this:

  • Open Oberlo
  • Select the “Import List”
  • Choose the item you want to divide and select “Action, Split Product.”
  • This action separates all the variations onto individual pages for the product

With this process, you do have more work writing up individual and one-of- kindkind descriptions, but now you have more space for longer and more keywords. This process also eases navigation and makes products visible that customers otherwise could have lost. Just remember, Google will penalize your SEO if you have duplicate content, so make sure you write original product descriptions each time and do not cut and paste.

6. Prevent Supplier Invoices and Mailers

Unless you tell your supplier that you are a dropshipping business, they will not know. Thus, when you submit your order, they will think your new customer is a new retail customer for them. This will prompt them to start sending things like in- voices and marketing fliers to them. Thankfully, there is a way to prevent this. On your first few orders with a supplier, or all the time to be on the safe side, you can send a customized note. This notes simple and clear text will alert your supplier what you are doing and stop them from contacting your customer. A sample text can be:

7. Use Provided Resources from Your Suppliers, Like ePacket Shipping

When you ship to your customer, you want the supplier to do 2 main things: ship it fast and ship it cheap. Of course, you want it to arrive in proper packaging, but you can assume they want your business to return so they will already do this. The other 2 require your specification. Suppliers like Oberlo Verified Suppliers and AliExpress offer a popular shipping option called ePacket. This can get a shipment to your customers typically in about 7 days and costs you less than $5. If you are using Oberlo, you can set your default to ePacket by going into your settings and clicking on the supplier and selecting ePacket in the “Default Shipping” tab.

8. Offer the Best Payment Gateway for your target Country

Payment gateways differ for every country. The United States primarily uses PayPal for money transfers, but it is not available in all countries. If you have a website through Shopify, your troubles with this are simplified. There is a list you can reference to assist you in locating the best gateway for your target country. At times this information can change, so make sure to reference this every time you are operating a business outside of your home country. Also, if you do not see the country or information on the list, contact Shopify to see if they have the information or conduct further online research to ensure you offer the best gateway for your potential customers.

9. Swap Suppliers for an Item

Sometimes the supplier you chose, to begin with, is not meeting your expectations. Maybe they have messed up a couple orders or have not been able to reply to you in a timely manner. Whatever the reason, do not feel stuck with the one supplier. Aliexpress, for example, offers multiple sellers for one product. It does take some skill in changing your supplier on the backend, but you do not need to alter your product page to accomplish this task. If you have it automated on your website to send the order to the supplier and ship to the customer, go into your settings and select the shipping options for the product page. Change the link to the original supplier to the new one you have selected. Some website templates are easier to change than others. If you do not have an automated communication link set up, then this process is much easier to handle manually; however, remember the goal is to create passive income that is scalable. Figuring out how to do this early on in your business is very beneficial to your long run success.

10. Working with a “Verified” Supplier

Depending on the company you are using for dropshipping, some may offer “veri- fied” supplier distinctions. There are several benefits and associated drawbacks of working with these suppliers. On Oberlo, the “Verified Supplier” distinction is given to sellers that ship the majority of their orders on time (over 95% of the time), almost all of their deliveries arrive on time (about 90% of the time), feed- back is positive (with less than 2% disputed), the contact information for the busi- ness has been verified, and the warehouse has been inspected for working condi- tions. One of the drawbacks is that these suppliers are often more expensive and utilized than other suppliers offering similar products. Here you need to weigh the risks and rewards of paying more for “verified” or paying less and risk orders not being fulfilled to your expectation. If you can afford it, it is worth the extra money for certainty.

11. Start Small and Build Big

It may sound attractive to set up an online site that is peppered with a wide variety of items, trying to capture a vast market instead of keeping it to a narrow niche. After all, this way you can service more people, right? In theory, yes. Look at Amazon: they cover all sorts of niches. But they did not start there. They started small, selling only books online, and then scaled up to where they are today. They added to their business by reinvesting in their marketing and advertising and expanding their offerings. If you decide to offer a range of products, in the beginning, it should only be to test out what is selling and which niches are engaging in certain campaigns. It is not a long-term strategy. Instead, pick a passion and think small before building into an empire.

12. The Right Supplier is Like Finding the Right Relationship: It Takes Time and Testing

Thankfully, unlike dating, this 2-step process is simple and easy to “see” multiple suppliers at one time. You can even “break up” with them with some tears. Below is the basic process for choosing a good supplier:

  1. Audit the supplier list: Look into the different suppliers offering the product you are interested in selling. Check to see if they are classified as a “verified supplier.” Look at all the different products they sell. Read their reviews to see what other customers have said, especially regarding their quality and customer service.
  2. Compare to narrow down to your choice: Weight the good and the bad about each potential supplier and start marking some off the list. Use their addi- tional services, like guarantees or ePacket offerings, to help when the list gets smaller. Ideally, you want to have one rise to the top with a few closes behind for backups in case the first does not pan out.

After you select the supplier and start placing orders through them, continue to assess if they are meeting your expectations and keeping your customers happy. If they fail you, do not hesitate to bring another runner-up supplier to your business to try out. While you are doing your research, you will notice there are plenty of suppliers to choose from, so do not feel you are forever bound to one that is not delivering what you need to be successful.

13. Know Your competition at all Times

During your research process, much time would have been spent looking at who is already out there with a similar business; determining what they are doing that you can also implement, and seeing the gaps, they have that you can fill. However, it should not stop here. As you continue your business, continue to know your competition. Be aware of those that came before you and those that are coming up now. Maybe an emerging dropshipper has a fresh approach to something you can tweak to fit your business, or there is a new advertising strategy you find appealing and want to try. Maybe it is the messages they are sharing on social platforms. Part of the learning process is following your competition’s movements and learning from them. Consider their product selection, position, prices, and brand. Watch what customers are interacting and engaging with. Determine if their niche is slightly different than yours and see if you can engage them in your site as well. This act alone can be the teacher you need to become an outstanding marketer and owner of a best-selling website.

14 Diversify your niches with more than one website.

What I mean by this is that you can always start a second Website/Business when you get comfortable running one. One thing I should make loud and clear is that your first couple of websites you start up will probably fail. It may be a while till you start seeing success. Trust me, people see big profits from dropshipping. It all ranges from numbers such as 1k per month 5k per month 10k per month and even 100+k per month! The numbers get wild and it will add up to more than you need. From there on you can start learning about other investments because you have the capital to expand. You always want to diversify your portfolio in any sense of the matter. Whether it is one website, multiple websites, websites you and your friends or business partners build. If you have a strong mindset and strong perseverance to keep going when it gets rough, you will get to 100+k a month and become financially independent.

Thanks for making it through to the end of “Running a profitable Dropshipping E-Commerce”. I hope it was informative and able to provide you with all of the tools you need to achieve your goals whatever they may be.

The next step is to get started! No more reading. No more wondering if you can do it. Refer to this book if you have too. You can do it, and now is the best time to get it started. Set time aside for 1 week and start researching your niche, products, and suppliers. Then set another week aside to create your website and product pages and get your accounts up and ready to run. After these first 2 weeks, it is time to get it live and start selling! Promote, promote, promote. And foster the customer relationships you begin developing. Grow and expand and enjoy your income. If you have read through this book, you are fully prepared to get started, and there is no better time than the present.

Ideally, you have been inspired and informed throughout this how-to instruction manual to assist you in starting your online venture. These techniques are based on the best practices learned over the years and presented to you in an effort to prevent you from making some of the most common mistakes. It is amazing how your life will be transformed, how you will find joy in being able to do the things you want to do, like travel and pursue hobbies when you no longer need to worry about getting a paycheck. Again, it all depends on how you set up your suc- cess. Now it is just a matter of you choosing to start, and getting the wheels in mo- tion. As said earlier in the book, “The best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago, the next best time is now.” So go live the life you have dreamed of!

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Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SkyDataSol

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