Dropshipping is one of the most popular forms of affiliate marketing that you’ll find, and if you do things right, it can be one of the easiest ways to earn passive income on the net. There are thousands of successful online stores that people run that prove the value of dropshipping.
If you’re interested in kicking off a dropship career, then you are going to need to start your journey. One of the best ways to start your dropshipping career is to open up a store using Shopify. Want to learn how to set up your own store on Shopify? Here’s the scoop.
1. First things first, sign up for a Shopify account. You can’t use the Shopify platform without an account. This will require you to pay for the kind of storefront that you want to get. We suggest starting off with a Shopify Basic account, and upgrading to a higher tier once you have things started.
2. Next, get an EIN and banking account. Though you can run a dropshipping store from your personal bank account as a sole proprietorship, it’s usually better to just have a business account dedicated to your dropshipping sites. This is optional to do, but what isn’t optional is making sure that your Shopify financial portion is linked up to the account you’ll be using.
3. Come up with a branding concept and store concept. Before you even consider putting together your online store, you need to figure out your brand. What are you selling? Who are you selling to? What kind of “vibe” do you want your online store to have?
When putting together your brand, think about how your store will be marketed. Feeling low on name ideas? Use Shopify’s name generator tool to get a good one or help you brainstorm something interesting.
4. Check out the themes that Shopify has available for your store fronts and build your store. Designing your store is the next step, and traditionally, this wasn’t easy to do. The good thing about Shopify is that it makes the website building aspect of this to be easy.
The most important thing to do when choosing your theme is to upload photos that work with your brand and future products, and to create categories that make it easy for people to navigate through your site. This both adds to your brand and helps make it easier for people to enjoy your shop.
5. Find dropshipping platforms, and link them to your Shopify site. There are tons of dropshipping groups that come equipped with Shopify plugins that streamline the process of stocking everything. We suggest starting off with Oberlo and Spocket. You can also try SaleHoo, a well established dropshipping supplier platform.
When choosing a platform that houses your inventory, make sure that the platform you select is easy for you to use and contains products that are interesting. If the products aren’t unique or won’t ship in a timely manner, the platform won’t be worth your time or money.
6. Start browsing for products to sell. If you ask most veteran dropshippers, this is going to be the step that truly makes or breaks your ability to make good money off the stuff you’re selling. Having good products is vital to your business, and many dropshippers go so far as to order their own samples to ensure that what they’re selling is worth it.
You might be worried about having to upload items to your store. Thankfully, dropshipping platforms like Oberlo and Spocket make it possible to search for products that work with your brand and instantly add them to your store’s inventory.
7. Start working some SEO into your storefront. Shopify can link up with WordPress sites, which then makes it possible to have a blog that can help boost your search engine rankings. Not feeling a blog? Not a problem. You can also make your site more visible to search engines by adding your keywords into the main pages of your site. You can use the readily available tools to search for relevant keywords.
It’s worth pointing out that there are many sites which don’t get immediate attention from search engines. If you have a strong social media plan, you don’t necessarily need SEO to thrive.
8. Begin marketing your store via social media. If you want fast results and don’t mind paying for it, social media marketing will work well. Most stores will need an Instagram and Facebook campaign (at the very least) to pull a profit.
It’s worth noting that Shopify’s platform has some tools that help customers and shopkeepers integrate their storefronts into social media posts. If you are using a platform like Hootsuite to schedule posts, then make sure to keep a regular schedule.
9. Put together a mailing list. Mailing lists make it easy to reach out to clients and get them to return to your store. They’re old school, but they work. I suggest using MailChimp to create an email marketing list and template. Send out mailers once a week, and you should start to see more visitors show up.
10. Check out which products are your high scorers, and adjust your store accordingly. Within a month or so, you’re going to start to notice certain products becoming more popular than others. If you want to maximize your store’s profitability, you’ll switch out less popular products for new products on a regular basis.
11. Keep your store looking good, and update it as necessary. Once you actually have everything established, your store should be relatively easy to work with going forward. From here on, maintaining a good inventory and keeping your marketing on point is what will matter the most.
What Does White Label Mean?
I remember that I first heard the term “white label” when I overheard a former boss talking about a service we offered to a client. At the time, I was working for an ad agency with a slight PR bent. His client was an up-and-coming hair product manufacturer who was trying go get some new B2B customers of his own. It happened during a consultation.
“So, yeah, we do have an in-house brand that we sell,” he said, holding the bottle. “But just between you and me, we also offer white label formulas.”
“White label?” I asked.
The client quickly started to talk about his products and how he sold them. It was an enlightening moment for me—and made me realize a lot about branding and product flow that most people on the outside would never notice.
If you’ve ever wondered how Trader Joe’s gets such cheap (but familiar tasting) food products or why some brands just seem so darn similar, it’s time to sit down. This is a concept that is widely found in dropshipping and affiliate marketing. Want to know more? Well, let’s start with the basics.
What Is “White Label?”
“White label” is a term that originated in the fashion industry. Clothing makers and fashion makers would create basic designs (like shoes or tees) with a white label. They would then sell these basics to fashion designers as a way to help them cut the costs necessary to sew their own shirts or create the bases for their shoes.
This old school fashion practice made it more affordable to start a business while also keeping quality up. Since the olden days, companies started to wisen up to how useful the white label concept is and the practice is now widely used.
Though it used to be a concept that was strictly meant for basic pieces that would later be customized, the term white label now refers to any product or portion of a product that can be sold under a different brand name.
How Does White Labelling Impact Dropshipping?
People have gotten a little tired of dealing with having the same products as all the other dropshipping stores out there. Stores that are looking to take their brand to the next level are now turning their attention towards getting stuff made under their name. White label products make it happen.
How Can Dropshippers Get White Label Products?
There’s now an entire industry that is totally dedicated to the creation of white label products. These products range from skincare, to CBD products, to makeup, to full-blown software kits. To get your own white label product, search up white label manufacturers in your store’s field.
Once you find a white label producer you want to work with, you just give them your logo and branding information and let them make the products. After that, they will act as a dropshipper using branded merchandise with YOUR name on it. It’s that simple.
Are All White Labelers The Same?
Nope. Just like you can’t trust dropship merchants to be the same, you shouldn’t expect white label manufacturers to all be cut from the same cloth. There will be good ones and bad ones. Part of the difficulty that dropshippers have to do is figure out which will be the best partner for their work.
A good white labeler will:
- Addresss any and all quality concerns. If the white label company won’t stand by their products, why would you want to work with them? Quality will always beat quantity and price, period.
- Be willing to work with your standards in terms of branding. A white label company should not get testy with you over your brand’s vibe or with your logo. If you notice them pushing design assistance, back away.
- Ship things promptly. You don’t want to have a lazy manufacturer, trust me. 24 hour processing service and customer service would be ideal.
- Be straightforward about pricing. You would be shocked to hear how many manufacturers like to add on “surprise” fees. Manufacturers can have fees, but you sould be aware of them before everything is set up. If they have a rep for “springing fees” on people, avoid them.
- Make a product you would use. If you wouldn’t want to use it, do not try to sell it to others. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable buying the product, you should never try to add it to your store.
- Have products that are trending on Google or show great potential for it. Translation: everyone and their grandma has a CBD oil or gummy line. You don’t need to be one of the thousands out there. Getting trending products or unique products can wok better.
Is It Worth It?
In my opinion? Absolutely. White label products set you aside from the rest of the dropshippers out there and can help you launch your brand to superstardom. It’s one of the only ways to stay unique in industries that would be nearly impossible to broach otherwise, and it’s a way to do it for cheap.
Real talk, I’m all for it. However, there’s a caveat. You need to make sure that the products you’re going to white label are worth using, and that the company you work with is legitimate. Otherwise, you’re going to be in for a serious nightmare.
What Are The Best Products To Dropship?
When it comes to dropshipping, it’s fairly clear that there’s an opportunity to make money around every corner. As long as you know how to market your wares, you should be able to make some money. Though all dropship companies have some opportunity, there are definitely certain genres that make more money and become more popular than others.
Are you looking for a new opportunity or niche that will work for you? Check out these popular dropshipping categories for starters…
It’s no secret that most women love to shop—and that society expects us to have an outfit for every occasion. Is it really that surprising that clothing stores remain one of the most popular dropshipping options out there?
Clothing has a lot of perks when it comes to the dropshipping model. It’s easy to send out, people need it all the time, and it’s remarkably easy to market on social media. Since most women tend to shop online for impulse buys, it’s easy to work with that mentality in terms of marketing.
Candles + Home Decor
There are many parts of the United States that do not have interesting home decoration stores, and even more that don’t have many interesting candle shops. People always love adding extra pizzaz to their homes, and often use home decor items as gifs for loved ones.
Even people who live the most Spartan of lifestyles will want to get some home decor from time to time. This niche is excellent for people who “get” a specific aesthetic, such as modern or mid-century stylings.
Some might argue that the adult toy dropshipping market is overflooded, but I’m not so sure. It all depends on what toys you’re selling, how you’re marketing them, as well as the quality that you’re offering them up at.
With adult toy stores, people tend to fall in love with the brand more than they do with the toys—at least initially. Should you go into the adult toy sector, it’s crucial to pick a niche that is focused on a specific type of sex play and to do your research. Otherwise, your store will be lost in a sea of lookalikes.
Did you ever get gifted something that made you ask, “Where on Earth did you get that?” Maybe it was a pair of slippers that looked like dinosaurs, or a puzzle that had a weird twist. Maybe it was something that involved a geeky drinking game, or a uniquely witchy bedspread. You get the picture, right?
Having a gift shop that is stocked with quirky items is a great way to make sure that people are more inclined to shop at your online store. After all, it’s not like most malls have a place that will stock items that you have in your shop. Quirky, wacky gifts are great impulse buys and also look great on Facebook ads.
Most people already know that going to the local sporting goods shop means that they’ll pay retail prices—and no one wants to have to pay the full price tag on their gear. That’s why most people are fine with going to a dropship store to get cheaper sporting goods.
With these kinds of products, it’s a good idea to choose one particular sport (like yoga or baseball) and work with that. When your shop gets big enough, this niche will let you expand into personal nutrition, which makes it an awesome choice.
Women’s Fashion Accessories
Women’s clothing is a great genre of products to dropship, especially if you pick a specific type of clothing that can be hard to shop for. However, there are still issues when it comes to getting returns and sizing as a dropshipper.
The reason why selling accessories works so well. You can gain 20 pounds or lose 50, but accessories will never betray you. Since accessories are a “one size fits all” issue, the number of returns that you get never drops.
Though it’s not always as glitzy or glamorous as many of the other options on this list, I’d be lying if I said that office supplies aren’t great dropshipping products. Think about it. Most people don’t want to have to hit up Staples in order to get a notebook or a new set of pens.
Going online can help people save money and also get unique office items that might not be available near them. Since it’s a convenient way to improve your workspace, and you don’t have to worry about returns, it’s a good option for people to consider.
If you want to get into specifics, I’d strongly suggest looking at stylized stationery, envelopes, reams of printer paper, as well as pinboards that can be used to hold announcements. That being said, virtually any sort of supplies you would normally see in a backpack would work well here.
This is a product category that’s often overlooked but should be respected more. Most people take a little pride in dining in style, especially when it comes to their drinkware. A decent amount of people enjoy gifting others commemorative drinkware during major life milestones, as well as gifts “just because.”
I mean, there are plenty of people out there who collect drinkware or get a kick out of having drinkware that works with their overall vibe. This is one product that tends to be sold along other lifestyle products and home decor pieces, so if you want to have some cool accessories as part of your store, add a glass or two in.
The Main Mistakes of Dropshipping And How To Avoid Them
Dropshipping is incredibly popular and offers a way for people to start their own business with very little startup money. Their reputation as “easy money” ripped through internet entrepreneurial circles, and grew like wildfire. If you ask people who’ve never done it before, it’s a way to literally crap out a site and make money while you sleep.
Newsflash: THAT BELIEF IS TOTALLY WRONG!
The truth is that dropshipping is only good if you do it the right way. These mistakes below are where people tend to have the most problems and cause their business to become unprofitable. Are you wrecking your own company?
Mistake #1: Not marketing your website correctly, or to the right people.
When it comes to dropshipping, marketing is going to be your most important focus. A great website will not get any hits whatsoever if you don’t market it. How are people supposed to buy from your store if they don’t know you exist?
Refusing to promote your store is the worst thing you can do. The only thing that is close to being that bad is to promote your store to the wrong audience. If you make the mistake of picking the wrong demographic, you’re going to end up losing more money than you rake in.
Mistake #2: Picking bad products.
Bad products are the bane of every dropshipper. A bad product is a product that has one of the following ring true:
- Common. Everyone and their mother has a “Live, Laugh, Love” sign hanging up on their wall, so why would you sell them online?
- Ugly. If it looks visually jarring, no one will be drawn to them.
- Too Far Away. If it takes three weeks or more to ship, you probably aren’t going to have much luck. People don’t want to wait that long for something unless it’s truly spectacular.
- Low Quality. I strongly suggest ordering a sample before you try to sell anything. You’d be shocked at how badly mismarketed some of those products are.
Having bad products means that you’ll gain a reputation for bad stuff. Your reputation is what makes you money. So, don’t have bad products.
Mistake #3: Not having a return policy prepped.
If a person orders something and adores it, everything’s great. But, what if things go wrong? What if your stuff isn’t as good as you thought, and you get people asking for returns? If you don’t know how to answer that, you’re headed towards a customer service disaster.
Before you ship out anything, come up with a return policy that you can stick to. Many dropshippers will refund you if you get returns, so it’s wise to check out what companies offer in terms of refunds before you have a return hit you.
Mistake #4: Having a butt-ugly site.
Did you ever go on a website that had all the classic traits of a poorly-kludged spam site? A site that looks like it was made by a 12-year-old will not inspire a person to buy anything from there. If anything, it might inspire them to buy new anti-virus software and question their life decisions.
Aesthetics matter. They matter a lot, people. The thing is, you don’t need to bust your butt to put together a nice dropshipping store. Shopify has tons of great themes, and if you are running your store through a WordPress site, then you have limitless templates to choose from.
Mistake #5: Using bad photos to market your products and your sites.
Most dropshipping platforms will have plugins that let the dropshippers supply professional-quality photos, but be forewarned, not all do this—and many dropshippers don’t pay enough attention to take good photos for their product page.
The product photos are not the only thing people tend to flub. It’s also the photos you take that you use to advertise your site. Having models wearing your gear or featuring cool graphics is a must if you want to grab people’s attention.
Mistake #6: Not sticking to your plan.
Ever wonder why some stores just stop working? It’s a common issue that I attribute to burnout and distraction. Here’s what happens with many dropshipping companies:
- The owner sets up shop and starts an aggressive marketing plan. The shop looks great, the marketing plan is on fleek, and everything is okay…sort of.
- The shop gets some customers, but not enough for the owner’s liking. There’s still a profit, but maybe it’s not that good. The owner gets a little upset or disheartened.
- The owner finds a new idea or just gets tired of doing the upkeep. For one reason or another, people tend to push their stoers to the wayside or cease interest in keeping their shop updated for the seaon.
- The company starts to fall by the wayside, as people become increasingly bored with the options and marketing becomes less active. This causes profits to plummet, rather than grow as the campaigns gain traction.
- The company owner gets annoyed, then decides that dropshipping failed. The concept didn’t fail; the owner’s lack of consistency ended up killing the store before it bloomed.
See where I’m going with this? You need to be able to keep things consistent in order to get the results you want. Otherwise, you’ll see a downward spiral that will knock your plans down to nothing.
Mistake #7: Choosing a niche you really don’t understand.
Have you ever met someone who tried to pretend they were someone they actually weren’t? We all have, and we all have been in a position where we knew that the person in question had no idea what they were talking about. It’s painful, and it’s hard to watch without wanting to vacate the area.
Having a website that isn’t something you know well is a lot like that. Every niche has nuances that are exclusive to them, and outsiders just don’t see those little quirks. That’s why choosing a niche you don’t know and have no interest in doesn’t make sense, and will eventually bite you in the behind.