The mere mention of dropshipping might evoke memories of some fast-talking fake guru trying to sell you a $500 course. But you can trust us because we don’t have a course to sell you. We will give you the low down on how to start dropshipping free of charge. All we ask is that you disable AdBlock and click on one ad once you’re done reading this. Let’s get into it.
While it’s often pitched as a get-rich-quick scheme, dropshipping is no different from any other business. Many of those who try it fail and those who succeed have two things in common:
- They provide a tremendous amount of value to their customers…
- … and they do it better than their failing competitors.
Guide on how to start dropshipping and making money
The typical dropshipping pitch goes something like this: find a product, say a pair of socks, for dirt cheap, usually on Ali Express, list it at a markup on your e-commerce store, and wait.
Hopefully, somebody will come along and buy the socks going for $2 on Ali Express for $5. Once you have your customer’s money you can then turn around and actually buy the $2 pair from your supplier, keeping the $3 for yourself. You make money by doing practically nothing. Isn’t that the dream?
It almost sounds too good to be true. And it is. This fantasy flies in the face of economic reality. All people want as good a deal as they can get. If you’re not adding any value, it’s only a matter of time before your customers bypass you and buy straight from the source.
If you want to make money dropshipping, you’ll have to do the hard work. Hours of research, loads of marketing, brand building, and a lot of continuous maintenance work.
What are the minimum requirements to start dropshipping?
- Up-to-date market research on your chosen niche.
- A functioning e-commerce store.
- A reliable dropshipping supplier.
- A healthy marketing budget.
What to sell when dropshipping
Frankly, there’s no simple answer. The more crowded a niche is, the harder it is to turn a profit. You’re going to have a much harder time selling t-shirts than you would selling test tubes or industrial solvents simply because of the massive difference in the number of competitors.
The first step in deciding what to sell is looking at your own knowledge base. You can then draw on your unique experience in a specific niche to do further research. You have to ensure the niche you’re targeting is underserved.
Without filling in a specific gap in the market, you’re not going to have a business that’s sustainably profitable in the long term. Generally, the less crowded a market niche, the easier it is to find opportunities.
If you take anything from this article, let it be this: if you can find a product on some list of “what to sell as a dropshipper” on page one of Google, it’s no longer profitable because a million people are already selling it. Find something else.
How much profit can a beginner make from starting dropshipping?
Profit depends on niche, sticker price, and volume. There’s no overall dollar figure. You should naturally expect the profits in a crowded niche like clothing to be very low because whatever your price is, there will always be someone else willing to undercut you by a cent, or 50 cents, or even a whole dollar. And there will be someone else willing to undercut the person undercutting you.
A less crowded niche is better but your profits there are limited by the size of the market. There is a massive market for T-shirts, for example. Everyone on earth is a potential customer. But the number of potential customers for a product like industrial solvent is orders of magnitude smaller. You can make or lose money in either market. It all depends on how you position yourself. There are no guarantees.
The final determiners of profit are sticker price and volume. The more expensive a product is, the fewer units you’ll sell. But sticker price has a second drawback: people prefer to buy expensive items in a brick-and-mortar store. Now, what someone defines as expensive varies by income, so the best way to figure this out is to once again, do your research.
Is dropshipping a scam?
No. Aspiring dropshippers have been scammed with the promise of quick riches but it’s ultimately a business like any other. It’s just a lot harder than the grifters would like you to believe.
Alternatives to dropshipping
Print-on-demand is the best dropshipping alternative for customizable mass-market items. They have many of the same characteristics. You don’t need to store inventory and you can outsource fulfillment to a third party.
Pros and cons of dropshipping
- You can get started with very little capital.
- There’s no need to keep inventory.
- You can experiment with different concepts without bankrupting yourself.
- Profit margins are very thin.
- Competition is intense.
- You have zero control over your supply chain.
- Customers hold you responsible for any mistakes made by your supplier.
- It’s very hard to build a brand
Conclusion of How to Start Dropshipping
While dropshipping is an easy business to start, it’s not an easy way to make money. To succeed, you’ll have to work as hard at it as you would work at anything else.