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How to Launch a Dropshipping Business in a Day (total cost? $29)

12/13/2012

in Make Money

[Note: This is the second in a series of case studies of readers who've tried out my techniques. here is a case study from last week. Have you tried out anything from Hack the System and either succeeded or failed? Email me at maneesh@hackthesystem.com and let me know]

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There once was a retired engineer who is asked to come fix a major malfunction in a company’s product. He comes in, turns on a simple switch, and the unit works perfectly. He bills for $101,000.

“How could you possibly charge that much!” said his old boss.

“Simple,” the old man responded. “It’s $1 for the labor of flipping the switch—and $100,999 for knowing which switch to flip.”

Mentor, one of my readers who blogs at Skillcollector, argues that a lot of the difficulty in getting started in your own online, location-independent business, is simply knowing which switch to flip—that specific example or step-by-step method to get your first business launched.

I’ve taught dozens of students how to build a successful online business, so it’s always a pleasure to hear some of the success stories.

Mentor Palokaj, decided to start his own—and build a dropshipping business in under a week.

I’ll let Mentor take it away.

Excuses

 

Having no boss but yourself, reaping the rewards of your own efforts, and working from wherever you want: these are all perks of having your own online business. It’s possible to write a whole article on how the Internet revolutionized how we’re working nowadays, with new articles emerging all the time. However, when people think about starting their own online business, they often think one (or even more) of three things:

  • I do not have the time
  • I do not have the money
  • I do not have the skill

Well, this article is here to burst that bubble. Because guess what:

You don’t need a lot of time, or at least not as much as you think.

One of my favorite quotes is “It’s easy once you know how it’s done.” Last week, I created a fully functional webstore, including a supply chain and everything, in less than 12 hours. That is not because I am a genius, but because I happen to know how. With a little willpower, you will know how to in no time.

You don’t need money to start an online business

Total investment for a webstore, provided you do it the way it’s described in this article is (hold on to your sock)…29 Euro (35 dollars or so). That’s purely a domain name and web hosting. You can find even cheaper, but I use my favorite web host.

You do need some skill, but in this day and age that is easy to come by.

The web shop framework was up and running in, drumroll please, 15 minutes. The biggest job is tweaking little things and putting your products in the store. Guess what, there is no need for programming anymore if you want a website or webstore. Unless you want to, of course.

The three elements

Venn Diagram by Mentor Palokaj

There are three main components of a functional and successful webstore.

  • The webstore

Your products need a home. The webstore is the functional part of this whole system. It’s what your customer sees, never knowing or caring what happens behind the scenes.

  • The supply chain

Your products need to come from somewhere. In the past, you needed to stock up on products from a supplier before starting your webstore, resulting in high investment costs. Well, there is a new game in town preventing such a situation (hint: you won’t even have your own stock).

  • The marketing

What good is a webstore if nobody knows about it? There are many tactics to promote your webstore and we’ll run through some of the most successful ones.

The webstore

Screenshot of WooCommerce theme. GPL licensed visuals by Woothemes.

In the past, coding was the only way to make a website. By now, things are pretty much automated. Here’s the boiled down process in a few steps:

  1. Get a domain + hosting
  2. Install WordPress
  3. Install a theme
  4. Configure the theme
  5. Install an eCommerce plugin
  6. Configure the plugin
  7. Add your products
  8. Structure your website

Let’s run through these steps one by one. Most people will be able to do all this out of the box. If you are not one of those people don’t worry, it is a relatively simple and structured process.

1. Get a domain + Hosting

Screenshot crop of GoDaddy homepage. Visual copyright by GoDaddy.

In theory, it’s possible to get free hosting and a sub-level domain (yourshop.somerandomwebsite.com for example), but both of those do more harm than good. Both for user experience and search engine ranking you want a fast website with its own brand. There are two distinct decisions you need to make:

  • What domain name do you want
  • What host will you choose

The domain name has a couple of criteria it needs to fulfill. Not all domain names are created equal. If you compare onlinesupplements.com (random example) to suppz4uonline.com (again random) you can see why the first creates a more trustworthy image. You can check domain name availability at the websites of most webhosts.

Here’s the criteria you will want to keep in mind:

  1. The name should be relevant
  2. It should be as simple and short as possible
  3. It should be easy to remember
  4. It should look professional
  5. It has to be available

The second step is choosing your webhost. A domain name is just a label; it points to a physical server that holds your webpage. This server should be able to run what you need it to run, in the way you want it to run. The hosting is the most expensive part of your website (usually), but it should cost no more that 30-50 Euros/dollars a year.

Here’s some of the criteria to choose your webhost:

  1. User reviews. Check if other people liked them (on an independent site!).
  2. Make sure they can run WordPress (email them if you are not sure).
  3. They should run cPanel / DirectAdmin or a similar system as a back end. This basically means you can install WordPress with one click.
  4. Their customer service should be good.
  5. Their servers should be fast and in the country you are targeting with your web store.

Once you have ordered your amazing domain name with adequate hosting, you can move on to the next step.

2. Installing WordPress

WordPress logo, released under the GPL license

WordPress is a framework in which blogs, websites and web stores can be built. It takes the coding out of the process so you can focus on content. The two main players in webhosting backends are DirectAdmin and cPanel. You will have received login details for one of these systems with the confirmation email from your webhost. Installing WordPress sounds like a big task, while in fact it takes about 5 minutes. In DirectAdmin, you will find a link to “Installatron Applications Installer”, in cPanel most hosts put “Install WordpPress in 1 Click” in the main menu. If you can’t find these links, contact support and ask for their help. To illustrate how easy installing WordPress is, have a look at the process in Installatron:

Installatron screenshots. Logos are GPL licence. Interface copyright held by Installatron (left); WordPress visuals released under the GPL Licence. Installatron visuals copyright by Installatron.

Here you just click on WordPress, and you will be presented with a screen where you click “Install this Application” and it’s all automated from there. No hassle with databases or anything.

3. Install a Theme

WordPress default theme. Released under GPL license.

WordPress is a framework, which means that it can be customized by filling up the framework with what you want or need. By default, WordPress looks rather basic. Of course that is not how you want to present yourself to the world. You want your webstore to look slick and well organized. What you need is to install a theme. Themes are basically templates that you stick over WordPress. They can be found in many flavors and prices. Luckily, some of them are free. Of course, you can always decide to pay for a theme if you think it would benefit your web store’s income.

I personally like WooThemes, which also means that this guide will suppose you do too. If you are a fan of other systems that is no problem, the process will only be marginally different. The advantage of using WooThemes is that they offer an eCommerce plugin, and themes that are compatible with it. Go ahead and choose a WooCommerce compatible theme. You will recognize them by the icon on the right. When you have found your theme, go ahead and download it. You will be presented with a .zip file. This file contains all the information WordPress needs to make your page look pretty. To install the theme:

  1. Log into your page at the url yourwebsite.com/wp-admin
  2. Head over to Appearence
  3. Select themes
  4. Click upload
  5. Point WordPress to the location of the .zip you just downloaded
  6. Activate the theme

WooCommerce theme example. Released under GPL license.

4. Configure the theme

And voila, your website now looks amazing. There are, however, some things you will want to change. The default logo for example. Here are some things you want to change in the theme before considering it fully “configured”:

  • Change the logo. If you have none, configure it as a text slogan.

You can configure this under “your theme name” (it has a Woothemes logo). Click on “theme options”. The first option you will see is “Custom logo”. If you want a text logo, click “Enable text title”.

  • Configure the general settings

If you want Google Analytics, paste the tracking code into the tracking code box. It is also a good idea to set your contact email. The “favicon” setting configures the little logo you see next to the page title. If you have one, upload it there.

  • If you have a theme with featured panel / slider, configure it to have some content

Note: You can also do this later if you want your slider to link to products, for example. A featured panel can be configured under your Theme > Theme settings > Featured Panel. A content slider will have its own link in the left bar, where you can make separate slides. To make sure images are shown properly set them as featured images in the slides.

  • Configure your Subscribe & Connect module

Under “your theme name” > Theme options > Subscribe & Connect. This module can be shown in your sidebar or under your post. It allows your users to subscribe to your newsletter and relevant social media profiles.

5. Install an eCommerce plugin

WordPress itself does not have integrated webstore functionality. It does, however, have a structure that allows plugins. In the left bar you will find “Plugins”, where you can find your plugins, update them, and install new ones. There are multiple eCommerce plugins, but the easiest to use in my opinion is WooCommerce. This is why we selected a WooCommerce compatible theme. Go ahead and head over to “Add New” under plugins and search for “WooCommerce”. Then install and activate the plugin. If you installed WooCommerce properly you will see the following item appear in your left menu bar:

WordPress interface, released under GPL license (above) and Woocommerce logo, released under the GPL license (left).

6. Configure the eCommerce plugin (WooCommerce)

The theme has most of its functionality out of the box. It does, however, need some of your basic information; things like: what currency you use, and how much your shipping costs, will be needed. Go ahead and go to the WooCommerce menu item and click on “Settings”. Configure all of the tabs according to the settings that apply to you. Pay special attention to:

  • Pages

If WooCommerce misses any pages, that part of its functionality won’t work properly. Make sure all pages are configured properly. If you don’t want them to show up in the menu, configure the menu separately under Appearance > Menus

  • Taxes

In most countries you have to make clear what taxes are applied. Make sure you configure the taxes you use under that tab. Also, check the settings that make sure taxes are shown at the checkout.

  • Payment settings

Customers that want to buy your stuff are great, but you do need to make sure that they have a means of payment. Under “payment gateways” you can configure the most popular systems, like PayPal.

  • Shipping

Your customers need to know how much shipping costs. Even if you charge no shipping cost, make sure shipping is configured properly.

7. Add your products

From WordPress. Both released under the GPL license.

So we are going into where to get your products in a minute. But for structural purposes we’ll discuss how to add products now. You will find a separate tab for products under your WooCommerce menu item. Under that heading you will find the link “Add Product”. There you can enter the following product information:

  • Title

Make sure your product title is easy to understand, and not too long. The title will be reflected in the link (unless you change it).

  • Product description

The first (big) field will be shown at the bottom of the product page. It should contain details of your products. This is the right location for specifications and such.

  • Short description

This field is a little to the bottom. It will be shown next to the product image. This is a good location for brief information. I like using bullet points to highlight the most amazing features of the product.

  • Product categories

This module I found, is used to structure your products. You can add categories from there or you can configure them in detail under Products > Product Categories.

  • Product information

VERY important. This box contains the product information, like the price, article code, shipping type, and so on. Always configure this as fully as you can.

  • Featured image

Products with images sell better. Adding a product photo as a featured image will make WooCommerce show it nice and integrated.

8. Structure your page

This depends on what you want on your page. I personally prefer a clean front page with a nice slider and some sort of weekly deal. Pay special attention to what widgets you use, and how you configure your menus. Some personal tips:

  • Don’t use unnecessary widgets, especially in the footer
  • Have only relevant WooCommerce links in your menu
  • Keep it simple and clean
  • Have a subscribe & connect module that offers some sort of free eBook or discount code
  • Use high quality images in your slider/featured panel
  • Use appropriate tags

If you are wondering if your page is good as you think it is, have a look at some successful web stores and compare yourself to them. Ask potential customers what they think. I’m a big fan of putting new things on Facebook or Twitter and asking for feedback. Keep in mind that your friends will usually try to be nice though.

The supply chain

Your products need to come from somewhere, which means you need a supplier. They also need to be stored somewhere when they are not being ordered. Traditionally, owning any sort of store would mean you’d need to take care of the following elements:

  • Having all relevant products
  • Making sure your stock is full
  • Dealing with supplier issues
  • Order processing
  • Order packaging
  • Shipping to your customers

Most of these things can be done by other people though. These things are also not what makes a webstore successful or fun. They are more prerequisites than anything. There is, however, a simple workaround to most of these activities, and it is not hiring an expensive employee. For a small price you won’t have to:

  • Make sure you have all products
  • Manage your stock
  • Deal with suppliers (not in the traditional sense anyway)
  • Order packaging
  • Shipping

That leaves only a small amount of things you have to do yourself. To run a webstore, all you basically need to do on the product supply end is:

  • Order processing

Diagram by Mentor Palokaj in Driodia app for Android.

And most of this is automated by the system we are creating anyway. So what is this supply chain we will be using? Well, you may have heard of it. It is called dropshipping. It basically means that instead of buying your own stock from a distributor and managing it yourself, you let the distributor do the managing. They even send the product to your customer in your name! From your workflow the following will happen:

  1. You get orders in your store
  2. At a set time, on the day you report the orders to your dropshipping provider
  3. You pay the dropshipper with the money you just got off of your customer
  4. Your dropshipper handles the order
    • Processes your order
    • Finds the products in his stock
    • Orders new products when stock runs out
    • Packages the order
    • Adds an invoice with your name (sometimes logo too) on it
    • Ships the package to your customer, often internationally as well
  5. You go drink some tea

Finding a supplier

The biggest challenge in this whole process is finding the right dropshipper for you. Before you go out and look, make a list of things you want from your dropshipper. Things to keep in mind are:

  • Does it have all the products I need?
    • If not, you may need multiple but this is not advisable
  • Does it ship to the countries I’m targeting?
  • Are the product and shipping costs within a profitable range?
  • Are their delivery times good enough?
  • Do they have good service?
  • And of course, anything else that applies to you specifically

As you can see this process is very straightforward and takes a lot of work off of your hands. Apart from the work, it also takes any financial investments out of the supply chain. There’s no initial investment to make and you pay the orders with the money you just received. The worst case scenario is that you need some cash flow buffer in case credit card payments take a while. In most recent bank systems, they should be quick though. You can search for dropshippers in multiple ways. My favorite is just to use Google. You can search using the syntax <your product> dropshipper, plus any criteria. For an international supplement store, for example, you would look for “International Supplement Dropshipper”. There are also a number of directories for dropshipping providers. The most popular are:

When you have decided upon a dropshipper, always test their claims first. Order some small order to your personal address and assess how well they operate. Things to keep in mind are:

  • Is their shipping time what they say it is?
  • For international orders: do customs let the package through or do they delay it?
  • Does the package look good enough?
  • Is the invoice complete and without prices?

When you have assessed these criteria, and any others you find useful, you can start adding products from your dropshipper to your webstore. Most of them will offer a dropshipping package that contains high resolution images of the products and a price list. The dropshipping prices are usually below the prices the shipper shows on the main page to individual customers.

The Marketing

There are a number of ways to go with your marketing. Do not underestimate this part of the process. Your webstore may be beautiful, but it will only be profitable if people can actually find it. There are a gazillion ways to market your webstore. There are, however, some basic decisions to make. The first being: Who are you marketing to? What you want to do is target the people that are most likely going to be your customers. If you are going to sell tablets, don’t go advertising to grandparents. Unless of course you think they would like a tablet, some do…

 

Business Model canvas my Business Model Generation. Released under Creative Commons license 3.0

A very helpful tool when defining your customers, is a customer development tool called the business model canvas. It will help you define exactly why you are doing what you are doing and who your customer is.

A little example: Say you sell protein shakes. You sell these to gyms, who use them in their cafeteria as a sports beverage for the people who are working out. Your customer here is not the people doing sports, but the gym. So make sure your web store and marketing is aimed at them. The user and the customer are not the same.

You can download the business model canvas here. Fill it out completely to get an overview of what your position is and who you are targeting. Once you have determined who your customer really is, find out how your customer is likes getting said information. Find out why and where they buy things. Always make sure you get this information from the person who decides what is being bought. If we go back to the gym example, talk to the person who buys the cafeteria supplies. Don’t talk to the guy behind the bar unless that is his job.

When it comes to promoting a web based business there are basically two ways of marketing: online and offline. They are similar but by no means the same. Both of them have a number of ways in which advertising is usually done. Here are some examples you can choose from:

Google Adwords interface by Google. Copyright by Google.

Using Google Adwords you can get visitors to your site relatively cheaply. Configuring the right keywords also means you will get a specific type of visitor, contributing to your sales.

  • Social media

Choose your profiles carefully. An empty shell on a social network does more harm than good. Remember it is social media. Use it to interact with your (potential) customers. Share meaningful articles, ideas, and promotions. Make sure you choose to use the social media that your customers use too.

  • Quality blogging

This will put you higher in Google, and give you more credibility to your customer. Make sure you write relevant and quality content. Always combine blogging with appropriate SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

  • Guest blogging

Writing for an established blog can cause a good amount of traffic to your page. The same goes for guest blogging as normal blogging. Make it quality.

  • Competitions

Getting more popular can be done very well through a competition. Find some sort of sponsor for a prize, and hold a sweepstakes or some other form of contest. Make sure that entering the contest creates exposure. You can for example ask people to follow you on Twitter, or share some of your articles.

  • Mailing list marketing

Always build an email list. Let your minimum goal for a customer visit be that they sign up for your newsletter. This is no license to spam, but a great way to let people know about any promotions you may have in the future. People respond much better to an email than to a Facebook update in their stream.

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques

Google wants to present quality articles to its customers. That means you need quality content. But what’s more, you need Google to understand the content of your article. You need to have relevant titles and make sure you have meta descriptions. Every website should be SEO optimized.

Royalty free stock image. Source: sxc.hu

  • Flyers

Flyering is old school, but does work if it is used properly. Don’t just spam flyers around–put them at strategic positions where your potential customers see them. If you want to leave them in businesses (like the aforementioned gym), be sure to get permission first. Just remember: spamming gives you a bad reputation.

  • Posters

Same story as the flyers. They are old school and you should place them at locations where your customers will see them. Always have permission to put one up.

  • Word of mouth

Make your service or product (preferably both) are so good that people can’t stop talking about them. You want people to talk about you to their family and friends.

  • Events

Being present at other people’s events can get great exposure. Things like conventions can get you great exposure. Some cost money, some are free. You can also host your own events. You should see my girlfriend when she’s at a clothing swap party with friends! An event around your products can be an all-night promotion that is fun for everyone involved.

  • Partnerships
    • Affiliate programs

Getting people to talk about you is great. You can actively stimulate it by using an affiliate type structure. Give people a discount code that their friends can use, and offer them 5% off all profit you get from those orders. This can work very well if you get a relevant organization to partner up (like the aforementioned gym).

    • Advertising deals

Find related businesses and offer a mutual partnership. You can, for example, promote a sports clothing brand in return for them promoting you as well. That way you offer your customers related products, and you can both benefit from each other without losing profits.

Each of these techniques have their own best practices and need to be modified to fit the situation you are using it in. Get creative with your promotion. Use the possibilities at hand, and remember that your web store is only as useful as the amount and quality of its visitors.

Getting Started Package

Reading is one thing, starting another. To help you out as a thanks for reading the article, you can receive this package for free:

  • A summary of the article in checklist form
    • This will prevent you from overlooking something
  • Links to the articles that helped me a lot
    • E.g. Total wordpress SEO checklist
    • The WP plugins that keep me sane
  • My personal help if you need it
    • I care about me readers, I really do. I’ll help you out if you need it.

 

Thanks for reading, I wish you the best of luck.

This article was written by Mentor Palokaj. He blogs about awesome skills at his blog SkillCollector.com.

{ 98 comments… }

kongite March 24, 2014 at 1:19 pm

I want to start an online dropshipping business

Reply

pkv bemessungsgrenze February 22, 2014 at 10:45 pm

I do believe all of the ideas you’ve introduced in your post. They are very convincing and can certainly work. Still, the posts are very quick for starters. May you please prolong them a bit from subsequent time? Thanks for the post.

Reply

Personal Freedom Fighter February 14, 2014 at 12:13 am

DS Domination has the easiest entry point into drop shipping for 2014. Here is a webinar from our founder
http://dsdomination.com/webinars/1/index.php/?s1=Suidoken Sign up information is mention within. I look forward to working with you.

Reply

James February 18, 2014 at 10:42 pm

If these systems worked as themselves why would the system itself need to be sold?

Reply

Robert February 11, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Hello Mentor,
Quick question. Is it true what some of the comments mention? Do you have to obtain an EIN number, business license and resellers permit?

Reply

Maneesh Sethi February 12, 2014 at 5:05 pm

You do not need to.

Reply

Steve February 2, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Nice concept, I am interested in dropshiping, looking for a partner, who knows how to make the design.

thanks

Reply

download ebook gratis January 30, 2014 at 10:48 am

We’ve examine some terrific products here. Definitely selling price social bookmarking pertaining to revisiting. My partner and i amaze the amount of efforts you set to develop such a impressive beneficial site.

Reply

Omar January 28, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Hi, If I am adding products in the backend, I’m unable to keep track of what source/s the products are coming from because I am getting products from various different suppliers. Is there any way to add a supplier column so I can keep track of where that product is coming from.

Thanks.

Reply

Justin March 4, 2014 at 12:41 am

Omar I believe many dropshipping supplier’s have developed easy integration to sync there supply with your website. If not you may need to get a developer to some how integrate it. Alternatively you could just monitor the stock yourself and update the website manually.

Reply

Dan January 22, 2014 at 3:12 pm

This is such a basic way to create a dropship business and it is much more complicated then this. It isn’t hard but then again, you leave out a lot of information that is very crucial to actually making your dropship business profitable.

Reply

Imar March 22, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Like?

Reply

Geo January 20, 2014 at 12:01 pm

The info in the article is great but you left out some of the most important aspects of information to anyone new starting out. In most instances, there will be or are other fee’s or money you will need to spend in order to get started.

1) In order to work with any manufacture or supplier, you will need to supply them with a resellers permit# and tax EID.
2) Depending on the state, county and or city you live in you may be required to have a business license as a reseller also.

In some states, the reseller permit can range anywhere from free up to $110.00 dollars, a business license can be anywhere from $35.00 up to $150.00 depending on location (state/city/county).

So far, I have never found a single supplier/wholesaler that will begin working with you without the minimum requirements of a resellers permit and tax EID numbers.

Getting the tax EID is simple, go to the IRS website and fill out the simple form for your business and get a tax EID number, it usually only takes about 10/15 minutes to fill out the form and your number will be issued immediately.

As far as a reseller permit, you will need to contact your state franchise board or tax board and apply directly with them for your reseller permit, this can take anywhere from a couple days to a few weeks to get approval.

Also, if you have any outstanding tax debt, or you owe taxes and are making payments to your state, they will deny the permit until your back taxes are up to par or paid in full.

Those are just some of the other things that were not mentioned in the article.

Trying to sell tangible/taxable product, whether it is online or offline without the above aforementioned permits and required licensing will come back to bite you in a very bad way if you do not have your ducks in order before you start.

Reply

Onthefritz January 21, 2014 at 7:29 pm

Thanks Geo for your most helpful reply. I’ve read countless articles now on how to start an online business but no one seems to be addressing the most important aspects of this whole process, doing it legally! As a total newbie to ecommerce it’s extremely important to me (and should be to others!) that I’m following all laws so I don’t find myself in hot water later. The guide above is very helpful and as a beginner I’m so grateful for resources like these, but don’t skip over the critical first steps (not to mention the additional possible fees) Geo mentioned above. I’m actively going through this process and it will take a couple of weeks to secure the necessary permits BEFORE I can begin adding suppliers, so it is a bit misleading to say this can be done in a day!

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Rob February 10, 2014 at 6:25 am

Geo, Thanks for the info. Do you recommend any other sources on drop shipping businesses?

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George February 28, 2014 at 9:43 pm

Thank you for your great step by step article. In theory you could get up and running in one day but you really should do some due dilligence first. Read more than just one article about dropshipping. Before launching my business in 2003 I did a lot of research and my favorite site now for up to date dropshipping information is; http://FreeDropShipInfo.com. It seems to be the whole package, from lists to how to video’s and much more. Bottom line is, yes you can get up and running in one day but you’ll have to visit the right resources first. Good luck to you.

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Armand January 8, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Awesome share. My question is about how much do you make off each item probably if your selling clothes?

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thomas December 23, 2013 at 11:59 am

I teach tennis in kobe, japan and just started a tennis blog and not i want to set up a drop shipping business too, thanks. Need to start cashing in too,wife and son, would love to talk to you, arigato. Happy Holidays?

Reply

pkv December 22, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Thanks for the good writeup. It actually was a amusement account it. Glance complicated to far added agreeable from you! However, how can we keep up a correspondence?

Reply

Maximus December 21, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Hi,

Im from Spain, and soon im gonna start drop-shipping in US from places like Wallmart and etc…as you know when doing freight delivery’s like furniture’s and stuff, i have to coordinate with the local shipping service to schedule delivery time with the buyer and i can’t give my shipping guy my customers number because they’ll call my customer and then my customer will find out where i got the item from, plus it’s gonna be difficult for me to do so because im outside US and the shipping guy has to call me and i have to call my customer back for coordination each time i make a sale. My question is, is there a company/group/people who would do this for me for a monthly fee? like when ever someone buys something from me , I send my customer’s number to that company/group/person and i put that company/group/person’s number on the order form instead of mine so the shipping guy will call them/him and ask them/him when to deliver and then they/him call my customer when would be a right time for deliver and then call back the shipping guy with the deliver time. So in the end my customer wouldn’t know where i got the item from. Hope you understood what im trying to say. Please HELP!!!!

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Angela December 13, 2013 at 9:59 pm

I used to have a website where I sold using drop shipping. It does work & I was seeing a small profit. I only worked very part time while I home-schooled two children, managed our home & worked part time in another business. My question for the mentor has to do with hackers. What do you do or what program do you use to keep hackers out of your website, trying to run credit cards through fraudulently? I had my site set up so no credit cards were run through with me clicking the ok button, which saved me. To have the hackers (or whatever they’re called) get in to be able to try doing this stuff was nerve-wracking though. I could never find their trail either when I looked (just using statcounter.com). Thank you!

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Dillon December 11, 2013 at 2:07 pm

This is the second time reading your article and I am pleased to say that my first online store is “technically” up and running. I recently ordered a product from Alibaba before knowing much about Drop-Shipping. Now we are switching gears and I believe I have found my first partner/dropshipper to begin this journey. I am very excited but very nervous at the same time. I have wanted to build a “Muse” business for the past two years after reading the 4HWW and now it is time!

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Kenny December 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Hi, Great article, had a quick question, who would you recommend for a Web Host? should I stick with Go Daddy or is/are there others you would recommend? Thank You

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Javier February 6, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Hostgator

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Topgun December 6, 2013 at 7:56 am

quite enriching post with sharp edges. enjoyed reading it. Thanks

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sueann johnson December 4, 2013 at 11:08 am

What are some business websites do you recommend? I been looking and it seems they all are fairly expensive….. thanks

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Jennifer November 23, 2013 at 4:22 am

I am trying to install a WooTheme to my WordPress page and there is no “Upload” option as you mentioned in Appearance> Themes. You can only use WordPress themes. I read this might be the case and I may have to go through my host (BlueHost). Please help! Thanks

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Donatello November 28, 2013 at 2:52 am

You can do it through your FTP client instead.

Simply go to the directory where you have WordPress installed, then Content – Themes and install the entire theme folder.

That’s all there is to it.

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Geo January 20, 2014 at 1:30 pm

Jennifer, yes, you can upload any wp theme in your theme options including woothemes, they are wp based and designed.
Once your on the “appearance” then “themes” page, you will see the standard wordpress themes that come pre installed, at the very top of the page there are 2 tabs, one says “manage themes” and the other says “install themes”, click Install themes, then you will be on the installation page, there you will see a small header with tabs, click the one that says “upload” , a new page will open with a browse button, click that, search your pc for your downloaded theme, double click the file where ever you saved it at on your pc, it will now be loaded into the brwose box, then just click the “install now” button and it will takes approx. 5 to 20 seconds to upload the theme. then once it is installed (it will tell you) just click “activate” and your done, the theme is installed.

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Joshua Marriage November 21, 2013 at 5:11 am

Great article Mentor! You’ve got a great, personable writing style that I really enjoyed reading. I was wondering if you have any recommended services or links to tips regarding automation of the order process. I would like orders to be automatically emailed to my supplier but I’m not entirely sure about what options are out there.

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andrew November 6, 2013 at 11:26 pm

you forgot to add that there is the fee for the sales/use tax form. in my state that is $60, bringing the total to $99

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Amni October 31, 2013 at 2:12 pm

With drop shipping, what is the best way to manage customer services/support for your customers?

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Drop Shipping October 30, 2013 at 2:47 am

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a basket you put the gifts in, either. Some of the

baby shower gift packages come in boxes or towers. For instance, a tower might

contain multiple boxes with a special surprise in each box.

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Jay October 19, 2013 at 12:41 pm

What theme is this website? I like it

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Maneesh Sethi October 28, 2013 at 5:21 pm

i hired it privately, not a theme

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Jacob October 17, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Great Post
I’ve a question for mentor. Do you access all products with out premium account from drop shipping websites?

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abismorkal October 15, 2013 at 8:46 am

Very Helpful blog you posted here Thanks for sharing such a nice blog

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Adegoke Akintoye October 3, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Thanks so much. I believe this will be helpfull.

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Joel October 3, 2013 at 3:45 am

This is a great article. I read it start to finish several times and even emailed it to some business partners of mine. We have been interested in starting up a dropshipping website to sell via a webstore and ebay for about 4 or 5 months now to make some passive income or income with relatively small time investment after the initial launch. We already have marketers at our disposal so that part would be covered for us. However, our biggest problem has been finding legitimate dropshippers. Everyone I seem to come across appears to be a middleman charging some outrageous fee. I also do research on the price they are charging me compared to current prices on eBay and at best I am making 3-4 dollars on items costing upwards of $500. Any suggestions on finding a good real dropshipper? I looked at some of the links you posted but it didn’t quite seem to click. I found doba.com but I am not sure if I think they are a true dropshipper or not.

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Chris December 19, 2013 at 6:49 am

Hi Joel, find the product manufacturer/creator website and ask them if they dropmship. Or they should have a list of their wholesale suppliers on their site who may drop ship.

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Angel September 27, 2013 at 12:35 am

Dropshipping is the way to go. I am unable to work for someone else. I’d rather make dropshipping a Lifestyle…
http://www.atlasbiznow.com/photo-gallery

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Fernando September 26, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Woothemes cost $99, so it’s not $29 to start with.
Just saying…

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Raj Kaku September 3, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Good information.

How are product returns/exchanges managed in drop shipping model?

Thanks

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Mentor September 19, 2013 at 7:41 pm

Hello Raj,

Depends on the dropship supplier, just ask them. Often there is an info section on the website explaining this.

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Yasir August 31, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Sorry I know this is late to the game. I was wondering would it be possible to create a store coming from multiple drop shipment companies? I’m thinking creating a unique store, but pulling products from multiple place. Something like gifts for gym enthusiasts. I want to have gym equipment, supplements, etc. But each one comes from a different place. What would be the best way to do something like this?

Just curious and trying to expand the possibilities =)

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Mentor September 19, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Hello Yasir,

It is indeed possible, you just need to manually keep track of what product comes from where (unless they have an API, which is rare).

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Jacob October 17, 2013 at 8:21 pm

If drop shipping company or whole have API, the premium cost will very expensive.

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freakz August 23, 2013 at 6:34 am

Hi. I am quite excited to start a online store with drop shipping concept. If for example, my company is registered in country A, can I still do online business (via my website) with wholesalers / drop shippers from country B for customers in country B ? Is it legal ?

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Mentor September 19, 2013 at 7:39 pm

It is indeed legal, some things to keep in mind though:

- Some products are not allowed in specific countries
- Your tax situation will become slightly more complex

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As a side job... August 21, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Maneesh;

Thank you for the great info. I work full time as a nurse, but have been contemplating starting an internet dropshipping business to earn some extra income. I have approximately 18 hours per week to put towards the venture and hope to earn approximately $10,000-15,000 annually. In your opinion, is this a realistic goal? Or is this type of business something one should approach with an “all or nothing” type of attitude?

Thank you.
BB

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Mikyle August 21, 2013 at 5:29 am

Firstly I would like to say thank you. I have been searching online for a great informative website to shed light on what many consider a confusing topic.

I am looking forward to implementing your tips and ideas.

Is there an email I can reach you at for further questions? I would be very grateful for any assistance you can offer.

Mikylelezra@aol.com. Mikyle Brown

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Ben August 11, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Hi,
Do I have to register my dropshipping business as a corporation to keep myself out of being sued if something goes wrong? Or is that something a dropshipper doesn’t have to worry about?

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Maneesh Sethi August 11, 2013 at 5:13 pm

You don’t HAVE to do anything. I never did. But it does open you up to liability.

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Ben August 12, 2013 at 4:06 pm

What opens me up to liability, filing as a corporation? What measures would you suggest I take to keep myself out of legal hot water if I open a dropshipping company?

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James February 21, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Not operating as a business entity opens you up to liability. If your state or country has limited liability companies, look at that instead of incorporation. There are often income tax advantages to LLCs instead of corporations.

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Robbi July 31, 2013 at 10:04 pm

I had a drop shipping website and I sold it on http://www.bizbroker24.com

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bledi July 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Hello

Great article.
Thank you for the tips

Pershendetje e suksese

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Mentor September 19, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Falemnderit :)

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KH June 28, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Hi mentor,

Great post! WooCommerce is the store right? But what do you use for taking the payments from users? PayPal? Do the charges eat into ur profits?

Thanks
K

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Mentor September 19, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Hello KH,

They charge 30 cents + 2-3% if I remember correctly. It all depends on your profit margin.

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Dan June 19, 2013 at 9:16 am

How do you enter the products into WooCommerce? One by one or can you import a large list of products somehow?

Thank you.

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Mentor September 19, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Hello Dan,

If there is a CSV available you can import them using than (even with images).

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Chu Arciniega January 31, 2013 at 4:44 am

An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker who was doing a little homework on this. And he actually bought me lunch simply because I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the time to discuss this matter here on your web site.

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Julian January 20, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Hey,
I read the article and am currently in the process of accumulating ideas of what exactly is interesting to me and people might be interested in buying as well. My question is with regard of the platform on which you build your web store. What is the difference between having your own website and a web-store built on the platform of Shopify for example. What are the benefits of shopify to justify the somewhat high monthly fees as well as sales percentage that they take from each sale?

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Mentor September 19, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Hello Julian,

Shopify takes care of the hosting and puts you in a framework. They are by no means bad, but it is cheaper (and much more flexible) to build your own page. That way you can 100% customize it and optimize it for speed, SEO etc.

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Frank September 26, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Yep, but then you carry the infrastructure, marketing and SEO expenses. That’s the trade-off.

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Maximilian January 2, 2013 at 2:06 am

Cool Post. Cuts very trough the bullshit very well…

Do You have other ways to built the webshop? Im from Germany, and its a bit difficult to use the tools from the american market. the law situation is different…

Best wishes
MAx

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Mentor Palokaj January 19, 2013 at 3:46 am

Hello Max,

What do you mean with tools? Wordpress it entirely free all over the world, including Germany. I live in the Netherlands and am quite familiar with the law systems in the region. Do you have specific questions?

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Raina December 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm

I read your entire post and found it so helpful, so thank you for the time you put in to writing it. What if I have a concept for an online store, but need several vendors to drop ship? Does your idea still work for a site that may need upwards of ten vendors who drop ship? Do you have another post you can direct us to on how to find the best drop ship vendors?

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Mentor Palokaj December 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Hello Raina,

It could definitely work, but only if you have vouched them to be high quality. I’ve not written a post in it, but the tips in the article should work. Bug their customer service to see if they respond, erder a product to see if they are reliable, check out reviews etc etc.

My favorite route is always to use google :)

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Stephen G. December 15, 2012 at 7:45 pm

After about 15 minutes of searching on Google, I discovered quite quickly that their are definitely a lot of scam artists out there trying to take advantage of you and your potential customers. Be aware of deals that sound too good to be true. For instance this one http://www.beltshoes.com/dropship/. Poor grammar on a website that’s suppose to be a fundamental part of your eCommerce should set off alarm bells.

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Mentor Palokaj December 17, 2012 at 10:15 am

Hey Stephen,

It is indeed true that there are quite a few fakes out there. It is thus very important to place an order and see how they handle it. For this project specifically I bugged their customer service with a lot of questions to see if they would respond and treat me professionally and ordered an order to verify how fast/well they would handle it.

Luckily there are also a lot of good options out there :)

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Benjamin Alexander December 14, 2012 at 8:42 am

Such a great article! Thanks!

I hope you don’t mind me asking, but how much do you expect to make in profit per month from this specific webstore that you’ve created? Thanks!

Benjamin

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Mentor Palokaj December 14, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Hey Benjamin,

I get my income from a series of different streams. This webstore I built purely to prove that it could be done for very little money in very little time.

There is no one-size fits all metrics table that will tell you how much you will make from a new webstore. It all depends on whether you find your customers, and on whether they like you enough to come back.

One of the techniques that is used by the people around me is to sell a fictional product. This is also what Steve Blank proposes in customer development. Simply offer people a product for sale that you don’t have yet, try different prices and see how many buy the product on the different price points.

The key here is not to ask whether they WOULD buy, but whether they will right now (and convince them that is what is happening, not customer research). That way you get accurate metrics on the popularity of the product.

You can combine this technique perfectly with google consumer surveys or existing emails you have. If you use your old subscriber lists maybe offer people who indicate that they want to buy a coupon to make up for the fact you tricked them. As a plus that means you have a list of customers of whom you KNOW that they will buy your product as soon as the store opens.

All in all never believe average metrics. You are not working in a closed system with set rules but with people. Even worse, you are dealing with people on the internet. The only rule is that the truth is whatever works best in your case.

Hope that helps :)

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Benjamin December 15, 2012 at 8:44 am

Thanks for the detailed reply. :-) I’m going to have a go at launching a webstore as my next project and this will really help. Thanks again! :-)

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Naijeezy December 14, 2012 at 11:09 am

Me too on the timeline to profit and profitability metrics questions.

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Mentor Palokaj December 14, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Hello Nijeezy,

Have a look at the reply to Benjamin’s comment. In addition to that consider the following: can you predict how much money a new business is going to make in the physical world? Probably not, there are too many variables.

Everything depends on what product you choose, what profit margin you have and how you reach your customers. The only way to find out is to try. That is the life of an entrepreneur!

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Alfredo December 14, 2012 at 5:15 am

When you are choosing a product, how do you know there is enough demand for that product? And if there is enough demand that you are available to get a piece of the market. (see if you can deal with your competitors)

If you look for it in google adwords, what number of global/monthly searches do you think is the minimum to start to sell that product? Anyway how do you evaluate the competitors to see if you can have a piece of the market?

Why did you choosed vitamins instead of another product? It´s simple to say “choose a product”, I think I always fail in evaluating the product and in the marketing.

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Mentor Palokaj December 14, 2012 at 12:04 pm

There are some questions you can use in the process. My recommendation is to NOT use keyword based things. Think from your customer’s perspective:

1. What stuff would you like to buy, but you don’t know where?
2. What stuff do your friends buy that you can dropship better/cheaper
3. What do your friends want to buy, but can’t find?
4. What products do you recommend (for me that was vitamins since I’m a nutrition geek as well) that you could sell?
5. Ask around, simply walk up to a friend/stranger: what would you want to buy online? Or what type or store would you like to spend time on?
6. Use the customer development tools outlined in the article
7. Use google consumer surveys
8. Just try stuff out. maybe start with a non-specific domain for which you can try multiple businesses/products

Since the investment is low, don’t worry about trying something outside of your comfort zone…

Hope this helps!

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jon December 13, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Can you give a rough estimate on how long it would to get revenue/profit through ppc alone after setting the site up?

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Mentor Palokaj December 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm

PPC is not a model you want to use in a dropshipping business. That is more for traffic based pages like blogs… Web stores operate on products, not ads :)

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Dave Craige December 13, 2012 at 10:52 am

I spent two years of my life searching for good products to drop ship. Its a huge pain in the ass.

I’m not sure if any of your readers will be able to pull this off.

Finding a profitable product to drop ship is incredibly difficult. Its incredibly frustrating and difficult to go through these lists (many which cost month) and realize that 99% of the stuff available to be drop shipped just isn’t worth the money it or is in a overcrowded niche.

Additionally, I ran into many of the wholesalers peddling clothing to be selling fakes. Scams after scams.

I would just be very wary of telling your readers that they can spend $29 and actually set something like this up. It feels very inauthentic to me.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions

I wish you all the best,

David Craige
DavidCraige@gmail.com

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Mentor Palokaj December 13, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Hello David,

Very sorry to hear you had bad experiences in the past. Truth is that I wrote this article based on my experience in fulfilling this challenge. I found the dropshipping of my choice (food supplements to be exact) in no time and ordered from them to check their service (after the actual store was done).

Looking for a dropshippable product is opposite of what I would do. It is easier to decide on something you would like to sell, and then finding a shipper who will do that. Usually google is faster than paid lists. Besides, a shipper whom cannot be found in google is one I do not trust…

Again, this article is based on my predominantly positive experience on setting up such a dropshipping webstore. Seeing as it is based on a pure personal experience I can say it is as authentic as it will get.

Hope you find more luck in future endeavors,

~ Mentor

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John December 13, 2012 at 2:38 pm

I think the key thing we’re all wondering here is: Yeah, you spent $29 over a weekend and now you have an e-commerce store that’s powered by drop-shipping. But how much money are you making? What’s your competitive advantage? What’s your value proposition? Why should customers buy from you rather than Amazon, or some competitor whose site has been around longer and has more credibility and a better track record?

In general, I want to see more hard numbers from all you make-money-online gurus. Maneesh, how much money are you making? How are you making it? How much money are your clients making? How much are they making less your coaching fees?

Honestly, just the fact that Maneesh is doing coaching rather than building his own passive-income businesses should be a HUGE red flag. Basically, his revealed preferences suggest that he’s able to make more money selling the dream than putting it in to action himself. Which suggests that the dream is oversold, doesn’t it?

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maneesh December 14, 2012 at 8:48 am

I coach less than 1x/month….

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Mentor Palokaj December 14, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Hey John,

Those are indeed good and sharp questions. But here is something to consider:

The article is about how to set up an online dropshipping business. Not about how to find the perfect customer segment or how to grow a business. Those are fascinating topics on their own.

The business model side is very complex and rather unpredictable. Welcome to entrepreneurship my friend :)

As a little side note, Maneesh released his first book at 16 and still earns passive income from it. As for the whole guru thing, I guess I’ll take it as a compliment…

To everyone looking for a one-size fits all get rich quick scheme: let me know when you find it. In the meantime, all that can be done is to share the experience you gain. I wish somebody would have told me the stuff I know now a while back. Would have saved a lot of time, money and turmoil.

I don’t promise you anything. Just open up the possibility of a different life. The rest is up to you. Not going to tell you how to live you life, but feel free to learn from my experiences and mistakes.

Have a nice day John :)

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Lorrie September 27, 2013 at 8:34 pm

Typical…I’m always a few days past the expiration date……..Your answer was to the point, non offensive and well written! I enjoy your flow of information and easily digested. I am at the beginning. I own my domain for a year! I have my plan! I have not selected my host/web. I know my suppliers. I’m scared to hit the “complete transaction button” Lol. I just do not want to regret my choice and which way to go as far as how much control they have opposed to what I want or know how to do. Turn-key? or not?

Omar January 8, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Seems a big narcissistic. So it’s a scam because he doesn’t come along and say here’s $20 in your pocket? He’s explaining what you could do.

Whoever wants to do it should do it. If not, don’t. Do whatever the heck you were doing before.

As a side note, the title says: How to launch a drop shipping business. That was explained quite clearly.

The thought process here would mean college is a scam and all learning is a scam.

People want too much hand delivered. You have to actually do some of the work.

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Erin December 13, 2012 at 10:22 am

Maybe I missed it, but do you have example site of this?
I would love to see something real world of this?

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Mentor Palokaj December 13, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Hello Erin,

For this specific challenge I built simpelvitamines.nl, please note it is in Dutch…

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Ellen December 13, 2012 at 9:12 am

Hello, So I have 2 basic questions about this concept.

1) What is the most important activity in the process that you’ve outlined…basically is it in the setup or marketing or writing the copy on the website and products?

2) After you set this up, how often are updating or managing the site? Also very curious on your return either profit-wise or a dollar/euro range.

I ask because I seen this mode l before but hardest part is getting people to not only find your site but actually spend some money.

Thank you for your reply. Maneesh runs a great site and very interesting topics like this one! Peace.

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Mentor Palokaj December 13, 2012 at 9:47 am

Hello Ellen,

1) What is more important, your feet or your legs? You need all of the above. But generally it’s a good idea to find out what gets you the best results. This is not a world of one answer fits all :)

2) Depends on how you run it. If you are an online based marketer having an active blog is a good idea. If you are a more local oriented person you can set up the system and focus on real life interactions…

To get them to spend money adjust from “I want visitors to my website who I can then convince to buy stuff” to “I want buyers that visit my website”. It is a nuance, but the difference between for example Adsense blogs (e.g. I want traffic and the focus on CTR) and webstores (e.g. I want people to come here with the purpose of buying).

The topic of marketing though is interesting and rich enough to write an entire post on…

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matt December 13, 2012 at 9:08 am

great step by step guide. any thoughts on choosing a product or do you just look through the products offered by the dropshipper and then say “Hey, I can sell outboard motors” or whatever it is

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Mentor Palokaj December 13, 2012 at 9:42 am

Have a look at where you see a market. If you know a lot of people looking for these outboard motors, then by all means do that!

You can use the customer development tools lower in the article to find a good segment… For me it is most fun to find something I’m passionate about since that will radiate out to your customers. That by the way goes for everything from product choice to blogging.

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Tom December 13, 2012 at 8:39 am

Nice effort and thanks for sharing. Always good to hear from you.
I have some criticisms / reservations though…
The techniques described are nothing new. And I have to disagree, It does take time, money etc to build a profitable Business.
Leaving ‘sweat capital’ out it for a second…
I totally understand the meaning behind what you are saying, 29 bucks gets you a website and hosting, fine, but it will take months to see the dividends of many marketing techniques. With no budget it’s kind of tough to survive on nothing!

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Mentor Palokaj December 13, 2012 at 9:41 am

Hello Tom,

Well, that is where you get creative. If you follow this post you just saved thousands on a websystem. Likewise you can hack your marketing. Start with family and friends and make your service so awesome they share it. Use your social media channels, and get partnerships (free!) with local businesses. It doesn’t have to take months or money, but contextual creativity is key :)

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Danny December 13, 2012 at 8:29 am

Thank you for the tips, Mentor.

Curious – what search settings (on the sites listed) have you found to be the most reliable in terms of finding a trustworthy brand?

Regards,

Danny

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Mentor Palokaj December 13, 2012 at 8:46 am

Hey Danny,

Glad you enjoyed! There is no universal check. Basically the best way is to look at reviews (where possible) and just order something. As mentioned in the post ordering something purely to test them is essential, an unreliable supplier would make you unreliable as well…

Cheers,

Reply

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