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Babazen's step by step guide to dropshipping


This is Babazen's step by step guide to dropshipping. Here, we share our own experience on how to start an online business, how to dropship by choosing the best dropshipping products, finding dropshipping suppliers in US, contacting drop shipping wholesalers, creating a marketing plan targeting a niche market, using Google ads, Facebook ads, affiliate marketing and influencer marketing. 

If you are not new to dropshipping or online sales, you might wanna check our quick guide instead. 

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First the Disclaimer 

Here’s the real secret the gurus won’t tell you: The people who make the most money from dropshipping are the ones telling people how to make money from dropshipping. I can’t stand people calling themselves experts or gurus when they probably haven’t even done this stuff themselves, just read a few tips somewhere and decided to shoot a video because people are desperate to earn money online and will watch anything. You watch a video, it only shares 3 common sense tips yet it takes 10 minutes to get to the first one. Topics like SEO are a sea of urban legends so there is no shortage of BS. Most of all, I hate the ones who use fear tactics as clickbait, like “dropshipping is dead and here’s why”. I hate it because I fall for it every freaking time! 

My hat off to those who share good information, even if it's part of affiliate marketing efforts; there is nothing wrong about making money from something you do well to keep it going (we also feature affiliate links on this page) and you guys help and encourage the new starters. 

I am no guru, I’m no expert. I’m just another guy trying to sort out the nonsense from the useful information. This blog page has been created to share my own experience with dropshipping and it will be updated with the feedback we receive to include updated information when it’s needed. The goal is to build a bullet point guide for new starters, and for those who work with Babazen as dropship sellers. 

 

Shameless Plug 

Babazen is a worker-owned boutique gift shop, by the self-employed, for the self-employed. We're home to unique and beautiful items that are handmade by artisans, and homemade by designers. 

If you would like to sell our products on your website dropship style (where we ship the item directly to your customer), first create an account (for free) on our shop and then contact us about it to get a discount over retail prices. The niche we aim to fill as a supplier is: a dropshipping supplier located in the US, with unique and beautiful handmade products that are perfect for niche marketing. 

If you're interested in becoming an affiliate, join our affiliate program and you'll be guided through the process. 

Now back to the guide. 

 

How to Start an Online Business 

First you are going to need to create your own store. There are alternatives but we went with Shopify because (1) it’s easy to use; (2) it integrates with marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, Walmart Marketplace, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and others easily; (3) Shopify themes have a very nice collection of free themes allowing you to customize the look and feel of your store; (4) there are lots of Shopify Apps that you can use to improve the customer experience, add value to your website, automate some of your workload and some of those apps are tools and utilities that help you get very important work done without knowing how to code.

  1. You can get started on Shopify with a 14 day free trial. When it expires, stick with the cheapest plan you really need. The Basic Shopify plan has everything you need to start. Follow the instructions and make sure you set up everything needed like payment providers for your checkout and shipping fees for different options you offer.
  2. Check the free Shopify themes here. We use Brooklyn, it’s free and it’s awesome.
  3. Check here for Shopify Apps. Throughout the guide we will mention the ones we think work best for that section of the guide but here is a list of ten Shopify apps we've found most useful: Google Shopping Feed, Bing Shopping, Kit, LeadDyno: Easy Affiliate (& Influencer) Marketing, Personalizer - AI Recommendations by LimeSpot, Outfy, Product Reviews, SEO Image by Lion Apps, Trust by FoxDrive Trust, Cart Button Effects by Strive.

Set up your store, go to your admin page, and click on “Online Store” followed by “Themes”. You’ll see links for “Free themes” and “Shopify Theme Store” there too. Once you set up your store and install your theme, you are going to want to give your brand a customized look that sets it apart from others by using photos that best represent you and the emotion you want to convey. You can find free photos here or you can check paid stock photo websites like Shutterstock.

At this point you have a store up and running and you are ready to add your first product. Congratulations!

 

How to Find the Best Products to Sell 

Basically you have three options for products:

  1. If you make your own products, you can sell those and the rest of this guide will help you do that. This option requires time invested in your craft and can take years to master but if you are already there, you have a gift my friend. If you are an artisan hand making your products, contact us when you set up your store and we can feature your products on Babazen.
  2. You can buy from a wholesale supplier or a manufacturer for wholesale prices and sell at retail prices. Your best bet is checking a supplier directory like SaleHoo or marketplaces like AliBaba. This option requires money invested in supplies and you are taking a risk if sales do not go as planned.
  3. The third option to add items to your list is dropshipping. Dropshipping means your supplier ships the product directly to your customer when you make a sale. With this option, you do not have to invest on a product first and therefore, you are not taking a risk. Dropshipping suppliers give you a discount over retail prices so that you can sell for the same retail price and still make a profit.

I’ll be honest with you, most dropshipping guides make this step sound easier than it actually is. “Make millions from dropshipping” guides from so called dropshipping experts focus on importing products from China for cheap prices and flipping them for high profits. If this is the route you wanna take, check out Oberlo first. Oberlo has a Shopify app that makes it easy for you to import products to your store, it has a list of preferred dropshipping suppliers and an interface that lets you search for products with different filters.

For what it does, Oberlo is actually pretty good. But even the preferred dropshipping suppliers listed there are basically AliExpress suppliers and they inherently share the same flaws as most others: (1) Shipping times are long, (2) product quality is a gamble, (3) sizes are wrong (an Asian XXXL dress can be around the same size as a L for American sizes), (4) you’ll be among the many who are trying to do the same thing and it will be very hard to establish your brand as unique and worthy of the customers time and attention, and worst of all (5) you can get in trouble for infringing on copyrights. These AliExpress dropshipping suppliers do not shy away from copying a design for a product and even shamelessly stealing the same product photo from the original manufacturer. I tried Oberlo once, I really loved the interface, I loved being able to add products to my website without the hassle. But when I set up my ads and products started appearing in searches, we were slammed with a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) Takedown Notice from a very angry manufacturer who had found their product listed on our website with the same photo that they were using on their website. Not the very best way to establish trust for your brand. Best case scenario, you might find one interesting dropshipping product that no one else has found, it might be acceptable quality and you can hope that the buyers will purchase from you for a higher price than what they can find it for on AliExpress because they haven’t heard of it yet. Most likely, you will be showing your visitors nice photos to get them to click the buy button, they’ll expect something unique but get a cheap product in an ugly package from China delivered a whole month after their purchase and they will never shop from you ever again.

Another way to find good products for dropshipping is searching for individual artisans, contacting them on marketplaces like Etsy and asking them if they offer a discount for dropshipping sellers. This is a hands-on approach and you might find a few gems out there that work very well for you, but it’s not going to be easy. It’s hard to establish trust with when you are just starting your store and artisans do not want their products to be available anywhere; part of the appeal is that these are unique products that you can’t find in a retail store. If you can make it work, kudos to you! Even better if you find local artisans and take your own original product photos!!

A third way to find dropshipping suppliers is becoming a member of a supplier directory that allows you to search for them. SaleHoo is a good example because it’s relatively inexpensive, it has a 60 days money back guarantee and you can search for dropshipping suppliers using different filters. You need to create an account, find suppliers and make an inquiry with them. You’ll find that Babazen is also listed as a dropshipping supplier located in the US on SaleHoo.

Babazen offers dropshipping sellers a discount over retail prices when you first create an account on our shop and then contact us about your intentions to sell our product dropship style. We ship from US which helps establish trust with customers and minimize shipping times to improve customer satisfaction and attain high customer retention rates. We only feature handmade products by artisans so that we know the product quality is great, the products are unique and are not likely to infringe on copyrights.

If you want to synchronize your inventory with a dropshipping supplier, Inventory Source offers automation with a supplier directory where you can find merchants such as Babazen. You can create a free account to check the supplier directory right here: Inventory Source .

 

Marketing Plan 

When you pick your products, you have to keep in mind that a good marketing plan for online sales will focus on a niche market. When you create a marketing campaign, you do not want to target everyone. Your strategy should not be casting a wide net. The goal is not to show up on most searches. Instead, it’s important to only be found by the searches of people who are looking for your product. If you appear in searches with keywords that are not very closely related to your product and people click on the link but do not buy the product because it isn’t what they are looking for, you spend money on advertising but it doesn’t translate to sales. Your cost per view increases because your ad doesn’t turn into purchases; the search algorithm becomes less willing to waste views on your product. Your retargeting ads will be displayed to these people who came to your store but didn’t find what they were looking for and those ads will also be burning a hole in your marketing budget with little to no return on your investment.

When you pick your products, keep within a niche so that your marketing campaign has a better ROI (return on investment). It is going to be easier to target the right audience if it is well defined and your CPC (cost per click) will be lower if you are targeting the right audience for your products.

Once you pick your dropshipping products, you will need to list them with a title and description that serves many purposes. SEO (search engine optimization) is one thing you have to always keep in mind. ubersuggest is a great tool that can be used to find the right keywords for your products. Your product titles, descriptions and urls need to have the right keywords that will help the right audience find the items. Your product descriptions need to include benefits and features. Benefits are what your customers are buying the product for, the need that the product satisfies, the void it fills, the purpose it serves; features are what make the product good for that purpose. If you can establish the uniqueness of the product and the usefulness of it, for a specific target audience, with an original description that sets you apart from other stores, you’ve done a great job! If you only list product features as a bullet point list, your sales will suffer as a consequence. Other things you need to keep in mind are using emotive words to set a tone, creating a sense of urgency (“end of season clearance sale” or “mother’s day sale” instead of “sale” will let your visitors know that this opportunity is not going to last and they have to take advantage of it now) and CTA (call to action) language like “click to zoom”, “add to cart”, “buy now” to guide your visitors.

 

Google Ads, Google Merchant, Google Shopping, Keyword Planner, Google Analytics, Google Search Console

At this point, you're gonna need help finding out the best keywords for ads. 

  1. Start a Google Ads account.
  2. Start a Google Merchant account.
  3. Connect the two.
  4. Use “keyword planner” on Google Ads to find keywords that appear most in searches but ideally have lower competition (not as many vendors bidding for clicks)
  5. Make sure these are the right keywords for your product. Remember, we do not want to cast a wide net here. Be specific, target the right audience.
  6. Combine these keywords under 55 characters for the product title. Google product titles can be 70 characters but the variant value (like blue for color, XL for size) will also be included in the title so it’s better to limit the main title characters to 55-60. This is also the reason why we would use 18” as a size variant instead of 18 inches, to refrain from wasting precious character space.
  7. Use the same keywords in the product descriptions first 320 characters and try to use them in a phrase when you can.
  8. Make sure you use real color values like “blue” instead of “color one”, “loom5” “default”, “as seen”, “check image” etc. For categories like Apparel & Accessories, your ads will not be displayed on Google Shopping if the color is not specified properly. Only use standard variant options like Color, Size, Material and Pattern as these are the only ones supported by all platforms including Pinterest.
  9. You need to specify Gender, Age, Condition and Google Shopping Category for your products.
  10. You need SKUs (stock keeping unit) for each unique product.

You can find Google Merchants basic requirements for product data specifications here.

Do not feel overwhelmed if this all sounds confusing. Remember the Shopify App we mentioned earlier: Google Shopping Feed. That tool comes in handy when you first start your Google Ads journey. It is going to help you set up your product feed step by step, check for errors on the Merchant Center, fix the problems and get your product feed to a point where everything is as it should be for Google to actually go ahead and display your products. Once all that is taken care of after a few days of trial and error, you might want to export your products, add the information like Gender, Age, Condition and Google Shopping Category directly there and import back to Shopify. At the time of this writing, you need to manually sync meta fields on Google Shopping Feed in the settings tab to make sure the changes you have made on your Shopify store get reflected to your feed.

If you’re working with Babazen as your dropshipping supplier, most of this work has already been done for you. Product titles and descriptions on our list fit these instructions, and they include the necessary keywords and specifications. When you let us know what products you’re interested in selling, we share a CSV file that you can upload to Shopify to import all the required information and product photos with ease.

At this point, you should set up your Google Analytics account and integrate it to your website as explained here. Google Analytics will display useful tips on the Intelligence tab for you to improve the user experience and analyze trends in your traffic.

Plug in SEO is a free Shopify App you can use to check if there are any major problems with SEO on your store. The free version won't fix the problems for you, but at least you'll know what to improve. If you're looking for a more comprehensive solution, you might wanna check the paid app SEO Manager as it offers a free trial period of 7 days.

Another Shopify App we mentioned earlier, SEO Image by Lion Apps, can be used at this point to use your titles and your store name to tag your images with Alt Tag text so that image searches with these words return your images on search engines.

While we're on the subject of images, make sure your product photos are right for the job. They are what the consumer is going to see in searches and what really makes the first impression. You have to make sure the product can clearly be seen even when the image is displayed as a small thumbnail during a search on a small phone screen. Zoom in on your product and make sure it takes most of the image space. White backgrounds are the standard and work best with most themes created for ecommerce. It's okay to not have fancy equipment for lights, just take advantage of daylight if you have to but make sure the product is properly lit so the colors and details show. It's a good idea to include photos with other everyday object that can be used to perceive the size of the product. Having multiple photos increases your conversion rates. If at least one of those photos is in a setting where the product is actually being used, it helps the customers visualize using it themselves. You can read more on product photography here.

For image size, at the time of this writing, 600x600 is the minimum needed for Facebook ads, 800x800 is recommended for Google, 1000x1000 is needed for the image to be zoomable on Amazon, 1080x1080 is max supported on Instagram, 2048x2048 is recommended for Shopify. I'd say if your image is larger than 1000x1000, let it stay that way, it will be scaled down as needed. But if your image is smaller than 1000x1000, you might wanna resize it manually to 1024x1024 or higher. That will not improve the image quality, but it will allow the item to be displayed on Facebook, Google, Amazon etc. 

There are “AI based solutions”, “clever apps” that claim to create magic with your Google Ads. Most of the time, what they do is checking the recommendations that your Ads account displays and applying them. This includes adding keywords that might get you clicks depending on what has worked so far, like adding “awesome shirt” if “great shirt” has got you a click. To be honest with you, I believe the best return on investment comes from Google Shopping Ads and not keywords you add for search campaigns. You can add “valentines gift” to your keywords, cast a wide net and you will get clicks, but what are the chances that those visitors will be looking exactly for those products? With Google Shopping, someone searches for the type of product you sell, sees the product image and clicks only if they are interested in the actual product. You might also consider adding “negative keywords” to avoid appearing in searches you know do not yield results for you. An example would be keywords related to brick and mortar stores so that you can avoid searches from people looking to shop in a store nearby that day.

In my experience, best locations are California, Texas and Florida; best days are Friday to Monday; best time of the day is around 7:30-10:30 PM. But your results would vary depending on the product. And frankly, if you're promoting a product like printer paper, it would be nuts to advertise in California where cost per impression is high. When you define which locations your ads will target, using DMA (designated marketing area) instead of states or cities may help improve your target audience definition.

Once you set up your Google Merchant account and your ads, you can do the same for Bing Network (Bing and Yahoo) by importing your campaign from Google Ads. Another Shopify app by the name of Bing Shopping can be helpful for your first setup and it comes with a walkthrough guide.

In my experience, Bing/Yahoo network yields surprisingly good results. As your cost per click (CPC) is determined by auto-bidding, your average CPC depends on the amount of competition on the network for your keywords and that will change over time. I guess at the moment, for our products, where was less competition on the Bing/Yahoo network, so with the same ad budget we were able to afford more clicks, which resulted in better sales. 

You should also definitely verify your site with Google, find your sitemap and submit your sitemap to Google Search Console to be found in regular searches. Give Google a few days to crawl and index everything. Then check Google Search Console to see your top pages on Google Search and which queries trigger them. That will help you improve your SEO.

 

Facebook Ads, Facebook Pixel, Kit, Retargeting, Audiences 

Now that you have taken the steps necessary to appear in the right searches, the next item on our list is Facebook ads. We will use the Shopify app “Kit” to guide us through the process and we'll do the following:

  1. Create a Facebook business account.  
  2. Install a Facebook pixel on your website.
  3. Integrate Kit to your store and use it to automate Facebook ads by feeding your product catalog there.
  4. Create a custom audience on Facebook Ads. Further details down below.
  5. Create an ad on Facebook targeting that audience.
  6. Create a retargeting ad on Facebook using Kit.

What we’re trying to do here:

1. Those who search for your product on Google Shopping and click on your link become your website visitors,

2. Those who see your ad on Facebook as part of your targeted audience and click on the product image will also become your website visitors.

3. Your Facebook Pixel will keep track of these visitors and the pages they have checked.

4. Your retargeting ad will keep showing these visitors other products of yours that they might be interested in.

This way, you only display ads to people who might actually be interested in your products. Your marketing budget will be used effectively to only target the right customers. A dynamic ad that displays the products in your catalog that the viewer might be interested in will help increase the number of returning visitors.

Facebook has powerful options to create audiences for ads. As an example, you can target:

Location - Living In: United States,

age: 40-50

gender: Men

and MUST ALSO match Behaviors > Purchase behavior > Engaged Shoppers (People who have clicked on the Call-to-Action button “Shop Now” in the past week.)

and MUST ALSO match Demographics > Life Events > Anniversary within 30 days

And your ad would be displayed only to men in their forties who are likely to buy a product that can be a gift for their wives for their upcoming anniversary. It’s a great tool to make sure you show the right product to the right audience.

Facebook ads are all about experimenting; it is a process. You should compare different ads that you create by checking these metrics: CTR (Link Click-Through Rate, the percentage of times people saw your ad and performed a click, the higher the better), CPC (The average cost for each click, the lower the better) and CPM (The average cost for 1,000 impressions, the lower the better). The longer you let a Facebook ad run, the more data it will collect to improve its targeting. When you let an ad run for long enough, Facebook will be able to display “delivery insights”. You should make sure your ads do not compete against each other for the same audience by checking auction overlap here. 

These custom Facebook ads with a single product image are good for (1) product research to determine which product gets more attention, and (2) audience research to determine which audience the product targets better. If you want to set it and forget it, I personally believe using Google Shopping ads and retargeting on Facebook is your best bet. If most your products fit a niche and you are able to well define the audience that will be looking for them very specifically, then an ongoing carousel ad that shows your catalog to that audience could also be beneficial (I prefer single product ads, they just fit naturally in the news feed and usually get more feedback). You can also create a simple 10 second video ad with a quick slideshow to display multiple products.

Once you have enough sales or leads, you can import your list of customers to Facebook and use it to create a lookalike audience. People who share the same habits and interests as your paying customers are the people you need to be targeting and this lookalike audience feature of Facebook can help you do that. You can mix that feature with filters that help you further define that audience like the ones mentioned above.

Start with PPE (post page engagement) ads. Cost is much lower. See which products result in more likes, clicks and sales. Especially clicks and sales. Then start WC (website convertion) ads by duplicating the winners and using the same post id (so that all your social proof shows up on this new ad).

To optimize for an event, you need to get 15-25 of that event weekly (ideally 50). If the numbers aren’t there, the data isn’t there, so move down the sale funnel. If you don’t have enough PUR (purchases), move to ATC (add to chart), to Leads, to VC (view content) etc. Another approach is to keep it at ATC and keep your PPE going at 10% the WC budget. You can also PPE in low cost countries to get more engagement, which could make your post look more intriguing..

For products under $50, start with $6 per day PPE ads, switch to WC if results are promising, leave your WC ads running for 2 days at $20/day to let Facebook learn and optimize delivery. Keep the conversion window at 1 day for these products.

A longer conversion window might make sense if the product is expensive and the target action is purchase. The customer might want to add to cart and check it again on the weekend when they have more time.

If CPM (cost per 1000 impressions) declines with time, don’t stop or pause the ad.

A strategy that I like is to Boost the post among those who liked our page first. This gets the likes and shares started with people who like your style. Then a PPE, where people who see your posts for the first time see something that already has some likes. At some point, the post can be boosted again, this time for people who like your page and their friends. The friends are likely to share the same taste, they might show interest because a friend likes it, and at this point it's a trending post with lots of engagement which means it appeals to people. Similarly, it can be displayed to people who have engaged with your content before (but didn't necessarily like the page). When enough likes have accumulated, follow with a Reach ad to reach as many people as possible with an audience that is well defined for the product in the ad. Now that you have a post that looks appealing because it has even more likes, it's time for a conversion ad, WC/ATC/PUR depending on your weekly event numbers. 

You can find more information about getting started with Facebook Ads here.

Once enough data has gathered, you can further optimize your audience definition by checking demographics and location information on Google Analytics, by cross-checking CPM with Facebook ads. See which items get more attention on Pinterest. Aim for high CTRs, high WC/ATC/PUR rates, low CPM.

You will need to make sure that the average cost per sale for an ad is lower than the profit on the item, otherwise you'll be getting sales and still losing money. If you have a 3% CTR and a 4% purchase rate among visitors, it means only 12 in every 10,000 views turn into a sale. If your audience is defined such as your CPM is 6$, you are paying $60 for those 10,000 views, so your will only break even if you have a profit of $5 per item on that product.

 

Marketing Friendly Improvements for Your Store 

When you first start your store, you’ll be eager to get everything going first. You are not going to be interested in small improvements that can help with your conversion rate before you have products listed, ads set up and visitors coming in. That is why these improvements are listed here instead of right before the product listing process.

Once you set up your store, install a theme and customize it with photos, there are two small changes to the code I recommend you do. I’m not a coder myself and I refrain from altering the theme code as much as I can so that there are no problems caused by a rookie mistake but these are useful changes that I haven’t found an app for. Again on the admin page, “Online Store”, “Themes”, “Actions”, “Edit Code”, you can do the following:

  1. Displaying discounts as percentages

When you first start a store, the buyer doesn’t really know you and will probably have trouble trusting you with their money so it’s better to feature products that are not too expensive. When your prices are below $100, let’s say $20 for example, it makes sense to display your sales percentage and say "%10 off" instead of saying "$2 off" for the simple reason that 10 is greater than 2. Nobody is going to think “wow $2 off” but “%10 off” sounds like a good deal. Depending on the theme you use, the default for displaying discounts may not be percentages and you might have to change that by altering the theme code. The necessary code for the Brooklyn Theme that we use can be found here.

  1. Displaying tags as links on product pages

Most of your guests will see a product page as their landing page. If it’s not what they are looking for, do not expect them to browse to your homepage to admire it first and to check what other collections you have so that they can find other products that might be for them. It’s just not gonna happen. They will land on the product page, check the product and if nothing catches their attention, they will just close the tab and move on to the next store. But if you include the product tag here as a clickable link, they might be inclined to check what other offers you have in store. That might help with your bounce rate (your percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing a single page).

Here’s how we did it:

1. Open product-template.liquid,

2. Find the product description div:

<div class="product-single__description rte" itemprop="description">
            {{ product.description }}

          </div>

3. Place this code after it:

<div id="product-tags">
<span class="tagged"> related products: </span>
{% for tag in product.tags %} |
{% capture url %}/collections/all/{{ tag | handleize }}{% endcapture %}
{{ tag | link_to: url }}
{% endfor %}

</div>

This code was found here, but we had to replace “handle” with “handleize”.

You can also install the Shopify App mentioned earlier “Personalizer - AI Recommendations by LimeSpot”. It will allow you to have sections like “Related Items”, “Most Popular”, “Recently Viewed” on your product pages and/or collection pages. That will further improve your bounce rate and help with up-sells (selling upgrades, add-ons or a more expensive item) and cross-sells (selling an additional item). I like this app and most of the time it does a great job, but I do use Manual Sync under Settings whenever I make important changes to products.

Another Shopify App that can be used at this point is Trust by FoxDrive Trust. This app is free (at the moment) and lets you display trust badges, icons of payment processing companies like Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and many others with a text like “secure checkout with”. It is a useful visual tool to establish trust with the customer by letting them know that these giants are behind the safety and credibility of the payment processing infrastructure that your store relies on.

Product Reviews is another app by Shopify itself. It doesn't allow user photos but it's free and gets the job done. User generated content adds value to your website and customers always check the reviews before they make a purchase. You can disable auto publishing of the reviews and publish them manually after checking for spam of inappropriate content. When you first start, you won't have enough reviews to make your website look appealing but you have to start somewhere. You can actually import reviews in a CSV file so if the products you sell have been reviewed before or you have received customer emails with comments about them, you might want to use those to get the reviews started. Also if you don't have enough reviews and you use the app “Personalizer - AI Recommendations by LimeSpot”, make sure you customize your settings under Personalizer, Setup, Customize, Global Settings, General to not display user ratings. You don't want your "Most Popular Items" list to say "No Reviews" under every product.

While you're on it, go to admin page / online store / themes / customize / product pages and make sure your "add to cart" button size is large. Install the free Shopify app Cart Button Effects by Strive to customize the button further with uppercase text, bold font, a color that attracts attention and even an animation on hover. Shouldn't overdo it with the animation though, that would make it annoying. We're trying to help the buyer navigate quickly, not bug them. A larger font size might help but make sure it's not too large by checking on a mobile screen.

Once everything is set up on your store the way you like it, you can add sales channels to your Shopify store to integrate it with other marketplaces. This way, you can start dropshipping on eBay or Amazon, set up Buyable Pins on Pinterest, add your product catalog to Instagram, publish items to your Facebook Shop and synchronize your inventory across multiple sale channels.

On Amazon, you can sync your inventory with your Shopify store using the Amazon Sales channel but you will want to prepare your listing from scratch. Use these tools to find similar products that sell well: (1) fbatoolkit, (2) amazeowl, (3) viral launch market intelligence (4) junglescout. Then use amzdatastudio to find (1) keywords that are used on the backend, (2) keywords that lead to sales and (3) keywords used in PPC (pay per click) campaigns. If you need alternative keywords, use ubersuggest. For your listing, use your main keywords everywhere including image tags, and use all your keywords up to 250 characters on the backend, without any repetitions ("red natural gem copper bracelet for women" instead of "red gem bracelet for women, natural gem bracelet for women, copper bracelet for women, copper red gem bracelet for women"). It's a good idea to list variants of a product under the same title, keep a limited inventory for one of those products on FBA (fulfillment by Amazon) so that the listing appears to Prime shoppers.

Amazon search prioritizes products that sell well. Amazon buyers go for products that have good reviews. So when you first start selling a product, if you promote it with a giveaway, this will create a boost for the item as it will start showing up more on searches and you are likely to get great reviews from around 10% of the customers that get your product during the giveaway.

On eBay, if you use Shopify integration, make sure to double check the product category mappings are correct. Check your shipping, return and payment policies under Business Policies.

 

Affiliate Marketing 

You can start an affiliate program using a Shopify App like LeadDyno: Easy Affiliate (& Influencer) that we have mentioned earlier. This way, for every affiliate you have, a special link will be generated. The affiliate will use that special link to invite people to visit your store, and when those visitors make a purchase, your affiliate will get a percentage of the sale (that you can determine yourself). It is a marketing tool to drive more traffic to your website by paying bloggers, websites or people with a strong presence on social media. When you sign up with LeadDyno, you will also be part of the ECA (ecommerce affiliates) network where you can send invitations to affiliates to recruit them, or they can find your store via a search on the network. You can even set your program to automatically accept new affiliates.

The key point here is that your affiliates might sign up first but with time they will forget about you. You need to remind them of yourself from time to time with a message about new products or new developments about your store. Most of the time, they will use this message as a template for what they share with their followers so consider it to be your sales pitch without being too salesy.

Consider setting up a Multi-Level (MLM) Affiliate program. Your affiliates can invite others into the program. These become their sub-affiliates. Sales referred by these sub-affiliates also generate commissions for the parent. That gives your affiliates incentive to recruit others. Never charge people to join your affiliate program. 

Our affiliate program is easy to join and it’s free. It's powered by industry leader LeadDyno and PayPal. Instead of paying advertising agencies upfront, we pay you to get the word out. Join for free and you'll be guided through the process.  

Enter Email:

 

Influencer Marketing 

This appears last on our list even though it probably has the best return on investment. There is a reason for that. You need to get everything else done before you get to this point. If your website doesn’t look professional, no serious influential figure will give you a shoutout. If your product photos and descriptions are not ready, you will not benefit from the shoutout. If you haven’t defined your audience, you will not know what influencer to target. If you haven’t set up your Google Analytics and your Facebook Pixel, all the data that these could be gathering to further define your audience and improve your website will be lost and you won’t be able to retarget these visitors. What we have here is a system that all works together. When you reach an influential social media figure, sometimes with a sample of your product and sometimes with just a budget, and ask for a product shoutout, if you pick the right person for the job considering your target audience and their followers, you might reach a lot of potential buyers in a very short amount of time. They will be the right people to reach and unlike an ad they see online, they will see your brand mentioned by a person they follow and most probably love and respect. As the customer doesn't know you or your brand at this point, that association with a known figure can be very beneficial for the first impression you make.

If you intend to create your own social media presence, start with Pinterest as it's a social network and a search engine rolled in one, and continue with Instagram as Instagram users are more likely to engage with brands (compared to Facebook users) and it's easier to reach your own followers according to selfstartr. Follow people you think might enjoy your style and that will help you grow your network as people are likely to check who just followed them and sometimes follow back. You can use Outfy to automate your posts to most social media platforms with related hashtags and a link to your product page. Use best-hashtags.com to find your hashtags. Search for those hashtags, check latest posts, find out who liked them, check their accounts and like some of their posts. This way, you'll catch their attention and let them know you share the same taste, so they will be likely to check you back. It's free and unlike spam it's welcomed. There are automated tools that will do this work for you but beware: overuse of these tools will get you banned.

If the social platform you use tends to favor videos over images, the best way to promote your products with a short video is to create a quick slideshow with product photos. That makes it possible for you to show a lot of eye catching images at once to a potential buyer that might scroll down any second and is very unlikely to watch a long advertising video. This method enables you to take advantage of the platforms algorithm that favors videos over images, and you don't need advanced production skills or a high budget.

Just before you dive into influencer marketing, it might be a good idea to visit forums, subreddits and communities that relate to your niche. If you genuinely ask people their honest opinion without pushing for sales, they usually respond well and you might be surprised how much that feedback can help you improve your store. Some of those people might even become interested in your products and some can be interested in collaborating with you. Just be ready for some non-constructive negative feedback too, you’ve gotta take the good with the bad on the Internet.

Check shoutcart to find influencers in your niche. Compare them on socialblade. Check for spikes in the follower over time graph to make sure they are not just buying followers. Check the comments on the account posts to make sure they are not too generic one word + emoji comments that are most likely left by bots or groups just liking eachother. Check their demographics to make sure the followers are your target audience. Check similar accounts that Instagram displays. Once you figure out who you wanna work with, just reach out and negotiate. 3 hour shoutouts would usually have the best return on your investment.

 

Finishing Thoughts 

Starting an online store and dropshipping is a huge topic. Every step of this guide is focused on a subtopic that has millions of pages of information dedicated to it. It’s not possible for us to include every bit of information about dropshipping in a single page, nor do we claim to be experts able to do such. The purpose of this blog is to share our own experience, give you a starting point and start a dialog with you. We intend to update this page from time to time with feedback we receive from you and our dropshipping partners. If you work with Babazen as your dropshipping supplier, we’d love to hear about your experiences and anything you might have to add to this list. That is the beauty of this community, we tend to learn together and grow together.

Can you make good money with dropshipping? Yes, but only if you do it right. You will have to find the right audience for your style, the right product for that audience, the right copy for that product, and the right venue to advertise for that combination. Only then, you should scale up your advertising budget. Do not scale up without testing! That is a recipe for disaster. Do not say "I believe in this product, I believe the Universe will reward me if I take a leap of faith" and spend thousands on advertising without testing first. Yes the Universe tends to unfold as it should, but you are part of it and you have to do your part first. This is the most important lesson here, do not become too attached to what you believe is supposed to work. You are going to have to spend $10 to make $20, only to spend that $20 to make $40... The temptation to speed things up will always be there and when you have a few winners on your product list to carry the cost of new experiments, you might be able to afford that luxury but take it slow at first. When people say "I made a million dollars this year from dropshipping" they are talking about revenue, not profit. Ask them how much they have spent on advertising, how much their total operating cost comes to and you'll see that when you make good money, you're also spending scary amounts of money; so make sure you minimize your risks by taking your time to test everything. Do not spend money that you don't have, hoping that you'll make it back, unless it's a very small amount that you can afford to risk. Start small, test, scale up. It's also good practice to start small in terms of number of products you have, give them enough time and ad budget for testing, remove the items that are not good performers, and then start again with the next batch. This way, each dropshipping product can get a chance to shine with your limited daily budget. When you add a lot of products at once, you might end up having a dropshipping champion sitting there, never even getting views there until you weed out all the losers. And do not get discouraged when your experience is very far from those "$1000 on the first day" videos; those are either the exception or the experience of people who have done this before, found what works for them and can get there faster now. It is more than okay to have trouble getting sales for months when you first start, it is actually the norm for online sales, not just for dropshipping, so be ready for it. Keep trying and you'll get there, just make sure to start small so that you can afford to keep trying.

If you are looking for a dropshipping supplier located in the US, with unique and beautiful handmade products that are perfect for niche marketing, create an account on our shop and contact us about it to get a discount over retail prices. 

Thanks for stopping by and we wish you the best of luck! 

 

Here's a to-do list of all steps mentioned in this dropshipping guide:

comprehensive step-by-step dropshipping guide to-do list