In this blog post, I am going to share with you how I was able to make $150,000 in sales with my Dropshipping store at the age of 19. You’re going to get honest feedback from me on whether the work was worth it, what I would do differently, and my top tips for you.
I started my dropshipping store almost three years ago, in the summer of 2019. I was 17 years old at the time and I was working on my stores while I was in school. I started to read self-help books back then and it just hit me that I will spend the rest of my life working for someone else if I don’t find a way to make money on my own.
I just knew that I wanted to be my own boss and make some money. So, I started researching online about how to start an online business. That is when I stumbled upon Dropshipping.
Table of Contents
What Is Dropshipping?
Dropshipping is a business model in which eCommerce entrepreneurs sell products without having to carry any inventory. When a store owner receives an order from a customer, they simply contact the supplier, who will then ship the products directly to the customer’s door.
This is basically how my business was working. I did not have any inventory, my supplier sent all of the products to the customers. This is why dropshipping is a great way to start an online store. You can test products easily with very minimal investment.
What was my strategy?
I started by finding a niche for my store. I then found products that I knew would sell well in that niche. I created a website with Shopify and began promoting my products on Facebook Ads. I usually did four different image/video variations for my Facebook testing campaign and validated the winner ad that way. After I had found a winning ad, I scaled it and kept testing new variations at the same time.
I Tested 30 Different Products and Four Ended up Bringing Me Profit
Dropshipping is all about having a good product, a good website, and a good marketing strategy. If you can combine these three, you have a winning formula. As a beginner, it is not easy to combine these three things. It took me 5 months to find my first winning product, and I ended up making $50,000 in revenue with that product.
Similarities Of All My Winning Products
The biggest similarity that all the winning products had was a big uptrend. When analyzing my winning products with Google Trends, all of the products that ended up being profitable, had a high spike coming/going at the current moment.
Here is a screenshot of Google Trends on one of my winning products. I started to sell before the big spike you can see on the chart. The products that ended up being profitable always had this big spike coming up in near future. The hardest part was finding these product opportunities.
I found these opportunities by checking a five-year graph in Google Trends of a product and checking if there was a continuous “trend cycle” that I could see and use to my advantage.
Here is a good example:
On the chart, you can see a continuous trend cycle of swimming pool searches on Google every year. This is a good way to spot “trends” and this is a way I found my profitable products. I launched my advertising campaigns before these big spikes. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not.
I used Facebook to advertise my products, do I recommend it?
Facebook is a great place to start advertising your dropshipping products. The key to successful Facebook advertising is testing. You have to test a lot of things like what ad text works best, what heading is the best, what kind of video or image converts the best, what country sells best, what age group, and so on.
Without testing different variations, you are leaving a lot of money on the table
If you plan to advertise on Facebook, just read their advertising policies really carefully. Otherwise, your advertising account might get disabled. This was the biggest drawback of my dropshipping journey. I got my accounts disabled many times because I did not follow the policies carefully enough.
I also recommend taking your product images on your own. Facebook system likes this more and you will have less trouble with ad rejections.
I made $150,000 In Revenue. How much was the profit?
After all expenses, I made $30,000 in profit out of $150,000. So my net profit margin was 20%. The average eCommerce net profit margin is 10%.
Was all the effort worth it?
I failed so so many times during this two-year eCommerce period that I could have never learned this much in school. I had zero English skills and I had never heard the word eCommerce when I started.
$30,000 profit in two years is not a lot, but it felt like I went through school while earning a little bit every month. I spent a lot of time on my evenings after school creating these brands, and sacrificed a lot of time from other things for this. It taught me a lot of self-discipline.
All the effort was 100% worth it. I could have spent the same time scrolling on social media but instead, I spent the time building my brands. I got a lifelong skill in how to build a brand that converts.
What could I have done better?
Thinking back, I could have got 50% more in sales with the same advertising budget. Let me explain:
There are 3 traffic phases your customer goes through in an ideal case to maximize sales:
- Cold Traffic: Sees your brand the first time, might visit your website, but usually doesn’t buy anything yet. “Cold customers” are usually the most expensive ones to advertise for because you need to warm them the most in order for them to make a purchase.
- Warm Traffic: People who saw your ad, but did not buy from you. Warm traffic is where you have begun filtering out the tire-kickers from real prospects. It is cheaper to advertise for warm traffic because there are fewer people to advertise to and they are already interested in your brand. Warm traffic is usually the second most profitable audience you will advertise for.
- Hot Traffic: These are people who have jumped through the hoops to get more of what you have to offer. They are usually the most profitable audience. They are people who buy again from your brand.
In the marketing world, this is called a sales funnel. In the ideal case, you want to create a brand where customers come back from hot traffic, at the same time cold traffic learns about your brand and warm traffic becomes more and more interested in your company. In the ideal case, warm and hot traffic can generate 20-60% of your sales with a very minimal advertising budget.
I could have doubled my sales with this sales funnel.
I did not know how this 3-step sale funnel works and that was my biggest mistake. I only made sales from the cold traffic, which is the most expensive audience to advertise for.
To double my sales, I could have sent retargeting ads for people who have visited my site, collected emails, and created proper email marketing campaigns (Emails can boost your sales ideally by 10-30%). In addition, I could have given discounts to old buyers, work on faster shipping times, made my customer service better, and make my product quality better.
The key to building a long-lasting brand is to get as many sales from warm and hot traffic. If customers are pleased with what they get, they tell their friends and neighbors, and they might also make purchases. That is the best traffic, it is the cheapest and highest return on investment traffic.
If you are thinking of starting dropshipping, I would say go for it! If you have the discipline to fail and try again until you succeed, your success will happen eventually. Dropshipping is all about patience, like everything else in life. Most people fail in Dropshipping because they simply quit too early.
Dropshipping is not any get-rich-quick scheme. You have to build your knowledge up and eventually, you can start to make money.
Thanks for reading my story, I hope you got some tips out of it. Dropshipping is a great way into entrepreneurial life and you should go for it if you are thinking about it!
Elmeri Palokangas is the founder of elmerpal.com, where he teaches on topics like advertising, eCommerce, and making money online. With a rich experience in the eCommerce space, Elmeri wants to share his knowledge bombs with other entrepreneurs, to help them maximize their sales.