Before we dig into the possibility of making $560K In 8 Months kindly read $400K In Sales- Eric Smith Shares His Dropshipping Journey
Welcome to today’s pro-dropshippers interview, over the past years, I have been featuring prominent dropshippers on the blog section, under the ‘interviews’ tab.
Today, we have one of the youngest dropshippers I have ever featured on this blog, a young lady, who is making big moves in the dropshipping business world today.
From her story and journey, it is my hope you will learn a thing or two, to help you make your next move wisely when it comes to ;
As we all know, there is a lot that goes to creating and managing a store, there is a difference between having a Shopify store and running a profitable Shopify store.
She will give you a clear distinction between the two. Let’s get into it.
- Hello, Emma Reid, give us in-depth introduction who you are to those who don’t know you?
G’day mate! My names Emma Reid. I’m a dropshipper and love creating eCommerce stores. Excited to be here to share some of my background!
As you can tell from that intro, I’m Australian born and bred. And for most of my life, I’ve been glued to a computer screen and making money online. I’ve actually only ever had one job (a receptionist for 6 months).
This whole journey actually started back when I was young as 6 years old. My mum and I made a website while she was learning how to use computers. Now I’m 22, with a few successes under my back – and I’m just warming up!
Tell us more about your online journey, when did you venture into your first online business, and what followed after that?
Well, technically I started my first online business when I was 11 years old. But most of the “income” was virtual currency. It was selling pixelated furniture and even running “Casino rooms” on a game called Habbo Hotel. In the end, I only made a few real dollars from it (by exchanging the virtual currency for PayPal credits). Though it was a great experience, and helped form who I am today!
Then when I was 16, I grew a following on Tumblr just for something to do. At the time, I didn’t know anyone that was running an online business (or any business for that matter). Especially at that age. But I did see other people putting adsense on their blogs.
After a bit of digging, I realized they weren’t really making all that much from it. So I always wondered if there was a better way to do it. In the end, I came across an interesting opportunity and hatched a plan. I started monetizing my blog by promoting an app called FeaturePoints. And in around 6 months, I reached just over $60,000 in profits (with no startup costs or expenses)!
It was great! …until Tumblr shut me down for earning money on their platform. Oops. Lesson learned: Don’t heavily rely on a third party for your income! Especially if they can ban you! And always try to build your audience in multiple places!
There was a lot of other projects after that. Some hits and some misses. Affiliate marketing, Domain flipping, Freelancing, Crypto etc.
And all of it brought me to where I am today (reaching over half a million dollars in revenue by dropshipping just ONE PRODUCT)!
- When did you come across dropshipping and what was your journey like? ( success, failures , disappointments, lessons)
So I came across dropshipping in 2016. At the time, I was between projects and had just picked up a reception job for some extra cash. A few months in, I was already bored and needed to start a side project! So a fitness blog was born.
I began to rank the blog on google, writing reviews and using SEO. It was slow going, but clickbank netted me around $100 on so in the first month. Shortly after that, I actually stumbled upon Frank Hatchett’s post on blackhatworld. His post was probably the start of the Aliexpress Dropshipping model going mainstream.
So I decided to jump on the bandwagon and give it a go!
My blog was already on wordpress. All I had to do was add the woocommerce plugin, configure it, and then slap up a product. So that’s exactly what I did. Then I sent out an email to my list of 50 people and went to bed. The next morning I woke up to a sale! And boom! The Dropshipping method was validated for me.
Now I just needed to scale it.
At the time, I was short on money, and very inexperienced with paid ads. So I didn’t even go near them. But with a combination of posting in facebook groups and blog comments, I was able to build up some sales. With that money, I threw up some Free Plus Shipping ads on Facebook. They got conversions for as little as $1!! Looking back on prices now, that was just insane. The post really blew up. Things were on a roll.
Unfortunately, my supplier didn’t get the memo. There was only one on Aliexpress that was selling my product. And they left me stranded. They deleted their store and stopped replying to my emails. This was AFTER I had just paid for 300 orders in bulk.
Sadly, I didn’t realize it until 2 weeks later, when the tracking wasn’t updating and the customers were swarming my inbox like bees. I had to refund everyone and shut down the store. Most of my profits were lost. I was out the ad costs, product costs, and now the refunds. RIP.
This failure taught me that a good relationship with your supplier is important. And to ALWAYS pay attention to what happens after you receive payment. Taking care of your customers and updating them is key!
It didn’t stop me though. I started my own handmade jewelry line to have more control of the product. It went okay, but I missed the scalability of dropshipping. So I returned to it once more in 2018.
It is very rare to find a successful young lady like you in a male dominated business like dropshipping, what is the secret behind these great numbers?
I agree! It would be awesome to see more women in this space. I have definitely come across some, but they seem to live private lives. And I guess I did too until now.
My history of working online definitely helped in making dropshipping a success. A lot of the skills transferred over. But I think it was mainly just taking the action. And being obsessed with the process. I mean, I love to learn. And I believe that anyone can teach themselves anything if they put their mind to it. So that’s what I did!
- What are some of the myths about dropshipping you had to beat in order to be where you are today?
One of the biggest myths is that nobody would buy products if the shipping time is 2 weeks or more. That’s simply not true. If you are honest to the customer about how long it would take to ship, and maybe even provide a reason for the delivery time. Then a lot of them are actually fine with it.
Does it lower conversion rate? Of course! But not enough that it stops you from making money.
What are some of the principles that guides your dropshipping business that has contributed to your success?
Always be testing. This space evolves rapidly. Especially if you are running Facebook ads (the Facebook algorithm changes all the time). Adaptability is key if you want to survive.
7.Mhhh..I must admit your story is very inspirational, from how you made money on tumblr and the gaming activities at such a young age, looking back would you have changed anything?
Nope! I’ve always said that even if I could go back, I wouldn’t change a thing. Because all of it got me to where I am now.
I did miss out a lot of things though. Since I was always on the computer, I didn’t really learn how to be like all the other kids. I was anti-social and didn’t care much for drama and gossip.
And I’m still like that now. But lately I’ve been working on public speaking and facing my fear of the camera. That’s one of the main reasons I started YouTube (along with sharing what I’ve learned). You can check my channel out here.
I promise to never remove my first videos. In a few years, it will be awesome to re-watch them and see how far I’ve come!
- How did you find your first Dropshipping niche? Did it fail or worked out?
My first dropshipping niche was based on fitness, since I already had a fitness blog running. It worked out.. but eventually failed like I said earlier 😂
- In most cases, newcomers get stranded between choosing a niche store and a general store, what’s your take on this?
I recommend just starting a whole bunch of different stores. Get in there and test things. Get experience building them!
You don’t even have to launch them or spend money on them. If you sign up with the Shopify developers platform then you won’t be charged until 50 sales.
Niche is probably the way to go for a beginner though. You can dive deep into your audience, where they hang out, and what they want to buy.
Being able to focus like that is good. In my opinion it’s much better than trying to find lots of different audiences for each product (general store).They can also read Types Of Shopify Stores : The 5 Categories To Look Into
What are some of the elements you look at when choosing a niche or a product?
I look for passionate audiences. And products that solve problems. If you can find a product that is both of those things then it’s probably a winner. A well known example is those LED dog collars (don’t try it, it’s super saturated). But people LOVE their pets and don’t want them to get hurt. And the collar solves that problem by making your dog easy to see in the dark. You see how that can be powerful?
Kindly list niches or products you wouldn’t touch or add to your store and why?
- Anything trademarked or on kickstarter (you can get sued or taken down for copyright).
- Food or supplements (things that people ingest are lawsuit territory).
- Some baby toys or products (if a child gets hurt, you do not want to be at fault)
- A lot of electronics (they can break easily, explode or be faulty)
What are some of the niches you regret venturing into?
None really. My choices were pretty good, but I had done some research along the way that helped me avoid choosing things that could lead to problems.
- As a dropshipper we face many challenges when it comes to suppliers, what is the worst challenge you’ve ever faced with a supplier?
Well like I said earlier, the fact that my supplier left me with 300 orders and no other way to fulfill them. Definitely be in contact with more than one supplier, form good relationships with them, and make sure the product is actually being delivered.
- What’s the best method of finding a hot selling niche or product you can recommend?
I actually don’t generally go for hot or trending products. Especially now that it’s getting a lot more competitive. I love to find products that can be promoted on a completely different angle and turned into something that other people wouldn’t have seen.
It really helps to dig deep into Aliexpress. Keep clicking recommendations until the weird stuff comes up. Just like how you click suggested videos on YouTube and end up somewhere strange!
Though most of the time I will actually find my winners by accident. A product I’m selling is something my mum bought for herself and showed me. It’s going great so far. So thanks for that, mum!
What’s the best way to price a product? Some say should be X3 or X4, what has really worked for you when pricing your products?
It really depends on the product. Low cost products should be marked up at least 3x. And more costly products can just be doubled (or even less if they’re really expensive). But it needs to be tested. Sometimes you can sell products for a lot more than you expect. You’d be surprised what customers will pay.
- What’s an ideal product page for you? (What should it include or not have for conversion)
Product pages need fantastic images. They also need good copy, so make sure you learn how to write it. Then we need a bit fat add to cart button. As well as some epic customer reviews (and photos) with Loox. That just about sums up what mine look like.
You don’t need all the fancy apps and scarcity timers.
- Free shipping Vs Paid Shipping, which one works magic in your case and why?
A variation of both. For example, paid shipping on 1-2 items. Then free shipping on 3+ items. Or you can set a minimum amount (like over $50). It doesn’t matter what the target is, but you should give them one. Doing it this way can dramatically increase your AOV (average order value).
- What’s the maximum and minimum number of products one should have on their shop?
I can’t really answer that. But I can say that most of my stores were actually single product stores. As in, I created a whole store based around just one product. Sure, different colors, or different styles. But still the one product.
I have had a niche store as well but it had less than 10 products in it. What works for me won’t necessarily work for everyone else though.
But I do think that if you test too many products at once then you can lose focus.
Share with us your top 10 ‘must have’ apps in your store and their importance?
I’d only consider these 5 shopify apps as must-haves:
- #1 Dropified
- #2 Loox reviews
- #3 PayPal tracking on autopilot
- #4 In cart upsell
- #5 Ordermetrics (expensive, best to add when scaling)
There are some of the apps I don’t really find necessary having in a shop; Do you have some in your list?
A lot of them aren’t necessary. But countdown timers and sales popups are a big no-no for me. It’s too spammy in 2019.
Do you recommend free or paid apps more so when one just started dropshipping?
If you have a low budget, just use free apps. You don’t need all the bells and whistles to start off. It all adds up too quick to be worth it (unless you’re getting a lot of sales from the start).
- Which theme do you recommend?
Brooklyn or jumpstart. They’re two of Shopify’s awesome free themes that are easy to customize.
Refunds hurt business, how do you handle them?
I try to avoid them in the first place. It’s actually the chargebacks that hurt the most. Good customer service can prevent most of the issues. So stay in touch with your customers and make sure you respond quickly. Making sure your product is actually good quality helps a ton too!
- How do you keep your records in check balancing profit and expenses?
Ordermetrics is good for this. The book “Profit First” also gives you a good way to organize your bank accounts so your cash flow is easy to see.
- When it comes to payment gateways, PayPal has brought down many dropshipping business, have you had a case with them and how do you handle it?
Like I said about refunds.. as long as your customer service is on point, and your product is quality. Then you shouldn’t have too much of an issue with PayPal. There’s a few other ways to help it too. I’ve actually made a full video on the topic.
- Apart from PayPal, what other dropshipping friendly payment processors you can recommend?
Stripe is good. But you can just stick to shopify payments and PayPal and be fine. Again, as long as you do things to avoid trouble.
- Suppose a supplier tells you he is out of stock and yet you have orders to fulfill how do you tackle this?
Use a backup supplier. That’s why it’s important to be in contact with more than one! If you can’t find any though, ask the supplier how long it will take to get more and then notify your customers ASAP. Offfering 20% refunds for delays if it takes a long time can prevent giving out full refunds.
- How do you manage your income, do you pay yourself a salary or you just chuck out cash?
At the beginning, I didn’t touch any of the money until I built a large enough reserve in the account (to help scale with the ads). Then I would take out some every now and then to pay myself. But I’m now sticking with a monthly salary. It keeps things more organized and consistent, like working a real job.
- You talked of running profitable store and running on losses, when do you term a store profitable?
Well obviously when it’s making more money than you’re spending. You have to keep a close eye on your numbers at all times to make sure that you’re not losing money or breaking even.
How important is email marketing to you and has it boost your business in anyway?
Email marketing is pretty important for boosting your bottom line and getting repeat customers. Definitely a good thing to implement because it’s basically free sales. But it’s not 100% necessary to do in the beginning
Free vs Paid advertisement, what’s your take?
Both. Organic at the beginning, until you can validate the product and prove it can sell. And then move onto paid traffic. You still want to focus on bringing in some free traffic as you go too though. Things like referral programs help a ton.
- Which advertisement platforms do you recommend for running Ads?
Facebook Ads & Instagram stories. Google Ads are also good for retargeting. Always at least target your store’s name as a keyword on Google Ads.
- Before you launch Facebook ads, what’s your checklist?
Is the store live? Password is gone? Payment methods working? Got at least one sale from organic traffic methods? Have I done audience research?
- Video vs Image Ads? Why?
Video is killer! If you’re not using video (or not using it right) then you’re missing out. It can be very powerful.
- What’s the best practice of launching a Facebook ads on a new pixel?
Make sure the pixel is installed right (check it with their chrome plugin). Other than that it should be good to go. I like to run engagement ads alongside purchase ads when I start. And usually to highly targeted audiences. That helps Facebook learn a bit in the beginning.
- What scaling methods works for you?
CBO (campaign budget optimization). I’ve also had a lot of good experience with scaling engagement ads instead of purchase ads (reaches people for a lower cost). Ultimately to scale, you want to just try and find a lot of different audiences and start running a ton of ads to each different one. So test all of the lookalike audiences you can make.
- When do you kill or keep an Ad?
Generally after performance drops off, or it has been sitting only slightly above break-even point for 3 days. Sometimes I don’t kill them quick enough, so be mindful of that. There’s times when you’ve got to be ruthless and only keep the best performers.
- What’s your advice for newbies when it comes to running an effective converting ads?
Learn copywriting. There’s too much bad copy out there. And it’s severely impacting your results. Also. if you can’t make a good video, then it doesn’t hurt to pay someone else to create one or ask the supplier for one.
41.What is dropshipping business like in Australia?
I’ve had no problems with it! Since I’m mainly dropshipping to other countries, I don’t have to worry about much. But it can be annoying to deal with GST. When customers from Australia purchase, I have to charge them GST and then report it.
42,What are the challenges you face doing dropshipping business in Australia?
I guess it’s a bit hard to meet other people here that are doing it. I’d have to travel to other countries for most events and opportunities.
44.What are some of the myths about dropshipping you came to learn were not true?
That people won’t buy when there’s long shipping times. They still do.
45.What has dropshipping business changed in your life?
A lot of things. It definitely opened my eyes to just how far you can take an internet business. If I could reach 560k revenue alone (without a team, or connections) then I can’t even begin to imagine what’s next.
46.If you were to choose again,would you choose dropshipping over 9-5 jobs?
Yes. I’d choose any business over a 9-5. They limit me and put me in a box. I have to have freedom in order to thrive.
47.As a lady, dropshipping in Ausralia, you are an inspiration to many, what would you tell fellow ladies in Australia and worldwide about dropshipping?
Get out there and connect with people, girls! It’s the best way to learn and grow in this space. And please come say hi to me. I’d love to meet you some more of you!
48.Do you have some type of mentorship or service you offer for newbies who want to start the journey?
Not at the moment. I just give out a lot of free value on YouTube right now. But opportunities to work with me may pop up soon! Stay tuned 😉
49.How can people reach you?
Thank you so much for your time and answering the above,We appreciate your time and the resourceful information you just shared with us. If anyone has a question kindly comment below.