Setting up an online store is one of the most reliable routes to financial freedom. Read this post and learn how to make money on Shopify dropshipping.
Ever dreamt about being your own boss?
You know, working whenever and wherever you want, on your own terms and getting paid handsomely for it?
Well...stop fantasising! Because with the internet you can turn those dreams into reality.
Sure, that sounds a little cliche. But seriously, we’re living in an age where it’s never before been possible to build a successful business with such little investment upfront.
You don’t need fancy college degrees or massive loans - nowadays you can literally create a profitable eCommerce store without ever leaving your sofa (provided you’ve got a really strong bladder).
In other words, with the sheer amount of opportunity that’s out there, you can’t afford not to be working on an online side-hustle this year. Your future self is depending on you.
That’s why we wrote this post. To show you how to make money with Shopify. Here we lay out what you need to do to go from zero to hero in the world of eCom.
We’ll cover topics such as how to come up with good product ideas, all the logistics of setting up an eCommerce store, the technical side of things, and even how to launch your first ad campaign.
Whether you’re looking to work from anywhere in the world, spend more time with your family or just build a ‘cushion’ in your bank account - let’s dig in and find out how to make money on shopify in 2020!
Step 1: Come Up With Great Product Ideas
Every great business started with a killer idea. And your Shopify dropshipping store is no different. But in truth, choosing winning products for your store is not easy.
Because with so many potential products on the market, it’s difficult to keep yourself focused.
This leads many first-time entrepreneurs into a state of ‘paralysis by analysis’ or worse, picking a product on a whim, without any planning, or validation.
So, in this section, the goal is to provide you with a roadmap for coming up with product ideas, so we can filter out the ones that aren’t worth testing in the next step - a key aspect of how to earn money on Shopify.
Brainstorm Your Ideas
Pretty much everyone has one solid product idea for an eCommerce store. It’s just a matter of digging it out from the dark recesses of your brain (Don’t worry we won’t go that deep!)
Open up a Google Doc and start writing down any products that come to mind. Think about what products you already like, what problems you have day-to-day, your hobbies and what other people are going crazy over etc.
Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family too. It doesn’t matter if you think it’ll be a bestseller or not. If you have an idea just to write it down now!
Study What’s Trending
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to make money with Shopify.
One of the most effective ways to come up with winning product ideas is to look at what’s already selling and model your store along the same lines. This is one of the fastest ways to learn how to make money selling on Shopify:
Peruse these sites and jot down any products that jump out at you. Don’t be too picky at this stage - we’re not picking our final choice here, just generating a bunch of product ideas to finalise later.
If manually browsing stores isn’t your cup of tea (and let’s be honest, it can take buckets of time) then SaleSource’s powerful algorithm lets you aggregate top stores & get personalised trending product recommendations without lifting a finger. Just sayin’.
Browse Social Shopping Sites
Social shopping sites are a fantastic place to discover viable products for dropshipping.
Set up an account for each platform now (only takes a couple of seconds), follow what people are liking and then add those products to your list too.
Keep adding product ideas to your Google Document until you have at least 50 ideas that are worth examining.
Don’t worry about the details. In the next step, we’re going to delve deeper and narrow in on which of your product ideas are really worth testing.
Step 2: Validate Your Product Ideas
Now that you’ve got a big list of potential products, it’s time to identify the ones that have the highest potential to make money with Shopify.
Rule Out Unsuitable Product Ideas
The first step in narrowing our list is to filter out any products that just aren’t suitable for dropshipping.
From years of dropshipping experience, we’ve learned that products that fall into the following categories are best avoided:
- Products that infringe on copyright law
- Products that are difficult to advertise (Facebook won’t allow you to advertise things like health supplements, adult products, tobacco products etc)
- Products that offer a very low margin
- Products that use misleading claims to deceive people
- Fragile products that are likely to break in transit
- Products that have poor reviews on your suppliers’ site
Also, you’ll probably want to avoid any products that are expensive (above $50 per unit) - unless you’re looking to get into high ticket dropshipping.
So, work through your list and cross off any products on your list that fall into these categories.
Discover Which Way They’re Trending
Next, we want to use Google Trends to determine if our product ideas are going up or down in popularity.
This nifty tool allows you to gauge how popular a particular product is over time. For example, above you can see that while selfie sticks used to be a super hot product, now they’re definitely a thing of the past.
Google trends even lets you compare products against each other to determine which are getting the most search attention over the last few weeks.
Put in each of the products on your list and remove any ones that are trending flat, or trending downwards. Also, rule out any products with less than 500 monthly searches.
Determine Market Saturation
Dropshipping via Aliexpress is extremely competitive. Much of your success will come down to finding trending products before they explode in popularity.
The reason? Most advertising platforms are based on an auction system. So, if you’re late to the party, established stores likely already have significant cash flow going. This makes it very difficult for you to outbid them for advertising space.
So, here’s how to determine a product’s saturation level:
- Find an image, Shopify Product Listing or AliExpress Product Listing of the product in question
- Upload the image into SaleSource's product analyzer
- View the amount of competitor stores selling the same product
- Check their revenues and store creation dates to see if they're established sellers
With this feature, you can rapidly locate all competitors selling product and view their estimated revenue, best selling products, apps and much more.
You’ll get a bunch of useful data such as monthly sales revenue, how long competitor stores have been open and what other products they’re selling with success. Using a dropship spy tool like SaleSource can improve every aspect of your dropshipping business.
Use the above methods to filter the product ideas you wrote in step one and decide on the product ideas that you want to test. Then think of related products that can complement your chosen product. The most foolproof way to find the best dropshipping products is to use SaleSource.
Example: Laptop bags go well with wireless keyboard & mouse sets.
Step 3: Creating Your Shopify Store
Many people think that you need a big budget to build an eCommerce store.
But nothing is further from the truth. In fact, some of the world’s most successful dropshipping stores were created in just a couple of hours by people who had zero web development skills.
When building your store, don’t get caught in the details. Start by laying down the basics and then create on the fly as you go - remember that an ounce of action is worth a tonne of thinking.
If you want to skip the $29 per month Shopify free, you can try a free website builder.
Here’s the essential checklist to get you up and running:
Choose A Name
Some people agonize for weeks over what their store should be called. In reality, as long as it’s not crazy obscure, your name will have little impact on your ability to be successful.
Use Namelix - a fun tool that’s powered by AI that lets you input keywords related to your niche/product and select the length and style you’d like to generate.
Here’s an example we did to come up with suggestions for a store selling water bottles:
Register a Free Account On Shopify
Shopify takes the hassle out of eCommerce. In the early days, you had to get a server, upload your own eCom system and hire someone to manage it.
Now in just a couple of clicks, you can skip all that boring stuff and have them take care of all that set-up and maintenance.
Simply pop over to Shopify.com, enter your email, click ‘start your free trial’, pop in your new bangin’ store name and start creating your shop.
Pick a Theme
Thanks to the Shopify Theme Store, you don’t have to worry about being an expert web designer to create a professional-looking online shop.
They’ve got an array of free themes to choose from, all of which are perfect for your first set-up.
Which theme you select will depend on the products you’re selling but it’s hard to go wrong with Debut, Supply or Brooklyn first time around.
Once you’ve found a theme you like, hit the green button to preview it & if you’re satisfied, install it on your store.
Add Your Logo
No business is complete without a recognisable, professional-looking logo. But top-notch logos can cost you a lot of time and money.
So instead, head over to Canva.com - a free drag and drop graphic design tool. They’ve got a bunch of quality templates that you can tweak to your liking.
Check the requirements for the pixel width of the logo in your chosen theme and then design your logo on Canva accordingly.
When saving your logo, save it with a transparent background so that it fits in beautifully on your store’s header.
Create Your Basic Pages
Every eCommerce website needs a couple of pages to build credibility and ensure a good visitor experience.
The following pages are sufficient to get you off on the right foot:
- About Us
- Terms & Conditions
- Privacy & Returns Policy
- Shipping & Delivery Information
- Contact Us
To create a page, go to your Shopify dashboard, click ‘Pages’, and click ‘Add Page’.
And here’s a basic template to help you get started with your ‘About Us’ page:
“Welcome to [store name]!
We’re a small but passionate company specializing in the latest & greatest [insert niche] products.
We believe passionately in great bargains and excellent service, which is why we commit ourselves to give you the best of both. If you’re looking for something new, you’re in the right place.
We strive to be industrious and innovative, offering you the products you want, always putting your experience at the top of our priority list.”
Because of the longer shipping times associated with dropshipping, many first-time entrepreneurs try to conceal the fact that delivery will take a longer time than many other forms of eCommerce.
Don’t do this. Here’s how to phrase your shipping page in an honest way that’ll build trust with your customers:
“We work with manufactures to ship our products directly to your door from the people who made them. This helps us keep costs low and pass these savings onto you.
All orders are sent to the manufacturer for dispatch within 24 hours after the order is placed. The manufacturer and local postal service then process and ship the orders, which takes 2–3 days.
US orders are shipped by ePacket, which is a US Postal Service product. After processing and leaving the warehouse, items typically take between 7 and 14 days to arrive at their destination.
Deliveries to other International destinations usually takes between 15–30 business days.”
Add a Payment Gateway
You need to be able to accept payment for your products and to do that you’ll need to set up a payment gateway.
Depending on the country you’re in, you’ll have different options available to you. We recommend you add Stripe to your ecommerce store to process card payments. But for now, we’re just going to set up PayPal.
Add your PayPal email address under the Shopify Settings Payments Section. If you don’t have a PayPal account setting one up takes less than 10 minutes.
Add Free Shipping
Nobody likes to pay for shipping at the best of times. But especially if it’s going to take up to three weeks to get your order.
So head over to Shopify Settings, and click on ‘Shipping’.
Delete all shipping zones that are non-international and then edit the international zone to ‘Free’.
You can always go back and change this later, but for now, we want to give customers as few objections as possible when it comes to making a purchase.
Add a Custom Domain
At the moment your URL looks like ‘[storename].myshopify.com’. In a competitive online market a name like that just won’t cut it.
So, to make it like other normal sites - i.e. [storename].com - you need to purchase a domain. You can do this right from the Shopify dashboard and it costs about $13 per year to own.
Before registering a domain, you should know which domain extension is suitable for your business. Here's a guide that explains the difference between .org vs .com
Go to the ‘Domains’ section, click ‘Buy New Domain’, whip out your credit card and follow the prompts from there.
Prepare your store for launch using the steps outlined above. Again don’t worry too much about the finer details just yet - the most important thing is to get the momentum going
Step 4: Finding The Best Suppliers For Your Store
Now that we’ve got our store set up, it’s time to go back to our product list. By this stage, you should have narrowed your list down to just a handful of high-potential products.
So, it’s time to find the best suppliers who have solid reviews, good shipping times and consistent quality control.
This is super important because a bad supplier can literally ruin your dropshipping business. So, here’s what to pay attention to:
Spend time searching your product list on Aliexpress. Create a Google sheet with the details of each supplier such as:
- Feedback Score
- Product Price
- Shipping Rates
- Number of Orders
- Length of Time in Operation
- Time to Respond to Message
As a general rule, you want to eliminate any suppliers who:
- Have less than 95% positive feedback score
- Fewer than 500 orders
- Multiple poor reviews
- Don’t respond within 24 hours
- Is massively cheaper than most other suppliers
Instead of struggling through this step manually you can use SaleSource to speed up the process. Users have found it particularly useful for finding the best price on a given product using the price comparison function.
By clicking on the "Supplier Details" tab on the By clicking on the "Supplier Details" tab on the SaleSource Chrome Extension you can see a compiled account of all of the important information about the supplier of the product. you can see a compiled account of all of the important information about the supplier of the product.
Plus, you can also see the Best Selling and Trending products of the supplier - great to find extra products to list on your store related to the current product you are considering.
Populate your store with products from the highest quality suppliers you can find. Keep importing products until you’ve worked your way through the list you finalised in step 2.
Step 5: Launching Your First Marketing Campaign
Congratulations are in order for making it this far. By now, you’ve built an online store and populated it with high-potential products from great suppliers.
Now all that’s left to do is drive traffic to your store and get that first sale. While Facebook Ads can be remarkably effective for bringing in sales, today we’re going to focus on a more straightforward approach: Instagram influencer marketing.
What is an Influencer?
An influencer is anybody that has a following who can drive traffic to your store and influence purchasing decisions. They’re usually personality-driven, which makes them a valuable source of trust for your business.
Chances are you probably follow many influencers already on Instagram. Anybody who’s offered you a discount code, a product review or done an ‘in partnership with’ post is an influencer.
How to Leverage Instagram Influencers To Make Sales
Here’s a simple strategy for driving traffic to your store with Instagram influencers
- Create an Instagram page for your store
- Search hashtags related to your industry/niche
- Locate accounts with a following between 20k-500k followers
- Make sure their followers are engaged (likes on posts should be 3-5% of total following)
- Reach out to influencers and ask them if they’d do a product review
- Compile accounts into a Google sheet
- Include handle, # followers, engagement rate, pricing and any other relevant information
- Choose the influencers who most closely align with your products, offer the best prices and have the highest engagement rates.
How to Make a Deal With Influencers?
There’s a number of ways to structure the agreement with your chosen influencers. Here are the most common arrangements:
- Straight fee - e.g A 24 hour shout out on their feed and story for $150
- Affiliate - e.g. they get 30% of all revenues generated through their unique link
- Equity - e.g. they get 2% of the total revenue of your store
- Free products - e.g they review free products from your store
All of these arrangements can work well but the exact agreement you choose will depend on your product, business and what your chosen influencer wants. Find more about influencers for affiliate marketing .
If you’re stuck for words during your outreach, here’s a sample template you can use to set up a product review agreement - just DM directly from your account to theirs:
Hi [influencer’s name],
I’m [your name] from [your store].
We’ve been following your Insta account for some time now and love your work! It seems that we both share a passion for [your niche].
I think our brand align excellently and that your followers would appreciate [your product].
I’d be more than happy to send you one for free in exchange for a [review/mention] on your Instagram or other social channels.
Let me know if that sounds cool & keep up the great content,
As a new store, getting influencers onboard is a numbers game. You might have to message 20 or more accounts to get a positive response and start collaborating.
When you find an influencer who agrees to work together, offer them a 15% discount code specifically for their followers to use at checkout. This will help nudge their audience towards making a purchase and with a little luck, start your revenue flowing.
Send the above template to at least 20 influencers in your chosen niche. Send them a free product & a unique discount code for their followers.
How to Make Money With Shopify Summary
Phew! That was a lot to take in.
But hopefully, by now, you have a solid idea of how to make money with Shopify and Aliexpress dropshipping.
In this post, we covered everything you need to know to get started from brainstorming good product ideas to validating those ideas, to setting up your store, finding the best suppliers and launching your first marketing campaign.
So what are you waiting for? Remember the only way you’ll see results is by taking action. Massive action means massive results. You’ve got nothing to lose so roll up those sleeves, and get to work!