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How I Spent 7 months & $2000+ Failing At Shopify Dropshipping

Discussion in 'Dropshipping & Wholesale Hookups' started by Ngo, Mar 22, 2018.

  1. Ngo

    Ngo Registered Member

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    Newbie here, inspired by all the "sharing experience" posts and I wondered -- why not I talk about some of mine? The only problem -- the fact that I have not "fully" succeeded in blackhat yet :). Maybe some people would still find this post helpful. Maybe not. I'm just writing this because I'm trying to make productive changes in my blackhat life from now, and I guess this would be the "first step" for me.

    Backstory

    I've been working online and been making money (both black and whitehat) on the internet since I was 14. Programming was my first love, and I started out earning by making websites and banners on forums. The same business has grown to me managing my own 6 person agency with clients from all over the world, but I digress. BHW has always been a place of fascination for me, and I have been very committed to the idea of having a passive income & have wanted the blackhat's life & financial independence since I was a kid.

    Starting February 2017, I have worked on multiple dropshipping & ecommerce stores with my OG-guerrilla-marketing-genius business partner. Some of them achieved mild success, but they were mildly successful at most. Due to supplier issues, I have had to shut down most of them as well. The one I'm focusing on now launched in August 2017 for general dropshipping from AliE to USA -- and has had a Facebook ad spend of $2000+ with barely any sales to show for it.

    Now I know you're wondering: $2000 spend over 7 months? That's too little! Of course, you need to test more and spend aggressively for this to be successful. I was not determined at all. As I learnt, though, this is only part of my problem.

    Part 1: The Problems

    I couldn't make my store work. I spent a lot of time and money on this, and despite being able to achieve goals in other aspects of life, I completely failed in this. I realized that the root of the issue here is simple: I'm an unmotivated & lazy asshole. I believe I know a lot more than I actually do. I pride myself on abilities that I barely have. I chase dreams rather than evaluating real results. I fear to commit.

    These were a bunch of shortcomings that really shouldn't be there in anyone who's trying to make it in dropshipping. To tackle these and give me a system, here's what I've planned for the near future:
    • Be consistent in adding and testing products: Adding a few products every week, or adding products when I like, simply isn't going to work. One needs to have a thorough strategy for product testing: what schedule and frequency to add products on. Do I want to post 5 products every day? Or how about 3 niche products and 2 general? What about 1 high-ticket item and 3 low ticket items every day? It is important to design a strategy that works with my budget and schedule, and then to stick to it.
    • Know when to kill a product: Simply because I like a product doesn't mean that it's going to sell. There needs to be a way to test products & kill the underperforming products effectively. It could be as simple as 'kill if no ATC in 1 day' or 'kill if ATC higher than $5'. This is something that depends on product prices & niche and thus needs to be tested.
    • Competitor research is crucial: Everyone copies everyone else. That's just part of this business. There is simply very little other ways to be updated with the latest trends, prices, and methods otherwise. If my dropshipping website's UI cannot compare to my competitors, how can I expect to make a sale? Growth requires efforts on maintaining & constantly improving the site.
    This might look trivial to you if you're experienced. But this is for people like me who have been stuck in the ecommerce rut. Dropshipping is very real & very achievable to the correct person who can put in the effort. It is not fair to give up before you can be sure you have these 3 steps working correctly. I realized I was stupid to expect gains without making any real efforts, and now I wish to change that.

    Part 2: The Solution I'm Going For

    I'll be trying to add 2 accessories-related product and 2 general product every day from now. I'm making ATC FB ads with US targeting (~1m audience size) that I kill at $10 if per ATC cost is over $5. I'm not sure if this is the best strategy, but this seems like a safe and comfortable one for me, and my ads seem to perform okay (attached screenshot). I don't think my ads are my problem (please correct me if I'm wrong?) but there's still something that I'm missing. The main goal I have now is to test fast while learning my audience, and to do that I'm trying to interact with more people on my page and examine my analytics more carefully as well.

    I realize that there is going to be a lot that I will need to learn (maybe even relearn) and I'm looking for all learning resources that BHW (and less importantly, the rest of this world) can offer me. I'm looking for any and all feedback -- if you want to roast a newbie's store, I would be more than happy to PM the URL. If you can share inspiring competitor stores, that'd be great to see too. At any rate, I know that I need to achieve this dream of mine. I have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. I hope I figure this out.
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. Skim read and thought you said you were 14 and pregnant
     
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  3. Ngo

    Ngo Registered Member

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    The only thing that I could pregnant was my hand, fortunately that never happened.
     
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  4. krishnaverma

    krishnaverma Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Wow, you started programming at 14. You can beat us easily in my opinion. :) All the best.
     
  5. Ngo

    Ngo Registered Member

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    Thanks Krishna! There's a lot of room for everyone in blackhat -- one of the reasons I love it and am committed to achieving success here.
     
  6. knopper

    knopper Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Failures are the stepping stones of success. All the best!
     
  7. kickthat

    kickthat Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Is your targeting on Facebook right? Pushing out to around 1mill people seems very broad.

    Can you use the breakdowns to identify which groups of people are more likely to engage with your ads and target them more specifically?

    On the other side of things, if you think your ad performance is reasonably then look at where things are going wrong. Are people adding to cart and abandoning? Does your site have the necessary level of trust for customers? Is it easy to use and navigate?
     
  8. Jklmno

    Jklmno Regular Member

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    Since you already spend $2000, why not do the real retail where the real money is located? Rather than some silly dropshipping. Wholesaling. You can source product for cheaper price. and offer much faster shipping times. You can even beat Amazon
     
  9. Ngo

    Ngo Registered Member

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    Thank you Knopper, means a lot. Hopefully success comes soon for all of us.
     
  10. Ngo

    Ngo Registered Member

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    I think there might be some issue with the site. I am getting a bunch of add to carts, but none of them have converted. How many ATCs convert to purchase usually? Do you have time to check the store?
     
  11. Ngo

    Ngo Registered Member

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    Sounds interesting, but I'm not sure where to begin. What guides should I read?
     
  12. Jklmno

    Jklmno Regular Member

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    There is no need for any guide. Allow me to explain the logic of how it works. There is significant price gap between goods in online marketplace (check the number of sale for cheap price and review for quality check) and offline store. Why? Because online store has no need to pay exorbitant property price, utility fee and use smuch less humanpower. Also there is economic of scale. A single online store can serve unlimited customers per day, while an offline store can only serve handful of customers per day. So online store is just simply much more efficient. Now you can simply go online and compare the online and offline price . The difference in price is mind boggling. You can ask for discount by buying wholesale. Also ask about much cheaper bulk shipping. The usual shipping that dropshipper use and the bulk shipping have significant price difference (due to administrative cost and extra manpower cost). It is not even surprising that the difference can reach 10x or more. You can go check local online marketplace. At the same time, you can also check 1688.com which is Alibaba domestic website. 1688.com simply have more things to offer compared to Alibaba.com but ,of course shipping from China will take much longer time and also you may need to pay more tax and handle more documents. You can ask me if you have any more question
     
  13. seoz87

    seoz87 Senior Member

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    This is the key for people who got some success but cant scale it.

    I once kept 15 domains for 2 years just because each site was generating its domain cost i.e. $10 - $20 per year. Since they were hosted on shared hosting with unlimited addon domains, i never bothered to remove them.

    My mistake was I never realized the time i spent on each of them per month just to make the site secure and keep running by updating them once a month.

    Make a clear goal for a site . It the site cant achieve it within a reasonable time period (asper your experience) close it. Don't wait for 2 more months because you can use that 2 months efforts on a new project.
     
  14. Ngo

    Ngo Registered Member

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    This is excellent advice, and something I now mean to use for each and every project. A endeavor without a clear, well-defined goal is meaningless.
     
  15. leowill007

    leowill007 BANNED BANNED

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    will follow this thread, its very real case of how to archieve the success if you do it consistently.
     
  16. GringoMonkey

    GringoMonkey Elite Member

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    Thats quite a frank admission of your own failings and laziness.

    Running a store is the hardest thing you can do to make money the internet. Because you have customers to deal with and orders to place it becomes a job as you cannot really automate it.

    The first part, driving targeted traffic you can automate though.

    Therefore have you considered a lazy mans approach?

    Find a competitor store in the niche you want to sell into and drive traffic as an affiliate.

    Once all that is optimised and making profit. Basically clone the site featuring the products you were selling best and stop directing the traffic as an affiliate and direct to your own site.

    That way you take away all the hassle of running a store and fulfillment while your optimising ad traffic strategies and can just cash in when you know it makes money.
     
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  17. zionbar

    zionbar Elite Member

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    facebook ads can be very tricky and hard to master
    all these "gurus" showing you how they make millions on shopify, 99% of them are BS .

    You need to nail the facebook ads thing, start with $10 a day and optimize
    start with a relatively wide audience, stop with the kind of "moms who drink coffe while holding their right foot up" targeting, start wide and let fb algo target

    also in fb ads theres something called "first conditions" or something like that
    meaning the first few people (10-20? no one knows but its the first few days) to interact with your ad will determine for facebook algo which kind of groups he will focus on and show your ad to so keep that in mind
     
  18. Ngo

    Ngo Registered Member

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    Definitely -- this post makes me feel accountable. Already did a number of improvements to my store's cart page, trust badges, buttons, etc. Let me know if you have any tips.

    That sounds super interesting to be honest, would help me perfect my targeting first. Is there a place where I could find stores with affiliate programs? What kind of affiliate payout should I be considering?

    Thank you so much for this advice. What kind of audience size should I be looking at? I usually aim broad but flex it with an additional interest, targeting gender/age using Facebook's ad tool.
     
  19. zionbar

    zionbar Elite Member

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    My tip is create a few audiences theres no science here i like to go with 1M+ total.. and show them a few ads not just 1 ad.. then pick the best way to go
     
  20. Jiung

    Jiung Elite Member

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    Did you bother testing any free traffic methods? How much have you made with the $2000 you spent?