This post is created to be a comprehensive guide and how to create a functioning, drop Shipping, e-commerce store in a short period of time. It will teach you everything from setting up WordPress, to integrating the automatic drop shipping service into your store. We’ll also go into detail on how to get designers degree custom products for you, and how to Market your store.
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[learn_more caption=”What’s Included”]
- Finding your niche
- Finding your product
- Getting a domain and site hosting
- Creating and designing a WooCommerce store
- Using Freelancers to design your product
- Integrating dropshipping into your store
- Marketing your store
- Getting that first sale
In the past few years, e-commerce has boomed. Some experts predict that e-commerce will surpass $2 trillion in sales in the next few years. A few months ago, I decided to capitalize on this business opportunity. E-commerce is a great way to become a millionaire by 25; it requires minimal physical presence (you can do everything online now), and if you do it right it can be a gold mine.
Then, if you add on the layer of drop-shipping, you can get a large, fairly passive source of income, With only a little bit of work. Drop Shipping means that you ship your product directly from the manufacturer to the customer. This cuts out the need for inventory, and also widens margins.
Here’s the step-by-step guide on how I created a functioning, dropshipping e-commerce business in only 3 days.
First things first, this is my e-commerce business that I created: Usthepeople.co. I’ll be refrencing to this store throught the article.
Step 1: Find your niche.
Because eCommerce is now such a big business, you need to find a product then nobody else is selling. You need to find a niche (A product/products that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population). 2012 census data shows that there are about 5 million small businesses in the US, so you need to stand out from these 5 million businesses. You need to choose a type of product that not many other businesses sell (uncompetitive market), but a small group of the population wants/needs. If you choose the right niche, with little competition, you can easily take over and have a really successful business.
The key is finding the right one. Here are four things you should look for when finding one.
– Find something that you like
Is very hard and sell a product that you are not enthusiastic about it. There are millions, maybe even billions of niches in the world, so choose one that suits you.
– Find a problem that you can solve
Businesses that solve problems are always the best. If you find a problem that has no current solution and create the solution, people will be lining up to buy this product.
– Find a group of passionate people
When I created my e-commerce business, I tried to find a group of people would want my product. If you can find people who are passionate about the product that you will sell, then you’ll be sure to find sales as well.
– Figure out who you’ll be competing against
If the market is already saturated with high-quality products, it will be hard to make your little tiny brand stand out against well-rooted competition. If there is, you may want to choose a new niche.
Put a lot of thought into choosing your Niche, because this will ultimately dictate whether your business is successful or not.
Step 2: Choosing your product
Now that you know what area you want your product to be in, find the actual product. For many, their first e-commerce store will be apparel. I find that apparel is the easiest product to get started with, because it’s easy to produce, and people will buy it.
Choose a product that people want. Especially if you’re starting out with low capital, you don’t want to have to tell people why they want to buy it. You want people to see your product and think “I want that”. That is the quickest route to sales.
I found that for your first e-commerce store, you’ll probably want to sell t-shirts and apparel. People like buying t-shirts, and they’re easy to produce. They also can have some huge margins – for me, I could buy T-shirts for about $4 and sell them from anywhere between $8 to $15.
For the rest of this guide, it will assume that you will be selling apparel. However, even if you aren’t selling apparel you can Implement these steps into the building of your own e-commerce, dropshipping website.
Step 3: Shopify Vs. WooCommerce
Now that you know the product that you want to sell, you need to figure out how you will sell it.
Over the past few years, Shopify has come out as an industry leader the e-commerce business building aspect of the industry. They offer an all-in-one platform to create an e-commerce store.
But, while the company offers a great product, I tried it and didn’t really like it. I’m already familiar with WordPress websites, and I found that creating a website through WordPress, and selling through WooCommerce there’s a lot easier and simpler than Shopify. It’s also cheaper, with Shopify you have a monthly membership, with WordPress all you’re paying for is the domain and theme.
You need to choose between Shopify and WordPress before you get your domain, because the platform you will be using your domain on dictates the company that you should buy the domain through.
The remainder of this guide will focus on building an e-commerce website with WordPress.
Step 4: Get your domain name/Hosting
The begin building your store, the first step is to get a domain name. This is a really important step both relating to SEO and branding.
When choosing your domain name, you want it to be short and sweet. Customers need to remember it, to get back to your store. Try to keep it under two words, and under 10 characters. Make sure it relates is a product that you will be selling. For instance, when creating my store I knew I would be selling patriotic apparel. In my case, I chose the domain name, spun off of the ” We the People” preamble of the American Constitution, USThePeople.co. This domain name is short and sweet, so people will remember it. It also happens to be the name of my brand.
You should always strive it match your domain name to your brand name, keep it short and memorable.
The ending of The Domain also matters. Dot Com will always be the gold standard in domain extensions, however, I find that people trust .co stores the same as a .com store. For me, usthepeople.com was already taken, so I had to purchase usthepeople.co.
For WordPress, I find that the best company to buy a domain name through is Bluehost.
Bluehost is actually a hosting provider, that also offers domain names. When you buy a hosting plan through Bluehost you get a free domain. Hosting is where your side will actually live. Bluehost provides a server that the data for your site will stay on.
The company offers three tiers of plans. I would recommend the Plus (mid-level) plan. In it, you get unlimited hosting space (so you can store as many images as you want on your website, a must for e-commerce), a free domain, and unlimited emails. The emails part is important because it allows you to build credibility for your brand. Which sounds better, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. The first one, right?
Currently, Bluehost plans cost anywhere from $3 to $10 a month. The plus Plan cost $6 a month, so your first e-commerce sale will probably offset the cost of the hosting.
When you buy a plan, your new domain name is automatically connected to WordPress. You have to do a few simple steps of set up, and then you can log in your new WordPress website.
Check to see if your domain is available here:
So now that you have your domain connected to WordPress this is what you do next:
Step 5: design the site
On your Bluehost dashboard, you can now log in to your WordPress site. Click on login or go to example.com/WP-ADMIN. Login with the credentials that you created in Bluehost.
You should now be logged into WordPress. WordPress takes a little bit of getting used to, but is pretty simple after a while. WordPress site design runs on themes. You can buy different themes, which will change the appearance of your site.
You can’t keep the default theme of WordPress because it doesn’t allow you to sell products, and honestly, it looks bad and unprofessional.
You’re going to need to buy a theme. They range from anywhere from $5 to over a thousand dollars.
For eCommerce, there are custom themes designed to sell products. However, I’ve noticed that most themes are difficult to customize or require you to know code. Both of these options are very appealing to somebody who’s just starting out in e-commerce, so I recommend a third solution.
It’s called the Divi theme, and it’s a drag and drop website builder. If you’ve ever used the Wix website builder, it’s similar, but better because it allows you to use WordPress.
Essentially, this theme allows you to build your own custom website without knowing a single line of code. Is what I use for my e-commerce site, US The People, and for this site, Millionaire By 25.
Now that you have your theme, you need to build the actual website. The most important page of the site is the homepage because that’s where everybody ends up. You need to design it to Showcase your product and get people to buy it. Online, simpler is always better, because people have short attention spans.
The homepage should show your best selling products because it increases the chances of a sale.
Then, you’ll need a section for men’s and women’s clothes. Each section should get its own page, that displays the products specific the men and woman. On my site, I also included accessories like coffee mugs and knives to make a little extra money.
From my experience, displaying the best selling products on the homepage as well as each page for men and women gets good sales. Then, having Pages for each category under men and woman, such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, tank tops, Etc. is great.
The Divi Builder allows you fully customize your pages.
Even more importantly, it comes with a shop module out of the box, that allows you to display your products, and filter them.
I’d say that building your website is the most fun part of the process because it allows you to be creative, especially with Divi.
When designing your website, it’s best to replicate the design of already successful websites. I give you full permission to go and copy the design of the US the people website. I modeled that website off the Nine Line Apparel website.
Here are some images of my website, designed with Divi:
Now, you need to integrate WooCommerce into your WordPress website. WooCommerce is an eCommerce platform, like Shopify, but its free. It allows you to list your products, and integrate them into your website. It works very well with Divi, and is displayed through the Divi Shop module. It tracks orders, sets coupons, and more. You need it to sell products through WordPress.
You get it by going to the Plugins section of WordPress, selecting ‘add new’, and searching for it in the search bar, and installing it.
There’s a little bit of setup involved, like connecting your Paypal account. On the topic of that, you can use Stripe or PayPal for payments. I recommend using only PayPal. It’s a lot simpler to set up, and people would seem to trust it more.
So now that you have your website built, You need to get your products on to it. This is where we get into the product creation section.
Step 6: Products
Sub-Step 1: Brainstorming your products
The first step of creating a product is designing it. You know your niche, so now you just need to create a product that people want to buy. I am marketing to conservatives, so I needed patriotic design that displays their values to plop onto a t-shirt
I brainstormed a list of values and symbols that represented conservatives/Republicans. Once you have your list of ideas, you need to find somebody who can make them into graphics.
Sub-Step 2: Designing your products
You can try to design your own products, but it takes a lot of time and effort. I’d rather pay somebody else to do it. For my e-commerce site, I’ve hired Freelancers to design the graphics from Fiverr.
Fiverr allows you to find Freelancers for only $5. What I did was going to the search bar, look up t-shirt graphics, click search, and up came hundreds of Freelancers willing to make t-shirt graphics for me for only $5.
However, you need to shop around because not every freelancer is equal. Some Freelancers offer a lot more for $5 than others. You can also pay more for more intricate designs, or custom drawings, Etc…
Once I found the right freelancer, I sent him a list of my design ideas, and $25. Two Days Later, I walked away with five brand new t-shirt design, that I could also put on sweatshirts, tank tops and other types of clothing.
There’s virtually no risk, because Fiverr allows you to ask for revisions to the product if you don’t like it.
When you receive the product, be sure to ask for a PNG file of the image. I also asked for both dark and light designs, so I could sell more colors of t-shirts. Sometimes, designs only work with a dark or light t-shirt, not both, And it might be worth paying another $5 for a light/dark variation of that design.
(I also used a Fiverr Freelancer to design the logo for my site)
Step 7: Getting your products on the website, and produced
This section is where the magic happens. There’s an all-in-one tool that I’ve discovered that allows you to produce your products, drop ship them, and automatically integrate them into your WordPress site. It also offers custom shipping labels and free mock-ups.
I’ve shopped around for better software, but I can’t find any. This company/product/software is called Printful. It is the best for creating a fully automated, dropshipping website, and allows you to have pretty much passive income from your website.
Here are the features that it offers, and you’ll be using
– Custom products
You upload the design that you bought on Fiverr, and then put it on t-shirts, hats, mugs, bags (pretty much any product you can imagine).
– WordPress integration
The service works with WooCommerce automatically.
This service prints the products on demand and then ships them from their warehouse to your customer. Better yet, it’s all automated. When somebody buys a product on your website, Printful gets notified and automatically shipped it to your customer. All you do is take your profit.
Best of all it’s free, with no monthly subscription fee. Instead, it takes a little bit a profit when customers buy your product.
Before creating products with the service, you need to integrate it into your website. You do this with a plugin. Go to add new in the plugins section, search for Printful, and install the plug-in. Then, go to Printful and create a new account. It will ask you how you want to integrate the service into your website. Click on WooCommerce, and follow the directions that it gives you.
Now you can log in to your Printful account, and then start reading the products that you bought the designs for. You do this by uploading your designs into Printful, then positioning them on the products. Then, you create a product description and price the item. Then click create, and you have your product. Because you integrated it with your website, the product is automatically pushed, with its description and photos, to your store.
Printful is the place where you price your items. It gives you the price that it costs for Printful to manufacture your product and allows you to set the margin of how much you want to mark up the product from the manufacturing price. Price your products thoughtfully – don’t price them too high because nobody will buy them, but don’t price them too low because you won’t make any money. There’s a just-right area for pricing, you just need to figure it out (It varies for each type of product, and the manufacturing cost).
When somebody buys a product on your store, Printful prints it, and sends it out automatically. All you need to do is sit back and rake in the profits.
At this point, you now have a fully functioning store. Now you need traffic.
Step 8: Traffic (and sales!)
There are two methods to get in traffic:
1. Social media
Sub-step 1: Using social media to drive traffic to your site
This is a free method but takes a long time and a lot of work. Create social media accounts, and build communities around your niche/business focus. As these communities grow, you can get begin advertising for free with them. For eCommerce, I find that Instagram is the best platform. It allows you to display images of your clothing to targeted groups (hashtags). It also has millions upon millions of users. For Instagram (and you can syndicate to FaceBook and Twitter, ) you should hire Fiverr freelancers (or do it yourself) to make photorealistic mockups of the clothing (or go the hire budget option, and hire models). Then post it on these platforms, and drive traffic to the site.
To grow your social media following quickly, I find that the best way is to mass follow and mass unfollow. You can also employ auto likers. I’ve also heard of marketers buying bulk followers to build account momentum, but I can’t vouch for this method, as I haven’t tried it.
This is the free method and takes time and effort. However, it usually leads to more sales per visitor than the advertiser. Building a community centered around your product is 100x better than running ads. My Instagram account for US The People, @usthepeople.co, has been the main driver of sales. I’ve grown it by mass following and unfollowing, paired with auto liking. This method allows you to pretty much have free, targeted advertising.
Sub-step 2: Running ads
I feel the running ads is a necessary part of starting up an e-commerce store. It allows you to build the momentum, and game search engine visibility quickly. As your store grows in traffic, you can slowly phase out the ads, and move to the social media method of gaining visitors.
There are three main platforms where you should run your ads.
I find the Google ads drive the most traffic to your site, while Facebook ads get a lot of sales. For Instagram, personally it was a big waste of money, but others live and die by it. I’d recommend spending money mainly on Google Search Ads.
Facebooks ads are great, but it requires integration with your site and products that takes hours to set up. However, this time invested was worth it, because it drove a lot of buying customers to the site. Also, a quick note: Facebook ads have a minimum of $150 to $300. Google ads allow you to set whatever budget you want, it sometimes goes over by a few dollars.
Instagram: I’d recommend just sticking with building a community. Instagram ads may work if you spend thousands of dollars, are Google and Facebook are just better.
With these ads, you will begin to get traffic. If you offer a good product and have followed this guide, your traffic will soon turn into sales.
This Process Took Me Three (Part-Time Days)
After reading this post, studying to become his business may sound like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. Doing all this took me three part-time days, and probably would take me one day if other confirmations went through and I had the full day to work.
The longest part of the process (which isn’t even necessary to set up the business) was integrating Facebook ads with my product list. Other than that, most steps took under 1 hour.
It cost about $400 to make the website, get the domain and hosting and buy 20 designs to make into products. Then it could be anywhere from an extra $150 to $2000 dollars to run on ads.
That concludes the comprehensive guide to building a drop shipping e-commerce business. I wish you success and luck in your own business. Comment any questions, statements, or your store domain below.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are ‘affiliate links.’ This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Please click on the links, rather than searching through Google, as they support the website, and give you discounts.