How to Make Your First $ 100 within the Next Weekend with Your Dropshipping Store (Without Spending Money on Ads)

The following post is the first chapter of an online course/guide I’m currently building. Even though the title is “How To Make $ 100” it’s more about the ultimate niche validation. Within this course, I will introduce my personal approach on how I validate new ideas. Besides of validation, I will also show you where and how to find new ideas.

Cost of this course?
  • Free, if you decide to sign up to Shopify through my affiliate link.
  • $ 5 (five – no missing 0), if you don’t want to sign-up or already have a store.

[You will find affiliate links to Shopify here in this post, too.]

As I’m a huge fan of keeping it simple af, I built this guide asap (as simple as possible).

Why This Sneak Preview?

It’s my approach to validating this idea. As this whole course will be all about validation it would be ridiculous if I wouldn’t validate this course itself, right? I would also love to have early feedback from you on what I can improve. Please feel free to reach out to me at tim@timkock.de

A short note before we start: As I’m still building this course you will find some missing parts here and there. Mostly when it comes down to bonus material or access to spreadsheets. I marked these parts with red notes.




START SNEAK PREVIEW

Please don’t get confused by the title. This is definitely not the next weird online course or guide where someone will tell you the secret on how to make money.

Personal note: I built this course/guide in a way I would have needed it when I started about six years ago. I made a lot of mistakes and wasted even more money just to find out how I should not work (even if all these “experts” told me to do so). As I really want to help people who want to become successful (whatever this means to you) I started my personal branding journey.

Even though we are aiming for $ 100 it’s more about the validation of your business idea and/or products. From my personal experience is making money the best and ultimate way to find out if a niche is (or can be) profitable or not. If you are able to make $ 100 within the next weekend you are definitely able to grow this to $ 1,000 and then (hopefully) strive for the big money.

But as I want to keep it real and we’re just at the beginning of our journey we are aiming for the 100.

Bonus: I will give you a list of 10 FREE marketing strategies (Bonus material will be available at the full course).

How to Work With This Course

As I don’t know your personal preferences I decided to use all mediums to build this course: video, audio and text.

If you like videos, watch the videos. If you love to read, read the text. And if you want to listen to this course while in the gym or on your way to work, listen to my voice. In the end, it’s up to you. But here is my personal recommendation on how to work through this course:

  1. Watch the videos first to get a quick overview of what to expect
  2. Read the whole text (including watching the videos a second time)
  3. Go out for a walk (please go outside) and listen to the audio version (no audio at the moment)

I know you can find value in this course. Some will find eye-opening parts, others will just find one to two things they can apply while others simply get inspired. But if all you get is “just” getting inspired, I am more than happy.

What You Will Learn

I will show you some very basic and simple things. Maybe they are so simple that you don’t even think about it or simply did not believe such things can be helpful. You won’t learn some crazy new marketing strategy or a (wannabe) business-hack.

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

―Steve Jobs

We will take a deep look at your personal assets and work from there on. You don’t have to learn some crazy or fancy marketing strategy to get your business to a point where you call it successful. I truly believe that you already have access to everything you need. You might just not using it in a proper way. But don’t worry about that; we will figure out how to do this together.

If you think you don’t have the skills you need to build your online store, I can highly recommend entering Shopify’s dropshipping webinar. At the end of this webinar you will get access to a bunch of bonus material including a case study I have written for Shopify on “How I Built a Profitable Dropshipping Business in 14 Days (Without Spending Money on Ads)” where I documented every single step I took in a 14 day experiment to make around $ 200. I spent zero dollars. No custom domain, no ads, no products for influencer… just work.

But today, as you are participating in this course, we will dig deeper. You will learn this:

  • how to find a product you can sell,
  • how to validate your product/your niche,
  • how to take advantage of your personal assets,
  • how to focus on the most powerful assets,
  • how to estimate your sales, and
  • how to work like you’ve never worked before.
  • Bonus: where (and how) to promote and sell your products for free.

Sounds good? Awesome!

But before we jump into this course I would like to introduce you into the files section (no file section at the moment):

If you click here you will get instant access to the files section of this course. You will find summaries of each step, bonus material and the $ 100 spreadsheet. Within this spreadsheets, you will find a bunch of sheets which we will use and I will explain every sheet once we come to a point where we use this. As for now I just want you to do three things:

  1. Click here to get free access
  2. Open “$ 100 Spreadsheet”
  3. Click “File” > “Make a Copy” and save it to your drive

You have to do this in order to work with this sheet. Otherwise, you just have access to read it, but not to edit it.

If you’ve never worked with Google Drive before, this link will help.

As we will go through quite some stuff I can highly recommend to make notes on the way. Therefore I created a learning sheet for you (“Notes”). If you want to use it feel free to make notes like what you’ve learned, what you would like to take a deeper look into or what suddenly came into your head. Even though it’s not required to do this I can highly recommend doing this.

Personal note: Feel free to share your notes with me. I would love to see what you have learned and maybe I can give you even more input on a specific topic.

Just send your notes over to tim@timkock.de

(Even though there is no spreadsheet for your notes, I would also love to take a look at your notes)

Step 1: Find Products to Sell (+ How to Validate Your Ideas)

Personal note: Even if you already have products you want to sell I recommend to not skip this part. You never know if you will find new inspirations for new products or just get the confidence to stick with your existing product.

It’s pretty obvious that you have to have products to get to a point where you achieved your goal. So this will be our starting point.

We will cover two ways of finding and validating products:

  1. Use recommendations from legit companies
  2. Use bestselling lists from big players

Both ways are equally good. Since using recommendations from legit companies who have a strong relation to e-commerce and dropshipping is easier we will start here.

Find Products to Sell #1: Use recommendations

Companies like Shopify and Oberlo regularly publish posts on what to sell. So why not using recommendations from companies who have a very strong interest in making you successful? As I mentioned before, keep things as simple as possible. You really don’t have to do everything on your own.

Personal note: I know some people from Shopify and Oberlo personally and I can promise you that they are doing everything they can to make you successful. I can highly recommend to trust them. I do it, too.

My favourite posts:

*Even though the last post is about things other than physical products it’s very helpful to get your thoughts out of the box. Who knows, maybe you end up selling yoga classes or digital products – who cares? Dropshipping is not the only way to make money and to live happily. As long as you love what you’re doing (and can pay your bills) the business model itself doesn’t matter.

I am very sure you will find great products within these posts which allows you to reach your goal.

Find Products to Sell #2: Use bestselling lists

Another great way to find products you can sell is to take a look at the bestselling lists of major shopping sites. This step alone is one kind of product validation itself. Those lists show you exactly what people like to buy at this moment. If they are willing to spend their hard earned money over there, they are probably also willing to spend money on your store. Let the market decide what you should sell.

Here are my top four bestselling lists:

Spend some time to discover all the bestsellers and make some notes while doing this. If you go to your “$ 100 Spreadsheet” you will find a sheet called “Products”. Put your notes, products or ideas in there. We will work with this sheet later even more. (Remember: no spreadsheets at the moment).

Besides of finding a product, you will also learn how the market thinks. Entrepreneurs, especially when starting, have this tendency to think just within their own world: “If I don’t like it, the others don’t like, too”.

By regularly taking a look on bestselling lists you will develop a natural intuition on what will work and what does not. It’s like taking a look into the head of the market. The more you can “feel” upcoming trends, the more you will sell.

Personal note: One of the first things I do in the morning is to take a super quick look (20-30 seconds each) on all these bestselling lists. Whenever I have the feeling something can become successful I make some notes to take a deeper look at it when I have more time.

Find Products to Sell #3: Niche Validation

Even though this whole guide is one big validation, we will now validate your ideas within this validation. Let’s call this step “micro-validation”.

Why niche validation?

Because otherwise, you can lose a lot of money and time. Whereas money can (and will) come back, time is lost forever. But an also very important point why you should validate your ideas is simply to stay motivated and focused.

A validated idea is more likely to become successful than “just some idea”. As success is one of the biggest factors when it comes down to motivation we simply can’t ignore this validation step.

Google Trends

Google Trends is a free tool from – who would have thought of – Google. You simply put in your main-keyword(s) of your niche or products in the search field and Google shows you instantly if there is an increasing or decreasing search volume on Google for this specific term.

Google Trends
A solid trend which gives you the confidence that there is a demand for your product

As the majority of the people who search for something on the internet will use Google this is an extremely powerful tool.

If you would like to compare up to five ideas you can simply add more terms to this search. This will help you to decide on which idea you should focus the most.

Google Trends 2

The best way to validate ideas with Google Trends is to look at each graph itself and also on the comparison of all ideas.

Even though the yellow graph has the highest amount of search volume it doesn’t have to mean it is the best idea. It’s probably also the most competitive idea. That’s why validation with Google Trends is just one piece of the puzzle to validate your idea.

Google Global Market Finder

While Google Trends doesn’t show you actual search volume numbers we have to use another free and powerful validation tool from Google: Global Market Finder.

To get the data you need you simply put in the search terms (your niche/idea) into the “Keyword(s)” box. Google now shows you the exact amount of monthly searches for your term(s).

Google Global Market Finder

Raw numbers are not all. You always have to have in mind that the higher a number of monthly searches, the more competitive is the niche. You have to find that sweet spot.

Personal note: I usually try to go for ideas which have at least 1,000 monthly searches (okay, 986 is also okay…) and not higher as 100,000. From my personal experience, it’s usually like this: entrepreneurs with quite some money in the bank go for the big ones because they can afford the expensive ads which are necessary to separate yourself in such a competitive market. But if you run on a tight or even zero budget I can highly recommend starting with the low end. Once you made your first money you can (and should) re-invest this money into bigger opportunities.

As you now have a first and rough picture of the demand for your idea we will now go to take a look at what people are actually saying about your product or your niche in general.

Social Media

When entrepreneurs or marketers think about social media they’re mostly thinking about ads and marketing. But we are far away from spending money on marketing. We will use social media as our next step towards validation.

Facebook

As Facebook is THE social network, we will start our social media validation here.

What we will do now is a mix of niche validation and competitor research. I will show you a super simple way to see how high the demand for your product is AND how your competitors advertise them. Besides of the validation, this will give you an idea on how you could (later) build your ads.

Personal note: What we do now may not work for every niche as the products have to be “cheap”. But as Facebook validation is just one step it doesn’t really matter if you can’t do this step.

Let’s say you found out that strapless bras currently trending. To find out if there is potential in your idea, just type – strapless bra “just pay shipping” – into the Facebook search field.

Facebook

You will now see a bunch of ads from your competitors who set up free + shipping campaigns. We don’t do this because want to do the same but we have to find a way on how to filter all posts on Facebook. We just want to see ads and not personal recommendations etc.

Instead of “just pay shipping” you could also use “shop here”, “Get yours here”, “Order here” or “Click here”. Just try them all.

As you now see a lot of ads from competitors you can look at the reactions, likes, comments and amount of shares.

Facebook 2

942 positive reactions, 470 comments and 289 shares!

Even though we don’t know how much money your competitor spent on this ad this is a good signal that there is a demand for strapless bras.

Instagram:

The next step of our social media validation is Instagram. As Instagram is getting bigger and bigger without any sign to stop its growth we should definitely take a look at it.

If we decide to stay with our example, we will put in the most obvious hashtag into the search field: #straplessbra (you should also take a look at other niche related hashtags)

Instagram

34.741 posts – pretty good!

Most of those posts are probably from other stores selling strapless bras, which gives us the confidence that this idea is good. If others believe in it, why shouldn’t we do it?

To get a more clear view on the demand we will take a look at the first nine posts. These are the most popular posts at the moment.

Instagram 2

(At the moment I’m writing these lines) there are 21,042 likes and 484 comments in total for those nine images. Solid as a rock!

Twitter:

Twitter is just amazing when it comes down to see what people actually think (and talk) about your product. To get this extremely valuable information you just have to type in your idea into the Twitter search field.

Twitter

You will now see one of the most valuable information you can get as an entrepreneur: People’s opinion.

Twitter 2

With this one tweet alone you get a great insight. You now know one of the main problems with strapless bras. If you can solve this problem you’ll probably win.

That said: the more problems you solve, the more money you make.

Besides of finding points which aren’t that good in order to validate your idea, Twitter can also give you confidence:

Twitter 3

Twitter 4

Twitter 5

More than solid!

Personal note: The above-mentioned tweets are a marketers dream! You could easily jump into a conversation and offer those girls a free strapless bra (for promotion) or a discount code. It’s almost ridiculous that no one replied to those extreme obvious sales opportunities.

Bottom line: there is a demand!

With all the micro validation steps we took it’s time to take a deep look at our personal assets…

End of this sneak preview. What will follow are the next 4 steps + amazing bonus material (for example a video about 10 free marketing channels) to finish this course.

END OF SNEAK PREVIEW


I hope you enjoyed this first part.  If you want to get a short notification once this course is published, please enter your email below.



Advanced E-Commerce Marketing Strategy

E-Commerce Marketing Strategy

Internet Marketing Is Supposed to Fix Everything, Right?

If our grandparents had chosen to become entrepreneurs they would have spent so much more time and effort on their businesses. Back then it was one of the main reasons why most people could never even imagine becoming entrepreneurs (self-employed); TIME

These days we think the internet will make it sooooo easy (and less time consuming) to make money. From my experience this is true — but just when it comes down to scaling. The foundation — the first 100 sales — are super hard.

And it’s just logical; why should it be easy? There is absolutely no reason.

Oh, Yeah. An Internet Business Is Still A Business

I know we all tend to think that we’ve done everything we could. But to be brutally honest — most of us just build a Shopify store and then pay Facebook for ads. And… that’s not even close to being enough “effort.”

We have to do more, especially more real business stuff;

  • Knowing our target audience
  • Checking on our competitors
  • Over-indexing content check
  • Price calculations (cournot point, break even point, etc …)
  • Influencers research
  • Growth opportunities
  • Market check (elasticity)
  • Branding opportunity
  • And most importantly >> Demand research

All this should (in a perfect world) be done BEFORE we build the store. However, if we missed doing some of these things prior to launch, we should absolutely still do them afterwards.

But Tim! That’s A Lot Of Work!

Yes, I know. But, there is something we do NOW to cover a lot of these topics with one technique. What is it?

BECOME AN “INFLUENCER”

Create an Instagram account (NOT WITH THE NAME OF YOUR BUSINESS!) around your niche without promoting your products. Just put out content (5–8 times a day) which is related to your niche. Don’t promote anything (for now). Your goal is to build an audience.

Post relevant, interesting and maybe even controversial content. Every day!

Then, search for 30 relevant hashtags and use them! Don’t go for the general ones. Find niche hashtags. Don’t avoid this work! I know it’s tempting, but it will pay off in the long run.

After you have your hashtags it’s time for content; re-post images of people using the hashtags and which make sense for your niche.. Tag and mention those people. Give them a free shoutout. I would NOT go for people on Instagram with 8k + follower. They might not like it. But you could ask them for permission.

If you’re lucky you will get a shout out for free too. That’s the beginning.

While you are doing this over and over again you can search for your biggest competitors and:

  1. See what they are doing
  2. Follow their followers
  3. Reach out to those followers telling them about your new page and if they have interest you would highly appreciate it if they would follow you
  4. COLLECT DATA!

After all of this we’ll start to gain a solid audience. You can speed this process up by investing ALL OF YOUR TIME into doing this.

Switch To Product Focus Mode

Now it’s time to promote products which you could imagine selling later on — or at least some similar products. Use call to actions like “love this [product]?? Please leave a comment!” to see the responses. After some time you will have a lot of data;

  • which hashtags work
  • your target audience
  • competitor research
  • demand in your niche
  • demand for products

And most importantly;

You’ll learn valuable business execution skills on Instagram. You can use the same techniques for your business Instagram account — meaning you will have two traffic streams for your store. Isn’t that great? It’s like stealing your own customers. But in the end all the money will go to your bank account!

(Fun part; if your audience is big enough your competitors will reach out to you asking for promotions… Isn’t that cool?!)

You Want It? You Have To Earn It!

All together this is an incredible COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE.

If you are only 1 out of 1000 people doing this, you will make money while others are still complaining “Why don’t my Facebook ads work?”

It’s 100% up to you; do the stuff the majority does (and get what the majority gets…) or go the extra mile and accomplish what others won’t.

I would love to see you making lots of sales; that’s why I’m giving away this strategy. It’s not something that will happen fast and get you 1–3 sales. It’s a real and honest online marketing strategy which works AND lasts!

E-Commerce | Creative and unique ways to reach people

E-commerce consulting
Tim consults a client.

Warning! Disclaimer Ahead

I have mixed feelings about this because I know (not just think, I know!) that everyone will benefit from learning the basics and will be able to make sales out of fit. So covering this topic is a fun part for me. But, I DON’T actually know if this will bring you real value. Maybe it will end up as a great post which works perfectly in your mind, but once you do it in the real world it will fail. I’m always 100 % honest with you. So have that in mind while reading through this.

Another thing you should be aware of is that these “creative and unique ways“ have NEVER been applied to one of my businesses. I actually invented some of these methods while writing! So again: I have no idea if these techniques will work! I have never done them myself. So if you want to invest money or time into these strategies — please be SUPER careful.

After I (hopefully) made everything clear we’re ready for take off.

Target the Wrong Audience on Purpose

In an obvious way this just does not make any sense. That’s for sure. But every successful business has people against them. It’s simply human nature. We don’t want to agree with everyone because we (often just try to) have our own opinion. So why not start backwards?

I would like to call this strategy “HATER MARKETING.“

When it comes down to haters you have to earn them. The more attention you have the more haters you will have. So right now if you don’t have any attention, maybe starting with the haters could be helpful. Let me give you an example of how this could (!) work on Facebook:

You’re selling leather products. So target vegans & animal rights activists. You can even create your own hashtag like #leatherfortheworld — yep that’s hard. (But I checked Instagram and there are 61,904 uses of the hashtag #leatherlove. So there are people on your side). And if you want to be aggressive as hell then even insert a call to action with “Tag a friend who knows that leather goes perfectly with a hot BBQ!“ Try to be as much of a jerk as possible and attack your opposition in a not so obvious way.

Your goal is to get those vegans and animal rights activists to tag their friends and leave angry comments. If you can even create some kind of shitstorm you’ve achieved everything you wanted to with this campaign. You got ATTENTION — those animal rights activists will (hopefully) post some angry messages about your biz on their personal social media accounts and maybe even tag your business site. You want other people to see this, that’s the whole point. The Facebook Algorithm will notice a strong “demand” for your brand. This will lead to better ranking in FB’s Alg. and more people will see your ads, etc…

The result will be a ton of attention, brand awareness (besides the haters, other people will like your products!), free marketing (because haters will stand up against you!), and the Facebook algorithm will notice a demand on your stuff.

Looking Ugly on Purpose

Wait, what?! Yes, you heard me right. This comes from something I noticed in a local supermarket. If you are able to build a brand which LOOKS like a low budget store and also has SOME (not all!) low quality products people will automatically think that every product is underpriced. They will assume some products are bad quality and others “just because”. Now comes the tricky part:

While having some VERY VERY low budget products (e.g. < $ 1) which you will sell for $ 2, you should also add products that look expensive and sell them for around the $ 10 price point. People will think that this price is also underpriced.

You can even run Facebook ads and target people who like Wal-Mart, GAP or any other low budget store.

This technique is very difficult because you have to find the right balance between something that looks cheap but is also trustworthy. It’s a game for advanced players. But hey, give it a try if you want to. Just be careful!

Be a “Supplier”

This one could be coooooool. You‘ll switch the roles here. Instead of being the dropshipper you will be the supplier. There are a lot of people out there who don’t know what dropshipping is.

Yes, really!

Even if those people are engaged in the online world. Personally, I know at least 50 people who are running (moderately successful) blogs but don’t know anything about DS. So why not target those people? (To make it clear upfront; I will not give you the names of my friends).

But how could this work?

You will reach out to these kinds of people (via Instagram DM for example) and ask if they want to have their own online shop. If you find a guy who is all into running why not offer a running equipment store to him? Schedule a Skype call (or FB video; which I prefer tbh) to talk about this project.

Since he has no clue how to operate the store, you should run it. Great! But definitely add him as a staff member to your store.

Before starting this kind of project you should have done your calculation. I think 30–60 % of the margin should go to him/her. I would even invest in buying some of the products yourself and send them for free to your partner so he/she can show it on his/her blog/instagram page/whatever.

Btw. Let him/her choose the products! Your opinion doesn’t matter here. I know! It hurts our precious egos so much … but really, it doesn’t matter (here!) Send over some product images and then add this stuff to the store.

The great thing about having a blogger as a partner is that you can easily have a blog on your store which will be helpful for SEO. And yes, the margin is lower. But fuck that. You can set the prices higher. Or sell more. Or open two other stores, etc…

What Are You Waiting For? Get To Work!

I think those ways are unique and creative enough, right?

I’ve certainly never heard of any of those methods before. But I don’t think I’m the first one to ever think of them.

Please still remember that you don’t need such crazy things to make sales. All of this is pretty advanced stuff. To be brutally honest; if you can’t make money with Facebook ads you should focus on getting the basics right and and really zero in on your target market. This video will help:

I really hope you liked this because it took me almost a day of coming up with this stuff! But it was fun so definitely not wasted time!

If someone is willing to test this stuff and you get stuck at some point, just reach out on Instagram.

So yeah, please let me know what you think. I know it’s very theoretical but I would loooooove to hear your feedback on these ideas. Do you think they could work?

Say Hi:

Instagram | YouTube | Facebook

Give More Than Your Competition

Today’s post is all about giving. As you (hopefully) noticed already I’m a huge fan of giving instead of taking. That said I don’t just give you my general thoughts on something but really actionable (and simple) tips how you can start giving.

Why Giving?

Like I said in my You vs. Amazon post you have to hunt in areas where big player like Amazon can’t or won’t hunt. One example I gave was to create content that’s really niche related. If you really put out content people care about they will remember your store. They’ll appreciate that you’re caring about them. And guess what? there’s only one way to thank you: buying from your store.

But because most of don’t have any deep knowledge about our niche we just don’t know where to start. If we really want to create content people care about we have to know their problems and find solutions for them.

The Holy Research

Like I said before most of us don’t have any deep knowledge about our niches. But to give value to our customers we have to get in their minds and find out what’s their biggest problem. To do this kind of research we will just use Google.

Let me give you an example:

If you would own a store who sells dog related products you could write a short eBook which you give away for free. The topic of this eBook has to be something which will help those dog-owners.

To start your research just go to Google and search for:

forum: “[your niche/product]”

Google will show you every forum on their index which is dog related.

Google Research Content Creation

For any other niche just replace “dog training” through your product/niche.

You now have a complete list of a lot of dog training forums. After you skipped the first ones (ads) just copy the url of those forums and search for problem-related topics within this forums. One way to do this is by using the word “help”.

So just search for:

“help” site:[copied url]

You’ll now see all sites on your copied website which includes the word “help”. This is a good start to take a look at the problems your target audience has to handle with.

Google Research for DropshippingIf you now check the headlines and descriptions of those search results you will (in the most cases) find out something people care about a lot. But we’re not at the end of our research here.

In our example “whining” seems to be a problem for dog owners. But because we shouldn’t just go by guess we search again:

“[problem you’ve found]” site:[copied site]

Research

Take a look at the amount of results. In our example there are 474 topics in this ONE forum which are all related on “whining”. If you dig a little bit deeper you will find more topics which are all related to this specific “whining”-problem.

If you go to Thesaurus.com and search for synonyms for “whining” you will get this results:

synonyms for deep research

I just chosed “cry”, went back to Google and searched again:

“[synonym]” site:[copied site]

Dropshipping is about giving

Bam! Another 660 results. For just two words on one forum. Isn’t that great?

Even better: The first result also gives us new synonym we can also search for. The sky’s the limit, my friends!

Next Step: Gaining information.

Now is the time to proof that you are a real entrepreneur and really want to have success. It’s time for hard work. Open every topic, read all this stuff, make notes and compile it.

Create That Ebook

Now that you have a lot of information it’s time to create the ebook for those dog owners. Just write five to ten pages about the best tips to stop their dog from whining and give it to them for free in exchange of their email address which you can use for email marketing later on. And if you have any information left, which weren’t good enough for your ebook then use those information to build a blog post. This will build trust as well. Just give!

Conclusion

As a dropshipper we have to handle a huge field of competition. If we want to stand out we have to give something our competition cant. The above mentioned tactic is a great way to do this. You can become THE authority for your niche which will lead to tons of sales.

So don’t be lazy and do your work!

Start here!

 

You vs. Amazon

People seem to be scared of all those big players like Amazon or eBay. With this post I will change your point of view on this topic. #TheStruggleIsNotReal

The Most Common Question

There is one question which all new (or even established) ecommerce entrepreneurs seem to worry about:

“How can I be competitive against Amazon?”

We’re worried about the low prices on amazon, the fast shipping, the great return policy and the trust. Everyone thinks about this. But those are just four pieces of a huge puzzle. So forget about that stuff and change your view!

But I know: it’s easy to say. So let’s get a little bit psychological.

It’s Nothing But a Lie

If you would ask a neutral person where he/she would prefer to buy “from Amazon or from an unknown store” the answer will always be “Amazon”. But that’s a lie.

If it were true why so many independent online stores are successful? But step away from this question for a second. Let’s start with a more important question: why does this “neutral person” lie to you?

In fact he/she’s not lying at all. He/she just don’t know the correct answer. Sounds confusing, right? Our brain tends to give a rational answer. We just don’t want to sound like a snob. The most of us really think we are the smartest human on earth and never buy anything which is not worth the price. But to be honest: we all buy useless products. Even worse: we absolutely love it. And so do your future customer…

From now on you should (really) forget about a thing called “rational customer”. It’s a lie.

Go Hunting Where Big Players Do Not

Now that you’re in full knowledge of these lie it’s time to take a look on what you can do different/better than Amazon:

  • Build real relationships with your customer
  • Create niche related content
  • Be exclusive

Amazon or any other big player doesn’t focus on those three points because they do not hunt for the next 100,000 $ which are the result of the effort. They’re chasing the billions. And an online store, even if it’s a big player, doesn’t reach that goal by building relationships, creating content or by being exclusive in one specific niche. Huge companies earn billions of dollars with crazy products like Amazon’s newest Echo Dot or the Amazon Prime Air Program.

Amazon can’t and really don’t want to focus on small projects. They never will hire content creator for filming daily Vlogs. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, will never write you a direct message on Instagram to build a real relationship. It’s just not possible for him. The return-on-invest (ROI) would be way to low.

This is your opportunity!

100,000 $ is not that much for Amazon – but it’s probably for you!

So if you go hunting in areas where the big players don’t hunt then you have quite some advantage. But let me give you some actionable advice for the mentioned three points.

Build real relationships with your customer

Search on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for # [your product/niche] and shoot a lot of messages to people who seem to be interested in it. Be honest and say that you about to build a store/own a store and would like to have some honest feedback on some ideas you have in mind. Share your ideas and talk about them. Don’t sell at this point. Just build a real relationship.

Create niche related content

Build a blog, film some Vlogs, create tutorials or write an eBook. Just do something that’s relevant for your target audience and give it away for free. After some time your audience will always have you in mind when they think about your niche. That’s the moment where you become an expert and people want to buy from you.

Be exclusive

People love exclusivity. We all want to feel special. Otherwise there won’t be a first class on airplanes. I don’t know if you ever flied first class, but the difference between business- and first class is not that big. It’s just more exclusive. And that’s what you can do with your store as well. Be classy and don’t promote your product to everyone. Maybe exclude people on purpose.

Reasons For Your Store

The three mentioned points are reason enough to buy from you. But if you would like to hear some more reasons, there you go:

  • Some people love exploring new stores
  • There is no such thing like an “Amazon-experience”
  • No one talks passionate about the big players – just rational
  • Some people won’t buy from Amazon & Co. because it’s “mainstream”
  • Some people want to support you because they are really nice
  • Some people don’t want to search for a similar product – they want it now!
  • Some people don’t want to create an Amazon account

I know – many “some people”. But add this “some people” up and you get “a lot people”. And that’s your audience! Care about them and you will be successful!

Conclusion

As this post has come to an end the trust in your project has to start! There is absolutely no reason why you can’t have success!

Don’t be scared – do the work and grab your chance! It’s worth the effort!

Do you agree with me on these points or do you think I am way too positive? Leave a comment guys! I would like to start a discussion on that!

 

Tim

Find Your Niche & Validate It Now

A lot of new ecommerce businesses fail before they had any chance of success. Most of the problems leading to the ugly feeling of getting no sales later on is caused by not being specific enough and/or not validating the business idea.

This article is written to help people getting the basics right.

Offline-Research

Take your loved ones (or even go alone) into a mall or a city next to you. Go window-shopping and take a look what’s the big stores selling right now or what kind of products they promote as “trending” or “bestseller”. Which stores you chose to visit depends on the country you live in and maybe on your personal interests. If you’re all over into fashion you can go to H&M or Hollister. If you’re a sports geek check Nike stores or other sport related shops.

I recommend to step away from technical stuff. Look after products which are non-food and non-technical based.

Use your smartphone to take pictures of the products or take notes. Evernote or Wishlist will help a lot there.

Take your time and just do some honest work. It might not feel like work going through shops but this exercise is one of my favorites. Why? Because almost no one ever even think about this. They all jump directly to websites to do some online research (which will we do also later on), but money is not only made online. Don’t forget that!

If you’re self-confident enough you can directly ask the staff what’s the best selling items right now. I did this with kids-toys and motorcycle-equipment. Because I have absolutely no idea about these two categories I just said I am in search of a present for my nephew/brother in law and need help to find some stuff everyone in his age/with his passion would love.

While doing this kind of research never think about how you could advertise this or how you could compete against huge stores. Just make a list of things that are trending (or seem to be selling fine).

Couch Research

Is there any famous tv-show in your country? Which series on Netflix is trending? Time to watch those stuff!

Big companies paying a lot of money for so called product-placements within these shows/series. Why? Because the marketing team, which started these product placement campaigns know that their audience tend to watch these series/shows on a daily base.

Don’t you think if Oprah Winfrey would wear a yellow dress with a pink duck on it a huge amount of this audience would kill for this dress?

Same goes for smaller TV-shows/series. Sheldon Cooper of “The Big Bang Theory” is a good here:

At the peak of the fame of this fictional character a lot of people wanted to wear shirts like him! Don’t belive me?

Check this:

ecommerce niche

This trend is over. But if you would have done these kind of research in 2010 you were right on track! …and T-Shirts are super easy to dropship.

Within all these shows/series watch for product-placements (every brand you see is there on purpose) and items (jewelry, shapes of glasses characters wearing, fashion, special make-up or anything else) which seem to be not there by accident and make a list.

Do your homework and watch TV/Netflix/whatever platform exist in your country.

Online Research

Check the most common resources for finding a niche online:

Take your time and do some honest research. Take a deep look into each category and look for:

  • “Best Selling”
  • “Hot Releases”
  • “Most Wished For”
  • “Gift Ideas”

If you find something similar to the products on your “offline-list” then they seem to seem to sell real. Mark them!

As you now should have quite some products on your list it’s time to validate.

Before we do the “real validation” we should find some keywords which are related to the products we found.

Keyword Research

You can use the following tools to do a great keyword research:

Make a list of keywords and then it’s time to validate

Validate Your Business Idea

Google Trends Validation

To use Google Trends correct you should have done your keyword research right. Otherwise you may read the results wrong. Compare every keyword with the other. Why? Because it’s possible that two/three/four/five/… words with the same meaning do have other results. And if you just type in the one with a bad results you maybe think your idea is not worth the effort of building a business although another word (with the same meaning) is trending right now.

Being lazy in this step can cost you an awesome opportunity

Real-Life Example:

I just typed “sofa” and “couch” into Google Trends. (Just) two words with the same meaning (at least for the public – in terms of global thinking) have different results.

ecommerce business

“Couch” is pretty stable whereas “Sofa” seems to trend over last years.

This is just one example where I don’t even done a keyword research. I just searched for synonyms.

Reading Google Trends

Some people might think the “100” of the Google Trends charts is the monthly search volume. This is wrong. The numbers (0-100) are just a scale so you can compare one term with others. 100 is the highest amount a term can achieve in Google Trends.

So again: This number is NOT the monthly search volume of your keyword.

Big Player Validation

(At least I guess..) none of us invented some crazy own product. We are what we are: dropshippers. Chances are pretty high (101%…) that someone selling exactly the same product as we want to.

In most cases through Amazon. Should we be scared about this? Definitely not!

It just shows you that someone who is way more experienced than you are did his/her homework and think the idea you have works. Otherwise he/she wouldn’t invest time and (a lot of) money into this. Think about that!

Go ahead and search for your items on Amazon. Someone’s selling them? Perfect. Take a deep look into the ratings, amount of reviews and the reviews itself. Search for the bestseller. If people love the products on Amazon  they will also love “yours”. Period.

Don’t think about how you should compete against someone who is listed on the first site of Amazon and has better prices than you can offer. Trust me – don’t think about this!

Social Media Validation

Search for hashtags related to your niche on Twitter , Facebook and Instagram . See if there are enough potential customer talking about the products you want to sell (or about niche related topics).

Don’t just go by numbers, REAL people have to talk about your niche. Not some accounts of small stores. If there are quite some people take a look at what they’re saying.

The more controversial the talk on social media, the better is this for your business!

If you found a great amount of real people who are interesting in the stuff you want to sell you are allowed to be happy.

But if you want to sell iPhone cases don’t just make it too easy and search for #iphone. This wont work… Always search as specific as possible!

Validation Through Selling

This one should be one of the last steps you should take in the whole validating process. Never do this at first. Otherwise you could lose money!

THE BEST METHOD to test if you are able to make some money out of your idea is to actually make some money. But don’t go ahead and put the effort into building a shopify store yet.

Buy just one piece of the product you want to sell (hopefully it’s not a rolex watch…) on Amazon (or any other store), remove all tags that shows that this one is new, make some nice pictures of it with your smartphone  and sell it on eBay, Facebook or any other platform.

Tipp: Shopify have an awesome DIY product photography tutorial

Set the price about 2-3 times higher than you bought it for and see what happens. Post it on as much platforms as possible to reach more people.

If you’ve done your research before this last step correct your chances are high that you will be able to sell this one.

Now that you’ve sold your first product it’s time to build your store.

I can highly recommend to reach out to the person who bought the product from you and ask for a testimonial. Be honest and say you want to build a brand and would like to have him/her on board. Always try to get the most out of everything!

Dig Deeeeep

Found a niche? No? oh… no problem! Repeat the steps above OR dig deeper.

Real life example:

“Jeans”

Google Trends Validation

versus

“Ripped Jeans”

Trending Products

If you then take a look at the global market finder you could see the monthly search volumes.

“Jeans” (90,500 monthly searches)

monthly search volume

“Ripped Jeans” (74,000 monthly searches)

google search volume

Just a slightly difference. Through the fact you’re in search of a niche which one would you chose?

Definitely “Ripped Jeans”, right?

Because those ripped jeans tend to trend. This means nothing less then people have a strong desire for those. With just a difference of 16.500 monthly searches it’s a great start.

In Terms of SEO

If you google for “Jeans” (with “”) you’ll see right beneath the search field the number of websites which include the word “jeans”

Google Results

…you’ll never ever win this fight! Don’t even try to…

But (!!) If you search for “ripped jeans” …

Find a Niche with Google

This is a huuuuge difference. Don’t get me wrong: this also would be a fight you would lose (in terms of SEO). But I think you get it; be as specific as you can be.

Conclusion

If done correctly all steps together will lead to the niche you searched for!

  1. Offline Research
  2. Online Research
  3. Validation
  4. Start Selling

Even if you have NO knowledge about your niche you should go for it. You want to run a successful store, not a blog.

If you do have knowledge then I really don’t know what you’re waiting for. You know got the tools!