I had some savings for rainy days and no work, so it was the right time to try my 4+ years dream.
In the hopes of creating a untethered lifestyle, I started an online climbing tshirt shop.
Dropshipping was always something I had in my head as a viable business that could allow me to travel the world and make some money. Combining my graphic design experience gave me the confidence to make the leap.
In 2 months, I had made $10k. It was hard at first. I spent thousands of dollars on poorly performing Facebook ads (about $3000, to be exact). They don’t work because they don’t work but because I lack the experience and knowledge I need. There were times when I felt like failure and I considered looking for a job. But I chose to keep my head up, continue pushing forward and pursue my dream.
It was an investment in my future. My hustle paid off: I was able to quickly make my first $10,000 in sales after finding winning products and an effective advertising strategy.
This is how it was done.
Setting up Shopify stores and creating my brand
Because I knew what I wanted, I didn’t have to go through the tedious process of finding products to add to my Shopify store. This post will help you decide what to sell.
So I set up Shopify to start my shop. Why Shopify?
- Templates and website builder. With an easy-to use website builder, and lots of paid and free templates, you can get your shop up in no time.
- Integrated payment processing. Integrated payment processing is a blessing for those who have never owned an e-commerce shop.
- Live support available 24/7. As a novice, it was comforting to know that I could talk to someone if I encountered any problems while setting up my shop.
- There are tons of free content. Youtube, Shopify and other blogs offer tons of free content about setting up Shopify stores and selling on Shopify. There is also plenty of information on what you can do if you have any problems.
Because I was unsure which Shopify plan I would prefer, I tried the 14-day trial.
Although I had a clear idea of what I wanted to sell I still needed to think about branding. I began to Google branding and how it could be done. It was not as simple as I thought. It was not as easy as I thought. I needed to design a logo, pick a name for my website and decide how I wanted to price my products. I also had to set up social media accounts and discover who my “perfect customer” was.
Once I had everything sorted out, I created a domain and began to add my products and customize the theme of my Shopify store.
Selecting a print-on-demand service
Printiful offered a large selection of products that I could use my designs on. I could also sell sports bras, tights, climbing hoodies, and other clothing. This was great because I was already looking for ways to grow my business.
After connecting Prinitiful to my Shopify store I was able:
- Create unique climbing t-shirts
Their tool allowed me to select the type of tee-shirts I wanted, as well as their color, and to upload my designs to those tee-shirts.
- You can try my designs out in person with this setup before you sell t-shirts. This allowed me to make sure that my t-shirts looked good in my shop and on me. I was thinking about doing a photoshoot using the items that I purchased, but it wasn’t yet in my plans. Before I paid for a photoshoot, I wanted to make some sales.
- Upload t-shirts featuring my designs
My unique designs were able to be used in my shop.
- Create beautiful product descriptions for my T-Shirts
A few of my friends in e-commerce were able to help me a lot. They helped me to find keywords and write the descriptions.
- Start my store
It was amazing! I was in heaven. Now all I needed was visitors, people who would love my custom-made t-shirts and purchase them. It sounds easy, right? However, I almost lost a lot of my money and closed my store before I achieved my goal of $10k in sales.
Advertising on Facebook is a waste of money
I started with 10 different climbing t-shirt designs. To save time and money, I only advertised on Facebook. Advertising on Facebook alone proved to be a big mistake.
Although I had never been to digital advertising, I was intrigued by the idea of running ads on Facebook. It’s a common task. I was able to read numerous blog posts about different types of Facebook ads , how to set them up, and what works best in clothing stores. I felt confident and started with ads sets for each of my 10 products, with at least four ads per set.
It was surprising to me that nothing ever happened. I created beautiful photo ads using different headlines, text and images. I tried to reach as many people as possible with broad targeting. I did get some traffic and people were browsing my site. However, no one was buying any of my tees. Five sales were made per week. This was not enough considering that I spent over $3000 on Facebook ads in just two months.
After several unsuccessful months, a lot wasted money (and some tears), I realized that no one was interested anymore in climbing tee shirts and that I should stop.
This was my dream, and I wasn’t ready to give up! I decided to not give up, I continued to google, and I would see what happened if my strategy was changed.
Advertising and testing products on multiple channels
I realized that my products were not eye-catching or good enough. Before I began scaling up my ads with large budgets, I researched each one individually to find the right t-shirts for me. I needed to determine what was in fashion at the time, what was new and different, and what t-shirts people wanted to buy. That was the first step.
Next, I did some research on A/B testing for advertising audiences and decided to test different designs as well as show them to different people. This allowed me to target different interests (shoppers who are interested in fashion, shopping, and clothing) and narrow my audience by adding people who are also interested in mountain and outdoor recreation. This allowed me to determine which products were most popular with which audience.
I started to read about multichannel marketing, and began to think about expanding my horizons to other advertising channels. Perhaps my customers were also on Instagram or Google, and not just Facebook.
Once again, I went to the Shopify app store. I was looking for an ad automation tool that would allow me to advertise on multiple platforms without needing to learn multiple dashboards. It is difficult to set up ads on Facebook, but it is much easier and more time-consuming to do so on Google.
Luckily, I stumbled upon sixads. It is an app that allows entrepreneurs with little to no experience in digital advertising to run ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Google. It felt like I had hit the jackpot. This app sounded so good that I was hesitant to even try it.
This is my strategy for product testing with the sixads App:
- Check out the performance of ads I ran on Facebook prior to sixads.
- Look for ads with more than 5000 to 7000 impressions, and a click through rate of 1.5% or greater.
- Remove any products or ads that don’t generate the above numbers and replace them by new products.
- You can start a new campaign by creating ads on Google, Facebook and Instagram for all of my products using sixads. Sixads made it much easier than Facebook to create ads. My ads were set up using their simple process in just a few minutes. This would have taken me over an hour to do on Facebook. The app provides pre-filled text ads and allows you to choose visuals. This makes the process fast and simple. Just approve the text and visuals, and set a budget and target.
- After a few days, analyze performance to see which ads achieved at least 1.5% CTR and 5000-7000 impressions. The sixads app has a single analytics dashboard that allows you to see how your ads perform across all three channels. This allowed me to easily delete ads that were not performing.
- Replace products with ads that don’t perform well in any channel by stopping running them.
- Increase the budget for ads that generate the most sales.
Guess what? My t-shirts were more popular on Google than Facebook.
This strategy allowed me to finally generate positive profits. I was able to make enough sales per month to pay for my ad spend, scale up the best ads, and save money for future photoshoots. Finally, I felt like I had found my honey pot. I was able to master product testing and devised an advertising strategy that worked for my store. To earn more, I just had to repeat the process.
This process was repeated until I made $10k in just two months.
I was spending about $1000 per month on advertising through sixads, and generating revenue of approximately $3000 per month. In order to fulfill my dream of climbing in a van and traveling the world, I had to make at least $10k per month. It was a lot and I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to make it.
I knew that I had to give it a try. I decided to scale up my advertising and increase the number of products that I sold. My revenue should be doubled if I increase the number of products and spend on advertising.
Here’s what I did.
- I looked at all the products I had in the store, as well as how they performed on their ads.
- With 20 products in my store, I realized that I was making $3000 per month.
- I created ad campaigns for 10 additional products to see which ones would be most popular.
- While trying out new products, I doubled my budget for 5 of my top sellers.
- After testing the 10 new products, I selected my top 5 sellers and doubled their price.
- This was repeated until I had 40 products that had a CTR below 2% in my store. I then increased their budget.
My calculations showed that I would need to make $1250 per week for eight consecutive weeks. After several months of testing and scaling, I was able to reach $1250 per week. I needed to be vigilant about ad performance in order to continue my work for the next two months.
As you may know, Facebook’s algorithm can be temperamental, bringing many ups and downs. One instance stands out to me. I remember one instance where a campaign delivered the desired return on advertising spend (ROAS), and the next day the ROAS dropped to 2,5.
My ROAS dropped to 2,5 and I was afraid that I would lose everything I had built. But I held my hand steady and gave it a few more days, and the performance rebounded. It is crucial to examine the numbers and the performance of ads. Be backed up by solid data when making decisions. Your ads shouldn’t be killed too soon!
Bingo! It took me just two months to accumulate just over $10k. Finally, I was ready to buy a van and plan my trips around the top climbing areas in the world.
Dropshipping can be difficult. You will not achieve success overnight. Most of the time, you will struggle to make ends meet. You can set goals to make a certain amount in a given time but you should also be prepared to fail and have a backup plan.
Here are my two cents about dropshipping success
- Passionately sell what you do.
- All your products should be tested.
- Advertise on multiple channels
- Shopify apps can automate your processes and help you save time. I used Printify and the sixads app.
- Once you have found the recipe for success, make it a habit!