2019-07-15

How I Turned a $99 Store To A Profitable $12k Store At The Age of 22

Having just graduated with an art degree that suddenly seemed useless and the job market bust, life seemed hopeless to me. Working in two jobs for mere peanuts, I turned to the internet for some solutions. I was frustrated because I was putting in so much effort into both my jobs, but I wasn’t seeing any valuable returns. I was miserable and needed a real change.

I found out a lot of different money making ways by different gurus promising me instant success, but I was too scared to quit my job and completely overhaul my life to chase after something I wasn’t even sure about. Thus I went through all the low-risk money making tips I could find online - from taking paid surveys to doing transcription jobs, but all these still seemed too much work for too little money, and I wanted an actual income to sustain me.

Then, suddenly one day I found out about AliExpress dropshipping. This was the perfect choice for me as I did not need to quit my day job (I wanted to keep my safety blanket), it required very low capital and honestly, as it was becoming quite tough for me to pay my rent even at that point, I thought what the hell? Looking at all the success stories of people who started dropshipping and went from zero to thousands of dollars in a month, I decided to read up all about dropshipping online.

So dropshipping is the method where you can start a new business of your own without any huge investment or handling of the inventory, all you need is your laptop and a working internet connection. So how this works is, you buy the products from a supplier and then have them shipped directly to the customers, as a result, you do not even have to go through the hassle of maintaining an inventory stock or shipping and logistics, in fact, some dropshipper never even see the products.

Starting a business and becoming your own boss? Yes! But starting a business with almost a negligible capital and no stress about handling the inventory? Sign me up!

Although I had read about other people starting successful stores I still thought maybe it won’t work out for me. I mean, it did look way too easy to be true. My initial goal was to make $1000/month to pay for rent while putting in less than an hour per week, but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would surpass all my expectations.

So this is how I dipped my toes into dropshipping:

Step 1: I started by reading up articles to find out the best niche which will make me money. After that, I started by using the Google Keyword Tool to figure out a niche. I won’t bore you with the details as you can find loads of resources explaining how to use this online. And then I further refined my search using Google Trends to make sure the niche I have chosen is actually going to be profitable. But eventually, I stumbled upon the niche of less available grooming products in my area (although they have been creating a buzz all around the globe), such as beard grooming products, activated charcoal grooming products, essential oils folding mirror, cute manicure, and pedicure sets. I thought it was a good opportunity to find some quality items to sell.

Step 2: Then I needed a store, but as I mentioned before, I am an art student and I have no freaking idea about coding, so I needed someone to do that for me. But every available option seemed to cost a lot. Then I found out about WooDropship. They offered me a complete automated store synced with AliExpress, one year of free hosting, a subscription to their monthly plan thrown in as well, a secure payment gateway and many more features and all of this just for $99! I mean the main idea behind dropshipping is that you put in as little capital as possible, and this definitely seemed like they adhered to that school of thought as well.

Step 3: They took all the necessary information required and delivered my store in less than 48 hours. After that, I imported all the products I wanted in my store from AliExpress and made sure to write nice product descriptions, this is very important to intrigue your customers.

Step 4: I then took some online tutorials and floated a few Google ads and Facebook ads, and then the waiting started. I also made sure to promote my store on different Facebook pages and Instagram. Unless and until you get the word out about your store to the right audience, you will not see any results.

Step 5: I did some very rudimentary SEO and then just kind of forgot about the business. Nowadays, you’d probably need to invest more time/money into this step.

The Facebook ads and Instagram ads really helped a lot and my store products started flying from the shelves from the first day itself. I was pleasantly surprised, and this is when I learned why all the videos I watched stressed the fact that how essential it is to research properly and select a niche which will prove to be profitable to you. By the end of the month, I had garnered a respectable amount of profits in this store. After one more month, these profits had soared and I earned a few thousand dollars worth in one month itself.

The success of my first store made me confident in my skills, so I thought about opening one more store and venture into another niche. This time, it was less scary as I knew exactly what to do and how to do. I researched for niches again and finally decided upon stylish vapes, bongs and hemp products, as the legalization of marijuana opened up a whole new customer base, customers who in no way seemed to be shrinking soon. I decided to go with WooDropship as I really liked the way they worked and especially, their plans. This store was an instant hit as well. Soon, fall came and I became a bit more greedy and decided to open up one more store. Mind you, I was still doing my day jobs, but I was still able to manage those 2 stores, as it didn’t really require me to do much work. Everything was automated, I just needed to click one button to complete the order and initiate the payment. And in between if I wanted to add more products to my store, I could import them from AliExpress in one button as well.

As Halloween approached, I decided to go with the theme and open up a store selling Halloween costumes, decorations. With time, I thought this can be expanded and made to be a store selling different cosplay costumes and accessories as well. As expected, this store did well too. Soon, my customers from this store got back to me and asked me to stock items for different Goth-themed products as well, as they really liked the variety of Halloween products I offered. Getting positive and eager feedback from the customers really helped me in tweaking my store according to their needs, thus, garnering more profits along the way.

By this time, it was becoming a bit of a hassle for me to maintain the stores, as well as my jobs as hundreds of orders, were coming left and right each day. By the 8th month of me opening my first store, I well exceeded my original goals and decided to quit my full-time jobs (I was finally ready to let go of my safety blanket!) as I was making way more money in my store by putting in way less work. Additionally, the only connection and job I had with my customers was customer service, and I had realized by now that if vibed well with them and communicated nicely with them, they always returned, this created a loyal customer base for me.

For me, dropshipping from AliExpress was well worth it, because I actually enjoy the work and I get a lot of free time to pursue my interest in the Arts field as well. Most of all, it helped me get through a difficult phase in my life and helped me stand on my own feet and become independent. In fact, I have helped some of my friends in starting their own successful stores as well.

E-commerce has definitely made starting a successful business a prospect available to people of all walks of life. I know what I am about to say next might sound very cliche and a way too used line, but if I can do it, so can you.