Dropshipping for Beginners
If you don't know what dropshipping is, it's basically selling physical products without having to worry about stocking them. No more garages filled with books and t-shirts!
Learn the easiest ways you can transform your podcast, creative content, or your online services into tangible, physical products you can sell online. We’ll share our own experiences with Amazon, Printful, and other dropshipping platforms so you can get started creating additional income today.
- How does dropshipping work?
- Benefits of dropshipping
- Downsides of dropshipping
- Product dropshipping
- Hybrid dropshipping: Fulfillment by Amazon
Words of Wisdom
Dropshipping is great if you're location independent or testing out products because it reduces overhead and takes production and shipping logistics off your hands. — Jen
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Podcast Transcript: Dropshipping for Beginners
Using Amazon & Printful to Transform Services into Products
[00:00:00] The Women Conquer Business show is an educational how-to women in business podcast. That features stories, marketing news and real life experiences from fun and friendly hosts. Jen McFarland and Shelley Carney. Join us as we dive into the details. So you can slay marketing overwhelm, streamline processes and amplify your impact.
[00:00:21] You'll learn strategies and tactics, leadership skills, and practical advice from successful women entrepreneurs to help you grow, nurture and sustain your business.
[00:00:35] Welcome to Women Conquer Business. My partner in crime, Shelley Carney is not here today. so today we are going to talk about dropshipping for beginners using Amazon and Printful and a few other services to transform. Your services, if you're a service based business into products, or if you're a product based business, we're gonna talk about some of those ways that you can lighten the load.
[00:00:59] Especially when you're in the beginning. Stages of developing a product dropshipping is a really great option and dropshipping can also be your entire online business model, depending on what it is that you're looking for. If you don't know what dropshipping is, it's basically selling physical products without having to worry about stocking them.
[00:01:20] No more garages filled with books, and t-shirts, we're gonna teach you the easiest ways you can transform your podcast, creative content or your online services into tangible physical products that you can sell online. We'll share our own experiences with Amazon Printful and other dropshipping platforms.
[00:01:39] That you can get started creating additional income today. I will say that because Shelley is recovering from surgery and isn't here today. She knows a lot more her and Toby know a ton more about Amazon and how all of that works. I will be sharing what I know and a few high level things. we'll go back and circle back a little more [00:02:00] in depth on how to do Amazon from beginning to end. Okay. I still have a lot to offer on the Amazon side. So we'll get to that in a second. I wanted to also share with you that this is probably not gonna be as long of a show because usually when I have podcast shows that I do by myself, they tend to be a little bit shorter.
[00:02:22] So if you're used to a full hour, just know that this one is going to be a little bit shorter than that. How's everybody doing out there. How has your week been? My week has been awesome and I've had so much fun. At the beginning of the week. I was in Pendleton, Oregon with my mom and two of my aunts.
[00:02:45] I'm not much of a gambler. But they, we needed to get our family together. We needed to see each other. So we went to a casino in Pendleton and spent three days at the beginning of the week, having fun, catching up on everything. It was a really great time. If you haven't had time to do that, make sure that you reach out to your family and spend some time with them, spend some time catching up with them, get to know them again, especially with COVID, it's maybe not as prevalent as it's been earlier, find ways to be safe and to reconnect, get out of the house and find ways to reconnect with people.
[00:03:20] It's just so important. And I am filled with gratitude for having done that. It. A wonderful, lovely experience. I wouldn't say that Pendleton, Oregon is exactly a garden spot. at least not for me. But in that, there's just not a lot of things to do. Although if you're from Pendleton and have things that, we can be doing.
[00:03:41] Hit me up in the chat. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let me know about all the cool things there are to do in Pendleton. What I like about Pendleton is it reminds me of home. It's the plains, it's hay fields, all of that kind of thing. Very similar to Boise. So in terms of [00:04:00] marketing, breaking news, we don't have any sound effects today because without Shelley here, , there's just no sound effects.
[00:04:08] so we're gonna have a little fun with our marketing breaking news today. I wanted to share with you that perhaps blue ribbon that's the beer. They just opened an eighties themed motel. I think this is super fun. And it gives an example of, people love Pabst blue ribbon. PBR is like really popular here probably because.
[00:04:29] Beer can be so expensive if you do craft beer. I think this is a great idea. They're just leaning into who they are as a brand, and they've created an 80 themed hotel and you can go there. They have video games, they have PBR stuff everywhere. And I think that for us, a small business owners, when we see things like this, it gives us the opportunity to really think about.
[00:04:52] Who we are as a brand who it is that we are reaching out to who it is that we really connect with and what are some fun ways that we can engage with our people. Now, I'm not saying that you'll be able to build a hotel, but there are probably some other things that you can be doing that would be. Fun and awesome.
[00:05:13] And really explain to people exactly what it is and who you are and what you're doing. I'll give you an example. for my personal brand Women Conquer Business, I've started going through and I think the inspiration may be. Shelley and Toby going out and doing a travel show. Now they're going and traveling around New Mexico and doing a travel show.
[00:05:32] I think that might be part of it. And then I also have a client named Julie who also is doing a lot of personal stuff on social media and sharing a lot of images. So I've started going through old. Pictures that I've taken from this summer, from last week and from further back and just sharing pieces of that on my Instagram feed, I'm working on all of that now and writing about insights that I have or fun things that happened, [00:06:00] or, just sharing little bits of yourself and that's how a personal brand could do it.
[00:06:05] I love that PBR is leaning into who they are. Like for me, I'm a little silly sometimes. So I'll probably include some pictures of things that are silly. As small business owners, we have to have a little bit of fun with it. We have to enjoy what it is that we're doing. And that's why I shared this today as marketing breaking news, is it really, breaking news that this big brand has something like a hotel.
[00:06:29] Not really, but it does show that there are other ways of doing marketing that can be fun and engaging. And I. Just encourage everybody out there to really start thinking more broadly about who it is that we are as business owners and how we can be connecting with our potential customers, our existing customers.
[00:06:51] I think in the case of the PBR motel, It's that they're connecting with existing customers and that feeling of nostalgia people have when they drink this beer, the feeling of, younger people who maybe weren't alive in the eighties and the eighties seem to be back. Now. I think I've seen parachute pants around Portland here.
[00:07:10] It's a little bit funny. Lean into who you are, do the best that you can to connect with people on a personal level, or maybe even in the way that they view you, find out how people see you in the marketplace and connect with them on that level. You're always gonna win with things like that. Just my 2 cents on that.
[00:07:31] And that is the end of da breaking news. so I know it's probably not funny to have my own music. So let's talk for just a little while about dropshipping. And this is called dropshipping for beginners. So if you are a super duper big time pro. You'll wanna skip ahead to another video, a different episode, but we are in our series about eCommerce.
[00:07:56] And this week we're gonna talk about dropshipping [00:08:00] and the there's some confusion about what dropshipping is. It's very broad and you can do it in many different ways. So let's get started with our training today. So what is dropshipping? It is retail fulfillment, meaning products, physical products of some kind.
[00:08:18] So this could be a self-published book. This could be stickers. Books shirts. Some people I've helped have had other merchandise like water bottles, any, anything like that. So retail fulfillment, where your business doesn't have to keep the products sells in stock customers, order from you and someone else packages and ships it for you.
[00:08:41] And that's really the beauty of this. If you are a small business owner, you don't have to handle all of the logistics. There's a lot of logistics involved in product development. And then after that, how are we gonna make it all and then how are we gonna get it out the door in a timely fashion?
[00:08:56] So this can be a heavy lift for people if you want to do something extra. So if you're a product based business dropshipping is a good way to test things out. If you're a service based business dropshipping can mean that you can be selling. You don't have to worry about the logistics and you can continue to be doing your service based business.
[00:09:16] So like a podcaster, you can be selling merch without having to go and find out if you have the right size or not and go through a lot of hassle. How does dropshipping work? So this is from Shopify. There are a couple of different ways how dropshipping can work. So your customer places, an order from the store automatically sends the order.
[00:09:36] To your dropshipping supplier, the dropshipper prepares the order and sends it out. This is one methodology for how dropshipping works. So what this means is you have an eCommerce store. You have to have some sort of little techy bits out there. And we'll talk about that. That can be some of the complexity that will send your eCommerce order to Amazon.
[00:09:58] Printful, [00:10:00] Printify, there's so many different dropshippers out there that you can have. It'll send the order there and then. You set up products in a place like Printful and it'll say, okay, do I have do we have this product in stock? Okay. Yes, we do. We ship the order and we send it out. That's philosophically, fundamentally how dropshipping works.
[00:10:21] There are a lot of benefits to dropshipping. It's cheaper for the business owner because you don't have any shipping logistics. Or costs involved. It's lower overhead. And typically things are filled on demand. So you're not having to buy a whole bunch of things and waiting to see if it's actually gonna sell.
[00:10:40] That's. One of the primary reasons why this is good. It's also location independent. So if you are working from home, you don't have to have things at your location. If you're a digital nomad, you can have a dropshipping, and this is all handled behind the scenes and you don't have to. It's really great for product testing.
[00:10:56] So if you have a book and you're not sure if it's gonna sell a lot, or if you have merchandise for your podcast or a community, and you wanna have things like t-shirts or different types of bonuses that you give people maybe wanna have a giveaway. You can test this out with dropshipping without having a lot of upfront costs or the time commitment of shipping things out.
[00:11:20] And it's relatively easy to start, especially if you are a little bit technical and a little bit about how to make these connections, because sometimes if you're not doing a direct connect to say Amazon, where you're like buy this from Amazon and you send them the link and they buy it directly from Amazon.
[00:11:38] If you have an online store and you want people to buy something and get the book from you physically, there's a little bit of technology in there. Unfortunately we haven't gotten to the point where we can just think, and have the product sent to us. Although that seems like it would be very intrusive to have something like that.
[00:11:56] So there are a few downsides to [00:12:00] dropshipping. One, it can be much more expensive for consumers. So for example, if you are selling t-shirts or mugs or water bottles, right? Most of the prices on a place like Printful are retail price. So the t-shirts, you might be able to get them from a local print company for two, three bucks a shirt, or water bottles might be. Five or $10 on Printful and Printify and the like, They're pretty close to retail price. So that means the shirts. If you want a good quality shirt could be 12, $14, and then you have to mark it up from there, which means the other downside is tighter margins. You can't have a shirt that you're buying for two or $3, and then marking up to 15, $15.
[00:12:52] you might be paying 10 or $12 for a t-shirt and then the margins are. Two or $3 a shirt is what you're actually gonna get by the time the shipping and everything is done, unless you can charge, 30 or $40 for your design shirt. So the margins are much tighter, meaning you're not making as much per piece by doing it.
[00:13:12] Now, this is a little different than if you are, self-publishing a book. The margins are much higher for that, but there are some downsides to that in terms of marketing and getting the word out. And we'll talk about that in a minute, but if you're doing physical products and dropshipping it can be tighter margins.
[00:13:29] You also don't control the stock. So you may find that the t-shirt that you love that's for example, made in America has all of the great cotton and everything that it's out of stock, and they're never gonna have it again. So you don't have as much control over the stock. I work with a lot of local makers here in Portland, Oregon, and they really want local t-shirts from local makers made in Portland.
[00:13:55] That's really not an option with dropshipping by and large, if you wanna have [00:14:00] something made locally. And it can be hard sometimes to find products that are made in the us through dropshippers. If that's an important component of your product and your offering and your brand. You also have limited customizations and brand personalizations.
[00:14:16] So if you use a local print company, they may be able to make custom labels, custom labeling. So I've worked with some clothing designers and some other people, and they want that custom label on the inside of the shirt, sweatshirt, things like that. You can do that. Somewhat through Printify and Printful and other companies, but it's limited.
[00:14:36] And it is somewhat limited on the brand packaging as well, but it will say that it's from your company. The other thing that happens with the limited customizations are it's. It costs extra. So if you wanted to have, if you have, if you're a podcaster and you wanna put, wanna send shirts out, you don't want, and you wanna use Printful or something like that.
[00:14:55] You'll have to pay extra. If you want to have a note in there, that's personally designed that you're also sending in there. So things like blow ins, like that's what it's called. When you like blow in a flyer in the middle of a newspaper, you can do that with your dropshipped items. You'll have limited customizations on that and it will cost a little bit more.
[00:15:15] And it can be a more technical upfront setup. So for example, and these things change all the time. You might have, a squarespace or shop or Shopify website, or maybe you're using Wix or something else. And sometimes you need an intermediary to connect to that third party that Printful or something like that.
[00:15:37] Now those have gotten for Printful in particular has gotten. Tighter, you can have a Squarespace website, it talks directly to Printful and it'll send it out. But sometimes you need an intermediary, like a ship station is the name of a really common one where the order comes in ship station, then communicates with Printify or whoever it is.
[00:15:57] And then it goes on their way. And that can be a [00:16:00] little bit more technical if you're not really accustomed to doing things like integrations, if you haven't set up a ton of integrations, it can be tough to do that. But then the upside is once it's set up, it's just set up. So that's some of the.
[00:16:14] Pluses and minuses around how to do dropshipping. So to be clear, they handle printing packaging and shipping. You handle the design, the product selection hooking up your store and then the marketing. And I will say that in terms of dropshipping, it is often the marketing. That can be the hardest part.
[00:16:34] Getting your products out there so that people know about it. You're taking on all of the, getting the word out yourself, which even if you had the products in your garage, you would probably be taking care of it as well. But it's the part of it. That is a bigger deal. You don't want, even though the margins are tighter and you've got the design, you may be paid for that design and you want, you need to sell a certain amount to break even, or if you're using.
[00:17:01] A square space or a Shopify website. You have a monthly fee that you're paying for these websites. Plus your marketing costs to get things out. These are all concerns that you need to have, whether you have a service based business or an online businesses, what are all of the costs going to be before I engage in this kind of.
[00:17:22] Product or business design. So just be aware of some of the different costs that are out there, some of the different things that you're handling versus what the company that you are dropshipping with is handling. So let's say you have a product there's also a hybrid solution, right? So if you've ordered products from Amazon and there's, I can't think of a lot of people.
[00:17:45] I know who haven't, at least at one point. Handled or bought something from Amazon. There's another option and that's fulfillment by Amazon. And I think other people besides Amazon handle this, it's just an easy example to give. [00:18:00] So in this case, and you can do this. If you have other products as well, you have a third party who is housing and storing the products.
[00:18:10] So this takes you out of having things in the garage and then. Puts the responsibility of the logistics on somebody else. So an example would be hybrid. You make the product or you buy the product. So if you say had a deal where you could buy, t-shirts cheaper, you don't wanna go with Printify. You can buy a whole bunch of products, ship them to Amazon or some other warehousing company they'll store the products.
[00:18:38] People can still buy them from you. And then Amazon handles all the logistics of receiving the order, con confirming the order and getting it out the door. That's another way of doing it. There are other companies out there that handle this kind of fulfillment. So that is another option. If you're like I don't like those tight margins that I would get from a Printful here's another way of doing.
[00:19:02] Probably most people who are listening to this show are like, I don't really have physical products. I wanna hear about how do I self-publish and whether this is on Amazon, which Shelley and Toby are on. For me, I'm on audible and Google play. I do auto audio products. and there's some really cool things about self-publishing and there are a couple of downsides on there as well.
[00:19:29] So the logistics of, writing and creating a book, I don't know as much about, but I have researched as somebody who's always wanted to write a book and let's be honest. How many of us haven't wanted to write a book at some point? I think most people do Shelley and Toby have a lot of videos. I'll make sure to link to them.
[00:19:49] In the show notes, and I'll also link to them in the video. We'll put a link up here so that you can get to them where they teach people exactly how to go [00:20:00] from a live stream, to a book and selling it on Amazon. That's like their bread and butter. I'm not gonna impede or infringe on that, but I will talk about some of the differences between self-publishing and going through a print house because I have.
[00:20:15] Looked at a few different places. I have thought about some hybrid printers. So when you go through a typical print house, you may or may not know this. You don't retain the intellectual property rights, not always. So if you went to Ingram or random house, you're giving up a lot of your intellectual property rights.
[00:20:34] If you self-publish, you're maintaining your intellectual property rights and you're gonna get a lot more of the sales revenue. You could get like 20 to a hundred percent depending on how you're doing it. Whereas with a traditional print house publisher, they're gonna take a lot off the top. because there you are giving them the rights to it so that they can.
[00:20:56] Market it, sell it, get it on bookshelves, all of that. So what they do then is they take a lot off the top and you may only get, 7% off of every sale or something like that. Now that can be a pretty significant amount. If you sell a ton, if you have books or novels that are just hit the marketplace and they're super popular.
[00:21:19] but for most of us who are selling business based books, and we're trying to get the word out and let people know about what it is that we're doing, we may or may not. be willing to give up 93% of our revenues to a big publishing house. So your sales revenue will go up. Between, you'll get 20 to a hundred percent of your sales revenue by self-publishing, but you're also responsible for the editing design printing and formatting.
[00:21:46] And again, that's what Shelley and Toby know a ton about compared to me. , I don't know as much about that. But you don't have to buy a bunch of your books upfront. Now part of your marketing plan should be to buy some books and. Have [00:22:00] giveaways or sell to people, anything like that. I think you can buy at a discounted rate and then do some things to get your books out there, but you're not required to do that.
[00:22:11] There's no minimum purchase requirements for that, but you are responsible for all of the marketing and distribution. And this can be a heavy lift. This can be really tough because there are a ton of self-published books out there. And it's the same thing if you're doing dropshipping in general.
[00:22:27] So it may be difficult to get hard copies in stores, but the bonus is you write it, Amazon or apple, they ship it to people. They create it. And there are a few different ways of doing it at different publishers. You can go Got a couple of things here, there's Kindle direct publishing.
[00:22:45] Amazon has a fair amount of information out there which may or may not be helpful. it depends on how well you speak Amazon ease. it's like a whole separate language. I think sometimes when you start interfacing with Google and Amazon, they expect you to understand their language, but they do have a lot of information available on their websites that really explain things.
[00:23:08] Titling and keywords and categories. It is somewhat technical, but you can really get some traction with a self-published book. Be sure to look into it because it can be really beneficial to you and your business. You just have to put the time in and do it. Shelley and Toby have done it with directly.
[00:23:25] They'll go from a Google doc to getting it up on Amazon. I don't have that experience. I, when I do my audio books, I use something called publish drive. It helps me to get the formatting. So it's exactly done because the audio files can be a little bit more difficult. We have a couple of self-publishing examples here again, Shelley and Toby have done a ton of that.
[00:23:47] So here are a couple of screenshots of what their books look like. Up on Amazon, we'll put links to their books so you can well buy them. And then also look at what that set up looks like earlier this week, I [00:24:00] set up my own. Author page on Amazon. So you wanna have things. If you look here, you can see their pictures are here.
[00:24:06] They have little bios on a, on Amazon. These are really great ways to get traction with your marketing because you are putting another, your. Business name, your name, everything on Amazon, where a lot of people go and it can really help you in terms of discoverability to have an author page there. So here are a couple of ex of examples of what self-published book looks like.
[00:24:30] And then I do, like I said, I do audio. So I have a book right now up on audible. And you can see that over here on the right hand side, find the right marketing tools for your small business. It's on audible. It's on Google play. It's a good opportunity to have your name out there. and have, a little bit about yourself and about the book.
[00:24:51] Out in the wild right now, I can't speak to how Shelley and Toby are doing with their distribution of their books. But I will say that for my book. that it's been a, it's been difficult sometimes to get the word out. It's been difficult to tell people about how all of this works because. I have a whole business out there that are doing all different kinds of things.
[00:25:14] So you want to be really aware of how this fits into your business as a whole. So when you are marketing physical products and your primary product is a service based business, an online business, you have to think about how this really fits into your business as a whole and how you're gonna market it.
[00:25:34] and that my friends is the end of our training today. Thank you. Does anybody have any questions? If you have any questions, you can put them in the chat, of course, or you can also email at email@example.com and Shelley. And I can address all of those questions at a later show. If you are interested or if you enjoy these types of [00:26:00] trainings I highly encourage you to either download this marketing self-assessment so that you can get into onto my email list and that will help you get weekly trainings on marketing and how to market your small business.
[00:26:17] I would also suggest that if you need help with creating content, getting your content out into the wild, if you want some support for creating content and you are in the 50 or over crowd, I would like to suggest that you also join Shelley's free community. It is here at group.agkmedia.studio, and that is their free group where you can go and get support around creating content.
[00:26:49] So let's move on to tweaks of the week. I am gonna share my screen again. So this week's tweak of the week. I discovered this. It's interesting. I'm in a few different groups. When I have been on other people's podcasts, I have met two to three different people who have used Hindenberg as their podcast recording software.
[00:27:12] And they swear by it. They absolutely love it. And that's. What we're talking about today is Hindenberg they have a perpetual license, meaning you can download it. You only pay for it one time. And then they also have a monthly license as well. The thing about Hindenberg that I discovered this week, that's so intriguing is that they have this new product called Hindenberg Narrator.
[00:27:35] And if you are really gonna get into dropshipping and doing your own. Books. And you wanna do an audio book? Hindenberg Narrator is so cool. for that. I've never used it, but I just look at it and I it's. It's really awesome. So what it will do is. You can upload your script [00:28:00] into Hindenberg and it helps you track and follow along with your with your script.
[00:28:06] So you can be recording and creating that structure for your audio book inside the recording. You know exactly. How is tracking what it is that you need to do. And then it will do all of the auto levels and export it and get it to Amazon. This is a really great feature. I think if you are, trying to do an audio book for the first time, and maybe you don't have a ton of experience with getting your.
[00:28:34] With recording audio in the first place, because not everybody who does an audio book starts off as a podcaster or a broadcaster in any sort of way. So if you don't have experience with. This might be a good option for you. And if you need a way to get those levels done automatically, it's a great thing.
[00:28:52] It's also good. If you wanna just maybe not record everything all at once, or if you need some help with the structure, I can tell you that when I put together an audio book and I went even with PublishDrive and I went to publish it and get everything done, I had some issues with. Creating the right structure, getting it out there.
[00:29:12] So something like this, would've been really helpful to me to get everything done. And then honestly, the audio levels are way different. If you listen to your audio before you send it off to Amazon, And it's done for an audio book. It is. It doesn't sound very good. And yet when you go and buy audible, they sound good.
[00:29:32] So this is all handled for you in Hindenberg. And I would highly suggest if you're gonna get into that that is a good option for you. Like many Like many other audio programs out there. They will also send your podcast. If you wanna get into podcasting, they will also send your podcast directly to to whoever it is that's publishing it.
[00:29:53] I, thanks Shelley. Hey Shelley. Thanks for thanks for being here today. So yeah, [00:30:00] Hindenberg is a great idea. I agree with you, Shelley. So that is our tweak of the week. I can't believe I've talked for a half an hour. This is so crazy. I've never done that before on my own. so we're gonna wrap up the show today with a little inspirational nugget.
[00:30:18] I hinted at it at the beginning, but it's really important to recognize that. Time is short and we are not going to be here forever. In fact, my dad would often say, nobody gets outta here alive. And unfortunately, that's true. And so what we need to do is find ways that we can connect with other people.
[00:30:48] And I know that with COVID, we have. Become accustomed to being inside of our homes or maybe not being as social, but even this morning, I was listening to a news story about how this lack of connection, this lack of physical touch, the lack of socialization that we've experienced over these past two and a half years, two years, it has caused a lot of people.
[00:31:17] To physically change and to not be as well. And it's causing some societal changes as well. So we need to find all of the ways that we can to connect with other people, to let people know that we love them to spend as much time with others as we can to really assess our values and make sure that our values and what we're doing every single day are aligned with who we want to be and where we want to be in the.
[00:31:47] And so for all of you watching your listening I hope that you have time with the people that you love, that you're spending time giving people a hug and letting them know how important they are to you.[00:32:00]
[00:32:01] So have a really great week, everybody. And between you and me, we'll see how big of a disaster this Close out is. Thanks, Shelley. I love and appreciate you too, Shelley. Everybody have a great week. Thank you for joining the Women Conquer Business podcast, hosted by Shelley Carney and Jen McFarland.
[00:32:23] Please subscribe and leave a comment or question regarding your most challenging content creation or business problem. Then share this podcast with family and friends so they can find the support they need to expand their brand and share their message with the. Check the show notes for links to valuable resources and come back again next week.
Tweak of the Week
Hindenburg Narrator: the perfect tool for audiobook narration
Nobody gets out of here alive. Cherish every moment.
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