With a growing family, Jeff Neal knew he had to increase his income.
“My wife wanted to stay home, so I had to take full responsibility as the sole provider,” he says.
However, between a full-time job and raising his children, he didn’t have a lot of extra time for a second job. Instead, he decided a flexible side hustle would be a better option for his schedule.
Since he already worked in ecommerce, he focused his research on similar ways he could make money online. He ended up launching The Critter Depot, a site that sells live crickets.
He now makes over $600 per month from his business. Best of all, he never deals with crickets himself. Instead, he makes his money by drop shipping.
What is drop shipping? It’s a great way to start your own retail business. Like Jeff, you could turn it into an excellent source of extra income.
What is drop shipping?
Using the internet to sell products can be a lucrative way to make money. However, acting like a retail shop means you have to store inventory and manage shipping. It can be incredibly time-consuming, and you could even run out of space in your home while storing things you intend to sell.
A drop shipping business solves this problem. Instead of stocking inventory, you don’t have to store any products or ship items to customers. As a drop shipper, you simply sell the products — a wholesaler or producer stores, packs, and ships the items on your behalf.
In Jeff’s case, drop shipping was an ideal solution for both his site and his wholesaler’s bottom line.
When he did his research online, he found that there was a real need in the niche pet care industry. Reptile and exotic pet owners needed live crickets to feed their pets, but they can be hard to find and expensive, especially in rural areas.
Jeff discovered that selling crickets in bulk could be a solution to many pet owners’ problems, but raising them can be tricky.
“I don’t know anything about raising crickets,” Jeff says. “They have short lifespans and unique nutritional and environmental needs. It’s a lot of work that takes a lot of knowledge.”
Instead of breeding crickets himself, Jeff found a cricket farmer to care for and ship the crickets for him. Jeff provides his expertise and web skills to sell the crickets, and the farmer gets more exposure and sells more insects. Jeff says his website generates approximately $3,000 a month in sales, and he takes home $600 of that amount.
How to get started
If you’re intrigued by the idea of starting a drop shipping business, it isn’t difficult to get started. Some research and planning are all you need.
1. Identify a product
First, you need to identify a product to sell. Although there are hundreds of drop shipping businesses that sell clothes, books, or shoes, some of the best-performing drop shippers follow Jeff’s approach and cater to a niche market.
For example, instead of selling just shoes, targeting customers with hard-to-fit shoe sizes can make you stand out from the competition, netting you more sales.
2. Locate an experienced supplier
Before you can get your business off the ground, you need someone who is experienced in fulfilling drop shipping orders, will use your name on all shipment materials, and can complete orders on time.
There are many supplier lists you can purchase online, but be cautious before spending the money. Because those lists are so widely available, using a supplier from them can mean you’ll face intense competition from other drop shippers for the same products. If many people are trying to buy the same items, the prices can rise and cut into your profits.
A better idea is to attend trade shows in your industry. You can meet a number of excellent suppliers at once and identify several who might be willing to work with you on your drop shipping business.
If trade shows aren’t common in your area, search online for suppliers in your region by looking for your target product and keywords like supplier, wholesaler, or dealer.
3. Create a store site
Once you have a source for your product, set up your store and start selling. Jeff originally sold his crickets on Amazon, but found that their requirements for drop shippers were too stringent. Instead, he transitioned his shop onto his own website.
If you have coding skills, you can build your own site and online store with services like WordPress. However, that doesn’t mean only skilled webmasters can create a drop ship site.
Sites like Oberlo allow you to create a drop shipping site quickly and easily. Best of all, Oberlo is free if you fulfill 50 orders or less a month. If you sell more products than that, you’ll need to sign up for a higher-tier plan.
What to consider before jumping in
Although drop shipping can be a lucrative side hustle, there are some drawbacks to consider before opening your store.
Just because you don’t have to worry about inventory or shipping doesn’t mean there’s no time commitment. Building your store and getting traffic can take a lot of effort, which can make finding a balance between work and your personal life stressful. For example, Jeff still spends a couple hours every day on his site.
“I don’t have a television, so when I come home from work, I just spend time playing with the kids and catching up with my wife,” he says. “Once they’re in bed, I work on optimizing my websites, contributing to forums, and building links to my sites.”
Before pursuing drop shipping, make sure you have the time to dedicate to building your business.
Making extra cash
When you’re struggling to make ends meet, a side gig can be a lifesaver — but finding one that pays a decent wage can be tricky. That’s what makes starting an online business so appealing.
If you have the time and energy to invest in getting your business off the ground, drop shipping could be the key to earning money on your own. For more inspiration, follow these side hustle blogs.
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