Jessica: The potential products that you’ve already shared… It’s been great, we’re in great shape.
Emma: Yeah, people can make a lot of money off those and I should have been selling them and these are all potential products that I was gonna test myself. Like these are all on my shortlist of potential products, yeah but I’m releasing them to see what other people do, with them.
Jessica: Releasing them into the wild.
Emma: Into the wild. Yes.
Jessica: Like go. Someone. Sell them…
Emma: There are gems everywhere.
Jessica: This is Emma.
Emma: Good day.
An Early Dropshipping Bloomer
Jessica: Emma joins us from Australia where she started her first side hustle at the age of 11. Later, Emma built a dropshipping store that made half a million dollars in one year. Today, Emma will tell us a little bit about that story while she also shares huge potential products that she recommends dropshippers sell in 2020.
Special for this interview, Emma is also going to give some domain name ideas and tell you about how you can advertise these high potential products towards niche audiences. You’re going to want to read this to the end and grab a pen and paper to take notes because Emma is full of insight.
Emma, thank you so much for flying all the way from Australia to talk with us.
Emma: No problem, it’s awesome to be here.
Jessica: I know you’ve already talked with my colleague, David on the Oberlo Start Yours podcast kind of about your backstory. But I wanna repeat a little bit of it here because not very many dropshippers build these massively successful store at such a young age. Can you talk to me a little bit about that experience?
Emma: A lot of it came from playing video games when I was really young.
Emma: When I was 11, I was trading furniture on this site called Habbo Hotel, which was an online video game.
Jessica: So you were already hustling in the digital space before you were even in high school, basically?
Emma: Yes, yes, correct.
Jessica: And then how did you discover dropshipping?
Emma: I was working as a receptionist back in 2016 and I had a little bit of an affiliate marketing blog at the time ’cause I got a bit bored of working at reception and then I came across an online forum where people were talking about and documenting their journey with dropshipping. So I read the whole thread probably a whole day, 50 pages of this thread and decided, “You know what, I already have this website, maybe I can sell a product to myself and put it on the website as long as the audience likes the product.” And that’s how it all started.
Jessica: You had multiple dropshipping stores before you started the one that really made it big right?
Jessica: Tell us about the one that made it big. Were there early signs that that was starting to really blow up?
Emma: Yes, yes there was. I did really well with the initial ads so I had experience before with my original store so I already had that background. I found this product that I thought would do really well and I started running the ads for it and it was sort of just taking off so I just continued to scale it from there.
Jessica: This is what all of our viewers dream about, find a winning product, hockey stick growth. $500,000 Lamborghini. Is your Lamborghini parked out front or…
Emma: Yeah, it’s blue and it’s a 2004 Toyota Camry.
Jessica: So a little bit less expensive than a Lambo.
Jessica: Now, I know that people are going to say, “Well, what happened next?” You hit 500k and did it do 2 million next year? So what happened with that business? Are you still working on it?
Emma: No, I’m not.
Emma: Yeah, I burnt out and had to close the store.
Jessica: Are you comfortable sharing a little bit more about what happened there?
Emma: Yeah, so I was having a lot of issues with this store so during Q4 I was scaling it up, I was actually in Bali and I had my record sales days but then I realized, “Can I fulfill all of these orders? Can my supplier handle this volume?”
It turns out they couldn’t and I had to refund a lot of the customers because they weren’t going to make it on time for Christmas and there was a lot of upset, doing a lot of customers service, answering all of the emails, trying to fix the supply issues and it was just taking up all of my time because I was doing it all myself. I hadn’t hired, I hadn’t delegated and I wasn’t ready to scale my business, I wasn’t prepared and unfortunately, that took a toll on my mental health.
Jessica: It’s really interesting to hear you talk about that because… Well, first of all, not a lot of dropshippers are so real, especially on YouTube as we know but also a lot of the vision around this business venture is about doing everything yourself, from your laptop in Bali, depending on no one and you’ve been through that and you’ve seen success and you’re kind of here to say, it does have downsides.
Emma: Yes, especially if you’re not prepared to scale. At that time, I had no systems in place, I had no one to do my customer service for me while I took a holiday and I wasn’t expecting the increase in sales volume so there is definitely a downside when you’re scaling, if you’re not prepared, if you’re not prepared to handle that scale, then things can go sideways, especially if your AliExpress dropshipping suppliers don’t have the product or there’s no transparency there on what’s going on.
Jessica: Now before anyone says, like, “Sounds like a good enough reason for me to never get started,” did you give up on dropshipping entirely after an experience like that?
Emma: No, I burned out and stopped running that store but I got back into it and now I’ve started a new store that’s done $150,000 in revenue in the last two months.
Jessica: Oh my gosh! Congrats. That’s amazing.
Emma: Thank you. Yeah.
Jessica: Really cool. Okay, so as we go through the recommendations of huge potential products, I might ask you to share any tips you have so that when dropshippers are getting started, they can put systems in place right away and learn from the right places right away so that they maybe can avoid some of that burnout later on.
Potential Products to Dropship
Potential Product Idea #1: Toilet Paper Shelf
Jessica: Cool, okay, let’s get to the huge potential products. This product recommendation is one of my favorite things because as soon as I saw it, I wanted to buy it. This is a toilet roll shelf, right? Is that how you would describe it?
Emma: Yeah, it’s a toilet roll shelf.
Jessica: Toilet roll shelf.
Emma: Or a “loo ledge”.
Jessica: A “loo ledge”.
Jessica: Whoa! How do you think of a name like that?
Emma: I don’t know.
Jessica: Well I can think of… Okay, so you could think of different words for “toilet” and then you think of different words for shelf and you find two that have the same first letter and then, bada boom, brand.
Emma: And alliteration too. Alliteration is really good. So both words starting with “L,” Loo Ledge.
Jessica: Oh okay. Well, you know the fancy words for it, two words starting with the same letter. There are a lot of people who are interested in starting one-product stores and this seems like, especially if you got looledge.com, this seems like it could be a one-product store but I’m curious what your take on one product stores is. Do you think it’s a good idea? A bad idea? Where do you fall on that?
Emma: I think it’s a good idea, especially if you do plan on having some upsells and there are ways to increase your average order value. You can get really focused on your target audience and make the store all around them so they’re more likely to purchase from you.
Jessica: So when you say, “upsells” that makes me think that there is another product in that store.
Emma: Yes. It’s a “one plus” product store. So it’s not just one product, it’s got more than one but you usually don’t really see them on the front end.
Jessica: I see. Okay, so you kind of choose a product that you’re leading with and you’re advertising, you’re expecting that to be your money maker but then you add bells and whistles.
Jessica: So here you’ve got the toilet paper ledge, what could you add in a one plus product store for Loo Ledge to make it something that a customer could put multiple items in their cart?
Emma: Okay. So you have this product, which is just one toilet roll so they can only put one on there but you have this one over here in recommended where it actually has two, it’s spaced to fit two rolls and there’s actually an ashtray on this one so that’s a completely different product again.
Jessica: Stop. How many people are smoking on the toilet?
Emma: Apparently enough to have a product like that.
Jessica: Enough to create… Wow! Okay. Incredible. Oh, and then here you have even a stacking one. Interesting.
Emma: Yeah, there are so many different kinds. So you don’t have to sell just the one variation, you can have different variations to upsell them, like if they wanted a different design or wanted something for their family that was a different type of design, like maybe their parent is a smoker and they would be amazed to get a gift like that.
Jessica: Truly a practical gift. Now, one of the things that I’m struck by with this product, we’ll go back to the single roll shelf is it is a little bit pricey. How would you price something like this? So this is about $12 normally. Is this going to be a $30 product in your store?
Emma: Yes, probably.
Jessica: Yes? Okay. So is that a standard rule for you, a multiple of three tends to be the product price?
Emma: Yes. Especially if it’s, like, lower ticket, definitely three or more if you can.
Jessica: So I love this. I want it. But I wonder how I would find the audience and advertise it to them because pretty much everyone has a bathroom and how do I target that? What would your advice be?
Emma: This is a pretty broad product so if you have a good video creative, then you can go really broad with your targeting.
Jessica: And that’s a good thing?
Emma: Yes, it’s a good thing because you have… There are more people in that market to promote to. And there are a lot of different angles.
Jessica: Okay but what angles would you use to market something like this, to a huge broad audience?
Emma: Okay. So one angle you could use to promote this product is people who are always texting on the toilet or watching memes or something on Facebook. You could have that as your video, like that type of person and market it that way or you could have someone that reads a book on the toilet or something and wants a shelf to put it on their toilet. There are so many different parts of that audience that you can target with different creatives.
Jessica: So we know this product has potential but I want to ask you how you know when a product isn’t working and maybe we should do that with the next huge potential product.
Potential Product #2: Hot Dog Dog Bed
Jessica: Okay, I am considering getting a dachshund, just so I can buy this product. We talk a lot about dog costumes on this channel but this is both a costume and a bed, which is why I love it. It’s the hot dog dog bed. Okay, so what’s your clever, domain name for this product?
Emma: Probably “Weird Pet Beds”.
Jessica: Oh, “Weird Pet Beds”?
Emma: Yes. I’d go for a niche store with this product, I wouldn’t just sell at a one-product store with this.
Jessica: How do you make that decision between like, “Okay, Loo Ledge was a one-product store but Weird Pet Beds is gonna be a niche store?”
Emma: Because there are so many different types of pet beds like animals, there are cats, there are dogs…
Jessica: Ferrets, gerbils, hamsters… The list goes on, but if you have, “Weird pet beds,” you can get any of them, you don’t limit yourself.
Emma: Yes, yes.
Jessica: Whereas with the loo ledge, there’s only so many loo ledges out there, so I might as well stick with the best and sell that, is that kind of close to the rationale?
Jessica: Cool. This, though, is really expensive. Would you still sell this for, three times is almost 75 bucks?
Emma: No, I would probably try to sell it for around $30-$40 and it would be a pretty low margin but if I had other huge potential products on that store to really bring up, the average order value, then you can get away with it. As well as that, you can do things to try and source the product cheaper.
Jessica: Oh, how?
Emma: Like you would search around on AliExpress and try to find a better supplier with a cheaper price. This might not necessarily be the cheapest price it can be. As well as that, you can contact suppliers directly and ask them if there is a way to get this product cheaper. Sometimes they will do a deal with you on that, on the pricing, especially if it’s not a well-sold product yet. Nobody’s really selling this hot dog bed.
Jessica: Oh, interesting. So I thought that you can’t really ask suppliers for a lower price unless you’re already making sales but you’re saying “Well if the supplier’s not making a lot of sales yet, they might be open to negotiating with you.”
Emma: Yes, definitely.
Jessica: Interesting. Okay. I had never heard of that before but it’s worth a shot. If the supplier says, “No,” no problem.
Emma: Just go and message all of them and see what they say.
Emma: Yeah, Instagram definitely because everyone’s posting cute photos of their pets on Instagram, like cute puppy photos, cute cat photos and there are all of those popular accounts that are just like cats and dogs and it’s a cute pet bed and like dachshund lovers, dogs like that, would really love this product because of the inside joke. It’s a hot dog and they’re putting their sausage dog in the bun.
Jessica: I know. That’s why I love it so much.
Emma: So I would go around to the communities, the hashtags that of people who are in sausage dogs and post around there and be like, “Do you wanna put your dog in this hot dog bed?”
Emma: It’s hilarious.
Jessica: We often tell people when you’re selling, if you’re selling dog accessories to target breeds but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a product that’s as tailor-made for a specific breed as this and kind of gets at that inside joke that that community has.
Emma: Yes, for sure.
Jessica: When we were talking about loo ledge, I said that I wanted to know how you would determine when a product isn’t doing well. So say a dropshipper starts weirddogbeds.com, they start sharing photos of this on Instagram, how long or how much ad spend would it take before they should give up on the idea?
Emma: I wouldn’t actually run ads straight away. I would actually go on the Instagram communities and try to get organic sales and if it is showing promise and you are able to drive traffic and get sales, then it is worthy to keep testing and keep testing until you get it to work.
Jessica: And so that’s a great way for dropshippers who don’t wanna spend a lot of money and wanna validate products, to get in there, right? Like, start with Instagram. If you get those first sales without spending anything, it justifies okay start spending money on Facebook ads.
Emma: Yeah, there’s definitely market demand there and you’re finding your audience so if you can get traction with the organic traffic, then that is definitely worth exploring, testing that with your paid ads.
Jessica And if you can’t, if you’re engaging with these people and no one’s buying, maybe that’s a good sign to move on to another product?
Emma: Yes, or maybe are not commenting enough and engaging enough.
Jessica: Ah, good point.
Emma: So I suggest 100 comments a day, in the relevant hashtags on the relevant people’s posts.
Jessica: Do you, can we just use a bot for that?
Emma: It has to be real human interaction, otherwise people aren’t gonna buy from you because there are so many bots on Instagram just spamming people’s posts.
Jessica: Yeah, this is something that we talk about a lot. If you want to get started on a super low budget, with dropshipping, it’s possible. You build a half-million-dollar store like that but you invested a ton of time and energy instead of ad dollars to get to that point.
Emma: Yes, for sure, yes. A lot of the beginning was me just grinding away, writing Instagram comments, building ambassador programs from the ground up to try and really get other people to promote the product organically and all of that before I moved on to paid ads.
Jessica: Okay, makes a lot of sense. Before we move onto the next product, you shared in your notes two more genius names for a store that might sell these. Can you tell us what they are?
Emma: Yeah, so if you only wanted to promote that one product and you didn’t want all the other pet beds, you could have the name Bun Beds.
Jessica: So cute.
Emma: And Dachshund Palace.
Jessica: Ah! I’m dying, I love it. And I feel like if someone had a dachshund they would just, they would have to go to Dachshund Palace.
Emma: Yes, exactly, yes.
Jessica: ‘Cause their dachshund is royalty and they would need a pet bed fit for royalty. Perfect. Okay, let’s move on to the next product.
Potential Product Idea #3: Foldable Reusable Cup
Jessica: So this product is a foldable reusable cup and one thing that I wonder is, if we’re telling our dropshippers to start niche stores, what niche is this? Is it reusable, is it kitchen? How do we choose a niche to put this product in?
Emma: This product can be advertised to multiple different niches.
Jessica: Okay, well then how would I, as a new dropshipper choose a niche to start with?
Emma: You would have to test the different angles and see which one is actually going to work.
Jessica: Okay, break that down for me. So when you say test the different angles, do you mean like maybe I have one ad and I try to make that ad look very reusable, recyclable focused and then another ad is all about, I don’t know, what’s another niche that this could even be in?
Emma: People who go to festivals. It’s like a foldable cup that they can just attach to their belt or something and when they need to go get a drink, they can just pull the cup out and that way they always have the same cup, it’s their cup and they’re not wasting like plastic cups.
Jessica: Okay, okay so if I was a dropshipper and I was thinking about selling this I could do two ads, one would be all about how reusable this is and save the earth maybe and the other is about like, “Hey, this is really convenient if you go to a lot of festivals”.
Jessica: And then you would run both ads and figure out which one performs better.
Emma: Yes and then keep going with that angle and promote it a lot and then you can move back to the other angle and scale horizontally that way, into the different audiences that would buy the product.
Jessica: I don’t know what you mean when you say scale horizontally?
Emma: It means basically you have lots of different audiences that you can move into. So for example, if you’re promoting this product a lot to festival-goers, then that’s just one section of the audience. There is a whole different section of the audience that you’re missing. This ad isn’t speaking to the people who want to save plastic waste and use recyclable cups and stuff. It is only speaking to the festival-goers.
So if you run another ad later on or at the same time even that is targeting these people who want to re-use the cups, then that opens up so much more market space because it’s a different audience and if you have multiple different audiences, with those angles, then you can just get so much more sales from that.
Jessica: So this makes sense. What I’m wondering then is do I build a dropshipping store that’s very generic and then create ads that are very niche-focused? ’cause at first, I was thinking I’ll build a reusable goods store or I’ll build a festival goods store but then if I wanna run both ads, it feels like I need to choose. What would you fix in my thought process there?
Emma: So that’s the beauty of having a one-product store instead of the niche stores like those. Say you had a store that was all about how you could reduce plastic waste and you had all these reusable, recyclable products, yes you can promote it that way but if you really wanna tap into the other audiences, you can just make it all about that product and then with your ads, you have the marketing angles and then when they come to the product page, they don’t see like “Oh, this is meant to be recycle bin usable. It can be used for me as well” because, in the ad, they’re not getting distracted.
Jessica: Yeah, so what I think you are kind of telling me and correct me if I’m wrong, is dropshippers should explore the idea of having a bit of a niche-agnostic store and then really exploring niche-specific ads.
Jessica: That’s cool. That’s not an approach that we’ve heard about from other merchants before. Usually, it feels like you need to pick a niche for your store and then all your ads need to be in that niche as well but you’re kind of saying, give yourself a rather neutral, product-focused store and then get really creative with tailoring the ads to different audiences.
Emma: Yes and if they work really well for one audience, then edit your store and make it resonate with them better.
Jessica: Oh okay, okay. Super helpful. Love that talk on niches, it’s really helpful. Let’s move on to the next product.
Potential Product #4: Foldable Shovel
Jessica: The next product you recommend is a foldable shovel.
Jessica: Conclusion, you like foldable products.
Jessica: No? What do you see in this that makes you think this has a lot of potential?
Emma: Well, it is a small, handy product and it is useful, it solves a problem and it’s easy to travel with.
Jessica: So, I see a lot of benefits for that, for the hiking niche. One of my concerns with this product though, because it is in the hiking niche, is that if I start selling this now, it’s November in Berlin where we’re filming, I’m not gonna find any buyers because no one is buying hiking gear. So would it make sense for me to start selling this now?
Emma: Yes because it’s dropshipping and you can sell to Australia where I’m from where it is summer.
Jessica: Oh okay. That’s actually something that a lot of dropshippers and myself included, sometimes forget is that you’re not limited to selling in the country where you are living.
Jessica: In your stores, do you primarily dropship to Australian customers or are you global?
Emma: No, I primarily sell to the US and then expand globally.
Jessica: Oh, interesting. You start with the US.
Jessica: Do you recommend other dropshippers do the same?
Emma: I recommend they test at least the top four countries.
Jessica: Those being?
Jessica: Okay. Now is this… For you, is this product a one-plus product store? And if so, what kind of clever domain names do you have ready for this one?
Emma: Yeah, definitely, it can be. One is “Travel Shovel” and the other is “Easy Shovel”.
Jessica: Oh, those are good and let me try this out. So if this shovel is my one product, then for my plus products maybe I can look again at the recommended products on the side here.
Emma: Yes, definitely.
Jessica: Is there anywhere else on AliExpress that I could try to find products that could be upsold with this.
Emma: You can scroll down to the bottom and view recommended products.
Jessica: Oh, to the very, very, bottom.
Emma: Very, very bottom, yeah.
Jessica: Oh, okay great. So this is a great source of ideas for products that could be sold alongside this. Awesome. I know that you are a video marketing expert but I wanna wait until the next product to ask you all about video ads.
Emma: Let’s do it.
Potential Product Idea #5: Can Fridge Organizer
Jessica: This is another product that I have not seen before and I instantly get the appeal. This is… Gosh, a can organizer for your fridge.
Emma: Pretty much. Spot on, yeah.
Jessica: So since you’re so good at advertising, let’s live brainstorm what an ad like this could look like. Where does your mind start when you think about what this might look like?
Emma: So with the video ad, maybe you could have all of the cans all messed up in the fridge or bottles falling off and breaking. For the intro, because that’s the pain point and it kind of catches your attention, because your fridge might look like this and this might have happened to you or… It’s a good thing to break up the pattern of people scrolling if something falls down out of the fridge and smashes, that’s gonna grab your attention, right?
Jessica: Okay. So start with the problem and the pain point and then let me guess, transition into showing this product organizing the fridge.
Jessica: Do you also show the features or the price of the product because… You only have so many seconds to work with, how deep should merchants go into being like, “It’s whatever, 10 inches long and fits in most fridges.” Is that important?
Emma: No, I save the features for the product page and then again like at the very bottom because what you’re selling is the hole, not the drill.
Jessica: Okay. How would you target this? Everyone has fridges or most people who are buying things on the internet have refrigerators so is this, again a product that you wanna go really broad on?
Jessica: Okay, simple as that. And you just let Facebook do the work of finding your audience?
Emma: Yes, you can help it by giving it a rough idea of where you wanna go. Say, for example, you’re advertising this one. You run an ad to people who drink beer and they wanna organize their beer, then you can advertise to the big audience of beer drinkers or people who like cola. If you have… What is it in the States? Cola?
Jessica: We’re in Germany. You can call it whatever you want. We’re in neutral territory. Cola. So I can see there’s so many cola drinkers, soda drinkers, whatever, pop drinkers if you’re in Chicago. In the US, a product like this could be targeted just in the US and probably sell a lot.
Jessica: One thing that also comes to mind… ’cause I know a lot of dropshippers now are gearing up for holidays but I think about the Super Bowl in February and how all these people who are hosting game watches and parties have all these beers in their fridge and they need a way to organize it and maybe you could target people who like the Super Bowl.
Emma: Yes, yes, definitely. That’s a really good thing to target.
Jessica: Thank you. Thought of that one. For a one-plus product store with the cans here, I’m looking again at the recommended products and it looks like… I mean, is fridge organization, is that enough of a niche?
Emma: Yeah, definitely. You could have a store on just fridge organization or kitchen organization in general and have lots of related products.
Jessica: So say I have this one-plus product store, what would you name it?
Emma: I could name it “The Can Stand” or “Drink Stacker”. There are heaps of different names that you can come up with.
Jessica: And would that be okay if I call it “The Can Stand” and then I had like the wine bottle organizer in the same store or would customers say like, “Wow I don’t know what you’re doing to me,” and just bounce.
Emma: I’ve seen stores do it before. So it’s not a deal-breaker. If the customer is landing on that page, that product page and they’re seeing the can stand or the drink stacker product, if there are recommended products related that’s okay.
Jessica: That makes sense. Cool. Let’s move on to the next product.
Bonus Product Idea
Jessica: This product has me a bit worried because this is a photography crystal ball and I have seen this product everywhere and I know that our viewers have too and they’re going to say it’s saturated. How do you respond?
Emma: Yes, there are a lot of big players in that market. There’s a lot of big brands advertising this crystal ball.
Jessica: So if there are big brands in the space, why are you recommending it, Emma? What are you doing to our poor viewers?
Emma: I’m sorry but it is a good way to learn how to position this normal product as a crystal ball as something much bigger than that. Putting a marketing spin on the product and advertising it as something people wouldn’t usually see from a crystal ball. So an everyday product, sort of like that Loo Ledge, the toilet roll holder. That’s a normal product but if you put the spin on it that it’s for your phone, so you don’t drop it in the toilet, then that is like…
Jessica: It’s become something kind of different, then.
Emma: Yes but this is a crystal ball but it’s also a photography tool and someone saw that angle and went with it, and now this product is doing really well.
Jessica: So you’re introducing this to us and our audience to say, “If you see this and it’s saturated, stop for a minute and ask yourself who was smart enough to take this plain crystal ball from a plain crystal ball to saturated product.”
Emma: Yes, a very good marketer did that.
Jessica: A very good marketer because they said, “Wait a second, let’s call this a photography ball,” or whatever.
Jessica: And anyone can do that. Anyone can, with enough creativity and I don’t know an imagination, can find a product on AliExpress and say “Okay, but let’s make it a craft beer stand holder” or whatever.
Emma: Yes, yes, sure. You can take these basic everyday products… Like someone would think this glass crystal ball is just a decoration but…
Jessica: Or for seeing the future.
Emma: Yeah or for seeing the future… But no. It can be used for photography as they’ve discovered and really done well promoting it.
Jessica: Yeah, the ultimate goal really is to be the dropshipper who saturates a product.
Emma: Yes. Yes. Yes, create the trend.
Jessica: Yes, exactly.
Emma: Rather than jump on the trend.
Jessica: Great, great lesson to end on. Fantastic. Well, I’ve learned so much from you, Emma. But before you go, I just wanna ask, what is one piece of advice that you would share with people who are just getting started with dropshipping?
Emma: Don’t be afraid to really go in-depth with the testing of the product. I see so many dropshippers jumping from product to product and niche to niche but they really don’t go and focus on the one product and see the different angles they can market under to make it a winning product. There’s so much money left on the table. If you are jumping from product to product and not testing deep enough and getting into the audience’s heads and trying to make it a winner instead of trying to see if it’s a winner.
Jessica: That’s incredible advice. Couldn’t have put it better myself. It’s been great. Thank you so much for joining us. If you want to follow up with Emma, she has her own YouTube channel. Until next time, learn often, market better…
Emma: And sell more.