Building a 500k Dropship Business in 2 Years | Ethan Dobbins Interview (Part 2)

Written by
Isabel Edwards

Ethan: Definitely is, I mean there's really no reason why you wouldn't if you are selling a product that makes sense for personal influencers. There's some businesses like home decor that maybe isn't the best for personal influencers, but in my case with mens jewelry, I can send out a piece and get custom content. I can use that content in my ads. I can use it on my website. So even if the ad doesn't work out, I still got a new creative I can use in my advertising. 

If you want to be successful with Facebook ads and all that, you have to have new creatives every other week because when you're spending a lot of money and you're burning through your ad creative there's ad fatigue. You can't spend a ton of money and just think it's gonna work for months. 

Look at your own TV, you're not going to see Doritos or Coca-Cola run the same commercial for months and months and months because the customers are getting bored. They want something new. They're always creating new ads because they know you can't just keep on posting the same ad for a whole year and hope that works out. 

There's Tik Tok influencers too with millions of followers that they got literally in a week after launching their Tik Tok and they have no idea how valuable their audience is. They've never been famous before. If you just send them a product they're like, oh cool I get free stuff, so of course I'll promote your brand even though I have no idea how a million followers provides that much exposure to your brand. There's so many opportunities out there if you're on a budget. 

Isabel: Something I get really excited about when designing stores and building brands is the branding. You know, the design aspect of it. Building your logo, choosing the colors. What advice would you have for someone that doesn't really have a budget for branding but is looking to create something professional and smart looking?

Ethan: Just model your competitors. That's the best advice I can give. I just started a new brand literally a couple weeks ago and when I did, I just looked at what my competitors were doing. I saw what they did and I modeled them. Obviously when you're on a budget you can't do all the fancy coding and programming to make it look super high quality. It comes down to choosing a good theme and watching some good videos on how to create a good website. 

When it comes to logos I do recommend paying someone who has years of experience to make you a really good logo. But you also need to know what are the words you want people to associate with your brand. You should have some sort of statements. If someone visits one of my websites, I want them to feel like okay this brand is an authority, it's powerful, it's young, its spirited. You have to have some sort of emotions you're trying to convey. 

If you're just designing your brand and you're going willy-nilly like a chicken with its head cut off, you have no idea what you're trying to do, you're just doing it on your own and seeing what happens, then yeah it's not going to look great. But if you have some sort of plan, some sort of idea of what you're trying to do and what it's going to look like, that's a lot better than if you had no plan at all.

Isabel: Was that a part of your website plan to enhance user experience on your website? 

Ethan: Yeah nowadays obviously that's so so crucial. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to purchase on your website. Look at Amazon, you literally just press one button and you can check out and it's that easy. 

The most important page on your website is your product page. Your homepage can look beautiful, but 97% of people are not going to go off the product page to your homepage and that's just the reality. From my own testing they just only care about that one page. So you have to make sure okay this page looks amazing, the words are perfect, the reviews are good. 

With user experience you got to make sure okay my website loads fast, there are apps that you can use to compress your images so that they don't make the loading speed so long. If it takes longer than 4 seconds for your website to load after someone clicks your ad their attention span is already like okay move on. I'm going to do something else. I'm going to scroll on Instagram. I'm going to scroll on Facebook. I would say people have less attention span than a goldfish, because a goldfish has about nine seconds. I would say nowadays people have about 2 to 3 seconds and I'm the same way. If I click a link and it doesn't load up in the first five seconds, I'm just like it's not even worth my time. It's really not. 

You have to look at your text and see if it's legible some people have really small sizes. Some people go overboard with trust badges and all these emojis and stuff and it looks super unprofessional. Especially if you're trying to create a brand. I see it all the time where people have we're trusted by PayPal and all these processors and it looks super spammy and cheesy. That's not going to convince anyone to buy from you. 

The best way to do that if you want people to trust you is to have good proof that your product works in the form of reviews. If you don't have that then just make sure that when someone buys you're sending follow-up emails asking them, how was your experience? Can you send us a review, we'll give you a 10-15 percent off discount. Try to get reviews because social proof is the best way for people to trust you. Whenever I'm shopping on Amazon, I'm not going to buy something that doesn't have a thousand five star reviews because nearly everything does. If something has five five star reviews or a thousand, I'm taking the one with the thousand every single day of the week. That's just the way it is. I don't care if it's more expensive. I would say that's the main way you can optimize your website, just focus on the product page a lot.

Isabel: Yeah, definitely and I think like a lot of people get so caught up in panicking about how can I make this a good user experience? What do people want? And you yourself are a customer, just think what would I want to see on a website? I was reading a study about the biggest reason why users were abandoning carts which was because of hidden fees. Websites think oh they're not going to put the products in the basket if we show these fees so we'll just hide them until the checkout, but would you want that experience? No, it's just going to annoy you when you get to check out and see these hidden fees. So just thinking about what you would want to see is such a simple way to improve the user experience. 

Ethan: Exactly, we're all customers. Yeah, I totally agree with that 100% of the way and that's probably the best way to do it, look at it as if you're a customer. I always tell people you have to try to be objective with your website. In your mind because you worked on it for so long you think it's amazing, but nine out of ten times your website the first time you actually make it it’s gonna look like crap. 

You need to have a friend or somebody who actually knows a little bit about business to look at it and be like yeah, I would shop here. And a lot of the times your friends are going to be pretty honest about whether or not they trust your brand. They'll point out obvious things that you never even saw, like hey, this looks a little bit off or I noticed you didn't have an order guarantee, I noticed there was no 30 day money back or anything. 

The main problem I see people have with conversion rate is they don't give people a reason why they should buy now. And that's one of the biggest deciders in my opinion as to why people buy. If you're just sending them to a product page, it's just a necklace in my instance, that's 50 bucks, it's not on sale, just a random necklace. Why would I buy today rather than in a week? And I get so many people that say I have so much traffic but it's not converting, it’s because you're not giving people a reason to buy now. What can they get if they're buying now compared to a week from now? Is it oh you get free shipping with us, you get this warranty if you buy now. You’ve got to give people incentives and that's the only way you're really gonna shop. Especially when you're a beginner and not a lot of people know your brand.

Transparency is so important. A lot of people don't talk about shipping times and when you're using, you know, in my instance, Ali Express or CJ or whatever it is, it takes a few weeks. You have to be transparent. A lot of people expect one week shipping, so you can get around that right now just saying hey, you know with covid-19 there's crazy stuff happening, so shipping is going to be a little delayed. People are going to understand that. Everyone's going to understand that, no one is going to say oh that's unacceptable. Just try to be as transparent as possible really.

Isabel: Yeah. The biggest thing is managing expectations because the first thing someone is going to do when you haven't met their expectations in a bad way is jump on Google and leave you a bad review, maybe tell their friends don't shop here, so managing expectations is really important. 

Since you've been running your dropship store, what would you say were the main challenges or the biggest things you struggled with when building a successful online store?

Ethan: That's a good question. I would say just trying to do it on a budget is tough. I'm not like Donald Trump. I didn't get a 10 million dollar loan for my dad when I first started. I had about twelve hundred dollars when I first started and it's really just about being on track with your money. A lot of people sort of spend it willy-nilly and don't have expense reports or P&L sheets. 

I had a very limited budget and I needed to be able to test a bunch of products because when you're doing dropshipping, really in order to be successful, you have to have a winning product and you have to be able to go through five or ten products that aren't winners in order to get to that first winning product. Because when you get the winning product, you can scale it to a thousand, two thousand, three thousand dollars a day really fast. The hard part is finding a good product. Then you need to write a good product description. Then you obviously have to come up with a really great ad in 20 to 60 seconds that explains why they need to buy this product right now and why it's so amazing how it's going to change your life and how it's something they need in their life. And that's the hard part. Being able to convince people. Okay in 20 seconds, you need to pay me 50 bucks because this product is gonna change your life. That's a really hard part. So I would say marketing in the beginning because I just didn't understand anything about marketing. I was just making assumptions about my customer and what I thought they wanted because I just wrote down the things I thought were important without ever considering what my customer wanted and as a result I failed, but then I hired a mentor, he taught me about the importance of actually understanding your customer and that changed everything for me. Just understanding that.

Isabel: What advice would you want to give yourself or maybe someone starting off with dropshipping if you could go back and just say one thing that you've learned with dropshipping?

Ethan: Be persistent. You have to be persistent and realise it's a process and that nothing in life is ever easy in the beginning, literally nothing. There's no business model that's easy. If there was an easy way, I would be doing it right now. If I could put in five minutes a day and I can make a thousand dollars a day doing it I would be doing it, but that doesn't exist. 

I see so many beginners quit after testing one product or two products, they had a bad month and they're like, okay, well, I'm gonna quit. But the real reason, I mean when you're an entrepreneur, you're number one job is to solve problems. That's literally like the most important aspect. It's like a firefighter and fighting fire. If you see a firefighter complaining about oh, this fire is too hot, they're probably not a good firefighter. So if you're an entrepreneur and you're complaining about problems and oh this software is not working, I'm not getting sales, well that's your job, to figure out how to solve them. 

Honestly the more problems that you solve, the faster you're going to be successful. You have to figure out what problems are important as well, because most people don't know what problems they should be worrying about. They think oh my website, it's just it doesn't look cool. It looks bad. There's a lot of ugly websites that are making $100,000 a month and I see them all the time. They look horrible and they're doing really well because oh they're marketing's good, they know how to sell the product with their ad. Like people just don't understand what moves the needle, what 20% of actions actually get you 80% of results because they think oh if I post more on social media, if I make my website look cooler, that's the thing that's gonna make this giant difference. But really it's mostly going to be oh your price sucks, your marketing sucks, the product that you're selling people don't want it, you're trying to sell rocks to cavemen and people don't understand that. So first off just understand what actually moves the needle in your business and second realise it takes time. Like, this isn't easy. I mean once you learn how to do it all and learn the systems, yes, it gets easier and you can build multiple stores and it can be great but it's a learning curve the first couple of months. You're not going to get it right. You're gonna fail.

Isabel: That's the cool thing about dropshipping is it can be something done alongside a job or school. So you do have time for that persistence and to put the time and effort it takes, you can do it alongside other things. So yeah persistence is key, definitely agree with you. That is the number one thing for building a successful dropship store.  

Ethan: Yeah I mean I would say any business you have to be persistent. If you want to be a marketer, if you want to be somebody that starts your own agency. You're gonna struggle and if you don't struggle, you're not going to appreciate it when you're actually making money and you're successful. You're gonna be like, oh this is easy.

I don't want to make my money extremely easily because then I don't feel like I deserved it. I don't feel like it was worth the effort in a way. It's like if you're in school and you're trying to make the honor roll or you're trying to be like the valedictorian you want it to be hard you want it to be like, oh I earned this. I actually worked for this not like oh it was just handed to me, because if it's just handed to you you're not going to really want it. You're not really going to value it as much. 

Einstein failed, oh not even Einstein, who invented the light bulb, Thomas Edison, so Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times to build the light bulb and he said every single time I didn't fail, I just learned one way that just didn't work. So I got one step closer to inventing the actual light bulb and it took him ten thousand times. The Wright brothers failed for years to build the first airplane and they just kept trying. They had to get more investors, it took years to get it right but then once they got it right well boom they’re history. They're in the history books and everyone remembers them. So yeah, it takes time. So that's just part of the process. 

Isabel: Yeah, your attitude to business is really inspiring, especially for people starting out and thank you so much for giving your advice today. I've learnt loads. I hope people watching have. You've given some really good advice to people starting out. So thank you so much. 

Where else can people find you online if they want to learn more tips from you? 

Ethan: I have a YouTube channel Ethan Dobbins that you guys can check out. I post weekly videos for new dropshipping tips, new strategies that I'm learning. Also I have an Instagram I post daily on there as much value as I can just giving you new tips, so you can follow me @ethandobbinsofficial. I try not to be too spread out on social media because that can be also another distraction and I try to focus my time on my business. So I don't have a Snapchat. I don't have a Twitter. I don't have anything else but Instagram and YouTube are where you can find me.

Isabel: Thank you for that. Thank you for your time today. Have a great rest of the day.

Ethan: Appreciate it.

Isabel: Thank you. Bye.

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