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Dropshipping Education: What's The True Cost?

Or, how much "Stupid Tax" will you pay before you become a dropshipping expert?

When I was young, I learned that you always have to pay for your education. This is true whether you are learning to defend yourself on the playground as a kid, or going to medical school to get your license to practice Proctology. With one, all you usually get is a black eye and a few cuts and bruises. But, the bruises usually come with a sense of pride, an improvement in your fighting skills and the right to swagger a bit. The license to be a practicing Proctologist comes with a $400,000 to $500,000 tuition bill and the right to swagger a lot. You also get the right to charge people up the ying-yang for your services, along with, hopefully, an improvement in your medical knowledge and skills.

What the hell does that have to do with dropshipping?

Hold your horses and I'll tell you...

I've been running internet businesses since 1996, and the one truth that flows through the whole process is that you either pay for your education up front, or you pay a bunch of "Stupid Taxes" along the way. The stupid taxes you end up paying are in lieu of spending the time and money to learn the information that would have made you an expert in your chosen profession in the first place.

Most people don't know what a "Stupid Tax" is, so I'll give you the definition. A "Stupid Tax" is when you do something stupid, and it costs you money, because you were too lazy to go out and find the answer before you acted. (In other words, a tax on stupidity.)

In business, when you don't take the time to learn about your markets and/or your products, you usually end up paying way more in "stupid tax" than you would have paid if you would have just spent a little bit of time and money at the beginning of the process and gotten the education you needed to understand your market.

Either way, whether you pay for your education with time and money up front, or wasted time and money as you go along, you'll hopefully end up learning your lessons; if your business lasts long enough.

At this point, those who've never paid a stupid tax can leave....

If you're so smart that you've never paid a stupid tax before, then you're way too smart to be reading this article, or you're a liar. You should be teaching theoretical physics somewhere and inventing cars that run on air.

Most people have paid a stupid tax time and time again. What I'm going to try to do here is help you spend less on your stupid taxes by taking more time and care in getting a good education in dropshipping at the beginning of the process.

There are a ton of resources available online to learn anything, including how to own a profitable dropshipping business, but first you need to have a plan. You need to decide whether you want to do all the leg work yourself and find your dropship partners on your own, get books and manuals that have wholesalers and dropshippers in them, or work with a dropshipping program. I'm going to go over these three types of dropshipping business models here, and hopefully save you a bunch of time and money in the future.

Finding Dropshippers Yourself

The first option, "finding dropshippers yourself", sucks, that's right, I said it sucks. Why would you spend 100 hours trying to find dropshipping partners when you could spend about $40 and get a directory, manual or software program full of companies that are already set up to dropship for you?

If you really want to do it yourself, have at it, I'm sure 100 hours worth of stupid tax will do you good. (Remember, time is money. While you're finding dropshippers the hard way, you aren't learning much about how to manage your dropshipping business or make it profitable.)

Dropshipper Directories

Here are 3 dropshipping directories that you can choose from if you decide that your store, or auction type model, is small enough, or niche oriented enough, to just need a few suppliers. I've listed the prices of the directories next to them, along with how many dropshippers they say they have in their publication.

Dropshipper directories and wholesaler catalogs have tons of useful information. They are definitely faster than doing all the leg work yourself, and they have the added benefit of freeing up a lot of your time. With the time you save by using directories, you can spend more time on these important topics:

  1. What are you going to sell?
    • Using the sites below, you can find what people are looking for the most. If there isn't anyone interested in a product, then don't waste time trying to build the market yourself. Leave that to people who have millions of dollars in branding and advertising budgets.

  2. Where are you going to sell your products?
    • Most of the dropshipping programs offered in the dropshipper program section below, come with upgrades that give you the option of renting a store from them. The upside to this is that the stores come preloaded with product categories of your choice, a shopping cart and the merchant services interface needed to take credit cards. Or, you can rent an eBay store, or a Yahoo Stores, and use software interfaces provided by eBay and others to load your products in bulk.

  3. Who's going to design and build your website if you decide to go that route?
    • Whenever I decide to build a store site, I usually just go to Guru and eLance and post an ad for what I want done. The people on these sites are really good, and you will spend a lot less money getting a professional from one of these sites to design and implement your store and shopping cart system, than you would trying to get it done locally. But, and pay attention here, you will usually spend more going this route, than you would if you just signed up with a dropshipping program, or rented an eBay or Yahoo Store. Please keep this in mind when looking at this option.

  4. Where are you going to host your websites?
    • There are a lot of hosting companies out there, so you will need to decide which type of hosting you want, what options you want with your hosting, and how much you're willing to pay each month. I prefer to use Unix/Linux hosting with a cPanel interface. With this type of set up, you can easily host multiple domains and databases on one account, and just pay a dollar or two each month for each extra IP address. (Did I just confuse you?)

  5. Which shopping cart do I use?
    • I've only set up shopping carts a couple of times, and I hated it. Setting everything up took me forever, and I was about "Stupid Taxed" to death. If you are going to have someone design and build your sites for you, then make them set up the shopping cart system too. I know this sounds like cheating, but you could spend the rest of your life trying to figure out which cart to use and how to set it up. (This is why so many people use prebuilt stuff from eBay, Yahoo, Doba, Shopster and others.Drop Ship Business offers an interesting turnkey solution) Please see my blog post about setting up your own e-commerce store here.

  6. How do you automate the system so you can make more money with less work?

  7. This last question brings us to the answer that we have been looking for all along; dropshipping programs. At this point we are getting into the area that will reduce your stupid tax immensely. Especially when you consider what your time is worth.

Dropshipping Programs; Are They Worth Anything?

Yes, of course they are. Dropshipping programs are worth a ton in educational terms alone. Lots of these programs have the tools and resource you need to teach you a ton about dropshipping. Think about all the work and the thousands, if not millions, of dollars that have gone into building some of the huge dropshipper programs that are now online. Some of these programs offer tools that help you find the best niche market, and then help you find the best products to sell within those markets. Without tools like these, people end up putting stuff up for sale on eBay and losing their shirts. I've even done it myself, thinking I was smarter than the software, and trying to sell a product that the system told me wasn't going to sell for a profit. Even when you have the tools and the education, you periodically have to pay a stupid tax for not listening to the experts.

If you are serious about dropshipping, you need to bookmark this page at this point. You then need to spend a week going though each of the dropshipper programs below. I've only listed ones that have a free trial period. Sign up for one each week, use the heck out of it, then decide whether it's worth keeping or not. But, the most important thing is that you keep notes on the software and tools that each site has available to you. You also need to copy all of their reading material and either read it now or read it later, when you have time. Remember, this is your education, spend some time with it, so you don't end up wasting your money later.

Doba 14 Days Free Trial:
When I signed up and used Doba, they had over a million products to choose from, and some really advanced selling and learning tools available to their users. Doba is about the biggest dropshipper out there, they have the most products, but they also charge the most.

Notes from Doba Website:

  • Your free 14-day trial membership will begin when you click "Start Membership". If you are enjoying Doba, do nothing, and your membership will automatically continue for as long as you choose to remain a member. See Terms of Service for complete membership details. No commitments, no hassles. Cancel any time Monday - Friday, 7:00 am - 7:00 pm (MST).


Shopster's -Free membership:
Shopster offers over 130 dropship suppliers and 900,000 products. Their program offers a single payment system, order management system and over 150 suppliers. All in all, they have over 900,000 dropship products for you to choose from. Their state-of-the-art auction tools are integrated to work with eBay and they claim to offer lower prices than others because of their group buying power.

Notes From Shopster Website:

    There are many more dropshipping programs out there, but you should take the time to go through these 4 programs and learn all they have to offer first. After you have read all of their articles about dropshipping and running a dropshipping business, tried out their tools and auction interfaces and sold a few things on eBay to get your feet wet, then you should go over your notes and decide which, if any, of these services was the right one for your type of selling style.

    And Finally, once you have read and learned everything these programs have to offer, you may then want to go back and look at the dropshipping directories, to see if you now have the knowledge to take your business forward without the help and monthly expense of using a dropshipper program.




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