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1. Is dropshipping a good side hustle?

Starting a dropshipping side hustle: Tips and strategies

Wouldn't it be great if you could start your own business without worrying about sourcing product materials, manufacturing, or even shipping? The dropshipping business model is designed to create an opportunity for retailers everywhere.

By outsourcing most of the traditional aspects of supply chain management to third parties, online retailers are free to focus on marketing products. Starting your own dropshipping side hustle can be a fantastic way to earn extra income without putting up a huge initial investment.

But what exactly is dropshipping, and how does it work? Join us as we break down this popular online business model, how it works, and what you need to know to get started.

Main takeaways from this article:

  • Dropshipping can be a great side hustle for aspiring entrepreneurs wanting to make money online.

  • Dropshipping is the art of starting an online business designed to sell products from a third-party supplier. You work as a "middleman" in your free time.

  • Starting a dropshipping business can help you generate extra monthly income without worrying about finding spare room for inventory, product production, or shipping.

  • Combining the dropshipping and print on demand business models may help you make even more money by selling t-shirts, mugs, wall art, or other products featuring your own unique designs.

Is dropshipping a good side hustle?

For the right seller, dropshipping can be an excellent side hustle! Dropshipping had already established itself as a $128.6 billion industry by 2020, and by 2026, it's expected to hit a market value of $476.1 billion.

A dropshipping business works like so:

  • You find a third-party dropshipping supplier whose products you want to sell

  • You market the products in your online store at a higher retail price.

  • When a customer places an order, you pay for the product at its original (lower) price.

  • The third-party dropshipping supplier fulfills the order and ships it to the customer.

  • You get to keep any cash that's left over after paying the supplier.

Using dropshipping to create an online store is a reliable way to generate passive income with minimal startup costs. It also comes with the benefits of flexibility, scalability, and a wide range of products to choose from.

How much money can you make with dropshipping?

You won't have a hard time finding plenty of sites that will assure you that starting a dropshipping business is the overnight solution to becoming a millionaire. Unfortunately, the truth is a little more complicated.

There are drop shippers out there who are pulling in $100,000 a year and plenty of others who are making anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 each month from a dropshipping side hustle. But it's important to know that dropshipping is not a get-rich-quick scheme.

Your success will depend on how much time and energy you're willing to put into creating your own brand, building a target audience, and connecting with the right suppliers. To become a successful drop shipper, you must also draw on valuable skills like marketing, product research, and ad creation.

Before you start selling, you'll also want to crunch the numbers to ensure you don't end up with a low profit margin. The goal is to offer products at prices that will cover any dropshipping fees your supplier may charge and any ecommerce hosting fees, with a little money left over for marketing.

The challenges of dropshipping

Dropshipping presents many possibilities, from aspiring entrepreneurs looking for a full-time online job to smaller sellers looking to earn a passive income. As far as side hustle ideas go, it's a low-risk way to create a business on your own schedule.

But to be successful, it's essential to understand the challenges many dropshipping side hustlers face. These can include things like:

Tough competition

The word is out that you can make good money by dropshipping products, making it an increasingly popular side hustle. You may also encounter competitors willing to accept low-profit margins to keep their prices low.

Just don't fall into the trap of offering low-quality products in an attempt to compete, as there's no better way to destroy your hopes of long-term customer retention. Tactics such as niche selection, which we'll discuss more soon, are far better ways to set your store apart.

Finding the right suppliers

The fact that drop shippers don't have to deal with inventory can be a huge advantage or a significant drawback, depending on your supplier. Remember that if your supplier sends your customers a subpar product, you'll be the one who gets the blame.

This is why it's so important not to cut corners! For example, suppose you use a Shopify integration like DSers to source products from AliExpress. In that case, it's highly recommended you never sell anything you haven't ordered a sample of.

Difficulties in providing customer support

This is another reason that it's essential to be familiar with your products! Before you start a dropshipping side hustle, you'll need to figure out where to send customers who need support.

One option is to hire a virtual assistant, but only once you're making enough money to ensure it won't eat away at your profit margin. In the meantime, setting up email support that you can manage on your own time may be the way to go.

Starting a dropshipping side hustle: Five best practices

Dropshipping can be a very lucrative way to make money online if approached with the right strategies in place. Here's some of our best advice on how to start dropshipping to make extra cash.

1. Choose a niche

choosing niche

Unless you combine dropshipping with the print on demand model, you may likely end up selling the same products as another online business. The key to setting your online store apart is to sell products from a specific niche.

This means that instead of offering a wide array of products, you only sell products from a specific industry or sub-industry. If you're a dog walker, for example, you might choose to sell pet supplies or funny dog t-shirts.

The more specific, the better! The key to making more money often lies in finding high-demand and low-competition niches.

Start with your interests and hobbies when brainstorming for side hustle ideas. Write out a list of niches that interest you, then use tools like social media and Google trends to see what types of products are currently trending.

2. Pick a reputable supplier

This one can't be emphasized enough. To make and maintain a good profit margin, picking the right supplier for your products is vital.

Shopify has a solid list of dropshipping suppliers that can be an excellent place to start. Regardless of which supplier you choose, you should consider the following when choosing which suppliers to go with:

  • Product collection

  • Product quality

  • Shipping and delivery rates, times, and locations

  • Pricing

  • Customization options

  • Customer support

3. Showcase your brand

brand showcasing

As most successful drop shippers will tell you, great marketing is the one thing that can make or break your business. The good news is that even if you don't have any marketing experience, you can pick up new skills without spending a thousand dollars to sign up for a pricey course. 

Look into free ecommerce marketing classes or consider investing some extra money to take a paid course. If you want to stand out, you'll need to create your brand identity and use your logo, color scheme, font, and brand messaging wherever possible.

4. Market your dropshipping business

dropshipping marketing

As you'll learn in any courses you may take, good marketing continues beyond branding! You'll need to find ways to launch your business to high-demand status to make money online.

This can involve utilizing methods such as:

5. Offer exceptional customer service

customer service

While dropshipping is a great side hustle, remember it's also a business! And like any business, your ultimate success or failure will depend on the satisfaction of your customers.

Whether you hire a virtual assistant or handle your own customer service, make sure that this is one area you prioritize. One of the best ways to build customer loyalty and trust is to ensure that your customer service skills are on point.

Combining dropshipping with print on demand

Combining dropshipping and print on demand business models can go a long way toward solving many of the problems presented by dropshipping alone. Print on demand partners offer similar services to other dropshipping suppliers, but with one key difference.

Instead of selling someone else's products entirely, POD services like Gelato offer online retailers the chance to sell their unique designs on various customizable products. When a customer places an order, we take care of everything from product creation to delivery.

The print on demand business model offers the same benefits as a traditional dropshipping side hustle, as you'll only have to purchase products once they are sold. Featuring your custom designs on products is also an excellent way to set yourself apart from the competition and create your unique niche.

1. Choose a print on demand service

Choosing the right partner is just as crucial in the POD business model as in traditional dropshipping. Here are some questions to consider as you research your options.

  • Where is the company based? How many different production and delivery locations do they have?

  • Are there restrictions on where products can be shipped?

  • Does the company offer quality products?

  • Do they provide a comprehensive range of sizes, colors, and material options for products like apparel?

  • How easy is contacting customer service if you or a customer has an issue?

  • What sort of reputation does the company have? Are they committed to things like sustainability?

At Gelato, we've created a print on demand dropshipping system that allows creators to offer their products to customers worldwide. We work with over 130 production partners in 32 countries, allowing you to offer locally produced products to customers worldwide.

Our unique business model also helps reduce delivery speeds, costs, and carbon emissions. We're dedicated to helping your business become smarter, faster, and greener with high-quality products and customer service you can depend on.

2. Select your products

Print on demand services like Gelato supply all the products you need for your dropshipping business. Just send us your custom designs, and we'll print them on any product you select from our catalog.

We offer a wide range of high-demand customizable products, such as:

Unlike some print on demand businesses, we realize that one size doesn't always fit all. That's why we offer products like apparel, wall art, and phone cases in various materials.

3. Design your products

product design

Print on demand side gigs can make selling fun by allowing you to earn money for your creativity. If you are an experienced artist or content creator, then you can create mock-up designs using software like:

When creating your mock-ups, it's best to avoid going overboard with too many different colors, design elements, and fonts. Ensure your designs aren't too cluttered and stick to colors that complement each other and the product's background color well.

No worries if design isn't your strong point! You can always hire a freelance graphic artist to help you bring your ideas to life. Once you've perfected your design, make sure you order samples to ensure you're satisfied with the finished product.

If so, then it's time to use your writing and photography skills to create high-quality photos and descriptions of your products for your online store. Then simply integrate your POD account into your ecommerce platform or website of choice and wait for the extra income to roll in.

Start a dropshipping side hustle with print on demand

Whether you're looking for a side hustle to complement your day job or hope that someday your side hustle will replace your day job, the print on demand business model is a great way to go. While not everyone can afford to invest money in a traditional brick-and-mortar business, the growing demand for high-quality ecommerce products makes it possible to start a business right on your computer.

Ready to start making extra money in your spare time? Find out how Gelato can help you start selling high-quality print on demand products today.


Next steps

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