When I think of dropshipping, I often think of people buying cheap products off of Aliexpress and dropshipping from there. However, that is not at all the case with the guests on my podcast today.
Joe and Mike Brusca from BuildAssetsOnline.com have built a solid business ($30k/mth net profit) by dropshipping high quality products manufactured by companies based in the United States.
During this interview, you will hear exactly how they go about picking a niche, finding products, and then how they use paid traffic primarily to profitably sell their products.
However, there is much more to the interview than that. Joe and Mike truly take a portfolio approach to their business and often use the profits they use from one business venture to build or grow another business venture.
So, as part of their portfolio, they have Kindle books, niche affiliate sites, and then, of course, their ecommerce stores.
If you are interested in getting more detailed step by step training on how to start a dropshipping business following Mike and Joe’s strategies, they have a full training course right here.
Here’s a few of the highlights from the episode:
- How Joe’s first online venture was doing retail arbitrage on Amazon.
- Mike first got started selling Kindle ebooks.
- Kindle and Amazon FBA took a hit and then they discovered Dropshipping.
- The importance of finding real brands in the US and becoming a dealer with them.
- Focus on higher end products selling for $1k to $10k per unit.
- Sold one eCommerce store in 2018 for $133k
- How Joe and Mike take a portfolio approach to their business.
- Dropshipping earns around $30k per month profit.
- Kindle publishing around $5k per month
- Niche Sites around 2 or $3k per month.
- Focusing on higher end products allows for more margin and ad spend to drive traffic.
- How to find a US based manufacturer
- How to pick a niche for dropshipping
- How you can quickly pick a niche and test it without wasting months before finding out it was a bad decision.
- How orders are fulfilled
- How and why to use Google Adwords to drive traffic
- Why they don’t use Facebook to advertise their products.
- How to use Google product listing ads effectively to drive sales
Overall, there are a lot more details in the full interview. So, I recommend that you listen in and enjoy what Joe and Mike have to share.
If you are interested in getting started with Dropshipping, you can check out their Instant eCommerce Training right here.Get Joe and Mike’s Dropshipping Training Here
Update: During the episode, Joe and Mike discussed that they were in the process of selling one of their stores. That happened! They sold it for $80k. This was the first store they had ever built and was one of their smaller sites. Going forward they plan to focus on 1 or 2 of their larger sites and growing those.
Spencer: Hey, everyone. It’s Spencer Haws here from nichepursuits.com. Welcome to another episode of the Niche Pursuits Podcast. Today, I’ve got an interview with Joe and Mike from buildassetsonline.com. That is their personal brand, their blog, where they talk about the businesses that they’ve started, that ranges from niche sites, Kindle ebooks, and most importantly, dropshipping and ecommerce. That’s really where their biggest business is. That’s where we’re going to spend most of our time during this interview talking about.
I do think it’s important as well just to mention they take a portfolio approach, which we’ll dive into during this interview just a little bit, where they take some of the money that they’re making from their dropshipping and ecommerce businesses. They start to invest in other online assets like Kindle ebooks and niche websites that are a little bit more passive in other areas and so that they’re well-diversified. We jump into these specific reasons why they do that.
I do have to warn you that through this interview, you may get really excited about starting a dropshipping business. I know that as I was conducting the interview, I was trying to tell myself, “I know I’m an entrepreneur, but I’ve got too much going on already.” But boy, if I have a little bit of extra time, these guys really make it sound like the dropshipping business is alive and well. In fact, their ecommerce businesses are doing $30,000 a month in net profit. That’s after all their paid traffic advertising, any other fees, with the pay-the-manufacturers for the product, et cetera. Their bottom line is $30,000 a month. They definitely know what they’re doing.
During this podcast episode, you’re going to hear how you should go about picking a niche, what type of product you should be selling. Joe and Mike focus exclusively on higher-end products that sell for $1000 up to $10,000 for one individual unit. They source all of their products directly here in the United States. This is something that’s a little bit different. They aren’t outselling products that are on AliExpress that maybe are the cheap drop ship products that you made have in your mind if you listen to other people. These are high quality products that they source within the United States. They are drop ships, they are not manufacturing anything. It’s a really interesting business model.
They are using paid traffic, Google AdWords, primarily to drive all the traffic to their sites. They’re able to start relatively quickly once they find a product that they can be selling and dropshipping. They’ve made relationships with manufacturers. They can get their Shopify site up. They can start sending paid traffic to that site and hopefully start profiting in as little as two weeks.
There’s a lot of details in question that we dive into throughout this interview. Overall, I hope that you find the detail shared here very interesting. Joe and Mike also do offer some training on their website where you can join their course and get the step-by-step video instructions on how to build your first ecommerce store. If you go to the link, nichepursuits.com/instantecommerce, you can see the course that they’re offering there.
Either way, I hope you enjoy this interview. There’s a lot of value here that you can take away whether or not you decide to start a dropshipping business. Thanks a lot.
Hey, Joe and Mike. Welcome to the Niche Pursuits Podcast.
Mike: Hey, Spencer.
Joe: Hey, Spencer.
Spencer: Great to have you guys. I’m really excited to have you on the podcast. Your website buildassetsonline.com is where you’re talking about a whole host of things. We’re going to dive into exactly what your business is and what you’re doing.
It’s interesting both the way that we connected and our first attempt in doing this podcast. We actually connected through Jon Dykstra who is on the Niche Pursuits Podcast recently. He mentioned you guys. “Hey, if you want to connect with some other interesting entrepreneurs, you should reach out to Joe and Mike. They’re doing some really cool things there.” What’s the connection that you guys have with Jon Dykstra?
Joe: Jon doesn’t do this anymore, but he used to have a coaching program. As you’ll learn later, what we like to do on our business is we grow ecommerce stores quickly. With an ecommerce store you can sell and we use the cash flow from that to reinvest into more passive businesses like the niche sites and some other things that you’re familiar with.
I just reached out to Jon for some help on one of our niche sites. He taught me a lot of stuff and he’s actually the one that recommended that, because we were doing pretty well with the ecommerce stuff that we make our own more personal blog as well as the course that we made. He’s the one that I guess the reason why we’re on the podcast today because we wouldn’t even have our own personal side or […] if he didn’t recommend it to us.
Spencer: Very cool. Jon’s a good guy. Good for him for encouraging you to build your website, your personal brand, and do those sorts of things. I mentioned briefly that we sort of struggled on my end to do this podcast initially, so thanks for coming back a couple of days later. I had some microphone issues. Luckily, I’ve got those resolved and we’re all on the call here today.
Let’s go ahead and jump into your background here briefly and then we’ll talk about your existing business here in a second. Can you guys give me your brief background business work experience previous to building online businesses?
Joe: Yeah. I’ll start and then, I’ll pass it to Mike. I’m a little bit older. When I’ve got out of college, I went into the usual workforce. I actually started doing retail arbitrage with Amazon FBA. That was my very first online business where I’d go to the clearance sections at Walmart, scan prices with my phone, and then resell it on Amazon.
Spencer: Yeah, definitely.
Joe: It’s a pretty good business model. You don’t really learn a lot of online marketing doing it. You learn a little bit about Amazon. You can scale it into a pretty good income which I did, which allowed me to quit my job. I was doing that for a little bit.
Then, fast forward a little while, Mike wanted to quit his job, too, once he started working. I was afraid of getting my Amazon account suspended because I know you’re not allowed to have two accounts. I told him like, “Hey, you better do something else.”
Mike can tell you a little bit about how he got started with Kindle Publishing, then how we both did Kindle Publishing, and how that transitioned us to the ecommerce stores.
Mike: I was really just looking for a different business model to focus on. Like Joe said, he was working on retail arbitrage and I come across a few people talking about Kindle Publishing just on YouTube. I reached out to one of them. They were offering a coaching course and I went through that in November of 2015. Then maybe three or four months later, I actually was able to quit my job. That Kindle income, it was a different time back then. Much like how you talked about Google before, a lot of the big algorithm updates, it was kind of like that.
One day, as I was about to quit my job—I’ve already sent in my notice—our Kindle businesses came crashing down. We had to figure out another way to start making money. We stumbled on the dropshipping idea. That was really what we had at that time and we had nothing but time so we put all our effort into it. After about two weeks, we went from having nothing to making our first sale.
To clarify, the dropshipping and the ecommerce stuff that we do focus on high-ticket expensive items that are sold in the US. A lot of times, when people think about dropshipping, they’re thinking about items between $10-$50 that are in China, you’re getting it on AliExpress, and you’re doing Facebook ads. We don’t do any of that. We find real brands in the USA and we become dealers for them. We use Google ads to simply drive traffic to our website and we make sales like that.
That was in March of 2016. That year, we made, I think, three other sites. We made a total of six and they’ve all been successful. We sold one for $133,000 in January 2018. We’re actually in the process of selling that first store that we’ve made in two weeks. By the time this podcasts comes out, that should be finalized.
I've been selling products on Amazon since 2014.
Want to know the research tool I've been using since I've started (and still use today)? Get my latest tips and how to guide for using this tool.See the Full Jungle Scout Review
Spencer: Okay, very cool. If it does get finalized by the time we publish this podcast, maybe in the show notes, we can provide some more details. I’ll stay in touch with you guys before this goes live.
Very cool. Interesting to hear your background. Joe, you got started doing retail arbitrage and Mike, you got start doing Kindle Publishing, and have shifted now into more dropshipping and ecommerce. Can you give us a sense of your business overall right now? Kind of your entire portfolio? How much are you still involve in Kindle, in Amazon, in ecommerce, and in niche sites? Kind of discuss your entire portfolio, if you will. Just everything you’re involved with.
Mike: Yeah. I think each business model has its own set of drawbacks as well as things that it works really well for. We really tried to expand and learn a lot of things. We do this full time, we’re really hungry for knowledge, and we want to essentially diversify. We have five ecommerce websites, we have over five niche websites, and we do still have a Kindle Publishing business that we provide after everything changed. I think it’s over 10 separate domains as well as the Kindle Publishing site. Joe, if you want to get more into that.
Joe: Yeah, but right now, the dropshipping stores are the primary earners that Kindle Publishing, not too far behind. On the niche sites, like you mentioned in your Warren Buffett podcast, we’re really focused on reinvesting and scaling those. We reinvest everything that they make back into the business, to try and grow them and get some big cash outs.
We’re also working on merging everything in a way. We’re working on a niche site that ties into one of our ecommerce stores. We have a niche site that ties into our Kindle Publishing business as well. That’s the direction we’re moving and that was when we started getting into niche sites.
Two years ago, that was our big vision which we’re starting to put together. We need to learn how to do this because when we do ecommerce, it’s all paid traffic. You could do a lot with paid traffic. The sites might mention that we sold, those were all paid traffic, no organic. AdWords is like Google in a way where you can design things that are evergreen. Evergreen campaigns because it’s not like Facebook were the campaigns die and you got to make new ad copy all the time.
Our future vision is to synchronize everything and create big exits where we have a blog side of the business, then an ecommerce side of the business, and really just trying to take over an industry that way.
Spencer: That was kind of my next question which you sort of answered but I’ll go ahead and ask it here anyway. Why do you have such a diverse business—you’ve got Kindle, you’ve got ecommerce—rather than just focusing on one thing that’s really working?
Joe: When Mike mentioned we got our Kindle accounts suspended the same day he gave notice to quit his his job, That’s what started the ball rolling on that. I guess we got in our mindset of diversifying. When you do that, you really have to be careful to reign in the shiny object syndrome and make sure you are, at least if you start a project, that you see it through the profitability, and don’t give up. I guess that’s the reason why.
Also, we knew at the beginning that everything work together. You’ve been doing niche sites for a while. These things take time to learn. AdWords takes time to learn. The optimizing fee, your ecommerce for conversion takes time to learn. While in the beginning, we knew they were related. It’s just everything takes time. We’re selling off some source now, we’re unloading a lot of our assets, and focusing more on less things, if that makes sense.
Spencer: That makes a lot of sense. It’s the fear of getting penalized or shut down that maybe was the impetus for you to diversify a lot. I can related with that a lot. Throughout the years, I’ve had Google penalties. I’ve had my Google AdSense account shut down. Other things that have happened in my business. As an entrepreneur, there’s that fear. Maybe that’s partly why entrepreneurs tend to do multiple things, multiple projects, at once. It’s a double edged sword. Like you said, sometimes, if you’re just able to focus on one thing, you might be able to scale at much larger than you would’ve if you had four or five things at once.
It’s an interesting topic, interesting thing that you guys are working through right now as well. To give people a sense of how well your businesses are doing, can you share us something that will help us understand either the income or traffic members? If you just want to share your largest business or whatever. Give people a sense of how well your sites are doing.
Mike: Our dropshipping sites, every month usually brings over $30,000 profit. Recently, our Kindle Publishing business has been scaling up probably around $5000 profit within the last month or two. That stuff moves quickly so that should be increasing even more. This site, I’ll let Joe talk about that.
Joe: Yeah. The niche sites are bringing around $2000–$3000, between ads and affiliate income and whatnot. Like I said, we’re reinvesting that after a year of trying to learn how Google works. We’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and everything’s going quickly with the niche site especially with the way we’re able to reinvest because of the income from the ecommerce stores.
I just want to tie that back, Spencer, to something you said. We’re talking about it being a double edged sword, focusing on a lot of things. What we recommend to people who are completely new to online business is that you should be getting started with a business that can bring you cash flow immediately. You need money to reinvest and scale, if you don’t have cash flow, then, you can’t really do that. Which is why we recommend doing the ecommerce stuff first which provides the quickest return on your time and on your investment by far. Then, we recommend going to Kindle Publishing because it’s kind of like Amazon private labelling like with FBA except you have a limited inventory because it’s digital products. You don’t have to spend a massive amount. Then, that’s when we go into the niche sites after that because they provide a slowest return but the most passive and probably the biggest multiples in terms of selling. That’s how we recommend the structure of things.
Spencer: That makes a lot of sense. First of all, congrats. $30,000 a month in profit is huge for your ecommerce businesses. To clarify, that is a profit number. After all your ads spent, inventory, everything, right? That’s your bottomline.
Mike: Yeah. We have a site that we actually split the earnings with someone else. That’s also after our cut.
Spencer: Very good. You guys are doing quite well. I want to dive into some of those numbers and how you got there specifically. For the majority of the rest of the call, I think we’ll focus on the dropshipping ecommerce business and talk about some tactical things. First, can you just give us a high level strategy that you follow to build out your site? Just the general model that you follow there.
Mike: As I touched on earlier, we like to work with brands that are in the US already, that are currently selling to people. Most people, either in their business or in their home have some of the items that we sell. From a higher level, what we do is, a lot of people in the high-ticket industry like to focus down on one particular, smaller product subsection, say, like kayaks. They would just make a site completely dedicated to selling kayaks. What we found was that this was actually pigeonholing our business because you don’t really know exactly what products are going to work. Much like when you have a niche site, you publish a page. It’s hard to tell which one is exactly going to take off.
We brought in our sites a little bit and focused on a few different product sites. That way, we contact brands, we say, “This is who we are. We’re looking to sell your products.” A lot more companies, than you may think, are doing dropshipping. Dropshipping is a method of fulfillment. When you’re selling large items, it’s pretty much standard. We just become a part of their wholesale program. We list our products and we drive Google Ads to them. We have ways of segmenting and targeting so we can get in front of a customer right when they’re searching for that product and when they’re hot ready to buy.
Spencer: You’re using Shopify as your platform?
Mike: Yes, we are.
Spencer: Okay, very interesting. Let’s talk about two things. One is, why are you going after high-ticket items? What’s wrong with going after the $50 or $100 items?
Mike: The high-ticket items simply just give you more room to work with in terms of margin. There’s actually not much difference when it comes to selling a $50 item versus a $500 item. People will still buy it. They don’t need to […] or contact you to buy it. It takes the same amount of effort for 10 times the money. You don’t have to be a professional at driving traffic in order to make that work because there’s so much wiggle room whereas if you’re selling a $50 item, you better know what you’re doing because at $50, how much is going to be your actual margin? You’re lucky it’ll be $25.
From there, you have to pay for traffic. If you’re good at that, maybe you make $10 at the end of that process. To make a good amount of money, you have to sell thousands and thousands of items whereas we can make a thousands dollars off one sale profit.
Joe: What we’ve noticed with the low-ticket sellers that are really good at what they do, they’re not focused on making money right away. They’re focused on building the customer base, getting the email address, and making their money on the back-end, which is very investment-heavy and time-heavy. We just like to get paid upfront, get paid as much as we can, and really get the lifetime customer value up from that first sale rather than waiting a year or two for people to order more stuff.
Spencer: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, for sure. Let’s talk about how you’re sourcing products. You said you’re finding US-based manufacturers and you hinted that you’re just reaching out to these manufacturers. Dive into that a little bit. How do find the manufacturer? How do you know if they’re a good one? What’s the process?
Mike: In our course, that’s actually a common question that people have is, “How do I know if this supplier’s going to work?” How do I know if they’re going to be good?” The answer is really you don’t know until you start, until you get their price list, until you start selling their products, and until you see how the market responds. Joe, you want to talk about that a little bit?
Joe: You could spend all day looking at the Google AdWords, what’s being advertised, and whatnot, but we don’t really do that. What we like to do is, say we’re going to go after a specific industry like kayaks, Mike mentioned before. Not that we do kayaks but if I was going to go after kayaks, I would just find every brand that sells kayaks within the price range that we want to sell, spend half a day calling them all up, correspond via email. Only a handful of those are going to accept you because they could just be too busy for whatever reason. We’ll go back and get suppliers that didn’t accept us at first. We’ll go back and get those later as the site grows, as the business grows, we get a little bit more clout in the industry. That happened to us a few times.
Basically, it doesn’t cost anything to pickup the phone and call a supplier. It takes all of like five minutes. Even if there’s 20 or 30 suppliers in an industry, you just knock that out in an afternoon, see what you get with the price list, throw them up on the website, and also because Google gives you a free coupon for AdWords once you spend a certain amount. You start on a new domain, you should be profitable within your first sale after you get a handful of suppliers.
Spencer: Maybe let’s go back one step. How do you pick your niche, then? How do you decide that you want to go into kayaks? There’s a million of products you could be selling. How do you narrow down what are some good options?
Mike: The thing is, we’ve seen so many people who were successful doing this in so many different industries. We’ve had success in so many different industries. We have not had one store fail. To answer the question directly, if you go on wayfair.com, they’re a purely dropshipping site. Maybe they do some of their own importing now, but back in the day, Wayfair was all dropshipping. Hayneedle, HOUZE, those are good places to start.
What I like to say is, find a product that you can think of in 15 minutes in an hour. You want to dive deep and you can just scroll through any of these websites. Eventually, you’ll come across a certain product type that you say, “Okay, this is an expensive item. I’m not too familiar with this,” or, “I didn’t really know it existed in this type of form.”
I’ll give an example. Say, baby products. If you’re going to Wayfair and you look at all the different baby products, you’ll see that there’s different reclining chairs, there’s different types of cribs that are really unique. You can essentially just follow that down the rabbit hole and see what types of things are out there that may not have a lot of competition. Just from brainstorming, you can have a huge list of different products in the baby category that are expensive that you can then contact suppliers to find and sell. It’s just a matter of just picking a general industry, finding all the different product types in it, and just seeing what works.
Want To Build Smart & Relevant Internal Links...Quickly?
Link Whisper is a revolutionary tool that makes internal linking much faster, easier, and more effective. It makes it simple to boost your site’s authority in the eyes of Google. You can use Link Whisper to:
- Bring out your orphaned content that isn’t ranking
- Create smart, relevant, and fast internal links
- Simple yet effective internal links reporting: what has lots of links and what pages need more links?
Joe: If you don’t mind me interjecting this, Spencer, I think I have a good way to help your audience understand this. When you’re making a niche site, there’s a lot of competitive analysis that goes on. If you pick the wrong thing and there’s too much competition, you’re not going to know until—if it’s a brand new domain—you get out of the sandbox. Six to eight months later and you realize your site is not ranking as well as it should be.
But with this, it’s a lot more straightforward. A lot of our students actually get hung up on this step. We always give them the same answer. You don’t have to get hung up on picking a niche or an industry. Like Mike said back to the baby products for a second, there are so many different subcategories of baby products and pivoting, like I’ve mentioned, because calling suppliers costs nothing, but it keeps our sites kind of broad so that pivoting doesn’t cost anything.
If you call 30 suppliers and they don’t sell, that took you an afternoon. This is worst case scenario, maybe you’ve spent your first $100 on AdWords and you don’t make a sale. You spend another afternoon doing the same thing. Then, you make your sale and you get all your money back. There isn’t much downside here because pivoting is far easier than a niche site, if that makes sense.
Spencer: It makes a lot of sense.
Mike: And I talked about trying to find something unique but we’ve had success and I’ve seen always have success selling really the most generic things that you could think of, whether it comes down to kitchen items or bathroom items or different types of outdoor stuff. You’d really be surprised how easy it is to actually make sales on these things. Again, if you’re contacting a lot of suppliers and you’re bound to get in with one where you can just slip in and just start taking some of that market share.
When it comes down to Google Ads, our strategy there is once we figured out what works, we could start dominating the market share for that entire brand. We’ve done that in some pretty big industries. In one particular brand, we’re one of the top five dealers for a pretty big product in the US.
Spencer: Okay. I’m definitely going to want to talk about your paid traffic strategies here in a second. Maybe a more beginner question curiosity because I don’t actually know the answer. I’ve never really drop shipped and I’m sure many of the listeners don’t know exactly how this works. Walk me through the logistics of somebody orders on Shopify. How does that order get sent to the manufacturer? Is it a manual process? Do you have a plugin that automatically plugins into their systems so that they get the order and ship it? What’s that process like?
Mike: You’ll get an email from Shopify that someone placed an order. We do send the order in manually. It’s just a quick email to the supplier that says, “Hey. Ship this out to this customer.” The customer orders, you get paid for it. Then, we pay the supplier and then the item’s sent out. We put in a tracking. That’s really it. We outsource our customer service at this point. For a couple of years, I did it all myself. It’s not a terrible gig especially if by yourself. It’s can be a quite high-paying customer service job.
Spencer: Okay. It’s a little bit manual but not too bad. It sounds like you’re shooting off an email basically and then that order get fulfilled. Not too bad. Like you said, you could hire somebody to basically do all of that for you anyway.
Mike: Which is what we recommend. It’s good to see exactly what the process is. The way that these businesses run, they do require a little bit of manual work than say, a niche site. There’s pros and cons to everything even though it requires more manual work. There’s only one way to make over $1000 in one particular moment. That’s sort of with some manual communication. Everything has their drawbacks and everything has its pros. I think, this has a lot more pros than cons especially when you’re getting started out and you want a real business that you can sell and actually start generating money from within two weeks or even a month or two.
Spencer: Let’s dive into your traffic strategies for your sites. You’ve mentioned paid traffic quite a bit. It sounds like that’s your primary driver, but before we dive in to that, are there any other places you’re getting traffic? Is there any organic traffic or anything else outside of paid traffic?
Joe: Well, when we made our ecommerce stores, the bulk of them, we didn’t make them with SEO in mind. Over the years, they do start getting a little bit of organic traffic even though they’re not optimized. I guess just because they’ve aged enough, Google seeing traffic from emails, from AdWords. They’re recognized as the site. We never built any links or anything like that. Mostly paid traffic for sure then retargeting. We’ll retarget on Facebook, throughout the web. Mike handles the advertising so I don’t know the exact term for it. We’ll retarget them the same way you see ads on a website that you go on and on social media like I’ve mentioned. It’s basically AdWords and retargeting. It’s the bulk of it.
Spencer: Is all the initial paid traffic from Google AdWords or are there any other ad platforms that you’re using?
Mike: Just Google AdWords.
Joe: There’s a very specific reason for that.
Spencer: What’s the reason?
Joe: I’m sure you know well it’s the buyer intent. People searching for a product they’re ready to buy.
Spencer: That goes down to your strategies as well. I see advertisers all over Facebook. I’ll let you answer. Clarify why is Facebook not a good platform for what you’re doing.
Joe: If someone’s going to buy a thousand dollar item, it’s most likely going to be something that they’ve been thinking about for a while. You’ve spent some time researching it, they’re still researching it. It’s hard to convert. I don’t know if you would consider them cold traffic because they’re already looking for it, but you’re not going to convert cold traffic on Facebook to buy a kayak for no reason. It’s just not something they’re seeking out.
We want to sell stuff to people that are seeking it out because otherwise they’re not going to spend a couple thousand dollars with us. Facebook is more direct action marketing. What we focus on is query-based marketing, if that makes sense.
Spencer: That makes 100% sense. People go to Facebook, they’re looking at pictures of their friends. They want to see what their buddy is up to. When you go to Facebook, you’re not, “Oh, I want to go buy something. Let’s go to Facebook.” You’re just not in that mode. What you’re saying, people go to Google specifically to go, “What’s the best price in XYZ kayak?” or “Where can I buy XYZ kayak?” They’re in the mode of, “I want to buy this kayak. I’m going to do some research. I’m going to Google.” That’s when your ad show up and they go buy it from you.
Mike: If I can expand about that, it’s really about the lowest hanging fruit. People that advertise on Facebook typically, at least to people that are making it work, they have their own product that they need to generate awareness for. In ecommerce, when you buy stuff, there’s a certain sales site that you have to go through, becoming aware that a product exists, you research it, then you narrow down your choices, and then you buy.
When people are ready to buy, they’re going to Google. They’re typing in the brand. They’re typing in the product. Whatever comes up, whatever has the best price, whoever’s just in front of them, that’s what they’re going to click on. If the website looks nice, then, they’re likely to buy. Why not just start right there? Right when people are ready to buy? And then, you go from there.
I’m looking at a GE air-conditioning unit in front of me. You don’t see people trying to sell a GE air-conditioning on Facebook. If you search on Google for GE air-conditioning unit, I’m sure there’ll be a bunch of results. They know if someone’s searching for that. They’re very hot and ready to make a purchase.
Spencer: It makes perfect sense. They’re further along in that funnel. They’re ready to make a buying decision so if you can swoop in right there and get that low hanging fruit as you called it, that’s most likely where you’re going to make the sale.
Can you talk about some of your Google AdWords strategies in terms of whatever you’re willing to reveal here of share. What kind of terms should you be bidding on. What’s the secret sauce of paid traffic here?
Mike: To clarify, Google Ads that we like to focus on in the beginning are Google product listing ads. That’s when you go and you type in, ‘electric bicycle,’ then you see the pictures of the bikes with the prices. Those people are paying to be there and they’re paying for a click just like a regular Facebook ad or a search ad. That’s where you can start out. Generally, clicks are a lot cheaper. You can easily generate conversions from there.
Google product listing ads do not let you pick the keywords you want to show up for. They determine it based on your descriptions. They determine it based on your product titles. If you know what you’re doing, you can actually, inside the Google platform, segment and target certain keyword identifiers.
To make that more clear, think of a brand of an electric bike. I’ll say Hopper. That’s a bike brand. There is a way in Google to make sure that you only showup and you only bid a certain amount if people are directly searching for Hopper electric bike. That keyword is going to be more valuable than someone just searching for electric bike.
Mike: That’s what we do. We segment our product listing ads so that, again, we want the lowest hanging fruit. If someone’s searching for a brand name, if someone’s searching for an item number even, even better. If they know the item number, they’re very aware of the product and they’re very interested in it. That’s most likely going to lead to a purchase.
There are different ways in Google shopping, in Google product listing ads, to do that. We can spend a lot of time discussing those more advanced strategies, but also, we do regular Google search ads. When you type in something on Google, usually the first two or three positions are paid. Once we figure out what keywords actually bring us sales, then, we go in and we do search advertisement for those keywords. That’s really it. We’ve scaled four stores to over six figures in revenue with just those strategies.
Spencer: Product listing ads, when people are clicking on your ads and the data shows up in Google, does it show you what search queries you’re showing up for? Is that part of the data that Google shares with you?
Mike: Yes, they show you that. You can’t just see exactly what you’re going to show up for or target one particular thing, specifically. Google what you’re eligible for, much like when you create an article. You can target what you want to show up for, but you’ll also rank for other things. It works the same way.
Spencer: Okay, that makes sense. Maybe you can provide some more detail there but if you’re creating a product listing ad, I assume the way you structure your title, or your description, or the URL maybe, whatever you’re able to manipulate there will help you specify if you’re going to show up for that exact brand or that exact product number. Are you able to share exactly what it is that you’re doing in those?
The second part of that is, once you see these product listing ads are doing well, I can see that I’m making sales for these particular sales terms. Let’s doubledown on these search terms that are working well and so some actual search ads.
Mike: Exactly. We actually don’t get too deep into really customizing our descriptions and all that stuff to show specifically because at that point we don’t really know what we’re going to be showing up for and what’s going to work. Majority of the time, the supplier will already have description for you based on their own website or whatever they give you in their dealer packets. We usually just take that. We’ll do some minimal changes to it. We’ll make it look nice.
As far as the title, obviously, we want to have the brand name, we want to have the product type, you want to have the item number. That’s really it. If you see one thing working and you want to try and make sure that’s in the title, then you could go ahead and do that. It’s really not something we focused on too much. We just put it up, we see what happens, and we go from there.
Spencer: Okay. Then, make adjustments as you need. People click on your Google ads. Hopefully, they buy but a lot of people, of course, don’t buy the first time. You mentioned that you are doing some retargeting. Maybe you can just talk a little bit about retargeting that you’re doing.
Mike: Yeah. You can retarget someone on Facebook. You’ll see that a lot of times. If you’re looking at a product online, you can go on Facebook and you can see that exact product you were looking at. Are you familiar with what I am talking about?
Mike: There’s different apps that can do that for you. You can do it yourself but that’s one way we retarget. We also retarget through the Google display network. When you talk to Jon about display ads, that’s our products that’s other advertisers that are on the display network that are getting clicks. Beyond that, you can actually retarget with product listing ads and with search ads. This is slightly more advanced.
Say, someone searches GE air-conditioner. They go on the site and then they don’t buy. At that point, they’re a part of your pixel. They’re a part of your retarget audience. You can set-up your Google ads so that if someone who was already then on your site, again, searches for a product that you sell, then, you can customize how you bid there so you can show up even higher. Someone searching GE air-conditioner, they’re more likely to buy than someone who searches air-conditioner. If someone’s already been on your site before and they’re searching for brand that you have, that’s an even hotter opportunity. Does that makes sense?
Mike: That’s also a way to retarget. We get into all these strategies more in depth in our course. Again, this is advanced stuff. It does work but it does take some application and there’s a lot of nuance to it.
Spencer: There’s a learning curve there for sure.
Mike: Yeah. Again, the learning curve is there but in order to have success, you really don’t need to have a lot of knowledge. If you know how to make basic Google ads and just do the basic campaign structures that we teach on the course, I maybe had 10% of the knowledge that I do now, back when we were having success in the beginning. So much room for error in terms of the margins with the products. It really allows you to see that early success which is very important. Then, you can grow your knowledge from there while you’re getting cash flow.
If you get a niche site off the ground, it takes six months of just waiting and not seeing any return really. At least, you can develop a foundation, you can start generating money, and whatever you want to do from there, you can do.
Spencer: What about any type of onsite strategies? Is there anything special that you’re doing there or are just picking a, call it a good Shopify theme, and just working with that? I’m just curious if there’s any specific tips or tricks for how your site is laid out?
Joe: We have a few little tweaks that we do. At this point, we can just take a theme, copy the theme, put it on a new store, change some of the colors, the logos, everything. We do that. The main thing that you want to do is you want to appear like a legit business because you are a legitimate business. I think, online businesses moving more and more in that direction where if you want to be successful, you actually have to be like a legitimate store. We like to have everything that a legitimate store would have in the right places. People want to contact us. They can contact us if they want to know more about their shipments. They can learn more about the hours. They can call us and whatnot.
That’s really it. You just want to give people a sense of trust and then deliver on that trust. Stuff like live chat is pretty standard now with ecommerce. Even non-ecommerce sites will have a live chat. Stuff like that.
Spencer: That makes a lot of sense. I’m sure there’s a lot that we can dive in to here but I’ll kind of give you guys a chance to just let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to share that’s working really well right now for you with your ecommerce, your dropshipping business. Either that’s working really well or just sort of a common question or tip that you’d like to share with our listeners here.
Joe: I think, Spencer, we’d touched on this a little bit before. Having worked with a bunch of students now, it seems like people always get caught up on the same thing. This is going to sound cliché but in this business model it really applies. You don’t want to spend too much time analyzing before you start calling suppliers. You just want to pick an industry, setup your website, make it look pretty good, and start calling right away. Get the ball rolling. You’re going to learn a lot more in the business than thinking about it.
Worst case scenario, you set up your store. Say, you pick the worst industry possible. You buy a new domain name, you point the Shopify store to a different domain name, you change the logo, you tweak the colors a little bit. Within half a day, you have a fresh start. With ecommerce, at least the way that we do it, you’re very, very flexible so don’t be afraid to get started and give it a try. I think even with everything we’ve talked about in this call, someone could probably go do it, honestly.
Spencer: Yeah. Just jump in, right? Stop reading every blog post ever written about dropshipping or even listening to every podcast. Just go out and start trying it. Take some action and learn from your mistakes.
Joe: Yeah, exactly. You have very little to lose with this.
Spencer: Yeah. Finally, you’ve mentioned a couple of times that you do have a course you teach. How can people access that course? Where should they go?
Joe: You just go to buildassetsonline.com. In the top bar or right on the home page, you can check out our ecommerce course. It’s […] ecommerce course. Then, there’s the free course as well in the top which says Free Course. The ecommerce course is everything you need step-by-step to get off the ground and be profitable in as little as two weeks if you put the work in.
The free course, we talk a little bit about dropshipping but it’s a lot about, the Online Asset Playbook. It’s our overall online portfolio strategy and how it all fits together with dropshipping as the foundation. Once you go to our site, you’ll see a few of our blog posts and you can also find us on YouTube. I have to get the YouTube URL for you.
Spencer: Yeah, we can put that in the show notes afterwards.
Mike: Just to clarify, our dropshipping course is How to Get Started Best, but it’s also tailored to actually creating a store that can do over six figures in revenue. I don’t know to many other people who do dropshipping that actually had four or more stores that have hit the six figure mark. In the course, we actually break down every single strategy that we use to get there and nothing else.
A lot of times, people, they talk about this frivolous strategies like different ways of doing stuff on Facebook, even YouTube ads, or what have you, but the strategies that you need to get to six figures are really simple. I’ve actually glossed over pretty much all of them. It’s all in there. We just try to cut out the fluff because it’s a very direct path.
Spencer: Okay, that sounds great. People can go to buildassetsonline.com if they just want to just follow along or if they want to join that free course and learn more about the paid course as well. They can do that. Of course, you’ve mentioned that you’re in the process of selling one of your sites. Hopefully, by the time we get this podcast out and do the show notes, you’ll have some more information to share with us on that as well.
Overall, Joe and Mike, I appreciate you coming on the Niche Pursuits Podcast. It’s really been a pleasure.
Joe: Thank you, Spencer.
Mike: Thank you, Spencer.
Spencer: Alright. Thanks a lot, guys. Appreciate it.