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How To REALLY Start A Dropshipping Business With No Money (Guide for 2021)


If you’re broke and want to start an online business, you’ve probably asked how to start a dropshipping business with no money. Is it even possible or just another exercise in futility?

I’ve some good news and bad news. Yes, it’s possible to get started dropshipping with little to no money. However, it will take a lot of time and following the below tips if you genuinely want to succeed.

Is It Really Possible To Start A Dropshipping Business With No Money?

The short answer to this question is yes, it is possible. However, a more accurate answer would be kind of. 

Assuming you have no money at all, not a single dime to spend on starting your dropshipping business, there are things you could do. You would need to have a computer or borrow one and use someone’s internet or find public internet. 

There are free platforms that you can sell your products on and places that you can source products from for free. It’s also possible that you can set up a website initially on a free plan and then upgrade using the money from your first few sales.

If any of the above isn’t true, either you don’t have access to a computer regularly or stable internet, then, unfortunately, you will not be able to start a dropshipping business for free. You will need to rent or invest in a computer and find stable internet.

What Do You Need To Start A Dropshipping Business With No Money?

As noted above, the bare minimum that you will need is a working computer with access to the internet on at least a regular basis. In this case, regular will mean a few times a week but preferably daily.

You will also need to allocate at least fifteen to twenty hours each week to working on your store. To make an online business work, you need two of three things:

Since we assume that you don’t have capital, you need to invest a lot of time and labor. 

Because you cannot outsource work, you will need to wear many hats when first starting. Realistically, you will need a bit of internet and marketing knowledge or the time to invest in learning. Fortunately, the internet is full of free information to help you sharpen these skills. 

What Skills Do You Need To Start A Dropshipping Business With No Money?

It takes many different specialized skills to make a website work. That’s even more true for an eCommerce website. The most critical areas to focus on will be the following:

Sales Focused Copywriting Skills

I’ve seen poorly built websites hosted on $3 web hosting making tens of thousands of dollars each week. Most of these were single landing pages pitching a course or eBook. Why?

Because the sales copy was so precise and well crafted, the offer was so good that nothing else mattered. If you can only develop one skill while working on your dropshipping store, make it sales copywriting.

Content Marketing Skills and Search Engine Optimization

The difference between copywriting and content writing is as follows:

  • Content writing is focused on being informative and educational. Typically, content writing is long-form but not always. While content can help sell a product, it isn’t the focus.
  • Copywriting is typically always sales and marketing-focused. The purpose is to get the reader to perform a specific action such as filling out a form, purchasing a product, etc. While usually shorter, long-form copywriting has its place when crafting sales landing pages, email copy, and similar text.

While copywriting will help you sell your products when people arrive on your website or listing, content writing will help bring them there. 

You can use content to gain traction in search engine rankings. When searching for something, people will find your pages, click on the result, and land on your website. This is called content marketing through search engine optimization. 

Basic Data Analysis Skills

You are unlikely to get your messaging and branding right the first time. To improve your message to convert more sales, you need data.

Companies spend billions each year on data acquisition. It’s the lifeblood of any online business. However, it won’t mean anything if you can’t interpret it.

You can use a free solution like Google Analytics and focus on key metrics to get started. You will also want to pay attention to Google Search Console to see how visible your website is.

Basic Conversion Focused Web Design Skills

Amazon is an outstanding example of a website that does not look great but makes tons of money. Over $200 billion, to be exact.

Good design has more to do with how well it converts than how beautiful your website is when it comes to eCommerce

Yes, you want a good-looking website that inspires trust. However, you should spend more time learning to improve the conversion rate through conversion-focused design and less time on colors, fonts, and other aesthetic aspects.

Basic Graphic Design Skills

Graphic design can be a bit complex. Thankfully, there are free tools that you can use to make creating aesthetically pleasing graphics much more effortless.

You will want to learn a bit about graphic design to make sure that your dropshipping product photos and the overall look of your website inspire trust. Things don’t need to be perfect, but they must pass the skim test.

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

Customer Support Skills

Finally, you will be interacting with customers regularly. People will have questions about products or concerns about ordering through your site. You will get some returns or requests for refunds. 

A professional attitude and solid customer support skills will not only keep people happy but increase the likelihood they leave you a good review. 

How Do You Start Dropshipping?

There are a few different ways that you can get started with dropshipping. This process will revolve around getting started for no cost at all.

Find A Profitable Niche To Work In

The first thing you want to do is find a profitable niche. Remember, you aren’t going to get rich quickly doing this. Likely, you won’t even start making good money for the first year.

So, pick a niche that you can stick to over the long term, and not just one that you think will make a lot of money. If you get fed up or bored and quit after a few months, you will have wasted a lot of time and effort. 

The best niches for dropshipping are those with many potential products that are lightweight and won’t break easily.

Potentially Good Niches For Dropshipping:

  • Fishing
  • Painting
  • Golf
  • Gardening

Potentially of Bad Niches For Dropshipping:

  • Video Games (high failure rate)
  • Furniture (costly to ship)
  • Videography/Photography (expensive and breakable)

You need to think about other factors such as competition and traffic potential before selecting a niche. Take your time and research this to increase your odds of success.

Source Products Within Your Niche

You need to find products to dropship. The easy way will be to go over to AliExpress, Banggod, or a similar website.

However, you want to do everything within your control to stack the odds of success in your favor. Try and find local manufacturers for the niche you operate in. The products are of higher quality and shipping times less, leading to higher customer satisfaction.

The best way to find local products is using Google search operators. These special commands allow you to filter results or more narrowly define your searches through Google.

An example would be allintext: golf dropship or allintext: fishing dropship. There are 42 search operators in total. The “allintext” operator will pull up web pages with all of the terms you are searching for somewhere in the text. 

Use this to find manufacturers or wholesalers and contact them to set up a dropshipping agreement. 

Pick A Platform To Sell On

You will need to find a platform to sell on. It may be tempting just to go the Amazon or eBay route due to both being free and easy to sell on. However, you will have better luck long-term starting with your own website.

At this point, if you can spare around $3 each month for hosting, you will be much better off. There are free hosting websites out there. I tried one of them called Infinity Free and managed to come out with this very basic website:

Screenshot of Infinity Free created website.

It was overly complicated to get started, there is no support, uptime is not a promise, and security is questionable at best.

Instead, I highly encourage you to start with the lowest tier plan on a hosting provider like Bluehost. You will get a free domain for the first year, and the hosting will be decent enough to get started until you can move to something better.

Screenshot of Bluehost.com homepage.

Your goal is to get set up and get your first few sales coming in. Once you have consistent sales, you can scale up to a better hosting provider.

Or another great option is to get a true store all set up with Shopify, which is probably the most common platform that dropshippers use.

Set Up Your Store

Assuming you followed the advice and used Bluehost or a similar service, you should set up a WordPress store. Your hosting provider will help you to install WordPress. This will give you the ability to customize things completely.

Use WooCommerce to get started. This is a free eCommerce platform for WordPress. You will be able to host all of your pictures, take payments, and run every aspect of your store using this software.

Make sure that you have ways to take payments. Two of the best methods, when first getting started, are through PayPal and Stripe. 

Or you can also avoid getting your own hosting or worrying about WordPress, by getting set up on Shopify that handles everything.

Add Products And Write Unique Descriptions

Once you have all of the basics of your store and WooCommerce set up, you will need to add products. You can use a free service such as Canva to add backgrounds and filters. Try and touch up the photos that the manufacturer sent to you if you can.

Make sure you use unique product descriptions. Under no circumstances should you ever just copy the product description from the dropshipping supplier. You can copy over the product features, but that should be a few bullet points at the most.

Your product descriptions should sell the benefit of using the product. Always focus on what problems a product will help solve. This can include providing convenience, alleviating boredom, making things easier, etc. 

People don’t just buy things for the sake of spending money. They buy products that will fill a hole or solve a problem in their lives. Do your homework on who your target audience and potential customer base are. Figure out their problems and how your products solve them and make that the primary message. 

Invest Your Time In Marketing

Finally, after everything is set up, put the peddle to the floor with marketing. People cannot come to a store they know nothing about.

Don’t just spam social media and forums, either. Take the time to develop a marketing plan by learning where your target audience hangs out online and what they are looking for. Develop content in line with these results and go hard at scaling that content.

Create a content schedule for both social media and articles for your website. If you can get through the first year, you should be making enough money to begin outsourcing much of the work.

Tips For Growing Your Dropshipping Store With No Money

Aside from a lot of time and work, there are a few other tips that you can implement to improve your odds of creating a successful dropshipping store with no money.

Focus On Strong Branding

It cannot be stated enough that a strong brand will help you beat out the competition. Many new drop sellers will try and take products from AliExpress and list them on eBay or Amazon. The issue here is that there might be dozens of sellers with the same product.

You want to do as much as possible to differentiate yourself from these sellers. Especially in a way that makes your store and your products seem more expensive, of higher quality, and better overall.

To do this, you need to build a strong brand. 

Provide Top-Notch Customer Service

Customer service is free to provide, only costing you time. You cannot compete in many areas with dropshippers with money, but customer service is one of them.

As much as you can, try and go the extra mile when responding to emails, helping people better understand your products, and adding a personal touch wherever you can. 

Even though you may be selling the same products as other dropshippers, they will keep coming back if people feel special when they shop through your online store.

Create Strong Relationships With A Reliable Supplier

Just as you want to provide excellent customer service, you also want to create good relationships with your dropship supplier. This goes for suppliers all around the world. 

The better you know and communicate with a dropshipping supplier, the less likely you will have issues with product shipping, inventory running out, or difficulty with returns. All of this means that you will have fewer issues and less stress running your online store over time. 

What Are The Pros Of Dropshipping If You Don’t Have Startup Money?

There are quite a few pros to dropshipping aside from the fact that you can get started for free or with the most minimal of investments. Some of the top benefits include:

Easy To Get Started

Dropshipping isn’t difficult to get started. While you will be spending a lot of time and energy to get going, none of this is particularly challenging. 

As long as you are patient and willing to learn a basic level of some new skills, you shouldn’t have any problems getting started. If you find yourself getting stuck, there are tons of guides and videos that can help you push forward towards the results you are after. 

The main area that you may struggle with initially is building your website. Just stay patient and remember that thousands of the most successful online entrepreneurs started in the same place as you.

No Need For Inventory

With dropshipping, you don’t ever have to carry inventory. This means you can avoid the associated costs such as warehousing, maintenance, and product loss. You also don’t have to worry about insurance or hiring employees.

This all contributes to you getting started for free using the dropshipping business model. The only time you may want to carry inventory is when you receive returns. Instead of shipping the item back, keep it to mail to the next person.

Location Independence

Along with not having to keep inventory is the fact that you don’t have to be based out of any one place. As long as you have stable internet and a computer, you are good to go. 

If you are starting a dropshipping business with no money, this gives you the flexibility of using public spaces such as libraries. You can work from friends’ houses if they will let you or, once you start making money, from a hotel on the road. 

Easier To Scale

The final benefit to a successful dropshipping business model, especially if you have no money to start, is that you can more easily scale. Once the foundation has been laid, you will find that scaling becomes a lot easier. 

In the beginning, you will have to put in manual effort to scale. However, as you get more traffic in, you can use tools like email marketing to keep your website growing. 

What Are The Cons Of Dropshipping If You Don’t Have Startup Money?

Dropshipping without having money has a few significant downsides that shouldn’t be overlooked when getting started.

You Need To Invest A Lot Of Time Into Marketing

Since you are operating without money for advertising, you won’t have the luxury of getting your word out quickly. Instead, you are going to need to hustle the hard way.

This means content marketing, social media, and community posting such as Reddit. All of this takes extraordinary amounts of time to do correctly.

It Takes You Much Longer To Turn A Reasonable Profit

The fastest way to get started with dropshipping is through paid advertising. All of the other marketing methods, such as content and social media, take time.

Not just time to do the work, but also to see the results. A reasonable estimate is at least six months before you start seeing any consistent results. However, it can be as much as a year or more before you see a reasonable profit that you can work with.

Competition Will Be Fierce

Anything free or easy to get started will attract a lot of people. Dropshipping is no different. However, where you will beat them is through consistency and hard work.

Most new online businesses fail after the first year. Not because they were terrible or destined for failure, but because the owner gave up. Usually, right before the results they wanted started to appear. Patience and consistency will help you move past your competition. 

What Are Alternatives To A Dropshipping Business Model If You Have Little Money

Dropshipping isn’t the only business you can start without money, and it certainly isn’t the best. 

Affiliate Marketing

If you plan on starting a dropshipping business with no money, you may look into affiliate marketing instead

You will run into the same problems with having to pay for hosting, but you won’t have to worry about finding a dropshipping supplier and managing customers when first starting. 

Selling Digital Products

Digital products are free to make if you have no money to pay for professionals. You will need to put a bit of time and effort into perfecting your offering, but you can get it done with free tools such as Canva.

If you know about a topic that can help others, creating digital products such as eBooks or courses can be a great way to make money online.

Selling Services Online

Lastly, if you have a skill such as content writing, copywriting, graphic design, or anything else that can be done online, you can sell your services. Tons of websites hire freelancers, and getting started won’t cost you anything. 

This can be a great way to earn extra money for dropshipping or other online businesses.

Common Questions About How To Start A Dropshipping Business With No Money

To help you even further learn how to start a dropshipping business with no money, here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions on the subject.

Is Dropshipping Profitable?

Dropshipping is highly profitable for consistent online store owners who put the work in. If you don’t have a lot of money to start your online dropshipping store, you will need to substitute with a lot of time and labor instead. 

How Long Does It Take To Start Making Money Dropshipping?

It can take as little as a few hours to start making money on dropshipping for exports. If you are just getting started, though, you should plan on at least six months to begin seeing results. You need to overcome a high learning curve before seeing consistent sales.

Can You Start A Dropshipping Store With $0?

You can start a dropshipping store with $0. However, you should plan at the very least to spend about $3 per month on hosting if you want to succeed. It is possible to dropship on Amazon or eBay for free, but competition is greater. Creating your own store will improve your chances of success.

How Much Do Beginner Dropshippers Make?

Beginner dropshippers tend to make tens to hundreds of dollars for the first six months to a year. Having prior marketing experience or skills in web design or copywriting can help improve your earnings by cutting down on learning time.

Final Verdict: Can You Start A Dropshipping Store With No Money?

Yes, you can start a dropshipping business with no money. However, you should plan at the very least to spend money on hosting if you want to do things right. While it is possible to start completely free, you will be fighting an extreme uphill battle to succeed.

Assuming that you are committed to success and consistently dedicate the time and labor to your dropshipping store, you will see results. Remember that it will take time and effort to compensate for the lack of money starting out. 

Want more in-depth dropship training? Check out our Dropship Lifestyle review.

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