Mandie and Aubrey’s Shopify dropshipping store made $160,000 in less than a year. What’s more incredible is they built their dropshipping store without spending a dollar on advertising. They have found hobbies that make money, and built clever strategies around them.

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Jessica: Hi everyone, I’m Jessica from Oberlo, and I’m joined today by Aubrey and Mandie. Aubrey and Mandie started dropshipping in February 2018 and they built a $160,000 dropshipping store in less than a year through hobbies that make money

But what’s more incredible is they built that store without spending a single cent on advertising. You have got to hear their story. So stick around.

Aubrey and Mandie, thank you so much for joining us today.

Mandie: Thank you.

Jessica: So, I’m super excited for today’s discussion, because I know you’re going to share the exact numbers you look for when it comes to assessing supplier quality. You’ve got an Amazon screenshot hack that’s just so sneaky and you’ve talked to me before about how you use your competition’s ads to get yourself sales, and no one else is doing that, so I can’t wait to have this conversation. 

Now, you guys are totally unique, we have never talked to merchants who didn’t spend anything on either Facebook ads or Instagram influencers. And I’ve never met any other dropshipper that has your business model, but before we get into talking about your dropshipping store, you guys actually started as wholesalers selling to your friends and family and you turned that hobby into a business. Can you talk a little about hobbies that make money

Finding Hobbies That Make Money

Mandie: So, when we would find an item that we were interested in running a deal on, you could get a better price when you purchase in multiples, that’s no secret, wholesale pricing. So, we would find an item that we and several other of our members wanted, which the group originated as just local friends, family, very small, maybe 20 people, 50 at one point. 

Through the process of being able to offer these products at a lower than retail price, the group continued to grow in popularity until maybe eight months in when we decided to run a giveaway just for fun. We had an extra product on hand and we said, “Every member that you add to the group is an entry for the giveaway prize,” which was just a hair straightener, cost us $15, and we put a retail price of $49.99 on it.

And so, people were so excited by that. We got a couple of thousand members just from that one giveaway, and it cost us $15.

And so, from there our group became so popular that we didn’t really know how to keep up with the number of orders that we were receiving. It was too much for us to do manually, which is how the process had been going up until this point. We would have members fill out just a Google form for the item that they wanted and their personal information, and then they were responsible for sending us payment over Venmo or PayPal.

How Mandie and Aubrey started dropshipping by turning their hobby into a business

But the issue that Aubrey and I were running into was, sometimes we would sell something that was extremely popular, especially after the influx of members to our group, we would get several hundred orders from different people. And it was more than just local at this point. People wanted them shipped across the United States, and it was an astronomical amount of work to go through the Google forms, when the deal closed, to go through the forms and try to cross-match everybody’s form with who had paid or not. 

And I hated that process of having to manually check these simple things that I knew every other online purchase you make, it’s just automated. And so it was frustrating for me and for Aubrey, we both knew we were spending way too much time doing just busywork, basically. 

And so, that’s when I kind of started to look for an alternative to, I guess, the manual side of ecommerce, and wanted to start up just a shopping cart website just really just to give people a platform to check out on that would be automated. That’s when I found Shopify, and the same night, discovered Oberlo. So that solved more than one of our issues. I didn’t realize that there was a solution to the problem of…

Aubrey: Too many orders.

Mandie: Doing the shipping by ourselves. Yeah, and… Yeah. You can’t run a sustainable business if you’re hoping you don’t get more orders because of how much time it takes to process those, so…

Jessica: And I have to say that it’s incredible to hear you say that because you have… You’re kind of the reverse of a lot of merchants we talked to, who started their online store with Shopify and Oberlo before they had any customers, and they were just struggling to make a sale. You actually discovered Shopify and Oberlo because you’d too many customers and found hobbies that make money.

Aubrey: Exactly.

Jessica: Through this kind of homespun system of your Facebook group and Venmo. And I think what’s so incredible about that is that you started with, it sounds like a small group of friends and family who just wanted a better price on items and with that, you started a hobby that made you money.

Starting with friends and family looking for better prices and turning that hobby into a business

Mandie: Right.

Jessica: You knew about AliExpress just ’cause you’re an avid shopper yourself.

Mandie: I am that.

Jessica: And you put the two together before you even knew that “dropshipping” was a word.

Aubrey: We never heard of dropshipping at that point, we were just really just doing it for friends and family, it was fun for ourselves, it was fun for those we were kind of shopping with.

Mandie: It was super low key though, nothing like what it is today.

Aubrey: And it became not low key. And it was taking up all of our time, and we knew there had to be a solution.

If we wanted to sustain what we were growing and keep it growing, we knew there had to be a solution to too many orders.

Jessica: And all of your sales were coming from this kind of deal-based Facebook group that you started among friends and then grew.

Mandie: It was just very grassroots, very organic growth, and still is to this day, just word of mouth. We don’t spend money on advertising because first of all, we don’t know how. Neither of us has a background in business at all. We both work full-time in separate industries, and we’re just kind of figuring it out as we go, teaching ourselves and taking advantage of the resources that we can, that are available to us online. But, we’re just figuring it out as we go kind of.

Jessica: And as you founded this hobby that made money and the group started to get success and you built the store with Shopify and Oberlo, you’ve hit the six-figure numbers you have still without any ads, is that right? 

Aubrey: That’s right. We’ve never in the history of whether it be wholesaling or dropshipping, we’ve never spent a dollar on ads, just…

Mandie: We would know what to do with it if we had an ad spend.

Turning a hobby into a business without spending a single cent on ad
Jessica: That’s incredible. You guys, but I’m going to insist that you stop saying, “We don’t know what we’re doing,” because you clearly know what you’re doing.

Mandie: It’s an intimidating kind of industry though ’cause you get so many ads, like on my personal Facebook I get stuff all the time from successful dropshippers who have made this their entire living, and who went out for it, and they’ve mastered marketing, and they have all of these optimized processes. 

And I felt kind of we just muddled through, and I went out searching for just a platform to post my items too so that I wouldn’t…

I was just kinda being lazy. I was sick of checking payments, and it morphed into what it is today.

But I just, I don’t know, sometimes I think about our competition, I guess, and I feel kind of out of my depth. But we do have numbers that prove we’re doing something right.

Jessica: You’re doing a lot right. And actually I know from the conversations that I’ve had with you guys before we started shooting, that you are doing some things that dropshippers aren’t thinking about yet. And so, I’m really eager for us to start talking about the products, so I can dig some of your really secret cool ecommerce marketing strategies and insights out of you guys about how you found hobbies that make money. So, without further ado, let’s start talking about your product recommendations.

Mandie: Let’s start.

1. Nail Polish

How Mandie and Aubrey turned their hobby into a business with products like this nail polish

Jessica: Okay, so we’ve got… Your first product is nail polish.

Aubrey: Nail polish.

Jessica: Which surprises me because this is something I could get at a drugstore.

Aubrey: Sure.

Jessica: So how is this something that you can successfully dropship? 

Aubrey: The first thing about it is the price point. We can sell it for a lower price than you can get it at most typical beauty supply stores. Even on Amazon, we can source it for a lower price than that. What makes this product so great for us is it is consumable. 

They might order one color, two colors, and then when it comes, they see that it actually works, and it works great. We always get repeat orders. This is one of our most popular repeat-order items.

Jessica: Oh. And this is, I see on the website, AliExpress that we’ve pulled up here, it goes for about $1.91… Like $2, say. So, how do you price this? And this is $2 per bottle. Right? 

Pricing nail polish
Mandie: Right.

Aubrey: Correct, yeah.

Mandie: $3.99, and we can do that because nobody buys one color.

Aubrey: Exactly.

Mandie: Everybody buys four, five, six colors. So, from one order, we’re still getting a decent profit margin.

Aubrey: This is one of our lowest markup items and we make the most at the end of the day off this item.

Jessica: No kidding.

Aubrey: Because nobody, as she said, nobody buys one color of nail polish, especially at this price point.

Mandie: You know women. We like to have our options.

Aubrey: At this price point it’s easy to buy four or five, six colors. And everyone does, and that instantly increases our profit margin while keeping our very competitive price.

Increasing Profit Margins Without Volume Discounts

Jessica: Do you give volume discounts, or? 

Mandie: No.

Jessica: No? 

Mandie: No need.

Jessica: No need? 

Mandie: $3.99 for gel nail polish. You’re not gonna find it for less than $7 in most places.

Aubrey: I think what makes it that we can keep our prices so low and why that’s so important to us is that our group really was started on and still really thrives on the idea of getting a deal.

Jessica: Yeah.

A good price means there's no need for volume discounts

Aubrey: It’s not necessarily that we’re selling the coolest new product or something they’ve never seen before. It’s that we’re selling the things you’re probably buying anyway, for less. That’s really what we push is… You’re getting a deal.

So, if we can sell it for a little bit less than, say, Amazon or the local store, there’s so little work involved that it’s okay that our profit margin is low because we don’t spend on advertising.

Jessica: This is a really beautiful cycle you’ve set up because people join the group and therefore you’ve got basically people that you can directly speak to on Facebook, and they join the group for the deals.

Mandie: Yup. It’s appealing.

Jessica: Yeah. And you can deliver those deals because you don’t have to pay for advertising, and you can keep costs down.

Aubrey: Exactly.

Mandie: I think a lot of that has to do as well with the type of customer that we’ve attracted. So, the demographic statistics for our Facebook group was… It kinda made me laugh because it’s like 94 percent women, 6 percent men. And then the age range is where we both fall in naturally. 

So, I’ve learned that from sales in the past, you tend to sell the most to the people that are in your same demographic, your same age range, and just people that you relate to. And that definitely rings true for us because we just offer US shipping, and so it’s the same cultural values, the same gender, the same age range. So, there’s just a lot that we have in common with our customer base.

Jessica: I know that some people might make up an excuse and say, “It’s just a fluke. Only these girls could start a Facebook group using their local community, and grow up from there.” But we’ve already talked about the fact that this isn’t. This is something that other people can do.

Mandie: Absolutely.

Aubrey: Yeah, I think it’s sustainable. I think everyone has some kind of community that they’re involved in. Whether it be an interest group or your own age demographic. For us, it was friends and family. There’s something that you’re interested in that your friends, family, whatever group you’re part of, they are interested in too. And I think…

Mandie: You can monetize that by being the supplier of whatever they’re already buying.

Aubrey: Yeah.

Jessica: I love nail polish, obviously. But let’s move on to product number two. 

2. Magnetic Lashes

Aubrey and Mandie's second product recommendation is magnetic eyelashes

Jessica: Okay, so the second product on the list is magnetic eyelashes. These look really cool.

Aubrey: Yeah.

Mandie: They look expensive.

Jessica: They look expensive. They look exclusive. But I’m wondering, so when you have a product like magnetic eyelashes, how do you share that with your group? Do you just post a link to your store and that’s it? Or what goes into that? 

Aubrey: This is one that we can really, we sell very, very well and it’s because we both wear them. We’re both wearing them today, we wear them often. And it’s easy for us to jump on in the group, take a really close picture and say, “Look, they’re on me.” 

Mandie actually did a video of herself putting the applicator right up to her eye and clamping it on, showing how easy it was to wear them. I think for an intimidating product like this, showing how wearable they are, has really helped us.

Mandie: Yeah, ’cause… And same for me I try to always document my first impressions with the product when I’m looking at it. If there’s something that’s stopping me from buying it or even something that has me kind of hesitant, I make a note of that. And then when I get the product, I see if it can be worked around or not because you don’t wanna lose that initial organic response that you have to the item itself by the time it arrives to you, and by the time you test it out and post it.

So I try to address concerns that I had upfront, and we get fewer questions that way, and again, just more trust if it looks like the post answers every question that you might have about the item, then it’s more, for me, I’m more likely to purchase it.

Aubrey: The trust with our group, I think is probably the most important. And really, that’s what I attribute the success of our group to. Is that our members know us, whether personally or not, they feel like they know us. We are in our… We use our own personal Facebooks. We’ll go live in the group and do a quick video, and show how things work. And they can see our personalities, and how we interact. I think they feel like they know us on a personal level, and they can trust, and that we’ll stand behind the products we sell.

Aubrey and Mandie turned their hobby into a business by getting personal with their customers
Jessica: That’s a totally different entrepreneurial mindset than what we see from a lot of dropshippers who just feel more comfortable being…

Aubrey: It’s very impersonal.

Hobbies That Make Money: Tapping on Impulses

Jessica: Anonymous. Yeah, yeah. And that model works for some people, but you have really taken your willingness to be warm and build a connection, and you’ve built a six-figure business out of that, which is really cool. So, how do you even get ideas for what products to offer in your group in the first place? 

Mandie: I guess to answer your question simply, I love searching for products on AliExpress. Gosh, I could go down that rabbit hole for two, three hours, and it’s just… I add stuff to all of my different wish lists. We have different categories for things that our group tends to be interested in, like household items, or baby and kid items, apparel. And then…

Aubrey: Beauty is big, we sell across obviously.

Mandie: Yeah, beauty. I love make-up, I love anything beauty and cosmetic related. So, all of these things that I look at and I think, “Oh, that looks like fun, that’s cool.” And we don’t do a lot of high-dollar items. We have a high number of sales in comparison to the dollar amount of revenue because a lot of our products are under $20, and we’re just keeping those small mark-ups. And I think that we can take advantage more of impulse buys and things like that because it’s not a very thoughtful purchase.

Aubrey: I think that deal mentality, that impulsive purchase of, “I’m getting a deal, I’m getting a better price, jump on it then.”

Mandie: “I don’t need it. But it’s on sale. So I’m gonna buy 20.”

Jessica: Your deals, you introduce your deals once a week, and then you time limit them. So you tell people, they only have a limited amount of time to buy? 

Aubrey: Supply and demand.

Mandie: Exactly, yeah.

Aubrey: So we’ll hype our deals on Monday, we’ll go in, we’ll post in the group, “This is what we’re selling this week, these are the items.” Or we might do a poll, “This is what we’re thinking of selling. What are you guys interested in?”

Mandie: If we wanna get feedback, sometimes I’m lazy and I wanna upload everything unless I know that there’s gonna be a good audience for it.

Get impulse purchases with limited time deals as a way to turn your hobby into a business

Aubrey: All the deals open Tuesday morning, and then they run through Sunday night, and then we close all the deals down, through the week we’ll fulfill, as we have time. But that really helps with that idea of exclusivity, that if they don’t buy it before Sunday, it’s gone. When we all know that’s not actually the case. It really helps when we get customers begging, “Can you please run a deal on this Saturday, can you please run a deal?” And then it’s, “Okay we’ll run a deal again.”

Mandie: “Let me talk to my guy, see what I can do for you.”

Aubrey: Yeah. But it really helps, the exclusivity of getting this item for a cheaper price. They know they can go on Amazon and probably buy it, but it’s gonna be twice as much. So, they’re willing to wait for us to run the deal again. 

Also with sourcing products, we have a request thread in the group, and that gets us a lot of ideas, random things that people will… They can jump on, go to the request thread, ask, “This is something I want to buy, can you find it cheaper?” And we get a good amount of suggestions from there and good products and…

Jessica: A lot of dropshippers would… They get feedback from their market via Facebook Ads data. But what’s really interesting about the way you guys are doing business is that you’re getting feedback, qualitative feedback, and even new ideas, direct from your market.

Mandie: Right.

Jessica: Okay. So, before we move to product number three, let’s talk about price. So, this particular set of magnetic lashes goes for, let’s say $2, $3. How much do you sell something like this for? 

Mandie: So this is actually one of our more lucrative items. ‘Cause we can sell those effectively for $19.99.

Jessica: Wow.

Letting your customers request for items as a way to turn your hobby into a business
Aubrey: And when we first started, we actually started with $25… $24.99, and they flew at that price.

Jessica: Really? 

Aubrey: Yeah, the lashes that are comparative on the market, $75…

Mandie: They’re $60.

Aubrey: Yeah, $60. So, it really was a great price. And as competitive lashes would come out, we’ve kind of adjusted pricing, and they sell constantly at $19.99.

Jessica: That is really interesting. So you don’t have a flat cost times three pricing strategy.

Mandie: No, we’re really… We kind of gauge each item like, “Okay, does this still sound like a good deal, and can I make this at least… ” Our bare minimum to where some thing’s still appealing to sell, unless it’s something that has a ton of variants, like the nail polish, and is about $4 for the markup, because you’re gonna lose about a dollar-ish of that in just fees and expenses, even for us, like credit card processing, and if you factor in the percentage of the Oberlo and Shopify monthly payment plans.

But even at that rate, it’s so easy to fulfill an order. And people who almost never buy just one thing, there’s usually… Because we’re running multiple deals in a week, usually everybody that we’re placing an order for has added four or five things to their basket with either buying multiples of something, or just buying a couple of different things that we’re offering. So, we almost never actually profit $3 per sale, but it’s per item.

Aubrey: Yeah, where it usually comes with each deal we run.

Jessica: I see. I’m gonna ask you a question about the competition in a minute, but I think I’ll save that for our next product. 

3. Beard Apron

Selling a beard apron as a potential dropshipping product

Jessica: Okay, girls, I’m wearing what I think is a giant bib. And I don’t know if this is supposed to make me look more beautiful. Or it’s a makeup tool I’ve never used.

Aubrey: And not actually for you at all.

Jessica: No? 

Aubrey: It’s not even for you, it’s for the man in your life. This is definitely one of our emotional impulse-buy items. This one is something that is very simple, it’s very… Just kind of one of those gee-whiz products that maybe you never knew you always needed.

Jessica: It has suction cups.

Aubrey: It has suction cups.

Jessica: What is this? 

Mandie: So a lot going on, lots to unpack here. 

Aubrey: This is a beard apron.

Jessica: A beard apron? 

Aubrey: A beard apron.

Mandie: So, when you’re shaving, or you’re… Sorry, the man in your life is shaving, puts that on and attaches the suction cup to your bathroom mirror, and it catches all of the beard hair that, if you are like me, we’re very sick of cleaning up off of the bathroom vanity tub.

Jessica: I have questions. I’m gonna change out of this. You said that your Facebook group caters 96 percent to women. What are you doing selling a beard shaving capture apron? 

Mandie: A lot of them have husbands.

Aubrey: We would market this, as she said, I think our Facebook group is 6 percent men, so maybe a man sees this in our group and buys it, maybe we sell these to the wives.

Jessica: I see. So you’re still very much selling to your target audience.

Aubrey: Absolutely.

Jessica: You know the broader lifestyle. And then…

Aubrey: She has a husband. He shaves. He bugs her.

Jessica: And it becomes your problem that you have to solve.

Understanding the broader lifestyle of your target audience is a tactic to turn your hobby into a business

The Amazon Screenshot Hack

Aubrey: Exactly, solving a problem. Yeah, I think this is one of these items that it’s very simple, it’s very basic. Truly, when it comes to price on this, you might be able to find this cheaper on Amazon than what we even sell it for. The way we get around that is, when we’re doing our post for the week, we try to price compare for our customers, so they don’t have to. We know they’re going to do it, if we don’t do it, and if they can find it cheaper on Amazon, especially Amazon Prime…

Mandie: We’ll lose the sale.

Aubrey: Every time. So, what we do to get around that.

If we can’t beat Amazon’s price, we might go down a couple of posts or even to the second page of Amazon, and there will be one that is more expensive than us.

If we screenshot that and put it in our post, they won’t go check Amazon. We did it for them. We showed that it’s more expensive.

Mandie: At least somewhere, somebody’s paying more for it than you would if you bought it from us right now.

Jessica: Like this is brilliant. I hope you write this down because no one else has thought of this. You anticipate, “Okay, they’re going to perhaps price check this,” so you search for your own product on Amazon, and then you scroll until you find hopefully Amazon Prime, but an Amazon search result for that product that happens to be more expensive than yours, you screenshot that, include it on your product page

Mandie: It’s totally a mental thing for the customer.

Using Amazon as a hack to boost sales

Jessica: And customers then think, “That must be the best deal I could get on Amazon, I might as well buy it right here.”

Aubrey: Exactly. It plays into that emotional purchase really well. It takes away the need to go find a better deal. And like I said, the entire push of our group is getting a good deal. And if we can take the leg work out of them knowing they have a good deal, we make the sale.

Hobbies That Make Money: Selecting Reliable Suppliers

Jessica: I wanna talk a little bit about suppliers. And the reason I wanna talk about that is you keep talking about how important trust is between you and your group. And I know a lot of dropshippers struggle to find dropshipping suppliers that deliver on time and deliver quality products. So, how do you find suppliers that allow you to keep that trust with your group? 

Aubrey: I think that’s something we’ve learned over time. The quality of your supplier is one of the most important things. We always search for higher than four stars on a product. As far as the store itself…

Mandie: 95 percent.

Aubrey: Yeah. Really high rate.

Mandie: The only time we make an exception to that is if a product has at least 100 reviews with actual comments, and it’s helpful if there are photo reviews on there as well because that just… All of those on AliExpress, all of those things, boost my confidence in an item, and we know that what we’re getting is good.

Aubrey: Yeah. You can find… You can tell who’s an established seller, who knows what they’re doing. If we find a seller that recognizes that we’re dropshipping, that figures out what we’re doing and they’re quick-to-ship, they’re really communicative. 

They can tell what we’re doing, they step up to help us, we’ll actually message them sometimes and say, “Hey, you get the dropshipping, we want to buy this product. Can you source it for us?” They’ll actually create a link in their AliExpress store specifically for us to fulfill with through Oberlo, and we get to work with the supplier we trust.

Reverse engineering the product selection process
Jessica: Wow, so you’ve actually reverse-engineered it, so when you find a supplier you really like, and then you have a product you know you want to sell, you’ll go to the supplier you already like and trust, and say, “Hey can you source this?”

Aubrey: Right.

Mandie: ‘Cause most of them are buying things from the same factory, anyways. And so, it just is a matter of who is shipping for me the best. Because, if I’m gonna take my customer that I’ve worked hard to build a relationship with and trust with, and trust somebody else to fulfill that item for them, it’s really important to us that we trust them almost as much as we trust each other because it’s just critical. Our customers are everything to the business.

Jessica: And once they send you that AliExpress link, it’s as easy as any other product on AliExpress to fulfill with Oberlo? 

Aubrey: Exactly. Just because with Oberlo dropshipping it just clicks right through, fulfills, and it’s done.

Jessica: I wanna take a look at this supplier because you mentioned some good benchmarks that dropshippers can look for when they’re assessing suppliers. So for the product, you like to see…

Mandie: We like to see a percentage for the store itself. So, if you go to the store home…

Jessica: Ah. So up there.

How to look up a supplier rating on AliExpress
Mandie: Or at the top, yeah, you can see they have a 96.9 percent positive feedback, which is excellent. And they have…

Aubrey: They’ve been in business for several years as well. It’s not…

Mandie: And they have a top brand ribbon as well. So those are awesome things to look for. That top brand ribbon, they have to have a combination of good reviews, good products, and have to have been keeping that up for a certain amount of time before AliExpress will award them the top brand ribbon. 

So, if you’re sourcing something from a top-rated store, you can almost always safely assume that it’s gonna be quality. That’s what we try to do most of our business with, is top brand stores.

Jessica: And, should dropshippers be concerned with these ratings? 

Mandie: Absolutely.

Jessica: Yeah, so these are… These are not good?

Mandie: They’re… I mean, out of five, we’re okay with that, 4.7, 4.7, 4.8, those are okay, especially considering the 96.9 overall feedback rating of the store. So, those aren’t bad numbers to me, 4.7.

Aubrey: Yeah I think anything over 4.5 we’re pretty comfortable with.

Mandie: Exactly. 4.5 and up, and we’re happy to work with them.

Jessica: And this… And especially because this particular product has a 4.8, that speaks to this particular product’s quality, I’m guessing? 

Mandie: Yes.

Aubrey: Right, and then down here, you’ve got actual pictures from someone who received the product from the seller. It’s not the seller’s picture, it’s the customer’s picture. We rely pretty heavily on these, you know, when people leave reviews, it’s really helpful to us, to see what they received, to see if it’s what we’re expecting.

Looking through customer reviews on AliExpress
Jessica: Now, as I continue to look here, I see this product has had over 4,000 orders, and one thing a lot of dropshippers want to know is, if a product has a lot of orders, does that mean it’s already saturated and they shouldn’t sell it? Should they be looking for a product with fewer orders? 

Aubrey: I don’t think that has any concern for us at all. I think the way we run our group where we’re running multiple items every week, and really the way you fulfill through Oberlo is so low-risk, that if we put this on our group and we sell five, fantastic. We take it off after a week and we sell something else. And maybe don’t run it again because it wasn’t popular, but…

Mandie: Even if everybody else is selling that product, if you can offer it, and it’s a lower price… I have never in my life seen a high number of orders on AliExpress as a bad thing. It just means that obviously a lot of people want it. And the odds of my customers being among those orders that have already gone out, really slim. There’s enough of a market share for everyone.

Jessica: Okay, so before we move on from this product, how would you price it? This is just under $5.

Mandie: Something to look at with this one is ePacket is actually included. That’s something that’s changed over AliExpress over the past maybe year or so. A lot of items used to be free ePacket, it’s now $2, $3 for ePacket delivery. You have to include that into the cost of your item. This one’s a free ePacket. So, it’s a pretty easy markup for us. I think we sold this one for $8.99.

Jessica: $8.99? 

Aubrey: $8.99. And, again, it’s a low-cost item that a woman sees and will be, “I have beard hair on my… I want that.”

Mandie: I will easily pay $9 to fix that.

Jessica: Yeah.

Aubrey: Yeah, kind of a gimmicky item that solves the problem that you never really thought about.

Jessica: Yeah, incredible. Okay, I want to ask more questions about how you run this Facebook group so that people who might wanna do the same can replicate it. So let’s move on to the fourth product. 

4. Makeup Brushes

Aubrey and Mandie's fourth product recommendation is makeup brushes

Jessica: Your next product is this beautiful set of makeup brushes, which has kind of transfixed me. They are so pretty and fun to play with.

Aubrey: Yeah, they kinda have a unique look. I think something like this, makeup brushes, it’s something you could get at any drug store, any makeup store, or anything else. There’s nothing special about them, they’re not extremely high quality, we can’t sell them as being anything amazing. 

But what really sold me on these, is when we ordered these as the tester, I opened the product… I have an eight-year-old daughter. She went nuts when she saw this. Absolutely lost her mind. And I turned to Mandie, and I said, “This is gonna be a good one.” If she loves it this much, other little girls are gonna love it, too. And that’s kinda…

Mandie: Funny.

Aubrey: And that’s kind of when we put it in the group. I showed my 8-year-old with them, I said, “She loves them, they’ve been great, they’re perfect for her.” And moms jumped on it, bought it for their little girls or for themselves. And the great thing about something like this…

Mandie: Older little girls, also.

Jessica: Yeah.

Aubrey: The great thing about something like this is, where it is an impulse buy, it’s still low cost, and it’s not something you necessarily need quickly. You’re okay waiting three weeks for it.

Mandie: Save it for a random birthday present.

Aubrey: Exactly. We really try to plan to the impulse shopping, the impulse buy, the deal, that you’re okay with it.

Mandie: Get it while it’s available.

Aubrey: Right.

Using their own experience to determine whether a product will sell and turn their hobby into a business

Understanding Your Target Audience’s Life

Jessica: One thing that really impresses me is, when you think about your target market, you think about so many aspects of their life. What their… If a woman’s married, she might have to clean up after her husband, and if a woman has kids, finding ways to entertain the kids. And I think a lot of people think about their market, or they think about their customer in a pretty narrow way, “My customer has trouble preparing food that’s in the bag,” or whatever.

Mandie: Right, they only see the customer as someone who cooks food for one part of their day. And you really limit yourself on options for products. But again, because we fit so well into our own demographic, we can see ways that all these different products are popular for us, and just in all of these different areas of our lives. ‘Cause…

Aubrey: We are our customer. And if we like it, there’s a good chance it’s gonna sell.

Mandie: Plus it’s so much easier to sell a product that you really do use regularly and love. So, like magnetic eyelashes, I can’t say enough good things about them, genuinely, sincerely, because I love them. I wear them every day.

Aubrey: It’s pretty rare that we will sell a product without having ordered it, used it, tested ourselves. Like I mentioned, we take pictures, we’ll jump on and do live videos. It all helps build that trust, which is so important in our group.

Mandie: Credibility is everything.

Jessica: Now, I know from previous discussions there are a few things you post on your Facebook group that are really interesting in order to keep the group alive, and also get new product ideas. So, let’s move on to the final product, and I’ll talk about that with you next. 

5. Jade Face Roller

Aubrey and Mandie recommend selling this jade stone roller

Jessica: Okay, so this is our fifth dropshipping product, and what does this do? 

Mandie: So, it’s a real jade stone roller, and that’s kind of what we capitalize on, is that it’s real jade. And I don’t know, I kind of envision that as being expensive. But we can sell those for pretty low, like $9.99. They cost us about $2.50 with ePacket. And then we’re retailing it for under 10 bucks and screenshotting, and Amazon listing for that exact same jade roller for $24.99. Who’s not gonna buy a couple of those just to keep around as gifts? 

So, what the purpose behind that is, is jade and all stone is just naturally cool. And so that’s good for… There is like a… If you don’t mind… There’s a bigger side for rubbing on your cheeks and your forehead. If you put creamer or serum on, this helps to blend it in without getting your hands on it. ‘Cause hand oils are not good for your facial skin. 

And then there’s a smaller side for underneath your eyes. It’s supposed to reduce puffiness, and so it’s just a fun little product to make… I like it because it makes me feel fancier. And it’s just fun, so it makes me feel more like I’m doing something cool with my routine.

Aubrey: This is something that we can really beat almost any competitor, easily. They sell for kind of a lot and…

Mandie: ‘Cause it looks like a luxury product, it looks… We really like to shoot for things that look super nice, and I’m sometimes shocked at the cost that we’re even paying for it because you can so easily market it as something a lot more valuable, I guess.

Using Your Competitor’s Video to Your Advantage

Jessica: I’ve seen a lot of other dropshippers advertise this on Facebook. How do you compete when you’re browsing Facebook and you see other dropshippers already advertising this? 

Mandie: I actually love that. When I see a dropshipping store being marketed to me, it’s like a gold mine. Because once you’ve been doing this for long enough, you can pick out a dropshipping store from a mile away. 

There are just all these tell-tale things that you recognize because your store is the same way. So when I see an advertisement for a product that I know I could get on AliExpress, I immediately bookmark it onto my Facebook page, I go back to my saved links, check it out. 

And I will share this nicely put-together video that someone has created, that shows off all the details of this product, and post it in my group, and say “Hi, what do you guys think of this?” And if they go through to the website that I’m sharing it from, even better, because they’re gonna see the price that that person’s selling it for. I will make sure that I undercut it significantly, and everyone is happy, especially me because I don’t know how to make product videos.

Using your competitors' videos to your advantage

Jessica: So, I have to just rewind. So, you actually take… You see a competitor’s ad that you think your Facebook group would like…

Mandie: Yeah because if it looks interesting to me.

Jessica: Yeah, that makes sense. You share it, you just share the site that it’s on and everything.

Aubrey: We do share it right to the group.

Mandie: I just share the ad right to the group.

Jessica: You basically show your group your competition.

Mandie: Exactly.

Aubrey: I love my competition. They’re always so overpriced.

Jessica: Yeah, and then so then your whole trick is then you can see if people respond, you just upload it to your store, and it’s the next week’s deal for cheaper.

Mandie: Because they’re having to sell it for that price to make up for their ads spend.

Jessica: Right.

Mandie: I’m not. So, I take advantage of that.

Aubrey: And I think that goes back to, they don’t have to price shop ’cause we just did it for them. We can show immediately, we’re cheaper, and they’re ready to go.

Jessica: That’s incredible, I love that hack so much. I just think it’s so brilliant. But do people get turned off by your group because you’re always sharing ads for your own products or even ads for other products? 

Mandie: I wish we were always sharing. But I mean we’re both moms, we’re both full-time employees. And this is not our only responsibility, so no, we’re not always sharing things.

Turning your hobby into a business requires balancing a full-time job, an ecommerce store, and family

Hobbies That Make Money: Fostering a Facebook Community

Aubrey: I think one thing that helps…

Mandie: The traffic.

Aubrey: Yeah, what helps the traffic, is we really try to engage with our customers. We all know, or anyone who runs a Facebook group knows that Facebook changes its algorithms, and you can have a lot of traffic and a lot of interaction…

Mandie: Activity on the page.

Aubrey: And then suddenly, you’re not sharing anyone’s feed anymore. And we were noticing that randomly, without warning, we would have our customers say, “I never saw this deal, I never… This didn’t ever pop up. I guess I didn’t check the group, but these never came up on our feed.” 

And one of the things we researched was that the more true engagement you have in your group, the more it’s gonna be seen in their feed because Facebook will view that as relevant.

Mandie: Oh yeah, “They want to go, they want to see this.”

Jessica: So, comments and likes.

Aubrey: Exactly. And we do get a lot of comments when we post deals, people ask questions, things like that. But we wanted to make sure we were having more conversations.

Mandie: Just elevate that level too.

Aubrey: Yeah, so we will often, once a week, on Fridays usually, but just kind of when we have time, we’ll post an engagement post, really stupid questions of, “Do you prefer grape jelly or strawberry jelly in your peanut butter sandwich?”

Jessica: That has nothing to do with makeup.

Aubrey: Nothing.

Mandie: We don’t care, honestly 

Aubrey: Nothing to do with anything.

Mandie: It fosters the feeling of community. So, we’ll put, “Describe your… Name your favorite movie in the comments with a GIF.” There are tons of these stupid little posts running we’ve never had to think of our own. Even, I think the dumbest one we saw was, “What time is it when you’re posting this?”

Get your community chatting on your Facebook page
Aubrey: Truly, hundreds of comments. One, I think our most interactive engagement post, and this, it really exploded was, “Name something in your purse you have that you think no one else has,” which is kind of silly, but again, we have a group of mostly women, most of them have purses, we all have weird things. Not only did we get comments, but we also got comments to comments of, “I have that too, I can’t believe you have that.”

Mandie: Pictures. Lots of pictures.

Aubrey: It was…

Mandie: Everybody was having so much fun. Social networking with each other.

Aubrey: And anything like that is gonna boost seeing our products in their feed when we run a deal.

Jessica: I was gonna say…

Mandie: It is just fun.

Jessica: These are fun questions but at the end of the day, they help more eyeballs get on to your product.

Aubrey: Exactly.

Mandie: Yeah.

Have a Passion for What You Sell

Jessica: Mandie and Aubrey, you guys are doing things differently from any other dropshipper I’ve talked to, and it’s working. Before I let you go, what is one piece of advice that you would give a new dropshipper? 

Aubrey: I think it’s important to really have a passion for what you’re selling.

I think we may be a little bit different than the average everyday dropshipper in that we are moms with busy jobs and lives, and we don’t have all day to devote to this.

We don’t have all day long to sit on a computer and do all this research. We’ve picked what we know, we picked what we love, and we can be passionate about it.

Mandie: ‘Cause we work really hard all day and we don’t wanna have another side hustle that feels as draining as work. So by picking products that we already organically cared about and had an interest in, it’s made it so this doesn’t feel like work, it feels like a hobby, and we have a good time doing it together and so we’ve started hobbies that make money.

Aubrey: And we make money online.

Jessica: Boy, do you make money.

Aubrey: Who doesn’t like that.

Jessica: Well, thank you so much for being with us. If you have questions for Mandie and Aubrey, leave them in the comments below, and they’ll get back to you with their thoughts. And until next time, learn often…

Aubrey: Market better.

Mandie: And sell more.

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