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First Sale

5 Ways to Make Your First Dropshipping Sale

Matt Ellis

While other ecommerce businesses have to deal with things like shipping logistics and inventory storage, dropshippers only worry about one thing: making the sale. And no sale is harder than your first. 

Of all the home business opportunities online, dropshipping relies the most on marketing and outreach. That’s the trade-off for not handling storage and shipping. If you’re new to dropshipping or otherwise struggling to build a customer base from scratch, here are 5 techniques to help you make your first dropshipping sale. 

1. Build a social media community

Social media can be your best friend when setting up an ecommerce business — it’s more trusted than advertisements, it facilitates finding your target customer group and, the icing on the cake, it’s free. (Social media ads cost money, but we discuss them below.) If you’ve just started an online store and don’t have much money for advertising, social media is perfect. 

Here’s some tips on how to develop an online community: 

  • Post regularly, and at times of the highest traffic, which is different for each platform. It’s hard to cultivate loyalty when you post erratically and at unpredictable times. 
  • Follow the 70-20-10 rule: 70% of your content should be entertaining and about your brand’s theme or niche, 20% should be shared content from other related brands or your followers, and 10% should be self-promotional, i.e., new product releases. 
  • Use the same hashtags as your target customers. There’s a lot of variation in hashtags like plurality or alternate spellings, so double-check which are the most popular in your field. 
  • Participate in trends and challenges. These topics are intrinsically high traffic, at least for a period of time, so tap into that publicity. 
  • Stick to one or two themes related to your niche. If you dropship tents and camping equipment from Triangulum, for example, you should post about camping, hiking and outdoors topics to attract people who are interested in those things. 

Camping equipment products for dropshipping on Spocket
Camping equipment products for dropshipping on Spocket

Remember that each platform works differently, and with different user groups. Snapchat marketing techniques wouldn’t work on older Facebook users, so approach each social media channel with its own strategy. To see what we mean, check out our guide to selling on Pinterest, one of the top recommended platforms for dropshippers. 

2. PPC advertisements

Setting up an ecommerce business requires pinching every penny. If you do have some cash to spare for advertising, PPC (Pay Per Click) ads deliver more for your money because you only pay when people actually click on them. 

Search engine PPC ads like Google Ads work well for a few key reasons:

  • You can target certain keywords relevant to your products.
  • People who use specific product search terms are usually ready to buy. 
  • You can lead searchers directly to the product page of the item you want to sell. 

The most important factor in the success of your PPC ads are which keywords you use. If there’s too much competition, you’ll have to pay more for every click to stay in the running. 

Rather than get bogged down in a bidding war, it’s better to target keywords that are less popular, but still produce an adequate amount of traffic. In particular, you’ll have greater success using what’s called “long-tail keywords”: longer, more detailed search phrases. 

Pet products for dropshipping on Spocket
Pet products for dropshipping on Spocket

For example, if you’re dropshipping pet products from Grey Milo, vague keywords like “dog toys” or “dog collars” are far too competitive. Try narrowing down the search terms, like “blue bow-tie dog collar” or “pink harness for small dogs.” 

3. Advertise on social media

The other efficient way to spend your advertising money is social media ads. Practically every social media platform offers paid advertisements, and if you know which ones your target customers use, you can avoid wasting money on advertising to people who don’t care. 

The first step is knowing which platforms are popular for which user groups. For example, Facebook is popular for older users, Instagram for Millennials, and Snapchat for Generation Z. Depending on whom your ideal customer is, you’ll want to spend more on different platforms. 

Then there’s the advertising strategies for each platform. Some social media sites let you feature multiple products with carousel ads, others let you use video, and some you can run both simultaneously. 

Facebook mobile ad for Dollar Shave Club
Facebook mobile ad for Dollar Shave Club


We don’t have time to get into all the specifics here, but you can read this Hootsuite guide for more thorough advice on social media advertising.

4. Offer a promotion 

One of the oldest sales tactics in the book is also one of the most effective. Offer a promotion like coupon codes, vouchers or sales to incentivize sales. 

This is a favorite for brick-and-mortar retailers — the “Grand Opening Sale” — but it works just as well online too. If you’re planning the launch of your store, or you recently opened and are struggling to make a foothold, promotions are a great way to entice new people to shop. Who can refuse a great deal! 

Example of an ecommerce coupon code or voucher
Example of an ecommerce coupon code or voucher


What kind of promotion depends on your brand and what you can afford, but some common ones are:

  • Coupon codes/vouchers. Shoppers love a coupon code or voucher because it makes them feel special, so try making them exclusive to enhance the effect. They work great with email newsletters as a reward for signing up, but if you don’t have an email following yet, you can offer them in exchange for follows on social media or through a limited advertisement. 
  • 2-for-1. Although these work best for unloading unwanted inventory (which dropshippers don’t need to worry about), 2-for-1s also attract bargain hunters, who can help keep your store afloat while you build a more stable customer base. 
  • Discounts and sales. A classic strategy for drumming up business, sales are doubly effective when they’re for a limited time only. Try using a real-time, ticking countdown in your online ads and website; this adds a sense of urgency that tends to boost sales. 

Promotions work great with all the other techniques listed above, too. What better way to spread the word about your promotion than social media or a paid advertisement? In order for your promotion to be effective, you have to consider outreach. At the very least, you can always send a message to your email subscribers. 

5. Team up with an influencer

Influencers — online personalities who give their followers advice on what to buy — are more powerful than ever before. It seems the more competing products and brands that pop up, the more the general public trusts influencers to help them sift through everything. 

This makes influencer marketing ideal for getting your name out there. If you can partner with an influencer, even before you launch, you can access an entire pool of people you wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise. Even more impressive, the influencer gives your brand a vote of confidence, which cuts through any doubts their followers have. 

Social media influencer marketing
Social media influencer marketing


Some influencers offer set prices for exposure, but most of them prefer to pick-and-choose what they advocate. Here’s a reliable step-by-step approach to contact a influencer:

  1. Follow them on social media. Review their posts to make sure they’re a good match for your brand. 
  2. Like, repost and comment on their content. Influencers pay attention to people that help them, and your goal at this stage is to get noticed. 
  3. Check to see if they mention their preferred method for receiving press material. Usually, influencers prefer email, so send them a message about what products you offer and ask them if they’d accept a free sample. 
  4. Send a free sample to the influencer. If your product’s as good as you say, they’ll want to promote it in their feed. 

The thing to remember about influencers is they’re business-people just like you. Their job is is to advise their followers, so they’re always looking out for new products to introduce to their “customers.” 

If you’d like more advice on communicating with influencers, read our in-depth guide on influencer marketing now.


No matter how good your marketing and outreach is, it won’t work if your product line is lacking. In a way, step one in making your first dropshipping sale is to sell something worth buying. 

Dropshippers have to take great care when choosing where to source their products; you’re not just picking a supplier, you’re picking a business partner who handles the shipping and storage side of your business. 

Spocket saves you time by organizing products by shipping location and carefully vetting suppliers so you’re sure you’re partnering with a legitimate company. As the dropshipping seller, all you have to do is browse our selection for products in your category and shipping area, and then add them to your store. We even give you a recommended sales price so you can better plan your budget. And we do all this for free! 

See what we can add to your online store! Sign up for Spocket now.

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Matt Ellis

I graduated from New York University in 2005 with a degree in creative writing. I got my start writing for print journalism and copy editing for companies like Viacom, The Princeton Review, and Radar Online (then OK! Magazine).

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