On our most recent episode of 9 to NEVER, the podcast by Zendrop, we interviewed Florian Hartfelder.
Florian is an eCommerce expert who was able to go from debt to over $444,000/month with his dropshipping business. He is the online entrepreneur behind several multimillion-dollar retail brands and has helped many students generate self-sustaining full-time incomes online with the dropshipping business model he teaches.
He is a former Zendrop Select client turned Zendrop team member, bringing so much knowledge to the current state of the dropshipping industry and how you can succeed through using Zendrop!
This episode discusses Florian’s view on dropshipping courses (are they worth it?), the single advertising strategy that got him to 7 figures a year in revenue, his experience working with Zendrop, and what he thinks the future of dropshipping will look like. And of course, he answers the age-old question: Is dropshipping dead?
You can listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, watch it via Youtube below, or read the transcription of the interview in this blog post.
How about you give our listeners a little bit of background on who you are, how you got to where you are today, and just the whole elevator pitch of what you’ve been doing with your career?
So did the typical route… try to get good grades, went to college, studied accounting and finance. And about halfway through, I realized that I was just learning a bunch of theories and nothing that I was learning would really make me money. It was essentially, to make other people money. And the whole reason why I got a degree in both accounting and finance was because I wanted to learn how money worked so that I could make more money for myself.
During my junior year, I started initially day trading stocks, penny stocks, returned 131% my first year, and then got ran an ad by Alex Becker. I’m sure most people listening to this know who that is, but yeah, anyway, got started in Shopify dropshipping. I thought it would be a part-time gig but realized that just like any business, it’s going to take time and effort in building a functional team.
What was your experience dropshipping when you first started out?
So at first it was brutal, lost my entire net worth all the way down to $17.34. And I had one product that was winning. Some days it was profitable, some days it wasn’t. It was really wishy-washy. So pretty much just paused all my ads, hit my second or third reboot, and learn some more Facebook strategies. Then I took out probably the biggest gamble of my life.
I started using a new method on Facebook ads that I’d never tried before. The starting budget was $500 a day. So thank God for credit cards. I pushed myself basically into debt, but the strategy worked. Within three months, I was pulling off the dealership lot with a brand new Audi i8. So I’ve been through it. I know that it’s tough, but I also know that if you actually treat it like a business dropshipping is not dead, it’s definitely still a viable way to make a full-time income.
When did you discover dropshipping, and what made you decide to just try it out and go for it?
I opened up my LLC in February, of 2018, but I didn’t start really running ads until October. The reason being I spent most of that time watching videos on YouTube, exploring Google articles. I had got presented with an advertisement for Alex Becker’s dropshipping course. And after I bought it, I actually refunded my money the next day because I realized that all of the content that I needed, at least in his course, was available for free on YouTube. So there’s really zero barrier to entry.
There’s no reason that you shouldn’t be getting started. And at the end of the day, your success comes down to really two things. The first, and most importantly, is knowledge. And the second is your drive, your mindset, and your ability to make things happen, even when everything looks like it’s not going to work out.
Let’s talk about courses for a second. What are your opinions on them?
So here’s a really, really good way to figure out 90% of whether the course is worth getting. Look at the timeline. So the one question that you need to ask yourself is, did they get their supercar before they made the course, or after they made the course?
And a lot of times you’ll find that they end up getting these cars after they made the course. What happens is they made a few sales on Shopify and they only show you the revenue. So what they’ll do is they’ll create a course, considering they can’t actually really make it work. The course is how they make their income.
A lot of times, they finally got it after the course, which means that they made their money mostly from the course and not from actually doing it, which is really important, right? Because you want to learn from someone who got that car from the business model that they’re teaching.
So let’s talk about this Facebook ad strategy that transformed your business. The one that costs $500 a day in ads, do you want to talk about this a little bit? Explain to me how you found out about this and the whole thought process that went into changing your ad strategy.
At the time, my best friend had got a paid course from someone who was actually doing significant volume. And that’s where the strategy came from. It’s so crazy because the strategy just went against everything that I knew about Facebook advertising, or that I thought I knew about Facebook advertising.
Just go as general and broad as you possibly can. For the entire lifetime of my advertising, I’d always left the expanded interest box unchecked. This strategy said, check that box and don’t put any interest or lookalike audiences, which was completely different than everything that I’d ever been told, or learned, or seen on Facebook.
And this guy was pushing volume. So obviously working for him and I’ve got a product with enough pixel data where if it’s going to work, it should work. And it did. If you get an ad set running starting at $500 a day that’s profitable, you can scale it immensely, especially since it’s such a general broad targeting.
So with that strategy, I’ve had ad sets that had over $20,000 a day budget. That’s not something that you can do with your traditional interest-based targeting, or look like audiences because it’s super defined. And while you can get a good return on those, they’re not scalable to those big numbers.
Were there any other strategies in addition to Facebook advertising that you can credit to your growth?
Yes. There is no way that you can run profitable front-end traffic on Facebook alone. At the very least you need a Google Smart Shopping retargeting campaign. Another one that’s extremely profitable on Google is a brand search name. This is where you create a search campaign on Google and you only display the ad to people that search for your name.
If you have an ad and that’s the first thing that pops up when a potential customer is searching for your store, that’s going to build a lot of trust and it makes you more of an authority and establish brand and reputation. It captures a lot of those sales that you would’ve missed.
So when you factor all those together, you can actually now run profitable Facebook traffic, because you’re capturing all of the loss of sales.
Where does brand building, or community rapport, come into the strategy for you?
Really, it comes down to sustainability. A lot of dropshippers are so focused on today’s profits that they’re blinded by the fact that it could all collapse tomorrow because of how they’re operating their business. And it’s twofold. It blows my mind that 99% of dropshippers just totally ignore this fact.
But if you improve the customer experience and you actually provide a brand experience and something that you would buy from and buy again, it solves so many problems. I’d say 98 out of 100 dropshippers will have about a three-month lifespan on average. This is because of payments being held, or Facebook shutting them down.
How do you think Zendrop will be able to contribute to that change?
Where do I see dropshipping going? So there’s a lot of people saying dropshipping is dead and all that nonsense, that’s not true. Dropshipping is not going anywhere. Is it getting more and more difficult? Yes, absolutely, but that’s how it is with any business.
The thing is people are still teaching the same concepts and stuff like that, that they were when I got started, and the playing field has changed drastically. And with dropshipping, it changes every couple of months. If you don’t adapt to the industry and the environment and the business, and constantly try to make changes to keep up with that, you’re going to go out of business.
They’ve been saying dropshipping’s dead since I started. It’s not going to go away. What will go away are the people that are unwilling to put in the effort and adapt, which is what we humans are fantastic at and why you and I are able to have this conversation today.
How do you think Zendrop is going to contribute to the change?
Zendrop is adapting. There’s just a commitment to growth. And personally for everyone that works with Zendrop, but also for the clients. How do we improve the customer experience? What can we do to expand and extend the customer lifetime of our users? How can we educate them about the changing environment? Zendrop is trying to give people the tools to be able to adapt and to make it happen.
Zendrop is going to give you a fantastic fulfillment experience and they’re also actively working on taking care of you and your business and giving you the tools to succeed.