In this article, we interview dropshipper, Leo Cosineau (or @SouljaEcom as he’s known on YouTube) and we learn all about how he got started in his eCommerce journey. He talks about all his biggest successes and failures, and how you should avoid making the same mistakes he did when starting. Leo not only reveals step by step how he got started but he explains how he transitioned away from dropshipping and started scaling efficiently to make up to 8 figures.
Sean: “Hey everyone, it's Sean again from SaleHoo. In today's video, we get to interview an eight-figure dropshipper, Soulja, who is also a YouTuber. So, you can check out his channel over here. I'll show you a screenshot. And today, in today's video, we're going to be able to pick his brain and get insight from him on how to succeed in dropshipping. Thanks, Soulja, for accepting the interview.”
Soulja: “Yeah, absolutely I appreciate you for having me on.”
Sean: “First can you give me a bit of background on your eCommerce journey.”
Soulja: “Yeah, so eCom, as long as I can remember, honestly as soon as I was 13 years old, I was buying and selling things on eBay. The old side hustle that I used to do in middle school and high school was I'd buy Jordans – I was a big sneakerhead – and I would restore them and then sell them for more.
So, I've always been in the eCommerce game. And I started Shopify dropshipping in 2017, so it's been a while. That was about six years ago, and I was 16 years old. It's crazy to see how far, you know, if you stick to something and you fully believe in it, how far you can come."
Sean: “Great! And how did you exactly get started with dropshipping? What inspired you?”
Soulja: “Oh yeah, when it comes to dropshipping, I just kind of had the same deal, you know? You see these people online that are making these absurd amounts of money in record time or whatever, and it intrigued me because I said, 'Well, if they can do it, then I can do it.'
So I think that's what got me into dropshipping itself. So definitely, like, free info, YouTube videos, right? I didn't pay at all for anything. I was always on YouTube, just soaking up all the info I possibly could.”
Leo's Biggest Successes and Failures
Sean: “What were your biggest successes in your journey and what were your biggest setbacks?
Soulja: “I think when it comes to successes, I mean, I have a house in Hollywood Hills, I have a Lamborghini, I have a G-Wagon. It's all cool, the materials are cool. The biggest months, biggest years, I mean, I've done, let's say, let me see, yeah. There's one store in 365 days, I did over seven million dollars. I mean, I've had million-dollar months, million-dollar weeks. I think there's a lot that comes with that. Scaling too fast can hurt your business dramatically. Tons of issues can arise that you've never even thought of.
And now, I like to keep it more gradual. Doing one to two hundred thousand dollars a week in sales. Guys, I know the numbers sound crazy, but I make about 20 percent of that in profit. So it's not all profit. A lot of people say these numbers are insane.
You're not making that much. And you've got to realize when you see these sales, it is the gross number of the business, it's not net. But I think my biggest success, after achieving all that, is the confidence in my mind now that I can go into anything I want to and execute.”
Sean: "And when did you, like, you know, become profitable in your dropshipping journey? Because I'm sure it wasn't a straight line. You surely, you know, lost money along the way."
Soulja: “Absolutely, yeah. I became profitable. I had my first $100,000 month towards the end of 2018, so it's been a minute. Since then, but I remember back then, right now I'm fully on TikTok ads, but back then I was just using Facebook ads..
And I said to myself, with this ad platform, no matter what business it is, if I can just learn how to use this ad platform properly, I can make any amount of money that I'd like. So, I basically took everything I had, and I would spend it on ads, and I got a job, and I just kept spending it on ads until that one day when it just clicked.
I was profitable the next day, it stayed profitable. I let my pixel optimize on Facebook and scale gradually. I did a hundred thousand dollar months for three months straight. This is when I was 17 years old.”
Transitioning Away from Dropshipping
Sean: “And do you ever transition from dropshipping to buying products in bulk? Because that's something we advocate at SaleHoo and we're just wondering if that's something you must advocate.”
Soulja: “Yeah, absolutely. I mean, buying a product in bulk is great. What comes first out of it is how fast it gets to your customer, right? You're shipping it typically from the US or whatever country you're in. It is huge. People will love you if you can, and if you get your funds, everybody should do this after their first time scaling or getting that hit winner. I think once you get past a certain point, let's say around twenty to thirty thousand dollars a month, I think just getting a box, maybe 50 or 100 units, something to get your foot in the door. It's not as scary as you think. ‘Am I gonna be able to sell these?’ It's really easy. So, I definitely advocate buying in bulk.”
Sean: "That's something we totally agree with, Soulja. As a matter of fact, at SaleHoo, what we recommend is for dropshippers to transition from dropshipping to wholesale. And that's something that we allow dropshippers to do with our products, starting with the SaleHoo Dropship app that you can integrate into your Shopify store.
With the SaleHoo Dropship app, you can find dropship suppliers that are pre-vetted by the SaleHoo team, so you can make sure that you find reliable dropship suppliers from all over the world and have those products sent over to your customers without you having to touch the product ever.
And then, when you're ready to scale, you can go ahead and use the SaleHoo directory to find wholesale suppliers, so they can buy in bulk. And the good thing about the SaleHoo directory is that we have 8,000 plus pre-vetted suppliers and wholesalers from all over the world, so you can find your local suppliers and get fast shipping times.”
Soulja: "Yeah, yeah, so, SaleHoo what I love most is there are not many things that actually will help push you from transitioning to, you know, just getting those first few sales, to actually buying in bulk and scaling hard. And I love that SaleHoo is helping you step out of that beginning phase and into that next phase, where you can really start scaling and getting some crazy numbers. I think that's one of the most important parts of people's businesses that they always forget about in dropshipping. And you will have a complete edge over all of your competitors using SaleHoo as a backend."
Challenges with Scaling
Sean: "You did talk about you know when you scale there are a lot of problems with scaling could you walk us through those challenges that a beginner could expect when getting into dropshipping? I'm sure there are a lot of issues like; logistics and all."
Soulja: “Yeah I mean there are tons of issues. As far as you know your fulfillment needs to be on point, you can't be using AliExpress fulfillment you need to be using some type of supplier or private agent if you're going to want to make it anywhere because otherwise, your payment processing is going to blow up your chargebacks your customer service is going to be it bizarre and you don't want to deal with that so I think that's logistics is the number one thing I've seen take people's dropshipping experience to like a complete 180 focus on that, you know when you first start you want to try all the apps. I would say a lot of people when they launch, don't launch - they kind of like a half effort to launch.
I would think setting up all the apps the funnels the back and the SMS retargeting all the flows upsells whatever it is I think having that mindset and going into every time you launch ads as if it's a winner as if it's the one versus saying oh well if it performs with these apps or without these apps then I'll just add on the apps and help it do even better if I didn't have a lot of the flows and back-end stuff that I had I wouldn't even be profitable or have or be profitable enough to scale aggressively so I think the number two most important thing is your SMS because I mean if you're selling on TikTok you're mainly everybody's is on their phone email is great as well don't get me wrong great for Facebook ads Google ads Pinter every everything else I think the demographic on TikTok's just a bit different and then, of course, the post-purchase upsells in my opinion so many or any upsell I think is super important so I think getting all the apps the software that you possibly can get your hands on is essential."
How to Scale Efficiently
Sean: “So once you've found your winning product, how do you go about with scaling your store?”
Soulja: "Everybody's the first time you scale it's mainly just okay just increase the ad spend keep increasing the ad spend getting more sales that's all it is and then it will blow up it blows up in most mostly everybody's face that I know and not nothing crazy but just headaches and issues and problems so like now I prepare stores I do it all as if it's an actual business I treat your you got to treat dropshipping like it's an actual business if you don't you're gonna stay stuck and that's just working backward and you know I get all the LLC's everything ready to go my payment processing setup.
I get my supplier ready to go they know exactly how I'm going to scale it and the type of orders that they're going to need to be able to keep up with um I have a product research team working at all times I have customer service 24 or nine to five weekdays and for phone support and then one 24/7 email support once you've Crash and Burn enough you just can fine-tune it so much to have these huge you know runs where you're scaling like I said million dollars a month it's not that difficult once you have this backbone and everything in place I think the more once you have success in dropshipping it's really easy to replicate the success it's more so exactly like holding scaling it properly holding that scale and making sure you know nothing blows up in your face too quick so that's kind of how I would go about it."
What Makes Winning Products
Sean: “Let's talk about what a winning product looks like. Can you let us know what type of products you sold or at least a category if you're not willing to share that information?”
Soulja: "Yeah, I mean when it comes to winning products, I mean look at it like this: everything in some way, some form can be a winning product. This monitor, this computer screen, this microphone, somebody can sell it and make money.
So, I never really looked at it as if it's just a single golden nugget product. And I mean, it's really easy when you're starting to do general products that have a broad appeal to everybody. But I think it's more so constructing a winning offer. So, it's having the ad strategy dialed in. I would like to say, and this goes for dropshipping as a whole, sorry to tangent off from your question, but I would like to say, as dropshipping, it's like an orchestra, and if one instrument isn't playing correctly, it ruins the whole song. So, having everything working and working together: your ad strategies, your creatives, reverse engineering the ad platforms, your upsells as I said, and then having an unbeatable offer.
A lot of people, my first offer that ever worked was free plus shipping. This was, again, this is so long ago, this is seven or six years ago, and it just worked, so I stuck with it. And now, I kind of do more so like buy one get ones or buy two get twos. It's a crazy one, and then you can go up the ranks. So, I do base it on offer, but, there are products that you can without anything just run ads to, and they'll go crazy if you get lucky."
Sean: "But if an aspiring dropshipper is looking for a product to sell, what would be like the product criteria that you would, you know, tell him? That these are the list of things that he should look out for when looking for a product to sell."
Soulja: "If you're brand new, you probably are going to want to target the most general, broad mass-appeal products. That's going to give you your best shot, I think. Selling something like, for example, a camera, anybody between 18 and 55, and I'm talking about the retro cameras, I mean, they're trending on TikTok right now. There are kind of like snapshot cameras. I mean, anyone from 18 to 55 can use it. It appeals to the angle of making memories, and then also something that solves a problem, I think, is huge, and you probably hear it so many times, but that is right. People are never going to stop having these problems, and if you can provide a solution to an everyday problem, I mean, there you go.
So, I think those two things, general broad appeal, solving a problem. You can even go niche. I mean, there are just so many ways that you can go. I think the best advice would just be, don't overthink it, build everything out, and just get going. A lot of people think about some things for too long, and they don't get to make the sales."
Marketing Winning Products
Sean: “Let's say you found your winning product and you have an idea of how to scale what would you say are the most useful things in marketing, that a dropshipper needs to take note of.”
Soulja: "Yeah, I mean marketing-wise, I can't, I really think it is that offer. I know it's the, because I can have the same back end, rinse and repeat, you know, the my price and the shipping price, and I can put it on tons of different products, and it'll typically work. So I think..." marketing-wise, sell lower tickets. I think it's going to be huge for a lot of you guys. It's a lower ticket, a lot easier.
You're not messing around with large amounts of money all the time. Everything's very low. You get tons of data, tons of people going into your checkout, clicking, going through your funnels, and things like that, and you will see a lot of success, I believe. You know, low ticket, low scale, $50 a day, no more than that ad spent on TikTok or Facebook. And yeah, I think that's the most important part of the marketing, is your offer."
Sean: “So, that's the end of the interview, Soulja. I know that our viewers would really find this very helpful and valuable, and I just want to thank you again for hopping on this interview.”